Bryan Grunwald is a resident of Oakland with a passion for his city. He is also Principle for an Urban Planning and Architecture firm. He has worked on projects like the Mission Bay campus for UCSF. So why is the City of Oakland seemingly ignoring him and his concept, in favor of inferior ideas?
Before we answer that question, we first have to tell you about his idea. One that was mentioned in passing in a previous post by my partner, ML. I like to think of the concept as, “Lew Wolff says there is no land suitable to build a stadium in Oakland so why don’t we create new land to build on?”
The picture above is centered on a concrete moat that separates Downtown Oakland from West Oakland. Most of us refer to it as the Interstate 980 freeway. Grunwald, taking a cue from other cities (like Seattle, Duluth, and Trenton), has proposed “decking” the 980 freeway and constructing a ballpark on top of it.
I admit, when I first heard this, I thought it was a little too Star Trek. But as I looked into the idea and read more about the other cities successes and the challenges at Victory Court, I realized it was way more Star Wars. That is to say, it was my kind of geeky.
First, the traffic concerns of JLS don’t exist here. This spot is at the confluence of several concrete rivers, or Highway 24, I-980 and I-880. Additionally, there are no trains that run nearby to cause congestion on the two surface streets that pass nearby. There are two BART stations within walking distance. Add to that, a plethora of parking within the nearby vicinity, much closer than parking options at Victory Court.
Other pluses include reconnecting West Oakland with Downtown. In between the stadium site and Uptown/City Center sits several blighted and underdeveloped properties, the stadium could serve as anchor to drive development in the area that sorely needs it. While this could be said of Victory Court, this site requires none of the upheaval that Victory Court does. In a city like Oakland, with a limited business community, why wouldn’t you consider an alternative where existing businesses get to stay put and continue to operate, create jobs and pay taxes?
One last thing, I consider a major advantage. Go back and look at the “renderings” ML created for my original Victory Court post. The view of the estuary is not really that stunning. The estuary is, after all, a man made channel for shipping purposes, not the alluring open space of the San Francisco Bay that AT&T visitors get across the bay. This site offers a true alternative at about one fifth ($30M v. $150M) the price. You can look at a skyline!
This last point leads me to why I really, really like this concept. If the A’s are to stay in Oakland, and be within shouting distance of one of the best stadiums in all of baseball, they need to have something different to offer. A cheap knock off of AT&T Park on the east side of the bay does not offer that. Let’s Go Oakland seems to think that it will be wildly popular. But just like the Public Market in Oakland isn’t attracting anything like the expected demand for office/retail space, partly because businesses would prefer to be close to the real Embarcadero, casual baseball fans will spend their money at the original waterfront park in the only World Class City in Northern California when given the choice of that or an imitation on an inferior “waterfront.” It is what marketing types call “differentiation,” and it is at the heart of the advantage San Jose has by being so far away from San Francisco. Oakland should embrace being different, not try to be the same.
Back to the original question. Why has this been dismissed by Oakland? The answer, for me, rests in the “Property Value Benefit” associated with Victory Court. Think about who stands to gain from that projected increase in property values. Think about who footed the bill for the Economic Impact Analysis. I find it ironic that Oakland Boosters disparage Lew Wolff as a greedy developer, when it is Signature Properties that is pulling the puppet strings on Victory Court. That’s right a “greedy developer” owns most of the land that will increase in value and will see most of the benefit of increased property values.
One last thing of note for those who are skeptical of what is driving this process. Oakland released an RFQ for an EIR to evaluate the potential for a stadium at Victory Court. Responses were due last week. Here is some feedback from one of the companies who received the RFQ but didn’t respond:
No I didn’t respond. The EIR consultant community thinks the engagement is wired due to the impossible timeline. Just like the whole process is wired by Signature Properties.
C’mon Oakland, us A’s fans deserve better.
**** 9/14/2010 HCF asked for an alternate view, here are 3. jeffrey****
Now that is freaky, though if that is possible, why not go with the floating ballpark idea anyways! We can float it to San Francisco and back even!
This SJ partisan must give credit where credit is due: this is an awesome idea! I attended a graduation at the Paramount Theater back in June and found this area of Downtown Oakland to have a lot of potential.
My only issue with this idea would be cost. While it may be cheaper than Victory Court ($30M vs. $150M), the cost of the actual ballpark/ support structure could be enourmous. Just take a look across the bay at the International Terminal at SFO. Constructed over an existing roadway due to site limitations, the International Terminal came in at over $1 billion because it was built on base isolators (earthquakes) and over the existing freeway access to SFO proper. How much would a ballpark cost being constructed over an existing freeway on base isolators? I don’t think it would be under $500M. And who would privately finance it? Maybe this is what feeds the Larry Ellison fantasy.
Nevertheless, this idea is so radical that again it is awesome. Good stuff Jeffrey!
Tony,the thing is… That is also a challenge at Victory Court. Soil stabilization and environmental clean up make Victory Court more expensive than other sites. The construction costs of VC v 980 are pretty much the same.
If this idea were to actually happen, the biggest change would have to be the field orientation. The way Grunwald has the ballpark oriented, the batter would face slightly west of north, which isn’t ideal. In addition, noise would spill out into the residential neighborhood immediately to the west. It would be best to turn the field 90 degrees east, so that the Oakland skyline is in view. It’s virtually the same orientation as the Uptown ballpark.
I like it. Great points about Victory Point and who benefits.
This will be a bizarre footnote in the future literature about this A’s ballpark saga. How many acres does this plan create? Could all the desired ballpark elements be crammed onto this site? At a glance, it doesn’t look like it.
Briggs, The “ballpark” portion of the design shown above is 9 acres.
OMG, a simply insanely out of this world idea!! I like it!! This just adds to the never ending saga of stadium sites in Oakland. This is how many for Oakland now? Like 8? Uptown was my fave, like just about everybody else on here, but this is the next best location I believe, close to DT, Bart, parking and freeway access (literally) , but is it feasible, and can it be done? Sounds expensive this structure, but you said, Jeffrey, it would be the same as VC? Send this wild plan off to the mayors office, LW/JF, BS and the BRC, and even Larry Ellison, just in case.
Start pouring the concrete, a lot of it, and built it, they will come!
Neat idea, but my concern would be similar to Tony’s. That’s a lot of weight which would need to be carried over the width of 980. The cost to engineer and building such a ballpark would be astronomical.
