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Oakland Ballpark Watch: JPA Meeting

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On Thursday, December 13, 2001, HOK Sport, an architecture firm specializing in sports venues, presented the results of their study ( view study ) to find a suitable ballpark site (view sites) to the Joint Powers Authority (JPA).

At least forty fans were in attendance, which was very impressive. And politicians like Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Oakland City Councilman Danny Wan all mentioned more than once that the fans' support and enthusiasm for the project was crucial.

The presentation was part of a larger meeting with the JPA and the city/county officials. The politicians present were de la Fuente, Gail Steele, Scott Haggerty, Danny Wan, City Attorney John Russo, Robert Bobb, and others.

HOK gave their presentation, with sketches and ballpark design plans at the following sites:

Uptown came most recommended from HOK and would be the cheapest, $385 million, according to HOK. Howard Terminal came in second. The Pleasanton, Laney and 9th Ave. sites graded so low, the JPA voted to remove them from consideration. Rosie Rios, the director of Oakland's CEDA (community and economic development agency) and the point person for retaining the A's in Oakland, spoke. HOK made their presentation. The politicians asked some questions. The public was allowed to speak: Chris Dobbins of the Green Stampede, OAFC Chairman Chris De Benedetti, several other OAFC members, and a few other fans spoke. All were in support of a ballpark project in Oakland, except for one citizen who spoke against it.

According to HOK, they are shooting for Opening Day, 2006 to open a park. Of course, many hurdles (financing, financing, financing) stand in the way, but it was promising to see a goal.

When the public forum was over, HOK representatives answered more questions from the politicians. One issue that Danny Wan kept bringing up was: "What do the A's think about this? What are their opinions on the location and type of ballpark?" City Haggerty promised to take the lead and talk to the A's owners/front office to further get their feedback. HOK said they'd had some discussions with the A's brass, but it didn't sound very definitive. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a better relationship between all parties.

De La Fuente, to the surprise of some of us, was very enthusiastic about the idea of a new ballpark in or near downtown Oakland. The one hitch for him, and I think it is for all of us, was coming up with a smart and fair plan to finance it.

Later, the TV media arrived (almost too late) and Sherry Hu of Channel 5 (KPIX) interviewed several fans separately. The San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and the Oakland Tribune also covered the event.


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