The proposed site for a new Oakland Athletics ballpark near Lake Merritt appears to be off the table, after the Peralta Community College District's board, in a closed-door meeting Tuesday night, voted to instruct Chancellor Jowel Laguerre to stop talks with the team. The site currently hosts administrative offices for the Peralta district.
After years of trying to move to Fremont or San Jose, the A's, under new president Dave Kaval, committed in January to stay in Oakland. They named three possible locations -- the Peralta site, the area around the current Oakland Coliseum, and Howard Terminal on the waterfront north of Jack London Square. After months of study and community meetings, they announced the choice of the Peralta site in September.
In a video the A's produced, Kaval explained some of the site's strong points:
"The Peralta site being in the heart of the city is a great way to connect to the vibrancy of the city core. Next to BART, next to Lake Merritt, it's walkable to downtown. People can come from across the Bay Area and frequent Chinatown, Eastlake, Jack London Square. It's right in the middle of everything."
The prospect of up to 35,000 more people visiting the neighborhood on at least 81 days every year was welcomed by many businesses in the area, and the plan won the approval of 62 percent of area residents in a poll by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.
But concerns about traffic, noise and a possible acceleration of the process of gentrification were expressed by many staff and students at nearby Laney College, which is part of the Peralta system. In late November, the unions representing faculty and staff, as well as the official student association, issued a statement opposing the ballpark. At that time, Laney psychology instructor Kimberly King told KQED that despite its location near Interstate 880 and downtown Oakland, the college provides a place of respite for its students.