After news broke last month that the Oakland A’s had finally settled on a site for their new ballpark at Oakland’s Peralta Community College District, their plans have been derailed after the school decided to cancel negotiations with the team. With plans for the stadium, previously to have been designed by Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK, now potentially derailed, it also remains to be seen if the A’s will remain in Oakland.
Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Oakland-based Studio T-Square would have led master planning and urban design efforts, alongside building out a community engagement process. HOK and Snøhetta were to collaborate on the design of the new ballpark, and to make sure that it wouldn’t remain an “insular” experience. So-called “stadium districts” are becoming fairly common around the country, as team owners and designers have been seeking to jumpstart investment around areas that already experience a high amount of foot traffic. Though no renderings had been released, construction was expected to have finished by 2023.
While the Peralta Community College site was chosen after a years-long search by the A’s, nothing had been finalized by their decision to put the new stadium there. Besides needing to finalize land negotiations with Peralta, the team had been facing ardent pushback from Chinatown locals worried about gentrification, from the Audubon society over the impact that development would have on bird migration patterns at the nearby Lake Merritt, and from politicians raising other concerns from their constituents. Compounding the problems the A’s were facing, much of the 15-acre site has been contaminated with an unknown amount of gasoline and other toxic substances and would have needed costly remediation.
Although business leaders in Oakland had rallied in support of the investments the new stadium would generate, Peralta’s board of trustees chose to discontinue conversations with the A’s on Tuesday.
“We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward,” the A’s said in a statement released this morning. “All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”
The A’s had already pledged to pay for development out of their own pockets, but this promise was dependent on revenue projections from a new ballpark, not the redevelopment of their existing Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. As the only remaining professional sports team in Oakland, the pressure was on for the A’s to choose a site in the city, but with their top pick off the table, the Athletics could be enticed to leave. As A’s President Dave Kaval recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, there was no “plan B” if Peralta didn’t work out.