OAKLAND, California – With the Raiders and Golden State Warriors away from the Oakland Coliseum, and the A’s likely to leave there as well, the question is, what will take their seats?
Oakland City Council on Tuesday selected the African American Sports Entertainment Group to find out. Its task is to negotiate agreements to rebuild the city’s part of the Colosseum complex.
“As someone who grew up near the Colosseum, it’s a pretty overwhelming feeling because there’s an opportunity to take part in revitalizing the community,” says founder Ray Bobbitt.
The group has former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb, as well as a developer, business manager and a sports agent, all with Oakland roots.
The city and the A’s each own half of the property. The A’s have said they need money from developing the Colosseum to help fund their proposed waterfront ballpark if the team decides to stay in Oakland at all.
“The A’s have been uniquely focused on Howard’s Terminal. I do not think they are focused on the Colosseum,” Bobbitt said.
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But it seems that other sports teams may be interested. The group says it has had high-level talks with the Women’s National Basketball Association about bringing a team to the arena.
“We are in discussions with the WNBA, which is going well. They are open to bringing a team to Oakland,” he said.
The group has also spoken to the NFL about a new stadium.
“Our goal is to have the first African-American majority-owned NFL team in Oakland. Part of our strategy is to have a convention center so there would be a convention center built into a stadium,” Bobbitt said.
The projects can create thousands of jobs.
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“We want to build quality housing at affordable prices, education, business districts. We want there to be a hotel,” says Bobbitt.
The city council chose the group over another team led by former A’s pitcher Dave Stewart.
“They have that experience and financial backing. And I believe professional sports would be receptive,” said Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo.
Longtime sports fan Chris Dobbins of the group Save Oakland Sports says he hopes the plans help keep the A’s in Oakland.
“We do not want to lose the A’s. Is this to the detriment of the A’s? Hopefully not,” Dobbins said.
The exclusive negotiation agreement is for 18 months. But it can be extended.