Athletics ownership needs to commit to Oakland after City Council vote

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NBC Sports Bay Area 21 July, 2021 - 12:32pm 6 views

Are the A's leaving Oakland?

OAKLAND, Calif. ... The A's are the last professional franchise remaining in Oakland after the NBA's Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco and the NFL's Raiders to Las Vegas. The Washington PostOakland OKs terms for $12B ballpark but A's aren't happy

For even as A’s owner John Fisher continues to issue departure threats through team president Dave Kaval, the Oakland City Council keeps scrambling for ways to make it harder for them to justify abandoning an area that, all things considered, they’d rather not.

In its latest attempt to mollify the A’s in their pursuit of a $12 billion project that includes a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal, the council on Tuesday voted 6-1-1 to approve a non-binding agreement on its own proposal that seems fair to all involved parties.

If the A’s prefer to remain in the No. 6 national market, rather than the No. 40 market in Las Vegas, they will keep talking. And moreover, they will keep listening. And they will consider accepting.

If they wish to someday regain the trust of a fan base that has spent nearly two decades enduring the dilemma of loving the team but despising its owners’ decisions, then this proposal is an opportunity to prove that somewhere beneath Fisher’s billions lies a heart that warms to sentimental value.

Except Kaval — at least for public consumption — seemed less than impressed with the city’s amended term sheet, because it still doesn’t provide all that was contained in the take-it-or-leave-it deal presented by the A’s in April.

“The current term sheet as it’s constructed and its current language is not a business partnership that works for us,” he said. “To vote on something we have not been privy to and not had time to digest is a difficult thing for us. It’s hard to understand how that is a path forward.”

Though Kaval’s pessimistic response was expected, it also indicates the so-called agreement “deadline” of July 20 is not a deadline but simply another date on the calendar that determines the future fate of the 55-acre location that is Howard Terminal.

Once the Raiders and the Warriors left Oakland, Fisher and Kaval had the city to themselves. They leaned on slogans and ad campaigns – “Rooted in Oakland” – to express their commitment. They were staying for the long haul.

It didn’t take long, though, for them to enter the hardball phase. Being the only team in town means, perhaps, that town would be beyond desperate to maintain the A’s presence. So why not think big, bigger, biggest? Why not make demands that show no commitment to anything other than their desires?

That’s a no-go in Oakland, as it should be in any city. The Port of Oakland is one of the 10 busiest in the country, a key portal to the West Coast. Though Howard Terminal sits on the edge of the port, the necessary infrastructure upgrades will be massive and, whoa, who knows what the environmental impact report will contain.

The latest term sheet absolves the A’s of responsibility regarding off-site transportation infrastructure costs that are projected to be about $350 million.

“If the A’s are not happy with what was produced today and are still talking about leaving after the city has bent over backwards … and come up with all of these concessions … I don’t know where we go from here,” said District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife, who abstained from Tuesday’s vote. “After doing somersaults. After receiving insults. After being disrespected. After all the other things Oakland A’s fans and Oakland residents have gone through.”

And still, Fisher and Kaval keep dangling Las Vegas as a viable, even desirable, alternative.

“This is not a term sheet that works for A’s; it is not the basis for our proposal that we agree with,” Kaval said. “It is not beneficial to vote for something we don’t agree with.”

Though none of the council members was overtly pleased with their proposal – Dan Kalb voted yes while “holding my nose” – it was obvious they really want to keep the team in Oakland. It’s less obvious, by design, that Fisher and Kaval want to stay in Oakland.

It’s abundantly clear that negotiations are at yet another impasse but certain to be continued.

“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,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “This is the path to keeping the A’s Rooted in Oakland in a way that protects our Port and tax payers and will produce the benefits our community demands and deserves.

“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.”

Oakland’s baseball team isn’t leaving town this week or this month or any time in the next few years. There are games to play and dialogue to come.

The moving vans will have to wait.

Read full article at NBC Sports Bay Area

Oakland approves new ballpark term sheet; A's say 'not an effective path forward'

ESPN 21 July, 2021 - 10:02pm

Oakland City Council members voted 6-1 in favor of a nonbinding term sheet for the Oakland Athletics' proposed waterfront ballpark on Tuesday, but the session ended with confusion as to whether negotiations between the city and the team would continue.

