Oakland sends A’s a list of ten potential stadium sites, half of which don’t totally suck

The city of Oakland has sent A’s owner Lew Wolff a 21-page report outlining ten possible alternative locations for a new stadium, only five of which it considers definitely “feasible”:

  • A USPS facility in West Oakland.
  • Howard Terminal on the Oakland waterfront.
  • Brooklyn Basin on the Oakland watefront.
  • The current site of Laney College’s stadium and playing fields.
  • A site currently occupied by Peralta College administration offices and an adjacent lumberyard.

None of these sites are without their problems — in fact, most of them have been at least considered before — but it does indicate that city officials are trying to find a possible baseball stadium site in case the existing Oakland Coliseum site ends up getting used for a Raiders football stadium (or, possibly, for some non-sports development). It’s not a bad thing as due diligence goes, though as usual the most important hurdle isn’t figuring out where to put a stadium, but figuring out how to pay for one.


42 comments on “Oakland sends A’s a list of ten potential stadium sites, half of which don’t totally suck

  1. USPS facility: Not an actual option, because it’s not for sale. At all. Had not been asked, entire premise based upon a closure recommendation that would absolutely hit the Petaluma depot first, and only one closure recommended.

    Brooklyn Basin: Already scheduled for residential & condo subdivisions.

    Laney/Peralta College parcels: Very recently improved athletic area and admin buildings, very unlikely to sell, & hadn’t been asked.

    Howard Terminal: tens of thousands of cubic feet of contaminated soil to remove, parking and transit access issues unresolved, $10M dollar shipping cranes to move, and *literally* right next to a Class 1 freight and passenger railroad right-of-way that is vitally important to a major international container port (as in “you have to cross it to get into the parcels in question”).

  2. At least they made sure to include the reliable old chestnut about a stadium “assisting businesses” in the downtown.

    I’m sure if the Howard plot (or any of the others) were able to be used and made environmentally ready–using that land to build housing for actual residents (who would likely use businesses more reliably than notional sports fans) would almost certainly have a bigger payoff than a white elephant baseball stadium. Especially given the shortage of transit-convenient housing in the Bay Area.

  3. Not one of those sites is actually an option. They all have absolutely massive obstacles that essentially can’t (and shouldn’t) be overcome in any remotely plausible circumstance.

  4. Raley Field in West Sacramento: The A’s can purchase the stadium for approximately $50 million and perhaps expense an additional $300 million to upgrade the stadium to MLB standards. That is much less than what it will cost them to build a new stadium in Oakland. All the while, the A’s would have their own television market in a city/county with close to 2 million residents. They can negotiate better deals from the Sacramento region as opposed to being so close to the dominance of a market which is geared towards the Giants.

  5. The fact the River Cats are affiliated with the Giants is irrelevant. The River Cats are independently owned. Raley Field is a publicly owned asset. To my knowledge, Major League Baseball has never designated territorial rights to Sacramento for any franchise. This being the case, I am unaware of any restrictions preventing the A’s from moving to the Sacramento area.

  6. I’m all for Sacramento getting the A’s but the problem has always been the lack of corporate sponsors in this government jobs dominated city. MLB makes a living off corporate sponsorships so that’s why they have been hesitant to go to Sactown.

  7. Trueblood. As Kevin Johnson once said about the subject matter, “A fair question.” However, what corporate presence is benefitting the A’s in Oakland? Neither of the three professional sports teams in Oakland have received outstanding sponsorship contributions while being in their current location. At the least, moving the A’s to Sacramento will allow them to strike a cable network where they’re the second fiddle to another team in the same market. Cost containment will be crucial for the A’s. That’s what Sacramento has to offer. They may not obtain the sponsor levels which you see in SF or LA, but MLB is a monopoly. The franchise should be able to obtain an adequate amount of corporate sponsors.

  8. **At the least, moving the A’s to Sacramento will allow them to strike a cable network deal where they’re not the second fiddle to another team in the same market

  9. I thought that teams have had to compensate other teams when they’ve moved into that team’s minor league territory. That said, the Giants would be thrilled if the A’s left the bay area so I’m sure compensation could be worked out of necessary. However, I believe this is a moot point as the A’s have, publicly at least, said they have zero intention of leaving the bay area.

