OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – The Oakland A’s have unveiled plans for a megadeal that involves a new waterfront ballpark and a remake of their current home at the Oakland Coliseum.
The team is looking to build a 34,000 seat “jewel box” stadium at Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square.
“It really is the best and the most conducive environment for success, both on and off the field. To attract fans, to have an amazing fan experience, and to have a positive impact on the community,” A’s president Dave Kaval said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
The privately-financed ballpark, which would be the smallest in Major League Baseball, would be built alongside office and residential towers, some as high as 20 stories. It would also include a rooftop park, accessible to the public, with open views of the bay.
Meanwhile, the Coliseum site would be transformed into a park, tech center and housing. The old stadium would be dismantled and turned into a low-rise amphitheater, with the baseball diamond preserved.
Neighboring Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors are playing until 2019, would remain standing and host events such as concerts.
“This is an incredibly valuable piece of public land, that is so transit rich,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I’m very optimistic.”
But not all Oakland officials were on board with the new plan. Oakland City Council member Desley Brooks posted her doubts about the deal on social media Wednesday morning,
“The Council gave them [the A’s], without a competitive process, the Coliseum, foolishly thinking they were going to build the ballpark there,” Brooks said in a Facebook post. “Oakland never got an opportunity to see all of the possibilities on the Coliseum site because we’ve got groupies instead of leaders making decisions for us.”
The city leaders in attendance at the press event countered that there are many factors at play, but were especially happy about one aspect of the announcement.
“The A’s are Oakland’s team,” said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.
Numerous questions remain, including access for fans to the waterfront site, which is next to railroad tracks and near the 880 freeway. The team has proposed an aerial gondola to transport fans from Downtown to Jack London Square.
The A’s have yet to acquire the Howard Terminal and Oakland Coliseum sites. Questions about control of the Coliseum site, which is jointly operated by Alameda County and the City of Oakland, also need to be resolved.
Following Wednesday’s unveiling, the team looks to embark on a “120-day Action Plan” that includes additional community feedback, beginning the environmental review process at Howard Terminal and negotiating an agreement with the Port of Oakland, along with developing a framework for an agreement on redeveloping the Coliseum.
For more than a decade, the A’s have been seeking a new home to replace the aging Coliseum, where they have played since moving to Oakland in 1968. Over the years, the team had floated proposals to build stadiums in Fremont, Downtown San Jose and at Laney College in Oakland, but all have been shot down.
The team hopes to break ground on the Howard Terminal project by 2021 and to open the ballpark in 2023.