Environmental concerns hamper Oakland A’s ballpark plans

Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise Oakland Athletics’ hopes of starting work on a new ballpark have suffered a blow after concerns over the environmental condition of the proposed site for the project re-emerged.

According to The Mercury News, a review of county records has shown that since 2013, the Peralta Community College, where the team hopes to build the new stadium, has failed to act on an ongoing issue regarding the historically toxic site.

The Alameda County Department of Environmental Health had urged the college to take action and conduct further studies to determine the amount of hazardous materials in the ground, but the calls have gone unanswered and the site has not been tested since 2012.

The Mercury News said that the issue is likely to hamper progress on the project and although Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval said he would be happy to cover the costs of further testing, the price tag for such a process remains unclear.

Speaking about the ongoing issue, Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said: “Historically around the bay, we’ve found that when there is redevelopment proposed for a property, all parties get very interested in ensuring the site is cleaned up. In many cases, it drives the cleanup.”

Last month, the A’s named the site as its preferred location to build a 35,000-capacity stadium, subject to approval from the relevant bodies. Initial plans stated that work would begin in 2021 and the team could begin playing at the new, privately-financed facility by 2023.

Speaking at the time, Kaval said: “You’re right in the heart of the city, and having that walkable environment, where you can have bars and restaurants and really a vibrant kind of energy around the ballpark, kind of like Fenway or Wrigley.

“That is really the key recipe for success in baseball, so we felt that location was the strongest.”