Official: Peralta/Laney Ballpark is Dead

Wash: “It’s incredibly hard.”
Beane: “Hey, anything worth doing is.”

About six months ago I wrote the tweet below, not knowing yet which ballpark site the A’s were choosing:

Reality is here, and it is a bitch.

Feeling pressure from faculty and students alike, the board for the Peralta Colleges abruptly ended ongoing discussions with the A’s about building a ballpark at the current district headquarters next to Laney College. There was to be a Board vote next week to decide whether or not the district would enter formal negotiations with the A’s. Not anymore. With tepid support from Oakland City Hall, the A’s were facing an uphill battle for approval even at this lowest level. They didn’t even get to the first switchback on the trail.

The decision was followed by a series of reactions from relevant parties, including the A’s using 280 characters instead of a screenshot:

This doesn’t require much analysis, and with the whole process being cut short after three months it doesn’t merit recriminations. The A’s underestimated the potential opponents, and the City was hands-off with no support. That’s often a quick recipe for failure, even as I hoped the parties to get through at least to next week. So much for that.

So what happens next?

Well, we’re in the holidays, so for now, nothing. Early in 2018 we should hear more, especially as the A’s will have to regroup leading up to FanFest, whenever that is. And unlike 2017 FanFest, when many fans interpreted the site as the A’s leaning towards Howard Terminal, maybe next year’s choice will reveal more about the A’s plans with Peralta fading away. The A’s led by Dave Kaval have shown that they’re willing to accelerate their process if they see an opportunity. Despite the missed opportunity at Peralta, I’ll be encouraged if the team shows the same urgency in 2018.

As for sites, they don’t suddenly change in value or potential now that Peralta has dropped off. Let’s look at them, December 2017 edition.

Howard Terminal

People are asking about this, naturally. I remain skeptical of the site because of the cost of infrastructure (transportation and parking), the cleanup costs that the site would incur, and the need for enhanced rail safety for cars and pedestrians. Oakland and HT proponents could salve the A’s wounds by offering a package of improvements that address the A’s concerns. Not so sure about any way to mitigate winds and temperatures at HT, which for the A’s were a few degrees cooler than at Peralta. (I informally saw this from looking at maps while watching late season games.)

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

There are several approaches that can be taken at the Coli. The most popular has the A’s playing there until a new ballpark is built nearby within the Complex. That’s clearly the least disruptive path. It doesn’t resolve who pays for the stadium’s or arena’s outstanding debt. Development of the remaining 100+ acres is already entitled thanks to the failed Coliseum City plan, but those entitlement can start to have developers attached to them with a revised plan and cleared land.

Kauffman Stadium

BANG’s Dieter Kurtenbach, who lives close to the Peralta site, suggests that the A’s renovate the Coliseum. While that could be the cheapest option, it would also appear to be the cheapest option, which MLB doesn’t want. Then again, Kauffman Stadium was brilliantly renovated, though it was originally built as a ballpark, not as a multi-purpose cookie cutter with a gazillion unfortunate compromises.

I can see the A’s reign in their approach at the Coliseum, given the comparably limited economic potential there. Instead I suspect they’ll focus on the old Malibu/HomeBase lots along Hegenberger, which are somewhat separate from the original Coliseum complex in terms of access and ownership. The A’s may proclaim that there’s no “Plan B” – a classic Lew Wolff tactic – but they’ve always had the Coliseum plans in the desk drawer ready to quickly revise and present at a moment’s notice. Why? They’ve talked with the JPA about the Malibu/HomeBase site on-and-off since 2003, before the City even bought the land.

Malibu (triangle) and HomeBase (rectangle) lots at south end of Coliseum

Lest you forget, there were other sites under consideration!

Somehow part of the Oakland Army Base near the Bay Bridge was rumored. If Howard Terminal was too windy, OAB has to be disqualified just for the wind alone. There were no other serious contenders.

And whatever happened to San Jose? In normal Silicon Valley fashion, Google is about to swallow much of Downtown SJ whole, as it is planning with San Jose a sprawling, 240-acre campus by the Shark Tank that could bring in 20,000 additional employees to Downtown everyday. Google and its real estate partner have already bought a bunch of the land previous set aside for the ballpark, including the old AT&T facility on Montgomery. Amazing what happens when you just wave a bunch of cash in an landowner’s face.

