More than 100 community members attended a rare standing room-only meeting of the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday night. The unusually large crowd came out to share their opinions about the proposed construction of a new stadium for the Oakland A’s between 8th Street and the 880 freeway on land currently owned by the Peralta Community College District. Tuesday’s meeting was an opportunity for Peralta Community College Board of Trustees to hear public concerns about the project and assess the potential effects of a new baseball stadium.
“I love the A’s, I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. However, I will not trade my community for it,” said Chu Chou, an 83-year-old Chinatown resident who spoke through a translator. “If the stadium gets built on 8th Street, it’s going to be a problem for all the residents, especially Chinatown seniors,” he said, citing concerns about increased traffic.
Most of the people who spoke during the meeting’s public comment period agreed that it is vital to keep the A’s in Oakland. However, they differed on their preferred location for a new stadium. Some advocated prefer keeping the A’s at the Oakland Coliseum in East Oakland, the current home of the A’s and the Oakland Raiders.
The A’s have been searching for a new location because the 51-year-old Coliseum is in need of significant repairs. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas within the next two years.
“We all are opposed to this because it will impact the people, the environment, and also the communities living here right now,” said Anya Huang of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, which opposes the proposed stadium site. “This new stadium proposal is going to be smack dab in the middle of two immigrant low-income communities of color, Eastlake and Chinatown,” she said.
“We’re talking about the livelihood of Chinatown and Eastlake and immigrant communities,” said Alvina Wong, a representative for Stay the Right Way, which represents several nonprofit organizations that oppose the new stadium. “It’s going to pour gasoline on Oakland gentrification and push out immigrant communities,” said Jennifer Bobrow, who lives about a mile away from the proposed location.
A large portion of the crowd was comprised of A’s fans in matching yellow t-shirts that read “Rooted in Oakland.” “I think a lot of people falsely believe this is a sports versus city argument,” said Jacob Russell-Snyder, who backs the plan for the new stadium. “We want this stadium not because we want a better sports team, but because we want Oakland to be represented around the world.”
Steve Stevenson, the owner of 1-2-3-4 Go! Records on 40th Street in North Oakland, said he supports putting a stadium in the Eastlake neighborhood, calling it a “huge opportunity for partnership that could be really exciting for the neighborhood.”
Members of the Laborers International Union of North America also came out in support of the proposed stadium. “We’re going to support any construction project for living-wage jobs,” said Rafael Gonzalez, president of LiUNA Local 304, whose members are largely construction workers.
Students and faculty from Laney College, which is less than half a mile from the proposed stadium location, also spoke. “We think Laney College will be closed if this goes through. It will be devastating to the learning environment,” said Evelyn Lord, a librarian at the community college. “Developers always want to promise jobs to black and brown residents and it doesn’t pan out,” said Margaret Traylor, another librarian. “Eventually they’ll take more land and small businesses and residents will be pushed out.”
The Peralta Community College Board of Trustees has yet to take a vote on whether or not to sell their land to the A’s. A’s officials have said that they will negotiate with the school over the next year to come up with a stadium plan that the community will approve. A new ballpark would take about two years to build, and would not open until at least 2023.