Athletics

A's plan Howard Terminal stadium, Oakland Coliseum site redevelopment

A's plan Howard Terminal stadium, Oakland Coliseum site redevelopment

The A's believe they’ve finally found their new home in Oakland.

The organization announced Wednesday its plan to build a 34,000-seat waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square. If everything goes to plan, construction would start in late 2020, with the stadium opening in the spring of 2023.

[PHOTOS: Howard Terminal ballpark and Coliseum site redevelopment renderings

"I think the urban downtown location right on the waterfront is really a game-changer for the A's and for Oakland," team president Dave Kaval told NBC Sports California. "It's just a tremendous site. Having the connection to the water, the connection to Jack London Square, it's a tremendous location for a ballpark."

The plan describes the new privately financed ballpark as the centerpiece of a new waterfront district featuring housing, restaurants and small businesses that will create an active scene even on non-game days.

"The No. 1 principle is really that this is bigger than baseball," Kaval emphasized. "This is something that can really help transform Oakland, deal with a lot of the challenges the city has had over the years, and bring economic vitality, job opportunities and housing opportunities as part of this ballpark neighborhood. We're really excited to do that."

The A's also plan to redevelop the current Coliseum site, keeping the original baseball diamond while building a large park, along with new housing, office developments, restaurants and more. Oracle Arena, which the Warriors will vacate after this NBA season, would be repurposed as an events center.

"We've been there 50 years," Kaval said of the Coliseum. "We have a great sense of the importance of that development on the future of East Oakland. ... We wanted to honor East Oakland. We wanted to make sure it was part of the plan, and there wasn't a thinking we were abandoning that part of the city."

Kaval admits a great deal of work still must be done before the A's can move forward with their plan. Over the next 120 days, the organization hopes to reach an agreement with the Port of Oakland and begin an Environmental Impact Review process, among other tasks.

"2019 is going to be a really big year for us in terms of getting the final approvals," Kaval said. "We're going to work on our port option in the first quarter and hopefully get that finalized. We're going to work on a development agreement with the city of Oakland. We're working hand-in-hand with the mayor and the city council on that. ... We also are taking the other step of moving forward with the California Environmental Quality Act, which is a process that takes about a year to get your environmental clearances.

“So these are some big milestones that we're going through right now, and we felt it was important to give a progress update to the community and to our fans on where we are, and also show people our vision for an amazing ballpark on the waterfront."

While the Howard Terminal site presents its share of challenges and the A's already have faced some pushback, Kaval is confident all sides can work together to overcome any obstacles.

"We have a great partner in the city and in Mayor Libby Schaaf, and also in the port commission," he said. "We're working very closely with them to evaluate the challenges and come up with plans and be solution-oriented. Whether it's transportation, whether it's building a new neighborhood around the ballpark -- things like housing, including affordable housing, commercial real estate, bars, restaurants -- really create a district like you have around AT&T Park. That's an important part of the vision because it's going to mean the ballpark is more active and it's a better destination even on non-game days."

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Of course, Kaval is well aware that A's fans have seen these types of announcements before, only for them to fall through. Just last year, the A's believed they had a deal to build a new ballpark in downtown Oakland near Lake Merritt, but the Peralta Community College District landowners suddenly halted talks.

"We think we learned from that previous experience," Kaval said. "We channeled that learning and knowledge this year. We did a lot of community outreach, and we have a plan here that's not only our plan but it's really the community's plan, and it will continue to evolve as we move into 2019. ...

“We're doing everything we can, and we've had great partners on the city side and on the civic side to get this done. I think everyone realizes it's just a really great project for the Bay Area, for the East Bay and obviously for Oakland."

A's fan created GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner

A's fan created GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner

Is it a bird? A plane? Well, yes it’s a plane, but it’s a plane that’s towing a message behind it. What does it say? That’s right, “Houston Asterisks.”

