Ballparks change neighborhoods. Look at what AT&T Park helped do for the now-booming Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco. What was once a district primarily consisting of crumbling warehouses and unused shipping docks is now a bustling neighborhood of condos, retail shops, restaurants and tech company headquarters. And buildings are still going up. The Giants organization is planning to build 1,500 new housing units in AT&T Park’s Parking Lot A.
In the 10 years following Petco Park’s construction in San Diego, from 2004 to 2014, the neighboring East Village area added 14,000 housing units and 15,000 new residents.
Howard Terminal is reportedly Mayor Libby Schaaf’s preferred location for a new A’s stadium. It gets high marks for being on the waterfront and directly north of Jack London Square. A’s fans could easily walk to the square from the stadium and could contribute a major boost to the area’s retail stores and restaurants.
Though Jack London Square itself has seen a minor housing boom in recent years, the blocks around Howard Terminal haven’t been affected nearly as much. In fact, the Conduit’s Development Map shows little housing is planned for the area. The neighborhood mostly consists of storage facilities, supply stores, industrial shops and non-profits. It could certainly accommodate more businesses and housing units, but the new would likely displace some of the old.
One of the drawbacks of building a stadium at Howard Terminal would be that it is 0.9 miles from BART, a bit of hike for mass transit users. A stadium could also bring more traffic to an already-congested area of I-880.
The Peralta Community College District headquarters site near Laney College is reportedly the A’s organization’s desired location. A stadium there would have great views of Lake Merritt and the Oakland Hills, would be close to BART and I-880, and would be near mixed-use residential and commercial neighborhoods.
The Peralta site is also just across the freeway from Brooklyn Basin, a sprawling 32- acre development where 3,000 new residences and 200,000 square feet of retail space are being built.
Peralta administrators are worried about being displaced from the site, though, and could put up a major fight against the stadium.
The existing Oakland Coliseum site has many positives. It has a direct connection to BART. It’s right next to I-880. Parking is already built. The site can already accommodate a ballpark with little impact to the existing neighborhood. But that’s part of the problem. The current stadium has never proven to be much of an economic draw. As it’s away from major areas of interest, people come for games but do not stay for anything else.
The current site does have plenty of potential. The City Council approved a specific plan for the site in 2015, which called for the construction of Coliseum City, a sprawling development that would have housed all three of Oakland’s sports teams, 8 million square feet of retail, and 5,750 homes on the site’s 130 acres and an additional 650 acres spanning into surrounding neighborhoods. The plan outlined environmental guidelines and zoning rules for the development, so any real estate developer who complied with those guidelines could bypass certain environmental reviews when building projects at the site.
One thing is certain, however. If A’s leave their current home for another neighborhood in Oakland, the 132-acre site the team would be abandoning would be quickly snatched up for development. The City of Oakland and the Bay Area cannot afford to have a site well served by BART and I-880 left unused during the Bay Area’s current housing crisis.
Regardless of where the A’s choose to build their stadium, its construction will have a positive economic impact on Oakland. According to a recent Bay Area Council study, the privately financed stadium would bring $3.5 billion in community benefits and 2,000 construction jobs to the city over 10 years. Oakland residents just need to decide in which neighborhood they’re most comfortable reaping the ballpark’s benefits.