We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Ballpark Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #1: The Oakland A’s unveil a new Howard Terminal ballpark proposal.
If the latest plan for a new Oakland A’s ballpark comes to fruition, it will not only solve the franchise’s long-standing facility issues but affect the futures of two sites. While the waterfront Howard Terminal is the team’s targeted location for a new ballpark, the broader proposal calls for an elaborate redevelopment of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum property.
The A’s have been working for years to replace the aging Coliseum, with recent efforts centered around remaining in Oakland. A plan for a new ballpark near Laney College collapsed last December, leaving the A’s with plenty of uncertainties heading into 2018. Ultimately, the organization spent much of this year plotting a plan released in late November that outlined its vision for two sites.
At Howard Terminal, the A’s are seeking to construct a 34,000-seat facility. It would be surrounded by a series of high rises, as well as a rooftop public park. In an attempt to offset some access concerns that have long surrounded the industrial Howard Terminal property, the A’s proposal also calls for an aerial gondola that would lift fans over railroad tracks and Interstate 880 from downtown Oakland–a move that could reflect the future in ballpark transportation plans.
Meanwhile, the 111-acre Coliseum property would receive a redevelopment that includes converting the Coliseum itself into a small sports park/amphitheater (as shown in the rendering above). Surrounding land would be redeveloped to include housing, a tech hub, a youth sports complex, retail, and light manufacturing. In addition, the A’s propose leaving the adjacent Oracle Arena open for concerts, sporting events, and other gatherings. Redevelopment of the Coliseum site could have economic implications, as the Howard Terminal ballpark itself is unlikely to generate enough revenue to cover debt service, so the team will use revenues from the Coliseum redevelopment to cover shortfalls.
Initial reaction from local officials has been positive, but there are plenty of outstanding tasks concerning both properties. The California Environmental Quality Act requires a year-long review of Howard Terminal, including an evaluation of both the water quality and the soil condition. Furthermore, the A’s will need to reach an agreement with property owner Port of Oakland to build on the site. The Coliseum redevelopment plan, meanwhile, requires the A’s to acquire the property–which is currently owned by Oakland and Alameda County. The ballpark and associated development would be privately financed, though public funding could be sought for infrastructure improvements.
Given the number of unknowns that have to be resolved, the A’s will need to do plenty of work in 2019 in order to ensure that the proposal moves forward. The organization at least comes into the new year with a vision for a new ballpark, one that could have major implications at two key properties in Oakland.
Here’s the rest of our Top Ten of 2018: