Coliseum Reuse Practical Edition

On Monday night, I found myself outside the Coliseum at the nearby Amtrak Station. It was part of a commute experiment spurred by some vehicle maintenance. Not to digress too much, but it was a bit too time-consuming to do on a regular basis. Regardless, while I was sitting in the cold waiting for a Capitol Corridor train, I stared at Mt. Davis from below. I don’t usually do this as the edifice has zero aesthetic value, but this time something clicked for me and things started to make sense.

You’ll remember that in the past I put up two different Mt. Davis reuse possibilities, one for baseball and one for football. In both cases, the main advantage was leveraging a facility that was already “modern” with the hope of reducing the cost for an updated stadium.It took until Monday night for another reuse idea to take shape, one that works better than the other two: a convention center.

Now you’re wondering how in the world Mt. Davis could become a convention center. Actually, it’s not that difficult. It just so happens that the East Side has numerous amenities and building attributes that make it well suited for several modern convention center requirements. Let’s take a look at what’s in place now, shall we?


The main feature of Mt. Davis is the vast, well appointed East Side Club. Once the entry from the BART Plaza is prettied up, the Club could be easily transformed into a friendly gateway for the rest of the facility. In addition, the building holds some 90 luxury suites, all of which could be transformed into the kinds of meeting rooms needed at a convention center. Elevators are already in place to provide access, making the only required infrastructure stairs and escalators.

The current East Side or outfield part of the Coliseum looks like this:


Now let’s suppose that the A’s move to ballpark elsewhere (Oakland, Fremont, San Jose) and the Raiders/NFL get a deal done to build a new stadium, perhaps on the HomeBase property. That would leave the question of what to do with still-massively-in-debt Coliseum. There’s BART access, an adjacent arena, the possibility of the old 50,000-s.f. exhibit hall opening up when the Raiders leave, and an outdated, outmoded seating bowl between the arena/exhibit hall and Mt. Davis. The most practical thing to do would be to remove the Mt. Davis upper deck, demolish the old seating bowl, and build a much larger exhibit hall in that free space.


Just about every bit of remaining space on the East Side would be used. The upper suite levels would turn into meeting rooms, while the poorly lit concourse behind the bleachers would turn into a ballroom space, as crazy as that sounds. Depending on what the budget is, it may be possible to include a 1,000-space parking garage underneath the new exhibit hall. Total square footage could be anywhere from 400,000 to 800,000 square feet, making the new convention center competitive with Moscone, LA, or anything else on the West Coast.

Of the three reuse options I’ve floated, this one may well be the cheapest. The only major construction would be the new exhibit hall, which is mainly a large empty shell with lots of wiring and air conditioning. If anything, the prospect of an adjacent hotel is likely the biggest threat to inflate the cost, as many cities have had to subsidize attached hotels. If Oakland and the East Bay/Coliseum Authority wants to get into the (admittedly lagging) convention game, this is clearly their best shot.

23 thoughts on “Coliseum Reuse Practical Edition

  1. Absolutely nowhere for convention goers to eat in between sessions. I think there would have to be some kind of development next to the convention center a la the coliseum village idea. It’s not like you want to be encouraging attendees to venture out into the surrounding areas. Needless to say, it’s even less a desirable place for a convention center than for a ballpark.

    • Didn’t have to time to draw it, but a convention center would have to be part of a much larger neighborhood redevelopment plan. Two key focus areas would be the area along the BART bridge and the “spine” along the south parking lot between the arena/convention center and the new football stadium. Those would be prime areas to attract new commercial tenants.

      • What’s the word on that big development for the Coliseum site? Obviously they would not be going forward without word from MLB yet, but have there been more concrete details? From the video, I recall they were looking at Glendale’s Westgate Mall as a model.

  2. If the new football stadium is built at the Home Base site, it would be designed to be part of the Super Bowl bidding rotation. Having this kind of facility at the SB site would be a big plus.

    • I agree and think that this could be a great idea!

      • I’m certain that merely having a stadium in place won’t cut it. Now that the Super Bowl is a two-week long affair with a bunch of ancillary activity, any venue would need to support the “circus” properly, and having a convention center nearby would make Oakland far more competitive for a rotation slot than not having one.

      • You don’t have to have the convention space/hotels etc. as long as they’re nearby. Arlington has nowhere near the required hotel rooms to host a Super Bowl on their own, billion dollar stadium or not. So next year is branded as “North Texas” instead of for any one city. AFC team will be located in Ft. Worth, NFC in Dallas (along with most of the Super Bowl events) and the game in Arlington. I assume if Oakland ever gets a Super Bowl, the NFL would prefer to make it a regional event and get as much of the Bay Area involved as possible.

      • Arlington/DFW is a bit of an outlier. There’s no question that it is as much an attraction as the two teams that will eventually play the Super Bowl there. Cowboys Stadium is so overbuilt that the Joneses are still deciding what to do with large amounts of unfinished interior space. That dilemma will never come up at a new Bay Area stadium because the budget for such excess isn’t there. Oakland has to make itself attractive for a Super Bowl bid, and the NFL doesn’t want a repeat of the Jacksonville experience.

