Peralta – The Skinny Jeans of Oakland Ballpark Sites

Earlier this week I did some calculations on the buildable footprint for a ballpark at the Peralta CCHQ. I gave the footprint an extra buffer on the channel, which dropped the footprint to only nine acres. Since then the always useful Planimeter to calculate a more realistic 10 acres, including the city-owned lot in the southeast corner next to 880 and the old WPRR rail easement. Without those two parcels, the acreage drops to 8 acres, smaller than Target Field. Even 10 acres is small for a park these days.

Size isn’t the only challenge at Peralta. Thanks to its location relative to Lake Merritt, the channel, and downtown, there’s only one way to orient it for optimum view or backdrop that includes the DTO skyline and the lake: north. It would theoretically be better to orient it northwest, but as we already know, that’s generally frowned upon. Three open-air venues currently face north: Progressive Field in Cleveland, Coors Field in Denver, and Petco Park in San Diego. Peralta shouldn’t be difficult to implement with a northern orientation, as long as they properly address a north-facing park’s biggest weakness: glare or light reflecting off the batter’s eye.

Click for larger image

This ballpark overlay is a generic version originally done for a multitude of sites 10 years ago, transplanted to Peralta. It could seat 32-35,000, with more space for standing room. It provides a solid 100-foot wide buffer around the grandstand in foul territory, which conducive to spacious concourses and additional square footage for offices or retail. It also allow for three large entry plazas. The main gate would be in left-center, accepting the majority of fans coming from downtown. Another plaza would be in right field at the corner of 5th Avenue and East 8th Street. The last one would be behind home plate and would be used mostly by VIP’s.

Ballpark seating chart

Not illustrated are potential restaurants along the channel which could be used 365 days a year, or bars built into the ballpark that could open either only during the home games or all year-round. There’s quite a bit of space to put in a children’s play area in right field, or picnic areas in left near the channel. Best thing about this orientation is that all of the outfield amenities could be kept at grade or field level.

The site is at a nearly uniform 10′ elevation. It’s adjacent to Lake Merritt Channel, which recently benefited from beautification and flood control projects made possible with Oakland’s 2014 Measure DD funds. To understand the potential impact of a ballpark, it’s worth looking at the other three waterfront ballparks and how the addressed the shoreline.

Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park are located on active rivers, the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, respectively. SF’s AT&T Park is not truly on San Francisco Bay, but rather on an inlet, Mission Creek. Although there is a small ferry terminal at the park and the Lefty O’Doul drawbridge over Mission Creek, the waterway itself is not particularly busy at all, allowing for the use of kayaks, paddle boards, and other small personal watercraft on the water along the ballpark’s promenade. A Peralta ballpark would maintain at least a 100′ buffer to the channel, making “splash hits” unlikely thanks to an estimated 500′ distance down the left field line to the water. PNC & GABP created partial levees facing the water.

There doesn’t appear to be space for food trucks or other temporary or portable installations in the ballpark. I could see the A’s petitioning to close East 8th Street on game days in an effort to create a Yawkey/Eutaw-type environment outside the park. If that happens, there’s some very usable space for parking food trucks on E 8th.

The A’s have been hinting at a two-deck design for some time, which if implemented should conserve height. That creates a potentially uncomfortable situation where the main concourse along the third base line could be aligned with 880. To prevent this the façade would not be open air, with windows working in conjunction with concrete to mitigate highway noise.

Those are my initial thoughts on optimizing the Peralta site for a ballpark. They’re subject to change as we get more information on the site. If Peralta is selected as the future ballpark site, I look forward to seeing how creative the A’s and HOK are on evolving the vision at Peralta.

49 thoughts on “Peralta – The Skinny Jeans of Oakland Ballpark Sites

  1. Just build anything! Anything to get the A’s out of the Pit Toilet!

  2. In your sample drawing above, where are the bullpens? Beyond the centerfield fence, presumably?

  3. I can see a seating design similar to Dodger Stadium where the first two or three levels wraps around the foul poles. Instead of the outfield seats as currently drawn in your sample, there would be pavilion seats instead. Bullpens would be beyond the corner outfield fences not far from the foul line. By the way, there would be NO fifth deck as in Dodger Stadium and a fourth deck MIGHT exist depending on whether the A’s like the idea of a “sandwich” deck or not.

  4. Just remember the stadium is going to last 50-75 years, so what may be a lousy location today may be a great location in 25 years. and vice-versa.

