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Board of Supervisors approve talks to sell county's Coliseum share to A's

Miley: 'The county has been moving to getting out of the sports business'

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin formal negotiations on a proposed deal in which the Oakland A's baseball team would buy the county's half ownership of the Coliseum complex for $85 million.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told the board at the beginning of the meeting that the county shouldn't sell its half share to the A's without including community benefits such as affordable housing, good union jobs and healthy environmental standards.

But Supervisor Scott Haggerty said the county can't do anything about those issues because the county doesn't control the Coliseum property.

"That discussion would be better in the Oakland City Council's chambers," Haggerty said.

The proposed deal comes as the A's, who currently play at the aging Coliseum stadium, are pursuing a plan to build a new ballpark at the Howard Terminal waterfront site north of Jack London Square.

Simultaneously, the A's want to redevelop the existing Coliseum complex into a site that could include a large park, housing and businesses.

Supervisor Nate Miley, who chairs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority that oversees the Coliseum's operations, said the county's desire to sell its share of the site "should not be a surprise to anyone" because it has been trying to do so for at least six years.

"The county has been moving to getting out of the sports business" so it can focus on core issues such as health care and homelessness, Miley said.

The city has talked about buying the county's share of the site but nothing has ever been finalized.

After she addressed the board, Schaaf told reporters, "The city has in good faith been negotiating a buyout of the county's interest. Negotiators met as recently as last week and we've made progress on several responsible financing methods."

Oakland A's president Dave Kaval said after the board's vote that he hopes a deal for the A's to buy the county's share of the Coliseum property can be finalized soon.

"We're looking forward to working with the city" on ways to develop the Coliseum site, Kaval said, adding that the A's also would be interested in buying the city's share if it wants to sell it.

Kaval said that because the Golden State Warriors basketball team and the Raiders football team will be leaving Oakland soon, the A's will be the only tenant at the Coliseum property and it could quickly move forward to get affordable housing and retail businesses there.

At the meeting, Kaval told the Board of Supervisors, "The A's are committed to the city of Oakland and we've been here 51 years."

Kaval said the deal to sell the county's share of the Coliseum to the A's could be "a catalyst" to get all of their plans to become a reality.

Kaval said, "We're ready to go now" and the team hopes to break ground for a new stadium at the Howard Terminal site in 2021 and begin playing games there in 2023.

In a memo to the board, Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi said if the sale to the A's goes through, the county could use the $85 million to pay off its portion of the outstanding bond debt on the Coliseum that was needed to bring the Raiders football team back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995 and save $13 million a year.

— Bay City News Service

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