Oakland drops suit against county on Coliseum land sale to A’s, who does this mean won exactly?

After months of wrangling over the city of Oakland’s lawsuit against Alameda County over the county’s sale of Oakland Coliseum land to A’s owner John Fisher without offering it to the city first, mostly between council president Rebecca Kaplan (who filed the suit) and Mayor Libby Schaaf (who thought it was dumb), Schaaf and Kaplan abruptly announced yesterday that they’d agreed to drop the suit:

The Surplus Land Act is part of what was at issue in the lawsuit in the first place: The California state law requires that any agency selling public land must give first dibs to plans that promise to build affordable housing. While city officials are no longer trying to pressure the county to go through the Surplus Land Act bidding process on its sale, the city will still require it for sale of its half-share of the Coliseum property — and since Fisher or anyone else can’t build anything without full ownership of the land, this should pretty much amount to the same thing.

How much of a stumbling block this will mean for Fisher’s plans to redevelop both the Coliseum site and a new stadium and other development at the Howard Terminal site isn’t entirely clear: Newballpark.org notes that “As affordable housing is not a huge moneymaker without some sort of subsidization effort, I wouldn’t expect a ton of better offers than what the A’s can provide,” but adds that a lot still needs to be fleshed out about the team’s plans for each site. At least negotiations can now begin, though, and there’s a framework for making sure Oakland gets a fair deal for its property and some control over what happens to it, which isn’t a terrible thing at all.

What shook loose the dropping of the lawsuit appears to have been the one-two carrot-and-stick punch of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s threat to move the team to Las Vegas and Fisher’s offer of an $85 million purchase price plus a community benefits agreement if the lawsuit were dropped. So either Oakland caved to threats, or agreed to drop its suit once it had used it for leverage to get concessions, or, really, both. Which is how negotiations work, and while it’s no doubt annoying that MLB with its antitrust exemption gets to threaten to blacklist cities that won’t play ball on stadiums, it seems like Oakland haggled as well as possible under the circumstances. Now all they need to do is to negotiate a stadium deal that is actually fair to taxpayers, and … well, let’s take one small victory at a time.


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12 comments on “Oakland drops suit against county on Coliseum land sale to A’s, who does this mean won exactly?

  1. The answer to who won? A’s fans who do not have to worry about Las Vegas. Who lost? Cities whose teams can use Vegas as a bargaining chip. What teams can? Orioles, Rays, Angels, White Sox to name a few.

    1. If the idea of the A’s moving from Oakland to a small market like Las Vegas was unlikely, teams moving there from Chicago or L.A. is downright laughable.

      (Not that I doubt they’d try to make the threat, just let’s all remember to laugh at them when and if they do.)

  2. “After months of wrangling over the city of Oakland’s lawsuit against Alameda County over the county’s sale of Oakland Coliseum land to A’s owner John Fisher without offering it to the county first”

    1. You said county instead of city.
    2. County DID offer it to the city,(for less than the A’s offered) the city couldn’t, and still can’t, afford it.

    1. 1. Thanks, typo corrected.

      2. Not according to the city, which was one of the points of contention that I guess will never be resolved now.

      1. Mayor (Schaaf) actually DID say the city couldn’t afford it, right after the lawsuit was filed:


        [Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, meanwhile, says she has concerns about the lack of community benefits in the county’s sale to the A’s. She also said the city’s lawsuit — news to her until it was filed — was not the best tactical move.

        She also said the city can’t afford to buy the property from the county.

        “It’s not financially prudent for us,” Schaaf said.]

          1. It has relevance to why the city (council) said it was filing the suit, which is what we were arguing about here in the first place.

            Not saying it was a *smart* suit, but the Oakland city council wanting to get to keep bidding on the county’s share of the land is what prompted it.

          2. Oakland city council saw the deal the County would be getting and wanted the same (or better), but thought they would lose leverage on selling *their* half if the county sold first, so they sued to stop the county.

            That suit has now been dropped, with the city council claiming a ‘win’ because they got the A’s to agree to including affordable housing on the Coliseum site … which isn’t actually a ‘win’ at all because the A’s were already willing to include that.

            They filed suit to prevent someone else from getting a deal they couldn’t afford to match, and ended up looking really stupid in the eyes of their constituents. The City Attorney ran unopposed the last two cycles, but has already had new opposition appear for her next time around. Councilmember Dan Kalb is also facing new opposition for a seat he’s held onto comfortably for 7 years.

          3. Also, in January, the County gave the City a Term Sheet: $77M lump sum (because the cities finances scared the county off from offering a 7-year payment schedule)

            County offered A’s $85M, over 7 years.

            The city DID get a lower price offered to them, and several months before the terms with the A’s were agreed to.

  3. In the grand scheme of things this development/news doesn’t mean squat! A ballpark at Howard Terminal, and prepping Howard Terminal for said ballpark, will cost well over $1 billion! No amount of real estate/commercial development at the current coliseum site will provide the revenue streams for this massive upcoming bill/debt service (this is East Oakland, not $an Jose/$ilicon Valley or $an Francisco). Harsh reality: either the A’s build at the current coliseum site or start looking outside the Bay Area for a new home

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