Oakland Athletics And Raiders Spar Over Stadium Situation, Manfred Remains Silent
The Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Raiders have been engaging in a passive-aggressive public relations battle over the fate of new stadiums that each team desperately wants and needs. The spat began earlier this month when Raiders owner Mark Davis blamed the Raiders’ inability to formulate a stadium plan on the refusal of the Athletics to commit to Oakland. At a February 11th news conference, Davis commented “There’s an elephant in the room, and that’s the Oakland A’s … They have to make a commitment to what they want to do.”
Bewildered by Davis’ comments, Lew Wolff fired a statement back the following day. In it, he explained that “…The A’s signed a 10-year lease at the Coliseum because we are committed to Oakland.” He argued that Davis has every right to build a new football-only stadium, and nothing that the A’s have done have impeded their ability to do so.
One person who remains unmoved by this back-and-forth is baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. Joe Stiglich reported Monday that Manfred unequivocally removed himself from the local politics involved with the stadium situation. When Manfred met with media to commemorate the start of spring training, he remarked, “The differentiation between the Coliseum site and maybe a site that’s downtown, that’s a local issue. That’s for the A’s to sort out.”
The A’s don’t necessarily need Manfred to meddle in local politics in order to get a new stadium. If getting a new stadium is the result of cultivating public opinion, then the A’s clearly have a path of far less resistance than the Raiders do.
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Firstly, Wolff has expressed that the A’s ownership group has the ability to pay for most if not all of a new baseball-only stadium project, compared to the $400 million that he Raiders will need to somehow raise in order to fulfill their billion dollar stadium ambitions.
Secondly, the Supreme Court decided not to hear San Jose’s case against Major League Baseball, which was the A’s final path to moving to San Jose. So the A’s are now able to focus their entire stadium effort in Oakland, whereas the Raiders still have Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Antonio lingering in their plans. The A’s are exploring stadium opportunities in Oakland in good faith; the Raiders are really only exploring their alternative options at this point.
From a PR standpoint, the A’s have a plan; the Raiders are a mess.
Mayor Libby Schaaf is optimistic about putting a new baseball-only stadium at Howard Terminal, but the team has reasonable objections to that site. Primarily, this location sits over a mile from the nearest BART terminal, so building on this site could be a downgrade in accessibility from the current Coliseum site. Wolff has also expressed concerns about toxic waste cleanup at Howard Terminal, as well as getting permission from the state to use the site for a non-maritime purpose.
The A’s are slowly but surely coming closer to a stadium resolution, and the location may ultimately be up to public opinion. Is it okay for a new stadium to be so far away from a BART station, or can a new BART terminal be built near Jack London Square just for use during A’s games? Will the city offer the new property to the A’s for a price that allows the team to pay for most or all of the stadium costs? Can the A’s sway public opinion in such a way that puts pressure on the Raiders to cooperate?
No matter the answer to these questions, it is clear that the A’s are perhaps years closer to a new stadium than the Raiders, who are still stuck in the “what city do we want to live in?” phase of planning.