By Allen Payton
In an email today, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, to fans and supporters of the Oakland A’s efforts to build a privately finances, $1 billion+ waterfront stadium in Oakland, president Dave Kaval announced Major League Baseball has instructed the team to “begin exploring other markets” at the same time it pursues plans to remain in the East Bay’s largest city. (See related article)
The American League West leading A’s want to remain in Oakland, but their proposal requires city approval and “it is unclear to us and MLB whether there is a path to success for the A’s in Oakland,” Kaval wrote. His letter was in response to the following statement issued by MLB on Monday:
“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland. The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.
The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”
Today, Kaval wrote the following to fans and supporters:
May 11, 2021
Today, Major League Baseball instructed the A’s to begin exploring other markets while we continue to pursue the Oakland waterfront ballpark project. This is not an easy directive for our fans to hear. We believe in the vision we have presented for a waterfront ballpark; it is a project that will create jobs, housing, open parks, and countless community benefits for Oakland residents, and it will set the stage for more World Series titles for our fans. After four years of work, MLB is concerned with the rate of progress with local officials and other stakeholders on our new ballpark efforts. The time is here for a decision on our future, and it is unclear to us and MLB whether there is a path to success for the A’s in Oakland.
A new ballpark is needed for the A’s continued success. We agree with MLB’s position that the Coliseum location is not a viable option for the future of the franchise. While we remain committed to succeeding in Oakland and will continue to work toward our waterfront ballpark, we will also follow MLB’s direction and immediately begin the process of exploring a new home for the A’s.
Please know that one of our top priorities is continuing to create the best experience possible for our fans this season and beyond. We have the best fans in baseball. Your passion for this franchise is truly unmatched, and we are deeply grateful for your continued support of our organization.
According to Martin Gallegos, Oakland A’s beat reporter for MLB, “The A’s proposed project at Howard Terminal includes a plan for 3,000 new homes in addition to a new 34,000-seat stadium, 18 acres of new parks and open spaces all around the area. A’s president Dave Kaval has urged Oakland City Council to vote on the new stadium project before summer recess, which begins July 28 and runs through Aug. 31.
The current lease on the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s have called home since 1968, expires in 2024. Though some view the Coliseum grounds as an acceptable site to build a new facility, the A’s and MLB have both taken the position that the location is not a viable option for the future of the club. Kaval cited a recent issue at the Coliseum on April 20 in which a light tower went out in the upper deck of the stadium — causing a 25-minute delay — as evidence that the A’s need to find a new home sooner rather than later.”
In response to the latest developments, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued the following statement:
“We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront. We have made great strides with the Governor’s certification and release of the EIR [Environmental Impact Report]. Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community — regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world-class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region, and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”
For more information visit Oakland Ballpark | Oakland Athletics (mlb.com).