What happened on April 19, 2023, and why did the City cease negotiations with the A’s?
On April 19, 2023, the A’s announced a “binding” agreement to purchase a 49-acre site for a new ballpark and ancillary development west of the Las Vegas Strip from Red Rock Resorts. In a Las Vegas Review-Journal article published on the evening of April 19, A’s team president Dave Kaval stated, “For a while we were on parallel paths (with Oakland), but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the A’s and find a long-term home.” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred concurred, stating, “We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas”.
The announcement came in the midst of a period of intense negotiations between the City and A’s, facilitated by a mediator selected by mutual agreement of the City and A’s following an in-person meeting of City leadership and A’s ownership shortly after Mayor Sheng Thao took office in early 2023.
In response to the A’s announcement, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao directed staff to cease negotiations with the A’s, stating “I am deeply disappointed that the A’s have chosen not to negotiate with the City of Oakland as a true partner, in a way that respects the long relationship between the fans, the City and the team. The City has gone above and beyond in our attempts to arrive at mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland. In the last three months, we’ve made significant strides to close the deal. Yet, it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game — the fans and our residents deserve better.”
Just twenty days later, the A’s abandoned the Red Rock Resorts site in favor of a new, 9-acre site for a smaller, 30,000-seat ballpark located on the Tropicana Hotel site on the Las Vegas Strip. Both the site and the ballpark would be the smallest in Major League Baseball.
What about the Port? Are they still negotiating with the A’s?
The Port’s Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet (Port ENTS) expired on May 12, 2023. As a result, the Port is no longer obligated to negotiate only with the A’s with regard to the potential redevelopment of the former Howard Terminal. However, the Port may elect to continue negotiations with the A’s, possibly in parallel with evaluating other potential uses and users of the site.
Does the City want the A’s to stay? Would the City resume negotiations with the A’s - either under their current ownership, or new ownership - if their proposed relocation to Las Vegas falls through?
Oakland’s leaders have been clear – they want the A’s to remain rooted in Oakland for generations to come.
The City worked for several years to come to an agreement with the A’s. Over that time, the City has repeatedly shown its commitment to the team and its fans and demonstrated the political will to keep the A’s in Oakland:
- In 2021, the A’s asked the City to form an infrastructure financing district for the project. Oakland’s Council, including current Mayor Sheng Thao, agreed and convinced Alameda County to consider "opting in” as well, nearly doubling the potential funding available for public infrastructure, parks and affordable housing.
- In 2021, the A’s asked the City to raise nearly $360 million to fund offsite infrastructure. The City rose to the challenge, raising more than $425 million in non- City funding (with another $56 million in grant applications currently pending).
- In 2021, the A’s asked Oakland’s City Council to certify an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. Oakland not only did so, but successfully defended it in court – twice.
- And in 2022, the A’s asked Oakland to engage with BCDC after an initial vote on the project failed. Oakland once again successfully intervened and helped achieve a final 23 - 2 vote in favor of the project.
The City is grateful for the ongoing support of Senators Feinstein and Padilla, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the United Stated Department of Transportation, Governor Gavin Newsom, State Senator Nancy Skinner, State Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks, Mia Bonta and Liz Ortega, State Attorney General Rob Bonta, the California State Transportation Agency, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Alameda County Transportation Commission, and the Board of Port Commissioners.
Oakland’s leadership remains confident that a new Waterfront Ballpark District at Howard Terminal is within reach.
What happens to Howard Terminal if the A’s move to Las Vegas? What about the Coliseum?
Howard Terminal is located within Oakland’s Port Area, which is managed by the Board of Port Commissioners. Following the expiration of the Port ENTS on May 12, 2023, the Port is not obligated, but may elect, to continue negotiations with the A’s in parallel with evaluating other potential uses and users of the site. Certain uses of the land, including residential uses and uses inconsistent with the City’s General Plan, would also require approval by the City.
