OAKLAND, Calif. -- For once, it appears Major League Baseball has given A's owner Lew Wolff exactly what he wanted.
With the board that runs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex playing hardball over a short-term lease extension for the A's, MLB sent a stern message to board members Friday that if no deal was reached, it could help the A's temporarily move to the Giants' AT& T Park in San Francisco.
If the threat was a thinly veiled attempt to improve the A's negotiating leverage, it might have worked.
Sources with knowledge of the Coliseum authority's private deliberations Friday said there was movement toward softening its stance that the A's relinquish control over concessions and signage revenue at O.co Coliseum, which comes at the expense of the Raiders.
"The key point is that the authority wants the A's to stay in Oakland and is not willing to risk losing them over that issue," said one source privy to the discussions.
Both sides struck a conciliatory tone Monday. When asked about a temporary move to San Francisco, Wolff wrote in an email, "I want us to extend in Oakland and believe the (Coliseum Authority) has the same objective."
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who chairs the eight-member authority board, which includes two Oakland City Council members and two supervisors, said negotiators were close to completing a two-year extension with the A's.
"I think both sides are trying to resolve this, and Major League Baseball has been helpful in that respect," Miley said.
The A's and East Bay officials have little option other than to extend the lease that expires at the end of the year. The A's need a place to play while continuing to seek league approval for a move to San Jose. Becoming a tenant of the Giants--the team that has blocked the San Jose move--would cause logistical issues and leave the A's ownership without the stadium revenue streams that it is fighting to retain in Oakland.
Meanwhile, Oakland and Alameda County officials are reluctant to pick a fight with Major League Baseball, whose support it will need to keep the A's in Oakland long term.
"For both sides, the threat points are catastrophic," said Stanford University economics Professor Emeritus Roger Noll. "Not coming up with a deal is really cutting off your nose to spite your face."
Negotiations have stalled over the Coliseum's attempt to level the playing field between the A's and Raiders. The A's control concessions for all events at the Coliseum and collect a share of food and beverages sold at Raiders games.
"The A's want to keep all the rights they've enjoyed for years, and we're asking for concessions to make it fair for everyone," said one authority member who asked not to be named discussing the negotiations.
The Raiders, whose lease at the Coliseum also expires after this season, declined to comment Monday. Miley said the Raiders were close to signing a short-term extension to continue playing at the Coliseum while they continue searching for a long-term home.
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