The Oakland A’s have been trying to leave their sewage-logged digs for a new ballpark for what feels like decades now. In September, they expressed their desire to build a new, privately financed stadium near Laney College, right in the middle of Oakland next to Lake Merritt. They’ll have to pick a new site now.
In order to build on the Laney site, the A’s needed the approval of Peralta Community College District and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. They offered to develop the area and funnel some of the profits back to Peralta, but last night, Peralta’s board of trustees told Chancellor Jowel Laguerre to discontinue talks with the A’s, per a report from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kimberly Veklerov. The news came as an apparent surprise to the A’s, if a statement saying that they were “shocked” is any indication. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called for Oakland politicians to “rejoin the conversation.”
Laguerre didn’t quite rule that out. He hedged his bets and said that talks could resume someday, although he made no promises beyond that. Students and teachers at Laney voiced strong opposition to the deal and one trustee told the Chronicle:
“I came to the conclusion that, one, as a district it was really out of our scope,” he said, adding that he was speaking for himself personally. “We didn’t have the capacity to study this carefully. Two, the likelihood of it resulting in anything that would benefit Peralta was very minimal. ... And, three, there were so many outstanding questions about the impacts on the local community.”
So where do the A’s, who will soon be Oakland’s only major sports team, go now?
If Laney College is truly off the table, that’s a big setback; A’s president Dave Kaval once said there was no Plan B if that site fell through. The New York Times’ Kevin Draper (who used to work here) wrote a long rundown of the numerous challenges facing the A’s in Oakland back in September, and he notes that the A’s have a ticking clock attached to their stadium situation. Their current cheap-ass ballpark keeps them in revenue sharing checks, but that arrangement will expire in 2021.
The two other potential stadium locations in play are a waterfront spot near Jack London Square and the existing site. The Coliseum currently is on its own in a big ugly parking lot and its ability to generate revenue is limited by how isolated it is. Kaval has said he doesn’t want to stay in the same place, though doing so would present far fewer hurdles than the waterfront site or the Laney College site. For what it’s worth, MLB is rumored to favor the A’s staying where they are. Whether they have to concede more to Peralta or accept an inferior site, the A’s will almost certainly not get the stadium deal they wanted. Their future is still as uncertain as ever.