Coliseum City Draft EIR Review: Scope

This is the first of a series of articles on the Coliseum City EIR. I’m using this post to set up the framework for discussions to follow. The topic for this post is project scope – an explanation of the project as envisioned, alternatives, pros and cons.

To understand the scope of Coliseum City, it’s important to first get a grasp on the size of the project. We’ve heard two figures bandied about frequently. 120 acres covers the Coliseum complex and surrounding land that the City and County control. 800 acres stands for the Coliseum lands (Area A) plus a huge swath on the other side of 880, most of which is privately owned. When you go to an A’s game, it certainly feels like a large piece of land, but because you can see all of it from the stadium it feels accessible and approachable. Nevertheless, that sense of scale can easily be lost.

Consider for a moment that the 120 acres we’re discussing is roughly the size of the Jack London Square area from Jefferson to Oak, or the same size as half of Downtown/Uptown if you take all the land bound by Broadway and 980, 10th St and Grand Ave. Coliseum City, even when only using that 120 acres (15%), is pretty large. At 800 acres, it’s the size of Downtown, Uptown, Old Oakland, Chinatown, and Jack London Square put together.


Boxed-in JLS is roughly the size of Coliseum City’s sub-area A (core, 120 acres). To the left is the 50-acre Howard Terminal.

If the designated Coliseum district east of the Nimitz is the core, the rest of the Specific Plan area is what feeds the core. While the new stadia, a transit hub and 5,750 residential units would sit in the core, the remaining sub-areas B through E are where the the bulk of Coliseum City’s permanent jobs will come from, along with the tax revenues needed to fund the stadia. Should the project reach full buildout, it would not only accomplish the goal of retaining all three current sports tenants (Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors), it would attract 10,000 new residents and more than 21,000 jobs.

If 10,000 sounds familiar, remember back to Jerry Brown’s 8-year run in Oakland. The key tenet of Brown’s tenure was the 10K plan, which sought to bring in 10,000 residents to Oakland. While he didn’t quite reach the goal he established for himself (10k residents by 2001, only midway through his first term), he loosened red tape and cozied up to developers to great effect, creating a building boom that Oakland hadn’t seen in decades and hasn’t seen since. Current mayor Jean Quan even resurrected the 10K moniker during her term, relying on big projects like Brooklyn Basin (O29) and now Coliseum City to reach that lofty figure.

As far as growth is concerned, Coliseum City fits many planning goals for Oakland and Alameda County. It has an intermodal transit hub (BART, Amtrak, AC Transit). It’s an infill development, meaning that it redevelops and repurposes previously developed land. Feedback from EBMUD so far indicates that the utility district will be able to handle the increased water demand the project would create. Local housing advocates want 25% of the residential units built at Coliseum City to be affordable for low-income residents. Rail operator Union Pacific doesn’t want residential built anywhere near its tracks, two of which are at the back of the Coliseum and behind the BART station. Caltrans wants some of the infrastructure money that could be raised for Coliseum City to go towards improvements along the Nimitz (on/off-ramps) to help traffic flow the area better. (See EIR Appendices for letters from these parties and public agencies)

The EIR, which totals more than 3,300 pages including Appendices, covers numerous development scenarios. They could include the so-called maximum buildout scenario, in which three new venues are built and all three teams are retained. Then there are scenarios in which one or two new stadia are built while the existing arena stays intact. They are a reflection of the market reality involving the teams. The Warriors have bought land in San Francisco on which they expect to build a new arena, while the Raiders are entertaining multiple cities outside Oakland and the A’s, while showing a renewed interest in Oakland, continue to keep San Jose in their back pocket. With lease terms the only thing binding the teams to Oakland, the City needs to show flexibility in case they can’t retain the franchises.

