A’s ‘circle the square’ with revised ballpark plan

Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Oakland Athletics has revealed revised design plans for its proposed new ballpark, along with initiatives designed to address environmental concerns surrounding the project.

In November, the A’s revealed plans to develop a new stadium and revamp its existing Coliseum home, spelling out an intention to put the “park back in ballpark”. The A’s had been mulling over two possible sites for a new ballpark – the existing Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum and a mooted location at the waterfront Howard Terminal.

The latter site was chosen for the next-generation urban ballpark, which with a total capacity of 34,000 aims to create the most intimate experience in baseball. In his latest update on the project, A’s president Dave Kaval has now disclosed tweaks to the original masterplan from Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) after feedback from public officials, fans and community members.

In what he described as “circling the square”, the new design will offer a more circular shape. Kaval said the change will offer four key benefits including a better ability to capture fan energy inside the ballpark for a more exciting and intimate experience and the provision of a continuous rooftop park for use by fans and the community.

Kaval also said the new design will offer better views of the water and Oakland from inside the ballpark, along with more “seamless, efficient, and fluid” access to the stadium from the surrounding neighbourhood.

As part of the ‘Bigger than Baseball’ vision, Kaval said one of the A’s top priorities is ensuring that the project creates broader economic, environmental, and community benefits for the people of Oakland. Stating the selection of Howard Terminal provides a unique opportunity for Oakland to transform an environmental “negative” into an environmental “positive”, Kaval detailed the latest efforts on this front.

Kaval said the A’s will introduce a West Oakland Environmental Justice bill to the state legislature. The bill will seek to expand the scope of issues and benefits that regulatory agencies can consider in evaluating project approvals. “This bill ensures that greater emphasis is placed on local environmental justice issues and impacts,” Kaval said.

“The bill is most likely to be opposed by some of the largest polluters in the state, who are responsible for a disproportionate share of the environmental harm done to West Oakland communities, and yet are claiming to object to the ballpark project on environmental grounds.”

The A’s have also agreed a partnership with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), a resident-led community based environmental justice organisation to develop a shared environmental justice agenda on issues of public health, air quality, land use and equity.

Kaval added: “In terms of the ballpark itself, we’re already making great strides toward ambitious environmental goals. We’ve set a high bar for green building, committing to a LEED Gold standard of design, reducing car trips by 20%, and adding protections to the site in anticipation of future sea level rise caused by climate change.”

The A’s are hoping to break ground at Howard Terminal by 2021, with a view to opening their new home in 2023.

Images: Oakland A’s