The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to spend as much as $750,000 on an environmental study for a new ballpark south of Jack London Square, even though the owner of the Oakland A's is trying as hard as he can to move the team to San Jose.
The council voted 6-2 to hire LSA Associates to conduct a study that examines the physical and environmental impacts of building a 39,000-seat, baseball-only stadium at the so-called Victory Court site southeast of Jack London Square, between Fallon Street and Lake Merritt Channel Park. In order to build the park on the site, businesses such as Peerless Coffee would have to move.
Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) is the plan's most vocal opponent. He said it is foolhardy to spend money for a study when there is no commitment from A's owner Lew Wolff or Major League Baseball to keep the team in Oakland. He was joined by Councilmember Nancy Nadel (West Oakland-Downtown) in saying the city should not fund the report.
"Let's also be realistic about Major League Baseball's tactics and how they play," De La Fuente said. "I think they're trying to play off one seat against the other in order to get best deal they can (between Oakland and San Jose)."
Council President Jane Brunner said she sympathized with De La Fuente's concerns, but says, "If we did not do this, we would be out of the game tomorrow."
Redevelopment funds that were earmarked for a new parking garage in the city's bustling uptown entertainment district will be used to pay for the report. Nadel said the city should not be taking money from a much-needed parking garage, though no plans to build a lot are in progress.
The proposed area is near the Laney College athletic fields, a site that was discounted as a viable ballpark location in a 2001 draft study by HOK Sport. That study looked at several sites and concluded that the blocks behind the Fox Theater, where Forest City's Uptown mixed-use development was subsequently built, had the most potential, followed by the Oakland Coliseum's north parking lot.