Major League Baseball has its eyes on the city of Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, and the suit could affect MLB's support of the A's building a stadium in the city.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser on Wednesday before the A's 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card Game that he's "very concerned" about the lawsuit.
“I think [A’s president] Dave Kaval and John Fisher and the rest of the A’s organization have made a huge investment to try to get a stadium done here," Manfred told The Chronicle, "and to have a city entity turn around and litigate against progress is upsetting.”
The city of Oakland sued Alameda County on Friday to prevent the county from selling its share of the Coliseum site to the A's, which the county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to do in April. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesh set a Nov. 14 hearing on the lawsuit Tuesday, and he issued a temporary restraining order on the sale.
The A's reportedly agreed to purchase the county's portion for $85 million, and The Chronicle's Phil Matier wrote Wednesday that there are "rumblings that the $85 million the A's are offering ... is far below market value." The city of Oakland is worried that selling to the A's "won't include enough benefits for the surrounding community," according to Matier.
In the suit, the city argues the county violated the Surplus Land Act, which calls for extra land owned by public entities to first be considered for public housing. The city said the county did not negotiate "in good faith" for the required 90 days, and instead began working on a deal with the A's.
“The Coliseum properties are Oakland’s largest public land parcel, and it is imperative that the properties are developed first and foremost for the benefit of the people of Oakland and Alameda County,” Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker told The Chronicle on Tuesday. “The city has declared its commitment to develop the Coliseum properties to achieve their highest and best use for the public good.”
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said the city attorney filed the lawsuit on the city council's orders, and she told The Chronicle she thought the lawsuit should be suspended. Manfred told the newspaper that he met with Schaaf and city council president Rebecca Kaplan on Wednesday.
“I hope the city will come forward and be more aggressive about moving the process forward," Manfred said. "The mayor and president Kaplan expressed strong support for keeping the A’s here in my meeting with them, and I tried to make clear from them that we need more than verbal support for the process.”
The A's currently are trying to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. Manfred told The Chronicle that he told Schaaf the lawsuit's "timing was such that some people could read it that maybe it is time for us to consider other alternatives." Manfred added later that he is "hopeful" the A's future is in Oakland.