Even Scott Ostler put a new (old) site in the hat, Victory Court! He even wondered how it didn’t work, I “chronicled” it for you Scott. Or in one two words: Redevelopment Died.

It’s been a long journey, and it’s far from over.

52 thoughts on “Official: Peralta/Laney Ballpark is Dead

  1. Libby must be very happy now that HT is back in play. Of course, some developers are constantly whispering in her ears HT HT HT. She wanted HT from the start. Will the A’s try HT ? 1B baby

  2. HT is just too cold and far from public transit. The HomeBase/Malibu site offers the advantage of fronting on Hegenberger across the street from the Taco Bell, Shell and Burger King, so you could put up a truncated ballpark village with restaurants and bars.

  3. Gotta wonder why the mayor would still favor the HT site with all the drawbacks to it. The weather alone, said to be like Candlestick. Did she ever attend a night game at Candlestick?…So now we have: No new stadium in sight, continued sparse crowds and low revenues, revenue-sharing going away, no public money for a new stadium, no place to build in Oakland and no place to go. At what point do A’s owners cash out and ask the league to buy the team from them? Let MLB deal with the problem it refused to let the A’s solve when it went thumbs down on San Jose…. “The A’s cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation.” – Bud Selig, 2009.

    • I agree pjk–for the 1st time in this whole saga I think that Fisher just might take his cash and ride off into the sunset- hard to imagine that someone paying 1B plus for the team will also be willing to invest in a private ballpark in Oakland- not saying the A’s will move just saying this gets alot tougher to do if Fisher cashes out-

  4. I tossed this one out a while back, but there is a smallish city park at the corner of 19th and Harrison, called “Snow Park.” While small, it could have some of the attributes that make a ballpark awesome. For example, the orientation would be correct, and you could have HR balls landing in Lake Merritt with Kaiser Center looming over the left field wall. Children’s Fairyland in the distance over CF. Three or four blocks from BART 19th Street. Main drawbacks would be a probable reroute of Lakeside Drive, and the possibility of intruding part-way into the Glen Echo arm of Lake Merritt, so the Bay Conservancy folks will probably collectively have seven litters of kittens.

    Peralta’s dead. HT is a nonstarter. Nobody wants to be at the Coliseum. The time has come to start thinking of different ways to make this thing happen.

    And…Oakland city leadership needs to get off of its collective ass, otherwise they are going to lose the A’s as well as the Dubs and the Raiders.

  5. The A’s are in a predicament that they cannot get out of due to the inability or unwillingness of Oakland’s elected officials, Oakland’s civic/business community, and MLB to assist the A’s in their long-term quest for a badly needed new ballpark. In reality, the A’s are currently all alone and therefore will most certainly continue to fail to accomplish its goal in getting a suitable profit making new ballpark built for its team within the Bay Area.

    In my opinion, MLB has to step up to the plate and finally make a decision on the future of the A’s franchise. In order to do that, MLB will have to finally address the Bay Area territorial rights issue and revenue sharing issue as they relate to the A’s long-term future in its current Bay Area market. If MLB decides to not make any changes on these issues, then MLB has to allow the A’s to move to another market, whether with the same or new ownership. The A’s current in limbo situation cannot continue indefinitely.

  6. Called it, and it didn’t even take the Giants this time to do it.

  7. Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
    We’re so glad you could attend
    Come inside! Come inside!

  8. yeah… no big surprise here. Thanks a ton, Bud. This rests squarely on your weak shoulders.

  9. What seems ironic to me is that Peralta is one of several sites the City of Oakland identified as a location the A’s should study. It would seem logical to me, then, that if the A’s studies revealed that this location makes the most sense, the City would presumably provide as much assistance as feasible to make it work. Instead, their support was lukewarm, at best.

  10. Coming in 2022, the Portland Athletics! Green and gold would go well in the city of the Timbers, and the Portland School District site (ironic, another school district) just north of the Moda Center would be a perfect location for a 40k seater over looking the Willamette River. Watch it happen! Oakland loses all of if its sports team within three years of each other.

