A’s turn down Black-led group’s bid for half of Oakland Coliseum 

Rejection of $115M offer ties up $5B redevelopment proposal

A’s Reject Black-Led Group’s Bid for Oakland Coliseum Stake
AASEG's Ray Bobbitt, Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher and 7000 South Coliseum Way (Getty, AASEG, redlegsfan21/CC BY-SA 2.0/via Wikimedia Commons)

A consortium of Black-owned investors offering to buy the Oakland A’s half of the Oakland Coliseum has struck out, as the MLB franchise has refused to play ball.

The Oakland Athletics rejected an offer from the African American Sports and Entertainment Group to buy its share of the 155-acre complex at 7000 South Coliseum Way in East Oakland, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The A’s have no plans to give up its share of the run-down ballpark it deems unfit for professional baseball. A’s President Dave Kaval rejected a purchase a day after the Sacramento-based group made an undisclosed offer for its share.

“While we appreciate AASEG’s efforts to acquire and redevelop the Coliseum site, we are not interested in selling or otherwise disposing of our interest in the Coliseum at this time,” Kaval wrote in a letter to the group’s co-founder, Ray Bobbitt. “Thank you for your understanding.”

The rejection threatens to hold up a $5 billion redevelopment planned for the 57-year-old complex that includes the baseball stadium, Oakland Arena and large parking lot. Plans call for homes, shops and restaurants, nightlife and Black-owned NFL and WNBA teams.

The A’s acquired half the property rights to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex in 2019 for $85 million. The City of Oakland has cut a deal with AASEG for the $5 billion Coliseum redevelopment. The group has offered $115 million to buy the city’s half-interest in the property.

The sports and entertainment group offered to negotiate with the MLB franchise over a buyout, noting the team’s plan to build a new Las Vegas ballpark by 2028. 

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A non-deal from the team owned by billionaire John Fisher leaves one option inside the diamond for Oakland backers of stadium redevelopment: Seize the site from the A’s through eminent domain.

Under the law, the city must first prove that its attempts to negotiate a purchase of the property were unsuccessful and that acquiring the site would be in the public interest, according to the Mercury News.

Claiming land for ventures that serve the public, such as building a stadium, is a common practice across the state. But seizing land for the public’s benefit doesn’t often mean giving it to a private developer.

“If Oakland wants to do this, they can probably figure out a way to do it,” Roger Noll, a Stanford sports economist who has followed the A’s saga, told the newspaper. “It may be that they would end up having to own it themselves, and they’d change the lessee from being the team to this other group.”

AASEG includes former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb, Oakland developer Alan Dones, former chair of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce Shonda Scott, former NBA player and sports agent Bill Duffy, and Loop Capital, an African American-owned investment firm. 

Retired WNBA star Alana Beard has linked up with the group to help lure a women’s professional basketball franchise to the East Bay city. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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