Oakland WNBA bid a step closer with exclusive negotiating rights to Coliseum site

Oakland WNBA bid a step closer with exclusive negotiating rights to Coliseum site

The bid to bring a WNBA franchise to Oakland hit a critical milestone on Thursday, as the city officially announced it had reached an agreement with the group leading the expansion effort for exclusive trading rights to its half of the Colosseum site.

African American Sports and Entertainment Group singer Alana Beard is set to complete and submit the proposal to the WNBA. The league had previously declared its intention to go ahead with the expansion in December, but postponed it until 2023.

“Alana is leading this project,” Bobbitt told Thursday’s presser. “It is getting to a point where a proposal could be submitted soon. The league was originally talking about December of last year, but now that’s been expanded, and I think they’ve changed the dynamic of the expansion process.

Beard, a former WNBA player, is using the new schedule as an opportunity to complete some final steps in securing infrastructure. As of Thursday, the league had not provided any clarity on the expansion schedule, a source involved in the expansion efforts told The Chronicle.

The Bay Area has long been speculated as a potential location for expansion, with the Golden State Warriors showing interest and public campaigning by AASEG, a black-owned developer team led by native Ray Bobbitt. from East Oakland.

Sources with direct knowledge of the expansion negotiations told The Chronicle that the league is now considering adding up to four teams in the next expansion round, around the same time as the next rights deal. media would be in place.

AASEG’s exclusive deal with the city was reached last week and will cost the developer a fee of $200,000 per year, plus $2.5 million in one-time funds to cover staff time. Oakland originally agreed to negotiate with AASEG in November 2021.

“It’s a great opportunity for young people in the community,” said former WNBA player and current Oakland Tech athletic director Alexis Gray-Lawson, who advocated bringing a team to Oakland and took speak during Thursday’s presser. “There are a bunch of kids here who aspire to be WNBA players, and this community is trying to bring that to them.”

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, who was present at Thursday’s presser, made a resolution in September to publicly support the arrival of a WNBA team in the city.

AASEG also confirmed Thursday that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman will be supporting the group’s bid.

As Oakland’s effort progresses, the dynamics of WNBA expansion also continue to evolve and could be influenced by developments in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The NWSL Board of Directors recently voted to approve expansion bids from the Bay Area, Boston and Utah, and although sources told The Chronicle the process is not Still final, the reported $50 million expansion fee for the Bay Area and Boston could have an effect on the WNBA market. .

WNBA teams have regularly sold for around $10-15 million, according to public records, though that number isn’t close to what the league expects to collect in expansion fees this time around. .

Toronto and Philadelphia are still candidates for expansion as well, although basketball numbers have consistently suggested the Bay Area would be a future destination for the league.

“Certainly the Bay Area in general, including Oakland or San Francisco, is definitely on our list, top of our list,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert told reporters in September. “…The W is everywhere right now. But such a big market considering that women’s college basketball (is) hugely popular in the Bay Area. Yes, it’s definitely on the list.

The Warriors have yet to officially announce an offer to bring a WNBA franchise to Chase Center, with a spokesperson telling The Chronicle in January: “As we have said for some time, we would be interested in a team when time and economy is right.”

The 12-team WNBA hasn’t added an expansion franchise since the Atlanta Dream in 2008.

In addition to a WNBA tenant at the Colosseum site, AASEG hopes to add housing, a convention center, hotel, restaurants and an outdoor amphitheater for youth sports and educational programs in a project that, according to previous estimates, would cost more than $5 billion.

Any site redevelopment plan requires approval from the Oakland Athletics, which co-owns the property and has a lease there through 2024 for home games. The A’s purchased half of the Coliseum site from Alameda County in 2019. They are pursuing a new ballpark at Howard Terminal.

Marisa Ingemi is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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