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When it Hits the Fan
by Jennifer C. Medeiros
Previous Columns

MY WORD - 06/06/2002

I am a resident of the City of Oakland, and I am writing today to urge the city to approve the proposed lease extension for the Oakland As at the Coliseum.

When Scott Haggerty first brought the lease extension before the Joint Powers Authority in May, there was understandable hesitancy to approve the deal sight unseen. Further review was required, at which point the Chief Administrative Officer for the JPA, Thaxter Trafton, was brought in to work on the proposal. Since that time Mr. Trafton has been working with the team on revisions, and at the Oakland city council meeting on 5/28 a decision was made to get city council members involved with the process.

On June 11th, the city council will once again take up the lease proposal, this time in the revised form that Mr. Trafton and the city council have been working on.

Serendipitously enough, at this very same city council meeting there will be a report by Robert Bobb, City Manager and Rosie Rios, Director of Community and Economic Development regarding a tour of downtown ballparks they recently completed. This tour was a fact-finding mission to determine the viability of a downtown ballpark in Oakland.

The coincidence of these events represents a unique opportunity for the city to forge better relations with the team. Make no mistake: This is a pivotal moment for the future of the As in Oakland. Coming to mutually beneficial terms on the lease extension will stabilize the future of the team and provide the necessary time to explore the possibilities of a new ballpark in Oakland. Rejecting the lease proposal out-of-hand will send a dangerous message to the Oakland As about their importance to the city and will seriously damage the city governments relationship with the team.

I would urge the city council to listen carefully to Mr. Bobb and Ms. Rios presentation of facts from their downtown ballpark tour. The city council recently voted to move forward with the Forest City proposal for housing at the uptown location that is also considered the best site for a new As ballpark by HOK Sports. The city council will hear about the revitalization that has occurred in cities like Baltimore and Cleveland in areas surrounding new ballparks. While I understand the interest in housing at the uptown location, the ballpark and new housing are not mutually exclusive. Why not request that Forest City work with HOK Sports to develop a plan to incorporate both a new As ballpark and housing? Short of that, I would ask that the city council institute a 60-day contingency period before Forest Citys exclusive negotiating rights for the location kick in. We must consider the likelihood that people would want to live in the uptown location as it currently stands, and then envision a new ballpark attracting 3,000,000 visitors per year.

Jennifer Medeiros is an Oakland resident and a member of the Oakland As Fan Coalition.


by Jennifer C. Medeiros

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