Thursday, December 10, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Oakland Details New Ballpark Sites

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 3:20 PM

The City of Oakland would not spend any public money on constructing a new ballpark in Jack London Square for the Oakland A’s, but would assemble land and provide infrastructure and parking for the stadium, Mayor Ron Dellums said at a City Hall press conference this afternoon. Dellums and city staffers said the city would use redevelopment funds to acquire property, and not the city’s debt-ridden general fund, and hoped to obtain more federal stimulus money for infrastructure if the project goes forward. Dellums, however, would not reveal exactly how much public money the city would commit.

Dellums and council members also provided new details about the two new sites in Jack London Square. As the Express previously reported, they are at Oak and Third streets, at the Lake Merritt Channel, and a site west of Broadway, between Second Street and Interstate 880, bounded by Jefferson and Market Streets (the city refers to it as “north” of Broadway). The city also is pushing the Howard Terminal, also in Jack London Square, and the Oakland Coliseum parking lot, although the A’s have previously dismissed those two sites as unviable.

Both of the new sites are twenty acres in size, and would create synergies with the substantial new development built in Jack London Square over the past decade, while helping the area to finally become a regional destination. “This has been about keeping the A’s … but that’s not solely what this is about,” Dellums said. “It’s about economic development.... It’s about Oakland moving forward.”

A Major League Baseball task force has studied the two new sites, along with sites in San Jose and Fremont, and is expected to complete its report next month. However, it’s not clear whether the report will be public. A spokesman for baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he may reveal parts of the report after it’s done.

Oakland had been considered out of the running for a new A’s ballpark until Dellums teamed up earlier this year with City Council President Jane Brunner and an A’s booster club, known as Let’s Go Oakland, which is co-run by city Planning Commissioner Doug Boxer. Boxer’s mother, US Senator Barbara Boxer, also has been involved in the effort, along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and several Oakland business leaders. The city and its partners are attempting to keep the team from moving to San Jose, and to prove that A’s co-owner Lew Wolff was wrong when he claimed that there are no viable ballpark sites in the city.

Of the two new sites, the Oak and Third location, also known as “Victory Court,” appears to be the frontrunner. Council President Brunner, Councilman Larry Reid, and City Administrator Dan Lindheim, all said it was their top choice in interviews after the press conference. In addition, a knowledgeable source said baseball’s task force also prefers the site. Along with being on the Lake Merritt Channel and across Embarcadero from the Estuary, it’s only three blocks from the Lake Merritt BART station and would be adjacent to the huge Oak-to-Ninth condo development. The city also already owns six acres of the site and uses it as the Oakland Fire Department’s training center.

As for the west of Broadway site, which the city is calling "Jack London North," it’s within walking distance of both the City Center and West Oakland BART stations, and only three blocks from the heart of Jack London Square (Full disclosure: the Express’ new headquarters would be in left field of the ballpark, meaning the paper would have to find a new home).

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