By 2020, baseball’s Athletics will be the last professional franchise standing in Oakland.
And the A’s wasted no time noting that fact in the minutes after the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was finalized.
It so happened the club had a rally planned to mark one week until Opening Day, but the proceedings took on a different feel in the wake of the Oakland Raiders receiving their ticket to ride out of town.
Incoming club president Dave Kaval joined Mayor Libby Schaaf, A’s mascot Stomper and other dignitaries on the roof of Oakland City Hall, raising an A’s flag above the city and tweeting it all with the hashtag #RootedinOakland, a reminder the club has zeroed in on the city as a permanent site for a new stadium.
That process probably got much simpler with the Raiders’ move.
The pair have shared the Oakland Coliseum – with its various corporate-branded pseudonyms – since the Raiders returned from Los Angeles in 1995 . It has been an uneasy marriage – the Raider return required the construction of “Mt. Davis,” a massive wall of seats to ensure the Coliseum met NFL attendance requirements.
But it also effectively ruined the Coliseum as a baseball park and saddled the city and county with crippling debt. In fact, as of late 2016, both entities owed $95 million to pay off debt related to expanding the Coliseum for the Raiders. That debt has significantly hampered the city’s ability and motivation to cut new stadium deals for either the A’s or Raiders.
Now, however, the A’s will be the only tenant at the Coliseum – and the lone team in the city once the Golden State Warriors move across the Bay to the $1 billion Chase Center; the Warriors are scheduled to open play in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season.
Little wonder, then, that the A’s and Oakland found themselves in a warm embrace on Monday afternoon. Kaval represents the club’s new leadership, as he was appointed team president in November, when the club forced out previous owner Lew Wolff.
It was Wolff who ultimately felt a move to San Jose was the lone viable option for the A’s, but a territorial fight with San Francisco’s Giants were among the many reasons that did not come off. Kaval and his cabal, then, can throw around #RootedInOakland with some shred of credibility.
And now, he and the A’s have the town all to themselves – to rebuild at the Coliseum or three other sites he laid out in a February meeting with the team.