A’s preferred site for new stadium is Peralta College land
OAKLAND — The A’s on Tuesday at last announced they have picked Peralta Community College District land for their new ballpark, team President Dave Kaval said in a letter to the district.
The team and the college district, which owns the 13 acres not far from Lake Merritt, will now begin negotiations — and already people are vowing to fight the proposal.
At a Peralta Community College District board hearing Tuesday evening, residents of nearby Chinatown and Eastlake, and faculty and students of Laney College called on district trustees to join their opposition. The calls came hours after the team handed off a letter detailing the A’s interest to college Chancellor Jowel Laguerre and district leaders
Kaval did not return calls for comment. But in his letter, obtained by this news agency, Kaval wrote, “The A’s need a modern venue so that we can put the most competitive product on the field and provide the best experience for our fans.” He added, “We firmly believe that the Peralta Site represents the best opportunity to keep Oakland’s last professional sports team in Oakland for the long term.”
Though Kaval has said all three sites — Peralta, Coliseum and Howard Terminal — were under equal consideration, many insiders for months indicated Peralta was a front-runner.
The Peralta site fits the downtown ballpark feel favored by Major League Baseball and Kaval. It’s also about a nine-minute walk from BART and not far from Interstate 880 and scenic views of downtown and Lake Merritt. But it will come with drawbacks: the proximity to the lake and a channel leading to the estuary requires environmental review.
If built, the estimated 30,000-plus seat, privately-financed stadium would be at the corner of Fifth Avenue and E. 8th Street, across a channel from a Laney parking lot and near the college’s football and baseball fields, prompting concerns among faculty.
Chris Weidenbach, a Laney English instructor, said in a recent meeting between Kaval and 35 faculty members there was “landslide opposition.”
“I can’t imagine being foolish enough to build a stadium this close to Laney College,” Weidenbach said at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Residents and activists from nearby Chinatown and Eastlake, the neighborhoods closest to the proposed site fear low-income and immigrant family and business owners will be displaced. Oakland leaders including Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan have also said the stadium should not impact the neighbors. A spokesman for Schaaf, who preferred the Howard Terminal location, declined comment Tuesday night.
“We have extreme concerns at the heart of it, we can’t have it here without deeply impacting Chinatown and Eastlake,” said Alvina Wong, Oakland organizing director at Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “It completely changes the cultural fabric.”
“They told us they weren’t making an announcement soon,” said Lailan Huen of the Chinatown Coalition and an Eastlake resident. “Ten years down the road I don’t want to say that I didn’t try to stop this. I hope the Peralta trustees can say the same thing.”
Kaval wrote that the team is committed to planning and building the stadium responsibly.
“We believe a ballpark and related mixed-use development at this site can strengthen Laney, the three other Peralta colleges and the surrounding neighborhoods,” he wrote. “We must address the forces of displacement already at work in the surrounding neighborhoods by preserving existing affordable housing and creating new housing, creating living wage jobs and supporting existing residents and small businesses to ensure that they stay rooted in their neighborhoods.”
As for the Coliseum site, Kaval said they will work to develop a plan for reusing the site, with new playing fields and facilities for community use “as an anchor project to entice additional redevelopment including significant commercial and residential uses.
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