OAKLAND, Calif. - A new Oakland Athletics ballpark near Laney College and Lake Merritt was a hit with business leaders Monday.
In voicing their support for a new privately financed park, business leaders lauded the 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.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Team President Dave Kaval said in a letter last week to the Peralta Community College District, which owns the land, that he believes the location presents an opportunity to keep the city’s “last professional sports team in Oakland for the long term.”
“The A’s need a modern venue so that we can put the most competitive product on the field and provide the best experience for our fans,” Kaval wrote.
The team has been playing at the Coliseum since 1968. It hopes to throw out the first ball at the $500 million-plus ballpark in 2023.
Leaders of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Visit Oakland, the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, the Building Trades Council of Alameda County and other community leaders met Monday to discuss the project and many said the time is now to make this type of investment in Oakland.
“We're going to take a number of parcels of land here in Oakland that were very, very underutilized for decades and we’re going to turn them into Oakland’s crown gem,’’ said Sean Marx, the president of the Rotary Club of Oakland. “Secondly, we cannot afford to have other sports teams leave the city of Oakland. Having a sports team in your city puts your city on the map and is also a tremendous revenue source.’’
However, members of another coalition, which includes the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, Save Laney Land for Students, Eastlake United for
Justice and Causa Justa Just Cause, said after the team's announcement last week that the city should reject the proposal, which they describe as "a mega-development," and said they plan to hold a
rally against it on Tuesday.
Project opponents say they're concerned about traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, parking availability and the possible loss of affordable housing in the area.
The land sits between Lake Merritt and Interstate 880 and includes commercial warehouses, parking lots, and administrative offices for the college district. It is also easily accessible by several freeways and close to downtown Oakland.
The team and the college district, which owns the 13-acre site, will now begin negotiations. But Jowel C. Laguerre, the chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, said “no decision, no commitments, and no deals have been made,’’ according to a statement on the district’s website.
Laguerre said the district governing board will likely take up the item when it reconvenes in October.
“I will be recommending that the board rely on the Peralta Community College District’s strong participatory governance process, meaning we will invite our stakeholders—faculty, classified staff, students, and administrators—to help examine this issue,’’ according to Laguerre’s statement.
Laguerre said the governing board will also work with the community and the colleges to assess the impact on students, faculty, staff, the classroom environment, the community, the residents of the area and the city overall.
“We must work with our community to develop a set of principles to frame our discussion,’’ he said.
KTVU's Allie Rasmus, the Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.