OAKLAND, Calif. - While the business community in Oakland continues to cheer for a new A’s ballpark next to Lake Merritt, opposition from college students and faculty, community organizers and nearby residents is growing.
Last week, the Peralta Federation of Teachers Local 1603, which represents more than 1,000 teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses at all four Peralta Community College District campuses, voted unanimously to “oppose the proposed Oakland A’s stadium on Peralta land.”
Additionally, the Associated Students of Laney College says it found that 90 percent of students oppose the project.
“Laney College has changed people’s lives, gotten people out of poverty. Before this year, the A’s took no interest - no scholarships, no internships, nothing,’’ said Keith Welch, president of the Associated Students of Laney College. “Now they want to disrupt our education by building a ballpark across the street with noisy construction, traffic gridlock, pollution, and alcohol consumption by fans. We will not sacrifice our education so that the A’s owners can make more money,”
The team, which has been playing at the Coliseum since 1968, wants to build a 35,000 seat stadium on Peralta Community College District land rather than the Howard Terminal adjacent to Jack London Square or the current Coliseum site. The site is at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East Eighth Street.
It's still early in the process, but the A's hope to throw out the first ball at the $500 million-plus ballpark in 2023.
But project opponents say they're concerned about traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, parking availability and the possible loss of affordable housing in the area.
Oakland Rising, an alliance of nine Oakland grassroots groups, released a study last week that found that more than 80 percent of the 2,500 voters polled oppose the project.
“People also overwhelmingly support keeping the stadium in East Oakland as part of a plan to create safety, stability, and fair economic investment that benefits the black and brown working-class and immigrant families who live in the surrounding neighborhoods,’’ said Oakland Rising Executive Director Jessamyn Sabbag.
Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilman Abel Guillen are among leaders who have expressed concerns over displacement of residents and small business owners from Chinatown and Eastlake.
“In Chinatown and Eastlake, immigrants and refugees have spent generations building communities where people can thrive,'' said Alvina Wong, lead community organizer with Asian Pacific Environmental Network. "Our friends, churches, doctors, and stores are here. We will not allow the A’s owners to destroy the sanctuaries we’ve built.”
This is in stark contrast to support from the business community, who have lauded the privately-financed project for its potential to drive billions into the economy, create some 2,000 construction jobs and bring much needed affordable housing and retail to the area.
An Oakland Chamber of Commerce poll of about 500 “likely” voters found 62 percent supported the stadium project.
In addition to support from the chamber, Visit Oakland, the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, the Building Trades Council of Alameda County and other business groups have thrown their support behind the Peralta site.