By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Two council members from the City of Oakland have mailed a letter to Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval expressing their concerns with his club’s decision to block a minor league game by the expansion Oakland Ballers that had been scheduled for the Coliseum on June 29.
The A’s will be on the road at the time the new minor league independent team wanted to host a special night at the venue. The “B’s” had a signed agreement in place for that date and a deposit paid when they learned late last month the big league team vetoed the plan without providing a reason.
Rebecca Kaplan, a council member at-large, and District 6 representative Kevin Jenkins mailed their joint letter Monday and asked for a prompt explanation. They also represent the city on the Alameda County Coliseum Authority Board that oversees the agency managing the Coliseum — Kaplan as the board’s chairperson and Jenkins its commissioner.
“The Oakland Athletics appear to have expressed the desire to prevent the Oakland Ballers from playing on a single day in June 2024, a date which you had previously said you did not need or want to use the Oakland Coliseum,” they wrote in the letter, shared with The Associated Press on Monday.
“Blocking the Oakland Ballers will deny the Oakland community and neighboring fans of the game of baseball from enjoying a community-oriented event. Furthermore, blocking this event from moving forward will negatively impact local jobs and revenue. We are not aware of any impact that would warrant blocking this event.”
Kaplan said on social media last week the cancellation of this event — a game against the Northern Colorado Owlz — would cost people job opportunities and expressed the ramifications of lost revenue for major projects and improvements benefitting the city and county.
“For me, what’s important here is not only the community experience that comes with sports games and entertainment events, but also the jobs and revenue they generate,” she wrote to the AP on Monday. “I have been working successfully to increase revenue at the Coliseum, and we have been using that money to fund really important things, including to fix issues with 911 Dispatch.
“And so bringing in more events on more dates, specifically the dates the A’s are not using, allows us to create more job opportunity for the community as well as more positive engagement and vitality, and bringing in revenue to protect the community and protect taxpayers.”
Major League Baseball’s owners unanimously voted to approve the A’s relocation to Las Vegas. The team is entering the final year of its lease at the Coliseum in 2024, with uncertainty about where the A’s will play the next three seasons before a new ballpark is slated to open for the 2028 campaign.
Fed up fans, meanwhile, are organizing their own “FansFest” for Feb. 24 in the city’s Jack London Square neighborhood and the A’s Class-A affiliate Stockton Ports were announced Monday as a sponsor.
Kaplan and Jenkins requested a response from Kaval by Friday and plan to discuss this situation at their upcoming board meeting.
“We hope to work together to find a solution that centers on the community’s needs and benefits everyone involved,” they wrote.
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