A's Ballpark Plans Derailed As Downtown College District Abruptly Changes Course
The plans by the A's to "build a 35,000-seat ballpark in downtown Oakland near Lake Merritt derailed" yesterday when the community college district that owns the land "halted talks" with the team, according to a front-page piece by Kimberly Veklerov of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The move "shocked" the A’s, who "hired a design team last month for the ballpark and had support from Peralta Community College District Chancellor Jowel Laguerre." But at a Tuesday night closed-door meeting, the college district’s BOT "ordered Laguerre to end his talks with the A’s." The decision that Laguerre announced yesterday was "immediately hailed as a victory by students and faculty." Laguerre, however, later suggested that there is "still hope for a ballpark" at Laney College. The A's, who "hoped to open" a ballpark in '23, appeared to "take the trustees' decision as a defeat." It is "unclear what the team’s next step will be." A’s President Dave Kaval previously said that there was "no Plan B if the ballpark site near Laney College didn’t work out." MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he "wants talks for an Oakland site to continue." Oakland politicians had given only "lukewarm support to the team’s preferred site." Mayor Libby Schaaf "wanted the ballpark built at Howard Terminal along the Jack London Square waterfront." City Council President Larry Reid "hoped it would stay at the Coliseum site in his East Oakland district." Schaaf yesterday "reiterated her support for keeping the team in Oakland" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/7).
NOT AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED: In S.F., Scott Ostler writes A's fans "caught a big break" yesterday. The Laney "dream site was more like a nightmare, and now the A’s can pursue realistic options." The '23 timeframe was "laughable from the start in light of the hurdles." The Laney site would have had to "overcome strong neighborhood objections to traffic, noise, gentrification, light pollution, and having a colossal crowd magnet dropped into that quaint corner of the city." A source said that the environmental-impact studies alone would have "taken three to seven years to complete" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/7).
NO PLACE LIKE HOME? In Oakland, Becker, Hurd & Sciacca in a front-page piece notes the A’s have indicated they are "not interested in building on the current Coliseum site, or renovating their current home." City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan "believes the Coliseum site can keep the A’s happily rooted in Oakland." Kaplan also "touted the Coliseum’s existing infrastructure that can easily be upgraded to fit the A’s needs" (EAST BAY TIMES, 12/7). In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach writes there is a chance that the A’s and Laney "come back to the negotiation table over the 13-acre plot ... but the team’s dream of building a new ballpark on that site currently has no pulse." Barring a "minor miracle," the A's "aren’t going to get their sexy new downtown ballpark." But that "doesn’t mean the team can’t get the park it needs." Kurtenbach: "It’s time for the A’s to move to Plan C: fixing the Coliseum." The Coliseum is "far less desirable than Laney or Howard Terminal," but it is "looking like it’s that area or bust for the A’s." Outside of "moving the team to a new market, the A’s have one practical option currently available to them: their current ballpark" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 12/7).
TWITTER REAX: A's Broadcaster Mark Mulder: "Stadium should be done by 2030 for sure!!! I just won’t bet on it. Vegas needs to create a bet for when the Oakland A’s will finally get in a new ball park." Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer: "The best chance the As have had in 20 years to get a new stadium went pffffft. Feel bad for A' s fans." Fox Sports Radio's John Tournour: "What a freaking disaster. The A’s are shocked? Really? Shocked to be playing in a football stadium? Shocked that they signed a 10 year lease? The worst political sports town in America. Maybe the World." S.F. Chronicle's Susan Slusser: "One potential positive if the A’s pivot toward building a new stadium at the Coliseum site: They could have a new venue much more quickly, well before 2023."