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Athletics Pick Laney College Site for New Privately Financed Ballpark

1960 Oakland Coliseum proposal

The Oakland Athletics have selected a site near downtown Oakland and Laney College for a privately financed, $500-million 35,000-seat ballpark, as the team proceeds with a replacement for the Oakland Coliseum.

The ballpark would be built on land controlled by the Peralta Community College District. This site was chosen by the A’s over a waterfront site at the Howard Terminal (a site pushed by Oakland elected officials, including Mayor Libby Schaaf, but one rejected by the team because of the immense challenge in developing the site and the lack of public transit near the ballpark) and the existing Oakland Coliseum site. Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval made the announcement about the site selection and immediately contacted Peralta district Chancellor Jowel Laguerre about buying or leasing the land. The team is eying a 2023 ballpark opening and obviously wants to get the ball rolling, although it could take a year to come to an agreement snd for the district to find a replacement. From SFGate:

The site has several features the A’s made clear were a priority in their hunt for a new stadium location. It’s right off Interstate 880, although providing vehicle access will require millions of dollars worth of new freeway ramps. It’s also close to BART — the Lake Merritt Station is a nine-minute walk to the north — and it’s on the edge of downtown.

To try to win over the Peralta district’s Board of Trustees, the A’s are proposing to construct housing and commercial space on an 8-acre Laney parking lot just north of the site — a spot now known for its Sunday morning flea market — and funnel revenue from it to Laney. The A’s would also help build a garage there with the idea of boosting the college’s overall parking capacity.

“We believe there are opportunities for mixed-use development … that could generate significant long-term revenue to support the college’s educational mission, and deliver a valuable and comprehensive community benefits package,” Kaval said in his letter.

This site will certainly present a challenge for the A’s ownership. There will be the inevitable opposition to a ballpark generating a lot of traffic, the traditional bugaboo of sports-facility opponents, and there will be others opposed to any effort to gentrify the greater downtown Oakland area. (Indeed, that opposition emerged before the site was announced.) There are also financial hurdles: while the A’s say they will privately finance the ballpark, they will be asking local, state and federal authorities for infrastructure work that will include freeway access.

Interestingly, the A’s also want to maintain a development interest in the Oakland Coliseum, which would be available in 2023 after the Golden State Warriors (NBA) depart for a new downtown San Francisco arena and the Oakland Raiders (NFL) have departed for Las Vegas. The team’s vision for the site call for its use as a community park and urban youth baseball academy. And, of course, the sports park would be the anchor of development that would spur commercial and residential uses of the site. With plenty of freeway and BART access, the redevelopment of this site is pretty inevitable — though it’s likely that any redevelopment efforts there will be subject to a separate bidding process.

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