When it comes to the Oakland Athletics’ plan for building a new ballpark near Laney College, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said he just wanted to put out in public what some have recently speculated about in private.
“I’m just hoping the A’s don’t do a bait-and-switch,” Miley said during a retreat Thursday morning for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Board of Commissioners .
“I just hope the A’s aren’t playing us by saying there’s no back up plan if we don’t go to Peralta site,” said Miley. “I just want to put that out for public consumption.”
He is not alone in his skepticism among several other East Bay officials and politcos who fear the A’s plan to build near Laney College–a site commonly agreed to present the most environmental and political challenges of the three proposed sites–may have bad intentions and once it fails will signal to Major League Baseball that Oakland is no longer a viable option for the club.
Coliseum JPA Commissioner Ignacio De La Fuente, a former Oakland city councilman and likely mayoral candidate next year, was more direct, saying that because of the politics surrounding the Peralta site, in addition, to its topography, the Laney College plan simply will not happen.
“Laney College will not be a site where a stadium will be built,” De La Fuente flatly said. The odds of the club reversing course back to the Coliseum is unlikely, he added. “What are they A’s going to say? Are we going to the Coliseum? I don’t think so. Then they will go somewhere else.”
A desire by the team to move to a downtown ballpark is not unique in baseball, said Coliseum JPA Commissioner Chris Dobbins, perhaps the most sports savvy member of the board. “The A’s want to get with everybody else,” he said. However, Dobbins said the A’s roll out of their plan last August to build at the Peralta site was poorly played and, instead, allowed local activists to focus attention on the potential impacts on low-income and immigrant communities in the area. “It’s becoming a mess,” said Dobbins. “I can see this coming to a crash course.”
Coliseum JPA Executive Director Scott McKibben, however, doesn’t buy the bait-and-switch theory, but he does sense the A’s have other motives. “I don’t believe this is a bait-and-switch, but I do believe there is a card in play that they want to use this to get more public financing,” said McKibben. “That, I think, is very much in their mind,” said McKibben, based on conversations he’s had with A’s management.
He later explained, one potential strategy for the A’s might be to procure the roughly $250 million that was previously on the table to the Raiders from the city and county for a new stadium in Oakland.