Professional women's basketball in Oakland took a bounce closer to reality Friday morning when a sports and entertainment group got the go-ahead to negotiate a lease for the team.
The African American Sports and Entertainment Group got approval from the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority to negotiate a lease for the use of the Oakland Arena for a Women's National Basketball Association team.
The authority's board voted unanimously in favor of opening negotiations.
"We achieved a great important step today," said Ray Bobbitt, founder of the AASEG.
Bobbitt said the vote by the coliseum authority means his group can now complete a proposal for a women's professional basketball team to submit to the WNBA for vetting and analysis.
It also allows his group to complete an accurate financial analysis of the team.
The team will be led by Black women, a first in professional sports, Bobbitt said.
While many Black men and women play professional sports, leadership and ownership in and of sports teams does not reflect the same diversity.
On Bobbitt's team is Shonda Scott, who added that it's time for things to change.
"It's past time," she said.
Scott said not only is it important for young girls in Oakland and the Bay Area to see women play professional sports but also to see women in leading business roles.
Scott went further and added that according to a study by McKinsey and Company, success in America's Black community translates to success for America.
As the racial gap is closed, Scott said, it helps other communities.
She said we should all be rooting for this type of scenario.
If Bobbitt and Scott get approval from the league, players and who runs the team will be chosen along with a team name, Bobbitt said.
The plan to bring a professional women's basketball team to the Arena is part of a larger effort to revitalize the surrounding area, which includes the Oakland Coliseum where the Oakland A's currently play.
Both venues make up what is known as the Coliseum complex.
Bobbitt and his group will hear from the City Council Tuesday on his group's proposal to buy the city's 50 percent stake in the complex.
That is the first step in a larger picture for that area, and it would be the largest land transaction to African Americans in Oakland's history, Bobbitt said.
Tuesday's meeting starts at 1:30 p.m.