OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Oakland Athletics have decided on land near Laney College as their preferred spot for a 35,000-seat, privately financed ballpark to replace the Coliseum.
Team President Dave Kaval said the 13-acre location near downtown is the strongest location for them to be successful.
In her first public statement after the team’s announcement, Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “This is good news. The A’s have been part of this community for decades. And they bring so much community pride. And this facility offers an opportunity to benefit the surrounding community for generations to come.”
Although the plan isn’t shaking out exactly how she wanted, Schaff said she is excited about the commitment the team has made to the city. She also acknowledged that this is just the beginning of what might be a lengthy negotiation.
“The A’s are going to both stay and pay for their own facility in Oakland,” said Schaaf. “The A’s are clear that this is the beginning of a process. They absolutely have to convince Peralta that this is a land deal that Peralta wants to engage in.”
The site is off Interstate 880, although providing vehicle access will require millions of dollars worth of new freeway ramps close to the Lake Merritt BART station.
While the A’s hope to play their first game at their $500 million plus ballpark in 2023, a lot needs to happen before things go forward. The team must start with cutting a deal with the Peralta Community College District, which owns the site and has its headquarters there.
Kaval made the A’s intentions official in a letter he was to hand-deliver last night to the Peralta district Chancellor, asking to begin negotiations to buy or lease the land.
The A’s are proposing to also construct housing and commercial space on an 8-acre Laney parking lot just north of the site 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.
Oakland City Councilman Abel Guillen represents the district and served as a trustee on the Peralta Community College District board for eight years. He said the area is under great gentrification pressures.
“While the Peralta Community College goes through their process and decide what they want to do, [it’s important] that we provide some control and figure out what a permanent solution would be to protect the community,” said Guillen.
Even if the A’s win over the college and the people who live near it, they still need to come up with a half billion dollars in private funding.
The site is in the middle of a low income and heavily immigrant community that could be priced out with the coming of a downtown ball park.
Councilman Guillen said there were a lot of questions that remained.
“Traffic congestion, safety issues, environmental concerns. Protecting the estuary and the lake area,” said Guillen. “What’s going to happen with parking? Housing, of course…”
Both business and residential tenants in the area have concerns too.
“Most of the merchants have been here 20 plus years,” said Thu Phan with the East Lake Merchants Association. “And there may be a possibility of them being pushed away, as well as the renters.”
“We are willing to accept the idea, but it has to be mutually beneficial,” said Carl Chan with the Chinatown Chamber Of Commerce.
With both the Raiders and the Warriors slated to leave town, this will be the last chance for Oakland to keep a major professional sports team.
“We need to create a balance where we not only have a great stadium, but one that also protects and preserves the integrity of the local neighborhoods that are uniquely Oakland,” said Kaval.
Councilman Guillen told KPIX 5 he took an informal poll among the people who live in his district. Two-thirds said they would prefer the Athletics stay at the Coliseum.