The A’s License to occupy and play baseball at the Coliseum expires on December 31, 2024. Any extension or new License would be negotiated by the Coliseum Authority, which jointly manages the Coliseum on behalf of its co-owners, the City and County, and would require the independent, discretionary approval of both City and County.
In late 2019, Alameda County agreed to sell its 50% undivided interest in the Coliseum Complex, (including both the Coliseum and the Arena as well as 120 acres of land) to the A’s for $85 million, to be paid over 7 years. That sale is scheduled to close in 2026. Under the terms of the County’s agreement, if the A’s elect to relocate outside of Oakland prior to 2026, all unpaid installments (currently $30 million) become immediately due and payable. The County’s sale is currently the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, brought by third parties, alleging violations of the State Surplus Lands Act.
After the A’s ended negotiations to purchase the City’s 50% undivided interest in the Coliseum Complex in fall 2019, the City entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) for the property with AASEG. That ENA gives AASEG eighteen months (from January 2023) to negotiate an agreement to purchase the City’s 50% undivided interest in the Coliseum Complex for $115 million. Redevelopment of the Coliseum Complex will require cooperation between the parties, as neither possesses a controlling interest in the property.
What happened at the City Council meetings on September 20, and December 13, 2022? What is the status of the independent financial analysis requested by some Councilmembers?
At the September 20, 2022 City Council meeting, former City Administrator Ed Reiskin provided an update on the status of the project and negotiations. Click here to watch the video and here to access the accompanying Information Memorandum.
At the December 13, 2022 meeting of the Council’s Community & Economic Development Committee, Professor Nola Agha was invited to present a report commissioned by project opponents, the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association, with regard to the potential economic impacts of development of a new waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal. City staff’s presentation and memo in response to the PMSA report can be found on the project’s webpage; video of the meeting can be found here.
As noted at these meetings, the City and A’s have not yet reached a deal. A third-party analysis of the fiscal impacts of the proposed Project would be presented to Council and the public for review if and when a final deal is reached.
Overall, what is the City’s position on this deal?
The City Council is the legislative body that would ultimately review and make a decision on any deal with the A’s. The City Council's Community & Economic Development Committee held a study session on the project on July 7, 2021. The City Council had its first opportunity to discuss the potential deal terms and financing options and approved a non-binding term sheet (Term Sheet) for the project at the full City Council meeting on July 20, 2021.
Current Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and former Mayor Libby Schaaf made their positions clear: keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland with a world-class ballpark and mixed-used development that will benefit the entire region is a high priority. This Waterfront Ballpark District project has the potential to catalyze long-needed infrastructure and transportation improvements that will allow people and goods to move more safely and efficiently to and around the West Oakland waterfront and create a dynamic new waterfront neighborhood where people can live, work and play, all while protecting the crucial economic engine of Oakland’s seaport. The proposed project could be a good deal for the A’s, City, Port and County -- with new net revenues, equitable jobs, housing, and other direct benefits for all residents -- without risk of leaving taxpayers on the hook as happened with poor sports deals of the past. But that requires the A’s to work in partnership with the public entities.
What action did the Oakland City Council take on July 20, 2021?
The Council approved a non-binding term sheet outlining the key terms to be included in any Development Agreement between the City and A’s related to the Waterfront Ballpark District.
What is a term sheet?
A “term sheet” is a non-binding document that memorializes a general agreement between parties in many different types of complex business negotiations. A term sheet is usually used as a framework or outline for subsequent binding contract documents. Term sheets are often used in negotiations between developers and cities as a way of bringing a conceptual “deal” to the City Council in advance of actual approvals to make sure it is aligned with the Council’s priorities. A term sheet is not an approval, entitlement or binding contract.
What is the difference between the City’s term sheet and that of the Port?
