When the Oakland A’s plans for a new ballpark near Lake Merritt collapsed last week, the team said it was “shocked.”
Really? Maybe they should buy a newspaper. Or turn on TV news from time to time.
Geez guys, opponents have been lining up for months. And they weren’t waffling either.
Jennifer Shanoski, president of a union that represents teachers in the Peralta Community College District, which controls the land, was expressing concerns in June.
And last month she warned in news stories that, “We heard from our members that they are overwhelmingly against the stadium.”
And yet the U.S.S. Athletic steamed ahead, oblivious. In what turns out to be a trend, the brain trust rolled out the happy chat and hoped the details would work themselves out later.
A video, narrated by team president Dave Kaval, painted a glowing vision of a magical gathering spot for young and old. There was even drone footage of the site, soaring over all the little people in their nearby homes.
Andy Dolich, who marketed the Billyball A’s in their glory days, was amazed.
“You don’t own the land. You don’t lease the land,” Dolich said. “But you’re going to be playing a game there in 2023?”
A legitimate, serious pitch to the Peralta Community College District and Laney College, which is ground zero for the ballpark, might have been a good start.
Last week I exchanged emails with Donald Moore, an anthropology professor and president of the Faculty Senate at Laney, one of four colleges in the Peralta District. Moore said the Faculty Senate announced in September it was against the proposal.
And, he said, the A’s did little to change their minds. He said Kaval came to a meeting and was “affable” but had no answers for specific questions. “They should have come to Laney and Peralta with some level of a plan,” Moore wrote. “Something that addressed the concerns. Instead, nothing from them that we were aware of.”
Actually, Moore said, it got worse. He says at one board meeting the A’s brought in “union people . . . with yellow T-shirts. They created a ruckus and were aggressive to faculty and community members.”
And after that, he says, signature gatherers showed up on campus and pressured students to sign “a petition in support.”
“I told the A’s consultant that this was a very poor tactic and that it was sure to backfire,” Moore wrote.
So what’s next? Well, Kaval announced when this started that there is no Plan B. So A’s fans … resume your funk.
Honestly this level of ownership cynicism is criminal. It isn’t just that the ballpark is a dreary, rundown mausoleum that opened 51 years ago.
The clubhouse looks like a movie set for “The Natural.” The baseball field was laid out for a football team that is leaving. Any player who shows enough skill to merit a pay raise is shipped out to the highest bidder.
You’ve got a 1,000-win manager in Bob Melvin who is handcuffed with a bargain-basement roster. Even the guy who is running things, VP of Baseball Operations Billy Beane, seems bored. He drifts off during baseball season because he’s working with a Chinese billionaire to purchase an English soccer team. (Seriously, he’s doing that.)