The Oakland A’s expressed shock Wednesday morning after their plans to build a new ballpark near downtown Oakland were dashed.
The governing board of the Peralta Community College District, which owns the land near Laney College where the A’s wanted to build, voted in a closed-session meeting Tuesday to stop talks with the team.
“We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” a team statement said. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”
A coalition made up of students, faculty and community members marched on the district office Wednesday and demanded a meeting with the district chancellor. Chancellor Jowel Laguerre responded, saying the district wanted to step back and evaluate options with the community.
"Why don’t we bring everything together, all of our assets, and compile our assets and our needs and then reach out to potential partners," Laguerre said. "Whatever we do in the future, we are going to make with our internal communities."
When asked if the district was planning to sell the land to a private corporation at any point in the next 10 years, Laguerre said no.
The new development leaves the long-term future of the franchise up in the air, with the A’s seemingly left to search out other locations to build in Oakland if they go that route at all. They are currently on a 10-year lease to play at the Coliseum that runs through the 2025 season.
On Sept. 12, the team announced the Peralta site as their choice on which to build their new ballpark, news that was more than a decade in the making as the A’s were forced to scrap plans for a stadium in both Fremont and San Jose over the years. Just two weeks ago, the A’s announced the hiring of a design team for the ballpark and the surrounding “ballpark village” they planned to build. Their plan was to begin building in 2021 with the idea of moving into the new stadium for the start of the 2023 season.
They chose the Peralta site — located across the street from Laney and just off of Interstate 880 — over two others in Oakland, Howard Terminal and the current Coliseum site. But from the get-go, their decision faced steep opposition.
Faculty and student groups at Laney raised concerns about how the ballpark, and the traffic it would bring to the area, would affect the student population. Community groups were worried about the possible displacement of local businesses and residents, including the nearby Chinatown district. Environmental groups raised concerns about how construction of a ballpark would impact wildlife in the nearby estuary.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf openly preferred the Howard Terminal location, a waterfront site at the Port of Oakland, though that site presented its own well-documented road blocks to completing a ballpark project.
What’s the A’s next step? That’s the big question. The logical speculation is whether they revisit as an option the Coliseum site, which they have called home since moving to Oakland in 1968. It always has represented the easiest, and some would argue, the best location on which to build anywhere in the city. Environmental impact reports already have been completed at the Coliseum, and there’s terrific BART and freeway access.
The downside, in the A’s point of view, is that the Coliseum doesn’t offer the vibrancy of an urban area that team president Dave Kaval craves for a location to build.
The San Francisco Chronicle was first to report news of the Peralta board halting talks with the A’s.