Selig: New Stadium A Necessity


August 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; MLB commissioner Bud Selig addresses the media in a press conference before the game between the New York Mets and the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In his final visit to Oakland as MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig was grilled with questions during a pregame news conference before the A’s-Mets match-up about the A’s pursuit for a new stadium.

Selig, 80, who has been commissioner since 1992, stated the A’s situation was “complicated” and that he was “frustrated” over the team not having a new stadium.

During his 22 years at the helm of MLB, 22 new ballparks were built and he leaves next January with Oakland, and possibly Tampa Bay, still in search of new digs. In the past and on Tuesday, Selig has come out and said the A’s need a new stadium

A few weeks ago the A’s and City of Oakland along with Coliseum Authority officials agreed to a lease extension that could keep the team at the ancient and decrepit Coliseum, where they’ve called home since 1968, through 2024.

As part of the lease, city leaders say the team agrees to stay in Oakland for at least two years and face a $1.6 million per year penalty if leave they before the lease is up. The deal also requires that the A’s engage in good faith discussions about building a new ballpark in Oakland.

As one who just returned from the Mid-West where I saw the A’s play at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City with a short train ride follow up to St. Louis to see the Cardinals at the new Busch, I can honestly say something needs to be done soon about the Athletics having a new stadium.  This year also saw appearances by me in A’s jerseys cheering them on at Safeco in Seattle and AT&T in San Francisco and San Diego in previous years – all new stadiums tantalizing me with what the A”s could also have in a new ballpark.

Recent discussions in Oakland have revolved around a new stadium at the existing Coliseum site and Howard Terminal – which lacks the infra-structure of public transportation access and surrounding niceties that other downtown ballparks feature.

The newer stadiums I’ve visited are filled with comforts and luxuries A’s fans deserve: wide concourse walkways – a  standard in the newbies – allowing fans to move freely, even in sell outs unlike the cramped Coliseum thoroughfares that are gridlocked by concessions lines; a field free of having to share with an NFL team; views of the surrounding landscape and skylines that define the municipality. (Insert any complaint here part about how Mt. Davis ruined the Oakland Hills view).

Fans that have visited those and others can also testify to the benefit of newer stadiums with their bustling and thriving downtown areas and renewed attendance figures.

Rob Manfred, a lawyer by trade, who was recently elected baseball’s 10th commissioner effective in January, is well-versed in the A’s stadium plight. During the Coliseum lease negotiations he stepped forward ordering city officials to approve the lease with undisclosed “or else” pressures. Manfred also defended MLB in upholding the Giants territorial rights preventing A’s Owner Lew Wolfe from moving to San Jose last year.

We can hope into his term as new commish, one of his first accomplishments toward his legacy will be opening a new facility for the A’s.