  10. Although the River Cats are affiliated with the Giants, I don’t know if that means they have territorial rights to the Sacramento vicinity. As you stated, the Giants would prefer for the A’s to distance themselves away from their domain. However, although its been the state preference for the A’s ownership to remain in the Bay Area, the economics of doing so may not work to their advantage. If they have to expense $600 million to develop a new stadium, that may be too costly for them when compared with purchasing and upgrading Raley Field for approximately $350 million.

  11. I just don’t see how West Sacramento would work out. If they get 180+ events at that arena and have 30,000 inside that baseball stadium on, say, 50 of those dates, they’d require some huge spending on transit to make it work. Heck, most of my friends who are for the arena are now saying the traffic will be impossible before I even point out the River Cats play 1 mile from Golden 1 Center.

    I’m tell you, even when there’s only a baseball game, and no arena event, I’ve been stuck on the I-5 North to Westbound 50 connector ramp for an hour. I’m being literal. Now, crank that to a sold-out concert on the same night as 30,000 people are at a baseball game, and you can’t do it without major transit upgrades (which I presume the taxpayers will pay for).

    And then I’d be pissed at the entire thing anyway, because I bet they’d black out Giants’ games. The Giants are about 6 times as popular in Sac as the A’s. I wouldn’t be the only mad person.

  12. Not necessarily. Honestly, the transporation options in Sacramento are better than most places. The problem is the culture of Sacramento appears to resemble LA more than SF. If you can get people out of their cars, there are plenty of light rail stations in dowtown Sacramento. Also, for those A’s fans from outside the area, the Amtrak station is walking distance to Raley Field and the Golden 1 Center. Most Giants fans take public transporation to the games. Quite a few of them walk from as far away as Market Street. If necessary, there are bus lines from Raley Field into downtown Sacramento.
    TV blackouts are the nature of the beast. Its part of the economics. However, its quite possible many Sacramento residents would prefer having a local MLB team as opposed to being unable to watch the Giants on a regular basis. Then again, if watching the Giants means that much to you, the option of watching their live games, via a subscription to MLB.com/MLB Network is available.

  13. If A’s ownership thought Sacramento had any chance of panning out or making sense, they would have pursued it years ago. It’s telling that they have rejected the idea of moving there, let alone other larger and more lucrative markets. The union of Sacramento and the A’s is honestly a pointless conversation.

  14. Quite the opposite. I don’t think it can be ignored. The A’s didn’t pursue Sacramento (or any other option) because they were soley focused on San Jose. Given that option no longer exists, they have to start looking at what market will provide them with the return they are looking for, and where they want to be. You’re entitled to have an opinion on the matter. However, other will disagree with your assertion: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1257176-as-should-jump-at-the-chance-to-move-to-sacramento

  15. JC, where are you getting the figure that it would only cost $300m to expand Raley Field into something equivalent to what Wolff wants to build in Oakland?

  16. The A’s have looked into multiple sites outside San Jose over the years in search of a new stadium site. Sacramento was not one of them. You’re making claims and assertions that are verifiably false both implicitly and explicitly.

  17. The A’s aren’t moving to Sacramento, if they were they’d already have moved.

    The number of corporate headquarters, fans with money, etc doesn’t even hold a candle to the Bay Area (even if the team is stuck in Oakland and cannot move south into San Jose).

  18. Neil: I used a supposition that someone used as when the matter was mentioned a few years ago. http://newballpark.org/2009/03/07/how-to-expand-a-minor-league-ballpark The baseline cost was estimated to be $250 million. The present value of that amount today would be approximately $300 million. However, given that no plans for remodeling Raley Field were ever created, its anyone’s guess as to how much it would cost to upgrade the stadium to what Lew Wolff may want. Then again, we don’t know what are his standards for the A’s. After all, they have been stuck at the Coliseum for decades. Its my belief that upgrading what is an already outstanding baseball facility is less expensive than constructing one from the ground up.

    Anonymous: What other sites were the A’s looking at? To my knowledge, San Jose and Fremont were the only two locations being considered.

    jmauro: The A’s have been embedded in Oakland for so long that San Jose was their primary focus. No other cities aside from Oakland and Fremont were ever mentioned. Also, what corporate presence is currently providing a substantial benefit for the A’s? As for fans with money, there isn’t much disparity between the median income levels of people in Sacramento County when compared with the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano. If anything, state government employees have greater job security.

