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A panel of the Oakland Coliseum at night is shown with a tower of lights rising above and shining on the field, which is not visible in the photo.

As A’s pack up, Oakland sells its share of storied stadium

on May 22, 2024

Oakland has agreed to sell its stake in the Coliseum, ending decades of ownership at the storied East Bay event complex, Mayor Sheng Thao said at a news conference Wednesday.

Following years of negotiations, Oakland and the African American Sports and Entertainment Group have reached an $105 million agreement for the city’s 50% ownership stake in the stadium site. The deal comes as city officials scramble to address a significant budget deficit while dealing with the loss of the city’s only remaining major league sports team.

AASEG, a development group whose leadership is composed of native Oaklanders, has ambitious plans for the site. Ray Bobbitt, founder and managing partner of AASEG, said at the news conference that the organization plans to develop the site in a way that will revitalize the neighborhood without displacing those who are already there. 

“This is a moment where East Oakland is going to change. This is a moment where East Oakland is going to flourish,” Bobbitt said.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao (right), is pictured with Ray Bobbitt, founder of African American Sports and Entertainment Group, and Castlemont High teacher Lillian Jacobson. (Daniel Hennessy)
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao (right) with Ray BobbittCastlemont High teacher Lillian Jacobson. (Daniel Hennessy)

Though they have not yet landed on a site plan, the multi-year project will eventually be a mixed use development with housing, commercial space, green space and the Oakland Arena. The city hopes as much as 25% of the housing will be set aside as affordable, the mayor’s office said. 

“It’s just not all about the money. It’s about the community and making sure that they are thriving,” Thao said.

But a major hurdle remains in the form of the Oakland A’s.

In 2019, the A’s bought Alameda County’s half of the Coliseum for $85 million. Las month, the team announced that 2024 would be their last season in Oakland. After more than 50 years, the franchise is leaving the East Bay in favor of Sacramento, then Las Vegas. Recently, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority voted to move ahead with the A’s development plans, paving the way for the team’s $1.5 billion stadium project, $380 million of which will be publicly financed.

Team officials have not made clear whether they plan to sell their half of the Coliseum to AASEG. At the news conference, Bobbitt said they are in negotiations with the A’s. Citing a non-disclosure agreement, he declined to get into specifics.

The A’s did not respond to Oakland North’s request for comment.

Without either an arrangement to share the site or an outright sale, AASEG is limited to the planning phase of the project. The group hopes to engage the community in the process, as evidenced by the location of the news conference — Castlemont High School’s Sustainable Urban Design Academy.

“We still have a lot of work to do to make real and to make whole the dreams of our young people, the dreams of our elders that we owe this to, and to our community right here in East Oakland,” Thao said.

The stadium is more than a city landmark. It is a legendary field of dreams, hosting six World Series and launching three Oakland Raiders Super Bowl teams. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the city’s baseball and football teams were synonymous with winning, and the Coliseum was the symbol of that success. 

Officials and AASEG representatives remain optimistic that the A’s will be receptive to a deal. 

“At the end of the day there is a new beginning, a new chapter of everything. New sports teams, new housing, new development, new green space, new everything. So that’s what this is all about. And this community has never participated in that,” Bobbitt said.

All of that still remains at least a couple of years off. According to AASEG, shovels will likely not be going into the ground for two or three years. 

In a news release Wednesday from the mayor’s office, Carolyn “CJ” Johnson, CEO of the Black Cultural Zone called the project “momentous” for Oakland’s Black community. “We applaud Mayor Sheng Thao and AASEG for prioritizing equity and inclusion in this future development, and we are eager to see the positive impact it will have on our neighborhoods,” she said.

New era of baseball in Oakland — move over A’s, here come the B’s


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