@Jeffrey, can you tell me what “the whole process is wired” means?
Last I checked, there was a baseball field built right atop the Lincoln Tunnel entrance area. It can be done.
anything can be done for the right amount of money–I would be interested in knowing what sort of right-of-ways would need to be obtained to build over a freeway (not sure who has jurisdiction) also—how high are we talking about–the ballpark in San Jose is 25 feet below street level–and it is still 120 feet or so tall—this would be elevated to start and than go up how high…equivalent of a 15-20 story building?
@jesse, the “process is wired” is a direct quote from an email I received from a company that was asked to participate in the RFQ. What they are getting at is 1. Oakland has set unrealistic time lines to complete an EIR. A quality job can’t be done in the time frame provided. The respondent believes that the EIR is going to be a farce. There are strings attached, in other words. 2. Signature Properties is really running the show, behind the scenes. And as a result, no true alternatives will be taken into account. EIR’s should contain alternative’s to the plan, like Fremont where there was Pacific Commons and then a site right of 680 and in San Jose where they considered a site on 237 as well as Diridon. Notice, in this case all 3 sites are in the same general locale. That is not coincidence. These are not my interpretations, but those of people with knowledge of the process and how it is working in Oakland.
@fc, I am not an engineer so I can’t speak with a great deal of knowledge. The upshot of what I learned speaking to both Grunwald and an engineer that I know is that the amount of soil stabilization required for Victory Court is tremendous and will drive significantly higher construction costs than what is projected now. Those realistic costs are in the same neighborhood as dong this over I-980 while the land acquisition costs are significantly lower. I can only take them at their word, and it isn’t hard too, because neither knows each other. So I get the same answer from 2 unique sources. Additionally, go back and review the HOK report from around 2001. Look at the costs associated with preparing the land for Howard Terminal and Oak to Ninth, those are also higher than the rest of the field for the same reasons.
@PJK, Lincoln Tunnel is another good example, one that I didn’t include. There are several places around the country that have done something similar, not always a baseball stadium, but decked the freeway and built significant structures on top of it. Or, tunneled below significant structures, like the big dig in Boston. It is expensive, but not impossible.
@GoA’s, the “air rights” over 980 are owned by the State of California and they can be given to the City for free if the local rep’s create a bill to do so.
Part of Target Plaza was built over I-394 in Minneapolis, as was a parking garage. However, it’s a bit unrealistic to think that legislation allowing for free air rights would fly through the legislature. We’re talking about a state that’s pawning off everything in sight just to remain solvent. Frankly, the state should be pitching air rights whenever it can, as long as it’s in conjunction with municipalities to make it work.
@jk-usa. All of the appropriate people in Oakland have seen this idea and rejected it.
@Jeffrey–I just wrote Bryan Grunwald, the brains behind this awesome idea, and I just got a response from him a minute ago. I’m sure you already know this Jeffrey, but for the others on here, he said it’s been an uphill battle to get any attention on this and he’s been working on it for 16 months. I’m so damn frustrated now. VC would be nice, but this would be so over the top cool, I’m gonna fight for this site. I’m e-mailing the mayors office, Doug Boxer and BS right now!!!
On a side note, I wrote Don Perata a few weeks ago about his ballpark preference and he never wrote back. I figured that. We know Rebecca Kaplan wants the A’s in a new park on the Coli site. Not sure about Jean Quan. Didn’t write her yet. Looks like Perata’s going to win easily, based on the latest polls.
@jk–you just summed up what is so wrong with Oakland on this whole thing–we are in year 15 of needing a new ballpark–and Oakland has been on watch now for the past 17 months—and yet there is no concensus on a site, much less how to pay for a ballpark and related infrastructure improvements. To your credit at least you admit your frustration with Oakland leaders who really do seem to be clueless in this whole arena. If I am MLB and watching the perceived competition between Oakland and San Jose than the game is over—only thing keeping from announcing SJ is TR and if these aren’t overturned than its time to take out bets on just how long the A’s will stay in the Bay Area-
Sort of off topic, but the Giants have begun push-polling San Jose residents again at least according to a poster at Athletics Nation.
@Chris–The 49ers spent about $300 per vote in Santa Clara to get their stadium passed, I wonder how much the Giant’s will spend in the much bigger SJ to get the ball park measure not passed? I’ll chip in $10 for that cause, which will buy 1/30th of a vote..lol.
I believe Bryan Grunwald was at the last A’s Council meeting I attended earlier this year in North Oakland (Where I first met ML). I remember him speaking and bringing up this exact plan and I remember Doug Boxer rejecting it, but I can’t remember exactly why…ML do you remember what Boxer’s response was? It was too long ago for me to remember
Here’s the deal, we all should think about in relationship to a potential San Jose election. Should it materialize… If the Giants try and obstruct at that point… They should read up on Marge Schott and what happens in the Lodge when you piss the other members off. I, personally, would be surprised if Neukom and company decided to campaign against the stadium. And if they did, I would be surprised if Neukom was still the owner for very long.
When the Commish makes a decision, it will be final. No one amongst the MLB ranks will try to buck that decision, or else.
It is pretty obvious that if he says “In Oakland Only” Wolff and Fisher are probably inclined to sell the team. We can all hope that this chain of events means someone like Larry Ellison buys the team and keeps them local, but we all should recall what happened the last time someone who was steadfastly about keeping the A’s in Oakland put up a bid to buy the team.
I am not saying I agree with how MLB handles itself in any of these situations. I am saying it is what it is, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
I think there’s a bit of a security risk involved here. After 9/11, MLB limited parking within I think it was 100 feet of a MLB stadium because of concerns about vehicle bombs (not sure if they still do that). I would think that a stadium OVER where traffic is free to go would have an even greater risk.
That being said, I must complement what is truly out-of-the-box thinking!
Also, it took me a little while to find the site on the first map that corresponds with the one on the second. I guess the stadium would go from 14th Street, which is the overpass that’s the right-most one that’s fully in the first picture, over the 17th Street overpass (the one that’s halfway in the picture) all the way to 18th Street (not pictured at all). I’m also not sure that the width of the stadium is great enough (Fenway which has a cramped 1st base concourse under the stands, a small 2nd deck, a short LF wall, and no seats in LF on this diagram would just barely fit).
