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When it Hits the Fan
by Chris De Benedetti
Previous Columns

Report from Today's Press Conference & Redevelopment Committee Meeting - 07/09/2002

Today (Tuesday, July 9) included two very big and positive steps for keeping the A's in Oakland. Firstly, as many of you saw in the paper today and heard on the radio talk shows, the A's have signed a new 5-year lease extension to play at the Oakland Coliseum until at least 2007, with three one-year extensions that may push the lease until 2010. The A's do have an exit clause that allows them to leave with 120 days notice and by paying whatever's left of unpaid rent plus $250,000. The black out dates were reduced from 8 days to 5 from the previous deal. The A's will pay the JPA $500,000 in annual rent from 2003-05, increasing to $550,000 in 2006, and $600,000 in 2007. The three one-year club options will have $700,000 in rent. Those are the general terms.

The best part was the press conference, which was held in front of the Alameda County building on Oak St. in downtown Oakland. Owner Steve Schott was seated between Scott Haggerty and Ignacio De La Fuente. They were mostly all smiles. They talked of how this is the first step to solidifying the team's long-term future between the A's and the East Bay and in building a new A's ballpark. All three talked of how the cooperation between the county, city and team have improved a lot. Schott said he now can focus on picking a site for the new A's ballpark.

All the Bay Area TV network news people were there, as well as reporters from the SF Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune (ANG), and the Contra Costa Times. Eyleen Nadolny was interviewed by Sherry Hu of KPIX-TV, and Eyleen, Ron Cope, Chris De Benedetti and Colbert Tse were interviewed by Guy Ashley of the Contra Costa Times.

At the same time, just up the road at Oakland City Hall, the City Council's Community and Economic Development Committee discussed the Forest City ENA for the Uptown housing project. Among those present were Oakland Councilmembers Jane Brunner, Dick Spees, and Nancy Nadel. After hearing a presentation from Forest City, and hearing Oakland residents, Steve Douglas and Rusty Gates, speak in favor of a new ballpark at the Uptown site, Dick Spees made a motion for the A's to be allowed to negotiate with the city regarding the Uptown site, even if the city moves forward with Forest City talks for housing in or near that site. Jane Brunner seconded the motion and the item was forwarded to the city council to be discussed and voted on at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 23. If the item passes, then the A's have one big obstacle removed from negotiating for the Uptown site. And we strongly encourage them now to step forward and further publicly show their commitment to leading the charge on the new ballpark drive.

Also, we have heard that we can expect the financial package from the city to be presented to the A's very soon after the All-star Game. The city officials have the financial proposal ready and have presented it to the mayor prior to presenting it to the team owners.

That July 23 city council meeting now looms as the most important meeting in the ballpark drive. But, more on that later. As for now, this is a really positive day for keeping the A's in Oakland long-term. The lease extension has passed, and there appears to be as much goodwill between the A's and the city/county as there's ever been in the Schott/Hofmann era.


by Chris De Benedetti

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