It's done. By a 6-2 vote, the A's 10-year extension with the Oakland Coliseum has been approved by the Joint Powers Authority. The deal was on hold this week when half of the Coliseum board boycotted the vote. So, A's owner Lew Wolff called on his crony MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to allow the A's to leave Oakland immediately if a deal was not struck. Facing this possibility, the board felt it had little choice but to vote and approve the deal.
"I was informed tonight that Commissioner Selig, due to the possibility of not having the hearing and vote that we were purported to receive from the JPA, that we will immediately be allowed to seek a temporary or permanent location outside the city of Oakland." Said Wolff in an email to the city council.
The main reason for the partial board boycott was they didn't like the details of the lease. They allow Wolff to pay even less in future years of the deal than he pays now. And with his current situation, he's already making money hand over fist.
The Oakland City council had been pushing for several other alternatives to the stadium lease extension. The favorite is the Coliseum City project which would renovate some 800 acres along Hegenberger on the current stadium grounds and across the 880 freeway to the waterfront.
The Raiders best hopes of staying in Oakland lie in that project. Lew Wolff wants no part of it because it wouldn't give him complete control over the stadium due to the investors and real estate developers funding the project.
All the lease extension does is allow Wolff more time to continue to hope Major League Baseball will rule in his favor and let the A's move to San Jose. But the Giants hold territorial rights to the South Bay and there's no indication those rights will be relinquished.
What I can't figure out is even with Selig doing his usual shilling for an owner and allowing the A's the right to move immediately, where exactly could they have possibly moved? There are no other options out there presently. If Wolff can't get San Jose - and it appears unlikely he ever will - he needs to find a solution in Oakland. This ruling just allows him to sit on his hands and not work with the city to find an amicable solution for both sides. Now he can continue to hold the fans, the city, and the Raiders feet to the fire until he gets exactly what he wants.
Is it possible Wolff will change his mind about his involvement in the Coliseum City project? Anything's possible, but he has said several times he has no interest in it and stubborn owners with severe cases of self-entitlement don't usually bend unless forced under extreme pressure.
Are there still options? Sure, but the idea of attempting to build a stadium next door to the current site is a bit of a logistical nightmare while the A's are still playing in the current stadium.
There is no simple answer but had the city council not signed the deal, they would be playing a game of chicken with Wolff. Calling his bluff, if you will. Because in 18 months his lease would have been up at O.co and he could be forced to find a way to make the Coliseum City idea work or something similar.
Now, once again, he holds all the cards. And with the A's squatting on the land the Raiders would need to build their new stadium, it makes things incredibly difficult for them to stay in Oakland. It may even be the death knell.
This is a serious blow to the Raiders hopes of staying in Oakland; that much is certain. How big a blow will have to be worked out within the next few months. The Raiders lease is up (again) after this season and Los Angeles could be calling.