The Board of Port Commissioners approved a four-year Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet (Port Term Sheet) for Howard Terminal in May 2019. Because Howard Terminal is located within the Port Area established by Oakland’s City Charter, the Port would act as the A’s landlord at Howard Terminal. The Port Term Sheet, in addition to providing for a four-year exclusive negotiation period, set forth key business terms, required adherence to the Maritime and Aviation Project Labor Agreement, reserved Port lands for a potential future expansion of the Inner Harbor Turning Basin, and required certain other Seaport Compatibility Measures.
The City’s Term Sheet, on the other hand, provided City staff with direction in negotiating key terms such as paying for on- and off-site infrastructure, parks and open space, and affordable housing to be included in the project.
As noted above, the Port Term Sheet expired on May 12, 2023. The City’s Term Sheet was never executed by the A’s.
Is it true that the A’s have spent 20 years and $200 million attempting to find a new home in Oakland? How long had the A’s and City been negotiating regarding the Howard Terminal site?
Following relocation attempts to Fremont (2006 – 2009) and San Jose (2009 – 2015), the A’s first selected Laney College as their preferred Oakland site in 2017 before moving on to Howard Terminal in November 2018. The A’s and the City began negotiating a development agreement term sheet for the Howard Terminal site in April 2020, and through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations proceeded remotely regarding non-financial aspects of the term sheet. Negotiation of the financial approach began in February 2021, and the A’s first presented a written, one-page proposed Financial Plan for the project on April 23, 2021.
The City has billed the A’s about $8 million for City staff and consultant time, including outside legal counsel, through the end of 2022.
What is the status of the negotiations? Is the Term Sheet the City Council approved on July 20, 2021 the same one that the Oakland A’s released on April 23, 2021?
No. Leading up to the July 2021 hearings, City staff attempted to negotiate mutually agreeable terms with the A’s for over a year. Most of the terms contained in the term sheet released by the A’s on April 23, 2021 were negotiated and mutually agreed upon. However, the Financial Plan (Exhibit F to the A’s proposed term sheet) that the A’s released simultaneously to the City and press in April 2021 did not represent a consensus approach on key issues such as paying for off-site infrastructure and community benefits for the A’s proposed six million square foot development. Until April 2023, City staff, most recently with the assistance of a mediator, was continuing to work intensively with the A’s to arrive at consensus on mutually acceptable financial terms for the project.
Can the public see the term sheet?
Yes. The City’s Term Sheet, approved by City Council on July 20, 2021, along with the amendments, can be viewed here.
How does the deal offered by Oakland at Howard Terminal compare to that being contemplated in Las Vegas?
Based on what has been reported in the press, the deals appear to be fundamentally different.
Unlike the Waterfront Ballpark District project, which includes approximately 5 million square feet of ancillary residential and commercial development in addition to a 35,000-seat privately financed, owned and operated ballpark, all on 55 acres, the A’s Las Vegas project reportedly would be comprised solely of a publicly-subsidized and owned 30,000-seat ballpark located on a site within Clark County to be specified later. Based on local Las Vegas media reports, it appears that the A’s will receive at least $380M in public monies to directly subsidize the cost of ballpark construction. In Oakland, the A’s never sought a public subsidy for their ballpark. Public investments contemplated for Oakland’s Waterfront Ballpark District were instead to be directed to project elements that directly benefit the public, including:
- At least $425M in Federal, State, regional and local funding for offsite infrastructure (with more than $56M in additional grant applications currently pending)
- Approximately $500M in EIFD bond proceeds (assuming Alameda County contributes its incremental property tax and VLF to the EIFD) to reimburse the A’s for onsite infrastructure, parks and open space, and on-site affordable housing
Is the City willing to re-open talks with the A’s? Would the City make that same deal available to a new ownership group, or a different developer of the Howard Terminal site?
As noted above, with a willing negotiating partner equally committed to working collaboratively to find and implement “win-win” solutions, Oakland’s leadership remains confident that a new Waterfront Ballpark District at Howard Terminal is well within reach.
Interested parties should contact the City’s Project Lead, Molly Maybrun, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at (510) 238-4941.