New Howard Terminal Renderings from the BCDC 10/7 Design Board Meeting

The BCDC held its first public meeting about the Howard Terminal project on Monday night. Download the report and the exhibits addendum with all the lovely renderings for more details. Among the details was the description of what the A’s are planning to build. There’s a lot to cover, so in this post I’ll focus only one a couple of items. I’ll cover the rest of the interesting stuff in the coming days.

Before we get started, I’ll quote a few paragraphs from the report.

Baseball Park Development (Exhibits 11-17, 22-34)

For the purposes of organization in this staff report, the Baseball Park Development section considers all development east of Market Street which includes the ballpark, Athletics Way promenade, the development parcels surrounding the ballpark, Stomper Plaza, and the waterfront parks adjacent to the stadium.

The ballpark, with capacity for approximately 35,000 people, is proposed as an open-air bowl-shaped design. The ballpark includes a rooftop park that would reach an approximate elevation of +127’ NAVD881 and slope down to meet Water Street, along which home plate and the scoreboard are aligned. The ballpark seats are arranged in a configuration that creates a compact urban stadium footprint, with additional seating available on the rooftop park. The current proposal sets the field at approximately elevation +10.8’, which is about 3 feet below the existing grade of Water Street.

Athletics Way

Athletics Way is a proposed approximately 60-foot-wide 4.7-acre raised promenade with at-grade connections at Water Street that wraps around the ballpark. The promenade would serve as a public pathway and retail street for neighboring residents and visitors to the waterfront. The promenade would rise to elevation +34.8’, allowing for ballpark operational facilities to be tucked underneath the grade of Athletics Way. On gamedays and event days, the promenade would function as the stadium concourse and would be limited to ticketholders only.

One of the big reveals is the location of free viewing area beyond the right field power alley. In the diagram below, it’s where the green and orange areas intersect.

Game-Day Security Zone (with upper right inset of view from right field free area)

The feature is much like the free promenade area open for Giants games, except it’s not hemmed in by the water. At Oracle Park the policy is to limit fans to three innings in order to rotate through lines. The ballpark at Howard Terminal is symmetrical, so there is a similar area in left field. I would expect that to be utilized as a group picnic area.

Okay, now the good stuff.  I’ll make some observations as we go (click on each picture for a larger version). Focus on the scoreboard in the rendering below. Stay focused on the scoreboard as the perspective and viewing distance changes in the following renderings. And note how high the roof deck is. According to the report, the roof’s elevation is 127 feet. The field sits at nearly 11 feet, making the difference from field to top 116 feet. That’s taller than any part of the original seating bowl, and would land somewhere on the upper deck of Mount Davis. Again, look at the scoreboard. Then look at the gap between the roof and the seating bowl beneath it.

Rickey Plaza

It’ll be a trek to get to the apex of this ballpark. Multiple portals will allow fans to enter and exit the roof deck to shorten the journey. The portals will not be open on non-event days, otherwise it becomes a free-for-all. That leads to the best rooftop perch in the house, right behind home plate. Note the scoreboard and the batter’s eye. Looks far away, doesn’t it?

View from the Homeplate Terraces

BIG previously said that rim of the roof deck facing the field would be terraced, though not to the extent that there will be a large seating tier. Unless you need a wheelchair space or companion seat, it looks like you’ll have to stand. Considering how high up it is, that’s just as well. At least you can see in the image above a rail. You know how when you go to the upper deck during a typical A’s game there are always ushers to keep fans from loitering too close to the edge? Thankfully, there will be clear glass to prevent the pictured munchkin from plummeting. Assuming that’s how future A’s Access fans will be accommodated, there will surely be numerous opportunities to upgrade (not for free) to the good seats, on whatever basis their wallets can handle.

