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Building a Ballpark: The Oakland A's Path to a New Home

Credit: Oakland A's via Twitter

For decades, the A’s have played their home games at the Oakland Coliseum. While construction may have begun in 1962, the Coliseum would not see its first baseball game until after 1968, when the Athletics left Kansas City for Oakland. Originally built for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, the Coliseum’s layout was and continues to be less than ideal for avid baseball fans and their viewing experience. After being ranked one of the worst baseball stadiums year after year and suffering from an unforgettable earthquake during the high stakes 1989 Giants v. A’s World Series, the Coliseum is in need of a major update, despite a multitude of minor renovations. The Athletics have announced plans to develop a new waterfront stadium at the Port of Oakland, California’s Howard Terminal.

The new stadium seeks to improve the fans’ experiences through shops, restaurants, increased seating capacity, and even affordable living for those who love to be close to the action on a regular basis. The Athletics are seeking to not only develop a whole new facility, but also remaster the Coliseum. Its old home will be repurposed into a park and new version of Oracle Arena, set to host concerts, cultural events, and a preserved Coliseum baseball diamond. Coincidingly, the Howard Terminal location will host A’s home games.

While this new stadium plan and the redevelopment of the Oakland Coliseum are immensely beneficial to the city of Oakland, time is coming to a close to secure this deal. The Oakland A’s lease on its current home lapses in 2024. With this deadline rapidly approaching and the hurdles it creates, there is also interest in relocation to Las Vegas and the construction of a new baseball stadium at the Tropicana site. The relocation to Las Vegas appears to be supported by the MLB through Commissioner Rob Manfred’s proactive waiving of relocation fees.

Legal Hurdles

Major projects with large footprints, such as the creation of a new stadium, require the obtainment of certain certificates, such as the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), if they involve State spending. The requirement is to ensure compliance with environmental laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). These laws guarantee that the projects are not only conscientious of their environmental and human impact, but also dedicated to analyzing and considering available alternatives that may be less impactful.

Once an EIR is issued, there is a thirty-day window in which interested parties can file suit challenging its adequacy. On March 1, 2022, the Oakland City Council certified an EIR for the new stadium. By April 1, within the thirty-day window, “[t]he Union Pacific Railroad Company and a coalition of marine, port and transportation interests have filed separate lawsuits challenging the city of Oakland's certification of an environmental impact report.” These groups, while attacking the legitimacy of the steps taken to produce the EIR, have also expressed concerns that the proposed stadium would increase traffic congestion in roadways throughout the area. The challenging coalition argued that the consequential effects of such a project would cause massive displacement and gentrification in the industrial area. Vice President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and spokesperson for the entire coalition stated, “The EIR certified by the City of Oakland for the Oakland A’s’ proposed project at Howard Terminal did not adequately disclose, analyze, or mitigate all of the significant adverse impacts this massive and disruptive redevelopment on the working waterfront will have.” To avoid the aforementioned disruptions to the community, the coalition has advocated that the A’s redevelop the Coliseum rather than break ground at the Howard Terminal.

By August 2022, the courts expressed in a preliminary ruling that the report was backed by “solid evidence and reasonable decisions.” The court only ruled in favor of the challengers with regards to mitigation of wind impacts at the ballpark, but later in 2022 this argument fizzled due to the lack of a standard for determining what would be “too windy.” By September, the court made a final ruling, siding with the development of the stadium on all raised issues. This ruling marks a victory in court for the city and A’s being on the same side; however, the A’s as an organization will still face other issues as time progresses. For example, the A’s will still need to reach an acceptable agreement with the city covering the number of affordable housing units to be built in the project.

Alongside legal concerns, such as meeting state and local building requirements, the team and investors are receiving criticism from the community. Community members have questioned why there aren’t plans to build at the current site of the stadium, and why the city isn’t more eager to use the funds on other projects around the city.


The Oakland A’s thus far have had a long and strenuous pathway to providing a more enjoyable experience for its fans, community members, and players alike. While it has overcome some legal and community issues that have arisen, the process is certain to pose even more challenges moving forward. Projects of this magnitude have large effects on the surrounding community and when all relevant factors are not considered, it leaves open the possibility that certain impacted parties are not being properly considered. It will be interesting to continue monitoring the progression of this project and the dynamics of large scale developments involving both private and public funding and interests.

*The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of Santa Clara University.


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