On July 16, the Oakland A’s Friday night home matchup against Cleveland resembled other night games played at the Coliseum in every way except one. The place was cold and canyon-like. The A’s played admirably. Their fans cheered hard.
What was different was the anxiety.
Fans were dogged by a sense of gloom, or weariness. Earlier that day, Oakland City staff had previewed its plan for the $12 billion stadium-anchored development project at Howard Terminal proposed by A’s owner John Fisher in April. It arrived at the tail end of an increasingly vituperative A’s campaign to pressure the Oakland City Council into voting on their plan, a campaign that featured gaslighting, duplicitousness and threats issued over social media to relocate the team to Las Vegas if the city failed to meet the A’s demands. “HOWARD TERMINAL OR BUST,” read the full-page ad the A’s took out in Bay Area newspapers. It felt like a ransom note.
Since then, much has changed. The Oakland City Council made a series of key changes to the terms before the July 20 vote, including a concession that let the A’s off the hook for an estimated $350 million in off-site infrastructure funding. A’s President Dave Kaval’s response was positive, telling Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf that the A’s “were encouraged there was a positive vote.” It has begun to feel as if the A’s might end up Rooted in Oakland, after all.
But this has come at a cost. It was evident in the weariness of the fans I sat amongst in the Coliseum last month. It was reflected by the frustration of District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife, when she said in Council on the 20th, “After receiving insults, after being disrespected, after all of the things Oakland A’s fans and Oakland residents have gone through … I just don’t know.”