The Oakland Athletics’ push to land a Bay Area ballpark in Howard Terminal hit another snag Friday after the Alameda County administrator expressed hesitancy to opt into a proposed tax district to help fund it.
“We continue to seem to go sideways with these efforts in Oakland, and that’s a big problem,” A’s president Dave Kaval said Sunday. “So we need to see real material progress, and I think the league (MLB) feels the same way.
“Things have really been positive in Vegas, especially with our trip last week and the momentum we have.”
The A’s have made five trips to Southern Nevada to explore possible relocation to the Las Vegas Valley. They are planning another trip in a couple of weeks, Kaval said.
In the city of Oakland’s proposal the city council approved in July — one the A’s didn’t agree with — a tax district is planned to generate money to repay the team for infrastructure-related costs at the site of a planned waterfront ballpark site.
As late as Friday, Kaval had expressed the team’s dismay that the city voted on its own proposal and not the one the A’s presented to the city. The A’s proposal didn’t include the requirement to have the county on board with the tax district, as the city’s does, Kaval said.
In a letter sent Friday to Oakland city administrator Edward Reiskin by Alameda County administrator Susan Muranishi, concern was raised regarding how the A’s responded to the city’s counterproposal for the proposed $12 billion Howard Terminal ballpark development. Muranishi sent a similar letter to the city, noting the county’s concerns with perceived issues between them and the A’s following the July 20 meeting at which the city council approved its own proposal.
“Based on Kaval’s consistent statement of disappointment that the city did not vote on the A’s proposal, it is apparent that the chasm between the A’s proposal and the city’s counterproposal is not limited to whether the county will join the city’s proposed Infrastructure Financing District,” Muranishi’s letter read. “It appears that the hurdles in the city’s counterproposal include economic impacts of proposed community benefit obligations, affordable housing obligations, as well as the contingency that shifts economic costs to the county. … It remains unclear that the A’s will complete a deal with Oakland even if the county agreed to join the IFD.”
Kaval called the development concerning, as the A’s were hoping to have the county vote on its possible involvement in the tax district next month, something that Muranishi’s letter noted no longer would occur.
“It’s really disappointing to see what’s happening with these letters from the county,” Kaval said. “This is injecting a lot more uncertainty in Oakland and getting to a deal. We’re still working hard to see if we can bridge the gap, but this is another big complication.”
Kaval said the A’s are waiting to hear back from the city to determine what this means or if it is willing to revise its proposal, with the county removed from the equation. If not, it’s unclear if plans could move forward in the Bay Area.
“It may create an insurmountable gap on the financial side,” Kaval said.
Muranishi noted the county wanted to meet with city officials in September, but added that the questions surrounding the negotiations between the city and the A’s and final results from an environmental impact review weren’t expected until year’s end.
“This again confirms that county staff will not return to the board of supervisors in September with recommendations,” Muranishi wrote. “The current status is too speculative and uncertain for the county to move forward now and commit limited staff and financial resources on a costly independent analysis. We welcome ongoing updates from the city as your negotiations with the A’s progress to help inform the timing of our next steps.”
If the county and city’s meeting resulted in a vote by Alameda officials in October, that would still fit in the A’s time frame to have an answer in Oakland.
“That would be significant if that, in fact, happens,” Kaval said. “I don’t know if that will happen. At some point, all these loose ends need to be tied up. As they continue to be out there festering, it’s concerning for the success of the project.”