OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday for a framework on how to build and fund a major development project that includes a waterfront baseball stadium for the Oakland A's.
City officials are calling the vote a "milestone" in the path towards getting the Oakland A's a new waterfront stadium. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and fellow city leaders seemed optimistic they could reach an agreement with the team. However, the team's president says they need more time to digest the amendments presented to them.
In a 6 to 1 vote with one abstaining, the city council passed an amended resolution on a non-binding term sheet for the A's proposed $12 billion ballpark along the Oakland estuary at Howard Terminal, but it remains unclear if the A's will agree to the city's terms.
In a joint statement released by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, the city leaders after the vote said they, "believe the A’s can and should agree to the terms approved by the City Council today."
There have been several disagreements over the terms for building a new multi-billion dollar waterfront stadium and negotiations have been drawn out. Ahead of the vote, A's President Dave Kaval said the team cannot accept the amended term sheet for the new stadium agreement.
Following the critical vote, Kaval said, "We were hoping today would be a 'yes' vote on the proposal we provided in April, or a derivative of it...To vote on something we had not been privy to, or had time to digest...it's hard to understand how that's a path forward."
Kaval said he had not seen the language of the amended resolution for the term sheet until it was "presented on the screen."
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred also expressed his displeasure with the city council's vote.
"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," Manfred said. "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."
Some of the amendments included seeking state and federal funds to pay for infrastructure costs.
Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said she was looking for a "win-win" situation for the city of Oakland. "That means keeping the A's in Oakland, but also making sure we get the benefits and respect we deserve," she said. Bas said she would move forward with a vote on the amended term sheet.
Councilmember Carroll Fife said it seemed as if the city council was poised to vote on something the A's were bound to turn down.
The non-binding term sheet is the basic financial framework for building the A's a new ballpark in Oakland. City staff have recommended city leaders approve that deal, but there are still some major sticking points.
The 35,000 seat ballpark would be privately financed by the A's in the amount of $1 billion. However, the team does not want to pay directly for affordable housing; something that is usually required for a major development of this stature.
The A's have said instead of paying directly for some of the infrastructure and development costs, they would instead create tax districts that the city could tap into in the future.
The city leaders in their joint statement seemed focused on keeping the A's "Rooted in Oakland," which has been their slogan as of late.
"We look forward to continue working with the A’s to address their remaining concerns and to focus now on developing a final Environmental Report and binding Development Agreement that address the complex details of this visionary project," the statement read.
But fans were left feeling pessimistic ahead of the critical vote.
"Here we are again. Raiders gone. Warriors are gone," lamented A's fan Marcelino Montoya. "If the A's leave, it's going to be a tough thing for this community to handle."
Oakland has lost its other two major league sports teams in the past few years.
Fans at Monday night's A's game at the Coliseum were noticeably nervous about the vote and the team's future in Oakland.
Several community groups, environmental organizations, labor groups and representatives from the Port of Oakland gathered Monday to protest the building of a new stadium. They are pushing for a no vote and claim the new stadium would create a traffic nightmare.
A member of Sierra Club of Alameda County said the site is one of the most toxic in the East Bay. Other protesters said they did not want to foot the bill by paying for the stadium's taxes.
As public comment got underway, callers voiced their opinion and claimed if the A's leave, hundreds of local jobs would be lost. Another commenter said, "Call their [A's organization] bluff and keep the A's at the Coliseum."
Some said you couldn't sell the team for "a billion dollars." And there were those who are suspicious of the team's motives. "Las Vegas is nowhere near water. Disingenuous that it is ball park or bust."