OAKLAND, Calif. - The question of whether the Athletics baseball team will remain in Oakland still lingers despite a vote by the Oakland City Council approving the term sheet for the team's proposed $12 billion waterfront ballpark development. The term sheet included a last-minute amendment by Council member Rebecca Kaplan that included a big concession by the city that would relieve the A's from spending hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure improvements around the Howard Terminal site.
On Tuesday, six council members voted yes. Council member Noel Gallo voted no, and council member Carroll Fife abstained.
Council member Rebecca Kaplan's amendment removed one big sticking point for the A's, by putting the burden on the city of Oakland to patch together funding from local, state, and federal sources to pay for the transportation infrastructure improvements needed to make the waterfront site viable.
"That's a huge, huge concession. And frankly, I don't see us conceding anything more than we already have," said Dan Kalb, Oakland City Council Member, "The city has gone huge leaps and bounds to accommodate the A's, and at some point, enough is enough. And we have to do what we have to do to protect the city and protect the city's ratepayer the taxpayers."
"This is the first time we've seen those amendments so we're still digesting some of those things, but there has been progress in the negotiations. We've made concessions. The city's made concession," said A's President Dave Kaval.
Kaval later said the six 'yes' votes were a positive thing but maintained that the council was voting on a deal that the A's had not yet approved.
"From our perspective this is not a term sheet that works for the A's," said Kaval.
That did not sit well with some city council members who say the council has bent over backwards to accommodate the A's while protecting Oakland taxpayers. They accused the A's of playing games.
"After doing somersaults, after receiving insults, after being disrespected, after all of the things Oakland A's fans and Oakland residents have gone through after this last little while, I don't know where we go from here," said council member Fife.
"Let's face it, we've been pushed around, and we let ourselves be pushed around, and we made a lot of concessions because of that, at some point, we're done. And that that point is very very soon if not already here," said council member Kalb.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the A's did agree to meet the legal requirement to include affordable housing in the proposed project which includes 3,000 new residential units.
"I have good reason to believe that the A's are willing to construct 15% of the project's housing to be affordable," said Mayor Schaaf.
Schaaf says she believes the two sides are very close to a deal.
"The primary difference between where the city council and I am and where the A's are...is the degree and source of funding for the community benefits fund," said Schaaf. She says the city wants the A's to allow Oakland to charge a transfer fee for condominium sales that would go towards a community benefits fund.
Joined by city councilmembers at the Howard Terminal on Wednesday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf made a last pitch for the A's to stay. She called the proposed ballpark "iconic" and "beautiful and community serving."
The mayor said the proposed new ballpark district would be a new neighborhood with union jobs, public parks, safety improvements and once again mentioned affordable housing.
Schaaf even touted the Bay Area's ideal weather. She mentioned it's better here as opposed to the 106 degree heat Las Vegas is experiencing. The A's are looking into a prospective move to Vegas.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred sent KTVU a statement saying, "For the last four years at my request and urging, the Athletics have invested significant resources and have made a major commitment to their community in the hopes of remaining as Oakland's only major professional sports franchise. We are disappointed the city council chose to vote on a proposal to which the A's had not agreed. We will immediately begin conversations with the A's to chart a path forward for the club."
Kaval was in Vegas on Wednesday. He told KTVU he was meeting with different land, resort and casino owners and operators to understand the potential for the A's in Oakland. He seemed one step ahead of Schaaf's quip about the weather and was already in talks with architects on what the logistics of a retractable roof for the stadium would entail.
As for Oakland, Kaval says the A's would like a binding financial plan by the end of the baseball season.
Timing could be a challenge, though, as the city council is scheduled to go on summer recess in August.