The Oakland Athletics have allegedly said that the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding suspension of the Major League Baseball season have taken away their ability to pay rent on the Coliseum.
According to The Mercury News, a San Jose newspaper, Coliseum Authority is seeking out the $1.2 million in rent that the A’s were scheduled to pay on April 1. Coliseum Authority interim executive director Henry Gardner confirmed Tuesday that the A’s have said they didn’t pay because they haven’t been able to use the city and county-owned stadium.
“They said because they haven’t used it, they were not able to generate revenue and they have no ability to pay,” Gardner said. “We recognize that we’ve all been upended in a number of ways. Maybe there are some things we are willing to negotiate and waive, but we can’t just say no rent.”
The East Bay Times obtained a March 31 letter in which A’s general counsel D’Lorna Ellis cited “force majeure,” a clause in the team’s contract with the city that relieves both sides from obligation when there is an extraordinary event. The letter reportedly also said that the Coliseum was being looked at as a potential “surge site” for COVID-19 patients. Ellis said the A’s supported using the Coliseum in that way, but would defer payment until they had a better understanding of when they could use the facility.
The A’s were scheduled to open the 2020 MLB season at home March 26 against the Minnesota Twins. A home game against the Texas Rangers was originally scheduled for Wednesday, making it the 29th game at the Coliseum that has been postponed while the MLB season is suspended.
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The Mercury News reported that the city and county are still $55 million in debt after the Coliseum renovations made in 1995. The Stadium Authority is also in a legal battle with the Golden State Warriors over about $48 million in debt at the Oakland Arena.
Coliseum Authority board member Ignacio De La Fuente said that it’s not the city or state’s fault that the Coliseum has been closed to the A’s.
“I’m going to make sure we do whatever we can to make them play,” De La Fuente said. “It’s just an excuse to try to not pay when the city needs the money most.”
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