A’s pick Peralta as stadium site, vow all-private money except for tons of infrastructure cash

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.


26 comments on “A’s pick Peralta as stadium site, vow all-private money except for tons of infrastructure cash

  1. Irony is, this site is pretty close to the proposed “Peralta” site of the Oakland Coliseum before the Hegenberger site was selected back in the 1960s.

  2. I find it odd that they love this site so much when others that, at least on the surface, seemed to have fewer drawbacks were rejected.

    Easy access to multiple freeways is a good thing, but not if you have to spend more on access points than you do on a stadium.

    I just assumed that when the Raiders announced they were leaving, the existing site would become the primary property under consideration for a new stadium. As you say, most of the infrastructure they will need is either entirely or mostly in place already, and the only tenant that would need to be evicted has already announced their voluntary departure.

  3. Scratching my head over this. Why try to shoehorn something in here when you have the entire Colesium property to work with and create development from scratch.

    The A’s seem to think they can make more money closer to downtown for some reason:

    (From the Chronicle article)

    “As for rebuilding at the Coliseum?

    According to City Hall sources, the A’s concluded that they couldn’t generate enough ticket sales and corporate support to make a privately financed ballpark at the East Oakland location pencil out.

    Kaval, the team president, would say only that the Peralta site was “the strongest candidate” from a financial standpoint, based on likely ticket sales, naming rights and other advertising opportunities.”

    That’s great for the A’s, but now the taxpayers will be on the hook for stuff that they wouldn’t need to pay for if the A’s just stayed put.

    • Well, Oakland is gentrifying. East Oakland isn’t. It’s pretty much that simple. The A’s figure they can get people to pay for a ticket near Downtown Oakland but can’t out near the airport which is not especially crazy.

  4. I was in one of the focus groups and knew which site they wanted. A Bay Area audience won’t go for parking lot/wasteland now that they’ve seen what AT&T Park did for South Beach. It’s either be the centerpiece of a downtown experience with bars and restaurants or be stuck with low attendance forever.

    • Since they have to build bars and restaurants from scratch either way, couldn’t they just as easily do it at the Coliseum site? Or are they hoping that people will go to bars closer to the Lake Merritt BART station and then walk over to the game? (Even there, it’s tough to imagine a lot of bars opening just to service 81 days of baseball.)

      • The Coliseum site is in what has been termed an industrial wasteland next to large stretches of “not good” neighborhoods. Across I-880 there is already a strip mall and some hotels, on the way to the airport.

        People simply do not come early or stay late in the Coliseum vicinity, so not any need (or market) for bars and restaurants closer than across the freeway. So, ancillary development around the coliseum is not worth attempting.

      • They are certainly going to try to build some bars and restaurants and get the money from them, but it’s not like there aren’t already bars and restaurants in Oakland. Sure, they may be 5-10 blocks away but that sure beats 3-4 BART stops.

      • The current Coliseum site?! Bars? Walking? Are the A’s going to pay for my bulletproof vest or will it be bring your own?

        Also, I get the feeling that the people saying that the A’s should develop the Coliseum site have never been to Oakland. The current site is near a freeway, sure, but it is in a post-industrial wasteland that nobody really wants to go to, nor would anyone ever go to if not for the Coliseum.

        The move towards a good neighborhood in Oakland is the right move. That part of town relatively safe and it will be easy for people to walk the game or nearby bars.

        • I’ve been to A’s games at the Coliseum probably a dozen times. The area is desolate, but I’ve never found it remotely scary. And anyway, it’s as ripe for surrounding development as that suburban forest the Braves put their stadium in.

          That said, yes, the A’s would undoubtedly rather have their stadium/development near an existing nightlife district. I’m just not clear why it’s in the city of Oakland’s interests to pay for a ton of new highway ramps to make it happen.

          • Agree that the Coliseum itself isn’t too scary, but I haven’t felt the need to walk outside the campus. The residential area to the east isn’t great, and the industrial sections north and south just aren’t inviting (unless you’re buying bulk industrial gas).
            Agree that the city would need to understand why the freeways would be worth their while.

    • Maybe if the A’s actually put money into players and put a good product on the field people would show no matter where they play.

      I don’t think AT&T did anything to spur development in SoMa. The economy did.

      • JC: Yeah, no.

        The Giants are 3rd in MLB attendance this year despite being awful. Bay Area fans may want a good team but what they pay for is a day in the sun with some bars and restaurants nearby. That may be kind of offensive to fans but it’s the truth. If the team is bad they can always leave at the 6th inning and go drink somewhere else.

        • Bay Area fans first want a good team–we are very fickle–and secondly a nice place to watch them. Bars have nothing to do with it.

          Yep, the Giants are bad this year, but the fans (who outnumber A’s fans by a large margin IMO) still have hope. Many of the names on the jerseys are the same ones who donned World Series rings. So the fans show up out of hope. And AT&T is not a bad place to be even if the team is bad. But hope won’t last forever.

          On the other hand, the A’s have a toxic mix of a bad team, management who isn’t willing to pay for or keep talent–and everyone knows it, and a crappy ballpark. So why would their fans even show up. Why, would I, as a casual sports fan even think of going if I can’t name a single player. (Honestly, I can’t name one).

          So if the A’s built a nice new facility in the same place **AND** put a real team on the field, people might show up.

