Back in October, a new plan for the Coliseum complex was unveiled, and it had no traces of the old multipurpose bowl. The feasibility study released then was careful not to show a specific opening date or year for the Raiders’ new stadium. Instead, a 48-month project timeline was given, with 15 months for EIR preparation and 30 months for construction. Although sharing a Santa Clara stadium with the 49ers remains an option, it’s clear that team CEO Amy Trask prefers to have the Raiders in their own digs.
To understand what the impact of the new stadium would be on the Coliseum complex, I did a quick-and-dirty Photoshop overlay to see how the current and future pieces fit together. First, the new plan as drawn up for the Raiders:
Now the overlay:
The overlay isn’t exact, but it’s close. The big reveal is that the footprints of the new stadium and the old Coliseum overlap slightly. That indicates that some part of the Coliseum would have to be torn down in order to complete the stadium. A precedent for this already exists in Cincinnati, where the outfield chunk of old Riverfront Stadium was removed to make way for Great American Ball Park. The yellow stripe running through the area is the easement for underground sewer interceptor, which can’t have permanent structures on it. While it appears that part of the new stadium sits on the easement, the stadium could be constructed in such a way that the interceptor would remain accessible. (If you’re asking why the A’s haven’t asked about doing something like this at the Coliseum, stop right there. They have asked.)
Assuming that the Raiders can get all of its ducks in a row (a big if), it’s possible that construction could start as early as mid-2012. Which means, of course, that the existing Coliseum would be affected. Significant portions of the original structure might have to be torn down. Hemmed in by the old stadium and the interceptor easement, the new stadium designers will have to be clever to design it in such a way that minimizes such impact. Since there’s no final site plan or stadium design, there’s plenty of time to sort all of this out.
The biggest issue is the timeline. The plans call for a severe reduction of available parking during and even after construction. Most of the old Coliseum would be replaced by a large public plaza leading to the BART bridge. For the A’s and Raiders’ 2012 and 2013 seasons, I’m guessing that parking would be reduced by 3,000 spaces or more, roughly 30% of the complex’s available spaces. A parking garage and additional surface parking obtained by buying nearby properties would help make up the shortfall, but most of those spaces wouldn’t be ready right away. Cutting into chunks of the Coliseum would probably remove parts of the upper deck that the A’s don’t use right now. On the other hand, the Raiders need those seats. Chances are that if part of the old stadium has to come down, the Raiders would play in a reduced capacity stadium for those two years (the Tennessee Titans played at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl and 40,000-seat Vanderbilt Stadium while what is now LP Field was being built). The iceplant between Gates B and C might have to go.
If construction couldn’t start until 2013 or later, the impacts to the A’s and Raiders could be fewer. The A’s should hopefully have something going somewhere, with the need to endure the transition lasting only one season. The Raiders could play at the Coliseum throughout the entire construction period. The Warriors? They’re screwed.