Re-examining Howard Terminal, Coliseum as Potential A's Ballpark Sites

Re-examining Howard Terminal, Coliseum as potential A's ballpark sites Joe Stiglich

Just when the A's finally seemed to have a direction mapped out for a new ballpark, they find themselves right back at the drawing board.

With the Peralta Community College District board halting negotiations for the A's to build near Laney College, it figures to bring other previously considered locations around Oakland back into play. Specifically, the A's were interested in Howard Terminal and the Coliseum site itself as potential spots to build a ballpark before settling on Peralta.

For those who need a refresher on the pros and cons of those two sites, here's a recap:

Howard Terminal: This site has been knocked around as a possibility for many years and always created the most buzz of any spot in Oakland. It's located right on the waterfront at the Port of Oakland, and many see it having similar potential to what the Giants have with AT&T Park. It's the preferred site of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf and it's very close to the attractions of Jack London Square. Former A's managing partner Lew Wolff flat-out discarded Howard Terminal as a consideration, citing the extensive environmental cleanup efforts and infrastructure improvements needed. But Wolff is out of the picture now, and A's majority owner John Fisher was known to be much more keen on the site.

The drawbacks? There are plenty. The nearest BART station is a full mile away, requiring a 20-25 minute walk to where a ballpark would be. There's thought that a new BART station would need to be built for that reason. Pedestrian bridges would likely need to be built to get fans across railroad tracks. The environmental issue is a major one. And that area along the water is protected by California tidelands trust regulations, meaning the A's would need to seek state approval to build at Howard Terminal.

"You have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort?" A's president Dave Kaval said on the A's Insider Podcast in February. "The site is so iconic that we've been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer."

Oakland Coliseum: It's the most convenient site on which to build, it would take the shortest amount of time and there is much less red tape to clear away before putting a shovel in the ground. But the Coliseum site also is the one that A's officials seem least fired up about. It's far away from downtown, meaning the "ballpark village" and urban vibrancy that Kaval talks about would have to be built up from scratch. But the Warriors are moving to San Francisco and the Raiders plan to bolt for Las Vegas, so in a few years the A's could have the Coliseum complex to themselves.

One of the site's best drawing cards is its accessibility. There's a BART station right there, the freeway is right there and there's tons of parking space for the tailgating that so many fans hold sacred. However, the Raiders are sticking around for at least two more football seasons, possibly three if their Las Vegas stadium isn't ready for 2020. That makes things a bit complicated, but a likely plan would have the A's building a new ballpark next door while both teams could continue playing in the old venue.

"I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest (location) to create kind of an urban village," Kaval said in February. "But I think it's possible."