  11. Ok here’s my “new” idea: Move to San Jose and rename streets/parks in area “Oakland” so they can remain the “Oakland A’s”. Second have them go back to the Coliseum for “throwback” games (4-5 per season).

  12. I rarely quote my own words, but a few months ago, I commented on an article on this blog that started out, “the ballpark process may well force Oakland into figuring out what kind of city it wants to be going forward.” So now we know. Actually, we never got to truly find out since the process was aborted by the short-sighted actions of the Peralta Board (PCCDB) and the non-actions of Oakland’s city government. But it’s clear that Oakland does not want to take the next step as a dynamic city and that its leaders do not have the guts to show the way forward.

    First, regarding the PCCDB’s disingenuous actions: they must’ve somehow given Kaval assurances that the ballpark could happen for him to get as far as he did. Yet they pulled the rug out from under him after the fans showed their support for the Peralta site and time and money were spent, and before the Board had a chance to hear how the A’s would have been able to create real benefits for the college.

    Libby Schaff has failed to show that she is any more than an ineffective modern-day politician, at least in this case: she did not lead but rather took political cover by following the people yelling loudest for their own self-interests. The job of the mayor is to understand the issues and positions of all sides, come to a logical conclusion as to what will benefit the City as a whole, and take a leadership position to try to make that happen. That includes negotiating to make sure that the process ensures that the interests of those impacted by a project are protected. She has not done that. After initially being a great cheerleader for keeping the A’s in Oakland, she went silent and let them sink in the political quicksand. Yes, this is PCCD’s land and it’s their right to sell it or not, but real leaders work behind the scenes to use their influence so that the process has a chance to work.

    The ballpark opponents displayed their NIMBYISM by failing to even let this go through the process and give the A’s the chance to show how they can make it work. They could have worked with the A’s to make this part of town shine (No, Scott Ostler, this is NOT a “quaint corner of the city”). I would like to hear a rational argument, based on facts, of how the ballpark would cause gentrification, traffic, parking, lighting, and noise problems that couldn’t be mitigated. The A’s have shown a desire to spend money not only to privately fund the ballpark, but also to alleviate its negative consequences. The opponents include so-called activists, yet they ignored the potential for the A’s to build housing in the area and to help the college balance its budget and clean up the site. There is a huge lost opportunity to use the vacated Coliseum property for things the community desperately needs, such as affordable housing and studios for the art community so that they do not have to live and work in fire traps.

    I would like to know why urban residents refuse to allow change because their neighborhood would get more crowded — that is what cities are. But as long as its elected leaders are influenced by those who use the right buzzwords, then Oakland will never be anything more than it is.

    Mayor Schaff, you have stated that you want a ballpark at Howard Terminal. If so, then you must come up with a plan that solves the many problems associated with that site, make sure there is enough money to fix them, convince the A’s to remain onboard with a privately-funded ballpark, make sure it gets built within the A’s same timeline, and lead the effort to get this done. Or do the same with the Coliseum.

    The current state of affairs is simply unacceptable.

    • [Standing ovation] Very, very well stated. I agree with every word.

    • This in spades. I feel like a dolt for thinking Schaaf was more than what she is.

    • Awesome post Jerry.

    • Wow. That was great Jerry!

      • Thanks for the feedback, and my bad on misspelling Mayor Schaaf’s name! Hopefully she will still come through for us frustrated A’s fans.

    • Jerry, let’s be mindful that the PCCDB serves at the pleasure of the Alameda County voters. Unless this will spur some sort of back-room deal-making (not betting on it), with the 3 of the 7 PCCDB members up for re-election next year it seems there is an opportunity for Alameda County voters to be heard. That is who the PCCDB is actually accountable to, not the Laney faculty and some activist students that enroll for a couple years and then leave.

      Therein lies a quiet opportunity — a ‘long game’ if you will, because it’s gonna take some energy and persistence to move the needle here. Now that PCCDB is in the spotlight, maybe this will spur challengers to run for those 3 PCCDB seats. That would be folks with a long-term vision mindset and willingness to negotiate a deal that advances the PCCD educational mission in partnership (their words!) with the development opportunity that the A’s can provide.

