Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff insists his team is staying put. For now, anyway.
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Wolff said Monday through the team that the A’s will extend their lease at the Oakland Coliseum and ”look forward to another great season.” The team’s managing partner responded to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle saying Major League Baseball might get involved to help the A’s play across the bay in the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park if no short-term lease was reached to continue their home games in the rundown Coliseum.
”It’s a little more rugged,” A’s center fielder Coco Crisp said of the ballpark. ”It does have its own personality.”
It was unclear how many years Oakland is seeking for its lease, and the team declined further comment since no deal has been reached with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. Yet the Coliseum Authority also sounded encouraged by the progress, issuing a statement from board chair and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.
”We are working on a deal that we believe will be beneficial for both our tenant and the people of this community,” the statement said. ”We are confident that everyone involved sees the value in continuing for as long as possible the 45-year relationship between the A’s and the City of Oakland. While we cannot comment on the specific issues now under discussion or on whether there is any basis to recent rumors that Major League Baseball has played a role in the discussions, we are optimistic that a final deal is close at hand.”
The Giants didn’t comment on the Chronicle report.
Oakland City Council President Pro Tem Rebecca Kaplan, who represents the City of Oakland at-large and is on the Coliseum Authority, also expressed her desire to keep the A’s around.
”I am fully committed to working toward a positive agreement for the A’s lease in Oakland,” Kaplan said.
The small-budget A’s have won consecutive AL West titles, losing in five games of the division series to the Detroit Tigers in each of the past Octobers. The Coliseum, shared with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, had multiple sewage problems in 2013 that caused damage during games.
In September, A’s players reported foul smells from the bathroom end of their dugout, while infielder Jemile Weeks said there was ”a good amount” of water being cleaned out of the area during a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels. That came after a June incident in which a clogged pipe caused a sewage backup and flooding on the bottom floor of the ballpark that sent the Seattle Mariners and A’s scrambling around in towels and heading for higher ground in the Raiders’ locker room.
After a hazmat crew inspected the affected areas for E-coli, new carpeting was installed and other extensive work was done in the hallway between clubhouses, and there was a cleanup in the umpires’ room. The Coliseum facility construction crew removed some lockers in the visiting clubhouse to repair water-damaged walls with new sheetrock and wooden supports. In addition, new drywall was put in about a foot above the floor.
”I’ve heard the plumbing here isn’t quite up to standards,” Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer quipped before the playoff series.
Oakland removed the tarps from the third deck at the Coliseum for the AL division series this year to add some 12,000 seats and increase capacity from 35,067 to 48,146.
When baseball and football briefly overlap, the A’s play over the yard lines and the Raiders over the infield dirt. Oakland’s baseball and football teams are the only ones in their sports still sharing a venue.
Wolff has remained determined to move the team to San Jose and build an intimate new ballpark, yet Commissioner Bud Selig has yet to rule on whether the A’s can move into the Giants’ cherished territory in technology-rich Silicon Valley.
Oakland had the lowest payroll in baseball for 2012 at $59.5 million, then was up to 27th this past season at $71.1 million.
Also Monday, the A’s announced they wouldn’t be making qualifying offers to free-agent pitchers Bartolo Colon or Grant Balfour. They have had interest in bringing back Colon, but Balfour’s price tag could be high and general manager Billy Beane has rarely spent big money on the bullpen.