OAKLAND -- Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff surprised Oakland and Alameda County officials with an announcement Wednesday that his team has reached a 10-year lease agreement to stay at O.co Coliseum and will consider sticking to Oakland even longer if a new stadium is built at its current site, not on the waterfront.
"It's a big deal. We would like to have sufficient time to digest our options (concerning a new stadium), which we've been doing for the last five years," Wolff said by phone Wednesday.
"We have agreed we will take another look at Oakland" as a site for a new A's stadium, Wolff said, "but only at the Coliseum site."
The deal announced by Wolff and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who in a statement threw his support behind Wolff's contention that a stadium site at the Howard Terminal near Jack London Square is not feasible, occurred as Oakland City Council members gathered behind closed doors at City Hall to discuss the pending agreement.
Councilman Larry Reid, who is vice chair of the Alameda County-City of Oakland Joint Powers Authority that governs the Coliseum, said the statements were premature.
"We were all surprised to read the comments made by Mr. Wolff and certainly by Commissioner Selig because we're still in negotiations with the A's," Reid said. "We were waiting to see how that meeting went tomorrow. We want to make sure we do everything we can to keep the A's within the city, but it's got to be a lease agreement that's in the best interest of both the residents of Alameda County and certainly the residents of the city of Oakland.
"Fans should not exhale just yet, but you know, we're getting close," he added.
The JPA board is meeting on Friday and likely will approve the contract. The authority, city and Alameda County supervisors must all sign off for the lease to be extended to 2025.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan also appeared surprised by the announcement. "We are all working to make sure the A's stay here at home in Oakland," she said. "The JPA has been negotiating with the team for months. As recently as last night, they received a new counteroffer from the team, which we have not yet had opportunity to review in depth. ... We plan to meet tomorrow, continue negotiations and hope there will be an agreement soon."
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, chairman of the JPA, said the authority was still fine-tuning the details of the agreement but planned to finalize them Thursday.
"We very much appreciate Commissioner Selig's support for Oakland to be the home of the A's," Miley said in a statement. "We also agree, and we believe the A's do as well, that long-term the Coliseum is the best site for them in the East Bay."
Oakland leaders had recently expressed some misgivings about details of the tentative deal. So did Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose vision for a new football stadium could be complicated by the long-term A's lease on the site the two teams share.
A blogger who has been following the negotiations called the deal a "double edge sword because both the A's and the Raiders are competing for the single most feasible site."
"The Raiders and the A's are making statements to appear as if they aren't competing, but it's clearly evident (they are)," said Rhamesis Muncada, a San Jose resident who runs NewBallPark.org. "Raiders will take lease approval as a step toward siding with A's, moving Raiders out. A's will think the same if Raiders reach a deal to build Coliseum City."
Muncada, who had supported the A's now-defunct bid to move to San Jose, said the problem for Oakland and Alameda County "is that they want to retain all teams but don't have the resources to keep more than one, and they've been unwilling to choose between the two."
Wolff said, "I think it's a more-than-fair deal for both sides. There is an exit clause if the Raiders come through with whatever they're planning."
Asked about his level of confidence of the government agencies voting for the deal, he said, "I'm hoping because of the process we've gone through and because the transaction is beneficial to the county and the city and the JPA that the vote will go well. But I don't vote."
Staff writers John Hickey, Kristin Bender and Samantha Clark contributed to this report.