The Oakland Athletics have so far refused to pay the $1.2 million annual rent due April 1 for use of its city and county-owned ball park. Henry Gardner, interim head of the Coliseum Authority, tells the East Bay Times the Athletics "said because they haven't used [the Oakland Coliseum], they were not able to generate revenue and they have no ability to pay." "I'm going to make sure we do whatever we can to make them pay," adds Coliseum Authority board member Ignacio De La Fuente, who argues "it's just an excuse to try to not pay when the city needs the money the most." In a statement to KPIX 5, however, team officials say they can't actually use the facility under Alameda County's shelter-in-place order, which remains in effect.
The statement suggests the team will pay "when the City and County [feel] it's safe to lift the current directives, and the A's are granted access to the facility to play." A March 31 letter from the A's general counsel made a similar argument. It cited a contract clause that relieves either side from obligation in the case of an extraordinary event. The letter, which stated payment would be deferred "until we have a better understanding of when the Coliseum will be available for our use," also noted that the venue was being considered as a possible "surge site" in case of a severe outbreak of COVID-19. The team is seeking government approval of a plan for a new waterfront stadium, though the project is likely to be delayed. (Read more Oakland Athletics stories.)