Last week was a big one in the ballpark world, as the Oakland Athletics and Portland Diamond Project unveiled renderings for new-ballpark proposals located on scenic waterfronts. The early reaction to both is positive-so far.
In Portland, the Portland Diamond Project announced it had reached an agreement in principle with the Port of Portland to develop the Port’s 45-acre Terminal 2 property. Terminal 2 offers approximately 45 acres of riverfront property with more than 2,000 linear feet of waterfront. This is seen more than just a ballpark, but rather the centerpiece of a mixed-use development that will including housing, retail, office space and more. You can read our original coverage here.
While most of the details needs to be finalized, such as how the project will be financed and the specific parameters of the accompanying office/retail/housing development, the fact that elected officials were initially speaking well of the new ballpark was encouraging. Of course, at this point, what’s not to love? The PDP is proposing a privately financed ballpark and a privately financed development designed to fit within the Portland ethos: environmentally sustainable construction, emphasis on local goods, and an atmosphere that celebrates diversity and inclusion, according to the project leaders.
But the city is ready to move forward quickly on the project. According to KOIN, representatives from the bureaus of planning, development, and transportation, as well as Prosper Portland, already met last Friday to start discussions about the site and its needs. Mayor Ted Wheeler says there are some ways the city may pay for infrastructure costs, such as through tax-increment financing, and a state tax on visiting athletes could yield as much as $150 million for a project. There are some environmental issues at play as well–cleanup of the Portland Harbor and Willamette River is an ongoing process–so plenty of planning will be required.
The Oakland A’s unveiled a cutting-edge Howard Terminal ballpark design that goes vertical with rooftop parks as part of a larger development. It’s also an incredibly complex proposal–both in terms of the actual ballpark and the logistics of pulling off a deal that calls for a waterfront ballpark and a redevelopment plan for the Oakland Coliseum site.
The A’s proposed a 34,000-seat ballpark at a working industrial port, near downtown Oakland and close to Jack London Square. It’s a challenging site, to be sure, with limited parking and infrastructure. The proposal outlined last week calls for multiple ways to access the ballpark, including a gondola (a transportation method also included in the Portland plan, by the way), and an economic plan that calls for the A’s to privately finance the ballpark as well as associated development (housing, retail). The A’s would also assume control of the Coliseum site and create a mixed-use development that would keep Oracle Arena open. Oakland Coliseum would go away, replaced by an amphitheater.
Nothing will happen quickly on this site, however. The California Environmental Quality Act requires a year-long review of the site, which includes an evaluation of both the water quality and the soil condition. There has been soil contamination at the site, but it’s been capped and needs to be reevaluated, as the area has been used for parking and container storage. And the site is surrounded by industrial firms, including a recycling firm and a power substation.
Plus, there are some other local issues to be addressed. If sea levels do indeed rise as projected, which will affect both tides and groundwater levels, the ballpark will need to be built higher. Wind is always an issue in the Bay, but the A’s say the ballpark orientation (it’s facing east, using the grandstand and surrounding buildings as wind shields) addresses the issue. That means no waterfront views from the ballpark-but lots more comfort on a cold, windy night.
Still, city officials seem thrilled with the prospect of a large-scale development that could transform downtown Oakland. And getting that buy-in from city officials is always keep to ballpark proposals moving forward.
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