The Oakland Athletics trace their history to the very beginning of the American League. The team was a charter franchise of the junior circuit back in 1901 when they were the Philadelphia Athletics.
The A’s franchise moved to Kansas City in 1955. The club then moved on to Oakland, where they began play in the City by the Bay in the 1968 season.
Ever since that first season in California, the Oakland Coliseum has been the Athletics home. A multi-purpose stadium, the A’s have shared the facility for much of the last half-century with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
While nearly every other MLB team has built a new ballpark within the last couple of decades, Oakland has lagged behind. The Coliseum has the second smallest seating capacity of any facility in Major League Baseball.
Due to its age, a massive amount of foul territory, sewage problems, and “Mount Davis” in center field, the Coliseum is now considered one of the worst in the big leagues.
The inability of previous ownership to put together a new deal for a real baseball-only ballpark has led to talk of the team relocating. Places such as San Jose, Las Vegas, and Portland have been mentioned as possibly homes for the franchise.
NEW OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT CONTROL
Into the fray to finally answer fans prayers for their own baseball-only home, a genuine ballpark for Oakland, has come a new management team of managing ownership partner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval .
Kaval is the president of the San Jose Earthquakes, the area’s entry in Major League Soccer. He once toured all 30 big league ballparks, and considers himself a ballpark guru.
According to Joe Stiglich with CSN Bay Area, Kaval is planning to set up an office at the Coliseum in December. There fans can come and share their own ballpark ideas.
“We need to find a place to bring this community together,” Kaval said per Stiglich. “The other teams (Raiders and Warriors) look like they might be leaving. We might be the only team left. I think it’s critical that we carry that banner of Oakland both now and in the future.”
SITES BEING CONSIDERED
Some of the sites currently being considered include Howard Terminal, the Laney College area, and the current Coliseum site itself. Kaval would like to see a “ballpark village” area of restaurants and shops incorporated into the final plan.
“I think there are challenges at every location and I think there are great opportunities at all the locations, and I think you need to balance it,” Kaval said per Stiglich.
“I think the types of things we’re looking at are transit and looking at creating a vibrant, urban feeling around the stadium — bars, restaurants, the excitement, the hustle and bustle that I think is what a ballpark is all about.”
As the managing partner for the ownership group, Fisher is also committed to the new ballpark effort per the newballpark.org website.
All of this sudden change is a breath of fresh air for local A’s fans. They are now beginning to breathe a big sigh of relief that their team will indeed be staying.
A new ballpark should also help improve revenue streams. This should allow the A’s to compete more easily against their AL West Division rivals.
There is a possiblity that the final site could be selected by the start of spring training of 2017. With a normal timeline, the A’s would be in their new home early in the next decade.