OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Frustrated with delays to their plans to build a new waterfront ballpark, the Oakland Athletics have been given a greenlight by Major League Baseball to consider relocating to cities outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.
ESPN's Jeff Passan, crediting sources, was the first to report on the latest twist in the A's search for a replacement home to the aging Oakland Coliseum.
"This is really the last location that can work in Oakland," A's team president Dave Kaval told KPIX 5.
Losing the A's would be the final blow to the city's status as a home to a major sports franchise. Oakland has already lost the NFL's Raiders to a new stadium facility in Las Vegas that opened last year. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco in late 2019 when the team built the Chase Center.
The possibility of the third and final pro sports franchise leaving Oakland is heartbreaking for Chris Dobbins of Save Oakland Sports. "It would be devastating. Having already lost the Warriors, having lost the Raiders to have third our team gone in the span of five years, it'd be devastating," Dobbins told KPIX 5.
Team Owner John Fisher said the team will continue pursuing the Howard Street Terminal waterfront site, but will also begin looking elsewhere.
"The future success of the A's depends on a new ballpark," Fisher said. "Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB's direction to explore other markets."
The team wants to build a ballpark and mixed-use development at the Port of Oakland that would include up to 3,000 residential units, a hotel, parks, and commercial and retail space.
"MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A's new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland," Major League Baseball said in a statement. "The A's have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.
"The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets," the league went on to say.
Kaval said, "We're actually going to start working with the league immediately to work with other communities and see what other options exist, because we really need to get started and understand what's out there."
Following the announcement, a spokesperson for Mayor Libby Schaaf's office said the city shared the league's urgency.
"Today's statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A's rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront," said the mayor's office. "We have made great strides with the Governor's certification and release of the EIR. Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A's, we call on our entire community – regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region, and keeps the A's in Oakland where they belong."
The East Oakland Stadium Alliance, a group that has advocated for the A's to stay in East Oakland and build a new stadium at the Coliseum site, issued its own statement Tuesday criticizing the team and owner John Fisher.
"The Coliseum location is the ideal place to build a new stadium, as it already has freeway access, public transit, and more than enough space to create a 'ballpark village' that could revitalize East Oakland," the group said. "Despite 50 years of history and four World Series victories, John Fisher and the A's are now telling East Oaklanders without any explanation that East Oakland is no longer good enough."
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