OAKLAND – City Council moved Tuesday night to enter into an exclusive arrangement with a developer to build on what has been deemed as the most appropriate site for a new baseball-only stadium without including the Oakland A's in the deal.
But the council members made it clear that the exclusive negotiating agreement with Forest City Residential West to try to draw a mixed housing and retail development plan for the 800-acre site that has been called the “uptown” is not a snub to the city's baseball team, as some had maintained.
To show that they plan to continue talking to the A's in earnest about a new ballpark, the City Council OK'd a seven-year lease extension at Network Associates Coliseum and unveiled two nearby site options where a stadium could go.
But even those preliminary sites are useless, council members and city officials said, until the team steps forward and makes clear what its long-term goals are.
“Nothing can happen with a new stadium until we hear from the team itself,” said City Manager Robert Bobb, as he presented a report on the efforts of the city to scout for a new ballpark to the council. “At the end of the day, it's really up to the A's.”
City officials have repeatedly noted that even though there has been a lot of talk about a baseball stadium in the uptown area -- located north of City Hall along Telegraph Avenue -- the team has not publicly announced where it would like a new stadium to go.
At a news conference earlier this month in which officials announced the tentative lease extension that the council approved today, team co-owner Steve Schott dodged questions about the team's preference for a new home.
City officials say that even if the A's decide that they want to move forward on the uptown site, the exclusive negotiating agreement does not preclude the team from going to Forest City and trying to work a plan with them.
For his part, Forest City president Bill Kin said he is ready to entertain a reasonable proposal for the A's.
Although many A's fans spoke in favor of building a baseball stadium in Oakland to secure the team, others were worried about the financial implications of such a move.
Oakland resident Joel Kurtz, for one, said he was opposed to any public funding for the ballpark.
“If the A's would like to pay for this stadium, as the Giants have done, I say fine, put it wherever you want,” said Kurtz.