City of Oakland offers 3 possible ballpark sites

The City of Oakland unveiled three waterfront sites Thursday as

potential spots to build a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics

and ultimately keep the team from leaving town.

As the small-budget A’s have seen before, there are still plenty

of hurdles ahead. In the past they haven’t been able to find a

suitable spot to build and were set to leave Oakland and move to

nearby Fremont until that plan fell through.

More recently, owner Lew Wolff has been determined to move the

team to San Jose – though the San Francisco Giants hold the rights

to that territory. Wolff felt the A’s had exhausted their options

in Oakland after several years of trying.

Oakland mayor Ron Dellums said Thursday the project also would

be about bolstering the blue-collar city’s economic future by

creating jobs and helping turn Oakland into a destination spot. The

three sites would be within easy access of public transit, parking

and would offer other options for entertainment and food.

“This city’s leadership has a clear, concise and unified

message for Major League Baseball: Keep the A’s in Oakland,”

Dellums said. “This project is not solely about a baseball

stadium. This is about continuing our efforts to bolster Oakland’s

economic future.”

Two of the spots hadn’t been previously studied, including one

in the popular Jack London Square area that would be easy to get to

off the heavily traveled 880 interstate.

In March, Dellums and the city council wrote to commissioner Bud

Selig to tell him the city would do everything in its power to keep

the A’s in town. Selig – who has repeatedly said the A’s can’t

survive playing in the run-down Oakland Coliseum they share with

the NFL’s Raiders – then formed a task force to analyze the

situation.

The nonprofit group “Let’s Go Oakland!” has generated tens of

thousands of supporters and petitioned to Major League Baseball to

keep the team in Oakland.

“The stadium situation is in the hands of the commissioner and

the committee and we won’t be commenting on the stadium situation

until they make a decision,” said Ken Pries, A’s vice president of

broadcasting and communications.

Wolff, a Los Angeles real estate developer, has worked hard to

find a better venue for his team.

The A’s had planned to build a state-of-the-art stadium in

nearby Fremont that they thought would eventually transform the

small-market club into a big spender.

But that plan, which would have been in partnership with Cisco

Systems, Inc., fell through because of a variety of complications –

including public transportation issues.

The team had agreed to purchase 143 acres of land from Cisco in

suburban Fremont, about 20 miles south of the Coliseum. The plan

had called for the ballpark to open in time for the 2011

season.

That stadium – with a price tag of around $500 million that was

to primarily come from private funds – was to seat between 30,000

and 34,000 fans, an intimate venue with an impressive range of

technological capabilities and surrounding features outside the

fences.

Wolff certainly would be interested in a similar type of

ballpark, especially considering Oakland has struggled mightily to

fill the stands in recent seasons.