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All told there are 10 versions of the Project under consideration:

  • Project (see Executive Summary for description)
  • Alternative 1: No Project Alternative (all teams leave when leases end, Arena stays, Coliseum is torn down, minimal development comes afterward)
  • Alternative 2A: New stadia, existing arena stays intact
  • Alternative 2B: 1 new stadium or ballpark + new arena
  • Alternative 2C: 1 new stadium or ballpark + existing arena
  • Alternative 2D: New arena only
  • Alternative 2E: Existing arena only, no new venues built
  • Alternative 2F: Similar to Project, but with smaller football stadium (per NFL/Raiders specs)
  • Alternative 3: Reduced Buildout – similar to Project, but with about two-thirds of the residential units and other development
  • Alternative 4: Maximum Buildout – similar to Project, but 20% more residential units and total square footage

That’s a lot to consider, some of these alternatives may end up being infeasible because they don’t represent enough return to fund the project. Other possibilities were also considered but not studied further because they were considered infeasible from the get-go:

  1. A single stadium/ballpark configured north-south near BART station
  2. An alternate single stadium configuration
  3. A two stadium scenario with at-grade circulation (no elevated pedestrian concourse)
  4. A two stadium scenario with the elevated concourse
  5. Alternative site
  6. Retain Coliseum and Arena as is, no additional development
  7. A single stadium with no additional development
  8. A fully mitigated alternative (all impacts could be mitigated)

The first 4 options are more-or-less covered within the alternatives under consideration. #5 is interesting in that it notes:

“…CEQA Guidelines state that an alternative site location should be considered when feasible alternative locations are available…”

“To the extent that the sports franchises may consider off-site alternatives for their home field venues, those off-site facilities would need to be considered on their own merit and evaluated pursuant to CEQA is (sic) separate environmental reviews.”

Not that it need explanation, but Howard Terminal needs its own EIR as it would be a completely separate project. That’s actually different than the San Jose Ballpark EIR, which included multiple sites but was much smaller in scope than Coliseum City, so from a process standpoint it could work. #6 pretty much spells doom for the Complex should the tenants leave, whereas #7 answers the question of whether a stadium could be built on its own. #8 is practically impossible.

I’m a little disappointed that the Appendices don’t include revised or updated infrastructure cost estimates. In April I looked at the $344-425 million price tag, which didn’t include demolition of the Coliseum. Normally costs aren’t included in an EIR, but since they are so germane to the project it would be good to have them.

Finally, just to show how complicated the process, not only will various City departments and boards have to look at the project, some 15 additional public agencies may end up providing input or be required to give approval for various aspects of the development:

  1. Port of Oakland
  2. Alameda County
  3. Caltrans
  4. BART
  6. EBMUD
  8. ALUC
  9. US Army Corps of Engineers
  10. CA Fish & Wildlife
  11. US Fish & Wildlife
  12. NOAA Marine Fisheries
  13. SF Regional Water Quality Control Board
  14. BCDC
  15. DMMO

Plus there will be comments from Union Pacific, neighbors of the Coliseum and other private interests. By the time we’re done, the EIR could reach 10,000 pages.


52 thoughts on “Coliseum City Draft EIR Review: Scope

  1. Some heavy stuff…I think Coliseum City should be Alternative 2B and 2C

  2. This is a remarkably large plan, living up to the “Coliseum City” moniker. There are so many plus factors here for Oakland that I am more optimistic it will get done. Oakland can essentially give away the development rights/profits and reap huge benefits in return. This seems to explain why Wolff is now interested in getting in on the deal (his goal seems to be lead developer of a some portion of the project).

    There are some key take-ways regarding how they’ve envisioned the area and oriented it – properly regarding it is a key city resource and focal point. The inclusion of the streetcar hints along with renderings at a “Pearl District” approach that worked extremely well for Portland. I’m impressed and look forward to seeing things move forward.

  3. i’m not sure but is all that land available? isn’t a lot of the land privately owned so wouldn’t this project or at least the large scale of it have just the same issues that coliseum north and victory court had and that’s private owners not wanting to leave their current location and or the city having to find a replacement site for them?

    • The Coliseum complex, Malibu/HomeBase, and some land along the BART bridge are publicly owned. Nearly all of the land on the other side of the freeway is privately owned. A strategy to acquire that land has not been articulated.

