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Oakland Coliseum Sale Expected to Help City Avoid Drastic Budget Cuts

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A view of the field before an Oakland Athletics MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland on May 17, 2023. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

Oakland’s plan to sell its share of the Oakland Coliseum Complex will help the city to close its budget deficit without laying off city employees or cutting public safety, Mayor Sheng Thao announced Thursday.

Oakland is facing a $117 million shortfall this year and $175 million next year. At a press conference on Thursday, Thao laid out her priorities for the mid-cycle budget adjustment and said Oakland is contending with some of the same financial difficulties as other cities: High interest rates have slowed construction and real estate sales, inflation has led to higher costs, and businesses are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Oakland got a boost with the announcement on Wednesday that it plans to sell its half of the Coliseum property for at least $105 million to the Oakland-based African American Sports & Entertainment Group. Francis Zamora, spokesperson for the mayor, said the city’s plan has been years in the making, but the timing didn’t hurt.


Zamora said the influx of cash means they will no longer go through with their plan to lay off around 100 police officers and between 50 and 90 civil servants. The mayor’s new proposal also no longer includes plans to close four fire stations, cancel some of the city’s police academies, or shorten the hours of some recreation centers.

To make up for the remaining shortfall, the mayor’s plan would consolidate some administrative and financial services and initiate a review of the city’s contracts, ending those that are underperforming or non-critical. Just under a hundred unfilled positions, paid for through the city’s general fund, will be frozen and might be eliminated down the line.

Thao said the city is working to develop the Coliseum site with AASEG, which is also in negotiations with the Oakland A’s to buy the other half.

“We are working with them to transform the Coliseum Complex into a world-class housing, entertainment, and entertainment center, retail and sports destination,” Thao said, describing the potential development as the biggest infusion of capital in East Oakland in decades. “And when we build, we’re going to make sure those jobs go to Oakland residents and that that money stays right here in our community.”

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Moving forward, Zamora said property taxes from the Coliseum will help the city address some of its structural deficit. To further boost revenue, the mayor’s plan includes an initiative designed to draw filmmakers to the city. The mayor said the initiative will maximize the city’s benefit from productions like the 2018 film Blindspotting, set in Oakland.

“Parts of it were filmed here; however, if 100% of that film was filmed here, and if we had the infrastructure for the film initiative, then that means that about $85 million would have been pushed back as revenues into our economy here,” Thao said.

The mayor’s office is expected to release its complete mid-cycle budget adjustment plan on Friday. After that, the City Council and labor leaders will weigh in before the June 30 budget deadline.

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