Oakland Organizers Ask: How Hard Are the A’s Working to Keep Us in Oakland?

1 min
Oakland workers and residents cheer at a town hall on Oct. 5, 2019, to discuss potential community benefits from the A's proposed stadium. People gathered repeatedly chanted throughout the meeting "public land for public good." (Amy Mostafa/KQED)

More than 100 Oakland residents and organizers gathered at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in West Oakland Saturday to discuss exactly how the Oakland Athletics can help Bay Area residents that might be displaced by the team's proposed 34,000-seat waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square.

The new stadium could affect residents and workers of West Oakland and Oakland’s Chinatown.

Speaking to a packed house, Jahmese Myres, deputy director of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy — part of the Oakland United Coalition — explained the permitting timeline and the coalition’s demands.

They include living-wage jobs for local residents, affordable housing and displacement protections, investment in youth programming and a commitment to addressing environmental impact in districts that are already among the most negatively impacted within the Bay Area.

"It's absolutely about the A’s. We love our team. We want them to stay. We’re proud that they’re rooted in Oakland," Myres told the crowd. "And we want them also to be rooted in community."

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Myres said the coalition formed approximately five years ago when talk of the Oakland Raiders and A’s were considering new stadiums in Oakland started going around.

Making an appearance, former mayoral candidate Cat Brooks told of being asked about the stadium on the campaign trail and the need for a community benefits agreement regardless of the complex’s location.

EBASE's Jahmese Myers addresses a crowd on Oct. 5, 2019 at a town hall regarding desired community benefits from the new Oakland A's stadium. Former mayoral candidate Kat Brooks prepares to speak.
EBASE's Jahmese Myres addresses a crowd on Oct. 5, 2019 at a town hall regarding desired community benefits from the new Oakland A's stadium. Former mayoral candidate Cat Brooks prepares to speak. (Amy Mostafa/KQED)

Alma Blackwell, an Oakland born and raised organizer summarized the sentiment of the meeting when she said: “Oakland is working hard to keep the A’s in Oakland, but how hard are they working to keep us in Oakland?”

Blackwell cited the significant displacement of Oakland’s black residents over the past two decades.

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Outside the town hall, Myres emphasized the need to speed along plans.

“This project is moving very quickly. The A’s have a very ambitious timeline, and so we need those guarantees in writing right away,” Myres said.

An A’s spokesperson said the team has already committed to addressing community requests in an agreement with the Port of Oakland.

But Myres said the agreement is not specific or legally binding to actionable items. She said the coalition had been in direct contact with the team regarding community benefits back in March but are now continuing discussion with the city as mediator.

The town hall was held as plans for the new stadium continue to advance between the baseball team and state and city officials.

At the same time, the A’s plans to purchase Alameda County’s share of the 155-acre property encompassing the Coliseum and Oracle Arena for $85 million was stalled by a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Oakland City Council last week.

The team hopes construction on the new ballpark will begin in 2021.

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