Oakland’s soccer teams enter agreement to negotiate building new stadium
on September 21, 2023
Oakland’s two soccer teams moved closer Tuesday to getting a temporary stadium.
The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Oakland Pro Soccer LLC, the company that owns the Roots and Soul teams, for the Malibu property, a lot near the Coliseum in East Oakland.
Oakland Pro Soccer LLC will now negotiate with the city and the county, the joint owners of the lot, over the next six months to build a temporary stadium for 10,000 people on 8.8 acres at 8000 South Coliseum Way. The empty lot is currently used for parking.
“We could not be more excited to be one step closer to having a dedicated soccer home in Oakland,” said Lindsey Barenz, the president of Oakland Roots and Soul, in a statement.
Council members expressed excitement Tuesday about the agreement.
“Thank you Roots and Soul for being rooted in Oakland,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who represents the entire city.
Councilmember Treva Reid, who represents parts of East Oakland, said she supports the teams.
The city and the county acquired the Malibu property in 1994. Before that, the property was used as a miniature car racing track known as the Malibu Grand Prix. The city is currently negotiating with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, a local development organization, to either lease or sell its share of the Coliseum. Oakland Pro Soccer LLC and AASEG have entered into a cooperation agreement to work together on the new stadium.
Oakland Pro Soccer LLC has proposed using modular and temporary structures for the site, including movable bleachers and portable toilets. If the teams and the city reach an agreement, Oakland Pro Soccer LLC could use the site until a permanent home is found.
Owning a stadium will benefit both the Roots, the men’s team, and the Soul, the women’s team, because it would ensure their long-term financial stability, said Tommy Hodul, a spokesperson for the Roots and Soul.
In addition, the temporary stadium could enable Soul to enter the USL Super League, a professional league that launches next year, the teams said in a statement. The league requires the team to have a stadium that meets certain standards to be considered.
The Soul had its inaugural season and finished second in the region. The team currently plays in a pre-professional league. Jessica Clinton, the team’s head coach, said she wants to move to a professional league faster, but the team needs a stadium first.
Clinton said with other major sports franchises leaving Oakland, it’s important for the city to have a team like the Soul to support. The city has lost the Warriors and the Raiders over the last decade, and the A’s baseball team is building a new stadium in Las Vegas.
Tuesday’s vote brings some certainty to the Roots and Soul, who have struggled to find a long-term stadium. The teams previously played at Laney College but had to move to a stadium in Livermore halfway through their season. The Roots currently play at Cal State East Bay and the Soul plays at Merritt College in Oakland.
Finding a permanent space to build a stadium has been challenging because the site must meet standards required by the United States Soccer Federation.
“The venue at Malibu is the only location we found in Oakland that meets the standards for quick, near-term development of a stadium. It is large enough and flat enough, it is zoned for a sports complex, and it is near to parking and public transportation,” Barenz said last week during a council committee meeting.
Oakland residents supported the team’s efforts to find a more stable home in the city. And the teams are growing a stronger fan base.
“I’m very much encouraged and gratified that this can happen. Anything that brings opportunities to Oakland, be it housing, sports, any level is something that I would support,” Assata Olugbala, a 78-year-old Oakland resident, told Oakland North last week at the council committee meeting.
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