We’ll say this about the Oakland Athletics: They’re better than the Tampa Bay Rays at planning for a new ballpark.
The A’s on Wednesday unveiled plans for a new, 34,000-seat ballpark, which the organization hopes will open by 2023. Located along the city’s waterfront at Howard Terminal, the planned park has a “jewel box design” and is “like nothing you have ever seen,” according to A’s president Dave Kaval.
The Athletics also announced plans to turn the existing Oakland Alameda Coliseum site into a tech and housing hub. The old field will be preserved and available for public use, while Oracle Arena, the current home of the Golden State Warriors, will be repurposed as a “concert and cultural events center.” The Warriors’ new arena, the Chase Center, is scheduled to open in time for the 2019-20 NBA season.
So, let’s take a look at what the Athletics are planning:
Now, as great as these plans look and sound, there’s no guarantee the Athletics will get what they want.
First of all, the organization hasn’t bought the land at Howard Terminal yet, nor has it acquired the additional land at the Coliseum site necessary to begin the ambitious renovations. The Athletics say a “key priority” for 2019 is convincing the city of Oakland to approve the plans and, in turn, agree to sell land. As is often the case in these situations, the citizens of Oakland have no say in the matter.
Essentially, the Athletics know the revenue generated by a 34,000-seat stadium wont’ be enough to keep the franchise in Oakland. As a result, the organization is hitching its wagons to the belief that a bunch of restaurants, apartments, events and stuff at the new and old sites will make up the difference.
“The privately financed ballpark will anchor a new, vibrant waterfront district that will feature a mix of housing, including affordable housing, offices, restaurants, retail, small business space, parks and public gathering spaces,” the A’s said in a statement.
” … At the Coliseum site, we seek to transform the current site in ways that will address several specific community needs and opportunities expressed by East Oakland residents. Working with public agencies and community residents, we plan to revitalize the Coliseum by pulling the adjacent neighborhood fabric into the site, and creating new economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities.”
Money isn’t the only potential roadblock the Athletics face, however. Unsurprisingly, dropping a fancy new stadium along a city waterfront isn’t as simple as some would like it to be.
In September, former A’s executive Andy Dolich wrote this of the “high hurdles” relating to building at Howard Terminal:
“They include toxic remediation, environmental challenges relating to the adjacency of a commercial and public waterway, business relocations, legal challenges, bureaucratic roadblocks, I-880 access/egress, track traffic from Amtrak and BART, and possible pushback from neighbors in West Oakland.”
Obviously, the A’s have a long way to go before their dream park becomes a reality. For now, they don’t have much more than an elaborate — albeit interesting — plan.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images