Friday, April 21, 2023

The A's Are Leaving Oakland

 So - the A's have signed up to buy land for a stadium in Las Vegas.  Many people in Oakland are furious - many of my friends are.  I sympathise with them; but I'm not furious. This is going to annoy them, but I want to speak my mind.

I can't deny that the Coliseum is a mess, although it's easier to get to than the proposed stadium at Howard Terminal would have been.  Coliseum even has a BART station, with a pedestrian walkway to the stadium, and lots of parking.  The proposed stadium near the Port of Oakland is at least half a mile from BART and is not served by any major bus lines.  At one point the A's were suggesting an overhead tram arrangement to get to the stadium, but I haven't heard that in quite a while.  (For those who don't know, Howard Terminal is the name of a part of the Port of Oakland facility that the A's wanted do buy.)

I've been in Jack London Square, and I know the area around the port.  It hasn't got parking.  It isn't set up to manage heavy traffic.  The main traffic street along the waterfront has an active railroad line, for God's sake, which I know carries Amtrak passengers and I'm fairly sure also carries freight to and from the port.  How would that fit in with 35,000 people on game day??  I know that both the Port and the railroad people opposed the site.s

The housing they propose would be nice, we can always use more housing; I don't recall hearing how much of it would be affordable.  But they're also suggesting 270,000 square feet of retail space (along with 1.5 million of "commercial space").  If you don't live in Oakland you may not know how much of the existing retail space has "For Rent" signs, but it's a lot.  Who do they think will rent all that retail space??  

I've never heard an A's person admit to this, but I've been convinced since it was first proposed that they A's want a baseball stadium on a waterfront - because the Giants have one.  That's all this is about.  They thought they could con Oakland into paying for a lot of the infrastructure upgrades this would need.  But they forgot one thing:  Port of Oakland is a working port, a major container ship facility.  There is water traffic (BIG ships!) in and out of there all the time.  The Giants' nice waterside stadium went in long after the Port of San Francisco stopped being a working port, now it's mostly cruise ships, and they're farther north.  Everyone thinks the people who hang out in canoes in McCovey Cove, trying to catch foul balls, are really cute.  You couldn't have that outside a Howard Terminal stadium; not with container ships going back and forth in a relatively narrow estuary.  McCovey Cove backs onto the Bay.

So they're going to Las Vegas to play ball, they say, in a stadium they say will have a retractable roof.  Have fun playing there in the summer, boys.  I thought that about the Raiders, too, but they usually play in the fall and winter.  Still, they start in September.  I used to visit Vegas regularly to see my sister, and summer is not fun.  I've seen 117 in the shade (and no shade!) in September.  Better keep that retractable roof closed, and turn on the A/C.

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