It feels like the Oakland Athletics and their fans have been waiting at least a millennia for a new stadium to be built. And now the A’s are one step closer to that new stadium becoming a reality. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday night that the A’s have chosen their preferred spot: a 13-acre plot near Laney College, home of the Peralta Community College District headquarters, and just minutes from downtown Oakland.
There were several other sites in the mix, but according to the Chronicle the Laney site proved to be the strongest contender.
The site has several features the A’s made clear were a priority in their hunt for a new stadium location. It’s right off Interstate 880, although providing vehicle access will require millions of dollars worth of new freeway ramps. It’s also close to BART — the Lake Merritt Station is a nine-minute walk to the north — and it’s on the edge of downtown.
Choosing a spot for the stadium is an important development, but it’s basically step two in a 150-step plan. And that plan doesn’t even include the actual construction of the stadium. From here, the A’s have a lot to do. They have to get approval from the Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees, as they own (and work on) the plot of land the A’s want to build on. To sweeten the deal, the A’s have offered to build additional apartments, a commercial space and a parking structure on a site close by, and that revenue would be “funneled” to Laney.
The A’s will also need the help of the Oakland City Council. Even though they’re financing the ballpark privately (instead of using public money as the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves have done), there will need to be millions of dollars dedicated to making infrastructure upgrades. And that millions of dollars will most likely come at the local, state and federal level.
Additionally, the A’s would need to find a new headquarters for the Peralta Community College District, since it’s located on the A’s preferred site. And they need to convince the Oakland City Council and their president, Larry Reid, who has reservations about part of their plan — namely their desire to use the Oakland Coliseum site as the spot for their urban youth academy.
Some members of the community are also pushing back against the A’s choice.
Already, some Laney College faculty and activists in the nearby Chinatown and Eastlake neighborhoods are sounding the alarm over increased traffic and noise, as well as the possible gentrification of an area populated by many immigrant-run businesses.
More than a dozen speakers lined up Tuesday night at the board meeting, largely to oppose the plan.
“The biggest fear is that Chinatown and Eastlake are going to disappear,” said Alvina Wong of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, representing low-income residents.
Evelyn Lord, Laney’s head librarian, predicted a fight: “The big concern is the effect of a sports stadium on the educational environment — the noise, traffic, parking, lights, and people drinking and streaming through.”
Those are valid concerns, and ones that the Athletics need to address. And those concerns represent just a few of the hurdles the A’s will need to traverse to move forward. It seems daunting. But this is progress: there’s a preferred site and an active discussion happening. And on the plus side, almost everyone involved is dedicated to keeping the Athletics in Oakland. There’s a lot still up in the air, but if everything goes according to plan, there could be a shiny new Athletics ballpark in Oakland by 2021.
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