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Oakland drops Coliseum lawsuit against county

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Campaigns to keep A’s in Oakland leads to weird legal jousting

Aerial view of the Oakland Coliseum stadium.  Photo by trekandshoot/Shutterstock

On Wednesday night, the city of Oakland announced that it will drop its suit against Alameda County over the fate of the Coliseum, cutting short a bit of the ongoing sturm und drang the city faces over the fate of its sports venues and team franchises.

A joint statement signed by Mayor Libby Schaaf, Vice Mayor Larry Reid, and City Council President Rebecca Kaplan said, “We’re dropping the suit because we’re pleased with our recent discussions with the A’s” and that the city would keep negotiation “to ensure they remain rooted in Oakland,” echoing a team slogan that touts their loyalty to the city.

The suit hinged on the baseball franchise’s attempt to buy out the county’s share of the Coliseum site, which the county, the city, and the team have long co-managed in a slightly complicated three-way arrangement.

The A’s want to build a new Bjarke Ingels Group-designed ballpark, and agreed to pay Alameda County $85 million in exchange for its share of ownership in the Coliseum.

The team wants to redevelop the land as part of its multi-stage plan to finance the new 34,000-seat stadium, and the county seems hot to unload its stake in the building. The San Francisco Chronicle discovered, that before broaching a deal with the team, Alameda County tried selling to Oakland first.

In October, Oakland sued to hold up the sale, alleging that it violated state law. The suit, provoked by the City Council, surprised the team, the county, and Mayor Schaaf.

The complaint hinged on the state’s Surplus Land Act, which states among other things:

“Any local agency disposing of surplus land shall send, prior to disposing of that property, a written offer [...] to sell or lease for the purpose of developing low- and moderate-income housing shall be sent to any local public entity [...] within whose jurisdiction the surplus land is located.”

Since the county didn’t look for a potential housing sponsor before starting negotiations with the team, the city filed in Alameda County Superior Court to hold up the dealings.

The fraught back and forth over the future of the Coliseum site is made all the more pointed by the public pressure to keep the A’s from wanting to pursue a ballpark deal with any other city, with Oakland still smarting from losing both its professional basketball and football teams to stadium deals elsewhere.