The first sports venue causality of COVID-19?
In the pre-COVID-19 pandemic world, the Oakland Athletics ownership was pushing to build a new stadium in the Howard Terminal waterfront area of the city but the COVID-19 pandemic may play havoc with the plans. Last February, A’s ownership was putting the finishing touches on a baseball park and surrounding village on the waterfront not far from Jack London Square in a proposal. At the time, A’s ownership was trying to gain approval from various local and state agencies to build the stadium by 2023. A’s ownership was also looking at the Oakland Coliseum-Arena sports complex land as a fall back option to build a ball park should the waterfront stadium had failed. The ownership group needed the government support. Months later, Oakland A’s ownership may be force to change plans because no one seems to know when the economy will bounce back. A’s ownership was planning to build not only a stadium but it wanted to build office and residential space. There are a myriad of questions concerning the waterfront proposal that need answers from the funding to the environmental impact of the standard, to traffic patterns and how to get people to the park. Now the economy is a problem.
The ballpark has been a problem for decades for various A’s owners. In 1977-78 Charles Finley, who took his Kansas City A’s to Oakland in 1967 and signed a 20-year lease agreement, could not complete a sale to Marvin Davis who would have moved the team to Denver. More than two decades ago, another set of owners wanted a new stadium. Lew Wolff tried to move the team to Fremont, California and San Jose. Wolff also wanted to build a stadium-village on the Coliseum property. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred turn up the heat on Oakland officials last fall saying that without a new stadium, A’s owners could move. COVID-19 is now an obstacle.