Peralta board of trustees directs chancellor to stop A's stadium planning

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OAKLAND (BCN) Following a decision from the Peralta Community College District's 
board of trustees to break off negotiations with the Oakland A's for a new stadium near Laney College, community members are pressing the district's chancellor for a commitment to scrap the idea permanently.

Chancellor Jowel Laguerre's office issued a statement indicating that he'd been instructed to "discontinue planning" for the stadium after a closed session meeting of the board Tuesday night.

The trustees later clarified that they'd directed Laguerre to "cease all communication with the Oakland A's," according to Stay The Right Way, a coalition formed to oppose the stadium plans.

The coalition is arguing that Laguerre has demonstrated a lack of clarity about his position on the matter, prompting them to stage a demonstration marching from the Laney College quad to Laguerre's office at 3 p.m. today.

"The Peralta Board of Trustees did the right thing by putting the interest of Laney students and the surrounding communities first," Stay the Right Way member Alvina Wong said today in a statement.

"We need to know that the Chancellor is committed to doing the same, and that he won't try to 
revive this stadium plan again next year."

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan took the opportunity to advocate for keeping the A's at their current site at the Oakland Coliseum complex.

"Since the Peralta site would have required Lake Merritt BART station expansion and roadway/freeway changes, it seems we could have an affordable and financially viable option at the Coliseum, which won't have those extra costs," Kaplan said in a statement.

"The fact that environmental clearance is already completed for the Coliseum site would also provide cost savings and time savings for development at that site," she said.

The A's in September announced that their preferred site for a new stadium was the one owned by Peralta and located near Chinatown, Lake Merritt and the San Antonio neighborhood.

Other sites under consideration were the Coliseum complex, where the team currently plays at the aging Coliseum, and the Howard Terminal near the Port of Oakland.

The A's issued a statement today saying they are "shocked by Peralta's decision not to move forward."

"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," the team said. "We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity."

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement that the city "remains fiercely determined to keep the A's in Oakland."

"It is unfortunate the discussion with 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 Oakland for a privately-financed ballpark," Schaaf said.

At a meeting last week of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, the board that oversees the Coliseum site, several members of the authority had expressed doubts that the A's would win approval from the many stakeholders at the Peralta-owned site.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said at the meeting last Thursday that there would be "a clearer and quicker road to success" by instead building a new stadium at the Coliseum site, where the Oakland Raiders football team and Golden State Warriors basketball team also 
currently play.

The Raiders and Warriors plan to leave in the coming years for Las Vegas and San Francisco, respectively.

Miley said he hoped that the A's, who have previously explored sites in San Jose and elsewhere outside of Oakland to build a new stadium, weren't "trying to do a bait-and-switch here" by saying they want to build at the Peralta site and secretly hoping the proposal fails so they can move 

Coliseum Authority executive director Scott McKibben told the board that the A's were "going full bore for the Laney site" and have told him there was no Plan B if that site wasn't approved.

McKibben said he doesn't believe there is a "bait-and-switch" at play but theorized that the Peralta proposal may be "a card to play to get more public financing" for a new stadium.

"I think that is very much in the back of their mind," he said.