Update 1:20 p.m The press conference held by Jean Quan and other city officials is now over. One site, called Victory Court near Jack London Square, we’ve already heard about. The other is a very ambitious idea to redevelop the whole area around the Coliseum with a new baseball park and convention center, shopping, restaurant, hotel. The city hopes that by having two alternatives, their plan will have the best chance of success with Major League Baseball. The plan is to have something ready by opening day, 2016.
The more immediate time frame relates to Major League Baseball’s decision on whether it will permit the A’s to move to San Jose, conflicting with the Giants’ territorial rights, or whether it will require the team to stay within their current territory of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
Update 2:55 p.m. We received a lot of tweets asking about the still-nowhere-to-be found environmental impact report for Victory Court. Here’s what Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell said in response to my question about it:
“No, it has not been completed, and as you know, the EIR process is one that requires a substantial amount public input and comment. And so the reason why you have not seen that is that we have not been aggressively moving forward with the EIR process.
That being said, one of the things that’s important to know – and I hope this doesn’t get too technical – is that at the Coliseum, sports facilities are an existing use.
So there is no need to start from scratch with an environmental impact review process there. And we have already, as most of you know, been moving forward with the Oak to Ninth project, which is already an entitled project there.
So this would be an EIR process, at Victory Court, that would probably have to start close to from scratch, but that we think would move fairly rapidly. If we get the high sign from anybody in Major League Baseball that we’re ready to go, we are actually poised to move forward and we have a schedule that we think could meet their needs.”
Update 4:25 p.m. Here’s the full audio of today’s press conference.
City of Oakland officials, including Mayor Jean Quan and members of the City Council, are holding a press conference to “make an announcement about Major League Baseball.” There’s speculation in the Oakland Tribune that this concerns a plan to redevelop the area around the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (now called O.co Coliseum) that would include a new stadium for the Oakland A’s, as well as a new arena for the Golden State Warriors. What this would mean for the Oakland Raiders and the current Coliseum structure remains to be seen.
The three pro sports teams that share the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, built in the early 1960s and now considered out-of-date, are all flirting with the idea of moving. The A’s are furthest along in their plans. After abandoning a proposal to build a ballpark-retail-residential complex in Fremont, A’s managing partner Lew Wolff formally asked Major League Baseball to allow the team to move to a site near downtown San Jose. Commissioner Bud Selig formed a blue-ribbon committee to evaluate the request, which MLB has jurisdiction over because San Jose and Santa Clara County are currently considered to be the territory of the San Francisco Giants.
Rhamesis Muncada, whose blog newballpark.org is the definitive source for A’s venue-obsessives, points out that this committee was formed exactly 999 days ago, with still no word. Meanwhile, the city of San Jose has made considerable progress in preparing the site for the A’s to build if they get permission to move.
The city of Oakland had previously chosen a site at Victory Court, near Jack London Square, as its favored location for a new baseball-only stadium for the team. An environmental impact report was commissioned almost a year ago, but that has not been completed either.
Last week, BART and the city announced a plan for a new apartment complex near the Coliseum (which has the not-to-be-underestimated advantage of its own BART station). More development around the Coliseum has always been part of Oakland’s master plan. Today’s announcement may be an iteration of those concepts.
The other two teams at the Coliseum complex are the Golden State Warriors, who are reportedly considering a move to a yet-to-be-built space in San Francisco, and the Oakland Raiders. The Coliseum was built and remodeled to the Raider’s specs, but they could be tempted to share the Santa Clara facility being planned for the San Francisco 49ers or even to return to Los Angeles.