The architectural firm HKS has some wins to crow about. The Dallas-based company designed Lucas Oil Stadium and Cowboys Stadium, hosts for the last two Super Bowls. Now they’re backing two Hail Mary attempts for the Bay Area NFL teams. A month ago an SFGate report had San Francisco planning commissioner Mike Antonini working with HKS and an unnamed investment company on a last ditch attempt to convince Jed York to keep the team in San Francisco. Today, Matier and Ross report that HKS has signed on to put together the Coliseum City plan with the hopes of keeping one or all of Oakland’s franchises in place.

To get the project going, Oakland is getting ready to authorize $3 million for a series of studies that will have to done on the entire Coliseum area, not just the complex. I wrote about this in detail last December. HKS won the winning bid, in conjunction with Oakland-based JRDV and Forest City, to master plan 750 acres of land on both sides the Nimitz. The project is split into two areas: Area 1 (Coliseum complex, BART, and surroundings) and Area 2 (nearly everything west of 880 to the airport). Knowing how much money goes into these types of studies, they’ll need every penny of that $3 million to complete the work.

Coliseum City/Oakland Live!

Based on the previous work these firms have done, I figure the responsibilities will be divided along these lines:

  • HKS – Design for the iconic stadium(s) and hotel
  • JRDV – Master planning and integration
  • Forest City Enterprises – Actual development

All of these pieces are important. HKS will work on the anchors for the project, and they have potential access to investment groups should things move along. So does Forest City, but their aims are lower since they’re focusing on ancillary commercial spaces that will have to be sold and/or leased to other tenants. JRDV provides the framework and the glue. Their responsibility is to make it work with Coliseum BART, figure out how to backfill parking that will be lost to construction, and make the whole thing look attractive. Their local portfolio is extensive, including plans for Uptown around the Fox Theater and San Jose’s San Pedro Square Market. Nothing JRDV has done in the US is as large as what’s being proposed for the Coliseum area, making this new project a special challenge.

As I wrote two months ago, this process is expected to be deliberate. Anyone expecting a new Coliseum complex to rise like it was being built in Shanghai is due for disappointment. The RFP lays out the time commitments the winning bidder will have to make to get through the entirety of the project:

  • 25 project meetings with city staff
  • 8 community workshops
  • 12 public meetings with the Planning Commission and City Council

The Coliseum area has an advantage in that it shouldn’t need a new EIR for a replacement or refurbished arena or a replacement football/baseball stadium since those uses are already in place. New EIRs will be needed for any other new construction. That would include:

  • A third sports venue, such as a baseball stadium alongside a football stadium
  • High-rise hotel
  • Commercial development, including office towers or a mall

In addition, the entire plan will need its own EIR. It’s all about impact, and if you introduce new elements such as the visual impact of a high-rise hotel or additional commercial traffic not associated with Coliseum events, it all needs to be studied. Likewise, a third venue will have to be studied simply because of the possibility that events could be held in the arena, ballpark, and football stadium simultaneously. That’s a lot of people and a lot of cars. There will have to be plans to figure out where all of these people will park since much of currently undeveloped Coliseum complex land will be claimed for future development. Lastly, there will need to be alternatives to show what impacts would occur if some of these concepts don’t come to fruition.

This is how big things get built in California. There’s a very good chance that none of it will ever get built. Oakland and Alameda County will have to be in lockstep to make this happen, and their collective resources are extremely limited. It’s telling that Oakland is footing the bill for this but Alameda County is not. They’ll need more resources to execute this plan to any successful completion. If they aren’t get on the same page, it’ll be Oakland’s $3 million down the drain.

23 thoughts on “Strategery

  1. How will they pay for these facilities?

  2. @pjk – That’s not part of the study. It’s also a shared responsibility among the stakeholders.

  3. For a project that costs 2 Billion that no one can pay for. Spending 3 million for this study in the light of all the layoffs Oakland will be going through, it is completely irresponsible. I feel bad for the people losing their jobs seeing this and the citizens of Oakland paying for this. The timing with redevelopment going away cash strapping every city couldn’t be worse.

