When NFL owners gather next week to discuss and possibly vote on whether the Raiders can move to Los Angeles, the A’s will be watching from a distance with curiosity.
The reason is obvious. Should the Raiders be given the green light to relocate down south, it would seemingly make it much easier for the A’s to build a new baseball stadium at the current Coliseum site. And if the Raiders get denied the right to move, they might rebuild on the Coliseum grounds themselves, meaning the A’s best chance for their own new venue may be elsewhere in Oakland.
The NFL owners’ meetings are scheduled for Jan. 12-13 in Houston. At issue is whether any of three teams – the Raiders, San Diego Chargers or St. Louis Rams – will be granted permission to move to Los Angeles, which has been without an NFL team since the Raiders and Rams left following the 1994 season. There’s no guarantee a vote does take place. And if owners do vote, a maximum of two of the three teams would be allowed to move.
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“I do think any planning that either we or the Raiders do, we both would be better off knowing what decisions would be affecting either club,” A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said in a phone interview Monday. “We’re just interested in seeing what their plans may be, and we respect their position. I don’t have any idea if (the NFL) will reach a decision or not. We’re continuing our studies in Oakland. It would be nice to know what (the Raiders’) plans are. I’m sure they would like that themselves.”
Though the Coliseum site has remained the A’s top choice to build a new ballpark, Wolff confirmed that the team is “exploring any and all sites that might be available” in Oakland. In late December, the Bay Area News Group reported that the city of Oakland sent a report to A’s officials that included five potential ballpark sites in and around downtown Oakland. Those included two sites on the campus of Laney College and another near the West Oakland BART station.
Wolff declined Monday to discuss any of the sites proposed by the city, or what factors the A’s are weighing most heavily in scouting out potential locations. But it’s noteworthy that the team’s ownership is at least warming to the idea of building in Oakland at a spot other than the Coliseum. With the Raiders still in play – for the time being – to remain in Oakland, city leaders have been trying to sell the A’s on the idea of a downtown stadium.
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“Obviously we are working with the A's on a potential new ballpark with them,” Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf told CSNCalifornia in November. “It could be at the Coliseum, which is something they've expressed interest in in the past. But we are also trying to get them excited about a potential downtown site. We think that would really help revitalize our downtown. It's certainly a trend we're seeing in baseball, and it certainly would simplify our situation out at the Coliseum.”
The unknown is whether any of the alternative sites currently being pitched to the A’s are feasible. The team had done its own past research on potential ballpark locations around Oakland but had always concluded that the Coliseum site worked best.
There’s a widely held belief that building two new venues at the Coliseum site for both the A’s and Raiders isn’t doable. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is among those to express that sentiment.