Short answer: Not this year.
I get it, A’s fans. You’re excited, I’m excited, the A’s marketing crew is excited. We’re all champing at the bit right now. Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to slow everyone’s roll. In California we don’t build things quickly. We don’t even demolish things quickly. You’re not going to see a big viral video implosion of the Coliseum, ever. Keep in mind:
- Candlestick Park’s demolition dragged on for months to protect residents living nearby from asbestos and other pollutants.
- Site prep for Avaya Stadium took a year longer than expected because of previously unknown underground bunkers and other items to demolish and cleanup.
The Raiders have already exercised their option on the 2017 year, so they’re in come August. Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas isn’t outfitted with the updated locker rooms and security fencing that the NFL requires. Any upgrades couldn’t come until after the 2017 season ends. It’s that classic tale about the boy who leaves the girl yet needs to crash on her couch for a few months while his new fling upgrades from a studio to a junior one-bedroom apartment. You’ve seen it – Cameron Crowe or Richard Linklater?
As long as the Raiders are staying for hopefully only year, the A’s should be able to break out the wrecking ball come February 1, 2018, right?
The problem is at that point there will still be some $75 million in debt remaining on the Coliseum. The City and County haven’t figured out who or what is paying for it. Until that gets resolved, the JPA can’t so much as pelt it with rocks. Beyond that, the demolition will have its own cost which someone will have to pay out of pocket. The infrastructure funding plan offered to the Raiders and the Lott-Fortress group had the demolition of the entire stadium budgeted in. I imagine that the same offer’s on the table for the A’s should they choose to build at the Coliseum. If they don’t, demolition’s yet another cost to add onto the debt resolution. If the JPA quickly came to a deal with the A’s, demolition would probably be accommodated depending on the Raiders’ departure and the phasing of the teardown.
Once the debt issue is resolved, I would expect that demolition would happen in two parts. Initially, the peak of Mount Davis, otherwise known as the upper deck, would be lopped off. That would be the easiest aspect of the plan since only the seats and risers would be removed, along with the columns and beams holding them up. The Washington football team removed more than 10,000 seats from the upper deck, replacing many of them with the wall-like platforms used at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Once the upper deck of Mount Davis is removed, the Oakland hills and Leona Quarry would be visible from parts of the original Coliseum, namely the original upper deck. Aesthetically that would be a huge improvement, if not a complete solution.
Once the easy part is dealt with, dealing with the rest of hulking structure becomes a project unto itself. The East Side Club is a four-story section that stretches the length of the stand, with two upper levels of suites facing the field and a vaulted ceiling above the club. It’s more like demolishing a gigantic concrete pier than your average tilt-up office building.
Everything at or below the plaza concourse would have to stay intact while the A’s played in the venue. The BART plaza is at this level, so unless someone wanted to completely rebuild that even though future plans have the old BART bridge replaced, it’s all staying intact. In addition, the only vehicular access to the field is via the steep centerfield tunnel underneath Mt. Davis. That can’t be touched.
I don’t mean to crap on your dynamite-charged fantasies, folks. As long as the A’s have to continue using the Coliseum there’s only so far you can go in terms of dismantling it. Eventually the whole thing will come down. Chances are it will be piece-by-piece. Maybe the A’s can have some of the demo team dance to YMCA for old times’ sake.