@Brian–Wow, good point. I didn’t even think about the 9/11 risks under the ballpark that would create. I’m also worried about the mother of all earthquakes bringing that sucker down to ground level causing one horrific tragedy. No structure is 100% earthquake proof.
This site and all of the JLS sites are in known liquefaction hazard zones (as is China Basin). Any ballpark will require seriously deeply driven piles.
This is a breathtakingly stupid idea. A few reasons:
It’s irrelevant: Oakland has a site in Victory Court that at least has MLB interested. Trying to interject another new site into the conversation now would say to the league that “We’re a bunch of dilettantes who can’t even stay on message for consecutive months; please treat us accordingly.”
It cedes site assembly options: State land is not subject to eminent domain by cities, of course, thus removing the best leverage available. Caltrans is a notoriously brusque bureaucracy, and would have little incentive to negotiate a price break for Oakland. And looking for help from the State Leg is a pipe dream.
It may not be Redevelopment eligible: the 980 is the border of Oakland’s Central Redevelopment District…not sure whether the air above it qualifies, nor whether state land can have local redevelopment funds spent on it. My gut says no.
Zoning: Victory Court lies an active Specific Plan area, making zoning changes relatively easy. The 980 does not.
EIR: Given that no one has done anything remotely like the 980 scheme anywhere in California, I imagine an EIR would be more difficult than any place else in Oakland.
Politics: West Oakland is pretty much the most fractious part of the city politically, and especially on land use issues. Any big plan for development there is going to be pecked to death by ducks.
Location: Victory Court fits into Oakland’s existing development needs and plans, and plays off of assets already in place, like Jack London Square and Oak-to-Ninth. The 980 scheme would be almost literally an island, not connected to much of anything proximate (with downtown on one side and the ex-Army Base on the other feeling very far removed). The 980 plan would feed into the “Oakland is a dangerous place” perception; Jack London, not nearly as much.
MLB desires: The league wants new ballparks which are woven into City fabrics, amenities, housing, retail, etc etc. Jack London is as good as Oakland gets that way (except maybe Broadway Auto Row). West Oakland is not remotely plugged into a vibrant economic hub.
One more thing: Your line at the end about A’s fans “deserving better” is pretty hypocritical from someone who has whined so relentlessly that Oakland’s not doing anything. Oakland expedited an RFP to get an environmental consultant on board, and it has a major local company/landowner as an active partner. And you think, I’m not sure what, that they should have gone slower and not had a strong corporate partner? Weak.
@FSU – The myopic view that you hold is exactly the view that may kill the A’s in Oakland. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Let’s go point-by-point, shall we?
MLB’s interest: Our questions about not investigating the 980 site have nothing to do with it being viable now. We know that it’s well past the review stage. The real issue is why it was prematurely dismissed. It appears that the only real reason is certain vested interests with JLS. Why should MLB care about JLS developers? They just want a financially viable ballpark. Are Tagami/Falachi/Ghielmetti going to pay for the ballpark? No they’re not. So why should they have such a big say in where the ballpark goes?
Site assembly: We will never know how much air rights cost unless someone asks. Is Caltrans tough? Yes, of course they are, they have a specific charter. Yet the state could use the cash infusion for any number of projects, so why prematurely turn away from it?
Redev/Zoning: Why could a redev zone be redefined to include the 980 project area? Define the land, assess it, and annex it. It’s a bit of red tape, not royal fiat.
EIR: This idea has been in discussion in the City of Sacramento for a railyard arena for the Kings for a decade. During that period, the EIR has never been considered a stumbling block. The biggest problem there would be cleaning up toxic soil at the site, a condition that wouldn’t exist at 980.
West Oakland politics: Strange, that hasn’t stopped three pro-site recommendation letters from coming from West Oakland neighborhood interests and JLNA at least asking for consideration, as opposed to prematurely being shut out.
Location: What assets? 2 BART stations are within 1/3 mile of the 980 site. 1 BART station + Ferry + Amtrak are near VC. That’s a wash. Plenty of parking is available to both. The point of the 980 ballpark is to help reconnect West Oakland to Central City. Target Field shows how a site on/next to a freeway can be woven into a downtown. The same or better could be done at the 980 site.
MLB desires: I agree about the Auto Row site, hell I suggested it before it was also shut down prematurely. Why couldn’t West Oakland see some benefits? After Chicago Stadium was replaced by the United Center in Chicago, the new arena helped set off major gentrification projects on the West Side. There are precedents for this.
Hypocritical: Hardly. Oakland is not in the position to settle. It has to put out the very best sites and info, regardless of who’s pitching them. To have so much of the process influenced by a business interests who only want to make a buck on ancillary development while not making a major investment in the ballpark themselves is foolish. It’s short-sighted. And you’ve completely fallen for it, FSU. You should be questioning the process if you want the best options, not just us outsiders.
I think this is my favorite ballpark idea since I submitted my own proposal for Jingletown Stadium in the Fruitvale.
From a strictly planning perspective, it accomplishes a number of goals the city should strive towards all in one package. More than anything else, it helps redress the grievous harm done to Oakland by 980. West Oakland will never experience positive development from its proximity to downtown while it remains cut off by that moat-like freeway. Creating a nodal point of investment and activity west of downtown will drag investment in that direction and the ballpark itself will provide the bridging element needed to bring West Oakland back into the fold of the rest of the city. Additionally, having a park in that area will provide nodal balance with other focused points of activity and investment, mainly: Lake Merritt, Uptown, and JLS.
@Jeff, assuming that the process is wired, will there be litigation hell to endure Or is that not much of a risk at Victory Court?
@ChrisKidd–Jingletown Park has a nice ring to it. The story behind the Jimgltown name originated from a habit of nearby mill workers, largely males of Portuguese and Azorean background, who would jingle the coins from a week’s work in their pockets as they walked to display their prosperity. It’s a neat area, but not sure a ballpark would be as good as one closer to JLS/ DT Oak. Okay, so what’s the total amount of Oakland sites thrown out there?
1. Re-do exisitng Coli
2.Coli parking lot South (old Homebase/White Front site)
3. Coli parking lot North
4. 66th Ave ballpark village
6. Auto Row
7. Howard Terminal
8. Oak to 9th
9. JLS West
10. Laney College sports field
11. Victory Ct.
12. Decking 980 Fwy
Any I missed, ML?
and what is the timeline, 6 months, 1 year?
