Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff has no interest in participating in a development at the O.co Coliseum site, preferring instead for the existing layout of open parking surrounding a new ballpark.
Oakland officials have been pushing an ambitious redevelopment plan for the Coliseum site, Coliseum City, that would combine new facilities for the A’s and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders with an entertainment component, office and retail. No specifics are on the table, and with the defection of the Golden State Warriors (NBA) for the city and the potential defection of the Raiders, the exact mix of sports tenants is up in the air. Plus, there are plenty of skeptics who question whether the development makes economic sense.
Add the Athletics ownership to the list of skeptics, as Wolff says the Coliseum site isn’t large enough for a ballpark, development and surface parking — unless parking ramps were part of the mix, and Wolff nixed the idea of parking ramps. From Inside Bay Area:
“Parking is a key issue for us,” Wolff said. “We want surface parking surrounding the ballpark wherever we build it unless we’re in the heart of a downtown.”
Wolff’s stance doesn’t mean a baseball or football stadium couldn’t be financed at the Coliseum site. But it does further call into question the feasibility of the city’s proposed stadium district known as Coliseum City, which is being billed as the only way to keep the Oakland Raiders in town….
“We have no interest in what is called Coliseum City because we do not believe that the area outside the (city’s and county’s holdings) is something we could develop within our lifetime,” Wolff said when reached by phone late Tuesday.
The numbers are pretty clear. Potentially, there are 800 acres available for development under the city’s plan. But that’s an optimistic tally: most of that land is across I-880 and owned by a variety of governmental and private interests. What Wolff is focusing on, and what still might have some potential, is the actual Coliseum site, which has one big advantage even if the site were developed with a ballpark, parking and some level of entertainment: BART service. That 120 acres is enough for a ballpark, parking and some level of development is pretty clear: the Atlanta Braves are managing to build a ballpark, parking and mixed-use development on a smaller site in suburban Cobb County.
In terms of economics, a new A’s ballpark is a better bet for Oakland than a new Raiders stadium: an NFL home season is pretty limited, while the A’s will play 81 games plus exhibitions at a new Oakland ballpark. Of course, if Oakland chooses the Raiders and boots the A’s from the Coliseum, that would free the team to move to, say, San Jose — provided the A’s can come to a territorial agreement with the San Francisco Giants.
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