Update Fri: It ain’t over till it’s over, a phrase often applied to baseball, the city of Oakland, and baseball in the city of Oakland.
Yesterday the news was that MLB and A’s partner Lew Wolff threatened to move the team out of Oakland if the city tried to renegotiate what many thought to be a done deal for a new lease. The hardball tactic prompted Oakland councilmembers to back down, paving the way for the deal to move forward.
But the Chronicle and KPIX are reporting today on a joint statement put out last night by Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Pat Kernighan that seems to indicate they believe the negotiations will continue:
“We are pleased that we have made progress over the last few weeks, and we are looking forward to working cooperatively and expeditiously with the Oakland A’s to close out remaining issues which center around economic and legal concerns.”
Any deal still has to be passed by the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
A pair of local editorials today are expressing displeasure at all the back and forth, but for different reasons. From the Bay Area News Group’s Marcus Thompson II:
The only thing worse than being bullied is being bullied by an empty threat. That’s what the A’s and Major League Baseball just did to Oakland.
With approval of his new Coliseum lease in limbo, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff ran to commissioner Bud Selig for permission to talk tough. Wolff came back and threatened to leave — immediately — if the lease agreement wasn’t approved by the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority.
So the JPA approved it by a 6-2 vote. Got stuck up with a water gun.
All eight members of the JPA should have called Wolff’s bluff and voted down the lease agreement. They should’ve told Lew Wolff goodbye in a hundred ways….
The 10-year lease still isn’t official. The Oakland City Council still needs to vote on it. And those folks should vote it down on principle.
And from the Chronicle’s Chip Johnson:
The kings of chaos have struck again, and this time their antics almost cost Oakland its beloved baseball team.
Oakland’s city leaders apparently aren’t well versed in the art of the business deal. Once an agreement is reached between two sides, it can’t be grabbed by a third party for a do-over….
In an e-mail sent late Wednesday, team owner Lew Wolff laid it out to Oakland leaders in plain and simple language that any idiot could understand. It said, in essence, if Oakland City Hall balks on the lease deal that the A’s had worked out with the board that runs O.co Coliseum, the A’s had the MLB’s authorization to catch the next plane out of town. Now that’s hardball.
You’d think Oakland got the message. No such luck. By Thursday evening, only hours after the deal was approved by the Coliseum board, city officials were at it again: Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Council President Pat Kernighan issued a joint statement urging the team and the MLB to come back to the negotiating table to address the city’s “economic and legal concerns.”
Stay tuned. But first have some barbecue.
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority voted 6-2 on Thursday to approve a 10-year lease extension for the Oakland A’s despite a sharp dispute over the deal between city leaders and the team.
City officials have said the deal gives too much to the A’s and that they want to continue talks. But A’s ownership, led by partner Lew Wolff, said before the vote that the time for negotiations is over and warned Wednesday night that the team had won approval from Major League Baseball to immediately begin the process of moving out of the Coliseum if the board failed to approved the new lease.
The agreement — published on Newballpark.org — involves a quid pro quo that calls on the city to forgive $5 million in parking taxes owed by the A’s and a reduction in the team’s annual lease payments. The deal also allows the A’s to leave the Coliseum after the 2018 season. In return, the A’s would agree to buy a $10 million scoreboard for the stadium and would pay into a fund to fix long-standing maintenance problems like sewer overflows.
The board consists of four members appointed by Alameda County and four appointed by Oakland. Earlier this week, members of the city contingent had said that, at the direction of the City Council, they would vote against the lease extension. But that was before Wolff sent an email to board members late Wednesday night.
According to several published reports — in the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle, for instance — the email said:
“I was informed tonight that Commissioner (Bud) Selig, due to the possibility of not having the hearing and vote that we were reported to receive from the (Coliseum Board), that we will immediately be allowed to seek a temporary or permanent location outside the city of Oakland.”
Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid said Thursday the email changed his mind about rejecting the lease extension, and he, along with city-appointed board member Yui Hay Lee, both voted yes.
“Look, I came here this morning to, based on the actions that our council directed us to, defend the position of my council when they directed us to vote no,” Reid said. “I came to defend it, whether I believed it was right or whether the position was wrong. And so, after getting the email that some of my colleague got last night relative to Major League Baseball inserting the fact that they would look at allowing the A’s to relocate to a temporary facility and would allow them to seek a permanent home outside of Oakland, that allowed me to rethink my being here defending the position of my council.”
Two other Oakland-appointed members — City Councilwoman (and mayoral candidate) Rebecca Kaplan and sports agent Aaron Goodwin — voted no. All four county-appointed members voted to approved the deal.
“The lease is a willingness to work for a long-term solution,” said county-appointed board member Chris Dobbins.
Today’s vote was not final. The agreement still needs to be approved by the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and it remains to be seen what impact Wolff’s threat has as those bodies consider the lease.