It’s been reported for a couple of months now that the site of the Peralta Community College administrative buildings was the Oakland A’s owners’ preferred place to build a new stadium, and team president Dave Kaval made it official yesterday, declaring, “Finally, we’ve got our site.”
There are obvious reasons for the A’s to prefer the Peralta site (or the Laney College site, if you prefer, since that’s the specific community college that’s located there): It’s right near the I-880 freeway and the Lake Merritt BART station, and offers views of both the lake and the Oakland hills. It’s also crazy small, though — only about 500 feet wide north to south, which is going to make fitting a baseball field and grandstand a challenge — and the team still has to figure out how to pay off the community college for the trouble of relocating its administrative offices, something the San Francisco Chronicle says the team hopes to do by building a bunch of added development nearby:
To try to win over the Peralta district’s Board of Trustees, the A’s are proposing to construct housing and commercial space on an 8-acre Laney parking lot just north of the site — a spot now known for its Sunday morning flea market — and funnel revenue from it to Laney. The A’s would also help build a garage there with the idea of boosting the college’s overall parking capacity.
“We believe there are opportunities for mixed-use development … that could generate significant long-term revenue to support the college’s educational mission, and deliver a valuable and comprehensive community benefits package,” Kaval said in his letter.
Far be it from me to criticize a plan that apparently would use entirely private money to build a stadium and purchase land — and would free up the Coliseum site to redevelopment, more about that in a second — but this seems like it’s going to get really expensive for the A’s. Kaval called the Peralta site “really the strongest location when it comes to private financing,” so maybe he knows something we don’t know, or maybe he’s thinking he can get lots of land around the college on the cheap and then build lucrative stuff on it, or get development rights to the Coliseum on the cheap and then build lucrative stuff on that, or who knows. This is why it’s hard to get too excited about site decisions when they don’t come with publicly released financing plans.
And then there’s this:
Although they plan to privately finance the ballpark’s construction, the A’s will need support from the Oakland City Council to come up with what outside experts say could be hundreds of millions of dollars in federal, state and local funding for new freeway ramps, improvements to the Oakland estuary shoreline and other infrastructure upgrades.
That could be an issue, yeah! And makes one wonder why the A’s owners are no longer considering the Coliseum site for a new stadium, now that the Raiders are leaving town, since at least there the highway ramps and stuff are already in place. There’s something that feels slightly off about all the moving parts here, where it’s not clear where the magic beans will come from to make an exceptionally pricey project pay off; maybe it’ll all make sense when and if Kaval reveals how all the financing is supposed to work, but I’m withholding judgment until then.