Most of the attention on the A's ballpark situation has focused on the San Jose election controversy, where Chuck Reed's and Lew Wolff's insistence on placing a measure on the November ballot drew MLB's ire. (Looks like Reed and Wolff are backing off for now, and are accepting Bud Selig's offer to help pay for a special March 2011 election instead of this November.)
Lost in all the shuffle was a letter that Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Council President Jane Brunner sent to Selig and MLB on July 23. The letter lists Oakland's many efforts in recent months to secure the A's future in Oakland. Even more, the letter goes into much detail about what Oakland officials have done to make important progress for a waterfront ballpark site near Jack London Square. That progress includes getting very strong support from local businesses and the private sector, along with a clear reminder that they can easily acquire more land around the site, and that Oakland officials have studied with due diligence to address any environmental, traffic and parking concerns. Some key points in the letter stick out. In short, Oakland:
* Has secured over $500,000 in deposits from 35 corporate entities expressing interest in luxury suites, sponsorship opportunities and, perhaps most significantly, naming rights for a new waterfront ballpark.
* Owns a large single parcel that makes up almost 25% of one of the sites that is appropriate for baseball. The Mayor is ready to authorize the Oakland Redevelopment Agency to start the the public environmental review process of entitling land along our waterfront.
* Has demonstrated that the City/Redevelopment Agency has the financial capacity to uphold its end of any negotiated transaction.
This flies in the face of what Oakland's detractors have always said about the A's new ballpark hunt. Moreover, the City did all these efforts without any cooperation from A's management, who have become more and more narrowly focused on points south.
Dellums' letter comes just a few days after Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) wrote a guest column that echo a lot of Dellums' points. This city is definitely ready to play ball and work with Major League Baseball and the Athletics on securing the team's future where it belongs, Oakland.