The Oakland A’s owners have leaked their long-awaited stadium plans to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross, and I think we can all agree that whatever you want to say about them, they’re not anticlimactic. I mean, holy crap, just look at this thing:
Yes, that’s a diamond-shaped stadium seemingly with vertically stacked decks surrounded by hyper-modern apartment towers and some kind of roof garden running around the perimeter so as to protect it from the wind. This is definitely the kind of weird-ass architecture one would expect from Bjarke Ingels, maybe with an assist from California’s recent marijuana legalization. And that’s before we even get to the plans for the existing Oakland Coliseum, which would apparently be turned into some kind of baseball-themed public park with lots of steps?
But let’s not get too distracted by the renderings, as distracting as they may be. (Why did that picnicker bring a giant yellow finger to the site of a former stadium?) The important thing all along here has been how the A’s owners would pay for a new stadium, and while there were few details released today, there are some hints:
[A’s president Dave Kaval said the A’s call for control of both the 55-acre Howard Terminal waterfront site and 111-acre Coliseum site in East Oakland is essential if the team is to deliver on its promise of a “100 percent privately built ballpark.”
That’s kind of a weird way of putting it, since control of more property doesn’t inherently make it more profitable. Control of property at a discounted cost would, obviously; the A’s have previously offered to buy the Coliseum site for $135 million, which seems about right in terms of market value, but Kaval indicated that that’s still subject to negotiation.
How much public money would be involved for infrastructure at the two sites has yet to be worked out, but Kaval said the plan was to use taxes generated from the projects to cover the major costs.
That is worrisome, given that “taxes generated by the projects” has traditionally been used to mean “instead of paying our taxes to the public treasury, we’ll keep them and use them to pay our own costs.” Of course, it might not mean that in this case, but it’s a definite red flag.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called the plan for the Howard Terminal ballpark “truly visionary.”
“This is the right project, in the right neighborhood and at the right price to our taxpayers,” Schaaf said Tuesday.
Schaaf has been one of the better mayors at holding the line on stadium subsidies, so this is promising that she likes it. Unless it means she’s no longer one of the better mayors at holding the line on stadium subsidies. It’s so hard to know which self-interested elected officials to trust these days!
Anyway, we at least know what main questions to be asking now: 1) Will the A’s owners pay the public what it could get on the open market for the Coliseum land? 2) How much will the public pay for infrastructure, and would that be real public infrastructure like roads and sewer lines or, you know, “infrastructure” that really means parts of the stadium itself? 3) Are the A’s owners looking for a pay-your-taxes-and-keep-them-too TIF-like plan?
Finally, will there be a gondola to get A’s fans to the games, as rumored? Hell yeah:
The plan also includes an aerial gondola to shuttle 6,000 fans an hour from downtown Oakland over Interstate 880 and the railroad tracks to Jack London Square.
Six thousand fans an hour! Definitely marijuana legalization played a role here.