18 March 2005

Plans for the next two weeks

The ballpark and stadium world is pretty light on news right now, so I'll fill the blog with studies of all potential ballpark sites, regardless of whether or not they are available. It can be considered a citizen's follow-up to the HOK study done for Oakland and the A's in 2001. Things have changed pretty dramatically since then, with the dot-com bust and recession, related fiscal struggles for many Bay Area cities, and a few land deals that have affected site availability. Here's the list of Oakland sites I will study:

  1. Coliseum South (mentioned in other posts) - This is the site that it appears Wolff is focusing on. It would require the smallest amount of land acquisition, and permitting/rezoning efforts would be easier than other sites.
  2. Estuary (Oak-to-9th/Embarcadero) - Current plans call for mixed public/private development with a focus on recreational activities, but nothing has started yet.
  3. Uptown (Telegraph-San Pablo Aves between 18th and 20th Sts) - The favored site by many fans due to its proximity to downtown and BART, the site is now in the hands of Forest City, who intends to build 700+ apartments and some retail there.
  4. Howard Terminal (west of Jack London Square) - Last summer the shipping giant Matson bought the 50-acre property, where they have consolidated operations, including shipments of cargo containers and vehicles. There is space to build a ballpark, if Matson is willing to share.
  5. Laney College Fields (east of Lake Merritt Channel) - The HOK study included an option to build at Laney College, where the athletic fields are up for redevelopment. Children's Hospital of Oakland has a plan to relocate to that site. The property may be under some consideration for a ballpark, though it does have one big obstacle - a BART tunnel that runs directly underneath it and is part of the only route that serves southern Alameda County.
  6. Henry J. Kaiser Center (south of Lake Merritt) - The grand old auditorium is facing closure because of costs to run it and its inability to attract events. It may very well be the most attractive location of all, but it is probably too small for a ballpark, and the upcoming 12th Street Reconstruction Project is only going to make it smaller. Plus demolishing a nearly century-old venue with serious history in it won't be too popular.
  7. Oakland U.S.D. Campus (Eastlake) - The school district just opened a period for proposals for the campus just across the channel from HJK. Usage would require sharing the 10-acre property with the district, which wants to be able to keep administration offices and the small schools currently on the site. It's intriguing, but it would require a developers to jump through some serious bureaucratic hoops (community, school district, and state) and the site itself may be too small.
I will also study two San Jose sites:
  1. Del Monte Cannery (southwest of downtown SJ) - Del Monte is considered the frontrunner as a ballpark site because of its size (12.5 acres) and its vacancy (no businesses or residents to relocate or displace). It is also a piece of a potential land-swap deal rumored to be happening secretly in City Hall.
  2. Diridon South (west of downtown SJ, close to HP Pavilion) - A secondary site considered ideal because of its access to parking and transportation options, it would require changes in the street grid and relocation of several businesses and a few homes. Some of those businesses have already vacated the area (NBC11). Others may already have one foot out the door (Stephens, SBC).
I am including the two San Jose sites in the mix because at some point, the Baseball San Jose group will probably present them, and depending on what Wolff's eventual Oakland proposal looks like, San Jose may become an option. It is important to note that territorial rights to Santa Clara County are an enormous issue.

The point of the studies is to provide information on costs associated with a new ballpark, development opportunities around or near each site, and the political weight behind each option.