Hanging out with the Oakland A’s
ACBA and Legal Access CEO Tiela Chalmers and Legal Access Director Christina Wiellette had the remarkable opportunity to visit the A’s along with other community leaders, hit some balls, and hear some inside A’s news. The A’s Group Sales department invited those of us who arrange large group trips to attend the event. Christina demonstrated her athletic instincts well in left field prior to batting; Tiela demonstrated her ability to flee perceived danger. After BP, we moved to Shibe Park Tavern, where the group had a great lunch and heard A’s Chief Operations Officer Chris Giles being interviewed by Brodie Brazil, who hosts (among other things) the A’s pre and post‐game shows on NBC Sports Bay Area.
Here is some of what we learned from the day:
There were, of course, a lot of questions about the proposed new A’s ballpark. Chris mentioned that they expect the draft impact report to come out sometime this fall. They are really trying to make the process as inclusive as possible. They are taking seriously the responsibility they see coming with being the only professional team left in the East Bay, and in Oakland in particular. They have been testing out new ideas for types of seating and other programs at the current stadium, as a way to inform the new one.
Chris mentioned that one of the most challenging pieces of the process is trying to anticipate the weather, and its impact on the new stadium. (He previously managed the launching of Levi’s stadium, where sun is a big issue.) This new park is planned to be more intimate, and thus will be a shorter building. This means that when a ball is hit high, it may be higher than the building’s walls, and thus much more subject to the wind. They are working hard to anticipate this. The intimate feel is coming in part from significantly fewer seats than in the current ballpark – they are shooting for a capacity of about 35,000, but there will be fewer seats than that, as areas like the Treehouse are increasingly popular.
They are shooting for the blurring of the indoors and the outdoors at this new stadium, with a street festival sort of feel. They are also being attentive to traffic issues: the new stadium will be 1.1 miles from the 12th Street BART station, and they are discussing a gondola with a roundtrip capacity, that may move up to 6500 people per hour. They also want to be sure that car ingress and egress to the park goes either under or over the train tracks, in order to avoid holdups. Finally, they are looking into maximizing ways that the space, or some of it, could be open to the public on non‐game days, paying attention to what Oakland wants and needs. Brodie asked Chris what would become of the current ballpark. Chris noted that they are working on purchasing the other half from the City, and plan to do a big mixed‐use development (including some affordable housing) there. They would also like to see community activities, and maybe a once‐a‐year free game, happen at this soon‐to‐be‐old site.
All in all, it was an educational day! Oh. And we learned one more thing. Hitting that ball is NOT easy. And it was going a LOT slower than it does for MLB players. We have a lot of respect for what they do!