Posted on December 6, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Plans for the Oakland Athletics to build a new stadium have come to a screeching halt. The A’s were hoping to build a new stadium around Laney College, which is adjacent to downtown Oakland. However, the board of Peralta Community College District has instructed the school’s chancellor to cut off talks with the A’s regarding a new stadium.
Three months ago, the A’s announced that Laney College was their top choice for the site of a new ballpark. The new stadium would have been privately funded and opened its doors as early as 2023. More importantly, the new stadium would have been a huge upgrade for the A’s, who have called the now outdated Oakland Coliseum their home since 1968.
“We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the A’s said in a statement Wednesday. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”
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Athletics president Dave Kaval was poised to negotiate with Peralta Community College District for the right to the land early next year. Businesses and community members in that part of Oakland appeared to be onboard with the idea of the A’s having a new ballpark in the area. But for whatever reason, Peralta’s board does not share that sentiment. Kaval and the A’s are left feeling as if they did not get a chance to state their case to the school and share plans for how the new ballpark could have helped support the college.
The stadium setback casts some doubt on whether the A’s will be able to remain in Oakland long term. With the Golden State Warriors building a new arena in San Francisco and the Oakland Raiders poised to move to Las Vegas, the Athletics will soon be the only pro sports franchise in Oakland. Fortunately, the A’s appear to have support from both Major League Baseball and city officials.
“Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the Athletics in Oakland,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote on Twitter. “It is unfortunate the discussion w/ Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we’re committed, more than ever, to working with the A’s and our community to find the right spot in OAK for a privately-financed ballpark.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has also been a supporter of the A’s getting a new ballpark that will allow them to remain in Oakland.
“We applaud the efforts by the Oakland A’s over the last year to engage the community in an open dialogue about their new ballpark,” Manfred said Wednesday. “Today’s news comes as a surprise and we urge Oakland leaders to rejoin the conversation.”
Before choosing Laney College as the top choice for a new ballpark, Kaval considered two other options. One was to build a new stadium on the site of the current Oakland Coliseum. However, that option is unlikely to make a significant impact on the city of Oakland or enhance the fan experience, two important criteria Kaval wants in a stadium. The other potential site Kaval had in mind was near Jack London Square, which like Laney College, is adjacent to Oakland’s downtown area.
What Kaval and the A’s will do next is unclear. Losing their first choice location for a stadium is an obvious setback in the process. The team isn’t exactly back to square one, but the A’s do have to pick a new direction with regard to their stadium plans. Wednesday’s setback could further delay when the A’s get a new stadium or it could also be a step toward the team relocating to a new city.