      That means political organizing if you will, or some sort of organized social media campaign, perhaps even a recall effort for the 3 not up for re-election next year. This will take interested folks like myself who are willing to take some time at the grassroots level to get involved. I assume some sort of organized social media campaign (no personal experience with that) would have to be put together. It may take some money — are you listening, Kaval?

      I have no political interest to run for a PCCDB seat, but I’m willing to put in some time, “pen” (email writing to PCCDB), and even money to move this cause forward. As an Oakland resident, I’m admittedly not well versed in local political players or voting blocks but this issue has woken me up now that the City is on the brink of losing its last major sports franchise.

      The other sites will move back into the spotlight, sure, but we already know the risks and problems each presents. In light of that, we need to work on advancing the Peralta site, simultaneously, as a back-stop in the event the other sites ultimately fail…as I believe they will. I simply assume that if the A’s nixed the other sites — for all the known reasons — honestly, what’s gonna bring those sites back into serious discussion? Certainly not the politicians — we’ve already seen what they’re made of, as you correctly point out.

      Meanwhile, here are some easy steps one can take right now in reaching out to PCCD board members. Tell your friends:

      Step #1 — Find out which Alameda County PCCD district # (1 of 6) you live in.

      Step #2 — Learn what PCCD board member represents your district #.

      Step #3 — Contact said PCCD member via email (above URL) and express your views on the matter. Remind him or her that your vote counts, and that you know other voters in the district that you can influence. Heck, email the other members too. I would not recommend hitting them over the head with this, but somewhere in your screed make the case for re-starting negotiations. Appeal to their fiduciary interest, for example. Any other thoughts here?

      BTW, the minutes of the infamous 12/5/17 meeting are yet to go up on their site, as it would obviously be good to know who voted which way. Until then, we can only assume it was unanimous But if less than unanimous that would add some hope here.

      Ok, I’ve digressed enough here. What do you think?

      • Marcus, good stuff there on PCCDB. As you said, the Board is an elected agency that is accountable to the voters, and they should explain their reasons for discontinuing talks with the A’s. They will likely reply that their mission is, correctly, to promote the colleges’ educational and academic advancement, not facilitate a major league ballpark.

        So I think that any political response to PCCDB should focus, as you said, on how working with the A’s could simultaneously meet District educational goals while providing the community with a real benefit. That they chose to not even allow a public discussion is contrary to the open dialogue that educational institutions are supposed to foster. They could very well be blocking an opportunity for the District to solve existing problems at the College while at the same time creating new opportunities and benefits for the students. And they are setting a very poor example to their students on civic engagement, critical analysis, and negotiation.

        So I will email the Board members and ask that they provide a public explanation for their action and request that they keep open the possibility of a ballpark. But it is also time for the City to exhibit some real leadership, so I also will be writing the Mayor and Councilmembers to insist that they do their jobs and figure this out. Realistically, the A’s have to start moving on and planning for the Coliseum, but maybe some behind-the-scenes discussion and public pressure will keep this site on the table. Let’s hope the A’s have learned their lesson and move forward with a Plan B as well as a Plan A.

  13. I think it’s time to get really creative at the Coliseum. Maybe the location won’t be exciting and new, but that parcel is big enough to make something exciting there. Two decks, 25k capacity, right field and left field have million dollar 850 sq ft high rise condos overlooking the field. The A’s finance the new stadium and the debt by selling the condos.

  14. Peralta/Laney was a non-starter from the get go. I stated the issues before and the 2001 HOK study showed this site was the least feasible and most cost prohibitive. Even more than HT.

    The A’s need to tear down the current Coli once the Raiders leave. Share ATT Park for 3 years and comeback. All the lines run under the current site and the BART pedestrian bridge already exists. A new Coli ballpark should run around 400M-450M in this day and age.

    The land and EIR are in place. After the ballpark is done, then do development “piece by piece” around the stadium over the next 10 years. ATT Park when first built had nothing around it, after 17 years, look at the area around it?! Massive development everywhere.

    After 10-15 years, it will be a completely different place. This is the A’s last chance in Oakland. The Raiders and Dubs are out, make the Coli their’s for years to come.

