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A’s co-owner Lew Wolff is exploring the possibility of building a temporary ballpark for his team to play in should lease extension negotiations with the Oakland Coliseum not work out.
The A’s signed a two-year lease to remain at the Coliseum through the 2015 season, and negotiations are ongoing to extend that lease for a longer term. But in an e-mail to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Wolff said he’s exploring alternatives should a lease extension not be hammered out.
“I am hopeful of expanding our lease at the Oakland Coliseum for an extended term," Wolff wrote. "If we cannot accomplish a lease extension, I hope to have an interim place to play in the Bay Area or in the area that reaches our television and radio fans — either in an existing venue or in the erection of a temporary venue that we have asked our soccer stadium architect (360 Architecture) to explore. Looking outside the Bay Area and our media market is an undesirable option to our ownership at this time."
Contacted Friday, Wolff told Comcast SportsNet California that he had no additional comment beyond that e-mail.
A’s ownership remains very much interested in moving the team to San Jose, but that quest is in legal limbo. The city of San Jose filed an antitrust lawsuit against Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig, arguing that MLB has violated the city’s rights by delaying its quest to bring the A’s to San Jose. The case was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in October, but it’s now in federal appeals court.
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The Giants hold territorial rights to San Jose and vehemently oppose the A’s moving there.
It’s unknown where Wolff might look to build a temporary venue if it came to that, or how big of a stadium might be necessary. San Jose mayor Chuck Reed told the Silicon Valley Business Journal that he would welcome the A’s building a temporary ballpark in San Jose, but it’s not clear if the Giants’ rights to the city might preclude the A’s from building even a temporary venue there.
Giants president Larry Baer has said his team is willing to share AT&T Park with the A’s temporarily if the A’s decided to build a new stadium, provided that stadium is not within the Giants’ territory.
There is precedent for teams building temporary stadiums. In 2010, Empire Field was erected in Vancouver to house the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League for the 2010 season and part of 2011. The 27,528-seat venue was built by the Nussli Group in just three months at a cost of $14.4 million, during the time when a retractable roof was being installed at the Lions’ permanent stadium.
While the A’s quest to move to San Jose plays out, Oakland officials are making a push to keep the team in the city it has called home since 1968. Separate ballpark plans have been discussed at the Port of Oakland and at the current Coliseum site, with Wolff calling the Coliseum site much more realistic if plans ever came to fruition.
Wolff also is part of the San Jose Earthquakes ownership group, and a new soccer stadium is currently being built for that franchise in San Jose.