A's win exclusive bargaining rights for new ball park

For all intents and purposes, the Oakland A's have won exclusive bargaining rights to put a new ball park either at the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal or the current 120-acre Coliseum site. That will erase the $135 million debt the city and county owes for previous improvements to the current ball park and arena. 

With only formalities left, negotiations can begin early next month. To commemorate this, the Oakland A's and the City of Oakland hoisted the team flag over the roof of city hall on Wednesday as the season is about to open, along with a new chapter in the 50-year history of the A's tenure here. 

Pending approval from the Port of Oakland for Howard Terminal. and approval of the city and county for the Coliseum site, there will be exclusive negotiating rights granted to the Oakland A's for both sites.  

"We double our chances to keep the A's rooted in Oakland," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. 

"With the setback at Peralta in December, I think it's important to have options because, you know,” said A’s President Dave Kaval. “We want to find a solution that works for the city of Oakland, for our community and for the A's and being able to parallel path these two options is a great step to do that.”

The sticking point: price. 

When the Raiders considered buying the land long ago, it was valued for $150 million. Today, principals of a major commercial real estate firm say, as a truck logistics center to service the port, it's might be worth $180 million. For a mixed use combination of housing, retail, light industrial and other amenities, the price goes even higher. 

The A's want to put housing, retail offices and other everyday uses on the property to make sure it pays for itself and enhances the community. 

"Before any transaction takes place, we're going to have to go back out and have that land reappraised. Anything else would be a gift of public funds," said Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, who will have a vote in the decision.

So, the A's offer of $135 million is, at best, only an opening bid in the negotiations. "This is a fifty to a hundred year decision. Everything about the price and the terms -- all the different aspects -- will be conducted in that negotiation," said the Kaval. 

"(We will) figure out what a fair value is, both for the A's and for the taxpayers of Oakland" said Mayor Schaaf.

One thing that could sweeten the deal for both sides is the ongoing arbitration between the Alameda Count and the City on one side versus the departing Golden State Warriors.  The team may be financially obligated to pay for improvements to their current home, Oracle Arena, which could be many millions of dollars.

The A's say they want a final deal by the end of the year to open the new part for the 2023 season.