Despite threats to abandon Oakland from both the Athletics and the Warriors, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority agreed to spend an additional $1 million studying a proposal for a massive sports and entertainment complex on Friday.
The plan, dubbed "Coliseum City," was first introduced early last year, and may be Oakland's only hope for retaining its sports teams--all of which could leave by 2017.
"The fear is legitimate but we're working really hard on a plan that could eventually still have all three teams," said Oakland mayor Jean Quan to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The new project would be modeled after Los Angeles' LA Live, a 27-acre complex that includes the Staples Center, as well as restaurants, bars, shopping and hotels. The estimated cost is upwards of $1 billion, but according to city officials, the project would largely be privately financed.
So far, the Raiders is the only team that has expressed interest in pursuing future development at the site. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the team has agreed to help fund the study approved on Friday. If the plan moves forward, the Raiders will reportedly be the anchor tenant.
"Coliseum City is a game-changer, and Oakland is playing to win," said Quan at a press conference last year.
The city council approved $3.5 million for design work and an environmental review in March. The additional $1 million approved on Friday will fund site planning and studies on revenue potential and market demand.
While the new center could mean a boon for Oakland, some residents expressed frustration that the funds were not being used elsewhere, particularly in light of the Warriors' long-ago announced plans to move to San Francisco.
"There's a lot of people and a lot of programs that could use that money, as opposed to just doing a negative study on something that's gone," said Oakland resident Donald Edward to ABC News.
Indeed, Oakland has seen its share of financial struggles. The Chronicle reported that crime in the city has spiked significantly since the city council laid off more than 100 members of the police department in response to its 2010 budget deficit.
But Stanford economist Roger Noll told the Chronicle that although stadium building isn't always a wise investment for a city, including one in a larger development can significantly benefit both a team and a city.
"The current wave of how new facilities are built, you embed them in larger developments," he explained. "The teams' benefit is indirect."
"It's not about the sports stadium," said Mayor Quan to the Chronicle. "It's about how much more profit (can be made) off of the development around the sports teams. The area around the Coliseum is one of the largest areas of undeveloped land in a major urban area, so there's a lot of potential. And it would mean more than 30,000 new jobs."
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