ONN – Oakland A’s Planning Raiders-Style Exit To Portland For Ballpark
Atlanta – The Oakland A’s are planning a move to Portland, and to be in a new (privately financed?) waterfront baseball stadium. That news (and note the word “planning”, not going) comes from several of my friends over the past week – all of them high-level professionals in real estate development and politics. Two of them recently met with Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, though I’m not going to give their names.
The other person is of such stature in San Francisco Bay Area real estate that when he says this is happening, it’s happening. That person had not called me in, oh, about two years – until today. He specifically said “I’m going to give you this tip.”
Mr. Kaval has had conversations with the representatives of Portland Diamond Project. The organization bills itself as the group to bring baseball to Portland. The Portland Diamond Project consists of a large group of heavy-hitters in sports, business, and entertainment. The most-known names are Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara Wilson, who are separately listed as “Investor / Co-Owner.” But the other partners on the website are enough and have enough experience and expertise to build a baseball stadium, in Portland, today.
TVA Architects, Populous Architects, Trammell Crow Real Estate, Oxley Associates Government Affairs, Clever.ly Digital Branding, MacAdam Forbes Commercial Real Estate, and O’Melveny Legal Council, make up the partners. In addition Portland Diamond Project has a full-time, paid staff of six people.
What’s Oakland have to match that? Nothing. Right now.
If you look at the website and the press releases, Portland Diamond Project has made a number of land purchases and baseball design plans that would give anyone pause – or should.
Once again, Oakland looks like it’s outflanked – allowing another city to out-hustle and out-work it, while Oakland’s Mayor allows herself, and by extension the City of Oakland, to be directed by the Oakland A’s, rather than taking time to form a community partnership between the City and the baseball organization.
The good news for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is these are the early stages – there’s no exclusive negotiating agreement and the A’s haven’t made a public, signed, commitment. But the wheels of planning that take the car are development in Portland in that direction have started turning. It’s time for Libby to wake up.
Unfortunately, Libby allowed the best sports executive in Oakland to be pushed out of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority via an unnecessary resignation. If you look at the people who have been the most effective in making something happen in Oakland’s sports business history, the vast majority of them have been pushed out of Oakland or away from any decision making role, or just plain forgotten: Ezra Rapport, George Vukasin, Don Perata, Doug Boxer, Ed DeSilva, John Russo, myself (Super Bowl: Oakland), and now Chris Dobbins (since he’s off the Coliseum JPA Board) are names that come to mind.
It’s sad. And Mayor Schaaf has done nothing to bring anyone of the Oakland City Council together to move this forward. Some have said she’s all but a lame duck Mayor with little teeth. Libby can disprove that view just by taking action.
The question is, will she? In my view, this is too important to be left to Mayor Schaaf. WE need to take over.
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Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media