17 August 2005

Trib Op-Ed

Todays' editorial from the Oakland Tribune shows optimism in the ballpark plan, but withholds judgment on it until more details come out. An important issue that is brought up in the piece is the High St/880 interchange. Will it have to be revamped to handle additional residential, commercial, and event-related traffic? Would the same have to happen for the 66th Ave overpass as well? One of the few good things about postgame traffic from the Coliseum is that the cars in the north lots have to exit via 66th Ave, while those in the south lots exit via Hegenberger Rd, splitting traffic. That wouldn't be the case with a new ballpark whose traffic would be largely centered around 66th. A new thoroughfare could be constructed to take northbound traffic to High St, but that traffic could end up running through a residential neighborhood, which isn't ideal.

There's also a larger philosophical question here: Does this mean Oakland is near the end of its image as a blue collar town? While it's possible that not all of the businesses that would be displaced would leave Oakland completely, the plan is a classic case of gentrification. Like many other cities with a long manufacturing and industrial heritage, Oakland has been struggling for several years with the idea of gentrification (and the economic benefits it brings) against maintaining its gritty image. Many of the food processing companies that once called Oakland home, such as Mother's Cookies and Fleischmann's Yeast, left long ago. Colombo Baking may leave as well. Some may bemoan this major change as the loss of Oakland's soul. Others may welcome it, saying it's a better fate than that suffered by Detroit or Cleveland. Considering the fact that yesterday, 12,000 people lined up outside the nearby Wal-Mart in East Oakland to apply for only 400 openings, perhaps progress isn't the such the bitter pill many make it out to be.

Coliseum North Photo Overview + Wolff development news

The ballpark site photo overview is now available. The file is slightly over 1 MB and is in PDF (Acrobat) form. A permanent link has been created in the sidebar as well. Here's a sample photo:

In tangentially related news, L.A.'s Staples Center (owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group) is getting $10 million in video and seating upgrades. Staples is only five years old, but AEG wants to preserve Staples Center's reputation as the most glamorous, feature-packed arena in the nation. AEG is also developing land near Staples, including the big 1,200-room hotel that it is building with Maritz, Wolff & Co. The hotel is scheduled for groundbreaking in the fall.