Navigator Called It! (Or Victory Court: An Overview)

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 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?

15 thoughts on “Navigator Called It! (Or Victory Court: An Overview)

  1. btw there is no railroad tracks running through the site itself, Amtrak runs around. yes there is a ROW but if you just do a simple google earth overview shows that it hasent been used in forever….and the tracks are either paved over or rusted.

    • gb, bad choice of words on my part. The rail runs along the edge of the site. My point was, towards the estuary end where it has been suggested there should be some kind of “splash hit” copy cat thing the footprint and conditions won’t allow it. You are right on the UP ROW. Not sure how that impacts the site, though I am told it could be a major issue. I hope to get answers on that soon.

  2. “Victory Court” should be worth one bonus point in the score just for the name alone.

    • Lucky Arte Moreno isn’t the owner, or we might end up with, “Cisco Presents Rickey Henderson Field @ Victory Court Home of Your Bay Area Athletics of Oakland” scrawled on the side in 3,000,000 point Times New Roman or something.

  3. Jeffrey–nice post—curious for both of the sites–you are giving high marks to “timing”—what is the opening date that you are basing this upon? I think that it would be interesting in comparing SJ Diridon to these sites using the HOK assessment but there should be consistent approach to timing metric and probably something that assesses economic benefit to the ownership group and to MLB.

    • Hey GoA’s, thanks forr reading. The Timing category in the original HOK study was based on 4 baseball seasons. So, opening day 2015. Assuming things followed ML’s timeline this is doable in both cases, though the number of parcels at JLS West might make that one a tougher task to accomplish.

      I am working through a few things to try and recreate the HOK study… The sites I imagine being considered are Diridon and the 4 Oakland sites. It is tough to repeat a 14 page report in a blog post, though.

      • Nice–should be interesting–isn’t 4 baseball seasons actually 2014 opening day–2010, 2011, 2012, 2013….with 2014 being the opening day? Also, on Wolff’s Chron interview he talked about a 2012 opening day for SJ…challeninging I know but trying to understand the impact of delaying development–

      • You are correct. The study was given to Oakland in 2001 and then the process was measure as such: work on funding/political hurdles over 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and completed by Opening Day 2006. So 4 seasons to complete the process, open in the fifth. Today it would be 2010,2011, 2012, 2013 and open 2014. My scores might be a bit optimistic on that.

        But hey, I can fix that in the condensed study to come!

      • Jeffrey ,

        Greta work. We need to keep in mind that the view which we currently see of the dirt lot next to the cement plant across the Embarcadero will change significantly once the parkland, marinas, and thousands of housing units are built as part of the huge Oak to 9th development. This site offers a tremendous opportunity to link the future Oak to 9th development to the ballpark. This site also offers connectivity to the neighborhoods and offices around Lake Merritt via the new Measure DD improvements along the Lake Merritt Channel. Also because of the eastern orientation to Jack London Square this location would create the greatest amount of pedestrian traffic in the Square due to the locations of the garages, buses, and the Clay Street Ferry Terminal. This site brings Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, and Oak to 9th together. The Oak to 9th high rises near the Embarcadero can be designed to peek in at the outfield while making sure the view corridor towards the Estuary stays in tack. This is the site. Oakland A’s fans can taste “Victory.”

      • Nav,

        Is Oak to 9th ever going to actually happen? What the heck is the hold up?

  4. Sorry Marine Layer, I forgot to hit the darn reply . Also Jeffrey, I meant great work. I’m typing a little too fast.

  5. I love the smell of Oakland in the morning. It smells like…Victory.

  6. Nice analysis, Jeff.

    One question, though. Will acreage limitations ultimately affect field dimensions?; i.e., does 20 acres mean we’ll get razor thin foul areas whereas 22 acres gets us to closer to the Coli’s current specs? It’s well established that MLB is fond of “bringing the fans closer to the action,” but I would like to retain some uniqueness to the stadium no matter where it’s built.

    • you can build a modern mlb park on less than 15 acres. The smaller foul ground won’t have anything to do with a “small” lot.

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