Updated: The Oakland A’s Have Narrowed Their Ballpark Choices to Two
The team is zeroing in on Laney College and Howard Terminal, with Laney edging into the lead as the favored spot, sources say.
The A's latest plans involve building a ballpark on the Peralta Community College District land next to I-880.
The Oakland A’s are now focusing on two sites in the city for a new ballpark: Laney College near Lake Merritt and Howard Terminal on the waterfront next to Jack London Square, according to four knowledgeable sources. Two of those sources say the Laney College property has edged into the lead as the team’s preferred spot. The A’s now view the Oakland Coliseum site as a distant-third choice.
The A’s have been surveying local residents on stadium sites, and in one recent poll, the team’s representative made it clear that Laney College is the No. 1 location. The pollster focused heavily on Laney, asking numerous questions about the site, which sits between the lake and Interstate 880 and is just a few blocks from the Lake Merritt BART station.
By contrast, the pollster only asked one question about Howard Terminal, which is about a mile from the closest BART station: 12th Street. According to two sources, the A’s biggest concern about Howard Terminal is the railroad tracks running in front of it. “The idea of getting 35,000 people across those tracks on game days is troubling to them,” a source said.
A’s President Dave Kaval, who has said that he intends to announce the team’s new ballpark site by the end of this year, did not return requests for comment for this report. In recent interviews, Kaval has indicated that the Coliseum site is still on the table for the A’s. But sources said the Coliseum is now considered a longshot, primarily because Major League Baseball prefers new ballparks to be close to downtown areas. (See update below.)
If the A’s move to Laney or Howard Terminal, the Coliseum site—home to the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors for more than four decades—will become vacant. Some pro-housing advocates have been pushing for a large housing development at the site because of its proximity to BART.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said she still favors the Jack London site for the A’s. “Howard Terminal is a beautiful piece of property,” she said. City officials have long preferred Howard Terminal, because they believe a new ballpark will help Jack London businesses and continue the revitalization of downtown.
City officials have also said that they plan to offer the same $200 million infrastructure deal to the A’s as they did the Raiders. The city could use some of that money—which would come from a special property tax district—to build pedestrian bridges over the railroad tracks at Howard Terminal.
Schaaf also said she has concerns about the effects of a new ballpark at Laney on the nearby Eastlake neighborhood. Eastlake is home to numerous Asian-American businesses that could be priced out of the area if a new ballpark goes in.
The A’s are looking to build a stadium on property that’s currently being used as the headquarters for the Peralta College Community District. The team also is interested in adding housing and retail on the Laney parking lot next to I-880.
The fourth site that the A’s were looking at—on the estuary southeast of Jack London Square—is no longer in the running, sources said.
Published May 10, 2017 at 2:55 p.m.
Update May 10, 6:05 p.m.: After this story was published, A's President Dave Kaval called and apologized for not returning two phone calls for this story. He also disputed that the Laney College site is now the team's leading choice. He reiterated that the Coliseum is still on the table. He said the A's have done polling on all three sites, and in each one of those surveys, pollsters have identified either Howard Terminal, Laney College (which the team refers to as Lake Merritt), or the Coliseum as the top choice in order to deeply probe residents on their feelings about each one.