Matier and Ross report that Raiders owner Mark Davis took a tour of the decommissioned Concord Naval Weapons Station last week, in search of a potential stadium site for the Silver and Black. Sure, Davis has stated publicly that his preference is to stay in Oakland, but he has been looking around the Bay Area and Los Angeles to see what kinds of deals he can dig up.
Last year Davis made the local political rounds in Dublin, as he had an eye on the Army’s Camp Parks facility. Like CNWS, it’s very large and is in the middle of a transition. At both Camp Parks and CNWS, there’s valuable land available remarkably close to freeway access and even public transit. In theory, it just needs to be cleaned up, planned accordingly, and redeveloped.
The military branches – in this case the Navy – are in control of the remediation (cleanup) process. They also control the price of land sales, and given the trend of military cutbacks, they’re not going to give away free land. Municipalities also have a say, because in the end they’ll need to properly integrate these massive tracts of land into their own long range plans (link worth reading if you want to understand the process).
In the map above, the gray area is devoted to different types of development. Closest to the North Concord/Martinez BART station is expected to be high-density, transit-oriented development: office and residential towers and the like. Further east and south may be office parks and lower density residential. Greenbelts wrap around the various districts. A golf course and open space preserve largely cover the area east of Mt. Diablo Creek. These 5,000 acres, dubbed the Inland Area, are the most ready to develop because they were decommissioned over a decade ago. The other part of CNWS, the 7,000-acre Tidal Area, is still in use. The Tidal Area is the portion north of Highway 4 along Suisun Bay.
Davis’s interest in CNWS seems to run counter to his stated desire for urgency at the Coliseum. It’s unlikely that anything substantial can be built at CNWS before the end of the decade, and no one’s going to make an exception just for a football stadium. That must be why Davis hired Don Perata as a consultant. Perata, the former State Senate President and Oakland mayoral candidate, who now works out of Orinda. Perata could grease the skids as a lobbyist in Sacramento, which could result in a CEQA-sidestep bill similar to the ones executed for the Sacramento and San Francisco arenas.
Besides the literal mess that needs to be cleaned up at CNWS, a stadium needs to be compatible with Concord and Contra Costa County’s growth initiatives. Preferably the stadium should be within walking distance of the BART station. That use – a big stadium with acres of parking around it – doesn’t fit with any TOD plans. The City of Concord will want some federal grant money to assist in building infrastructure for the TOD section, so they won’t allow a stadium to jeopardize that. The salmon-colored area in the map above is roughly 1/2 mile from the BART station, about as far as you’d want to walk from the station to attend a game. 100 acres of parking would have to be found somewhere in the vicinity. For environmental impact reasons, the stadium couldn’t be located adjacent to the planned preserve area. Freeway access is another matter. I can’t imagine how awful the traffic on CA-4 would be for a Monday Night game. CA-4 and I-680 are the main highways in, with CA-242 providing a shortcut from the south. Sunday afternoons shouldn’t be so bad, but if a lot of fans are coming in from eastern Contra Costa County and Stockton, it’s not going to be pretty.
Obviously, a lot of issues would need to be figured out before Davis even had a prayer of making CNWS a good relocation site. Like Coliseum City, it has a number of costs associated with it that have major funding question marks. Yet it’s also clear that Davis is not content to sit and wait for a deal to fall into his lap. If he wants to get something done somewhere, that’s the kind of proactive work ethic he’ll have to show. In that sense, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.