Oakland Athletics: A’s have further narrowed sites for new ballpark
The Oakland Athletics have needed a new stadium for years. They are the only team in Major League Baseball to still share a stadium with a team from the National Football League.
Talk of a new stadium for the Oakland Athletics has gone on for over a decade now, both frustrating and scaring fans with empty promises and threats of moving the team to another city.
Then last fall, Lew Wolff, the club’s now former managing owner, sold most of his stake in the team. Wolff had always wanted to move the team to San Jose but it seems he finally realized that he would never get his wish.
Majority owner John Fisher and new team president Dave Kaval stepped in to take over Wolff’s duties and did in six months accomplished what Wolff couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do in 11 years.
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By the team’s annual Fan Fest in late January, Kaval announced that they had narrowed the number of sites for the new stadium down to four places, all in Oakland.
He also promised that a site and timeline for the new stadium would be announced by the end of the year.
Now, it appears that Kaval and company are drawing even closer to finding the perfect place for the Oakland Athletics to finally have their new stadium, according to Robert Gammon of Oakland Magazine.
Gammon writes that the A’s have narrowed their choices down to two sites, Laney College (which the team refers to as the Lake Merritt site) next to Oakland’s Lake Merritt and Howard Terminal next to Jack London Square with the site of the current Oakland Coliseum now becoming a distant third option.
However, in an update to his article in Oakland Magazine, Gammon received a phone call and apologies for his tardiness from Kaval, just hours after the article was published.
Kaval confirmed to Gammon that the A’s were in fact down to three sites but said that the Coliseum site was still very much an option. The fourth site on the estuary southeast of Jack London Square, is no longer in the running.
Of the three remaining sites each still have their pros and cons and Kaval and the Athletics have been polling Oakland residents to see what effect, if any, would the building of the new stadium have upon their residences and local businesses.
Thus far, according to Kaval, out of the four sites the top three choices among those polled remain equal among the three still in the running.
The Coliseum site has the easiest access to both the freeways and public transportation and it will be left vacant for the A’s when the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors move to a new stadium across the bay.
However, there are some who think that the area should be used to build housing developments for the rapidly growing area.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, who has been an integral part of keeping the Athletics and baseball in Oakland, prefers the Howard Terminal site, saying “Howard Terminal is a beautiful piece of property,” and reiterating that city officials have always preferred the waterfront property due to its proximity to Jack London Square and the positive effect it would have for the businesses there.
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The A’s concern about Howard Terminal is that it is a mile from the nearest BART station as well as the fact that there are railroad tracks in front of it.
However, the city is prepared to offer the A’s a $200 million infrastructure deal, according to Gammon, to help build pedestrian bridges over the railroad tracks.
The A’s really prefer the Lake Merritt site. It is close to the Lake Merritt BART station and Interstate 880. They also believe they could add housing and retail shops on the site of the Laney parking lot next to I-880.
The Lake Merritt site worries Mayor Schaff, as she believes it could price-out the local businesses that are currently located in the neighborhood there.
So, while one site has actually been crossed off the list (which is good news), the three in the running are still equally being examined and the A’s are still in the process of polling residents on their preferences.
There is still a lot of work and negotiating to be done, but three sites is still fewer than four. Obviously, the plans for the new stadium are serious, and are moving forward in the right direction.
If Kaval and his team could narrow a large number of sites down to four in just six months time, it’s probable that they will be able to decide on the best course of action for the A’s and the City of Oakland within the next seven months.
In which case they will be able to meet Kaval’s self-imposed deadline of announcing the plans for the Athletics’ new stadium in Oakland by the end of the year.