By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information JR
Oakland history was made in front of our eyes on November 16th 2021 when the African American Sports and Entertainment Group’s proposal to develop the Coliseum area after the Oakland A’s lease is up in 2024, was accepted by the Oakland City Council. Part of their plan is to bring a WNBA team or NFL team to the stadium, as well as create housing as well as much needed jobs on the land that the Coliseum already has occupied; in which is a godsend to this economically depressed area of East Oakland, if work goes according to plan.
I love the fact that Ray Bobbit, the founder of the AASEG, is a Black man from East Oakland, so this is an example of East Oakland taking care of East Oakland. Who is better equipped to know what is going on in that community, more than a native son of the East?
I talked to Ray Bobbit about AASEG’s history and plans for the Coliseum area, which many deep East Oaklanders like myself, hold as sacred because of the life changing events that we have attended there, growing up. I have seen Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Too Short, Jay Z, LL Cool Jay, Run DMC, and more perform there. I was at a MLB Allstar game there in the 90’s. I saw legendary Oakland boxer Andre Ward fight there a few years back, as well as I have seen the A’s, Warriors, and Raiders play there, so a lot has happened in my life at this location. It is a very important area to not just me, but the Bay in general. Ray Bobbit and I talk about AASEG’s innovative economic plan for East Oakland. Keep tapping in.
JR Valrey: How did your group come together? When?
Ray Bobbit: Our group came together in June 2020 with the objective to pursue acquiring the first majority African American owned NFL football team. With the knowledge that “over 75% of NFL players are African American, there are no African American owners”. We all envisioned Oakland would be the best place to change that narrative.
JR Valrey: What did your proposal to the Oakland City Council for the Oakland Coliseum area include? Why did the Oakland City Council pick your plan in your opinion?
Ray Bobbit: Our proposal to redevelop the Oakland Coliseum region included quality and affordable housing, market-rate housing, educational centers, pumice service facility, stadium/convention center, culture and art museum, hotels, mixed retail, life science and research facilities, a Black business district and more!.
We believe from testimonials, the City of Oakland unanimously selected our plan due the extensive community outreach and engagement, our values for community change and the experience of our entire team. Overall, we met with 50+ community organizations and leaders.
JR Valrey: Is your proposal guaranteed to create economic opportunities for the East Oakland area beyond a few blue collar jobs? How?
Ray Bobbit: Yes, our proposal will create economic opportunities for the East Oakland regional area beyond just a few blue collar jobs. Our vision is not exclusive to housing. We understand how important housing is for our community, especially affordable housing. We also realize how important job creation is for the East Oakland community. There is about 16 million square feet of development envelope at the site, which could translate into 30,000 to 40,000 jobs. This is a once and generational opportunity to revitalize East Oakland vs. allowing it to be gentrified and have its residents displaced. Additionally, we have outlined a community equity plan that will have a direct positive impact on the community.
JR Valrey: Is your group interested in bringing a professional team into the Oracle, now that the A’s are leaving soon, and the Raiders and the Warriors left to what they saw as greener pastures?
Ray Bobbit: Yes, our group is absolutely committed to bringing professional sports back to the arena (as well as to a new stadium). We are in high level talks with the WNBA and NFL. The Coliseum complex is rated the top site in the country for sports and entertainment.
JR Valrey: Why are you personally involved in this venture? Who are the people on your team? How were the people on your team picked?
Ray Bobbit: I am personally involved in this venture because I want to help revitalize my community. I was born and raised in East Oakland just blocks from the Coliseum Complex. It is time for positive change to come to one of the country’s most marginalized communities. I have worked my entire life to reach this point. Every member of the team I personally asked to join the team. Team members include:
Robert Bobb, Alan Dones, Bill Duffy, LaNiece Jones, John Jones III, Jonathan Jones, Karim Muhammed, Levant Obulié, Jim Reynolds ( Loop Capital), Shonda Scott, Rufus Williams (Loop Capital), Samantha Wise.
JR Valrey: How long was the process from writing the proposal to getting the Oakland City Council to vote on your proposal?
Ray Bobbit: Our proposal was presented to the City on October 6, 2020. On October 29, 2020 the City Council gave direction to the City Staff to negotiate with us. November 16, 2021 the City Council approved our proposal to purchase the Coliseum Site and selected us to develop their 50% interest on the Coliseum site.
JR Valrey: How long do you predict that it will take for your group to break ground on the new development?
Ray Bobbit: The A’s have a lease on the site ( which includes a license agreement on the parking lots) through December 2024. So, our plan is to spend the next two years completing our ENA negotiations, and conducting pre-development/pre-entitlement plans. That way we can break ground the moment after the A’s lease concludes. This will be a massive development.
JR Valrey: What are the next steps?
Ray Bobbit: The next steps are to finalize the ENA with the City, complete the transaction, and finalize planning.
JR Valrey: How will the East Oakland community that lives around the coliseum area be included in the planning for this new redevelopment?
Ray Bobbit: The East Oakland community that surrounds the Coliseum area will lead the Community Benefits Agreement process. The community will be directly involved in shaping the benefits to be sure the economic impact will reach everyone who lives there.
JR Valrey: How could people stay up to date on what’s going on with your group and the development of the coliseum site?
Ray Bobbit: We have a website www.aasegoakland.com where we will post continuous updates of the project.