The Oakland A’s are threatening to leave town as the franchise negotiates to build a new stadium on port property, the political equivalent of a pitch to the batter’s head. But city officials shouldn’t allow themselves to be intimidated into dropping legitimate questions about the team’s offer — or into dropping a container-ship-sized public subsidy on a lucrative private business.
The current choice of locations for the new stadium, the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal site, raises at least as many issues as the team’s abortive plan to relocate to land on Laney College’s campus. Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration is supportive of the idea of a stadium on the Oakland waterfront — and the housing that would come along with it. But backing the plan in principle doesn’t mean the city should shy away from scrutinizing the A’s proposal to spend upward of $855 million in tax revenue on the project. On Friday, Oakland City Council leadership asked Major League Baseball to negotiate in good faith over the stadium — as it should. The league’s audacious demands for public investment hint at both old-fashioned greed and how complicated it will be to make the proposed site suitable for a stadium.