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26 October 2005

Exit car dealerships, enter... ballpark?

Update (10/26, 3:05 PM): Today I pitched the idea to Ignacio De La Fuente and Nancy Nadel. Councilwoman Nadel, in whose district the site resides, has been receptive so far. She's passing the idea along to Redevelopment. We'll see what happens from there.

According to an article in Sunday's Trib, some of the dealerships on Broadway Auto Row have expressed interest in relocating to a new "auto mall" concept at the old Oakland Army Base. Reasons given are the location's proximity and visibility from I-880, the fact that it's a little closer to San Francisco, and lower land costs/leases.

There are already plans to build various types of housing in the area based on available zoning and planning resources, but even with those plans, there exists at least one site where a ballpark could be built. The site is at the intersection of 27th Street and Broadway. It's roughly the shape of a triangle, and is just about the perfect site to shoehorn a ballpark in. Broadway Ford, a used car lot, and some other auto-related businesses currently occupy the area. I counted 2-3 houses and small apartment buildings as well.

These residents and businesses would obviously have to be relocated, and other land in the area would have to be acquired to fulfill Wolff's concept of surrounding development paying for the ballpark costs, but the site has several advantages, including its ideal downtown/uptown location and access to BART. There would also be neat views of the Oakland skyline and Lake Merritt (presumably from the upper deck). It even has a slight downward slope that's conducive to building a ballpark. Keep in mind that the idea of a building a ballpark on the site isn't mentioned in the article, but if Wolff's looking for an appropriate site, this one may just work.

What would it look like? Compare the image above - the land as it currently exists - with the image below, which has a conceptual design on it. (Please note that the images were created with the wonderful Google Earth application.)

That's Lake Merritt and Adams Point in the upper left hand corner. The nearest BART station is the 19th Street Station, about 5 blocks away from the right field corner. The entry to the BART station is actually at 20th and Broadway. It wouldn't be possible to build a closer station because BART's tunnel makes a westerly (left) turn just past 20th Street before it aligns with I-980/CA-24.

13 comments:

Georob said...

I noticed you kept in the old Biffs Coffee Shop. If that could somehow be preserved and integrated into the development, it would make a lot of people very happy.

But what direction is home plate facing? I'm guessing south or southwest. That would make late afternoon and twilight hoours tough with the sun unless Kaiser Center is blocking the rays.

peanut gallery said...

It looks to me like it's facing due south. If so, I would be concerned with the afternoon/evening winds. They will want home plate to face east to southeast so the bulk of the stadium minimizes the wind inside.

Beyond that though, the location would be great.

Marine Layer said...

The local preservationists kept Biff's from the wrecking ball before, but my leaving it in is just due to a quirk in the the way the lot's shaped. Biff's isn't actually a coffee shop anymore, right? It's an office for a used car dealer. The fact that the building is round could make for some interesting possibilities, like a sports or baseball museum.

The ballpark (and the batter) would face slightly east of true south. There's nothing wrong with that orientation since the batter's eye, Kaiser Center, and Caltrans building would block the sun pretty well. It shouldn't be too much of a problem for fielders either, since they'd be facing north. Comerica Park in Detroit has a similar orientation if you're looking for a precedent.

Marine Layer said...

Wind buffeting could be an issue, but since the location's a little further inland it isn't nearly as prone to the onshore flow as a waterfront site like JLS or O29.

I originally oriented the field east-northeast, which would mitigate any wind but might carry noise into the Adams Point neighborhod and even up the hill to Piedmont. It isn't possible to orient it east-southeast because of the shape of the lot.

Georob said...

The old Sears at 27th and Telegraph(which would have been a great ballpark spot had it not been renovated) had a parking garage in the back that backed right up against the 980 freeway exit. I wonder if that would be available to use?

I think Jerry Brown lives in one of those Sears lofts, so I may have answered my own question.

chris said...

Not as awesome as Fox Fields, but Biff's Ballpark is a great idea nonetheless.

Can you forward this to the A's somehow?

Devo said...

We could set up our own little tourist trap ... the new ballpark, the new cathedral, the lake ...

jrbh said...

It's a great idea, but there's no parking at all. Plus, the land isn't completely useless; it would take some serious money to free it up.

Marine Layer said...

Land acquisition will be key, but it wouldn't be nearly as expensive as Wolff's plan. High-rises could be built to maximize the ROI.

Parking is not on the site, but there are lots and garages to the west and south within 2-5 blocks. If needed, one of the old dealerships could be razed to build a parking garage - an expensive option, but not unrealistic.

A friend who used to work in the car business told me that the biggest problem there would be traffic, since it's not immediately up against any of the freeways. Access from 580 could be especially dicey.

Anonymous said...

Being a citizen of San Jose, and a huge proponent of landing MLB in my city, I'm not particularly excited about any ballpark developments coming out of Oakland. But this car dealership site is 100% better than the coliseum north/flea market site. Yes, it would sadden me if San Jose never got a Major League Franchise. But if the A's could get a "boutique" ballpark built at this car dealership site, more power to them.

jrbh said...

Yeah, it doesn't require as much land as the Wolff proposal: because Wolff wants to make money off development on the much larger footprint of the North Coliseum tract. I'd like to think that it would just be to fund the ballpark, but I'd like to think that our president isn't a dry drunk ignoramus and I'd like to think that Eric Chavez will come up big some day, but I'm not holding my breath.

Other than that it will never happen, I think it's a great idea. I could literally walk to the ballgames. And isn't it all about my needs? ;)

Oakland Si said...

I've always thought that the best place for a ballpark would be around the "uptown" site, within walking distance of 19th St BART. This would also work. Mr. Wolff and Oakland politicos should note that a ballpark here would revitalize the area around it, and would help the uptown area immensely.

Anonymous said...

The Oakland City Council just approved plans for a 22 story highrise apartment building just south of this location. The highrise will be built on the 200 block of 23rd St. The developers will need to raze a small building which houses a couple of restauruants along with an auto related business.

If Wolff wants to build housing to help pay for the ballpark, than this would be an ideal location. Wolff and Fisher could build three to four 40 plus story towers, which would feature views of the field and provide a tremendous backdrop for the ballpark. Hotel development would also be a possibility in this scenic location near beautiful Lake Merritt.