Dave Kaval

Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark

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JOE STIGLICH

Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark

OAKLAND — The A’s moved into some plush new office space this week at Jack London Square, with hallways wide enough to ride a skateboard through, as one team executive already discovered.

That ever-elusive search for a new ballpark site?

Still TBA.

After guiding reporters through a tour of his team’s 40,000-square foot new office Tuesday, A’s president Dave Kaval made his first public comments on the ballpark topic since the Peralta Community College District pulled the plug on his plans to build a stadium near Laney College.

“I just want to re-emphasize we’re 100 percent committed to Oakland and a location for a privately financed ballpark here,” Kaval said.

“We’ve identified three final locations. We had a preferred location, a lot of thought went into that. We just want to make sure before we make another announcement that we’re very thoughtful about how we approach it.”

Those three locations were Peralta, which seems off the table unless Laney College leaders have a change of heart and the sides re-negotiate; the A’s current home at the Coliseum complex; and Howard Terminal, which is in clear view from the team’s new second-floor office windows at 55 Harrison St.

The A’s chose this site for their offices while originally planning their ballpark at Peralta, so the proximity to Howard Terminal is not an indication that the A’s are now leaning toward that site.

But Howard Terminal and the Coliseum are back in play, Kaval confirmed, though the fact the A’s bypassed both during the original search demonstrates that they feel each has serious drawbacks. Howard Terminal is the preferred site of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, but includes headaches having to do with infrastructure needs and environmental clean-ups. The Coliseum would provide the quickest route to completion, but the A’s reportedly have questions about whether the site can generate enough revenue to build a new venue privately.

Whatever direction the search takes, Kaval believes the A’s new executive offices are an important step in the process. The team spent between $4 and $5 million, and the massive space includes an entryway that showcases the nine World Series championship trophies in franchise history, a full gym and a batting cage for employees to enjoy.

There’s also memorabilia from throughout A’s history at every corner, including the white cleats first introduced by Charlie Finley in 1967 and the team’s original scouting report on Reggie Jackson.

Kaval compared the new-age office to those found in Silicon Valley, because he says the A’s will compete with Silicon Valley to recruit the Bay Area’s top business minds. He’s hopeful the new space also helps woo potential sponsors.

“It shows the type of environment we want to create with a new ballpark,” Kaval said, “celebrating our past, having a collaborative work environment. When people see this, they can see the vision we have for a new ballpark. It’s almost like a sampler.”

A’s chief operating officer Chris Giles rode a skateboard Monday down a long hall that connects different departments. Troy Smith, the A’s vice president of marketing, said the new office “really changes the way you view your job. It’s almost like having a brand new job.”

Though the A’s are dedicating plenty of resources to build a new office culture, they’re not as likely to spend aggressively from a baseball standpoint, at least not this season.

Factoring in guaranteed contracts, estimated salaries for arbitration players via mlbtradeumors.com, and estimated salaries for pre-arbitration players via Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the A’s current 2018 payroll sits at roughly $56.75 million.

It’s likely that the Opening Day payroll won’t crack $70 million, which would be well below the roughly $81 million of 2017. But perhaps that’s not a shock. The A’s are still likely a season away, at least, from being a true contender, and they’re building around a core of young players who are making near the major league minimum.

The good news for fans is that Kaval says he doesn’t envision the failed Peralta ballpark plan interrupting the A’s grand vision from a roster standpoint. That would suggest Oakland still plans to sign some of those young core players to long-term extensions, which front office officials have stated as a goal.

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen

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AP

Kaval calls A's ballpark plan 'as big a project' as Oakland has seen

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.