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Oakland A's Reject City's Bid to Alter Lease Terms

Jul 3 2014, 6:38am CDT | by , in News | Latest Sports News

Oakland A's Reject City's Bid to Alter Lease Terms
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Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff turned down the city of Oakland's demand to alter a long-term lease agreement for O.co Coliseum on July 2.

Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff turned down the city of Oakland's demand to alter a long-term lease agreement for O.co Coliseum on July 2. 

The Oakland Tribune's Matthew Artz wrote a report on the latest turn of events: 

"It appears that Oakland council members aren't the only ones ready to play hardball when it comes to keeping the A's in town for another decade. 

"A's co-owner Lew Wolff said Wednesday that he will not entertain the council's demand to alter a proposed long-term lease agreement that already has the backing of Alameda County officials. 

"Wolff said in an email to this newspaper that he had already made key concessions requested by Mayor Jean Quan, and that 'we and (Major League Baseball) are not going to consider expanding more time on still another party seeking to stall a vote.' 

"Wolff's stance sets the stage for a heated meeting of the eight-member Oakland-Alameda Conty Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which is scheduled to vote on the deal Thursday that would keep the team at O.co Coliseum for up to 10 years. The new lease would supersede a two-year lease that expires in 2015. 

"While the county's four members favor the lease extension, the City Council has ordered its four representatives to vote down the deal and proposed competing terms. 

"The city and county jointly own the sprawling Coliseum complex that the A's have called home for nearly five decades. Yet, when it comes to the lease talks, county officials have sided with the A's, isolating council members who believe the proposed extension is too generous to the team. 

"The deadlock not only leaves negotiations at an impasse, but it also calls into question whether there is too much distrust among all parties for the A's to to commit to building a a new ballpark in Oakland, county leaders said. 

"At the heart of the dispute is that several city leaders see the proposed 10-year extension as an opportunity for Wolff to buy time in his quest to move to San Jose, while county leaders insist it will create an infusion of good will necessary for A's ownership to explore building a new ballpark in Oakland. 

"Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who helped negotiate the lease terms, said the city's opposition to the lease has embarrassed both the A's and Major League Baseball and harmed Oakland's chances at keeping the team. 

"'By the city voting no tomorrow, there is no chance for the A's to ever stay in Oakland,' he said. 'In fact I look for them to be out by the end of this two-year lease. 

"Councilman Noel Gallo countered that the city wants to keep the A's but that the terms have to be fair and the team needs to show a strong commitment to the city. 

"'It's my job to represent the city of Oakland,' he said. 'I will not give away the city, and I will not give away taxpayers' money.' 

"'As for Mr. Wolff,' he added,'he needs to quit 'Wolffing around' and get down to business and make Oakland the A's permanent home.' 

"The proposed lease deal would include a 'good faith' effort by the team to explore building a stadium at the Coliseum complex and not allow the A's to exercise an escape clause until 2018 at the earliest. But the city still has a host of concerns.

"Sources said the city's counter-offer will eliminate a proposed lease reduction in 2015 from $1.75 million to $1.25 million." 

SFGate.com's Carolyn Jones and Susan Slusser added more details about the development: 

"Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, chairman of the Coliseum board, said the city risks losing the A's if they don't agree to the current proposal. 

"'The long and short of it is that we already have a good deal. Major League Baseball is comfortable with it. The A's are comfortable with it. Most of us at the JPA are are comfortable with it,' Miley said. 'Ultimately, this just shows how challenging, if not impossible, it is to negotiate and do business here. It's a moving target -- no one knows who they're negotiating with, or what the terms are. It's very disconcerting.'

"Miley said he is confident the current proposal is the best the Coliseum board and city can get and includes numerous provisions to protect taxpayers and keep the team in Oakland."

The main attraction of the deal is a new coliseum scoreboard, per Jones and Slusser:

 

"But the main perk for the city and the Coliseum authority is a new $10 million scoreboard system, which could also be used for Oakland Raiders games, concerts and other events at the facility, whether the A's stay or go. 

"The Coliseum authority is ordinarily responsible for maintaining the scoreboard but can't afford to replace the entire system, sources said."

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