A Streetcar Named Aspire
Today the commissioner said that the A’s need a new stadium… and that’s about it.
In Billy Beane’s weekly slot on The Drive, he mentioned that the team/ownership is at “the end of the process” and that regarding the recent news “there seems to be a lot of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Not exactly revealing, but at least it lines up with Selig trying to broker a deal between the A’s and Giants.
Added 8:50 PM – Joe Stiglich has more on the negotiations that may or may not be happening that no one officially wants to talk about.
I did find out something revealing about the Coliseum City project. Turns out that as part of the planning for the project, the City is looking at putting in a streetcar or trolley. The streetcar is not part of the Oakland Airport Connector, which is currently under construction. It wouldn’t go downtown or to Jack London Square. Instead it would be a very short trolley, running around one mile in length between the Coliseum BART station and the Edgewater area on the other side of the Nimitz. I’ve racked my brain and haven’t heard of a streetcar or trolley built for what is primarily a sports complex.
I can only assume that the project’s principals and supporters want this streetcar to improve the project’s attractiveness as a potential corporate and commercial hub, since it would provide a direct link to BART and the other parts of the Coliseum City. What’s not clear is why they’d choose a streetcar. A people mover like the Airport Connector would make more sense. An extension to the Airport Connector from the BART terminus through the complex (creating a “U”) would make the most sense, except that station’s design (see pic below) prevents that kind of alignment.
The crazy thing about this streetcar idea is that it creates a third, disjointed transit option in this relatively small area. Meanwhile, there are far better places to use resources on a streetcar project, such as Broadway (which is getting yet another separate study). Clearly, if the streetcar option gains traction it’ll add a quarter-billion to the project’s $2 billion price tag. Yet it might be considered a necessity if the City wants to lure a big corporate fish.
As Marin County rejected George Lucas’s long-gestating studio expansion project and then ran back to Lucas in desperation only to be rejected by the filmmaker, Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wrote an open letter to Lucas encouraging him to take a tour of the city. Coliseum City has to be at or near the top of places the City would offer to Lucas. Now, it’s hard to envision any locale in Oakland comparing to the pristine Skywalker Ranch or the wonderfully preserved and adapted Letterman Center at the Presidio. And Oakland’s already tried to push Coliseum City in its bid for the Lawrence Berkeley Lab expansion and lost. But if you’re gonna dream big, you might as well go fully preposterous. I know of at least one reader, native Oaklander, and Lucasfilm employee who would weep tears of joy if Oakland got Lucas’s blessing to build the new studio in Oakland.