@jesse, that is a huge risk at Victory Court. Read up on what went down at Oak to 9th… which is still not under construction. Some of the initial delay there was due to EIR challenges, and that one wasn’t rushed. If it is done in a half ass manner, it will only invite more serious challenges. The alternative is that the State Government passes legislation to exempt it from CEQA like they did in LA for the football stadium that has yet to break ground.
Great quote from an opinion peice that will appear in the Mercury tomorrow title “Why Silicon Valley CEO’s are cheering on a San Jose ballpark for the A’s” http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_16066471
“The commissioner has been studying the proposed move for 18 months. In Silicon Valley, that’s three product cycles. We hope to hear of his positive response soon.” Makes you wonder if BS has any idea how the economic engine of the worlds 7th largest economy is viewing him. The article was written by TOM WERNER, CEO of SunPower Corp. and MIKE KLAYKO, CEO of Brocade.
jk-usa, you can cross most of those off the list, for various reasons.
The only one under actual consideration is Victory Court, though no one admits that in public.
Jingletown, 980, Broadway Auto Row, and 66th Avenue were never really supported by the City, just presented as options by various folks (not the A’s, except 66th Avenue).
Redo Existing Coli was presented as an option by Steve Schott when he was in the process of buying the A’s. The City decided to redo it alright.
Uptown was not supported by mayor Brown, or Schottman.
Coli/Homebase is not feasible because of the Southern Interceptor (ML learned this from correspondence between Lew Wolff and the City, Wolff was interested I believe).
Coli North parking lot, the A’s offered to pt $100M for construction, no other funding sources were made available.
Howard Terminal is a bad site. it is cut off from everywhere by train tracks, for instance. it was ruled out in 2001 and regurgitated a few times since. It is the proverbial door that won’t shut, even though it should.
All of these spots, that have actually been given consideration, have been ruled out for legit reasons.
jesse, time line for EIR’s are generally 18 months. The time frame from release of the RFQ to response due was only three weeks, which is tight.
It is beyond hilarious that you are now complaining that Oakland didn’t consider enough plans deliberately enough before proposing three sites, as compared with prior shots at Oakland for not offering a single site fast enough.
It is downright perverse that you would label those getting on board with Oakland’s current effort as being myopic and at fault for any possible future loss of the A’s.
You also misread the questions of location and assets. Victory Court works with an existing retail and housing area, with entitled plans for both to expand further, independent of a ballpark. 980 would hope to create all of that from nothing, with a ballpark as the catalyst. Sure, the latter might work, but the former is a much better bet. Which pitch do you really think would sound better to MLB?
The 980 plan was “prematurely dismissed” because it is moronic, but leaving that aside, because it would be far more difficult, slow, and likely to fall apart in the planning than any of the three sites Oakland actually proposed. If Oakland’s proposal to MLB had been building atop 980, you would have laughed and laughed, and dismissed it as yet another ill-conceived plan fragment. And you’d have been right.
Anyone endorsing this idea now is either accidentally blind or deliberately obtuse. Since you seem to have come to some sort of editorial place, now, that “Oakland can do better if it only moves slower/has a more open process/disregards existing corporate interests,” juxtaposed with your past critiques of other cities’ plans I’ll go with deliberately obtuse.
FSU… How is Oak to Ninth going? What EIR certified, 200? 2001? Final approval 2004? That is one badass assest!
@FSU – No, what’s hilarious is putting out some charade that there are 3 (once 4) viable sites while focusing on one which has the “process wired” for it.
It’s simple. Does it hurt to include another site with real differentiation? Absolutely not. When I first heard about it in May, I thought it might be expensive, but I didn’t know for sure so I didn’t dismiss it out of hand.
Yes, VC works with a retail and housing developments that desperately need it. That should not dictate the process. It’s funny that so many Oakland-only folks hate Wolff/Fisher for being a bunch of greedy developers, when it’s greedy developers tilting the playing field in Oakland. Oh, but it’s hometown greedy developers? Well then, it’s absolutely kosher!
MLB cares about getting a ballpark built for the team far more than for a city, whatever the planning and development context is. Can you not get that? If it works for the city as part of a broader planning initiative, it’s only a nice PR moment. If the cost for an alternative worked out to be $50-100 million less than another, shouldn’t that trump someone else’s development initiatives?
It’s not about moving slower. I wanted them to get rolling on the EIR three, six months ago. But they should also have been thorough about sites and culled them prior to that. Has the official site been communicated to the public? Why not? There’s no reason they couldn’t have done all of that, and done it in public. What we’re seeing, what you subscribe to, is utter farce. And for you not to see it and admit it – well, I’m not sure what it says about you other than you like to wear pom-poms.
Hey, it is the same development that we were talking about! And while I’ve been intrigued about Grunwald’s plan since hearing about it, it would drive my rent through the roof. (My building is featured in the first image.)
Jeff: The amount of bang required to do any significant damage with a drive-thru explosion should negate MLB’s 9/11 concerns. Without the aid of a directional charge and structural supports, you might be able to punch a hole in the field proper. Retractable bollards, jersey barriers, and “trigger traps” could even be placed in the 980 proper.
That said, does Grunwald’s plan include administration offices, etc.? Otherwise, that section of Market could make a pretty good start for Oakland’s version of Yawkey Way/Wrigleyville.
I like the idea of a park at Victory Court, and not because it’s an attempt to replicate Phone Holding Company Park. It can’t be done at that end of the estuary. What it does have is port operations; depending on the ultimate orientation, watching the ferries come and go, the tugs docking all the container vessels, etc. trumps the rather benign view of downtowns Oakland and San Jose. Oakland does the heavy lifting for the Bay Area, and a “tribute” to that would be fantastic.
just the two of us, building ballparks in the sky, just the two us
just the two of us, building ballparks in the sky, just the two of us
Can someone (who is better with Google Earth, etc. than I am) post or ;ink a picture of what the view to the east would look like? Or is this evem possible?
First. I apologize for the snarky horse crap comments I made above. Uncalled for.
Next, you can email Bryan Grunwald and he will answer questions. He is excited to do it. I recommend that if you are an Oakland First sort of fan, you contact him and talk about it.
HCF, I can. One minute.