  15. The answer could be as simple as building at the coliseum site what Atlanta has built. Where else in the central Bay Area is there a plot of land as large as what is available in Oakland? With excellent transportation access already in place you can build needed housing along with a mix of retail and office space. It could be the last master-planned community in the central Bay Area that could trigger some much needed redevelopment in East Oakland.

  16. Jowell Laguerre and the Peralta board president released a video and it sure does sound like the ballpark is still alive. Chheck this out. shout out to Zennie for finding this.

    • The video has the chancellor says the next step is “deep conversations internally” and the board president says”we will not move forward”, with no attempt at reconciliation of two very different positions.

      • The video pretty much tells us what we already know: a ballpark at this site is not going to happen. The A’s had a progressive vision that might have been a good thing for the entire city. But baseball is an unwanted land use. The A’s ran into the same thing in Fremont: neighbors dead-set against a ballpark and uninterested in hearing about any mitigations.

    • Slickly produced video “statement”. What’s funny is the cutaway to the famous drone rising shot of the Oakland estuary at Laney. A subtle dig, or an invitation to re-engage the PCCDB with a very favorable deal?

  17. Just heard the gr8 Bleacher Dave call into Chris Townsend and say that the meeting ended tonight and the board has reconsidered. Looks like Peralta board according to Bleacher Dave wants the A’s to talk to the board and the chancellor, not just the chancellor.

    • I listened to the meeting on FM 96.9 last night until the stream got cut off right when some audience members got noisy about not being able to speak, heard chanting, etc. Reportedly, it was ‘no stadium’ folks according to an A’s forum post.

      If so, that suggests that the ‘no stadium’ (mainly faculty and activist students) know a thing or two about how PCCDB operates. Despite having bagged the ‘no negotiation’ decision from the infamous 12/5/17 closed door decision, they know from experience that the PCCDB operates mainly on the pressure of the moment and they are susceptible to changing their minds. Stay engaged with this, as it could be a ray of hope.

      • So do the A’s want to pursue a site where they are not wanted? Where there could be daily protests and certainly a series of CEQA lawsuits dragging things out for years? Chalk this one up as a visionary, landscape-changing project for Oakland that won’t get off the ground because of the NIMBYs.

      • While CEQA lawsuits may be less of an issue, even if they decided to build at the Coliseum there will be NIMBY concerns.

        Making the Coliseum work would require massive ancillary development. To make that profitable, there would have to be a large spill over effect on the neighborhood.

        The gentrification and housing price issues would be a much larger issue at the Coliseum than at Peralta.

        I think it’s a massive question mark on if this would even work, but there’s no way to make the Coliseum site feasible without a huge impact on the area.

        This is where the city needs to step up if they want to keep the team.

  18. Afer observing how Oakland officials negotiate for possible future pro stadiums – it’s evident why Davis moved the Raiders to Vegas

  19. re: This is where the city needs to step up if they want to keep the team. …In the failed negotiations with the Raiders and now the A’s, we’ve seen the city is “fiercely” devoted to keeping the teams but can’t really do anything to make that happen except offer some token infrastructure improvements.

    • It’s also possible that the current Oakland city officials don’t have much interest in retaining pro sports teams, Davis is likely correct about the difficulty of dealing with them.

  20. PCCDB is an ever-shifting and politically inclined body. It’s holding up a revitalization project due to hyper-provincial and unsubstantiated concerns of people who may not even live here in 2023 and who may not even live here now.

    I, on the other hand, live in sight of the proposed project and have thought for hundreds of hours about local impacts (a major topic of my thoughts as I run past the site every single morning of my life.) Nobody at PCCDB has ever come to hear the views of my neighbors and I. Meanwhile, the forces of gentrification advance on the City in forms that PCCDB doesn’t even understand, much less control, and they say nothing about them.

    This is an opportunity for the Board to shape the Town with its own imprint, during a rare moment of time in which they have the leverage to do so. Yet they’ve chosen to do nothing. They don’t even want to talk. “We like the status quo and prefer not to consider any other alternatives, thank you.” And these people claim to represent higher education and claim to train people to deal with modern progress and complexity? That’s funny.

    I’m starting to wonder whether the PCCDB members even live in the neighborhood.

    Ms. Mayor: this is the moment when you should exert your influence. Do you want this to happen? Think about that important question over the holidays. If you really care about this area of Oakland, this is an opportunity.

