The Oakland City Council votes today on the future of the Oakland Athletics.
If you’re an A’s fan, especially a local one, but to any A’s fan for whom the OAKLAND in Oakland Athletics has special meaning, today is not a fun day. It’s a stressful, gird your loins, butt-clenching, and other kinda gross orifice-related idioms kind of day.
The Oakland City Council, which seemingly tends to never agree on anything, holds the future of the franchise in its hands. Their meeting today has “Term Sheet with the Oakland Athletics” as the only agenda item.
Of course, nothing about this is straightforward, not even at the most basic levels.
The A’s originally submitted a term sheet to the City after lengthy negotiations. The OCC is (probably) not voting on that term sheet, but instead voting on a term sheet that they just put together.
The term sheet has a lot of what the A’s term sheet had, but with one big ~$350 million hole for the infrastructure bill along Broadway and Jack London Square. That includes sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian bridges, better bus lanes, safety features around the railroad track crossing, etc. All of that is probably needed in any case, but definitely needed for a ballpark to work there. The city’s term sheet doesn’t say how that’s paid for.
With such specifics missing, the vote is non-binding, but a “yes” vote would at least have the city on record as wanting this project and having most of the framework for it lined up in writing. However, a “yes” vote doesn’t really bring anything to bear, other than a momentary sense of relief. We can thank rah-rah-fan-ambassador-turned-raging-a-hole Dave Kaval for that unsettling feeling, with his confusing “yes vote means no” bullsh*t.
In reality, and not corporate jerk media-speak, a “yes” vote means both sides agree on a lot of things, and such a vote would effectively clearly highlight the areas of agreement and the couple of areas of disagreement. Even if Kaval and John Fisher are not trying to publicly espouse anything than what they already proposed, a “yes” vote tells MLB that Oakland is trying to get this done, and there is political will to do so. That might be enough for Manfred and the owners to add some weight and pressure to getting a deal done in Oakland.
Obviously, if the A’s don’t want to budge an inch, then they don’t have to, but a deal can’t get done on a take-it-or-leave it basis. If that’s the A’s position, they’re already gone, but it doesn’t seem like that is the case considering that negotiations have been continuing.
In defense of the OCC (I can’t believe I just typed that), covid and the presidential election changed some things. Specifically, the California and federal governments currently are trying to pay for infrastructure to jumpstart the economy and assist suffering municipalities. There is a potential path to get funding for that infrastructure, so “get someone else to pay for it” isn’t a bad Plan A. But in the OCC term sheet, there’s no Plan B or Plan C if someone else won’t pay for it, and therefore the A’s have a point that a yes vote doesn’t really mean “yes.” But it doesn’t mean “no” either.
Kaval knows as well as anyone that the state and federal money is flowing, and I’d be surprised if the OCC votes yes and he takes his ball and leaves. The upside of 55 acres of prime waterfront in the Bay Area to develop and monetize is so massive. It’s hard to imagine a comparable real estate opportunity anywhere.
The real fear for A’s fans today is a “no” vote. I can’t even imagine the level of dysfunction it takes to vote against something that you drafted and put forth for a vote, but hey, anything’s possible with this OCC bunch and in the context of this entire saga. If that happens, barring a miracle such as a brokered sale by MLB, A’s fans may have to face the reality that the A’s are gone.
Hence the bodily functions. Try to stay sane today, A’s fans!
Note: If you are brave enough and insane enough to want to attend this zoo you can, via Zoom. Meeting starts at 9 AM. Info is here (PDF).