  3. Would they really have to attach a hotel? There are several hotels across the freeway for the Airport including a Hilton (i believe). When you toss in the buses that already run the route and the Bart expansion project I think a convention center would fit in nicely.

    In D.C. our convention center has had a mixed impact. Some of the restaurants attached to the facility are not well attended, but having a metro stop at the destination has been a success in attracting local interest in the various events. The CC is close to chinatown which features an upscale dining area that is meer blocks away and I always see people wandering down or asking where restaurant X is. So it’s really made an impact on the influx of tourist dollars in the area.

    • Hotels are de rigueur, even if it’s only out of convenience. That doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed success, only that they’re the price of admission. Oakland would be competing with at least Moscone, San Jose, and Santa Clara in the Bay Area market alone, so they couldn’t afford not to have an adjacent hotel. The Airport Hilton is showing its age, and the only other accommodations in the area are motels.

      • They could theoretically run a shuttle bus from the two Marriots downtown, and factor in the existing location as extra floor space.

  4. Unless renting an Oakland Conv Ctr is dirt cheap vs Moscone Ctr, which is surrounded by all that SF offers to out of town conventioneers here for a good time ( many with family in tow because of where it is ) , how can it compete ?
    It’ll get second tier statewide groups , the ones that would choose it over Fresno ,etc.

  5. I heard that Major League Basebal put the A’s stadium on hold until after April 1st due to the NUMMI closure. Also, Fremont manager won’t meet with MLB until after April 1st. I’m guessing Major League Baseball want to wait if NUMMI willing to sell the land and wait if Toyota actually closed the plant. On March 9, workers meeting with Toyota in Japan about keeping NUMMI open failed.

    • They shouldn’t be holding their breath. Over the weekend I spoke to a longtime management employee at NUMMI who recently left before the ship completely sank. The $250 million worker transition deal was in the works 6 months ago and the logistics/operations people have been moving tons of equipment to San Antonio and elsewhere. Sadly, NUMMI is done. Any announcement date at this point is only for strategic timing, as the ballpark issue always comes up and puts a cloud over the season around Opening Day.

    • NUMMI’s done. Personally though, I think the announcement hasn’t come because the report is inconclusive; there may be slight positives for SJ (the most tangible being a more affluent potential fanbase), but nothing overwhelmingly so other than Wolff’s desire.

      Any announcement during the season will further depress attendance unless the a.) they’re completely out of the hunt or b.) it comes down in Oakland’s favor.

      • Well if it doesn’t happen soon it will have to happen during the season. San Jose needs time to get the measure on the ballot, an September ’10 will be too late.

        My suspicion is we’ll hear an announcement during the season because:

        1) If the A’s were staying in Oakland there would be no reason to delay the announcement, and Oakland would have leaked something by now.

        2) I still believe we would have heard by now if it were Fremont, because as Marine said, Toyota obviously gave up on the site months ago. I think looking into Fremont is more to appease Neukem and the Giants owners. They’ve been using every fib under the sun, and claiming the A’s didn’t give Fremont a chance is a good way to stall. At one point Wolff had to reply to an e-mail asking why Neukem claimed the A’s were moving CLOSER to the Giants.

        3) If it’s San Jose, which I believe it will be, then the behind the scenes negotiation with the Giants will be measured in months as they try to filibuster and pump money their their front of a San Jose community organization to turn public opinion.

        Seriously, if we are waiting until April to hear from a site that’s obviously available, this smells like stalling.

      • The announcement could easily be SJ, too. I fail to see why MLB would need to conduct “backroom” deals with the Gnats. Publicly announce SJ as the preferred option, then work with Neukom & Co. about the details. It’s not like they have to be discussed publicly.

        And about #2 & Wolff’s email: Being able to succinctly get his message across is one of his failures. He’s had, what?, five years to get all this nonsense worked out, and he couldn’t be bothered with speaking to various owners (separately & informally, of course) about his planned move to either Fremont or SJ? That’s poor planning.

      • I don’t follow your logic on the second part there. What do you mean by various owners?

      • The various owners of the other 29 MLB teams, or their front men. Lay the ground work for what Wolff & Co. had to know would come from the Gnats.

  6. Is the old exhibit hall between the Coliseum and Arena still around? I remember going to a baseball card expo there after an A’s game in the ’80’s, but I was 8 at the time so I don’t remember it well at all. I haven’t heard of it being open for anything since.

    • As part of the Raiders deal, some of the space was transformed into the team’s and visitors’ locker rooms. I once went to an A’s-to-Fremont ballpark presentation which was held in one of the locker rooms. Somewhat surreal.

  7. A convention center can work. Even though the current area isn’t much to brag about, a large convention center that is close to transit and an airport can be huge. Look DC and Chicago, McCormick Place is nice convention center with a nice hotel in the middle of the ghetto.

  8. Aurica Motors is now interested in the NUMMI plant, to “launch” an electric car factory. If they get the needed financing, and can successfully work things out with NUMMI to save the jobs of thousands of workers. There are several article links on this, but here is the one from the Trib:

    They could occupy the building very soon, if all goes well. If so, Fremont’s chances will likely be screwed once again. Go Oakland– and don’t blow it this time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.