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After bitter dispute with city, Athletics sign 10-year lease extension to remain in Oakland

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OAKLAND, Calif. - The Athletics have agreed to a 10-year lease extension to stay in Oakland, the team and city officials announced Tuesday.

After reviewing several modifications made by the Oakland City Council last week, team owner Lew Wolff said he agreed to the terms of the lease to keep the team playing at the Oakland Coliseum.

The deal must still be approved by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on July 29. The board has previously announced its support.

The extension already has been approved by the board of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, a government entity that oversees the coliseum. The deal is expected to bring in an estimated $20 million to the city and county.

"We appreciate the co-operation and efforts of Oakland city officials in this process and are optimistic that our negotiations have led to a fair and mutually-beneficial relationship," the A's said in a statement. "Most of all, we are happy for our great fans who, pending the county's vote, will know that the Oakland Athletics will continue to play its games at O.co Coliseum."

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan expressed a similar sentiment.

"We want to thank the team's ownership, our colleagues at the County of Alameda, our negotiators and everyone at the City of Oakland who has worked tirelessly on our shared priority of keeping the A's here at home," Quan said. "We're excited to head into the rest of the season with the best team and the best fans in baseball."

As part of the new lease, city leaders say the team agrees to stay in Oakland for at least two years and face a $1.6 million per year penalty if leave they before the lease is up. The deal also requires that the team engage in good faith discussions about building a new ballpark in Oakland.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called the deal an important development in keeping the Athletics in Oakland over the long term.

"We had a few tough moments, but overall I sensed the last week it was going in the right direction," Selig said Tuesday while speaking in Pittsburgh. "I'm very pleased. It's one step, one important step, to overall solving that problem."

The Coliseum has hosted the A's since 1968, but the facility has recently had sewage and lighting problems. The team, which currently has the best record in Major League Baseball, and the city had been in bitter negotiations over the terms of a new deal before inching closer to an agreement in recent weeks.

"We know we're going to be here for a while, so that's a good thing," A's manager Bob Melvin said before opening a three-game series against Houston. "It had so many twists and turns and plots to it, I think everybody really kind of tuned it out as far as the players go. You just assume you're going to play here regardless, but to actually have it done I think is a good thing."

City Council President Pro Tem Rebecca Kaplan, who represents the city on the Coliseum Authority, said she's thrilled the A's will remain in town. Kaplan said she called Wolff when it appeared that the team was annoyed with the city council's minor changes to the deal.

"That night, I called and asked that he at least look at it," Kaplan said. "I'm glad that he did, and I couldn't be more pleased that we have a deal."

Wolff praised Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty "for being so helpful during this process, as well as in other endeavours. We appreciate that he has always seen the big picture."

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