Major League Baseball commissioner, Robert Manfred, told Oakland officials earlier this month that unless the city drops its lawsuit, the Oakland A’s might have to relocate. The lawsuit, issued on Sept. 27, prevents Alameda county from selling its half of the Coliseum ownership. The A’s are offering $85 million for the county’s ownership rights.
Relocation will leave Oakland with no professional sports teams, which is a first for the city since the early 1940s. The city even hosted an NHL team, Oakland Seals, from 1967-1976.
Having no sports team in “the town” risks economical problems. However, there is a better chance that thousands of homeless people will receive housing if the team does leave.
The city’s main problem is if Alameda sells their half of the Coliseum, they will be violating the Surplus Lands Act. The state law requires that affordable housing be prioritized when there is selling or leasing of land from cities, counties and local agencies.
The lawsuit and deal go into effect after the 2020 season, leaving the city of Oakland to still be considered as the disregarded middle child.
Research conducted by EveryOne Home, a collective effort to end homelessness in Alameda County, found that 51% of homelessness in the county is from Oakland.
If the city bails on the lawsuit, Alameda will sell its half to the A’s. Eventually, the city will follow and before we know it, a 155-acre site at Howard Terminal—that could’ve been given to the city’s eight thousand homeless people—is now a privately owned, privately operated ballpark.
Even if the city does decide to stay true to its suit and push for better living situations for the people of Oakland, not much will change.
The government will always find ways to get money and build new structures they want. Something that isn’t guaranteed though is if the people of Oakland and Alameda county will get the affordable housing promised.
EveryOne Home’s research shows that there is a 43% increase in homelessness within Alameda county from 2017 to 2019. Even while the A’s were in Oakland, any possible money the city received from the team wasn’t used effectively for the people of Oakland.
Without the Warriors, A’s and Raiders, there will be plenty of money and space for Oakland to house their homeless residents and give the residents who have grown up in the city to continue to live in it without having to leave.
Whatever the outcome might be with the lawsuit, unless the people of Oakland are the main priority for the city and county when they make decisions, nothing will change.
The next court hearing is on Nov. 14 where we will see if the city changes its stance on selling the Coliseum land.