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ATHLETICS SEEK PROTECTION AGAINST RETURN OF RAIDERS

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The Oakland Athletics won three World Series titles in the 1970s yet found themselves No. 2 behind football's Raiders on the Oakland sports scene.

The A's now want protection, should the Raiders return and a similar situation develop in the 1990s.Baseball's champions are asking that their Oakland Coliseum lease be improved in various ways and also that it include an escape clause that would allow the team to leave after the 1995 season.

"It's just protection against holding the economic bag," Athletics President Wally Haas said Tuesday. "The city is putting itself at some risk in the Raiders' scenario, but they believe it's worth the risk."

The baseball team is asking for the lease improvements in exchange for its agreement to share the Coliseum with the Raiders, whose Los Angeles Coliseum lease expires after the 1991 season. The Oakland City Council plans to vote Tuesday on the latest financial offer to be made to the Raiders.

It is much less lucrative than an earlier one, approved by the City Council and Alameda County supervisors, that was rescinded before Raiders owner Al Davis acted on it. Critics, including some City Council members, called it too risky for the city.

The A's, who topped the one million mark in attendance only twice in the 1970s, drew a team-record 2.6 million fans last season and began the second half of this season on a pace to beat that record.

But lease improvements are necessary, Haas said, to "keep this team together as a world championship team." The A's have several of baseball's highest paid players, including Jose Canseco, Dave Stewart and Rickey Henderson.

Haas said his family, which bought the American League franchise in 1980, does not want to move or sell the A's, but is requesting the 1995 escape clause to protect the business in the event the Raiders return and "things don't work out the way people hope."

The Raiders played before sellout crowds throughout the 1970s and won Super Bowl titles after the 1976 and 1980 seasons, but they moved to Los Angeles when their Oakland Coliseum lease expired after the 1981 season.