A's president Dave Kaval said during the session that the new term sheet, consisting of city amendments, "is not a business partnership that works for us," echoing his sentiments from Monday, when he told ESPN that a "yes" vote under the city's terms was "akin to a 'no' vote." Kaval expressed concern that some of the amendments -- covering affordable housing and anti-displacement protections, among other items -- consisted of language that the A's were seeing for the first time and said the team was "still digesting" some of them.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who represents the owners of the 30 teams in the league, reiterated those sentiments in a statement.

"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 wrote. "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."

The A's did not immediately respond to a request for comment at the conclusion of the session. In a joint statement, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan called the vote "a milestone in our mission to keep the A's rooted in Oakland and build a world-class waterfront ballpark district that will benefit the community for generations to come."

The biggest issue coming in stemmed from an estimated $352 million payment in off-site transportation and infrastructure improvements that the city did not agree to subsidize by creating a second financing district at Jack London Square, which sits adjacent to the Howard Terminal site where the 35,000-seat stadium would be constructed. In the presentation, city official Elizabeth Lake ensured that the A's would be reimbursed for that payment through regional, state and federal funds, saying, "We believe the city has solved the issue the A's identified as most critical."

The A's, seemingly, did not agree.

"There has been progress in the negotiation," Kaval said when it was his turn to speak. "We've moved and made concessions, the city's made concessions, but I think it is important to remember that the current term sheet, even with these amendments, is not something that the A's have consensus around. It's not a term sheet that we proposed, with edits that we have come together in mutual agreement, and I just really wanna stress that voting 'yes' on something that we don't agree with or that we don't have consensus around is not an effective path forward. And so I really wanna work with the council to see how we can get something that we agree to voted on before the [summer] recess, as opposed to voting on something that doesn't work for our side."

Councilwoman Carroll Fife, who represents the district where the project would take place and ultimately abstained from voting, circled back with Kaval to clarify his stance and said, "I'm not exactly [sure] why we're even here today."

"If the A's are not happy with what was produced today," Fife went on, "and are still talking about leaving after the city has bent over backwards and provided some of their best work in the interest of Oakland residents, and come up with all of these concessions, even about how all of these wealthy owners don't have to pay for off-site infrastructure, I don't know where we go from here -- after doing somersaults, after receiving insults, after being disrespected, after all of the things Oakland A's fans and Oakland residents have gone through over this last little while. I don't know where we go from here if they're still telling us that they are not rooted in Oakland, that they are not willing to accept what the city staff has put together. ... It's not a negotiation. It's really, 'Do what we say, or we will leave.' That is not rooted. That is not respectful."

More than 1,000 people attended the session, which dedicated nearly two hours to public comments from Oakland residents who were basically split on whether to move forward with the $12 billion project. Councilman Noel Gallo, who is in favor of renovating the current Coliseum site, cast the only dissenting vote.

The A's have spent the better part of the past two decades hoping to secure a new stadium in the Bay Area, a pursuit that took them through San Jose, Fremont and multiple sites in Oakland, most notably around Laney College. Renovations of the current Coliseum site, where the A's have played since 1968, have been deemed nonviable largely because of the team's stated desire for a downtown location.

All that is seemingly left to prevent the A's from leaving Oakland -- and following the recent paths of the NBA's Golden State Warriors and the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders -- is this latest ballpark proposal in the Port of Oakland.

The A's made public proposals in April stating they would privately finance the ballpark, which will cost an estimated $1 billion, while also providing $450 million in community benefits and arranging for an additional $11 billion in private investment to eventually build up the surrounding neighborhood. The project also includes 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, up to 270,000 square feet for retail, an indoor 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms and up to 18 acres of publicly accessible open space.

But the city of Oakland made a counterproposal on Friday that Kaval said Monday "lacks details and specifics and really doesn't answer any of the questions that we have that needed to be addressed to continue to move forward," most of which is centered on how the A's would ultimately be reimbursed for an additional $352 million commitment.

The team's lease at what is now called RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. If ultimately approved, the Howard Terminal ballpark wouldn't be ready until 2027, at the earliest, leaving the A's with at least a two-year gap to cover in Oakland.

