My mom used to always be on me about reading the books I was assigned and not just faking the book reports with the help of Cliff’s Notes. As I studied these sites in Oakland and reread the old HOK study, I was reminded of this past summer and my trip to watch Rickey go into the hall. Who knew he was so profound? “Mom do knows best.”
So I set out to question the assumptions I had made about Howard Terminal and the OFD Site. And to learn just what the heck JLS West was.
I already had read a bunch about Howard Terminal and was pretty sure it was not workable, I still feel that way after reading some more. I had read next to nothing about JLS West and done less research on the site, but now I can see why it would be an intriguing option for the MLB panel looking into this sort of thing. Before embarking on this research, the site I was most optimistic about was Victory Court (or OFD as ML called it based on navigator’s original suggestion). Is that still the case? And based on what? Before we run the HOK test on the site, some context to what I consider to be the Victory Court site:
The picture above is a mock up ML has done to show JLS West and Victory Court and their suggested orientations. JLS West is closest to us, Victory Court in the upper right hand corner. The green line is BART towards SF. The Yellow line is BART out towards Contra Costa County. The giant skeleton hand attached to a pier is the ferry routes.
Basically the two new sites in Oakland are neighbors. But does that mean they are pretty much the same? Let’s use the HOK method to test, shall we? Same rules as before, which is to say I shall bend them a bit but still keep “7” as the top score.
Urban Design– The main difference between the two locations, from a design perspective, is the orientation of the playing field. This is for purely asthetic reasons. Over at JLS West if you point the stadium towards the water you get a nice view of a power plant. Over here, at Victory Court, if you point the stadium away from the water you get a freeway over-crossing. But if you point this one toward the water… well you get a 7 on the HOK test. Or, more accurately, you get a view across the estuary, into Alameda and the out into the grayish green, mother nature provided central air conditioning unit known as the San Francisco Bay. With all the condos/warehouses in the area there is a real opportunity to have the stadium blend right in to the urban landscape. Not too shabby a view:
Transportation– The site most comparable to this one in the original HOK study was Laney College. You can almost think of it as the same lot, just cut in half by a freeway. Okay, that is an overstatement, but here is an overhead showing their proximity.
Another nearby spot in that report was Oak to Ninth. Howard Terminal is also just down the street. As seems to be a theme lately when talking about JLS, access is not exactly ideal. The transportation scores for these sites? Howard Terminal 4, Laney 2 and O29 1. That’s right, they were bottom of the barrel. There have been some improvements in parking infrastructure since that time, and this site is much closer to BART than the other JLS site worth exploring. But the 5 in the original report (Fremont) was more accessible, served by two freeways with ample room for parking and BART station planned for nearby (opening in 2014 complete with protestors and picket signs directed at the A’s!)… so how do we score it? I give it a 5, but only because it is better than JLS West and I gave that a 4.
Site Factors– This one is pretty close to a wash with JLS West. It has a bit more acreage per oakladnexplorer.com but it has constraints with the freeway and railroad tracks converging on the site. Plus the area where the OFD Training site actually is, along the estuary, can’t be used as it is slated to become a park. Soil stabilization will be an issue. All things considered, this site is not as good as JLS West, but isn’t really much worse. I say we give ’em both a 4.
Cost– This site is a little bit more expensive than the JLS West site. The value of the land and the structures combines for about $40 Million. Add to that the cost of relocating businesses and you get a site that is clearly not as good as JLS West from a cost perspective. It also bears noting that the cousin across the freeway, Laney College, was rated equal to Howard Terminal in cost back in 2001. While I don’t expect this spot to be as bad from a cost perspective as Howard Terminal, it won’t be as good as JLS West. So let’s count it as a 3.
Timing– Originally, in the 2001 study, the timing was measured as such: Can this site be ready for opening day 2006? If yes, it was scored a 7. If no, it was scored a 1. The only site that got a 1 was Laney College. We gave JLS West a 6 yesterday due to the complexity created by having 57 parcels and 33 landowners to work with. Here there are 12 land owners. I’d say that is less complex. It is a 7.
Grand Total: 25
25 was good enough to say “potentially viable” yesterday… and it’s good enough to say it today. Today’s parting vision:
Good thing the MLB Committee has been looking into these for a while, there is plenty to research.
Just a thought: Maybe we should take the 4 Oakland sites and Diridon and do our own little HOK Test scoring on a 1-5 scale. Who is game?