    On the other hand, if you’d prefer for the area to host a random industrial lot producing nothing, zero jobs, zero interest, zero cultural value, zero interest, and which caps a plume of toxic environmental waste that nobody can afford to clean up, and which hosts a growing homeless encampment along the channel between the Lake and the site (which I run through every morning, smelling the growing pile of sh*t), then please proceed on the current course of action. Please do nothing if that’s what you want. If that’s what you want, keep it up. Because nothing is happening there, except the homeless encampment is getting huge, as is the smell of sh*t that results anywhere people live in the absence of jobs, dignity, and opportunities.

    If you choose to do nothing, the lawyers will love you. They’re the only ones who will benefit by inaction that favors environmental degradation. The site at his point is depressing and contributes little or nothing to the school. Anything actually useful on the site could easily be moved elsewhere with even a modicum of creative thought.

    You’d think that creative thought would be in ample supply, given that this is a college. Which is why this is so frustrating.

    I’ve followed this saga closely since 2002, but I am finally, after 15 years, hitting a wall. I wonder if the A’s are feeling the same way. It sucks. I’m feeling a little bit similar to how I felt when I first heard that LV and the Raiders were getting real traction. The end of a lifelong love affair. Ms. Mayor: I understand why we fight these teams. But I also really think that they bring us together. They are teams, after all. Think of the parades we’ve had recently. They make us bask in who we are as a community. I don’t mean to suggest that this is worth hundred of millions of dollars. I am totally with you on your decisions. On the other hand, there is real value there to the community.

    Full Disclosure: I want an East Bay or SouthEast Bay solution to happen. The first photo of me as a human being was as a small boy sitting on a mule named Charlie-O on the field of a relatively new Coliseum in the early 70s. I want a picture of myself down on the field in my own early 70s. And, goddamn, I’d love that field to be somewhere East of the bay and South of Scott Creek Rd., firmly in Alameda Country (F You, Giants.)

    Long post, but the bottom line is directed at Libby and the PCCDB. If you care, make it happen.

    Oh, and a P.S. to Laney College: please fix the hideous green neon sign around the top of your horrifically ugly building. I used to think it was cute and local and pro-A’s. Now it just makes me think of provincial political idiots who probably aren’t even from around here.

  21. Are the A’s officially throwing in the towel on Peralta? now redirects back to the A’s official site and a form to receive updates. Totally generic and no mention of any sites. I’m really curious what their next step will be.

    • @Turin

      Yeah, me too. I can’t image them being too thrilled about what has transpired, especially with city hall not putting any real political leverage behind it.

      On top of that the community college district says (get this), we may have to go to the voters and ask for money because we are broke???

      Not that the A’s proposition would have taken care of all the finical difficulties, but…yeah, you just turned down the opportunity to take care of a great deal of your finical problem.

      • @Lakeshore/Neil,
        While the Laney/Peralta Board looks damn foolish not to allow the A’s for full discussion of their proposal for the ballpark site and its surroundings, I place the major blame for the current predicament on Mayor Schaff and the other Oakland elected officials for standing on the sidelines and doing absolutely nothing to help promote the discussion regarding the A’s preferred site for their Oakland ballpark. With two of its teams already heading out of town, one would think that Oakland’s elected officials would do everything in their collective power to help the A’s in getting a badly needed new ballpark built on the A’s preferred Oakland site. This is not the case in Oakland.

      • @llpec

        Regrettable, as a native Oaklander (I live out of state at the moment) I must shamefully agree with you 100%

      • Oakland leaders: Afraid to lead.

  22. So does essentially end the quest for a ballpark in Oakland (except at the current site)? City officials appear to lack the will to make a ballpark happen, other sites are cost prohibitive, and, as a whole, residents don’t seem to want a new park.

  23. I have selected at the preferred location for my new trampoline my neighbor’s back yard. It clearly offers the safest location with the perfect amount of shade.

    But I am shocked in his refusal to negotiate my installation and stance on not wanting to give me the land and go halvsies on installation. Even though I offered to let him use it at half the rate I will be charging the other neighbors and only requested he give me half of the fees we would charge for parking in his driveway.
    Saddened and Shocked

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