The skyline view from this ballpark would be absolutely gorgeous. I agree with Jeffrey 100% about Oakland differentiating its ballpark from the one in SF. AT&T lite isn’t going to cut it. I think this 980 ballpark, and even JLS North, are better sites than Victory Court. However, FSU has a point in that, at this point in the game, it might be unrealistic to switch gears and still have a chance to retain the A’s. I have to say that after all these years, it is extremely frustrating to hear that Oakland doesn’t have the time to consider credible alternatives.
Went back and looked and compared the skylines of JLS North and 980 ballparks. At JLS North, the Tribune tower and the Federal buildings, both hallmarks of the Oakland skyline, are mostly obscured. The 980 ballpark skyline has the Trib tower is obscured, but the twin federal buildings are front and center (As seen with the picture above).
The 980 site is not in the best of neighborhoods and there is no ancillary development planned nearby. Using a ballpark for to be a catalyst for this is a mistake in this economic environment.
Victory Court has soil and freeway infrastructure issues across the board hence why Lew Wolff never pushed for an EIR to be completed in that area. IDLF wants this site but no one in the Oakland City Council has pushed forward on this in anyway.
There are ZERO sites in Oakland that are viable period. Pro-Oak guys can go around and around on making a site like the pictures above but at the end of the day it is not feasible. Lew Wolff has 227 pages describing this in immense detail for every site in the East Bay.
Lew Wolff even stated if he “missed something” that he is more than willing to sit down with Oakland or any one in the East Bay again to discuss it. Why hasn’t Oakland done so?? Are they not the ones who wrote to BS requesting his help in the first place?
If there was a site in Oakland that looked good the BRC would have announced it already and an EIR would be in its 12 month by now. Lew Wolff would be involved but the silence from MLB is a distinct sign of the A’s imminent move to San Jose.
This whole TR issue is the last thing MLB wants to deal with hence why in the past BS reiterated the Giants claim to the San Jose. Now he sees there is no way out for the A’s except for San Jose and he is getting votes from other owners with the report that the BRC completed months ago that he will not release to the public.
The SF Giants have started “push polling” through their grass roots groups set up across the South Bay to help defeat the impending spring election that even they know is inevitable.
It is San Jose or bust guys. Oakland’s strategy across the board is not sound in anyway and 75 Silicon Valley Executives signing that letter will not be ignored by the other owners.
Everyone should be rooting for San Jose at this point regardless of being a Pro-Oak or Pro-SJ fan at this point. We as A’s fans should be rooting for San Jose for the simple fact it will separate them from the Giants distance wise in a good way and provide a foundation for the A’s to thrive fiscally for years to come.
@Sid–while I can’t argue with your logic keep in mind that this is BS and MLB—if BS had already made the TR decision to allow the move to SJ than why isn’t he all over the gints to rein in their astro turf groups—after all—BS would look even more foolish to open up TR and than have SJ voters reject the ballpark—
Sid, the City of Oakland has launched the EIR process, at least the consultant vetting portion. To say they aren’t moving forward on Victory Court is not true.
The rest of your speculation is, well… As good a guess anyone’s.
I am rooting for both San Jose and Oakland… Whichever actually happens, if either does, will be awesome news to me.
Anybody recall the Cypress Structure? Innovative and clever as this idea might be, one doubts Oakland city leaders would seriously entertain putting millions of pounds of concrete over the highway that’s had such an unhappy history. Talk about PR challenges. One suspects the Oakland political gang would want nothing to do with this. Plus the state almost certainly wouldn’t allow it. They’re worried enough about the Hayward Fault as it is. No, the situations aren’t analogous: the proposed stadium would be at ground level where the Cypress Structure was elevated. Try selling that in one of the most litigious areas in the most litigious state of all.
I also think there would also be enormous costs associated with this kind of stadium. No particular reason—the engineering is feasible—just a sense of what anything that smacks of “major league stadium” costs now, and how the extras needed here for this unorthodox approach might drive costs much higher.
Oakland’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. They didn’t take any of this seriously for years. They were consequently way late in getting out of the starting gate, are still operating at a snail’s pace and are running out of time. They have an impatient owner who does not want to deal with them any more as well as an impatient city to the south, with which he does want to deal. Both the owner and the other city are pressuring MLB, which is tired of writing checks to the A’s, to make a decision. MLB wants a new stadium for the A’s, just as it wants a new stadium for every team. Yeah, the Giants are stirring the pot, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario where MLB can be comfortable with how Oakland has approached the issue. Furthermore, MLB is acutely aware of Oakland financial issues.
ITSM that, given the current ownership’s feelings about Oakland, if MLB turns thumbs down on San Jose, the city not only has to find a suitable ball park location, it also has to find a new owner who can afford to build a park. Wolff and his group have said they won’t build in Oakland and I think they mean it. Find that guy or that group that’s got the money. You’re talking about maybe $750 million, team and ballpark. Some of you seem to think rich guy Larry Ellison is just dying to buy the A’s and keep them in Oakland. If that’s true, Oakland is saved. But why would you think that (1) Ellison wants to buy the A’s; and if that’s the case, wants to (2) keep them in Oakland? Both would have to be true for Oakland to benefit. Unfortunately for Oakland, slick businessman that he is, Ellison might conclude that the A’s have a better chance in San Jose, 40 miles away from the Giants, rather than just across the Bay. And he’ll know that if San Jose wins, Wolff won’t sell. Conversely, if San Jose loses, the A’s might be available. But if he doesn’t think there’s a business case for building a stadium in Oakland, why then would Ellison be interested? I think it’s more likely Oakland would have to put together something like the Giants did years ago, with lots of players. Who would that be in Oakland?
I think Oakland’s chances of winning this are pretty much akin to the A’s chances this year. Mathematically alive, but long odds against them. And that’s why I don’t think they’ll embrace any new ideas such as this one. Too much perturbation. Oakland needs to find one place and run with it. From what I can see, Victory Court seems like a pretty good location.
Doesn’t this have the same problems as the current Coliseum site? Namely, that there’s nothing around it but a blighted urban neighborhood.
Also, given the current spat in Florida over public money, I have to think that MLB is now going to be very reticent to allow for a lot of public money to be committed to a stadium. At least with SJ, Wolff has said he will pay for all of it and SJ has to kick in RDA funds for land acquisition only.
@ Sid: We heard you the first 4,000 times.
@ Jeffrey: Your “reporting” is almost laughable.
From your piece, “So why is the City of Oakland seemingly ignoring him and his concept, in favor of inferior ideas?”
