Olympics’ Failure May Save Oakland Athletics
San Francisco, again, made a bid to host the Olympics but the 2024 summer games will be played somewhere else (Boston if it’s in the United States) and that should be a relief to Oakland Athletics fans.
While aspirations of hosting the Olympics have danced in the heads of rich guys in San Francisco for decades, the fact of the matter is that there are insufficient facilities to host the games and, therefore, the festivities would have to be spread over the entire bay area.
For a time it was suggested that a temporary stadium could be built in Brisbane. Regardless of your opinion on that location, it was undoubtedly a tough sell to the Olympic committee that determines which U.S. city will represent the U.S. in the bidding war for the games. In a last ditch effort to seal the deal, San Francisco and Oakland mayors came up with a plan to build a track and field stadium in Oakland. This stadium would, post-Olympics, be given to the Raiders. Good fit for the Raiders, sure, but if you want the Oakland Athletics to remain in Oakland this could prove a problem.
The track and field stadium would be built on the current Coliseum site and would also include a velodrome which, I had no idea until today, is for cycling. This creates a bit of a crowding issue since the current Coliseum would, presumably, remain built during construction and the arena would remain intact. When you factor in parking, there’s truly no room for a baseball stadium in this picture. Once the football stadium is built and the original Coliseum were demolished, then you could erect a new baseball park but, at that point, we’d be looking several years to a decade down the road.
In this scenario, it’s a logistical nightmare to keep the Athletics in place through the process and it may be increasingly difficult to find locations, investors, and interest in a new ballpark once the Olympics were over.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has indicated that her top priority is keeping the A’s in Oakland which means that there may have been a plan in place for the A’s, had the bid been accepted, but no indication of that being true has been given from the mayor’s office. Also, this particular plan would end the will-they-won’t-they Ross and Rachael soap opera that is Oakland/Raiders forever which might have enough benefit for Oakland to change their preference.
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There’s also one small matter that should concern A’s fans and that is the fact that San Francisco Giants’ CEO Larry Baer is in charge of this bid. You read that right. The Giants have figured out a way to build a stadium for the Raiders that would essentially force the Oakland A’s out of the bay area and, by his own admission, this plan has been in the works for “months”.
If the San Francisco bid were to be accepted and the Olympics were headed to the bay area in 2024, the Raiders would still have to OK the whole proposition but, as Baer said, this deal could be the “missing piece to the financing to keep the Raiders here”.
If this plan has been in the works for months and Lew Wolff was aware that this plan was in discussion, it might help to explain the relative silence we’ve seen from the organization over the past few months. Since the signing of a lease extension there has been very little chatter from the offices of the Athletics regarding the stadium, and while some fans want to connect Wolff’s silence with his ambivalence towards working with Oakland it very well may mean that he has been waiting to see how this all panned out.
There is much room for debate regarding the benefits of the Olympics coming to the bay area but one thing that is virtually without reasonable debate is that winning this bid would make things significantly more difficult for the Athletics moving forward and it would all be in the hands of Larry Baer.
If you’d like a more detailed rundown of the bid and some of the residual effects this bid would have on the bay area, I strongly suggest heading over to our friend at newballpark.org and reading his coverage.