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MLB Commissioner Says Oakland Could Lose A's Unless City Drops Coliseum Lawsuit

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Major League Baseball's commissioner is warning the city of Oakland to either drop the lawsuit against the A's plans to redevelop the Coliseum site or risk losing the team altogether.

Commissioner Rob Manfred had two separate meetings with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Council President Rebecca Kaplan. Councilmember Larry Reid was present for both meetings.

"The commissioner basically said that he wants this lawsuit to go away. That the A's had other options that they could consider if we didn't get our act together," Reid said.

The commissioner reminded everyone in the meeting that five years ago, he supported the team staying in Oakland instead of going to San Jose. He reminded everyone that the A's have a AAA team in Vegas and that Bay Area fans would be coming to Vegas anyway to watch the Raiders.

Alameda County is trying to sell its ownership stake in the Coliseum back to the A's, but Oakland is suing to try and stop the transaction. When the city filed the lawsuit to block the sale of the Coliseum to the A's, the team said they felt blindsided. 

Reid said Commissioner Manfred came in and laid down the law. "I don't think he was bluffing," Reid said. "He was very serious." 

And whatever the commissioner said seems to have worked. Staff from the ity of Oakland and Alameda County are meeting this week to try and hash out the situation behind the scenes.

"The commissioner showed up and he just threw down.  And the message was loud and clear. He wants the issue regarding the disposition of the coliseum land resolved, and he wants the lawsuit to go away," Reid said.

Pastor LJ Jennings, president of the Bay Area Community Benefit Organization, says any deal must have provisions for affordable housing and job security for surrounding neighborhoods.

"For them to come in and lay down the gauntlet, so to speak, and threaten or put out into the atmosphere that A's would be leaving Oakland, I think it's part muscle, it's part scare tactics," Jennings said. "I think the A's cannot go anywhere else in this country with having a better fan base that Oakland already provides them."

Mayor Schaaf said she's confident about keeping the team in Oakland.

"I've been clear about the path to keeping the A's in Oakland — build a privately-financed ballpark that's responsible to taxpayers and enhances neighborhood vitality," Schaaf said.

After the behind-the-scenes meetings, staff members will report back to city council on Oct. 15. The next court hearing for the lawsuit is Nov. 14.

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