OAKLAND -- Commissioner Bud Selig made a little bet with himself as he was flying to his last regular-season appearance at the home of the A's, figuring that the team's long quest for a new ballpark would be the first topic of discussion with the media.
The Commissioner won that friendly wager with himself, and then some -- that topic was worth much more than just the first question.
Perhaps fittingly, it was in a football locker room that Selig held a news conference at O.co Coliseum while visiting the facility the A's still share with the Raiders of the National Football League. Selig, who has been at the helm of Major League Baseball since 1992 and is retiring next January, fielded questions from Bay Area reporters on Tuesday in that setting during a half-hour session alongside A's owner Lew Wolff.
"This team needs a new ballpark," Selig said. "I know I said it the last time I was here. But my only comparison is that this reminds me of County Stadium in its final days and Shea Stadium. For those of you in this room, that's not a compliment.
"There's no misunderstanding here: This team needs a new stadium. They have done a remarkable job here, and I mean that sincerely."
Selig was highly complimentary of Wolff's ownership -- as well as that of Walter Haas Jr. and Steve Schott/Ken Hofmann -- and the work that club president Mike Crowley and vice president/general manager Billy Beane have done in keeping the A's a contender year after year despite the aging facility.
Last month, the A's agreed to a 10-year lease at the Coliseum in hopes of building a new ballpark on the site in the coming years, and Selig said that's an important step in the process at this point.
"No. 1, I'm happy that the A's have entered into a lease -- that's important. I give both sides a lot of credit, and we have had a little of ups and downs, which you always have," Selig said. "I know there's been criticism about the length [of time] this has taken. I'm proud of everything we have done the last 22 years, but this is one of those things that as I look back at it, it's very complicated … and now we have litigation, so everything has gone on hold.
"Once litigation is resolved, then we will all proceed."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less