A’s strike out looking at Laney College ballpark site

A’s management has long maintained there
is no “Plan B” if Laney plan strikes out.

OAKLAND
The Oakland Athletics’ dream of building an intimate downtown ballpark near Laney College may have been dashed Wednesday without the team ever stepping up to the plate in negotiations over the site with the community college board.

The Peralta Community College Board of Trustees Tuesday instructed its chancellor to scrap plans with the A’s for the purchase of 15-acres its owns near Laney College, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The board’s decision appears to have caught A’s management and Major League Baseball by surprise.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who had previously supported a downtown ballpark at Howard Terminal, near Jack London Square, tweeted support for continuing the conversation for a new ballpark. “Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the Athletics in Oakland. It is unfortunate the discussion with Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we’re committed, more than ever, to working with the A’s and our community to find the right spot in Oakland for a privately-financed ballpark.”

In September, the team announced it would seek to build a 35,000-seat ballpark in the East Lake/Chinatown area. But the idea was met with quick opposition from local activists who said the ballpark would be a lightning rod for gentrification.

Peralta faculty and students also raised their own concerns. The team was undaunted saying there was no “Plan B” if the Laney proposal was unsuccessful.

Oakland and Alameda County officials, just last week, raised concerns over the team’s lack of a second choice and speculated whether the entire plan was actually a “bait-a-switch” scheme hatched by the A’s to eventually seek relocation to another city.

But a growing number of East Bay officials maintain the existing site at the Coliseum is the team’s best option in Oakland. The site offers very few regulatory headaches, they say, and would provide the least amount of resistance from the public.

Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan believes the A’s should revisit their options at the Coliseum. She envisions a ballpark district with shops, bars and restaurants at the current site, Kaplan said in a statement Wednesday. The existing location within a hub of transportation options make the site the least costly plan, she added.

“It seems we could have an affordable and financially viable option at Coliseum, which won’t have those extra costs,” said Kaplan. “The fact that environmental clearance is already completed for the Coliseum site would also provide cost savings and time savings for development at that site.

Kaplan’s comments were bolstered last week during a Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority meeting when now-retired Oakland Assistant Administrator Claudia Cappio said the two-year-old Coliseum Area Specific Plan gives stakeholders flexibility to quickly approve a number of options at the site. They include one or two stadium options at the Coliseum, a single stadium with incremental development such as housing, or plans that include no stadiums.

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