  19. Vancouver, BC, would be a better choice than Sacramento. Way higher median incomes, more people, more corporate presence. Plus a huge sports vacuum up there, and a built-in rivalry with Seattle and Portland.

    As light rail is currently constructed in Sacramento, it would work out terribly for the Kings #1 market, Granite Bay. I bet that’d be a 90 minute trip home for most of them. 15-30 minute wait for the train, then a 45 minute ride to Watt Avenue, then drive home the rest of the way. I maintain that Granite Bay and people coming in from Folsom would use light rail once, then revert to cars.

  20. I’m still not clear on why you’re pushing an idea that no party involved has any interest in. I mean when Oakland offers up alternatives (the ones in this article) that aren’t viable and the team still isn’t interested in Sacramento, that pretty much tells you all you need to know.

  21. jc: That article by Marine Layer you linked to just points to $250m as the minimum price, because it’s how much the Royals spent on upgrading Kauffman Stadium — which was already MLB-size, and just needed new suites and other crap.

    Raley Field may be a lovely place to watch baseball, but I seriously doubt that expanding it would cost much less than building from scratch. Certainly not enough less to give up being even second fiddle in one of the nation’s largest markets.

  22. I haven’t been to Raley Field in a while (2012?) but I seem to remember that the place was cramped, parking wasn’t great and the access issue is a big one (especially with the new development on West Capitol. Tower Bridge is a 2 lane drawbridge so it’d be tough to get a considerable amount of fans in from that side of the river. There’s no great access to the RT Light Rail (it’s several blocks away, maybe a 15-20 minute walk?) I can’t imagine how they would double the size of Raley Field to begin with, and I further can’t imagine that Sacramento (or in this case West Sacramento/Yolo County) would have the kind of money the A’s are looking for to relocate.

    Assuming that the A’s want to move to Sacramento (spoiler alert: they don’t) – I would think a better option would be to finish those plans they had to build a stadium north of Arco, err Sleep Train Arena – good freeway access, I think RT is growing out there, plenty of parking, relatively good location.

  23. @TRPackman: Leaving North Natomas will prove to be a horrible decision. No one in the City talks about how we’re abandoning the infrastructure we paid for to improve access to that arena. From now on, that will be underused.

    I think I read (and I’ll look this up if someone asks) that they can’t expand Raley field for MLB. It’d be a complete tear-down and rebuild. And the access to there is terrible. That’s why the connector ramps from I-5 to west-bound 50 come to a halt before games. It’s a real nightmare.

    Example: My kids had tickets to a show in Davis, and it was my job to take them. Normally, it’s 30 minutes from my house to Mondavi, but they wanted to leave early for autographs and so forth. So we left 2 hours early, and barely made it to Mondavi for the 8 o’clock show, because we spent one hour on that stupid connector.

    Our Council was so bent on building the arena downtown that they swore downtown cleared out by 5:45, so there’d be no overlap. I commute by bicycle, and I tell you, I see the traffic jams on the Boat Section at 6:15. Adding 4,000 cars to that is going to be ugly, but if there’s a show at Golden 1 Center at 8 on the same night there’s a River Cats game at 7, the Boat Section will be more of a harbor, what with all those boats parked.

    Just wait until it’s either 106 degrees in the summer, or raining hard in the winter.

    (I don’t think the finances will work out either. I asked someone the other day if he thought his level of spending would increase at the new arena. The look on his face more-or-less said, hmm, hadn’t thought of it that way.)

  24. MikeM. The fact Vancouver lost their NBA franchise doesn’t bode well for that city, not to mention the higher Canadian taxes.

    Anonymous. Exactly where are the A’s looking right now for possible relocation sites?

    Neil. Being a part of the 6th largest media market in the country hasnt done much for the A’s. They still have one of the worst viewer ratings in addition to ranking near the bottom for ballpark attendance.

  25. Right, but at least in the Bay Area there’s upside if they can ever lure some fans away from the Giants, which is presumably the goal of a new stadium. (Whether realistic or not.) In Sacramento, they’d be consigning themselves to a small market for good.