  4. From what I been told, Wolff can actually sign on as a member of the Coliseum City ENA team (as his own developer), and then build and operate his own stadium for the A’s. This would solve Wolff’s issues with having to bow down to Colony Capital. This of course, would all be subject to the deal that Wolff would be able to strike with the ENA team, and if there was enough available land to satisfy his developmental needs. If the developmental team is able to strike a deal with the Raiders, and provide a term sheet and financial plan to the city by 10/21 (should they not need to request an an extension), it’ll be interesting to see then how Wolff will proceed.

    • It doesn’t really solve much. Wolff may have a completely different concept than what BayIG is trying to do. If Wolff only wanted to develop the Coliseum complex land, there is no alternative to cover that scenario in the EIR.

  5. What did the army corps of engineers do? were they the ones who dredged out the San Leandro estuary?

    • You’re on the right track. The project calls for a new bay cut or inlet near Edgewater. That alone will require a significant amount of study, including work by the Army Corps.

  6. My response to harry’s 2B or 2C alternative comment was perfectly civil and topical. I really don’t see why it needed to be deleted.

  7. @ harry
    Come on man can we please, stick with the coliseum city draft EIR ,and its possible pro’s and con’s, San Jose defeat, which by the the way could be a defeat for all of us, who want to see the A’s remain in the Bay Area weather it’s in Oakland or San Jose can wait for another day, can’t it?

  8. Something that dawned on me yesterday was that it might be good for the planning powers that be in Oakland to take a look at the plans for Candlestick/Hunter’s Point redevelopment insofar as it might provide a model for a no-sports venue alternative (i.e. if no new stadiums are built and it is determined Oracle can’t survive without a tenant). The plan calls for a small entertainment venue (I think ~5,000 seats) near where Candlestick is now.

  9. if this plan were to be built at the coliseum you’re going to need to have an entertainment district to attract people to this area when the a’s aren’t here due to a road trip or during the offseason. maybe a movie theater or something?

  10. If the Raiders and Warriors left, and Wolff paid off all stadium/arena debt and was granted the development rights to only the 120 acres that the Coli currently sits on…

    A.). Would that be enough acreage for his financing plan to pencil out?

    B.). Would Wolff face any negative PR for wanting to demolish the arena in that scenario? (I’m guessing he would want to demolish it, to add additional parking and development opportunity on those 120 acres).

  11. Marine Layer,

    Great job. This is very thorough and interesting reading.

  12. The Raiders actually have the fan base to buy premium seating in the East Bay and the Central Valley.

    The ENA report says it very clearly there is a market for premium seating and there are fans who come from the North, South, and Peninsula who were not included as the prime targets for the Raiders.

    This is why I hate Mark Davis so much, why won’t he go out and raise the money? He only needs a fraction of what the 49ers did.

    If he could raise 300M or so from naming rights, SBLs, and suite sales he then could hire a developer for the rest of CC no problem. Since the development would not be needed for the stadium, Davis could get favorable terms with the JPA and the developer.

    But no, instead this god given moron refuses to get up off his ass and sell his product to the fans and corporations.

    I am a 49ers fan and SBL holder and if he hired me I could raise 300M in 18 months or less….Pay my ass Davis….Pay my ass!

    • @ Sid
      I’m so with you, the Raiders have been historically bad at marketing and promoting there product, Al always felt like his product would sale itself, and that was true for some time, but you can only get away with that if A), you win which the Raiders have only manage to do for a short period of time, between 2000-2002 (there were 2 others playoff teams in the 90’s), in the last 30 years, and B), have a fan base that fills you are committed to the area, the Raiders have not done A) in 12 years and B), has not happened in at least 35 years, it probable was not true then, but the fan base thought it was.

  13. Well, after reading through some of the EIR… I am just shaking my head. How long is Oakland going to play chicken with itself? 800 acres… of which 120 are actually owned by the City/JPA? Anyone do the math in their head for the parcels across the freeway? Where does that $1B come from?

    What a damn pipe dream. Oakland elected officials could screw up sex or pizza.

  14. according to K its a slam dunk…life is good… EIR has been released…and therefore project will proceed forward…10 years will not be enough for us to see any action on CC—

  15. Larry Reid has a history of saying dumb stuff and hampering the city. Even if he thinks it’s a “pipe dream,” as a city official he should keep it to himself instead of going to the media with his negativity which then has the effect of putting the entire project in a negative light.

