OAKLAND, Calif. - With the Raiders and Golden State Warriors gone from the Oakland Coliseum, and the A's likely leaving there too, the question is what will take their places?
The Oakland City Council Tuesday selected the African American Sports Entertainment Group to figure that out. Its job is to negotiate deals to redevelop the city's part of the Coliseum complex.
"As a person who grew up near the Coliseum, it's a pretty overwhelming feeling because there is an opportunity to take part in revitalizing the community," says founding partner Ray Bobbitt.
The group features former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb, as well as a developer, business executive, and a sports agent, all with Oakland roots.
The City and the A's each own half the property. The A's have said they need money from developing the Coliseum to help fund their proposed waterfront ballpark if the team decides to even stay in Oakland.
"The A's have singularly focused on Howard's Terminal. I don't think they are focused on the Coliseum," said Bobbitt.
But it appears other sports teams may be interested. The group says it has had high-level talks with the Women's National Basketball Association about bringing a team to the arena.
"We are in discussions with the WNBA which are going well. They are open to bringing a team to Oakland," he said.
The group also has been speaking with the NFL about a new stadium.
"Our goal is to have the first African American majority-owned NFL team in Oakland. Part of our strategy is to have a convention center so there would be a convention center incorporated into a stadium," Bobbitt said.
The projects could create thousands of jobs.
"We want to build quality affordable housing, education, business districts. We'd like there to be a hotel," Bobbitt says.
The City Council selected the group over another team led by former A's pitcher Dave Stewart.
"They have that experience and financial backing. And I believe professional sports would be receptive," says Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo.
Longtime sports fan Chris Dobbins of the group Save Oakland Sports says he hopes the plans help keep the A's in Oakland.
"We don't want to lose the A's. Is this to the detriment of the A's? Hopefully not," Dobbins said.
The exclusive negotiating agreement is for 18 months. But it could be extended.