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College board halts plans for A’s new baseball stadium

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Chicago White Sox’s Matt Davidson (#24) bats during the first inning against the Oakland A’s at Coliseum Stadium in Oakland, Calif. Wednesday, July 5, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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The Peralta Community College District board of trustees decided in a closed session meeting Tuesday to direct its chancellor to halt a community engagement process with the Oakland A’s on a proposed new baseball stadium near the district’s offices and Laney College.

The board of trustees and Chancellor Jowel Laguerre issued a joint statement Wednesday on behalf of the district, which includes Laney College, Merritt College, Berkeley City College and the College of Alameda.

“The district will build on its shared governance model to reimagine the district’s needs and the resources to meet them. We will develop a robust and inclusive internal engagement process to assess our needs and partnerships aligned with our mission. The Board of Trustees will continue due diligence in determining the costs and benefits of potential development,” the statement said.

The A’s in September announced that their preferred site for a new stadium was the one owned by Peralta and located near Chinatown, Lake Merritt and the San Antonio neighborhood.

Other sites under consideration were the Oakland Coliseum complex, where the team currently plays at the aging Coliseum, and the Howard Terminal near the Port of Oakland.

However, groups representing faculty, staff and students at Laney College and other Peralta schools have opposed plans for the stadium, saying it could displace long-time residents in the area, make it harder for students to live nearby, and create an increase in traffic and pollution.

The A’s issued a statement Wednesday saying they are “shocked by Peralta’s decision not to move forward.”

“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,” the team said. “We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement on Twitter that the city “remains fiercely determined to keep the Athletics in Oakland.”

“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,” Schaaf said.

At a meeting last week of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, the board that oversees the Coliseum site, several members of the
authority had expressed doubts that the A’s would win approval from the many stakeholders at the Peralta-owned site.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said at the meeting last Thursday that there would be “a clearer and quicker road to success” by instead building a new stadium at the Coliseum site, where the Oakland Raiders football team and Golden State Warriors basketball team also currently play.

The Raiders and Warriors plan to leave in the coming years for Las Vegas and San Francisco, respectively.

Miley said he hoped that the A’s, who have previously explored sites in San Jose and elsewhere outside of Oakland to build a new stadium, weren’t “trying to do a bait-and-switch here” by saying they want to build at the Peralta site and secretly hoping the proposal fails so they can move elsewhere.

Coliseum Authority executive director Scott McKibben told the board that the A’s were “going full bore for the Laney site” and have told him there was no Plan B if that site wasn’t approved.

McKibben said he doesn’t believe there is a “bait-and-switch” at play but theorized that the Peralta proposal may be “a card to play to get more public financing” for a new stadium.

“I think that is very much in the back of their mind,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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