OAKLAND — A’s president Dave Kaval maintained Tuesday that the team will announce its location to build a new Oakland ballpark within this calendar year.
Whenever that does happen, whether it’s during the baseball season or as the holidays approach, the A’s want the full plan to be in place — start of construction, length of time to build and an opening date — so fans know exactly what kind of timeframe can be expected.
“Obviously we’re working as quickly as we can to make the announcement as soon as possible,” Kaval said during a news conference Tuesday. “At that time, we’ll not only let folks know what the final location is, but also the timeline to actually develop the ballpark, all the different approval processes and also the groundbreaking and the opening date. That will all be included in that announcement.”
Just how much approval is needed at the legislative level, local and statewide, depends on which of three locations the A’s ultimately decide on — a waterfront venue at Howard Terminal, near Jack London Square; a neighborhood ballpark next to Laney College; or a 21st century jewel built right on the site of their current home at the Coliseum.
Kaval maintains that the Coliseum is still getting equal consideration to the other two. But his comments about the A’s wanting a “ballpark village” environment, with surrounding bars, restaurants and retail, certainly suggests the closer-to-downtown sites at Howard Terminal and Laney are more likely.
“I’ve met with hundreds of people, and they’ve all given me their point of view on the ballpark,” Kaval said, “and probably four out of five say a ballpark village that has a vibrancy, people walking around it, jobs around it, bars, restaurants, just a nightlife excitement — a reason to be there — is something that people talk a lot about. …
“That’s not to say it couldn’t happen here at the Coliseum if it was planned right. But that is something that is an important criteria for us as we evaluate the sites.”
The A’s released an economic impact study Tuesday, authored by Jeff Bellisario of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, that claims a new ballpark will pour $3.05 billion into Oakland’s economy over a 10-year period.
But there are different concerns about Laney and Howard Terminal, making the timeline for the A’s to get a stadium completed at either site a moving target at this point.
Kaval was asked about merchants and private citizens around Laney who might be concerned about being pushed out if a ballpark is built. Howard Terminal has challenges that include a lack of public transit in the area, environmental clean-up that must take place and government regulations that make it difficult to build a venue so close to the water.
The A’s continue to have dialogue with all parties that would be affected by a ballpark at any location, Kaval said, stressing that the A’s want all voices who have a stake in the project to be heard.
Tuesday’s report mentions a ballpark construction time of two years, but that doesn’t mean the A’s will be playing in a brand new palace two years from the time they announce a location. It all depends on which site the A’s choose, and how much government approval is needed at various levels.
“(Two years is) kind of an off-the-shelf number,” Kaval said. “As you look at different sites and understand the different challenges or opportunities, you might be able to shave time or it might be longer. And part of the process of getting to that announcement is working through those parameters and communicate out to our fans and community what a realistic timeline is.”