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In a potentially historic move, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to sell the county’s half ownership of the 155-acre Coliseum complex to the Oakland A’s baseball team for $85 million.
The county and the city of Oakland have jointly owned the Coliseum complex since 1964, but county leaders decided in 2015 that they wanted to sell their share in the property so they could get out of the sports business and focus on their core mission of providing social services.
The county has been in talks with the city since 2015 about selling its share to the city, but the talks broke down in February.
The Board of Supervisors voted April 23 to authorize negotiations with the A’s about selling its share to the team, but the city filed suit Sept. 27 to try to stop the county from doing so.
However, the Oakland City Council voted in November to drop the lawsuit and enter into exclusive negotiations with the A’s to sell the city’s half of the Coliseum to the team.
The A’s, who currently play at the aging baseball stadium at the Coliseum site, are pursuing a plan to build a new baseball-only stadium at the Howard Terminal waterfront site north of Jack London Square that would be ready for the 2023 season.
The baseball team simultaneously wants to redevelop the existing Coliseum complex into a site that could include a large park, housing and businesses.
Under terms of the county’s sale, the A’s will put down $5 million as a deposit, which will remain in escrow for 190 days while the county conducts a due diligence period before the deal is finalized.
The A’s will pay $10 million a year to the county until 2023 and $15 million a year from 2024 to 2026. The A’s also will pay the county’s $5 million annual tab for operating costs at the Coliseum.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said the purchase price will allow the county to pay off its debt on the 1995 renovation of the Coliseum that the city and county used to lure the Raiders to return to Oakland from Los Angeles.
Miley said the deal will help keep the A’s in Oakland, as they are now the last pro sports team in the city; the Golden State Warriors moved to San Francisco earlier this year and the Oakland Raiders plan to move to Las Vegas in 2020.
‘An historic day’
After the vote, A’s President Dave Kaval said, “This is truly an historic day. We’ve worked all year to get to this day.”
Kaval said the A’s are in talks with the city of Oakland about either buying the city’s share of the Coliseum property or entering into a joint venture with the city for managing the property.
He said the A’s are eager to also finalize their plans to build a stadium at the Howard Terminal site and “get a shovel in the ground” there.
Supervisor Scott Haggerty said the vote to sell the county’s share of the Coliseum site is “kind of sad” and “bittersweet” because it marks the end of an era, but he also said “it’s the right thing to do” because the county can now focus on providing services to the communities it serves.
Most of the people who spoke at the board meeting said they support the county selling its share of the Coliseum property, but Bishop Robert Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church, senior pastor L.J. Jennings of Kingdom Builders Christian Fellowship and pastor Lawrence VanHook of the Community Church in Oakland said they are concerned that the A’s plans to develop the Coliseum site could continue a trend in which many black people are leaving Oakland because they can’t afford to live in the city anymore.
Jennings said, “When we really think about selling public land, we need to be concerned about those individuals currently in this city and how it will affect how they are able to remain in this city.
Kaval said the A’s are committed to building affordable housing at the Coliseum site to prevent the displacement of black people and also said there will be “robust” community benefits as part of the deal.