New Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval knew that fans would be floating ideas past him at the first open session at his new Coliseum office. Indeed, Ibbi Almufti proposed that Kaval should explore building a floating stadium for the A’s in San Francisco Bay.
Hotel kingpin Barron Hilton 52 years ago proposed a floating San Diego Stadium for the Padres. In 1963 the lure of the seas hit Seattle with a plan that never left port, proposing a seaworthy stadium for football and baseball.
If you think this is fiction, renowned architectural firm Gensler has proposed "Project Poseidon," a temporary floating home away from home on the River Thames for the Palace of Westminster while the original House of Parliament is refurbished. After all, it’s been around since 1835 and could use a facelift.
When the Giants were struggling to find a post-Candlestick home, several proposals had them on a barge ballpark sailing around the bay. Talk about "splash hits."
I’m no naval engineer, but the closest structure to a floating stadium in Northern California is actually the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, which is 21 feet below sea level and has a sizeable aquifer underneath the playing field.
The A’s are said to be looking seriously at Howard Terminal. Before they swim up that stream, though, they should spend time with Warriors and the 87 government agencies that would be involved in approving a new Howard Terminal ballpark.
The Raiders and A’s have been out to sea for years trying to develop new single-use stadiums. The Raiders face a $1.2 billion stadium valuation based on the recent deal between the Ronnie Lott-led group and the city. The A’s are still investigating ballpark sites. Oakland, Alameda County and the state will provide little or no hard cash investment for either team’s single use new home.
You can forget about a single-use stadium cruising the bay. But advances in architectural design, construction materials, modular manipulation, hydraulics, computer-driven infrastructure, robotics, LED technology, field composition and new funding mechanisms have created an opportunity to explore a brave new world of multi-purpose stadiums and arenas.
We are on the technological path to venues that can morph from one sport to another without compromising the fan experience. Think of the possibility of stadiums as sports and entertainment transformers.
ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia, allows for movement of the grandstand to allow for a change of playing field -- both shape and type. It can accommodate cricket, Aussie Rules Football, rugby, soccer, American football, and baseball. University of Phoenix Stadium has fields that move in and out of the stadium through a hydraulic system. The Giants and Jets are making piles of cash sharing Metlife Stadium. The Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, with the world’s largest HD video board, has changed the way that fans consume live sports.
A different take on the multi-purpose concept can be seen in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan and Arena 92, a stadium set to open in 2017 near Paris. Both venues are fully enclosed stadiums that can accommodate field and indoor court sports. Both the Super Arena and Arena 92 feature movable seating blocks that allow each facility to serve as an appropriately sized venue for either field or court sports.
Now is the perfect time to go back to the future and create the new multi-purpose stadium that is dictated in these challenging economic times. That opportunity exists on the current site of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.
Does anyone have Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking’s cell number?