Rooftop Park

Back to the scoreboard. It’s slightly more visible because the new view looks further down the third base line. One consistent thing you’ll notice in all these images is how low the scoreboard is. Even the very first rendering has the scoreboard just above the batter’s eye. That’s more for the benefit of the folks in the seats as opposed to those on the roof. The roof is conceived in a way that will push most fans to the rim. Some of those fans will be 116 feet up. Others towards the foul poles will be lower, and the roof terraces will be placed lower as the roof descends to the field. I worry, though, that fans on the roof who don’t camp out early for a nice spot at the edge will have pretty bad or practically no views of the game.

Homeplate Hill

Consider this image, on a hill behind home plate. Not only can you not see home plate, you can barely see the scoreboard. Yet it’s named Homeplate Hill, a rather ironic choice. That brings me to my chief misgiving about this ballpark concept. I get that incorporating a park into a roof can create some fantastic views. However, those views do very little for baseball fans. Baseball historically doesn’t have steeply terraced stands as is commonly done in hockey and soccer. Eyes tend to drift from the normal pitcher-batter confrontation to action elsewhere. But this might be a step too far. This works great as a park. It might curry enough favor from community and civic advocates to win the day. Yet it comes at a cost. According to the plan, a sold out ballpark will have 10,000 people on this roof, up to 116 feet above the action. When they scream and chant, the roar will extend out into the estuary and towards downtown, not at the players. Maybe the idea is to have the 27,000 in the seats create most of the noise. If so, they might want to consider piping in some crowd noise to make up the difference. Oakland has been home to numerous experiments in ticket pricing and marketing, many of them unsuccessful. A’s Access? Successful so far. PSL’s? A miserable failure. I’m afraid that this ballpark plan exemplifies the wealth gap… with an actual gap.

12 thoughts on “New Howard Terminal Renderings from the BCDC 10/7 Design Board Meeting

  1. wait… there are only 27,000 actual seats??? 10,000 is SRO nosebleed “mt. davis sightline” seats???

    Please tell me this is wrong.

  2. This ballpark should be more appropriately named “Fantasy Park” as the chances of it actually being built are between slim and none. Toxic waste, no public access (gondolas? please!), lawsuits by the host city itself, no real plan to finance it, etc. are all reasons this thing should be built on Fantasy Island!

  3. How about something closer to 33k seats and 4k SRO?? I guess they are trying to create scarcity both in overall size and percentage of seats. 27k has to be the fewest number of seats in MLB.

  4. 27K is more than enough seats considering that the typical “crowd” for an Oakland game is about 12K.

  5. I really wish they would at minimum, move the actual seats up to 30K and have 4K SRO.

    Heck, they can do 33, 34, 35, 36, or 37, as a total, I dont care but can we please do a minimum of 30 seats.

  6. Not sure what the big deal is on seating capacity … how many games drew over 27k anyway. Also agree with the fantasy island comment.

    • Ticket prices. More seats = lower ticket prices to pay for this horrible idea.

      • Maybe I’m too cynical for you, but the idea that a business that pays it’s star employees an average of $5M (or any business for that matter) would ever look to build a new stadium to keep ticket prices low seems beyond unrealistic.

        The fact that they are aware of wanting access available through the roof top and are avoiding public financing is commendable. And sure, those views aren’t ideal (although the views from the lower parts of the park may very well be better), but if views are the important factor, then watch from home, and if the experience of being there is more important, then go to the roof top.

        In a perfect world, we could view entertainment as a public good that should remain as accessible as possible, but that is not the world we live in. If you want cheap seats then go to a minor league or college game and accept that they aren’t the best players in the world. The options exist.

        But the A’s clearly have been operating at a competitive disadvantage because of their ballpark and we aren’t going to fix that by building a new stadium designed to keep ticket prices down.

  7. This team just needs to move to Sacramento already. With the GoldenOne Center fully built out and a Major League Soccer Stadium about to be on the way. It would be a perfect fit.

  8. Why is the park facing East? Wouldn’t it be better to face South? You would have a view of the water, and wouldn’t have the sun in the fielders eyes.

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