          If they don’t do the latter, the A’s could play at Laney College’s diamond, hand out free beers from the snack shack and there will still be empty seats in the metal bleachers behind the dugout.

          • They may have hope but they aren’t stupid. I mean it is the best educated metro area in the country. The Giants were effectively out of contention by the All Star break.

            AT&T Park is a nice place to see a game so it’s fun to go. The Coliseum isn’t. It’s the same reason the Cubs outdraw the White Sox every year even the year the White Sox won the series. No one likes going to a concrete slab in a rough part of town.

          • “the A’s have … a bad team,”

            That has gotten noticeably better this season with placeholders moved out and hot rookie players like (defensive stud w/power) Chapman, (offensive stud w/above average 1B defense) Olson, & Pinder being brought up for good. The first wave of the new A’s core has emerged.

            Meanwhile, the giants have a roster crammed with fading veterans (Pence, Span), long-past-expire-date-fan-favorites (Cain, Sandoval), bad free agent contracts (Cueto, Samardzija, Moore, Melancon) and the film of desperation growing atop a classically stagnant farm system.

          • This is completely wrong. The Giants play in a beautiful park in a very nice part of the city, and even when their team is awful, like in 2017, they still put fans in the seats. The Athletics play in an ugly park in one of the worst areas in the Bay and they have trouble getting big draws even when they’re a good team.

  5. I’ve been in favor of the Peralta site all along. That section of Oakland (Estuary) needs to be upgraded even without the A’s relocating. And wouldn’t the infrastructure development benefit reach far beyond the A’s? Try getting onto the 880 from Laney College in either direction. You can’t unless you know the “neighborhood”. That section of the 880 is a bottle neck even though it was recently expanded. It needs more work.

    I have no reason to believe that anyone in their right mind would spend time/money at the current site with a new ballpark. There is nothing there. Even Walmart closed shop (right across the 880 from the Coliseum) last year.

  6. Over/under: 34,000 seats in the first visual plan?
    Over/under 30,000 seats when they realize they can’t have hovering seats held up by nothing over the lake?

  7. Peralta site is the best one to ensure future success and market competitiveness with the Giants without being an At&t clone. As a former Oakland resident here is a given:
    1. The East Bay will not support PSLs after the Raiders (and much less extent, the 49ers) fiascos.
    2. No city in California will support public financing of stadiums with the exception of infrastructure improvements.
    3. The Coliseum would have been the best (and only) place for the Raiders to have built a new or remodeled coliseum. Football demographics are different from Baseball’s. Football is a tailgate culture and the Coliseum is surrounded by huge parking lot space, fenced off from the street and 880 and a dirty creek on the other side. The access is good (BART is a big factor for A’s fans), but the Peralta location is walkable from both 12th Street / Lake Merritt Stations. You cannot just build a bar or a restaurant on a 60’s stadium parking lot. It wouldn’t work. People would still go to games then depart right away.

    No one walks to the Coliseum. North, South, and East there are industrial neighborhoods and some dangerous side streets (getting to the coliseum IS safe, but not somewhere you’d spend 3 hours before a game or after for that matter). To the west, across an overpass is the Oakland Airport’s zone. The airport is not right next to the stadium, but that other side of 880 is geared more to airport passengers with airport hotels and car rental type places (& the peoplemover). This neighborhood has become nicer to the extent that I would & have walked there in daylight. Night time not so sure yet, but again geared towards the airport not locals.

  8. Of the three sites, Peralta is the best for the long-term success of the A’s. As stated above, the Coliseum area is an industrial wasteland surrounded by some seriously rough neighborhoods, and the HT site pretty much got nuked once a couple of members of Tower of Power got run into by an Amtrak train in that area back in January of 2017.

    Myself, I would have preferred the team be allowed to move to San Jose, but that discussion is long since past.

    And so now the A’s ownership find themselves in the unique position of the dog that finally catches the mailman’s truck: “Now what?”

  9. the estuary is super gross and could really use an uplift, regardless. the area is a nice neighborhood but the particular space is decaying wasteland. The idea is to connect this anchor point, which is right next to the freeway to the surrounding neighborhoods. It is walking distance to 3 major Oakland neighborhoods, Lake Merritt BART and downtown. There are bars and restaurants within walking distance. Affordable housing is included as part of the overall plan. They also are planning to build housing/parking garages where currently the land is used for a flea market. A very poor use of the land. The money from the ancillary builds would be funneled at least in part to Laney, thus funding Oakland community colleges. Which is amazing, creating a stable revenue source for low cost higher education. In San Francisco we have free community college, and we pay for it through taxes. Freeway on/off ramps would be necessary but that is also not a bad place to put in a freeway on/off ramp. The city streets there get super congested on weekdays because everyone is funneling through them to a downtown on/off ramp. It would serve the community well even not on game days. And cleaning up that estuary is also something that needs to happen, and never will happen unless there’s a good reason to do it.
    I am not sure if you watched the video at oaklandballpark.com, but this is lightyears away from what the Atlanta Braves did with Cobb County or the Raiders are doing with Nevada/Las Vegas (for example). This is legit and I think given the jobs, economic impact, and infrastructure improvements, certainly good for the city. If I was you, I’d be happy that all your work campaigning against public financing of stadiums seems to be taking hold in this proposal, but I don’t presume to tell you how you should feel. I think at least the fact that you aren’t dead set against it and you’re waiting before judging it shows that this proposal already is far above and beyond what other teams have done.

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