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Athletics want to pay off Coliseum debt, assume stadium ownership

The Oakland Athletics want to pay off the city's $135 million debt on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in exchange for taking over ownership of the park, team president Dave Kaval wrote in a letter Monday to Mayor Libby Schaaf and the city council.

"If consummated, our offer would end the long-standing cash drain from the City and County's general funds caused by ownership of the Coliseum, and ensure that the A's possess one assured route to a new privately financed stadium in Oakland," Kaval wrote.

The request comes after the A's were denied their preferred site for a new ballpark, near the offices of the Peralta Community College District, when the Peralta board of trustees directed the chancellor in December to end talks with the team.

The A's had hoped to break ground on a new stadium at the Peralta site in 2021 and open it in 2023.

That left the A's with two options in Oakland: Howard Terminal and the Coliseum, where they currently play. The team is still evaluating Howard Terminal as a possible site but wants to protect itself after the Peralta decision.

"Of course, significant uncertainty remains on how the various challenges for Howard Terminal can be satisfied," Kaval wrote. "Given our previous experience at Peralta, it has become clear that the A's need to solidify control of the one site in Oakland that offers an assured path for the development of a new privately financed baseball venue -- the existing Coliseum complex."

Kaval indicated his team wants "to enter a formal negotiating agreement as soon as possible" with the city.

"This is a critical moment for the A's and our community," Kaval wrote. "The venue process has taken too long. We seek your immediate engagement to work with us on a transaction for the Coliseum complex, as we continue to plan for a state of the art privately financed new baseball park in Oakland. The future of the A's is too important to further risk alternate uses of the Coliseum site at this time."