Ignoring him and his concept? Did he tell you that? Inferior ideas? Did you do any independent research b/f buying Grunwald’s plan? Do you even know the process to gain air-rights from the State and getting Federal approval for that. (You understand that the I in front of I-980 means it’s part of the Interstate Highway System, which is part of the federal government?). Did you ask CalTrans and the Federal Highway Administration how long it would take? If you didn’t ask anyone other than Grunwald, then why would you even push this as viable if MLB wants a new stadium by 2015 or 2016 at the latest?
@SS–so what are the answers to the questions you posed at the end of your post….I have to believe that Oakland did its due diligence since Grunwald has been pushing this for the past 16+months–was that the deal breaker?
Click to access projectdevelopmentprocess.pdf
This is the Caltrans process.
Grunwald was the last person I talked to about his plan. After talking to 4 other folks with varying opinions on the subject.
Not that I owe you any explanations or anything.
Just hours ago, I emailed one of the SJ City Councilman responsible for supporting the SJ Stadium efforts. Surprisingly, he responded in a matter of minutes, no less on his blackberry.
Can an Oakland resident (or Pro Oakland backer) familiar with the Council or Mayor (Josh – you there?) please do the same with the local government in Oakland to ask what is going on for a new A’s stadium in Oakland? This shroud of secrecy from Oakland goes against the premise of transparency with most city governments. I’m all in favor of a new Oakland stadium (but prefer SJ), as long as it gets done and quickly!
@ST, I have exchanged emails and phone calls with Jane Brunner a few times. Nothing of substance really, but she did respond.
Thanks, Jeffrey for the additional photos.
Not sure how I feel about this one. I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around the idea. For one thing, is there enough room for a ballpark?
The site for the stadium Grunewald is proposing would be — on one side — right next to the burgeoning downtown Oakland with many restaurants and other entertainment venues within walking distance, and on the other side, a rejuvenating West Oakland. In short, this arena would be in an excellent location to bridge two potentially bustling neighborhoods, facilitating positive growth of both. And transportation and parking are largely in place already.
This could greatly benefit the City of Oakland, but not Signature Properties and their paid-for politicians.
@GoA’s- BS knows the Giants will not agree themselves to any kind of compensation. They argue about market value, market share, and they want the A’s to leave town. BS is sick of them and has to take matters into his own hands.
Why compete in your own market if you do not have to? MLB and their anti-trust exemption is total garbage and BS knows he needs to get “consensus” from the other owners to overrule the Giants much like he did against Peter Angelos in Baltimore when MLB moved the Nationals to DC.
If you were BS how would you do that? You would have to sit down with each owner individually with the BRC report and get their vote. You cannot do that in a room with all the owners as the Giants and A’s will start yelling at each other and how is that a good way to accomplish this?
Meeting each owner alone would take 2 years to travel to each city to sit down. That is why their is such a delay around this. If the Giants were willing to “deal” BS would have a much easier time with this.
BS is aiming to “share” the Bay Area so it not only opens up San Jose to the A’s but it also opens up San Jose to possible expansion if the A’s leave the Bay Area. This way they won’t be locked out of Silicon Valley in the future as any new team would automatically share the territory with the Giants.
@Jeffrey- Your photos and theories around a 980 site and $150 million in public funding from Oakland are well done. I also find the fact that Oakland still will not come out into the public eye or even touch base with Lew Wolff around the EIR or anything else of substance very interesting as well.
We hear to many different things about Oakland time and time again. There is no consistency with anything they are trying to do while San Jose needs to overcome a few minor “hurdles” to break ground after the TR issue is settled.
San Jose has been clearly consistent and has shown serious enthusiasm with their City Council, Mayor, citizens, and local corporations.
While Oakland may have the citizens but their City Council, Mayor, and local corporations show little enthusiasm.
I am with you to with a Oakland or San Jose location. As long as something gets done but at this rate Oakland would not get anything done until at least 2020, maybe longer if at all. San Jose could be ready by 2014-2015 and has a Downtown location Oakland lacks.
Plus the Raiders have a impending decision on whether to join in with the 49ers in Santa Clara or stay put. The A’s leaving to San Jose would allow Oakland to renovate or build a new stadium at the Coliseum site as the Raiders have stated they like that location.
With the A’s gone then Oakland can concentrate on the football stadium as they could host a Super Bowl down the line with a new or renovated Coliseum.
Oakland cannot keep both teams. They need to decide what they want to do and go with it and stop being inconsistent.
I will say that there is one thing we are good at doing: making presumptions about what Bud Sielig does or does not know.
Regarding this proposal over the freeway:
1. It’s a creative use of space.
2. The fact that the cost is much less, both in terms of dollars and impacts to existing businesses, is of course a major advantage.
3. I like the idea of connecting Downtown to West Oakland, currently divided by the freeway.
4. My one concern is that suburban- and tourist-types will not like the fact that it borders West Oakland and will be turned off by “social” issues, real or imagined — crime, “bad neighborhood”, and general prejudice. I read a lot from A’s fans who are quick to point out these issues and to argue that Oakland cannot, and should not, be the site for a new A’s ballpark because of these fears and Oakland’s reputation concerning crime. Those who are not as blatant will say that there needs to be restaurants, sports bars, “good” hotels and related shops immediately adjacent to the ballpark so that out-of-towners can “feel comfortable” being in the area before and after the game to spend their money. Kind of like Camden Yards. JLS does attract such people, and putting the ballpark in that location would seem to be able to draw people who otherwise would not like to be in Oakland, plus there are shops and restaurants there now, and vacant space for more. I agree that the traffic and parking would be worse at Victory Ct., but would it be any worse than AT&T where no one drives and people take BART and Muni to get to the game? On the other hand, if Oakland needs to capitalize on it’s geographic location by drawing people from the entire East, South, and North Bay (and beyond), then maybe it needs to be able to accommodate cars, as much as that seems inappropriate for a “downtown” ballpark.
Most importantly, I am glad that this proposal is getting some public exposure and is putting the idea of a ballpark in Oakland out there again. I can’t understand why the City has not been more aggressively and publicly campaigning for support for a ballpark — San Jose is constantly in the news and gaining momentum by capturing the public’s imagination.
I’ve tried to get some answers from City staff and Brunner, but they do not respond — shameful!