  5. The Peralta site is getting a lot of attention but does anyone know if the A’s are even in talks with the Peralta District? I work for the district and have not heard anyone say anything or any emails regarding selling the property…nothing.

  6. I would like to see a combo of the waterfront that was proposed and your idea of everyday resteraunts and shops open to everyday downtown business consumers. I had an idea of one of the outfield walls being an every day hotel from the outside, and suites with balconies overlooking the field during games, offering weekend 2-3 game packages for couples or groups. And definitely would like to to keep that retro brick meets modern look like SF. The beauty of the stadium would be an attraction in itself. Just my thoughts 😁

  7. This vision makes me even more excited about the potential at that site. With 8th Ave shut down from 5th to just across the Lake Merritt channel and a “Park at the Park” like effect behind Leftfield we would get to experience something that resembles my two favorite ballpark environments (outside of Fenway add Wrigley). It’d be like Camden Yards Eutaw Street meets Petco Parks “Park at the Park.”

    Keep it 36,000 seats and we could get to experience the intimacy of Fenway with the modern amenities of AT&T Park. All walkable from BART by most people.

    Sign me up!

    • I agree that it’s great to see this possibility laid out. But does this mean that the athletic fields site across the street is not in the cards? As I commented on the last post, I think that is a superior site but it may be impossible to get Laney to go along with it.

  8. You have the answer. Laney is not willing to give up or relocate its athletic program”

    Man, I know we are taking about the Bay Area, but dang…A JC football and baseball field takes priority over a MLB team? I was thinking the A’s may not want to build on at the sports fields because of the close proximity to the school’s on the other side of the football field.

    I was wondering if the A’s would secure that land latter for further mixed use development, but if Laney is not willing to work with them, how will the A;s use the site for future development to help pay for the park?

    I guess they could ask the city for future development rights the coliseum land, since there will be no sports teams there. Just trying to figure out how the cost gets defrayed somewhat.

    • A few things:

      1. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that the City hasn’t embraced Laney College/Peralta as the site, but that the A’s have (reading between the lines, anyway). So, until the City and A’s get on the same page about the site, I wouldn’t worry too much about the Laney sports teams fate one way or the other. That’s not to say that the Peralta site isn’t the path of least resistance in the actual Downtown, it totally is. No reason to make the Laney College teams move if they can do something right there without it. You know?

      2. I’d expect ancillary development to include the parking lot across Lake Merritt Channel. Probably something like retail and a parking garage. There’s a lot to be worked through before a definite plan takes shape, because if the A’s put year round restaurants along the channel side of the stadium like ML has opined, the mix of retail across the channel will be a different bird than it would be without those restaurants connected to the stadium. Either way, that parking lot will be important to a “village” concept.

      3. Just like the Earthquakes did in SJ (which should come as no surprise, it’s the same ownership group) with the Edenvale area of town providing development rights that were used in conjunction with the Airpot West to finance the construction of Avaya Stadium, the same seems logical with the A’s securing the Coliseum site AND the Peralta site to finance construction at the Laney site.

      All of this is speculation, of course. We don’t really know the pan and we won’t until there is one.

      • Thanks, lot of good info.

      • I agree about developing the existing parking lot across the channel with retail, at least along the 7th St. frontage. People would walk up 7th St. to the BART station, and having shops and maybe a sports bar along the way would be great — it would make the walk more interesting and “shorter”, allow for complementary ballpark development, and make the area look more vibrant.

  9. As I also stated in the last post, the Laney College athletic program could be relocated to the likely to be vacated coliseum site. At that location, brand new state-of-the-art division III college level athletic facilities can be built which would be the envy of even higher level athletic college division programs. Better yet, Oracle Arena could even possibly be retained.

    • That is a good idea.

      • It’s actually quite common for urban located colleges to have at least some of their athletic facilities located somewhat a distance away form their main campus.

    • Why just stop at the athletic program? What if ALL of Laney College was relocated to the Coliseum site where a new state-of-the-art campus could be built, and the A’s could have all of the current Laney/Peralta site to themselves?

      Obviously this is VERY pie-in-the-sky, and no way in hell do I think anyone would actually sign off on such a plan; the sheer cost and optics alone makes it a non-starter IMO.

      But if I may fantasize for a bit… if we put all that aside, how feasible could that be? Its essentially a land swap between the A’s and Laney. Most of the current campus has been around since the ’70s, so perhaps Laney could benefit from an all-new campus. Relocating to the Coliseum site would preserve its access to transit with BART and 880 right there, and it could be an opportunity to service an area of Oakland sorely in need of the resources a community college can provide.

