Doubleheader…Catching Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, Part One
The 2018 season has been a huge success for the Oakland Athletics during their 50th anniversary celebration in the East Bay. Away from the field the A’s continue to work hard to improve the gameday experience at the Oakland Coliseum while continuing their pursuit for their new yard. I recently had a chance to catch up with A’s President Dave Kaval to discuss the future of the A’s at The Coliseum as well as their continued progress for their new yard, aided recently by the Legislature’s passing of bill AB734.
Stadium Journey- Since we spoke last season one of the additions here at the yard is the addition of The Treehouse, overlooking left field. Last season there was the additions of Championship Plaza and Shibe Park Tavern. Are there any plans at this time for other future enhancements to The Coliseum?
Dave Kaval- We’re definitely going to be adding things every year before we move into the new ballpark. We want to look at doing an area that’s more kids and family related. We want to look at what was successful this year with things like The Treehouse and build upon that so that will be a key part of our planning next year.
SJ- Next year, 2019, the A’s are introducing a new ticket program, A’s Access, starting at $240 or about $3 per game. Will this new program be replacing the traditional season tickets ?
Dave- Well I think it can over time. I think fans want the flexibility that the A’s Access provides. You can pick your 10-Game Plan or your 24-Game Plan with the physical seats. You get access to all the games because we have The Treehouse Pass and you can come to the View Level. I think it’s the best of both worlds. I think it’s something we want to prototype for our new ballpark. The fans response has been tremendous and we want to build on that.
SJ- Some recent announcements. It was announced The Legislature passed a bill to help the A’s with the streamlining of the construction of the new yard by Howard Terminal. Please tell us more about that…
Dave- So last night we had a big vote up in Sacramento and it got through The Assembly and The Senate. AB734 is the bill, it’s going to provide us expedited judicial review of the sequel process which was a huge deal and allows us to make sure we can open our new ballpark here in Oakland in 2023.
SJ- Also recently the A’s announced the hiring of the Danish architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to lead the design process for the new ballpark and surrounding development, overseeing the planning for the waterfront Howard Terminal and the property surrounding the Coliseum. The firm describes the design approach as “pragmatic utopian”. You recently traveled to Europe and Canada to visit the firm’s projects and aerial tramway systems. What can you tell us about the “pragmatic utopian” approach and can fans expect this be a first MLB park of it’s kind, going against the retro theme?
Dave- I think what we wanted to do with BIG was break new ground with the ballpark design surrounding urban plan. They’ve done some amazing work in Europe and also here in the United States, in New York, in North America, in Vancouver so I think they can bring a fresh perspective to the ballpark of the 21st century and we’re excited to see what they’ll come up with.
SJ- Is this BIG’s first sports venue project here in the United States?
Dave- They actually did the conceptual design for the Redskins facility that’s a little farther along than our’s that’s in Washington D.C. This is their first baseball stadium. That’s one reason why we paired them with Gensler Group which has done a lot of ballparks to make sure we have the best of both worlds. (Gensler’s projects also include the Golden State Warriors new Chase Center in San Francisco as well as the recently opened home of LAFC Soccer, Bank of California Stadium)
SJ-When talking about surrounding development, are we looking at possible a ballpark village neighborhood around either Howard Terminal or the Coliseum site?
Dave- Absolutely. We think that the surrounding development around the ballpark and the ancillary development is very important to the success of the ballpark to draw people here and create a sense of place to have a public realm. So whether it’s parks, open space or bars and restaurants, small business locations. That’s going to be real important for the success of the yard so that’s part of the plan
SJ-Last year, it appeared that the A’s had the Laney College site locked up and the goal was to have the new yard opened by 2023. Recently the A’s announced a $100,000 endowment to the Peralta Colleges Foundations. Though BIG will be overseeing the project sites of Howard Terminal and the Coliseum site is the Laney College site still a possibility?
Dave- No, we’re really focused on the two sites, The Coliseum and the waterfront location at Howard Terminal. Those are the two really critical sites that we’re working on with the city, the county and the court to make sure we have a plan for success and economic deal by the end of the year.
SJ- Has there been any other environmental studies done for both the Howard Terminal and Coliseum sites?
Dave- We’re in the process now of doing a lot of review on the geo-technical and assessments of the economic feasibility of the sites especially with the Howard Terminal site that would be a full environmental impact report that’s done before going into construction.
SJ- The Howard Terminal Site. We discussed earlier about aerial transportation. There have been talks in the past about adding an additional Bay Area Rapid Transit station (BART) or adding an aerial tram from the 12th Street BART station in Downtown Oakland to transport fans to the Howard Terminal site. At this moment, what is the progress like?
Dave- We’re in the process of doing a feasibility study on the possibility of building an aerial gondola from Downtown Oakland to Jack London Square and the Howard Terminal location. It’s a very important study to determine if it can actually be part of the transportation plan and to determine the funding sources and how that can be added not just to the ballpark but to Oakland in general.
So as of now, it’s down to two. Howard Terminal and The Coliseum site. From the looks of things, it appears at this moment that Howard Terminal site is the front-runner for the new yard with a target opening date still at 2023. In the meantime, while the team remains in the not so glamorous Oakland Coliseum, fans can continue to expect more added enhancements to the gameday experience.
This is the first of two with A’s President Dave Kaval. Part two of our doubleheader of questions with A’s President Dave Kaval we discuss the 2018 season, September call-ups and some other fun stuff outside the diamond.
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