Yesterday, the Athletics announced their initial plans for a long-awaited new ballpark. Set in Oakland’s Howard Terminal, the proposed new facility would represent a marked departure from standard stadium design.
Renderings and other information are available here. They show a waterfront facility that might be described as baseball’s version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. A fan-accessible, greenscaped ring (the club calls it an “elevated park”) surrounds a much tamer inner stadium that’s notable mostly for its ample provision of standing room and snug, 34k-seat capacity.
There’s more to this than the architecture, of course. The proposal, like most other ballpark projects we’ve seen of late, would include plans for mixed-use development featuring “housing, including affordable housing, offices, retail, small business space and restaurants, hotels, public gathering spaces, and parks.” Transportation challenges could be met in part by a gondola system connecting to downtown Oakland, which certainly sounds like a unique new way to get to a ballgame.
As with the Rays, the other MLB organization that realistically lacks a contemporary stadium and has recently proposed a striking new facility, public handouts will not completely carry this project through. In this case, while the A’s will surely seek public support in a variety of ways — acquiring rights to the site, to take but one notable example — the club says it will fully finance the ballpark construction through private means.
Needless to say, it’s quite an ambitious overall undertaking that will take some time to pull off. The team says it hopes to break ground in 2021 and open the ballpark in time for the 2023 season. For a perennially underfunded A’s club, there’s a lot at stake. As the organization itself claims on the stadium website, getting the new facility up is necessary to “retain our players and build a more competitive team.”