With the Oakland A's agreeing to a flexible 10-year lease at O.co Coliseum, a much more intimidating task is on tap for ownership: Working out a new-ballpark plan.
Lew Wolff and John Fisher have all but conceded that any new-ballpark planning will take place at a site somewhere on the current Coliseum area; it's land already available, and by their reckoning it would work much better than any other proposed site in the city, including a much-touted waterfront location near Jack London Square.
Now, there are a lot of folks in Oakland who see the Coliseum site as the logical home of the next generation of area sports facilities; the Coliseum, of course, is doomed, and with the planned move of the Golden State Warriors (NBA) to San Francisco, Oracle Arena may also meet the wrecking ball. The current sports-center site isn't necessarily huge, but it's certainly large enough for two sports facilities a la Kansas City or Camden Yards, with the Oakland Raiders participating with their own new-stadium plan.
What is a matter of some debate is the scope of the project. Wolff and crew have never really bought into the whole concept of a Coliseum City project, where development on a larger scale would help pay for new sports facilities. That's the vision pushed by Raiders owner Mark Davis, and he's applied some public pressure to Oakland officials to make this a reality sooner than later.
While we've been hearing there's been more progress behind on the scenes on a new ballpark at the Coliseum site than has been reported, at some point Oakland officials will need to make a few hard choices: whether to push the Coliseum City plan, and how to schedule construction of two new facilities while tearing one or two down. In theory, you could build a new A's ballpark on the grounds while another is being built, but building a new NFL stadium as well may not be physically feasible. You could see some sort of plan where both Oakland teams are playing in San Francisco while new facilities are built -- the A's at AT&T Park and the Raiders at Levi's Stadium -- which, while not being ideal in the short term, would pay dividends in the long term. There are lots of moving parts here and many egos involved when you have two sports teams, city officials, county officials and stadium authority members -- not to mention potential developers -- and the challenge will be coming up with a plan that will placate all the shareholders.
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