In a closed meeting Tuesday night the governing board of the Peralta Community College District which includes Laney College, the site where the Oakland Athletics had hoped to build their new privately financed stadium, told the school’s chancellor to halt all talks with the team, according to Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle.
This came as a big shock to the Oakland Athletics as they had announced Laney College as their chosen site after doing research throughout the community, including speaking with business owners and religious groups, over the past year. Still they were met with some resistance by the school and some community members which led to the board’s decision.
It’s hard to fully understand why the A’s were so “shocked” by this termination of talks. They still had not secured the land for the Laney College site. Announcing a six-year plan to build a stadium prior to having ownership of the land involved seems to be a bit premature.
While many fans and people around baseball will automatically assume this means the A’s will never get a new stadium or that they will be sold and potentially moved to another city. The failure of the Laney College site may end up being what is best for the team, the new stadium and the stadium’s final timeline.
The Athletics also examined the possibility of two other potential sites: site of the current Coliseum and a site on the water near Howard Terminal.
While both the Laney College and Howard Terminal sites were beautiful, the former overlooking Oakland’s Lake Merritt and Howard Terminal being right on the San Francisco Bay, each had serious issues that would have needed to be overcome.
The main issue would’ve been transportation as neither site has a freeway off-ramp and neither is near a BART station. Laney is relatively near a BART station but fans would still have to walk over a mile to get from the station to the stadium.
Oakland political officials weren’t completely sold on the Laney site either. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, who released a statement saying that “Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the A’s in Oakland,” leaned more towards the Howard Terminal site.
We applaud the efforts by the Oakland A’s over the last year to engage the community in an open dialogue about their new ballpark. Today’s news comes as a surprise and we urge Oakland leaders to rejoin the conversation.
City Council President Larry Reid, along with several others, wanted the team to keep rebuild the stadium on the Coliseum’s current site in East Oakland. It has been described as “shovel ready,” meaning the A’s could break ground there once the Golden State Warriors have moved across the Bay and the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas.
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.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 6, 2017
It seems that Slusser’s mind was moving along the same track as my own. For one thing there will be plenty of space for the A’s to put in shops and bars around the stadium with Oracle Arena being vacated, plenty of room for parking, the Coliseum already has it’s own freeway exit and it’s very own BART station in which fans simply need to walk across a short bridge to basically be at their seats.
Honestly, it was something I was against since the Laney site was announced. Still, I never gave up hope that they would rebuild on the Coliseum’s current site, given that they had yet to work out the land ownership situation. The college owns most of the land while the city and the Union Pacific Railroad own small portions of that space.
The access is easy and with the Athletics left as the city’s only major sports team so there will be plenty of space.
It doesn’t seem like the team needs a fancy new spot. Yes, it may have brought in more revenue simply because it would be a novelty at first – a new and different environment. However, what happens when that novelty wears off and not as many people are willing to battle for parking or walk a mile or two from the BART station.
Rebuilding on the current site would not only help clean up the areas surrounding the ballpark, it would remain a reminder of the Coliseum that many fans have been coming to for half a century.
The fact that using the current site would likely speed up the timeline for the ballpark is a huge bonus. The Oakland Athletics have committed to a real rebuild and are committed to keeping this young core of players they’ve been putting together.
However, in six-years not all of that core group will be around. Yes, they will be attempting to sign some of the players to long-term contracts but they can’t keep them all.
Seeing this young core group all be around as more seasoned, mature ballplayers when the ballpark opens would be a very beautiful thing for the City of Oakland and the entire East Bay.
Who knows? This group could be the A’s best chance (at least in the near future) at a tenth World Championship Title and it would be very cool to see that title be won in a new stadium on the current Coliseum site.