OAKLAND -- After months of wrangling and public spats, the Oakland A's and the city they have called home for nearly a half-century agreed to a lease extension that could keep the team at O.co Coliseum through 2024.
"I'm very pleased that this is behind us and we can now get on with our various activities," A's owner Lew Wolff said after meeting Tuesday morning with representatives from the joint Oakland-Alameda County board that oversees the Coliseum complex.
The agreement gives the A's a measure of stability as it remains blocked by Major League Baseball from moving to San Jose. And it offers a window for Oakland officials to patch up years of testy relations with the team and make its case to Wolff that he should build a new ballpark at the Coliseum site.
"This is an opportunity to build a stronger future together," said Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who helped restart stalled negotiations two months ago.
The deal must still receive approval next week from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, but the county's support has never been in doubt.
For many A's fans, the rancorous lease talks have been the lone blemish to a so far brilliant baseball season. The bad blood started flowing in April when Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who heads the Coliseum Board, publicly criticized the A's for rejecting the board's offer.
The dynamics changed suddenly last month when Miley, the A's and Major League Baseball put intense pressure on Oakland officials to sign off on an agreement that a majority of council members thought was one-sided in favor of the club.
Amid threats that the team could be moved from Oakland, the council relented on the economic terms of the agreement, which includes reduced rent for the A's. But council members did force through several modifications they said would provide clarity and avoid future disputes over the lease terms. The most substantive amendment ensured that the city and county wouldn't be held responsible if the A's have a dispute with their co-tenants, the Oakland Raiders.
At the time, Wolff said he was done negotiating, but he signaled after the vote that he would likely be amenable to the modifications. And on Tuesday Wolff said he signed off on "all on all of the main City Council points."
Mayor Jean Quan, who pressed for the modifications, said she thanked Wolff by phone Tuesday after he agreed to them. "I think it's a really good sign," she said. "It clears the way for us to talk about a new stadium."
The deal requires that Wolff engage in "good faith" discussions about building a ballpark in Oakland. But it allows the team to move out of the Coliseum at any time after 2018 if it buys out its lease, and grants Oakland the right to give the A's two year's notice to leave if a deal is reached for the Raiders to build a football stadium that interferes with the A's opeations.
In a six-page letter to Interim City Administrator Henry Gardner last week, Wolff gave perhaps his strongest indication that after nearly a decade of trying to leave Oakland, the A's are interested in developing a stadium-anchored project at the Coliseum complex. Wolff wrote that the A's were studying whether they could make an offer on the property that is jointly owned by Oakland and Alameda County.
The Raiders did not respond to questions Tuesday about the A's lease.
Wolff reiterated Tuesday that the strained lease negotiations wouldn't sour him on dealing with Oakland should he decide to move forward with a new stadium at the Coliseum site.
"Every time I do something, I put it behind me," he said. "I don't judge the future by the past. I can work with anyone long-term -- who's willing to work with me."
But Wolff continues to be interested in exploring a move to San Jose should Major League Baseball allow him. And San Jose is very determined to bring the team south. He and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed recently met for an hourlong breakfast amid the team's negotiations with the city of Oakland. And San Jose is continuing its suit against the MLB, with an appeals court hearing set for Aug. 12, in an attempt to go around the San Francisco Giants' long-running efforts to block the A's move to San Jose.
The Giants have territorial rights to the South Bay and the MLB hasn't officially ruled on the fight despite forming a blue-ribbon committee on the issue more than five years ago.
A's Lease details