Coliseum Authority Does Not Vote on A’s Lease Extension After Surprising Oakland City Council Power Play

COLISEUM AUTHORITY | The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority did not vote on a proposed 10-year lease scheduled for early Friday morning to keep the Athletics at their current location a following a move by Oakland City Council to bar its two members from participating. The absence of Councilmembers Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan, along with two other JPA members, who had previous engagements, meant the JPA failed to muster a quorum and therefore could not release details of the proposed lease Friday, nor register a vote.

The Authority was expected to approve the lease that would keep the A’s at O.co Coliseum while the team explores a new stadium in Oakland. However, the deal also needs the approval of the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The JPA has scheduled another meeting for July 3 in hopes of bringing the lease deal back for consideration.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who also serves as chair of the Coliseum JPA called the Oakland City Council’s move frustrating and later added, “I am extremely, extremely annoyed and upset.”

Others on the JPA were equally upset with the Oakland City Council’s surprising move, which they say occurred during a special closed session meeting on Monday. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who along with Kaplan, worked negotiated the lease deal with the Athletics said in an interview, “I know the deal and it’s a good deal and it also allows the Raiders to build there. I know there’s a lot of people running for mayor (in Oakland). Maybe they’re mad because Rebecca and I did the deal. I don’t know.” When asked if he too was frustrated by Oakland City Hall, Haggerty said “I’m tempering my emotions. I’m not frustrated, I’m pissed off.”

Miley also hinted the two missing Oakland council members may have attending Friday’s meeting if not barred by their council colleagues. “I’m not saying they don’t attend because they didn’t want to attend, but because they were ordered to not attend.”

A City Hall source with knowledge of the closed session decision said the Oakland City Council’s vote is legally-binding and strictly forbids its two members on the JPA from attending Friday’s meeting. In addition, Kaplan’s office declined to comment.

In a joint statement from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Pat Kernighan released Friday afternoon, they said the proposed deal still needs work before it can be put before a vote. “This is an important and complex deal. Our shared work with our partners is to negotiate an agreement that benefits all sides and secures the A’s future in Oakland, while protecting the interests of Oakland residents and taxpayers,” said the statement.

“It was clear we needed more time to negotiate terms that will keep the team in Oakland and protect residents’ interests. Council President Pat Kernighan and Vice Mayor Larry Reid made multiple requests to JPA Chair Nate Miley to reschedule today’s JPA meeting. Our top priority is to ensure this deal is successful, and bringing it to a vote before it was ready would only delay a final agreement with the team.” The city council also met with Athletics representatives on Thursday, according to the statement, and described the talks as “positive and productive.”

However, the further postponement of action on the 10-year lease could have great implications for keeping the Athletics’ ownership and Major League Baseball happy, said Miley. He cited previous support from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for Oakland as the impetus for bringing the Athletics and the JPA together in talks to build a stadium there and not San Jose as ownership had long desired. “I think Major League baseball wants to keep the A’s in Oakland,” said Miley. “By us not being able to vote on this vote today I really think that sends a chilling message, a bad message to Major League Baseball that is extremely disappointing.” Miley added today’s developments, on its own, could “bring the entire JPA structure crumbling down” in Oakland and Alameda County. In the past, the city’s sports franchise have criticized the JPA structure for being onerous and redundant.

Meanwhile, there were signs ill will between the Athletics ownership and the city and county had thawed considerably following the signing last year of a two-year extension allowing the A’s the play at the Coliseum. “I think the spirit at the table was good. (A’s co-owner) Lew Wolff and (Team President) Mike Crowley were very collegial and wanted to make sure that we could come to terms,” Haggerty said of the most recent negotiations with the team. “They gave a lot and I think they were just trying to show the fans that they wanted to stay in Oakland.” Haggerty then offered public apologies to both. “I think it’s an embarrassing moment for the JPA that we could not have a full board today to go ahead and make the vote.”

Further complicating the lease deal is the feeling by some it could inadvertently compel the Oakland Raiders to explore a new stadium elsewhere. A few public commenters in opposition of the lease deal slammed the Coliseum JPA Friday for possibly undermining the Raiders quest for a stadium in Oakland, while registering frustration for the long period of uncertainty fans for all of Oakland’s sports franchises have faced for over a decade. Alameda resident Brien Dixon told the JPA to “Stop being yo-yoed around and stop yo-yoing us, as well.”

The JPA members disagree. “I think there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Haggerty. “There is no time that any of us are trying to move forward with the A’s and not support the Raiders and in fact, it’s very much not true. I would love to see the Raiders stay.”

NOTE: Addition were made to the article after it was published, including comments from the Oakland City Council and a correction on the date of its closed session meeting.

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