    Neither option is great, frankly, but so long as there’s the possibility of a new stadium in Oakland, they’d be nuts to consider Sacramento, assuming the stadium finances were roughly similar.

  26. This is a kinda-sorta explanation about Raley Field. Article is a little old.

    http://newballpark.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-to-expand-minor-league-ballpark.html

    I love those estimates about HP Pavilion and the SJ Sharks. $1.7B cumulative and 5,000 jobs. I don’t buy it for a second.

  27. Neil. The possibility of luring fans away from the Giants is extremely remote. You could build the Taj Mahal in Oakland and it won’t change the fact that most people would rather convene in San Francisco. The long standing perception is that Oakland is unsafe. Even when they’ve had good seasons, the A’s have struggled to maintain an average game day attendance above 20,000. That is unlikely to happen in Sacramento, where their minor league soccer team sells out their close to 10,000 seat stadium on a regular basis and where the River Cats have consistently been the highest drawing team in minor league baseball. As for Sacramento being a small market, the city & county has a population of approximately 2 million residents. I keep reading about the lack of corporate presence. However, no one has answered my question as to how corporate sponsors are currently assisting the A’s.

    Mike. Raley Field is just one mentioned location. As no cost estimates for expanding it to MLB standards are available, its anyone’s guess as to that particular outcome. There are varying opinions on the subject: https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/bring-on-the-major-leagues/content?oid=5639064

  28. To say that the possibility of luring fans away from the Giants is “extremely remote” is probably not as remote as one should believe. Back in the 80’s/90’s A’s were the big name in town and the Giants wanted to move to Tampa Bay (!!!) – they didn’t draw well, the ballpark was awful, etc. They had a pretty long history of losing compared with the A’s, who were winners.

    Now, do I think it would be an easy conversion? No. But if the Giants suddenly fall on hard times and the A’s open up a brand-new, attractive ballpark that pendulum could swing quite a bit.

  29. JCPardell,

    I’d say there are three main ways local corporate presence helps a team.

    1. Stadium naming. Probably a wash, but even the As have had some success with local companies.
    2. Season tickets. A’s don’t have huge season ticket sales, but probably have a decent base of the expensive tickets (especially boxes) covered by annual sales. These are tickets that the team does not have to individually market/discount on a game by game basis to the general public, because they are bought on corporate accounts.
    3. Individual sales. For teams to sell at prices “suitable” for MLB, you need a high income customer base to sell to.

    I don’t think anyone doubts that Sacramento is a nice place, but comparing MLB to a minor league baseball team or a minor league soccer team is not comparable. Even the Kings have had a nice boost with the end of the old arena, but the question is whether that will last past a couple years (for most teams, individual sales don’t survive repeated losing seasons).

    Some years ago Buffalo made a big fuss of how many people went to minor league games there, and MLB never seriously looked at the city exactly because it didn’t have the corporate presence or income level to be a serious contender.

  30. Gdub:

    1. The A’s had a title sponsor for the proposed stadium in San Jose. Its debatable if that will occur in Oakland.

    2. The River Cats in Sacramento have a similar ticket selling structure. Even with more expensive prices (since the Giants took over) their staying power as a baseball draw was sustained.

    3. What is the income comparison between people living in the East Bay and Sacramento?

    You can’t compare Buffalo with Sacramento. Buffalo is very remote and quite a distance from any particular fan base. Sacramento is easily accessible and not very far away for many current fans of the Oakland A’s. However, I see your point when the issue is a franchise which consistently loses. Well, I don’t know of any professional sports team that isn’t susceptible to that trend.

  31. Oakland markets itself (with varying degrees of success) to San Jose and San Jose companies.

    A season ticket for good seating at the A’s costs about $30-45 a game. Multiply that by 81 games and you’re talking about a layout of $2500-3300 per ticket. That is a tough sell, year in and year out. So you can divide up the seat in partial plans, or encourage folks to split a few tickets together. That takes very intensive, costly marketing–and you need to do it every year.

    A AAA team has probably 1/3 of the tickets and they cost about half as much. Plus…they really aren’t paying for payroll, so there’s no real comparison.

    Pro teams that disproportionately depend on individual sales are hampered by economic volatility that teams with a more corporate base don’t have.

