Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, along with Mayor Sheng Thao and several OaklandeElected officials and community, business owners, and faith leaders joined African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) for a press conference announcing an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the City of Oakland.
The city holds a 50% interest in the Coliseum complex, making this one of the largest transfers of public land in nearly two centuries. Ray Bobbitt, AASEG founder, said, “Awarding the development agreement of this vital site to an Oakland-based African American led business entity will go far in addressing glaring racial disparities within the City of Oakland’s contracting practices. This project will foster economic parity, entrepreneurial and local small business opportunities.”
AASEG is an African American founded, Oakland-based group focused on creating economic opportunity in East Oakland and using the Coliseum Complex as a vehicle for economic equity and social justice. AASEG’s proposal includes bringing a WNBA team to the City of Oakland, which aligns with the city’s values to uphold and support women and to allow fans to root for a sport primarily led by black women. The group has received strong support from the Oakland community, Oakland City Council, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority (OACCA).
Kaplan, the author of the Oakland City Council and OACCA resolutions allowing for the ENA with AASEG, said, “I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring jobs, housing at all income levels, sports, entertainment and more to this vital Oakland site, in a way that strengthens equity and vibrancy for the community at this transit-accessible location.”
Three years ago, in an op-ed for the Oakland Post, Kaplan wrote of the existing concerns about the loss of jobs, lack of affordable housing, and the further erosion of the black community in East Oakland, and how community-oriented revitalization of the Coliseum site can help remedy these problems. Kaplan said they believe the Oakland Coliseum property to be an excellent large site that has connectivity throughout the region, including with BART, Amtrak, freeway, and airport access.