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A’s proposed gondola would generate $685m, says Bay Area Council Economic Institute

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A rendering of the Oakland Athletics’ proposed stadium at Howard Terminal. (Courtesy Bjarke Ingels Group)

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute has completed an analysis that says that the Oakland Athletics’ proposed gondola connecting downtown Oakland and the club’s proposed Jack London Square ballpark would generate upwards of $685 million in economic benefits for the city over 10 years.

In June of 2017, the Council published an analysis that found that a new downtown stadium could provide $3 billion of economic benefit to the city over 10 years in the form of new jobs and increased spending. In order for the new stadium to reach those kinds of heights, infrastructure challenges have to be overcome, and one of the ways in which the A’s are seeking to address those challenges is the gondola.

The gondola, which would serve more than one million passengers per year, would be privately funded and built and would be open to the public. It would travel between Washington and 10th streets near the Marriott City Center, and Washington and Water streets near Jack London Square.

“A gondola provides a unique and important transportation solution for better connecting Oakland’s growing downtown and waterfront,” said Jeff Bellisario, Vice President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and lead author of the analysis. “A gondola can serve as a major magnet for economic development, support the Oakland A’s exciting vision for a waterfront ballpark, attract tourists and other visitors and reduce commute times for thousands of workers.”

The half-mile, 3.5-minute ride would connect two areas of the city that are currently separated by two freeways and a rail line. It would be just the third of its kind in the United States, joining the Portland Aerial Tram in Oregon and the Roosevelt Island Tram in New York City.

Construction of the gondola and its two stations is estimated at $123 million, according to preliminary analyses commissioned by the A’s. This estimate is in line with the expected cost ($125 million) of a similar project that would connect Dodger Stadium to Los Angeles’s Union Station. The Council’s analysis estimates that the ongoing operation of the gondola would cost approximately $4.6 million in annual operating costs, which includes labor and variable costs such as electricity, maintenance, and capital reserves.

According to the analysis, the gondola would bring an increase of 50,000 visitors to Oakland. The economic benefits would include a $403 million in taxable sales, $265 million generated from building and operating the system and $17 million in savings from shorter commute times. It would also help spur new residential and commercial development and support the equivalent of 46 full-time jobs. The analysis conducted by the Council sought to disaggregate the impact of the gondola itself from the stadium, so the economic benefits described therein are solely related to the gondola.

From the construction and operation of the gondola, to additional foot traffic at its stations and additional sales at local businesses from tourists, to locals making additional trips between Jack London Square and downtown, the project alone would generate significant economic impact, the analysis concludes.

The Council is a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education that works to foster a competitive economy in California and the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Silicon Valley. It produces authoritative analyses on economic policy issues affecting the region and the state, including infrastructure, globalization, energy, science and governance, and mobilizes California and Bay Area leaders around targeted policy initiatives.

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