OAKLAND — A’s president Dave Kaval took part in a fan Q&A session Friday at the Coliseum as part of the team’s Fan Appreciation Weekend.
Here’s some bits and pieces from the session, which was moderated by A’s radio broadcaster Ken Korach:
—Would the A’s re-consider the Coliseum site for a new ballpark if the Peralta location ultimately doesn’t work out?
Kaval: “We’re 100 percent focused on Peralta. We think it can be a dynamic location, and we’re excited about engaging the community. .. But we’re not abandoning East Oakland.”
To that end, Kaval emphasized once again the A’s ambition for the Coliseum site — if all of the current professional teams do in fact bolt the location — to eventually house a youth sports academy with baseball fields and other facilities.
“Wouldn’t it be something to have more home-grown players playing at our (new) ballpark?”
—What other ballparks might be inspirations for design of the venue?
“I think the two guiding principles we have, are, 1) that it’s an intimate ballpark. Not a bad seat in the house. No nosebleeds. Think Fenway or Wrigley (plans are for a roughly 35,000 seat stadium). And 2) build something uniquely Oakland. Something that feels like Oakland, whether it’s an Oaklandish store (built in to the stadium), or the foodie culture …”
—Addressing how city and county funds might be utilized, Kaval emphasized that the ballpark itself will be privately financed, as has been stated before. He mentioned public funds being used for infrastructure (also a long-established idea), including possible enhancements to the Lake Merritt BART station, which is a short walk from the proposed stadium location.
“We’ll work together with the county, with the city, with (the) Peralta (Community College District). This is as big a project as the city has ever seen, a massive coordinating effort.”
—As Kaval told NBC Sports California in this story last week, the A’s plan to retain a good chunk of their current young core of talent to be the cornerstone players once the new stadium opens. Their target move-in date is Opening Day, 2023. That likely means sinking money into long-term extensions for players who will be arriving at, or nearing, their free agency years. Kaval mentioned the Cleveland Indians of the early 90’s as an example of a team opening a new stadium with a home-grown group of stars. Billy Beane, the head of the A’s baseball operations, has made the same comparison in the past.
— The A’s plan to build substantial parking, but the idea is for the new ballpark to be “(public) transit-first, like AT&T Park and Fenway,” Kaval said. … “It’s gonna take cars off the road.”
Having said that, Kaval added that the A’s will aim to preserve the tailgating culture with the parking that they do provide.