The A’s reacted to a verbal call-out by Raiders owner Mark Davis on Thursday with essentially a non-reaction.
During a press conference to announce the Raiders’ one-year lease extension at the Coliseum, Davis accused the A’s of dragging their feet when addressing whether he would share the 120-acre Coliseum property for two new stadiums to be built.
“If in fact the A’s do want to stay in the Oakland Coliseum site, they need to commit ASAP so that we can go ahead and design and take down the Coliseum, provide all the infrastructure that’s necessary to build two new brand new stadiums in Oakland, and two teams would then come back in and play in two brand new stadiums,” Davis said.
“ … What it’s going to take to get something done on this site, and in Oakland, at least on the Coliseum site, is for the A’s to make a commitment to Oakland and tell the people what they wanna do. And they gotta tell these people here (pointing to political leaders), and these people here have to tell me what’s gonna happen. That’s what I’ve been saying continually and consistently all the way along.”
It was sharp criticism from one of the central figures in this prolonged Coliseum soap opera, but the A’s did not fire back in response. A club-issued statement read:
“Today’s announcement by the JPA regarding the Oakland Raiders does not change the Oakland A’s goal of securing a baseball-only facility. We are aggressively working with the City of Oakland and relevant stakeholders to evaluate venue sites."
Contacted by phone, A’s managing partner Lew Wolff declined to respond to Davis’ comments, saying: “My only comment is that we are exploring all possible sites in Oakland and are following the terms of our lease.”
The 10-year Coliseum lease the A’s signed in 2014 allows them to get out of the deal early if they build a ballpark elsewhere, but it also reportedly allows the city of Oakland to give the A’s two years’ notice to move if the Raiders strike a stadium deal at the Coliseum. Seen through that lense, the A’s aren’t holding the Raiders back at all.
It’s also worth noting that even as Davis is accusing the A’s of not committing to the Coliseum, it’s Oakland city leaders who have actually tried to direct the A’s elsewhere in their search for a ballpark location. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has spoken publicly of her desire for the A’s to build somewhere in downtown Oakland or at Howard Terminal on the waterfront, which would make it easier to negotiate with the Raiders at the Coliseum.
It’s been the A’s long-stated desire to stay at the Coliseum if they’re to rebuild in Oakland. But as Wolff mentioned above, the A’s are “exploring all possible sites in Oakland.” The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month that John Fisher, the A’s majority owner, may be warming to the idea of a ballpark at the Howard Terminal site.
There has been skepticism about whether building two new stadiums on the Coliseum site is even viable. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is among those who have expressed doubts about the idea.
The A’s best scenario for building at the Coliseum still seems to be if the Raiders leave Oakland. And the Raiders have generated headlines recently with their interest in relocating to Las Vegas, San Diego or San Antonio, or Los Angeles if the Chargers don’t exercise their right to move there.
Wolff told CSN California last summer that if the A’s build at the Coliseum, he’d like to continue playing at the current ballpark while a new one is being built next to it. That contrasts with Davis’ plans – he’d like to tear down the Coliseum immediately and play elsewhere temporarily while a new stadium is being built.
And so the soap opera continues.