The Athletics know the twists and turns that a Wild Card game can take; they’re in the middle of their latest do-or-die contest as we speak. The Oakland organization also just experienced a sudden jolt in the lengthy roller-coaster ride that it hopes will end in a new ballpark.
While the most recent news was positive, a sudden new roadblock has arisen, as Phil Matier and Sarah Ravani of the San Francisco Chronicle report. The city of Oakland has brought suit against Alameda County to prevent the county’s sale of the present Coliseum site to the A’s — a key part of the team’s overarching strategy of building a new stadium at Howard Terminal.
Sometimes these sorts of conflicts are anticipated. In this case, both the A’s and even Oakland’s mayor expressed great surprise at the move, which evidently emanated from a city council directive. The merits of the claims remain unclear, but a glance at the rundown of the complaint reveals a potentially fact-heavy matter that may not easily be resolved in an expedient manner — assuming, at least, that the city has no interest in a speedy end to the uncertainty.
The true motivations and possible pathways remain unclear at this time. But MLB commissioner Rob Manfred left no doubt as to the way the move was interpreted by the league. He tells the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser that he’s “very concerned” by the litigation and the lack of “concrete progress” towards a new facility.
Manfred explained that he has already met with mayor Libby Schaaf and City Council President Rebecca Kaplan to convey his misgivings. Despite carrying a generally optimistic tone on the subject in recent years, Manfred was now willing to embed an obvious warning shot in his comments:
“What I would say is we can’t stay in a holding pattern with no progress indefinitely. There needs to be a plan to move this franchise forward. I’m hopeful it’s going to be here in Oakland.”
It’s worth bearing in mind that the redevelopment of the Coliseum site is not, in theory, inextricably tied to the new ballpark-building project. But even a casual glance through the above-linked A’s site on the initiative shows how closely connected these aims are. The goal is for the new park to be fully financed by the team itself, the accomplishment of which depends upon what the team has labeled a “two-project approach.”