With three locations on the table for a new Oakland Athletics stadium, the Athletics should keep their eyes set on their current Coliseum City location and revert the “Mausoleum” back into the Coliseum.
The Oakland Athletics organization were handed the keys to their new 40,000 square-foot state-of-the-art office complex in Jack London Square early January, far from their current Coliseum home in East Oakland.
The new office features a bevy of new and old Oakland Athletics memorabilia including the scouting reports of Oakland sluggers Reggie Jackson and Matt Olson, alongside jerseys of Oakland greats Rickey Henderson and Rollie Fingers. Behind a glass case sits the organizations four World Series championships that were won during their stint in Oakland. As if a miniature museum wasn’t enough, A’s fans and staff can take a few hacks in the office batting cages, and as Bay Area News Group reporter Tammerlin Drummond reported, have their image converted into a personal baseball card.
Kaval reportedly told reporters while showing off the new location that the organization remains “100 percent” committed to remaining in Oakland, and their move into their office a foreshadow of their eventual stadium plans to build a stadium in one of the remaining Oakland Athletics stadium locations.
I couldn’t fault anyone for assuming the move hints that the A’s are placing their proverbial eggs in the Howard Terminal basket. Despite the red tape surrounding the Howard Terminal location, the site remains the favored site for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf following the breakdown in talks for the 15-acre Laney College property and would make for the most scenic of the potential three sites.
But as appealing as a waterfront Oakland Athletics mecca might seem, I wholeheartedly believe that the A’s should place more focus into building over the current Oakland Coliseum site if they have any real plans of staying in Oakland.
Here are a few pros for remaining at the Coliseum site for the foreseeable future.
Proximity to BART and other public transportation avenues
The Oakland Coliseum site has its shortcoming. That cannot be ignored, nor understated. The infrastructure surrounding the Coliseum has seen better days and the East Oakland itself has taken quite a few hits since the Athletics moved into the stadium in 1967.
But fans can’t ignore that out of the three (some will say two real options), the Coliseum site remains the best options in terms of accessibility.
With both the BART, the Amtrak and the 880 freeway sitting adjacent to O.Co, fans can easily find their way to the familiar Coliseum location, which can be made even easier by way of a devoted city partnership.
Howard Terminal, despite the fanfare and glitz of having a waterfront stadium to rival the San Francisco Giants’ excellent AT&T Park across the bay, is the least accessible by way of public transportation. Having grown up just a few miles from Jack London Square, the thought of making my way to Jack London Square to catch an A’s game brings visions of gridlock and frustration, something I’m sure many A’s fans are hoping to avoid.
The Laney College location is admittedly not too far from the freeway and the Lake Merritt BART terminal, and the ability to develop new restaurants and Bars to accompany a new stadium must have been attractive for Oakland and the Athletics organization. However, fans can’t ignore that prying the plot of land from the Peralta Community College district at this point in negotiations seems all but dead, despite words from Kaval that the location remains on the negotiating table.
A’s can have a field of their own
Come 2020, the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors will have left for their new homes in Las Vegas and San Francisco respectively leaving the Oakland A’s as the potential sole occupants of Coliseum city.
The moves, albeit painful for Oakland sports fans, will open up the possibility for the Oakland Athletics to have their own section of Oakland to call their own for the next 20-50 years. Imagine for a second an entire section of East Oakland devoted solely to the Oakland Athletics. An addition of a few bars and restaurants, packaged with sparkling home developments provides the opportunity to revitalize a portion of Oakland that has seemingly been forgotten for the past three decades.
I personally can never forgive the Oakland Raiders franchise for forcing Mount Davis on the Oakland Coliseum in 1995. Although before my time, the many images of O.Co, sans Mount Davis, show just how scenic and visual the coliseum sight can be.
Howard Terminal renderings have utilized the statuesque image of the shipyard cranes to excellent detail and mixing the cranes into the stadium’s backdrop would be a nice homage to a Bay Area staple. But even I have to admit nothing beats the sun falling just behind the Oakland Hills on a warm Bay Area evening.
The Dodgers (and others) have proved there are other options to a complete rebuild.
The Athletics announced in 2016 that they intended to privately finance a new $650 million dollar stadium. Great. As evident with the Raiders negotiations, Oakland cannot and will not break its coffers to provide taxpayer funding for Oakland’s stadium.
If the A’s do not opt to completely build a new stadium, then a renovation makes sense if done correctly.
Following the sale of the team to a new ownership group, the Dodgers began plans to completely renovate the then-50 years old Dodger stadium with new bathrooms, restaurants and redesigned pavilions and social areas.
What resulted was a fun, and engaging stadium that held on to its old-school charm while promoting the cutting edge in stadium ambiance.
Why can’t that happen in Oakland?
Admittedly, any renovation plans would have to include the removal of Mount Davis, which many Athletics fans would agree is the largest issue (outside of the sewage concerns) plaguing the Coliseum.
Lopping off some 20,000 seats from the top of the stadium is no easy engineering feat, but similar to the Dodgers’ remodeling of its stadium, it’s been done before. Likewise, the Washington Redskins famously removed 10,000 seats from the top of FedEx Field in 2015.
With the Oakland Hills watching closely for Holy Toledo style plays over a new stadium’s horizon, a renovated Oakland Coliseum can bring the A’s the lauded retro-modern stadium that they have sought after in the past.
Of course, the logistics of cutting through the earthquake-reinforced upper layer of the Coliseum will likely require a larger investment than the $100 million set aside by the Dodgers, not to mention the close to $85 million in debt owed on the stadium still to be paid, but if the A’s remain committed to a $650 million stadium by 2023, then the extra $100-150 million shouldn’t break their piggy banks.
Heck, maybe that would mean a few extra million for the team’s payroll come 2024.
What Do You Think?
Should the A’s focus on the current Coliseum site? Or should the A’s continue looking into the Howard Terminal and Laney College locations? Let us know in the comment sections below and don’t forget to follow WhiteCleatBeat on Facebook and Twitter.