The Oakland City Council voted Wednesday evening to approve a new 10-year lease between the Oakland A’s and the Joint Powers Commission that controls the O.co Coliseum, ensuring that the aging stadium will not be torn down for at least another two years. This represents a blow to plans being negotiated by the Raiders and the Coliseum City redevelopment agency that call for the demolition of the Coliseum in 2015 so construction can begin on a new stadium.
After a spirited debate and emotional pleas from members of the public, the City Council voted 5-2 to approve the lease with a number of late amendments, meaning that the lease must now be returned to the Joint Powers Authority and Alameda County Board of Supervisors for the changes to be approved. It was unclear on Wednesday night whether or not the A’s can back out of the modified lease, and some observers speculated that the JPA and the County may vote down the amended lease altogether.
Even with the amendments, approval of a new lease is a bad sign for fans who want to see the Raiders continue on in Oakland. The Raiders, whose lease extension ends after this season, announced negotiations to be in a brand new, state of the art football-only stadium by 2018 in Oakland, and clearly have no interest in continuing to share a home with the baseball team. A key clause in the lease requires the A’s to have two years notice to vacate before any demolition could take place at the old stadium, meaning demolition could not occur before the end of the 2016 MLB season. This would push the timeline back on a potential new home for the Raiders.
Mark Davis may not be willing to wait any longer and likely has suitors lined up for a permanent move. The Raiders may move southwest to Santa Clara permanently and share a stadium with the 49ers, a model that seems to function well for the Giants and Jets, who also share a significantly larger media market. There is also the potential for a more distant relocation, either to Los Angeles or another market.
With approval by the Joint Powers Authority and the Board of Supervisors – and the A’s – still pending, tonight’s “yes” vote by the City did not have the finality that this author expected. There is still a strong possibility that the amended lease falls through and paves the way for the Coliseum City project to build the Raiders a new permanent home in Oakland. Still, with an election upcoming and a city in deep financial crisis, it is impossible to tell if the City of Oakland will be able to put enough on the table to keep the Raiders in town.