Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said today that he understands the frustrations that Oakland A’s fans have about the team’s uncertain future.
Speaking at a news conference at the O.co Coliseum, Selig said, “I understand the situation” in Oakland, where the A’s recently signed a 10-year extension to their lease at the aging stadium but are hoping to build a new baseball-only stadium as soon as possible.
Selig, 80, who will step down in January after more than 22 years as commissioner, came to Oakland because he is visiting all Major League Baseball stadiums in a farewell tour.
Referring to Oakland, Selig said, “I’d like to resolve the issue (of building a new baseball stadium) like everywhere else.”
Selig said 22 new stadiums have been built since he became commissioner but Oakland remains one of the few cities in the league that doesn’t have a new stadium.
And the Coliseum is the only dual-purpose stadium in the country that hosts both Major League Baseball and National Football League teams, as the Oakland Raiders also play there.
The Raiders would like to build a new football-only stadium in Oakland or elsewhere and Selig said the A’s and the Raiders “have dissimilar solutions” to their situations in Oakland.
The A’s lease extension includes an escape clause that allows the A’s to leave the Coliseum after the 2018 season. However, they would still have to pay rent until the end of the agreement in 2024 unless they move to another site in Oakland.
The team has threatened in recent years to move to San Jose, Fremont and other cities.
The team’s agreement with city of Oakland and Alameda County officials also allows local officials to force the A’s out of the Coliseum if a deal to develop the site and build a new football-only stadium there for the Raiders materializes.
The city of Oakland is negotiating with a team of developers that hopes to build a development at the Coliseum site that would be a new stadium for the Raiders.
Oakland and Alameda County officials say they hope new stadiums can be built in Oakland for both the A’s and the Raiders.
When a reporter told Selig that many A’s fans blame him for the team’s uncertain future, Selig said, “That’s incorrect. I didn’t create the stadium or the controversy.”
He said, “I’m in the middle. That’s just wrong, believe me.”
Selig, who was seated next to A’s owner Lew Wolff, said being caught in the middle of controversies is part of his job as commissioner and, “It’s better that the fans blame me than Lew Wolff.”
Selig said that even though he might not be well-liked in Oakland he still has “fond memories” of the city and its great teams in the past, such as the teams that won the World Series three straight years in the early 1970s.
“I don’t have any negative feelings about Oakland,” Selig said.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News