Black-led group wants to prove skeptics wrong with big dreams and sports teams for Oakland Coliseum
Published in Baseball
OAKLAND, Calif. — For the past decade, the vast Coliseum complex in East Oakland has increasingly felt like a forsaken land, its once proud ballpark and arena on a path to concrete ruin following the departures of the Raiders and Warriors and likely the A’s.
Striding into this bleak outlook are Brien Dixon and Ray Bobbitt, co-founders of the African-American Sports and Entertainment Group, which this week finalized an exclusive negotiating agreement with city officials to oversee a $5 billion redevelopment of the 100-acre property and eventually a 50% ownership interest.
The pair say they can turn the fortunes of the Coliseum site around with big ideas and even bigger financial investments in restaurants, nightlife, retail shops, hotels and market-rate and affordable housing. The complex of their dreams would be comparable to the multi-use “L.A. Live” area that houses its own major sports teams in Southern California.
And, indeed, sports remains a top priority for the two-year-old AASEG, which has partnered with retired WNBA star Alana Beard in an effort to bring women’s basketball to Oakland; formed a lower-division soccer club, The Town FC; and made overtures to establish a women’s soccer franchise in the coming years.
“This is a big moment for all of us,” Bobbitt said Thursday at a news conference. “We want to build this complex into a brand-new community.”
The announcement brought rare excitement to the Coliseum grounds, with newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao predicting the project could bring 30,000 new jobs to East Oakland, and community members buzzing about a Black-led, locally based group on the path to half-ownership of the complex.
Besides its own offer of $115 million to obtain 50% ownership interest of the site, AASEG will pay the city a non-refundable $200,000 for the privilege of negotiating the project in the first place, with further plans to reimburse Oakland about $2.5 million to help the redevelopment move forward.
The group is backed by Loop Capital, a Chicago-based and Black-owned investment firm that manages securities funds worth billions of dollars.
But plenty of challenges lie ahead for the ambitious group, and its partnership with Oakland is only just getting off the ground.
The other half of the property is owned by the A’s, which in 2019 acquired its share from Alameda County for $85 million despite the team’s hopes to ditch the Coliseum for a waterfront ballpark and 3,000-home development at Howard Terminal in West Oakland.
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