A hot-off-the-presses East Bay Express story on the A's ballpark search declares that Oakland's redevelopment agency is in the best shape of all Bay Area cities still vying to be the Oakland Athletics' home city and that, most importantly, "Major League Baseball knows it."
The new article, written by investigative reporter Robert Gammon, goes on to report:
... while San Jose's plan is hindered by financial woes, Oakland's is not. Budget documents show that Oakland's redevelopment fund for the Downtown/Jack London Square area, also known as the city's Central District, will have a projected $20 million total surplus in its operations and capital accounts next year. In addition, City Administrator Dan Lindheim, who also manages the redevelopment agency, says the Central District has plenty of bonding capacity to finance what's needed for the ballpark.
In fact, Major League Baseball's blue ribbon task force has combed through the financial records of Oakland's redevelopment agency in recent months to confirm that the city's ballpark plan pencils out, Lindheim said. The league also brought in noted stadium architects Populous, the designers of AT&T Park in San Francisco, to examine Oakland's planned site for the new stadium in Jack London Square, known as Victory Court. Populous, formerly known as HOK Sports, analyzed East Bay ballpark sites during former City Manager Robert Bobb's tenure. "They've spent an enormous amount of money on high-priced consultants to go through this," Lindheim said, referring to the league's task force.
If parking was once considered a roadblock, information provided to MLB by Oakland officials seems to have quelled that concern. Gammon wrote:
The city plans to build 2,500 parking spots on the Victory Court site, and the rest will be off-site. One of the leading options is to turn vacant parcels underneath I-880 into surface parking lots. Such a move would give the city at least 10,000 parking spaces within five-eighths of a mile of the ballpark.
Gammon also noted the importance of the support that Mayor-Elect Jean Quan has for this project. Quan reportedly said: "I think it will help bring us out of the recession." There are still issues to resolve -- most notably, negotiating with businesses who would have to be relocated from the Victory Court site, and the possibility of adding another offramp from Interstate 880, which is adjacent to the ballpark site. But Gammon's story included one tidbit that should quiet any critics who say that MLB will reject the Jack London Square site. According to Gammon, MLB officials themselves are the ones most enthusiastic about Victory Court as a ballpark location:
The league's experts selected the Victory Court site as the most viable spot for a new ballpark. It's not far from downtown, it's close to BART, and it's on Oakland's waterfront — and thus met major criteria set out by the league. "They like the waterfront site," Lindheim noted.