The Oakland Athletics baseball team announced Tuesday that it intends to build a new, 35,000-seat ballpark in Oakland at a 13-acre site next to Laney College, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The subject of sports complexes—their expense, their longevity, their pros and cons for the community, and teams’ need for new and better facilities—raises hackles and eyebrows in modern cities, making the team’s pitch a potentially tricky one.
Here’s what the would-be big league project looks like at the outset:
- It will definitely be in Oakland. This might sound like a no-brainer, but with the Warriors and Raiders leaving town soon—and perhaps also with the recent memory of the 49ers forsaking San Francisco for a mostly empty new stadium in Santa Clara in mind—just the fact that the A’s want to stay where they are gives their proposal a small boost right away.
- The new ballpark would seat 35,000 people and cost roughly $500 million. Although the Oakland Coliseum can hold nearly double that capacity for other events, the team’s website says that it seats just about as many people for baseball. Opened in 1966, the Coliseum cost some $25.5 million, which is worth a bit more than $192 million after inflation.
- Right now the Peralta Community College District owns the land the A’s want. Buying the property—close to both BART and the freeway—would be the team’s first move in making the ballpark deal happen. College Chancellor Jowel Laguerre told the East Bay Express that the team has already approached him, but says, “No decision, no commitments, and no deals have been made. The Governing Board will likely discuss this item when it reconvenes in October.”
- The A’s have been trying to get out of the Coliseum for decades. The New York Times reports that the 51-year-old stadium is in such lousy shape that bad plumbing has flooded the player’s clubhouse with sewage on multiple occasions. The Coliseum is now the fifth oldest stadium in the country hosting a Major League Baseball team. The tentative team timeline has them staying there until at least 2023.
- The Alameda County Coliseum Authority would have to approve any new deals. The authority consists of nine members representing the cities of Oakland and Alameda, who jointly maintain the stadium. So long as the team remains in Oakland, the authority board remain the gatekeepers between the Athletics and a new home.
- The Coliseum wouldn’t be demolished or abandoned. If the A’s plan goes ahead, the old stadium, by then bereft of all professional teams playing any sport, would become a community sports center and a site for youth programs.