Proposed site for A's ballpark falls through
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By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Athletics' proposed site for a new ballpark near an Oakland community college has fallen through, leaving the club to explore other options as it makes a new venue top priority.
A statement from the board of the Peralta Community College District said it had directed the chancellor to discontinue talks about a possible ballpark near Laney College.
"We are shocked by Peralta's decision to not move forward," the A's said in a statement Wednesday. "All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, and the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity."
A's President Dave Kaval and his team had considered this the top spot and had engaged in conversations with community members, officials and business owners in the area in hopes of building a privately financed ballpark to open as soon as 2023. Kaval's group had finalized three spots, including one called Howard Terminal along the water near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland and the current site of the Oakland Coliseum that the club shares with the NFL's Oakland Raiders.
In September, Kaval sent a letter to Peralta Chancellor Jowel C. Laguerre detailing the low-budget franchise's plan for building on the site.
"We firmly believe that the Peralta Site represents the best opportunity to keep Oakland's last professional sports team in Oakland for the long term," Kaval wrote.
Kaval said that after careful evaluation, it provided the most feasible plan based on three criteria: "Will the site enable the team to privately finance the ballpark without taxpayer funding? Will the site and any ancillary new development have a positive impact on the neighborhood and Oakland as a whole? Will the site create an amazing fan experience, including providing great transit access, walking/biking connectivity, a comfortable climate, and a strong connection to neighborhood amenities?"
The Peralta district's statement said it will work with students, faculty, staff, administrators and the community to "reimagine" the district's needs and assess the resources to meet them. "We look forward to continued partnerships that enrich the learning experience of our students and the community we have served for more than fifty years," the statement said.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred supported the A's as he has in pursuing a new ballpark to remain in Oakland.
"We applaud the efforts by the Oakland A's over the last year to engage the community in an open dialogue about their new ballpark," Manfred said Wednesday. "Today's news comes as a surprise and we urge Oakland leaders to rejoin the conversation."
As the NBA champion Golden State Warriors build a new arena in San Francisco and the Raiders prepare for a move to Las Vegas, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed the city's commitment to keeping the A's.
"Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the (at)Athletics in Oakland," Schaaf wrote on Twitter. "It is unfortunate the discussion w/ Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we're committed, more than ever, to working with the A's and our community to find the right spot in OAK for a privately-financed ballpark."
Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said, "I believe we should work on options for the A's at the Coliseum site."
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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Updated December 6, 2017