  4. Yes, spending $3 million on a study for an unfunded, pipe dream project seems foolish. Have any of the three teams agreed to participate in this at all?

  5. The Raiders have maintained that Oakland is their number one option, so I’d imagine they’re behind it. The Warriors, who knows, and we all know the A’s aren’t at this point.

  6. I don’t understand how Oakland couldn’t justify a few hundred thousand for an EIR at Victory Court when at that point they were still in the running but can sink $3M(!) into this now that the A’s are basically gone. Not to mention that the Warriors can’t wait to move to SF and the Raiders are openly pondering LA and Santa Clara. This just seems like a huge waste of money. There’s no way they ever build this thing. Even without the stadia, it’s a massive development that will take many decades to ever come to fruition (if it ever does).
    ML – is it because they assume that with or without teams they’ll someday want to redevelop all this and they might as well get a plan in place? Even if we’re talking dozens of years into the future? It just seems like there must be better ways to spend that money somewhere in Oakland.

  7. The warriors want out of Oakland, so I doubt very much they’re behind it. They will say all good things, so not to mess up a backup plan. But Lacob has made it very clear he wants an arena in SF.

  8. Will the Raiders be behind it if they have to come up with $800 million?…I agree this project could end up being some sort of blueprint for what to do with the Coliseum property once the three teams leave. Just take the stadia out of the drawings and plunk in some office buildings and a shopping mall..

  9. Anyword that the study has opt outs like the EIR for Victory Court had. Where during the process they could stop without paying the whole bill. I could see this study being more talk without ever starting.

  10. On the surface this is a head scratcher, but if you think about it, if the Warriors, Raiders and A’s all leave Oakland, the city/county will need to eventually move forward in redeveloping that area. Perhaps this is in some strange way Oakland for once actually being ahead of the curve.

  11. The RFP doesn’t consider an alternative that has all of the teams vacating. Only one alternative involves the A’s leaving. The entire plan is dependent on two or more teams staying since they are the anchors. Oakland Live! can’t happen without the teams. If the teams leave, the Coliseum just becomes another redevelopment project, except without the funds and institution to help it and lingering debt to boot. See how long it’s taking to figure out what to do with the Oakland Army Base? It would be like that but somewhat less complex.

  12. “The $3 million would come from money that the city’s recently disbanded Redevelopment Agency doesn’t have to return to the state.” Matier & Ross piece on the development, today, on sfgate

  13. This just isn’t being realistic and seems like a huge waste of money that Oakland desperately needs. Oakland, cut your losses and come up with a nice plan that will rebuild the Coliseum for the Raiders. Convince the NFL it’s worth another $200M a lousy 34 miles from Santa Clara and not just a pipe dream. The Raiders seem like the only ones who actually want to play there anyway. And I’m sure that would take far less than the $3M you don’t have. Geez, it’s one extreme to the other with these people. Is anybody there grounded in reality?

  14. I will say the Coliseum site is a very good one for football. Big parking lots around the stadium and easy access with BART and freeways.

    For baseball and basketball that location never made sense to me in the least bit.

    Having ancillary development is far more important for baseball and basketball because of the sheer # of games. Football has so few that it is relative what is around the stadium for only 8-10 days a year.

    When the Warriors went back to Oakland in 1997 after one year in San Jose I was scratching my head because the site itself is a dump for b-ball while Downtown San Jose has ancillary development and an arena structure wise that is far newer than Oracle Arena.

    Of course they got their own place to play and we all know Cohan used San Jose to get the deal he wanted in Oakland. But in the end he never saw the big picture and how the Warriors could invest in the area around the arena in San Jose.

    If this Coliseum city project was touted back then I would say it would have some serious legs to it as it was pre-recession and public $$ could have been possible.

    In San Francisco, the Warriors would have a perfect location on the waterfront right next to ATT Park much like the A’s will have with the Sharks in San Jose.

