Community benefits in Coliseum deal

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Community benefits in Coliseum deal

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

PHOTO BY KEITH ALLISON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Jeff Shuttleworth, BAY CITY NEWS SERVICE

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning not to sell their half share of the Coliseum complex to the Oakland A’s baseball team without including community benefits such as affordable housing.
Schaaf said other benefits the county should include if they sell their share of the 155-acre Coliseum site to the A’s for $85 million are “good union jobs at prevailing local wages and sustainable and healthy environmental standards.”
Schaaf told the board, “You are a public entity. You can’t just take the money and run. You are responsible for public health in this community and other issues.”
Joining Schaaf at the meeting, City Councilman Larry Reid, who represents the East Oakland district where the Coliseum is located and is vice chair of the board that oversees its operations, said, “The city is asking you to do right” by including community benefits.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote later Tuesday on entering into formal negotiations with the A’s on a deal to sell the county’s half ownership of the Coliseum complex to the baseball team for $85 million.
The board went into executive session after Schaaf and Reid spoke and will address the Coliseum issue when it resumes the public portion of its meeting.
In a memo to the board, County Administrator Susan Muranishi wrote, “The parties (the county and the A’s) have reached agreement to terms satisfactory to both parties and are prepared to begin discussions to formulate a binding agreement.”
Ownership of the site is jointly shared by the county and the city of Oakland.
The city of Oakland had considered buying out the county’s share and taking full control of the site but nothing was ever 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.”
Schaaf also said it’s unclear if the county has the legal right to sell its share of the jointly owned Coliseum property.
Reid said some council members he’s spoken to want the city to consider legal action if the county sells its share to the A’s, but said he thinks a legal battle can be avoided if the county agrees to include community benefits in its deal with the team.
The proposed deal comes as the Oakland A’s, who currently play at the aging Coliseum stadium, are pushing a plan to build a new baseball stadium at the Howard Terminal waterfront site north of Jack London Square.
The A’s say they want to redevelop the existing Coliseum complex into a site that could include a large park, housing and businesses.
Muranishi said if the sale to the A’s goes through, the county would 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.
The Raiders will play in Oakland again this fall but plan to move to Las Vegas next year if a new stadium being built for them is ready by then.
By adding other expenses for operating the Coliseum and the Oracle Arena that the county wouldn’t have to pay any more, the county would “significantly benefit” by saving $13 million a year, Muranishi wrote in her memo.