For years the Oakland Athletics have been right at the top of the list of teams that desperately need a new ballpark. The Oakland Coliseum has caused the A’s a host of major league problems, chief among them recurring plumbing issues that have led to the clubhouses and dugouts flooding with sewage on numerous occasions.
Today, the team took another step closer to abandoning the problem child that is the Oakland Coliseum and announced it has hired four architecture firms to lead the design process of a new, problem-free home ballpark. Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Studio T-Square will lead the master planning and urban design efforts for the new stadium while HOK and Snøhetta will collaborate on the design.
Additionally, Sasaki, Snøhetta, and Studio T-Square will assist the A’s in a community engagement process. “A key component to making this project a success will be an active and meaningful engagement with A’s fans as well as with the broad and incredibly diverse community of Oakland,” says James Miner, AICP, Sasaki Principal, in a release. “We want the ballpark to be a great place not only for baseball, but also for the community and the environment.” There are no renderings yet, but Miner sees the new stadium as just one piece of the puzzle that will become an “urban ballpark district.”
Brad Schrock, AIA, regional leader of Sports + Recreation +Entertainment at HOK says, “We’re looking forward to collaborating with the A’s and our design partners to create an imaginative, amenity-rich, and enduring community asset.”
Currently, the stadium is being planned for a piece of land that sits next to Lake Merritt near Downtown Oakland. The area is surrounded by parkland and neighborhoods, a stark contrast to the sea of asphalt the Oakland Coliseum exists in. Estimates project the new stadium to seat 35,000 fans and cost approximately $500 million.
The A's just can't catch a break when it comes to getting a new ballpark. The board of trustees of Peralta Community College District, which owns the site near Laney College the new stadium was being designed for, voted to halt ongoing discussions with the A's.
"We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward," the A's said in a statement. "All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, & the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity."
The next step for the team, if they are unable to rekindle discussions with the Peralta Community College District, is to reexamine other possibilities for a new stadium. The board's decision came as a surprise to the team, however, so a backup plan may not even exist.
Libby Schaaf, Oakland's mayor, remains optimistic about the A's future in the city and the team's ability to build a new ballpark. "Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the Athletics in Oakland," Schaaf wrote in a statement on Twitter. "It is unfortunate the discussion with Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we're committed, more than ever, to working with the A’s and our community to find the right spot in Oakland for a privately-financed ballpark."
This latest setback comes less than one month after a design team of Sasaki, Snøhetta, Studio T-Square, and HOK were selected to design the new stadium.