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.
"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."