As the A's prepare for the postseason, talk of their proposed new ballpark complex is heating up too — and Oakland residents are demanding a top spot in the decision making process. Any new stadium must actually benefit our community, not just the billionaire owners.
The A's are planning two massive developments on the largest pieces of public land in Oakland — a stadium and entertainment complex in West Oakland at the Port, and a tech-centered, mixed-use development at the current Coliseum in East Oakland.
They claim these projects will be privately funded, but the reality is the A's, and their investors, will profit immensely from our public land, public infrastructure, and public financing tools — including the Port of Oakland, the engine of the East Bay economy. Our communities will subsidize the costs, and the investors will reap the benefits.
It's happened time and again with stadium mega-projects across the country: displacement of the most marginalized residents at an obscene price tag without any concrete improvements in our lives. We saw it with Raiders: the public is still paying millions a year for that bad deal. The A's relocation could unfold the same way: developments that increase real estate values and accelerate the gentrification and displacement of Black Oakland and Chinatown. Or it could be a win-win that uplifts our communities while keeping our team in the Town.
That's the stark choice Oakland faces today: a high-priced stadium, corporate tech offices, luxury condos for the wealthy, and entertainment for out-of-town tourists; or a community-centered project that creates opportunities for our people and keeps existing residents in thriving neighborhoods.
I've lived in Oakland most of my life and am a member of the Oakland United coalition. We are a team of residents, workers, faith leaders, and youth who believe that development on public land should serve the public good by creating affordable housing, good job opportunities for our residents, investments in community services, and healthy land use practices that address decades of environmental racism.
We want the A's to stay. We want existing residents to stay. And we want our neighborhoods to stay affordable. We expect the A's to negotiate a strong Community Benefits Agreement with our community coalition that guarantees these needs in writing, not just lip service.
And we urge our elected officials — from the State Capitol to Oakland City Hall — to ensure that the A's project includes a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement before even considering any more project-related approvals.
The A's claim they are "rooted in Oakland," but their plan threatens to uproot our communities. Rooted in Oakland means making sure these new developments serve Oakland's residents, especially those who have been sidelined from the recent development boom. Rooted in Oakland means rooted in community.
We're watching the scoreboard, and we know what's at stake. The A's are asking to use our precious public land, money, and resources. We demand nothing short of an all-star deal for our communities in return.
Join the Oakland United coalition for a Community Town Hall on Saturday, October 5 at 10 a.m. at Taylor Memorial Church, 1188 12 St., West Oakland.
Esther Goolsby is an Oakland United coalition member and a lifelong resident of East Oakland, residing less than a half-mile from the Coliseum.