Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is backing a proposed $500 million waterfront ballpark for the Oakland Athletics.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a group led by Clorox chairman and CEO Don Knauss and former ice cream mogul T. Gary Rogers has proposed a new stadium at the Port of Oakland that would be just west of Jack London Square.
“It’s one of the two sites we promised Major League Baseball we would offer and it will be available early next year,” Quan said. “Trust me, Oakland is hot now and a lot of developers would love that site it if doesn’t become a baseball stadium.”
One problem is that A’s owner Lew Wolff doesn’t think the plan is a realistic one.
“It would be easier to build on Treasure Island,” Wolff told the Chronicle.
Rhamesis Muncada, who has run a website following the never-ending journey to find a new home for the A’s since 2005, says on newballpark.org that there are a plethora of problems with the waterfront site.
The Port of Oakland poses a problem because port authorities would rather the property remain zoned for maritime use, according to Muncada. That means changing the zoning could become engulfed in red tape, despite Quan’s claims that the plan would allow the city to “skip some regulatory hurdles.”
Regulations appear to be fairly specific about the process for changing the use on the site. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has designated the site for port priority use and any proposed change in the use would be subject to an environmental review.
The stadium game has been played out basically unchanged for decades. It’s as if all parties read from a script:
- Team makes loud whining noises about the condition and lack of profitability of its current stadium/arena and says it may have to leave (insert city name here) if a new facility isn’t built to better enable the team to compete.
- City goes into panic mode, usually attempting to move heaven and earth in an effort to accommodate Mr. Rich Guy Patron who owns Team X.
- Some taxpayer advocacy group goes into a dither about spending public money on a playground for millionaires and billionaires. Of course, many of these groups also go into a dither about spending public money for any purpose save paving the street in front of the group leader’s house.
- The jockeying begins in earnest, with City B and possibly City C laying out red carpet and showing pretty pictures rendering beautiful new stadia.
- Mr. Rich Guy Patron plays the cities off each other until he gets his new palace at the lowest possible cost to his own personal cash pile.
If that seems overly cynical, it’s only because it’s a scenario I’ve seen played out dozens of times over the last 35 or so years.
And while the new drawings of a waterfront site for the Oakland Athletics are stunning, it takes more than a pretty picture to get a new ballpark built.