Time for Plan B
Peralta did the Oakland A’s a favor by quickly rejecting the team’s first ballpark plan.
The Peralta Community College district board of directors surprised a lot of Oaklanders in early December when it rejected the Oakland A’s’ proposal to build a ballpark next to Laney College. But the district also did the A’s, the city of Oakland, and fans a favor.
That’s because the Athletics’ proposal never stood a chance. Even if the Peralta board had decided to go forward with it, the Oakland City Council, in all likelihood, would’ve turned it down.
From the start, the Laney spot was the most politically controversial of the three sites on the A’s’ final list. And councilmembers were already lining up against the Laney plan before the Peralta board made its decision, mostly because of concerns over the potential impacts on the Eastlake neighborhood, which is home to a large immigrant community and many small mom-and-pop businesses that might’ve been displaced by new bars and restaurants.
As such, Peralta saved the A’s a lot of time and money by making a decisive decision. The team could’ve spent millions on environmental assessments, architects, and consultants, only to have the council turn down its plans years from now. And rejecting the A’s in 2020 or later, after the team had expended significant resources on the Laney site, might’ve prompted ownership to try to move the franchise again.
Instead, it’s still early, and so the A’s can easily switch to Plan B. And they appear ready to do so: Taj Tashombe, A’s vice president of external affairs, recently told the San Francisco Business Times that the team is still committed to building a new ballpark in Oakland.
And both of the other sites the team previously considered—Howard Terminal near Jack London Square or the Coliseum property—are noncontroversial. Howard Terminal, which is right on the water, would give the A’s a landmark destination, and it’s nearly as close to downtown as the Laney site. Plus, the team’s concerns about the nearby railroad tracks and fan safety can be easily overcome with pedestrian bridges financed by city infrastructure bonds.
And the Coliseum land, because it’s so large, would provide the A’s with plenty of space for profit-generating development. Plus, the team could help solve Oakland’s housing crisis by building thousands of new apartments and condos right next to Coliseum BART.
Either would be a win-win.