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    Oakland City Council Leadership Writes to Major League Baseball

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    On May 14, 2021, Oakland City Council leadership wrote to Major League Baseball about the negotiations to keep the A’s in Oakland. The full letter is found below.

    Dear Commissioner Manfred:

    I hope this letter finds you and yours well and healthy.

    The Oakland City Council is committed to negotiating in good faith for a strong future for the A’s in Oakland, and we invite the A’s and MLB to do the same by agreeing not to seek relocation while the A’s complete the project process as the Council moves forward.

    As leadership of the City Council and representatives of the West Oakland, Downtown, and Chinatown neighborhoods, and the City at-large, we are ready to meet with you and with the A’s ownership—as we offered previously—and to thoughtfully move forward.

    From MLB’s statement, there appears to be incorrect information being conveyed. We want to make clear that it is entirely false that the City Council is delaying or refusing to consider the A’s project proposal. In fact, many people, including City staff negotiating with the A’s, have been hard at work developing the work needed to bring a project proposal forward for potential approval. Recently, the A’s leadership decided to change requests, and rather than send forward full completed deal terms for consideration, the A’s announced in the press that instead they were demanding that the Council take a vote on a summary “term sheet” without full details.

    Council leadership expressed willingness to explore this request, and met with the A’s staff and other stakeholders to seek how to best move forward. We were asked to schedule it prior to the summer recess, and were in the process, when instead MLB announced that apparently you have been given incorrect information that City leadership is refusing to work with the A’s, and you have announced your plan to enable their relocation to a new city. This relocation announcement came without giving the Council an opportunity to receive and vote on a proposal, and did not even wait for the time requested for the vote.

    Your current statement includes the unsupported conclusion that the Coliseum site is not viable. Please send to us any and all materials that you used or reviewed in making such a determination. In any case, we hope you will understand that the shifting “demands” on what Oakland must do, combined with your public threat to allow the team to leave, even while the City is undertaking the items that you and the A’s have urged, might leave the impression that there never has been any good faith intent on your part to work on a future ballpark in Oakland. However, we remain open to working together. It is possible that you didn’t intend to threaten relocation from a city, in the absence of that city’s leadership even being given an opportunity to consider a proposal from the team.

    Since the request was for a vote by August, why would you announce permission to explore relocation, prior to the date of the requested vote, if the request had been a sincere one? As we continue to work in good faith to identify the most successful way forward for everyone involved, we seek to confirm your intentions.

    Can you confirm definitively, that if the Council were to take such a vote for a term sheet regarding the A’s, that you would prohibit any action to seek or pursue relocation during those next steps?

    In order to seek a way forward, we had previously suggested a meeting between the decision-makers of the A’s (ownership), and the decision-makers of the City of Oakland (Council leadership)—to understand what the A’s intend and how best to work together. This invitation by top city officials to discuss this project has not received a response from the A’s since Council President Bas made the offer to A’s President Dave Kaval on April 30th. After making a direct offer to work together, the response came instead, through the press, of the intended plan to seek relocation. Thus, we find it particularly odd and inappropriate for you to suggest that we are unwilling to work together. We would like to similarly extend this offer to you, to meet and discuss these issues, and how to move forward most effectively.

    We, the City Council leadership team, are ready to talk with you, as well as continue our prior offer to talk with the owners of the A’s. You may contact Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas as our point person.

    Sincerely,

    Nikki Bas, Rebecca Kaplan, Carroll Fife

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland (https://twitter.com/Kaplan4Oakland) and Facebook  (https://www.facebook.com/Kaplan4Oakland/).

    Published on May 20, 2021