    Again, not saying Sac is a bad town. But not really buying the idea that people from San Jose are going to drive two hours on a weeknight to see MLB baseball for any amount of time, or be any more inspired to watch on TV than they are now. A move from the Bay Area to Sacramento would cut off the team from the San Jose/Bay Area market and would be at best even and arguably worse in every significant financial area.

  32. I question the amount of fan base from the San Jose area and the success of the marketing strategy. http://www.smallmarketball.com/2013/03/as-no-win-corporate-support-position.html

    Also, the current ticketing plan is not working for the A’s in Oakland. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/07/20/power-ranking-claims-as-fans-worst-in-baseball-giants-fans-2nd/

    It appears that some are of the belief that being in a shared media market has proven to be beneficial for the A’s. If this were the case, they’d be in a financial position comparable with the Giants. That is not the case. At the least, being the in Sacramento provides them with market domination. Granted, the 20th largest media market isn’t exactly NY or LA. However, its still greater than quite a few cities with MLB franchises.

  33. I’d say that article is somewhat disingenuous. The A’s want to move to SJ (a move that makes sense) so they keep regional companies who want to support their presence at arms-length. While I’d say it fairly well articulates the “dilemma” the A’s face it also demonstrates the shoddy, self-defeating tactics they use to prove something that isn’t actually, well, true. I would say it is no wonder that the Giants have fans in the A’s “heartland” given the A’s “business” model.

    30 years ago, the Giants were a very poorly supported team–in fact one of the worst in baseball (I believe one year they averaged about 8k a game), and almost moved to several other cities. Now they are “#2.” Some of the changes have happened on the field (the stadium, the 1989 World Series), a lot of the changes have happened because of what has happened within San Francisco (incredibly wealthy, prosperous city with the hottest industries in the world).

    Would be interesting to see what would happen if the A’s actually acted like they wanted to be in the area–one of the best in the country–and not somewhere else. That might even be the foundation of a marketing program!

    Again, for the 400th time, it isn’t “TV market size” (I mean, if you are going to stretch the population to Modesto, why not Chico and San Jose?), and all the disruption of a move for a market that moves away from the desired customers makes little sense. As many people have mentioned, no one is really talking about SAC at this point, and nothing said here really gives a reason to.

  34. Gdub. The A’s wanted Silicon Valley money. Period. If your contention is the Oakland area is a top vicinity for professional sports, they why are the Raiders and Warriors so willing to leave?
    The Giants were a terrible draw thirty years ago because they played at one of the worst baseball stadiums ever constructed. They could have the success of their current teams and I guarantee the attendance at Candlestick Park wouldn’t come close to matching what they achieve at AT&T Park.
    As for the television market, who is to say MLB wouldn’t incorporate the counties which currently watch the A’s as part of Sacramento’s media market? Its close enough to do that.

    Anonymous:The Sacramento metro area population consists of nearly 2.3 million people. That is larger than Santa Clara County (where the A’s wanted to move) and Alameda County (where they currently reside). If you incorporate the counties of likely baseball fans willing to travel and watch the A’s play in Sacramento, the population leaps to approximately 5 million people.

  35. Ordinarily I’m with jcpardell on his posts, particularly with respect to Sacramento Republic FC. But where Raley Field and/or Sacramento are concerned he is (warning: regrettable baseball pun upcoming) way off base.

    Where Raley Field is concerned, because it was constructed in a rush – i.e. with concrete block construction rather than steel frame – it cannot be easily retrofitted into a MLB-spec stadium. The amount of demo that would be required to make Raley MLB-spec would render it useless for at least two but more likely up to three years. In the meantime, would the A’s play as a lame duck in Oakland while waiting for a stadium in…Sacramento?

    Another option would be to reopen the grave of Arco Park, the old multiuse stadium whose foundation was poured but was never completed because the Kings ownership in the late 1980s ran out of money. I suppose Lew could demolish Sleep Train Arena and build a new facility there, and he’d have all the parking he could ever want to have, and the infrastructure would be already in place.

