For just about as long as any fan of the Oakland Athletics can remember, the topic of the future of the team has been a topic of discussion. Most likely there isn’t a fan out there who isn’t sick and tired of hearing about the stadium situation, territorial rights, Lew Wolf, the blue ribbon committee, Bud Selig, and Oakland vs. San Jose. For a team that has resurrected itself over the past two years, despite the postseason disappointment, it has been an injustice to the team that this dark cloud looms over them.
April 6, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) runs out during player introductions before the game against the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Now, as the years of speculation pile up like unused World Series tickets in the garbage can, a very real problem has presented itself before the A’s as they prepare to turn the page to 2014. As of this writing, the A’s do not have a home. By that I don’t mean that it isn’t set as to where they’ll play in 5 years, it’s not 100% guaranteed where they’ll play next year. It’s a scary thought, one that many A’s fans may not have processed yet in the wake of the team’s ALDS loss, but it’s something that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. The team’s lease with the O.co Coliseum expired at the end of the 2013 season, and negotiations on a lease extension have gone about as well as labor relations at BART recently. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle recently noted the uncertainty of the Athletics’ future.
It’s hard to imagine the A’s really playing anywhere next year aside from the O.co Coliseum, but it wouldn’t be the first time they were essentially evicted from their home. Some may recall in the mid-90’s when the monstrosity that is Mount Davis was being constructed that the A’s played some games at Cashman Field in Las Vegas for a period of time. Perhaps we could see a situation like that take place in 2014. Could they possibly be forced to head down the I-80 corridor and share Raley Field with the Sacramento River Cats? It seems incredibly far fetched, and scheduling issues would certainly have to be dealt with, but it’s not impossible. Perhaps they would jump across the bay and play games at AT&T Park? The thought is sickening for most fans, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Chances are that they’ll end up right back in the O.co Coliseum, and a deal will be worked out in some form before December 31 when the lease officially expires. This past year though forcefully illustrated the desperate need for a new ballpark for the A’s to call home. We saw the Coliseum transform from a place that simply lacked the posh accommodations of other MLB ballparks, to a place that saw multiple incidents with raw sewage leaks that directly affected the players. That will not stand.
We all know the Coliseum is essentially a dump, and our visceral reaction is to declare, “it’s our dump!” There’s nothing wrong with that, and many fans have hundreds, if not thousands of memories made there. But anyone who believes the Athletics future is in that building is simply kidding themselves.