    I just do not see why in this day and age the Warriors would choose to stay at the Coliseum when they can move to SF or even SJ and have a Downtown site??

    The Raiders will try to make this work at the Coliseum site but without the A’s or Warriors I do not see who would invest in this.

    Oakland loses all 3 teams……They waited too long to act and opportunity has passed them by.

  15. Is this still supposedly gonna be ready by 2016 like Quan said late last year?

  16. My recollection was that, when the Oracle was being redone in ’96-’97, the W’s didn’t want to play second fiddle to the Sharks (suite revenue, choice of home dates, etc.) and the city didn’t strongarm the Sharks into playing nice, so no W’s. Calling the “structure” of the Oracle older is a copout: yeah the exterior walls and ceiling are older, but that’s it, never mind that the Oracle is designed for basketball only while HPP is not.

  17. @Sid: Yeah, the Warriors in San Jose in 1996-7 was interesting because they set attendance records in SJ that weren’t broken until 2003, despite the novelty of a newly renovated and larger Oracle. They’ll move to SF the first chance they’ll get.

    But I’m not as pessimistic about the Raiders staying in Oakland, despite their history. I don’t think that the Raiders want to become tenants in the 49ers stadium, despite it helping both teams financially. Al certainly wouldn’t have wanted it that way. And really, over a long time, what you will have is a south bay football audience divided up between two teams, and a shrinking north/ east bay audience. This isn’t really the same situation as the Jets/ Giants. Staying in Oakland makes more sense, and if they can convince the NFL, they might get the funding. But as a temporary home, SC makes a lot of sense for the Raiders and would help both teams.

    Now, as a football stadium location, the Coliseum site is pretty good. Barring some unlikely good deal with Los Angeles, the Raiders are Oakland’s to lose. But Oakland has to get their s*** together. They can’t be wasting time and money on pipe dreams like Coliseum City.

  18. Interesting news out of Toronto that effects the A’s peripherally. The Jays and Rogers are looking into pulling up the Fieldturf, locking the movable stands down permanently and putting down grass, finally. And they’ll kick out their football tenant to do it (the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts) after their lease expires. Which would leave the Coliseum as the final venue in MLB still hosting football. As well as eliminating the final stadium with those goofy base cutouts and leaving Tropicana Field (which can’t have grass due to the roof) as the only stadium with fake grass in MLB.

  19. @Dan,
    That would be kinda cool to see Rodgers Centre converted to baseball only. One question: where would the Bills play once or twice a year?

  20. At home presumably. Rogers has no further interest in hosting them beyond the 2012 season. They apparently lost a bunch of money on the deal that brought the Bills up there. Guess Canada doesn’t care for the NFL.

  21. Good for western New York.

  22. >>I don’t understand how Oakland couldn’t justify a few hundred thousand for an EIR at Victory Court when at that point they were still in the running but can sink $3M(!) into this now that the A’s are basically gone.<<

    Bingo! It's comical that Oakland had a much better financial picture back when they were actually in the running for the A's…..yet they wouldn't pitch two quarters into the effort. Seriously, it is so perplexing as to boggle the mind. Yet now Oakland is kicking in 3 million for a study to build a complex that is the most ambitious non public transportation construction project that there has been in a long time (at least that i can remember)….in an area that is less than prime….with depressed real estate wide spread…..with government coffers dry as a desert. It simply has no reasonable chance to succeed. What private corporation is going to pitch in a billion and a half….. in this economy… that location… this political and regulatory environment?

  23. Sports Complex designs are cool and all, but the key is finding Investors/Developers/Financiers!

    They should stop worrying about the A’s. They are gone. They need to focus on building Coliseum City to keep the Raiders and Warriors and redevelop that whole Coliseum area and on the west side of 880 into something that thrives and also renovate the BART station and walking overpass and offer shuttle a monterail shuttle service from BART to the Coliseum City. Make everything look sleek and modern!

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