    That leads us to the “population” question. Yes, the Sacramento DMA does contain somewhere around 2 million people, but what are you looking at in that DMA measurement? How far-flung is the net being cast to hit that number? Obviously, Sacramento and Yolo Counties, toss in Placer and El Dorado for good measure. I suppose San Joaquin (Stockton) as well. Does that also include Stanislaus (Modesto)? Yep. Amador? Probably. Sutter and Yuba? I guess. Solano (Fairfield/Vallejo)? Maybe. At a certain point, you need to consult the reality of whether or not somebody’s gonna drive all the way from Turlock to the other side of Sacramento to attend a ball game on a routine basis.

    Sacto’s a terrific AAA and NBA town. Don’t mess with success.

  36. Looked it up and the average income in the East Bay is actually significantly higher whether you are using per capita, median household, etc. Not really a surprise though.

  37. “Again, not saying Sac is a bad town. But not really buying the idea that people from San Jose are going to drive two hours on a weeknight to see MLB baseball for any amount of time, or be any more inspired to watch on TV than they are now.”

    The Warriors draw pretty well from Santa Clara County. Will probably do even better once they’re in new digs in San Francisco in a couple of years. Bars in SF I’ve been to are already humming with Dubs fever. Couldn’t even get them to change to the game a few years ago.

  38. The A’s need to stay in the Bay Area. The direct rivalry with the Giants is good for them and the market is deeper economically. The problem is that they’re stuck in the epic Raiders mess. The A’s are much more attractive from Oakland’s point of view than the Raiders because their new stadium will be much cheaper with a greater financial commitment, percentage-wise, from ownership and they have WAY more event dates. I think the Coliseum site could support both teams but the Raiders situation is simply not going to be easily resolved and that leaves the A’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either bail to another site, the options for which are not good, or wait out the Raiders mess and see whether they can build their stadium at the Coliseum site, which means being trapped in that dump for God knows how long. No good options.

    And as hopeless as the Raiders situation seems in Oakland, they also don’t seem too likely to move. The Chargers and San Diego are effectively divorced. They seem likely to be one of the teams to move regardless (despite them having virtually no fan base in LA). The question is whether it’s to Carson, where there is limited financial support (that stadium plan, as it sits, doesn’t seem viable IMO); or to Inglewood, where the Rams seem to have arguably the best plan for LA success of anybody but also the cushiest offer to stay where they are, something the NFL won’t easily ignore. All of this leaves the A’s (and by extension, the Raiders) pretty well screwed.

  39. Sierra Spartan: Point taken. However, there are no engineering studies which can be discussed. Thus, no one really knows how much it would cost to upgrade Raley Field and whether it is/isn’t plausible. However, I was in the downtown Sacramento area for NYE and parked my car at Raley Field. Someone had mentioned this would be an issue for an A’s game. From what I saw, there is far more onsite parking than there is at AT&T Park. In fact, there were approximately 30,000-40,000 in the Old Sacramento area. The event was very well managed and the traffic wasn’t a problem.

    guy with the takes on: Perhaps you are correct. However, you should factor in that the living costs in Sacramento are considerably less than in some of the areas you likely referenced.

  40. A’s in Sacramento is a non-starter because of TV rights. Right now the A’s are televised to 10M people like the Giants across Nor Cal, Northern Nevada and some parts of Oregon.

    The A’s are better of rotting in the Coliseum because of this than moving to Sacramento and doing what the Kings/Warriors do now where both teams black each other out locally.

    TV rights are more important today than ever and the A’s right now share it with the Giants.

    If the A’s can get a stadium in Oakland and they get good and the Giants go on a downward swing they could grasp the market again like in the 1980s.

    As long as they are stuck in the Coliseum, no matter how good they are, they cannot compete with the Giants fiscally and marketing wise. The stadium turned around the Giants franchise big time after years of being stuck in lowly Candlestick.

    The same could happen to the A’s but they need a stadium. It is sad because Wolff/Fisher are willing to pay for it themselves, they just have no where to build it in the East Bay outside of the Coliseum site and the Raiders/Warriors will not allow it as long as they are there as well.

    These 10 sites Oakland is showing are all garbage and some sites require 200M+ in infrastructure costs alone. A’s have to pray the Raiders leave or build at the Coliseum.

    If the Raiders stay, the A’s have no choice but to share ATT Park. Only then would the Giants consider giving up San Jose.

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