@NIC, sorry I missed your cmment in all the snarkiness above… I woudl think Yawkey Way/Wrigleyville would be on the other side of 980. It would then sit in betwwen BART and a stadium. Of course, I don’t think anyone is really considering any of this anymore. Oakalnd has moved on to VC without really saying they ahve.
To be honest, I don’t think that watching Port Operations is really something too many folks are interested in. I have seen it on the Ferry, you know, floating buy as a big ol container ship is being unloaded, or pulled in by a tug. It isn’t all that interesting after the first 15 seconds.
That said, when I wrote about stadium culture on athleticsnation long ago, I felt like (and still do) a nautical theme, paying homage to the Port, is exactly what should happen if a stadium eventually goes up at Victory Court.
@Jerry–I agree with you that suburban families/tourists may be a little turned off by the gritty west Oak/DT area, which I’ve never have had a problem with. Even Schotmann wanted a waterfront park instead of Uptown (arghhh, a big mistake back then!). So the front runner Victory Court’s a safer, cleaner environment that will do quite well for a ballpark and attract fans more than the Coli drab surroundings. (The Coliseum area has never been the same since Malibu Grand Prix and Sam’s Hof Brau closed.)
@.Jeffrey– If VC is the final destination for the A’s (and I surely hope so), they have to, like you keep stressing on your posts, differentiate it from Pacbell some how. I know both sit in loft heavy neighborhoods, but VC does have a nice feel to it, and a little park wedged in there would be a little different. Those trains going by several times a game add a little something.Of course having a totally different stadium design for sure is a must. No big mitt or Coke bottle slide, please. Maybe a mini-Oakland baseball museum on the property. Any other ideas in addition to a nautical theme?
JK- read this.
It is long, but it explains what I think is important at either Diridon or Victory Court.
@Jeffrey–thanks! Very cool. Not too long of a read at all. My dad’s been to Shibe many times, along with Forbes Field in Pitt, where he grew up. Wherever the A’s wind up-SJ or VC, they should hire you as a baseball fan consultant on your ballpark/environment ideas. Be a lot cheaper than hiring these so-called pros. Is that pic of you? Hey, we have something in common besides A’s fans–the bald- headed club…lol. Don’t have my head totally shaved yet, but may do it one of these days.
You guys overall are alright. We all are frustrated over this whole waiting game and political BS, and emotions run high on where we want our beloved A’s to play. I’ll try to be respectful to others on here and quit the SJ/SB bashing. The place is okay, not too shabby, but I just love Oakland and the east bay so much. I always root for the underdog and they probably are at this point. I’m bummed now that were probably out of the pennant race. Texas is hot all of a sudden and our pitching’s gone to hell again.
I feel compelled to answer some of the questions posed above, in no particular order:
1. Field is oriented true north south
2 Additional seats can be added west of the Green wall in left field by cantilevering them over Brush Street
3. Fenway Park (my model) is 38,000 seats—girth can be taken in if necessary to yield 32,000 seats—but it fits between Brush and Castro with modest changes.
4. Blasts don’t work well under building—note first World Trade Center bombing in parking garage. First the structure is 6’ of concrete or 30” of steel and 3-4 feet of soil, second there are openings all around the ballpark to let blast pressure out, third most of the area over the freeway is field not grandstand. A blast expert will have to be consulted prior to construction.
5. There will be great views from the ballpark of Mt. Tam, the San Francisco Downtown, Bay and Golden Gate Bridges, Cal Campanile, Downtown Oakland, Oakland Hills—note West Oakland height limit is 30 feet.
6. 17th Street crossing eliminated in my proposal—18th becomes 2 way like 14th Street making it more pedestrian friendly street, suitable for restaurants extending from the Fox Theater and 19th Street BART. A exclusive right turn from 18th Street eastbound off ramp woven under Castro Street to allow free right turn instead of waiting at signal like 17th Street. This will result in less traffic delays, better traffic flow and less pedestrian conflicts. Additionally the underground woven ramp under Castro could access an underground parking lot on the block where Chevron is located.
7. The ballpark site is within the Downtown or Central District Redevelopment Area. Even if it is partially outside of this area, redevelopment funds can be used for improvements outside a redevelopment area if they benefit the redevelopment project area.
8. AMTRAK is accessible via a transfer at the Richmond BART Station.
9. Yes the neighborhood may be described as transitional at present, but after the construction of the ballpark there will be significant collateral revitalization much as was the case around AT&T Park where I served on the Citizens Advisory Committee prior to its construction. Think of 14th, 18th Streets and Martin Luther King as retail/restaurant activity corridors–the bones of a ballpark village. It couldn’t be a better opportunity. More activity will make the neighborhood safer as Jane Jacobs noted in her polemic book “The Life and Death of Great American Cities”.
10. The site could possibly be conveyed from the State of California to Caltrans within 18 months since the primary issue is community support. I have already received preliminary endorsement of my concept from all the neighboring community and business districts. This should speed up the process
a. 4-5 months for a Cooperative Agreement between the City and Caltrans and a Project Study Report–a feasibility study
b. 11-12 months for an EIR or combined EIR/EIS–the 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara EIR took less than a year
c. 1-2 months for finalization of conveyance documents
JK- That is my ugly mug.
We have other things in common… I love Oakland and the East Bay, too.
I just don’t care if the A’s are in San Jose or Oakland as long as they are in a spot that creates sustainable revenue streams.
What makes me angry is reading comments about either city that are disparaging. And, reading stuff that is just preaching one side (Oakland or San Jose) of the story’s conventional wisdom with little critical thought applied. Neither is a slam dunk, really.
For those of you concerned about the current grittiness of the West Oakland area, anyone remember what China Basin used to look like? Renewal stimulated by a ballpark can be an amazing thing. I love the freeway stadium concept. Much better access to freeways and public transportation, my two biggest concerns about the other sites. Though Victory Ct. is near Lake Merritt BART station, access to 12th St. and 19th St. stations provides access to more BART lines. With the exception of Dublin-bound passengers (including me…oh well, can’t have everything), all would be able to get home without a transfer.
I am with you Bill, meaning on the Dublin bound train, ha.
@BryanGrunwald–thank you so much for clarifying the many things on your 980 ballpark. It sounds and looks like an awesome idea. I wish, Lew, Bud and the city would wake up give this a chance.
P.S. I wrote you the other day. I am Jim K. from Hayward.
