The Oakland Athletics have a preferred site for a new ballpark in Oakland and computer-generated mock-up. Now the work begins.
The Athletics announced Wednesday the site of its 34,000-seat ballpark will be Howard Terminal, the waterfront property north of Jack London Square.
In tandem, the team said it is continuing negotiations with the City of Oakland and Alameda County to purchase the Coliseum complex on Hegenberger Road and transform it into a hybrid tech hub, housing development, and recreational center that includes Oracle Arena.
A price tag for each project was not given by the team during a press conference Wednesday morning. The proposed ballpark, however, will be privately financed by the Athletics. The team hopes the ballpark is ready for Opening Day 2023.
“This project is bigger than baseball,” said Athletics President Dave Kaval.
The proposed futuristic stadium design, dubbed a “jewel box” by the team, is unlike any other in Major League Baseball. It features three decks, the third topped with trees and vegetation. Based on the rendering of the design, the ballpark is orientated toward Jack London Square, a feature that may lessen, to some extent, the walking distance from the nearest BART station on 12th Street and Broadway. A proposed gondola to ferry fans to the ballpark is also still in the mix, said Kaval.
But for both projects, questions still persist, particularly the bill for taxpayers to fund infrastructure improvements around Howard Terminal and future ownership of the Coliseum land.
The county and city jointly own and operate the Coliseum, along with the adjoining Oracle Arena. In recent years, Alameda County officials have strongly indicated a desire to extricate the county from the stadium business, but finding a solution has long been troublesome.
Kaval said Wednesday that negotiations with the city and county regarding the Coliseum site continue to move in a positive direction. But which direction and manner the sale is ultimately facilitated is still unknown.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said county continues to negotiate a potential sale of its half of the Coliseum property to the Athletics, while Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, during the same news conference, said she preferred the city buy out the county, then negotiate with the team.
In response to a question about whether the city could afford to purchase the county’s portion of the Coliseum, Schaaf said a financing structure for such a move has already been identified.
Negotiations with the Port of Oakland in the case of the Howard Terminal site, meanwhile, appear to have a bit more clarity. Port of Oakland Board President Ces Butner said further steps in finalizing a deal may come in the “first quarter of next year.”
Few specifics as far as a timetable for the ballpark were revealed Wednesday, but Kaval added, an environmental review of the Howard Terminal site will begin in 2019. Once completed, a nine-month expedited judicial review period will follow. If all goes well, construction could begin in 2020 and completed for the 2023 baseball season.