Renderings of a new $500 million Oakland Athletics ballpark to be built at the Howard Terminal of the Port of Oakland look really pretty. The sketches actually resemble what the San Francisco Giants have at AT&T Park across the Bay, plus some gigantic shipping cranes. Even the kayakers look baseball-ready. Is the vision being touted by high-profile developers too good to be true for the A's, who desperately need a new ballpark before someone flushes a toilet at O.co Coliseum again?
Probably, says owner Lew Wolff:
To call Wolff skeptical of the Howard Terminal idea, however, would be an understatement. "It would be easier to build on Treasure Island," he told us.
"All I care about is getting a new home for the A's in the best possible circumstances - and under any circumstances, Howard Terminal would be as close to impossible as anything," Wolff said.
He wasn't willing to give an instant replay of all his objections, but in the past he has pointed to toxic wastes that will require an expensive cleanup and the difficulty of persuading the state to agree to a non-maritime use of the site. Wolff also has noted that the land is tied up in a long-term lease.
But the ballpark group contends that most of Wolff's fears are outdated or wrong.
Two takeaways. One: "Treasure Island"? Yeeeargh! Maybe a ballpark fit for the Pirates, but they've already got a place with PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Two: "Toxic wastes"?! Ewwww! The A's green and gold uniforms already have a propensity to kind of glow. They don't need any help.
The location seems ripe for urban renewal, and any waterfront property in California that hasn't yet fulfilled its "potential" is going to be considered gold for developers. The names and businesses touting the plan — including the chairman of Clorox bleach, along with a son of Sen. Barbara Boxer — have gravitas. The site is near freeways and a rapid transit expansion from BART (which is about a mile away) sounds feasible. The A's would stay in Oakland, which is what they say they want ideally. But...
Even if Wolff's notion of "toxic wastes" on the site is outdated, he just doesn't seem to be embracing this idea. While he might be posturing to get the best possible deal on a stadium (i.e. something that someone else will pay for, mostly), if he really doesn't like the Port of Oakland idea, it's not going to happen as long as he owns the A's.
It's just, with MLB reportedly blocking San Jose to appease the Giants, where can the A's go in Northern California? At some point, they're going to start looking elsewhere.
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