    I find it quite interesting that the 120 acres in question are the same size as the entire Jack London Square and JLS warehouse district area. As Marnie Layer mentioned, it really is still a huge project and a huge area.

    As far as Oracle Arena, I would keep it in place since it’s still a perfectly good arena. It would be a complete waste to tear that arena down.

    • Elmano,

      We agree, the 120 acres is a big and complex project in it’s own right. Oakland should be focusing on that, because it is doable in our lifetime.

      Oracle Arena may be perfectly fine with no tenant, it may not be. That should be fully understood and discussed in public. Not swept under the rug by pretending the Warriors aren’t leaving.

      “Don’t speak the truth because it screws up our PR effort” is an invalid criticism in my mind. It speaks to everything that is wrong with modern society and all the sad constructs of the Industrial Age that are methodically being destroyed by the Information Age. Just look at the clown act Jean Quan’s lackey Port Commissioner is making of himself on Twitter every other day.

      Information is no longer hidden behind gate keepers. It’s destroying the newspaper industry, and soon enough, it will destroy all of the other platforms of the chattering class.

    • If Oracle can’t economically sustain itself without a permanent tenant and with competition from a new venue, then it’s not “perfectly good”. If that’s the case, it’d be better to tear it down and build more profitable development.

  16. @ Elmano/ jeffreyaugust
    I do agree with jeffreyaugust, we should primarily be focused on the land that Oakland/Alameda County actually owns and or controls.
    With that in mind, do either of you know, if the Malibu/Home Base property’s is included in the 120 acers? (Anyone free to answer), or do those parcels bring the total up to (I think it was), 197 acers, because I keep hearing both numbers thrown out there.
    I would agree with you (Elmano), if you looking at just the almost 200 acers that’s a lot of land. If you think about the post ML put up on 08-18 (rethinking coliseum city with the A’s in mind), the idea of almost splitting the coliseum footprint down the middle, without expanding the current footprint too much, could accommodate two new venues, while maximizing the total acers left to build ancillary development.
    It also should theoretically, reduce the massive amount Oakland/Alameda county will have to pay for infrastructure cost (moving power grid/sewer lines); I believe ML has estimated that at 400 million, I also know that there is yet another attempt at a ballet measure this fall, infrastructure/transportation ½ cent sales tax that could potentially help, I’m sure they will keep at it till they actually pass one of those things
    There are still a lot of unknowns and, what ifs. As much land as it is, it still may not be enough and even if it was enough, you can only build so many hotels/condos/townhouses, as both the A’s and Raiders would need to draw on the ancillary development to support their separate building, in the A’s case the land development feature is particularly critical, because it will have to support the bulk of there part of the project.
    This does not begin to answer the question of weather Davis is serious or not, and we already know if Wolff is serious, it’s because his choices are more limited, and then even Marks.
    There is also the question, of how much Wolff wants to deal with Bay IG going forward (if they remain on board), if at all, will Bay IG be willing to play the long game?, by that I mean will they be patent enough to wait for Oakland Alameda County to acquire more parcels (under tax pays nose), over time for future development? (25-30 years out), I am sure they will take a piece of the Raiders, but Mark only owns 47%, I don’t know what the threshold is, for a NFL owner.
    In any event, I find myself oddly optimistic (that Oakland can save attest the A’s), when you consider the state funding that is available for a new coliseum BART station (hopefully walkway bridge), along with the aforementioned infrastructure tax measure, you can start to see where Oakland/Alameda County, is trying to put things together.
    Not saying it will be enough to save both the Raiders and A’s, at this point if it one I hope it’s the A’s.

  17. so any suggestions for what naming rights could be had for this potential new park if it were to be built?

    i doubt cisco will continue their naming rights deal with the a’s if they build this park in oakland as they did with both the fremont and sj projects.

    if you wanna do some oakland based business? the three more popular ones i’ve read over the years is dreyer’s grand park, kaiser permanente park, clorox field.

