In the midst of an outstanding 2014 MLB season for the Oakland Athletics, the franchise learned more good news about its future when it announced a 10-year deal to remain at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, better known as O.co.
Eric Fisher of the SportsBusiness Journal reported the news on Wednesday:
MLB Public Relations provided the full statement from commissioner Bud Selig:
However, Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle later followed with comments from Mayor Jean Quan and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley stating that an agreement had not been finalized:
We are still negotiating, so were surprised by the announcement of an agreement,’ [Quan] said. ‘We plan to meet (Thursday), continue negotiations, and hope there will be an agreement soon.’
‘We very much appreciate Commissioner Selig’s support for Oakland to be the home of the A’s,’ [Miley] said. ‘We are still fine-tuning the details of the license agreement between the Authority and the A’s. It is our hope that the details will be finalized shortly.’
The Coliseum, shared by both the Oakland Raiders and Athletics, has been the home for both franchises since 1966.
While it hasn’t been the home of many NFL playoff games over the last decade, the A’s have hosted several postseason series at O.co. Oakland has won the loaded American League West for the last two seasons and three times in the last eight years.
But the Coliseum has experienced issues over the last several years. Sewage overflow has become an issue at the park, and it happened again this season, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle notes:
Outfielder Josh Reddick voiced his sarcastic excitement over the issues:
Not exactly great working conditions for a contending MLB club.
That was enough fuel to spark many Athletics fans and businesspeople to believe that the franchise deserved a new home of its own. Oakland Waterfront Ballpark leaders Don Knauss and T. Gary Rogers stated their case in an op-ed that ran in the Oakland Tribune:
Everyone agrees the Oakland A’s need a new ballpark — what has been harder to agree on, for some reason, is where that new home should be. In our view, the only answer is the Oakland Waterfront.
The good news for the A’s and Major League Baseball is that Oakland has a 50-acre waterfront site adjacent to Jack London Square and connected to Broadway, Oakland’s downtown commercial artery. And, it’s available to the A’s today.
Even the Raiders have voiced their displeasure with remaining issues at the stadium in the past. The site of the “Black Hole” has fallen off and Raiders owner Mark Davis believes it’s time for a new home.
Before the 10-year deal was finalized, Davis spoke about the issues it would cause for his team, per Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News:
They feel the same way as I do that in order to do a really comprehensive building development there, you have to tear the Coliseum down to start with. You can’t be putting the stadium in a corner here–because of infrastructure and all that. […]
So the stadium’s got to come down. So it does make a problem, there’s no two ways about it.
Despite the efforts, the Athletics will continue to call O.co Coliseum their home over the next decade. While some will still likely debate whether or not it was the right decision, it is still home to tradition and excellence for the last several seasons.
What the future holds for the Athletics is still up in the air. After the contract runs out, will Oakland bolt for greener pastures or look to remain at the coliseum? More importantly, can amenities be made to improve its current condition in the meantime?
Thanks to a rabid fanbase and a great product on the field highlighted by players like Sonny Gray, Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick, the A’s will continue to give reason for fans to fill the stands. For now, both the team and fans will remain in O.co Coliseum.
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