      Meanwhile, the A’s get all of Laney to develop and build as they wish. They could build the stadium where the athletic fields are now, which I think is a much more superior site. They would have more room to play with – instead shoehorning the stadium into the admin site across the street, butting up against a freeway and railroad tracks – and they’d be closer to BART, Lake Merritt, and downtown. The campus itself and classroom buildings could be either demolished and/or repurposed into team offices, stores, bars & restaurants, perfectly situated between the stadium itself and BART.

      Just imagine it now… getting off at Lake Merritt BART and walking through the Laney-campus-now-turned-Ballpark-Village, crossing a bridge over the Lake Merritt Channel and into a brand-new A’s ballpark. Perhaps this is what Dave Kaval & Co. have in mind for their “generational” project? One can dream!

  10. There’s serious irony in trying to lure a baseball team downtown, while uprooting a public college whose location was chosen in part because it was practically downtown.

  11. If it ends up being the Coliseum site, have everything built there have Greco-Roman architecture, with white columns and arches everywhere. The concourse could look similar to the underground shopping walk at Cesar’s Palace is Vegas. The surrounding buildings around the stadium should keep a similar style architecture. That way it could be our Little Rome here in the Bay Area.

    • I think it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Coliseum isn’t really a consideration for the actual stadium. It may be part of a land deal to help finance a stadium, but it won’t house a stadium.

      • I doubt that. I’m betting after all the waiting and the studying and hemming and hawing, the final choice will end up being… the Coliseum site (to much chagrin of everyone wanting the downtown location, to boot). There will be too much opposition to Laney, and the railroad track issue (plus the Candlestick-like conditions) will doom the HT site. Look for the Coliseum site to be the dark horse that wins the race. However, I see a lot of potential for the site IF DONE PROPERLY (Dave Kaval, I hope you’re reading this).

      • I once would have agreed with you (like only a few months ago)… But it has been recently reported that the A’s are moving the team HQ to the JLS vicinity. These leaks in the paper aren’t nothing for nothing AND there was an article just today in which the following gem is included:

        So far, the idea has received little public pushback from Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre. Laguerre held an initial meeting with the A’s but said it is the team’s decision to make.

        “We’ll react to that,” he said. “Keeping the A’s in town is everybody’s business.”

      • Has Dave Kaval ever commented on whether Laney’s athletic fields or the college itself were ever considered as possible sites?

      • You’re forgetting the San Francisco Giants and their astroturf litigation groups which can and will block any attempt to put a nice baseball park in any location they think threatens them. Also you have to couple that with this ownership group’s lack of will to stand up to them and their antics. If any discussion of Laney gets serious, look for the astroturf groups to come out of the woodwork. Maybe with clever names like Stand for Laney College or Stand for DTO. Speaking of astroturf groups, I haven’t heard a peep from a certain group about Google’s plans for a mega complex where the San Jose stadium was supposed to be.

      • Hey Los,

        I’m not forgetting anything. You have to remember the dynamics that surrounded that… The A’s didn’t have the support of MLB. They tried to get a vote of the other owners and were blocked. I am not sure what “standing up to those antics” could mean more than actually trying to get the league to allow them to move. Lew Wolff screwed up by thinking his near lifelong friend would have his back.

        Did you want them to sue MLB? That would have been a great idea… suing the people that held the keys to the lock that blocked them from moving into Santa Clara County.

        The City then made the dumb move of suing the league. No MLB team will ever be in San Jose as a result. Just like if Lew had sued MLB, he would have gotten the McCourt treatment post haste.

        That’s what blocked the A’s from coming to SJ, not an astroturf group. Despite the astroturf group there was already a certified EIR that the City was prepared to defend in court.

        Do I think there will be locals that don’t want the A’s at Laney College? Yep. Did the article I linked above address that? Yep. There are also people in the area that are all for it and they are also in the article.

        There is also the City of Oakland’s government that is all for the move (to Downtown) and willing to pull favors to make it happen.

        Do I think that Laney/Peralta has a better than 50/50 chance of happening, yep. Do I think it has a 90% chance of happening, not yet.

        It’s okay to disagree. Either way, I’ll buy you a beer on the first day of play in the new stadium if it’s at the Coliseum, and you can buy me a Diet Coke at the downtown stadium. Deal?