The message was being flown above the Oakland Coliseum prior to the A’s three-game series against the Houston Astros that began Friday night:

It had originated with the idea from Jon Wilson of Brentwood, Calif. who is active on A’s Reddit and admitted he was getting worked up with how the Astros would not hear the booing from fans since patrons are not allowed to be in ballparks this season.

“As it got closer and closer to them coming here, I wanted to do something,” Wilson told NBC Sports California on Friday. “I put a post up saying ‘Hey everybody, is there anything we can do to protest?’”

The protest stems from Mike Fiers unearthing the Astros’ cheating ways when it was revealed they would steal signs electronically during their 2017 World Series run. 

Wilson figured perhaps he and fans simply could show up to the stadium and yell. But one person suggested maybe a banner being towed by a plane. After thinking about it for a bit, Wilson decided to turn this idea into a reality. He started a GoFundMe to make this happen.

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“I just promoted it on Reddit and Twitter and within 24 hours we had the $1200 and we’re at $1700 now,” Wilson said.

Wilson said if they doubled that original $1200, he told followers he would do another flyover for a game. And if not, he would donate the extra money to the A’s community fund.

The viral Twitter account, 2020 Houston Astros Shame Tour, that has been trolling the Astros since the cheating scandal surfaced, reached out to Wilson and asked if he could get more behind-the-scenes footage of the actual progress of the setup. The company that was behind the aerial banners let him film everything.

“Apparently it’s gotten a lot of publicity,” Wilson said. “I just really hope this motivates other teams’ towns to do something of their own, just don’t let this go quietly by. The fans need to feel that they have some part of giving feedback to the Astros since they can’t boo them in person.”

But Wilson, who will be sitting out the Coliseum on Friday, has more in store for the Astros.

“Oh, I have a megaphone and when the Astros players come up to bat, I’m going to boo them through the megaphone,” he said. “They probably won’t hear me, but this is more symbolic than anything.”

[RELATED: A's-Astros animosity exists, don't expect retaliation]

Wilson will be following on his phone to see who’s up at bat and when to boo that player, but made sure to note he would only boo players that were on the 2017 team.

“Specifically the ones like [Alex] Bregman, [George] Springer … ” Wilson said. “They probably won’t hear me, but I’m not going to do it the whole game, not going to stand on this bridge by myself the whole game, but I’ll do it like the first inning or two, just giving my little effort to it.”

Bob Melvin, A's support Ryan Christenson after unintended Nazi salute

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Bob Melvin, A's support Ryan Christenson after unintended Nazi salute

As the A’s prepare to take on the AL West rival Houston Astros on Friday for a three-game series, baseball has not been the first thing on everyone’s mind. 

Following the A’s sweep of the Texas Rangers on Thursday, Oakland bench coach Ryan Christenson made an apparent Nazi salute in the handshake line as the team celebrated their victory. The gesture was captured on NBC Sports California’s broadcast, and those who saw it criticized both Christenson and the organization on social media.

A’s manager Bob Melvin addressed the media on Friday and said he did not see Christenson’s gesture in person, but he did see it later on. Melvin is confident it was not intended to be hateful, or presented with any malice. 

“Ryan Christenson is fully supported by everybody in our clubhouse, and they know who he is. So do I,” Melvin said. “So, obviously it didn’t look great, but that was not his intent at all. I know that for a fact.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha spoke to reporters earlier on Friday and echoed what Melvin said, saying Christenson had no ill intent behind the exchange with closer Liam Hendriks. 

Melvin said Christenson has never been the type to say or do anything that would be racist or any derivative. 

“Never, he’s just not that guy,” Melvin said. “He’s progressive, very progressive as a person and everybody feels bad for him right now because they know who he is.” 

Melvin revealed that he addressed the team about the incident in a short meeting, and the consensus across the team and organization is this was not done intentionally. Canha repeatedly said this on Friday as well. 

[RELATED: Christenson, A's publically apologize for gesture]

Melvin also said he hasn’t heard anything from MLB in regard to whether any disciplinary measures would be taken. 

“I can’t speak for anybody above me,” Melvin said. “And I don’t expect to, no. I mean, I don’t.”