The Athletics’ search for a new ballpark has gone on now for years and taken many twists and turns. It’s far from over, but as Phil Matier and Andy Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle report, the club has now settled on a preferred location for a new park that would keep the club in Oakland.
A’s president Dave Kaval has penned a letter to the Peralta Community College District expressing interest in building on a parcel of land in the vicinity of Oakland’s Laney College, per the report. Working out an agreement with the landowner is just one of many steps that would be required, of course, with massive infrastructure and permitting needs among the major hurdles to be cleared.
The A’s intend to utilize private financing to construct the ballpark, which is expected to cost something in the range of $500MM. Kaval emphasized that the preferred site had advantages in securing the needed investment against the other sites that had been considered, including potential for nearby mixed-use development. You’ll certainly want to read the full reporting from Matier and Ross to understand the considerations at play and remaining obstacles.
Kaval also hinted at some real optimism despite the long road ahead. “Finally, we’ve got our site,” he said, suggesting that the team sees this as a key step. Even if things go well, though, the report makes clear that construction won’t begin until at least 2021, with the still-hypothetical new stadium potentially ready for games in the 2023 season.
The stakes are high for the A’s, who have been searching for years for an avenue to a new ballpark and now face a phase-out of MLB revenue sharing. While the O.co Coliseum has become something of a lovable dump, it is ill-equipped to maximize revenues. (Of course, it also became a possible site for a new park once the NFL’s Raiders left town; instead, the A’s propose turning it into a community sports park that might host an urban youth baseball academy.)
Many other organizations with less compelling needs have reaped huge financial windfalls through taxpayer-funded parks built through efforts that lacked many of the complications present here. While the A’s figure to seek quite a bit of public assistance for infrastructure projects, the team won’t be able to call upon public money or significant political streamlining to accomplish this complex undertaking.