In the meantime, team officials have continued exploring Las Vegas and its surrounding areas as an alternative. Kaval and A's owner John Fisher have made three trips to southern Nevada this year and plan to return there on Wednesday. Manfred said before last week's All-Star Game that it would be "a mistake" to refer to the Las Vegas option as a bluff, calling it "a viable alternative for a major league club." Other relocation options -- including Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Montreal -- could materialize if the team's deal with the city falls through.

The city's amendments also called for a 25-year non-relocation agreement, which would begin on the first home game of the proposed new stadium, and a requirement for 35% affordable housing. A nonbinding term sheet merely lays out the framework for a final agreement. Negotiations can continue if both sides desire.

"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 city's statement read. "This is the path to keeping the A's rooted in Oakland in a way that protects our Port and tax payers and will produce the benefits our community demands and deserves."

A's president embarks on Vegas scouting trip day after Oakland votes on new proposal

KGO-TV 21 July, 2021 - 07:44pm

Oakland A's hedge their bets with Vegas visit

Schaaf suggests the A's should accept the terms the City Council voted on today. pic.twitter.com/JGvPmlYmhS

Athletic's President Dave Kaval unpacks Oakland's proposal for a possible Howard Terminal stadium.

As the A's have indicated they will possibly visit a site for a ballpark in Las Vegas this week, councilmember Gallo responded by saying "we are looking for a waterfront ballpark in Las Vegas? There ain't no waterfront."

Graney: A’s rejection of Oakland shines light on Las Vegas

Las Vegas Review-Journal 20 July, 2021 - 08:15pm

The Oakland City Council approved an amended counter proposal in regard to a Bay Area waterfront ballpark Monday, rejecting the A’s proposal.

Leverage is a terrible thing to waste in the world of negotiation, but that’s what A’s president Dave Kaval appeared to do Monday during a meeting of the Oakland City Council.

He also didn’t appear overly concerned about it either.

The council voted 6-1 with one abstention to approve an amended counter proposal in regard to a Bay Area waterfront ballpark. That meant it was rejecting the team’s proposal.

Of which Kaval responded: “We hoped it’d be a vote on something we brought in April, or a derivative of it … From our perspective, this is not a term sheet that works for the A’s … The current term sheet as it’s constructed is not a business partnership that works for us.”

Which shines a brighter light on Las Vegas for potential relocation.

If the A’s have already established themselves in the role of a cat in Oakland, why now eat the mouse?

Is it enough to walk away after decades of back-and-forth haggling and proposals on the mere point that the team wants to provide fewer public benefits and affordable housing within a proposed $12 billion project?

No matter how many concessions the city of Oakland makes — and there were some major ones in the non-binding term sheet that was approved Monday — the A’s appear to have decided theirs is a future elsewhere.

“We’re looking at a waterfront ballpark here,” councilman Noel Gallo said. “There is no waterfront in Las Vegas.”

There is Lake Mead. Minus the part about water.

Let’s assume the A’s really are done talking in Oakland. Kaval is expected to make what will be his fourth trip to Las Vegas on Wednesday and is reportedly bringing along owner John Fisher and a team architect to study potential sites for a ballpark.

Backing off Oakland again brings into focus whatever public-private partnership might ultimately be struck here. The A’s suggested Monday they’re ready to punt on a deal in which the city of Oakland added $352 million for offsite infrastructure costs to be paid by taxes and not the team.

It would bring the city’s total public contribution to $800 million.

And it’s not enough for the A’s or Major League Baseball, as commissioner Rob Manfred made clear in a statement following the vote.

Still, where else would the A’s be gifted such an enticing carrot or even one in the same stratosphere?

Those local parties interested in building a $1 billion, 30,000-seat Major League Baseball stadium — from Henderson to Summerlin to folks like casino owner Phil Ruffin and various Strip properties — should now pursue an even better deal for themselves than many might have originally believed possible.

It’s time someone stands firm on the number of public dollars bestowed by billionaire sports owners, even if the project would be determined not to include a mixed-use development plan.

Let the A’s do their market feasibility and economic and transportation studies and vet potential sponsorships and research projected ticket sales. I suppose they can regain a portion of leverage by involving additional cities in their pursuit of a ballpark and the potential for redevelopment around it. Portland. Nashville. Vancouver. Montreal.