@Bill–yeah, back in the late 90’s, when they were breaking ground for Pacbell, a good friend of mine who was a retired SF fire captain was telling me what a not-so-great area that ballpark was (I wasn’t too familiar with the area) and was surprised they built it there. Look at it now.
jk=usa I didn’t get your email
A few more answers:
1. Spans over the freeway are 40-60′ depending on 2 or 4 lands. This span is no big deal–same as a parking garage.
2. Cost of the piles, columns and decking will be part of the construction cost borne by A’s/MLB. AT&T Park was built on piles with similar spans and had a concrete deck. Hence the cost of the ballpark is the same as the San Jose scheme. Only land value, the responsibility of the the host city, is vastly difference
$30+M vs. $150+M.
Not sure I understand your last par that the cost of the piles with spans etc would be equivalent to the cost of building the park in SJ—you suggesting no additional cost requirement from a construction perspective for this arrangement–i.e–for private investment of $400M they would get exactly the same type of ballpark in SJ?
@Bryan–hmm, I wrote you on 9/13 at 1:47 pm. You replied 10 minutes later with a short little comment about it being an uphill battle and you’ve been working on it for 16 months.
Cost of foundation the same for all alternatives. All alternatives will be supported on a pile foundation covered with a concrete deck. Foundation cost is included in the $340-400M (this is the range I have heard).
Land acquisition, relocation, toxic cleanup, infrastructure upgrades, loss of of job and revenue stream on the site are the variants. The A’s want the host city to acquire the land and prepare it for construction. Mitigation of environmental impact is on the back of the host city. So if you need a new set of freeway ramps, the city pays. Also any garage dedicated to day games and VIP’s has to be paid for by the city or its Redevelopment Agency or Parking Authority. MLB may want 800 dedicated spaces–call it another $10 Million.
Based on the 2009 Financial Statement of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency, the City only has $170M in bondable capacity to throw at all Downtown redevelopment projects. It may take all of this to tee up the VC site. The San Jose’s Agency isn’t that much better off. Recently it had to lay off half its staff due to lower tax assessments.
Land acquisition bundle for the 980 site is $30+Million with no loss of jobs or tax revenue from the air-rights site. Compare this with $150+Million for the VC or SJ sites plus loss of jobs and tax revenue from the site.
@Bryan– Are you going to formally request that the freeway site be considered in the upcoming EIR? If so, do you think there is any realistic chance that it will be studied?
1) Why couldn’t the field be oriented more southeast so that the Oakland Skyline be seen beyond the fences?
2) What have you been told by the city about why this plan has been dismissed?
Jerry, i will first ask the City representative meet with Caltrans and myself and stay the EIR process until after the meeting.
The issue the City has dismissed my 980 proposal is the time required to obtain site conveyance or promise of site conveyances from Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration. i believe we could obtain the promise of site conveyance within 18 months. Most of this time will be for the environmental document. Since I have already have significant buy-in from the local surrounding community and business groups, i think the environmental document timing will not be a constraint. Like I said before, the 49ers competed their environmental document for the stadium in Santa Clara in less than a year.
Regarding reorientation. Anything is possible. I was using Fenway Park as my model. In this model, I believe almost half the seats will have views of the Oakland Skyline. However, in my opinion the views, albeit distant, of the Bay, San Francisco Skyline, Mt. Tam, Claremont Hotel, Cal Campus, are fabulous. I will ask Jeffrey to post them. I am trying to avoid land take, and especially impacting the frontage roads of Castro and Brush. They need to function unimpaired throughout the construction. Also, the traditional orientation for a ballpark is north south, so the batter doesn’t have sun in there eyes at any time. The southeast orientation of VC and AT&T cause the sun to be in the batters eyes at 1 PM starts. Also a north south orientation is better for the fans. they will enjoy the sun behind them most of the time during a day game.
Maybe BART could figure out a way to run trains to and from 12th Street and 19th Street during game times. But the transfer is no big deal, is it?
I also want the ballpark to be lower on the West Oakland side to be compatible in height–good neighbors.
You see JK, this site isn’t strictly San Jose and anti Oakland… Most of us here just want a stadium anywhere in the bay asap ! This is a great concept btw!
@LarryE Do you have an interest in buying the A’s? If so, will you keep them in Oakland?
Agree that this is an interesting concept that unfortunately sounds as if it has no supporters amongst the Oakland leaders for whatever reason—given that Bryan said he has been pushing/working on this for 16 months I find it highly unlikely that anyone will embrace it now that it is crunch time for Oakland. Going back to what Jeffrey post on Oaklands strategy it is to create obstacles keeping MLB from making a decision hoping at some point in the future a frustrated LW sells to someone else that will want to keep the team in Oakland and be willing to invest $500M in a ballpark. I point this out for 2 reasons—Oakland is fast tracking an EIR for VC—think about the timing–if SJ is to have a vote in March of 2011, MLB would have to bless it by end of October–6 weeks away—yet Oakland is wanting to commence work on an EIR in the next several weeks—a wasted investment if MLB opens the door to SJ—will be interesting if Oakland moves forward on an EIR or will wait to see what MLB does in the next 6 weeks—second—if they pull back from issuing the EIR near-term than maybe they could spend the next 6-weeks taking a deeper dive into what Bryan has proposed here to really determine the feasiblity-
@LarryE–I know, I’m sensing that as of late, and that’s good. There’s still a few on here who say Oakland is the worst place, doesn’t deserve the team, no corporate support, and San Jose’s the best hands down–a no-brainer, etc…
@GoJohn10–If I had the money like a Fisher (the richest owner in the league), I’d buy the A’s, keep them in Oak, do the 980 thing ASAP. It would be a blast putting it all together. I’d hire Bryan, Jeffrey and ML to make this coolest park/experience in MLB and bring back Andy Dolich as my marketing guru, Sorry, Billy Beane, you’re history.
jk-usa, I won’t come if Billy leaves, ha!
But seriously, don’t confuse criticism of the lack of a corporate base with the less important criticism about crime and such. Crime is what ti is and every major league city has neighborhoods where crime flourishes. It is the American Way! There is a lack of corporations in Oakland proper, and San Jose has a decided advantage when ti comes to corporations in the nearby area. Those are facts that ARE important.
This is a really fabulous and innovative idea. Kudos.to you, Bryan.