    • @letsgoas

      Those all sound like good suggestions, but I wouldn’t count out Cisco just because it’s in Oakland (if it ever gets built), corporations generally are not as narrow minded as some of us can be (in terms of looking at it regionally), Chevron and Safeway are both good east bay companies, but I wouldn’t limit myself to Oakland or the east bay, the San Francisco Giants sure don’t.
      BTW: I recall someone suggesting that, if Clorox did not perches the naming rights to the stadium, they could perches the naming right to the Clorox “Bleachers”, I that was clever.

    • If it’s in Oakland, Pandora’s Box, named after Pandora Radio hq-ed in downtown Oakland.

      If it’s in San Jose, probably just Cisco Field, since I can’t think of a funny one.

      Funny sidenote: WHile researching what companies are based in SJ, I found out that the Oakland Tribune is hq-ed in San Jose.

      • @ SMG

        Yeah the San Jose Mercury, perched the East Bay newspaper group (I think was the name), anyway under their umbrella of East Bay newspaper’s was the Oakland Tribune, which is a little ironic, as I often hear about the SF\East Bay media bias, and while there does seem to be one, it’s not likely at the Tribune, that being said I think the Mercury is good at giving it colonist freedom.

      • Obviously I meant columnist, sorry, damn.

      • @ SMG
        That was a good one.

      • Pandora… Not sure they will even be a company in 4 years. I expect them to be acquired by someone at some point. I’d shoot for something a little more long term and it doesn’t have to be an Oakland company (I have a hard time seeing a company like Dryer’s paying the kind of scratch it takes for a real naming rights deal).

        If I was Lew Wolff I’d be looking to companies like Oracle, Workday, Wells Fargo, etc. Most of the big boys are in the South Bay (big boys in terms of revenues and SG and A budget). No reason he couldn’t work with one of those companies, provided they buy that San Jose isn’t going to happen, because they probably won’t be interested unless they are certain it will not happen (I know, Tim Kawakami has already said it won’t happen, but apparently no one takes his word for anything)

    • Don’t forget Pandora Park, or possibly Sungevity Field. I would love Kaiser Yards with the Clorox Bleachers in the outfield.

  18. wasn’t it called ANG, the alameda news group.

    if the naming rights is from lets say a dryer’s, clorox, kaiser…how much would they pay for naming rights? would it even come close to cisco’s 30 year 120 million dollar deal they’ve put out there since i think the fremont plan in 06?

    • @letsgoas

      I think they would be a little less, just the fact that it’s going to be worth a little less in Oakland, but that was 06 and unfortunately that was 8 years ago, by the time something actually got built, we are talking 2018-20 that’s 12-14 years latter, if the economy continues to improve, which it has I can’t image the figure doing anything but going up, so I would say Fremont\San Jose 120 million over 30 years in 06, should be 120 million in over 30 years in Oakland in 2018-20.

    • @letsgoas

      BTW I Think you’re correct ANG

      • I recall Cisco being directly asked if they would continue the agreement, if the A’s where to build in Oakland and I can’t recall the exact reply, but it was a neutral safe response, anyway the definitely didn’t say no.

  19. I still don’t understanding some of the thinking here that somehow Oakland can’t get naming rights from a tech company in Silicon Valley. What’s the name of that huge arena next door to the Coliseum? We have a huge football stadium in Santa Clara named after a SF company which produces blue jeans. No tech company from Silicon Valley placed their name on a Santa Clara football stadium.

    What’s with everyone always making Oakland to be “less than.” Is this the engrained anti-Oakland attitude seen in some areas of the Bay Area?

    • @ Elmano
      I would agree with you, as my above comment would suggest.
      “I wouldn’t count out Cisco just because it’s in Oakland (if it ever gets built), corporations generally are not as narrow minded as some of us can be (in terms of looking at it regionally”
      I would concede from an economic standpoint, the naming rights may not be worth quite as much in Silicon Valley, but I think it gets a little inflated, based on people’s biases, other than that I would say you have some valid points, on that one.

    • It’s because the South Bay companies want the A’s in San Jose. Until they believe that is not even a remote possibility, they aren’t going to help a stadium get built somewhere else.

      That Santa Clara football stadium is filled to the gills with Suuth Bay money, it’s going to take more than a naming rights deal to build a baseball park anywhere in the Bay.

  20. @ Jeffrey
    Good point, about the South Bay companies.

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