City of Oakland offers 3 possible ballpark sites
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – The City of Oakland unveiled three waterfront sites Thursday as potential spots to build a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics and ultimately keep the team from leaving town.
As the small-budget A’s have seen before, there are still plenty of hurdles ahead. In the past they haven’t been able to find a suitable spot to build and were set to leave Oakland and move to nearby Fremont until that plan fell through.
More recently, owner Lew Wolff has been determined to move the team to San Jose – though the San Francisco Giants hold the rights to that territory. Wolff felt the A’s had exhausted their options in Oakland after several years of trying.
Oakland mayor Ron Dellums said Thursday the project also would be about bolstering the blue-collar city’s economic future by creating jobs and helping turn Oakland into a destination spot. The three sites would be within easy access of public transit, parking and would offer other options for entertainment and food.
“This city’s leadership has a clear, concise and unified message for Major League Baseball: Keep the A’s in Oakland,” Dellums said. “This project is not solely about a baseball stadium. This is about continuing our efforts to bolster Oakland’s economic future.”
Two of the spots hadn’t been previously studied, including one in the popular Jack London Square area that would be easy to get to off the heavily traveled 880 interstate.
In March, Dellums and the city council wrote to commissioner Bud Selig to tell him the city would do everything in its power to keep the A’s in town. Selig – who has repeatedly said the A’s can’t survive playing in the run-down Oakland Coliseum they share with the NFL’s Raiders – then formed a task force to analyze the situation.
The nonprofit group “Let’s Go Oakland!” has generated tens of thousands of supporters and petitioned to Major League Baseball to keep the team in Oakland.
“The stadium situation is in the hands of the commissioner and the committee and we won’t be commenting on the stadium situation until they make a decision,” said Ken Pries, A’s vice president of broadcasting and communications.
Wolff, a Los Angeles real estate developer, has worked hard to find a better venue for his team.
The A’s had planned to build a state-of-the-art stadium in nearby Fremont that they thought would eventually transform the small-market club into a big spender.
But that plan, which would have been in partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc., fell through because of a variety of complications – including public transportation issues.
The team had agreed to purchase 143 acres of land from Cisco in suburban Fremont, about 20 miles south of the Coliseum. The plan had called for the ballpark to open in time for the 2011 season.
That stadium – with a price tag of around $500 million that was to primarily come from private funds – was to seat between 30,000 and 34,000 fans, an intimate venue with an impressive range of technological capabilities and surrounding features outside the fences.
Wolff certainly would be interested in a similar type of ballpark, especially considering Oakland has struggled mightily to fill the stands in recent seasons.