      • I’d love to agree to disagree. Regarding standing up to their antics, there is more that could be done than suing. They could hire a private investigator and build evidence to show collusion or tampering or any other shady activity linked to the Giants. They could present that evidence to the commisioner, and if he still fails to act based on the evidence, leak the info to the court of public opinion. If there was evidence of anything unlawful going on, have the Feds do some investigating of their own.
        For all we know the Giants were probably instrumental in getting Rev Sharing taken away in an attempt to force a move out of the area. All they have to do is tamper with any plans behind the scenes to make moving more palletable to ownership than staying.
        Also I think the A’s offices being relocated to JLS has about as much significance to them going there as the Raiders new weight training facility in Alameda had in having them stay here where they belong. Since the A’s will be sole tenants at the Coliseum shortly means anything could be possible not just on the immediate site but the surrounding lots of abandoned land like the Malibu and Home Base lots. There could even be potential for lots on the other side of the freeway like the abandoned Walmart to really bring the whole area together, architecturally. If it doesn’t happen I’d be thrilled to buy you a diet Coke if one of those downtown plans squeezed through, but when that Coliseum decision is made, I’ll take Pliny the Elder to fit in with the Romanesque theme they should definitely use there.

    • If I was unclear about how I think the place should look, here’s a link to a picture that illustrates it nicely (from Google images):

      I don’t know how to put images in the text box like some of you techies, sorry about that.

      If it has to be at the Coliseum, why not go all in and make it look the part?

  12. @Jeffrey- your making a broad assumption that as long as Peralta is taken care of all will be good. If this site is chosen you can bet the opponents will come out swinging- not to mention the activists that will oppose the land swap of colin property. Moving a HQ of 50 or so people to anywhere is pretty insignificant- we have a long road in front of us. My guess is that the Google expansion in downtown SJ will be nearly complete before ground is broken in Oakland for a new stadium- unless it is at the Coliseum site-

    • I am not making any assumptions.

    • Sorry, I hit “post comment” too soon.

      I don’t disagree with any of what you wrote really except for the moving of the HQ being insignificant. Look up the addresses of team HQ’s for every team in MLB and note where they are in vicinity to the team’s stadium. The move to a downtownish HQ is entirely about getting a downtownish stadium.

      Like I wrote above to Big Los, I think this site is probably a little better than a 50/50 proposition right now. If this site happens, I expect to be watching baseball there in 2022 at the earliest. Longer if they decide to try their hand at Howard Terminal.

      The article calls out some specific organizations, and quotes them, that have concerns. Note that none of them dismiss the idea out of hand. There are many hurdles that will need to be jumped and those groups will have to be convinced to not come out against the site. That’s all part of due diligence and community building that needs to happen.

      One thing is absolutely clear, or it should be. The “all sites are neck and neck” is hogwash. Peralta is where the A’s are focused and doing what they need to do before they can get a deal done.

      I offer you the same deal as Los, if the A’s are at the Coliseum, I’ll buy you a beer at the first game. If they are downtown, you buy me a Diet Coke. Either way, I am 100% good with it.

      • I will get you as much Diet Coke as you would like (within reason) at any site but, I am with you a park at the Peralta site would be so nice. Man, the potential views Lake/Downtown could be so nice.

        I know it’s a long way, but I would like to dream a little.

  13. Received this email from the A’s yesterday.

    We are currently evaluating several sites in Oakland, and will announce our preferred site later this year. We are Rooted in Oakland, and are committed to providing a game day experience unlike any other in Major League Baseball, one that uniquely reflects Oakland’s character and richness.

    As part of this process, we are actively soliciting input across our community. We want to hear directly from you what you want in a new ballpark, and get your thoughts on ballpark design elements, seating concepts and plans, pricing, and amenities.

    We will host focus group sessions for a limited number of participants at convenient locations and times throughout the Bay Area from July 11 through July 19. This forum will give you the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions and to contribute directly to ballpark design.

    There is very limited space for participation in this event. As such, reservations will be confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, we cannot accommodate your bringing additional guests to the sessions.

    To reserve a seat in the focus group session, please click on the link below to confirm your desire to attend.

    Select Your Focus Group

    If you do not receive a follow-up email confirming your attendance, the focus group session has been filled with the maximum-allowable attendees. You will, however, have additional opportunity to participate in a survey covering these same items, which you should receive within the next few weeks.

    Your continued interest and support of the Oakland A’s is greatly appreciated.

    Go A’s!

    @ML – Will you be attending any of these sessions? I didn’t receive a follow up email, so it looks as though the San Jose session is full.

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