The Oakland A’s stadium plans seem to be moving at a glacial pace, but in recent months things of a sort have actually started happening: Team owner John Fisher bought Alameda County’s 50% share of the Oakland Coliseum site for $85 million, and entered negotiations to buy the city’s half as well. This would allow them to tear down the Coliseum, build new development on the site, and use the proceeds to help pay for a new stadium at Howard Terminal (probably not in that order, since the A’s would need somewhere to play in the interim); or else build a new stadium there maybe; or anyway at least have some options.
The Bay Area real estate market being what it is, though — even if it’s not quite what it was pre-pandemic — lots of other people are offering to buy the city’s share of the land, too:
- We’ve already covered the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, headed by San Francisco nightclub owner Ray Bobbitt, which has offered $92 million to buy the city’s share of the Coliseum land, then hopes to buy the A’s share as well, then build a new NFL stadium, then get an NFL team, then be the first African-American-owned football franchise. That is, let’s just say, a lot of steps, but they’re still in the mix.
- Former ace A’s pitcher and terrible Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart has bid $115 million for the city’s haf of the site, saying he wants to build affordable housing and “nice restaurants and shops” and “employment opportunities” and maybe a baseball stadium, he hasn’t decided yet, in the place where he grew up. (He didn’t actually grow up in the Coliseum — that’d be M.C. Hammer — but nearby.) Stewart says he still needs to “turn in the vision,” which presumably means some renderings, and “at some point I need to prove the financials, but that’s not a problem.”
- Justin Berton, a spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, says there are “several offers” on the table for the property. (Does two count as “several”? Merriam-Webster says “several” can mean “more than one” or “more than two but fewer than many,” which doesn’t narrow it down at all.) “Any proposed sale or disposition will go through an extensive, transparent and public review process,” adds Berton.
Having multiple bidders, let’s be clear, is a good thing: Given how almost impossible it is to calculate fair market value for a uniquely huge parcel of land, having lots of bidders is a great way to be sure you’re getting the highest possible price. (Ideally you would have wanted the city and county to market the entire ownership of the land together, since Fisher holding half the property could hold the bids for the city’s half down somewhat, but it’s better than nothing.) So if nothing else, having Dave Stewart offering $115 million means maybe the city can demand that Fisher offer $116 million, which would be a better deal than the county rushed into.
As for what this all means for the A’s building a new stadium, though, either at the Coliseum site or Howard Terminal, who the hell knows. There are still questions about how that plan would be financed, and whether it will require hundreds of millions of city spending on “transportation infrastructure,” and what’s up with all those cranes. Presumably if asked, Fisher would say that at some point he needs to prove that he can pull this off, but that’s not a problem; for the rest of us, it’s probably best to believe it when we see it.