None of it, however, means whichever group the A’s might partner with in Las Vegas should overpay to secure a deal.

“I’m not exactly (sure) why we’re even here,” Oakland council member Carroll Fife said Monday before abstaining from the non-binding vote. “I don’t know where we go from here, after doing somersaults, after receiving insults, after being disrespected … . It’s not a negotiation. It’s really, ‘Do what we say, or we will leave.’ That is not rooted. That is not respectful.”

There is a warning in there for Las Vegas: Be the cat, not the mouse.

The Montreal series was more than an opportunity lost for the Golden Knights. It was an especially forgettable six games for the team’s best player, and Mark Stone knows it.

Raiders owner Mark Davis said it was Marc Badain’s decision to resign as team president and that he neither requested nor desired it. He spent three decades with the organization.

Former coach Tom Flores and defensive back Charles Woodson will be the latest Raiders enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.

Cody Glass on Saturday was sent to Nashville, becoming the last of the Golden Knights’ three first-round picks from its inaugural draft in 2017 to be traded.

The men’s U.S. Olympic team finally won a game at Michelob Ultra Arena, pounding Argentina in an exhibition after consecutive losses to Nigeria and Australia.

The possible relocation of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas makes the search for a project site and how it would ultimately be financed fascinating.

Despite what ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose said, Kevin Love made his second Olympics basketball team for reasons other than skin color.

UNLV Rebels guard Jordan McCabe and his 450,000 social media followers is an example of how some will profit off name, image and likeness legislation.

Golden Knights fans overflow with high expectations, indulged by the success of a team that didn’t exist until 2017 but has made the NHL playoffs every season.

Hired as Golden Knights coach in January of 2020, Pete DeBoer immediately believed he was to inherit a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup.

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Oakland A’s fans cling to hope that ‘the team we love’ stays put

Red Bluff Daily News 20 July, 2021 - 07:54pm

Rob Manfred ‘Disappointed' in Oakland Vote; Dave Kaval, A's Taking Time

NBC Bay Area 20 July, 2021 - 05:19pm

The Athletics received the “yes” vote from the Oakland City Council on Tuesday, which keeps their dreams of remaining #Rooted alive. At least for now.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, however, expressed his displeasure with the Council’s decision to approve the City's amended term sheet.

“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 hopes of remaining as Oakland’s only major professional sports franchise,” Manfred said in a statement (h/t Mercury News’ Shayna Rubin). “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.” 

The "yes" vote that occurred Tuesday essentially was a statement by the City Council that they believe in the future of the A's in Oakland, but the term sheet approved was not one the A's agreed upon.

During the city council meeting, A's team president Dave Kaval said the "yes" vote "is not an effective path forward" given the team did not agree to the terms of the proposal put forward by the city of Oakland.

Kaval spoke with NBC Bay Area's Jessica Aguirre after the meeting on Tuesday, and said the team will take time in deciding their next steps.

"We were disappointed that the City Council didn't vote 'yes' on our proposal," Kaval told Aguirre. "So we're taking some time in understanding exactly what they voted 'yes' on. Many of the provisions we had never seen before.

"But we're going to analyze those things, see how they compare either positively or negatively with our term sheet and really dig into that in a thoughtful way, really caucus with Major League Baseball and get back to all parties with appropriate next steps."

The ball remains in the A’s court for now. It’s up to them to continue the conversation to keep these negotiations going. These “intense” marathon negotiations have been occurring for months between Kaval and the council. 

In April, the A’s created a public proposal to finance this $1 billion stadium to be built at Howard Terminal at Jack London Square in Oakland. The proposal had the A’s providing $450 million in community benefits as well as $11 billion in private investment. But both the A’s and the council remain very far apart in some of these key figures. 

Manfred and the league gave their backing to the A’s to seek out a new location for the team, since the momentum toward building the Howard Terminal park had been taking too long. 

Las Vegas had been one of the areas of interest, and Manfred himself said the area is viable. But he also did credit the A’s for all of the efforts they’ve been putting into making the Oakland park happen.

As of now, the A's are still scheduled for a fourth visit to Las Vegas on Wednesday.

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