A's want ballpark at Howard Terminal, redevelop Coliseum into stadium and tech hub

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The Oakland A’s on Wednesday unveiled a bold, two-for-one ballpark deal that includes a modern waterfront stadium at Howard Terminal on the city’s waterfront and a revamp of the Coliseum that would turn the aging site into a tech hub and concert venue.

Columnists Phil Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that President Dave Kaval said the A’s want control of the 55-acre Howard Terminal waterfront site and 111-acre Coliseum site in East Oakland.

"We are excited to build a bold, iconic ballpark at Howard Terminal," President Dave Kaval said in a string of early Wednesday morning tweets. "This design will alow us to blur the boundaries of a traditional ballpark and integrate into the surrounding neighborhood." 

The privately financed ballpark at the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal, just north of Jack London Square, will "anchor a new vibrant, waterfront district" complete with housing, affordable housing, restaurants, retail, small business space and public gathering spaces, the A's said.

The 34,000-seat stadium will be designed by the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group. The plan also includes an aerial gondola to shuttle 6,000 fans an hour from downtown Oakland over Interstate 880 and the railroad tracks to Jack London Square. The ballpark is scheduled to open in 2023.

Kaval also said that he wants the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to be turned into a development mix of tech businesses, affordable housing, a youth sports complex, light manufacturing and a shopping strip to "address community needs and opportunities expressed by East Oakland residents."

And Kaval said he would keep the Oracle Arena, which will soon lose the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco’s new Chase Center in Mission Bay, as a place to host concerts, sports events and other shows.

"Our proposed two-project approach will enable us to deliver on our promises to both our fans and community," Kaval said in a tweet.

At a news conference, details were limited about how much money the entire project would cost, as city, Alameda County, port and team officials said all those details are currently being talked over and hashed out. The A's are in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port of Oakland to buy the Howard Terminal, and still negotiating with the Joint Powers Authority about Alameda County and Oakland selling their share of the Coliseum. 

Kaval said he would have a better idea of the cost after they finish the state-required environmental review at the Howard Terminal site, which is expected to start this week and last about a year. He reiterated that the cost would be 100 percent privately financed. How much public money would be involved for infrastructure at the two sites has yet to be worked out, but Kaval told the Chronicle that the plan was to use taxes generated from the projects to cover the major costs.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told KTVU she lis hopeful and optimistic about the dual-project idea.

“The plan for Howard Terminal is truly visionary and will serve all Oaklanders for many generations," she said. "This is the right project, in the right neighborhood, and at the right price to our taxpayers. I applaud the A’s for developing a community space that will benefit all residents.” 

As for the Coliseum idea, Schaaf said: “The framework is promising. Mixing housing, manufacturing jobs, open space and public transportation – and planning for climate change and equity factors – is all a step in the right direction.” She added she was "positive" about financing structure proposals being discussed.

She added: "I'm optimistic about this partnership. The A's aren't just a commercial enterprise. They are a community enterprise. They are rooted here. they understand Oakland values."

Related: Oakland residents, businesses react to proposed A's stadium 

Oakland City Council President Larry Reid said he "wholeheartedly supports the A's vision" and pointed out that the team is the only professional one to be staying in Oakland. 

Without naming the other teams directly, Reid commented on the Raiders for "choosing an address in Vegas" and the Warriors for "choosing an address in San Francisco."

Outgoing City Councilman Desley Brooks shared on Facebook that she was not pleased. She wrote that the council "foolishly" gave the A's the Coliseum without getting to see all the possibilities that could have been built there because "we've got groupies instead of leaders making decisions for us."

On social media, many approved. "I think the affordable housing is an excellent idea," one woman tweeted. "So many homeless families. They could benefit from affordable housing." 

One man tweeted he thought the designs looked gimmicky.

Several others expressed skepticism. "Let's just hope they can get it done," one man wrote. "Been hearing this for years," another man said.

The A’s first choice, which was next to Laney College, died shortly after it was announced when the school’s faculty and students objected to putting the ballpark there.

When asked several times by reporters at a news conference why this time would be different, Schaaf would only say this: "This is the first time you've seen all of us up here together at the same table."

Kaval added that the team listened to the community, saying "this project is bigger than baseball."

In the next three months, the A’s said leaders will focus on five key items: gathering additional community feedback; beginning the environmental review process at Howard Terminal;  negotiating an agreement with the Port of Oakland;  developing a framework with public officials for the Coliseum redevelopment; and developing a framework for an economic and community benefits agreement.