Hypothetical: Could a ballpark fit where the arena sits now?

One of the questions I’ve been fielding over the last few years, especially now that the Warriors are trying to move to San Francisco, is Can a ballpark fit in the space occupied by the arena? The idea is that if the Raiders could somehow find a way to stay in Oakland at a rebuilt (new on the existing site, not renovated) Coliseum, the arena could be torn down to make way for a ballpark. In doing so, none of the capacious parking would be affected except during the construction phases.

The short answer to this is: No. If I’m being generous, I’ll say barely

To understand why, you need to look at the way the complex was laid out in the first place. Remember the old sewer interceptor? It runs in an easement through the Coliseum complex, splitting the stadium and the arena. EBMUD, which maintains the interceptor, needs to have 24/7 access to the interceptor for maintenance.


EBMUD’s sewer interceptor is the green line that separates the stadium from the arena

Combine that with the power lines and other utilities that run through the complex, and suddenly the choices for siting the venues were reduced. If the interceptor had not been there, or had been rerouted around the edge of the complex, the venues probably might have been placed in line with 880, allowing for more of a buffer around both instead of pushing the arena up against the freeway. Such an arrangement would’ve been better for fans going to the arena from the then-years-from-completion BART station, since they would’ve had a more direct route there instead of always having to walk around the stadium.

Nevertheless, here we are. The arena is situated within its own 8 acre parcel in the complex. The fit is tight thanks to the multi-lane 66th Avenue off-ramp.


Ideally there should be a minimum of 600 feet in either direction

Last month I suggested the HomeBase site, which has 50 feet more width than the arena site yet is also less than 600 feet wide. This is obviously narrower. A tight fit equates to two specific limitations. First, there’s little flexibility in terms of orienting the field. If the A’s wanted to orient the field the same way as the existing field, they would need:

400 feet (home plate to center) + 50 feet (backstop) + 110 feet (lower deck) + 40 feet (concourse) + 30 feet (concessions and restrooms) + 60 feet (staging and infrastructure) + 50 feet (street side buffer) = 740 feet. For reference, the diameter of the Coliseum from the club entrance behind the plate to the back wall of Mt. Davis is 100 feet longer.

To further illustrate the squeeze, let’s drop everyone’s favorite ballpark, PNC Park, where the arena is. I’ll include the approximate location of the sewer interceptor so you can see the problem.

Yellow line represents sewer interceptor

Yellow line represents sewer interceptor easement

The resulting dimension down the right field line would be around 275 feet. Talk about a short porch.

Compromises could be made to make the fit better, like reducing the size of seating decks, concourses, and buffer areas, all of which would negatively affect fan experience. The field orientation could also be rotated 15 degrees north (counter-clockwise), opening up space down the RF line while reducing space in the opposite corner.

Of course, we can’t discuss this option without considering the circumstances and ramifications. Should the Warriors leave by the summer of 2018, there would still be nearly $60 million of debt remaining on the arena. It’s likely the City and County will have to swallow the debt while the A’s paid for a will construction costs, perhaps including demolition of the arena. Combine that demolition and site prep time with a two-year build, and the A’s would be in a new ballpark there by the start of the 2021 season. If the Raiders were also staying, Mark Davis could get his stadium on the current site, also by the 2021 NFL season. Where the Raiders would play during the construction period is anyone’s guess. Same goes for the remaining Coliseum debt.

Back to the ongoing Coliseum City saga. Chris Dobbins of the JPA and Save Oakland Sports announced that the public is welcome to attend Floyd Kephart’s presentation at Lungomare on Tuesday morning (unclear on the time of the event).


I’m interested to see if any activists showed up.

18 thoughts on “Hypothetical: Could a ballpark fit where the arena sits now?

  1. Problem Radeirs do not have money or investors & NFL WILL NOT HELP.

    Oakland A’s do not Want a shaired stadium

  2. Build it on the Coliseum north parking lot, between the current o.co and 66th. I don’t have the programs on my computer to measure and/or place PNC on the site. But it’s the location that makes the most sense. Maybe ML can place it and show that there is room and that the canal is long 66th isn’t an issue.

    The reason this makes the most sense….

    * No utilities in the way.
    * Can still keep the arena for other events, if desired.
    * keeps the stadium close to BART to maximize ridership
    * Then old O.co can be demolished and the retail, office, housing can be added In that area and along hegenberger if needed to have that close to BART and main roads.

  3. Put the Oakland A’s new where The stratum sits.

  4. “Should the Warriors leave by the summer of 2018, there would still be nearly $60 million of debt remaining on the arena. It’s likely the City and County will have to swallow the debt.”

    ML, please explain. I thought that the W’s are on the hook for that money since they signed a lease the last time the arena was improved?

    • Arena renovations for the Warriors. Completely separate from the Mount Davis renovation of the Coliseum.

    • Oakland/Alameda County could have told the Warriors to pound sand in 1996 and let them go to San Jose. Nope, they opened up the checkbook and now could be left with an arena with no anchor tenant but a hefty mortgage still due. Had to save those minimum-wage soda and beer vendor jobs in Oakland.

  5. A baseball stadium where the arena is now would also stare at the back of a Raiders stadium. Not a good vibe.

    • Notice also that Kephart wants to put the new Faders stadium on the homebase lot.

      Both Kephart and Wolff want to build there, and Wolff isn’t asking for handouts from everyone …

      • Hmmm, and the sewer interceptor easement would seem to go *right under* one of the stadium-connected buildings. *That* is not good for this plan.

    • I believe that’s due to the A’s 10-yr lease. Kephart won’t make the city break the lease by requiring all/partial demolition of the stadium.
      He’s basically thumbing his nose at Wolff by saying, “you don’t want to work on this, we’ll i’ll just build everything around you.”
      Not that I have any degree of confidence in the project, but that’s my guess on motive.

      • “He’s basically thumbing his nose at Wolff by saying, “you don’t want to work on this, we’ll i’ll just build everything around you.”….and LW couldn’t ask for a better outcome—its widely accepted by those that matter that to build privately financed stadiums/ballparks/arenas there can be only one winner at the Coli site. Give it to the Raiders and the A’s get the golden ticket to SJ–

  6. also shows you the lack of faith this plan has with the three oakland based teams that they didn’t even send a rep to be there?

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