A’s stadium proposal moves forward with City Council vote, but team’s future in Oakland remains uncertain

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Tuesday afternoon, the Oakland City Council voted to approve a non-binding term sheet for the Oakland Athletics’ ballpark project at Howard Terminal. A’s president Dave Kaval recently said the team would not accept the term sheet as presented, potentially paving the way for the Athletics to leave Oakland.

“Based on our extensive negotiations, shared values and shared vision, we believe the A’s can and should agree to the terms approved by the City Council today,” the Oakland City Council said in a statement.

The term sheet was approved 6-1, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The team is seeking $855 million in public funds for infrastructure, a sum the Oakland City Council considers untenable for many reasons. Most notably, public funds are still needed to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If they don’t approve (our term sheet), it’s over,” Kaval told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times last week. “Because basically they’ve had an opportunity to look at all the different facts and understand, ‘Does this make sense?’ We’re hopeful that it’s a yes, but with these things, it’s hard to say. We remain apart.” 

The team’s proposal includes a $1 billion privately financed ballpark at the Howard Terminal site just north of RingCentral Coliseum. The proposal also includes $12 billion in private investment for a residential and commercial waterfront neighborhood. The $855 million the A’s are seeking in public funds would be used to develop land around the new ballpark, similar to Truist Park in Atlanta. 

The A’s proposed Howard Terminal has spent years in limbo and undergone three major redesigns in the past four years; the club first unveiled their plans in 2018. Even before Howard Terminal, the team had multiple sites for a new ballpark in Oakland, Fremont and San Jose, though none resulted in a groundbreaking.

Earlier this year Kaval made trips to Las Vegas and Portland to explore relocation options and he was very public about it, tweeting photos of his trips.

“Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a major league club and there are other viable alternatives I have not turned the A’s loose to explore,” commissioner Rob Manfred said during the All-Star break. “… This is not a bluff. This is the decision point for Oakland whether they want to have Major League Baseball moving forward.”

Because the term sheet is non-binding, the two sides can continue to negotiate, though all indications are the two sides are unlikely to reach an agreement. Kaval and the A’s have been steadfast in saying they will not accept anything less than the term sheet they’ve put forward. 

The NFL’s Oakland Raiders relocated to Las Vegas last year and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors moved from Oakland to a new area in San Francisco in 2019. The A’s are the only pro sports team left in town.

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