BOSTON — The A’s announcement of a location to build their ballpark made Wednesday a potentially pivotal day in franchise history.
But with a five-year timeline, at minimum, before that stadium would open, the news wasn’t exactly the talk of the A’s clubhouse before Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox.
Shortstop Marcus Semien, a Bay Area native, expressed happiness for the A’s organization, their fans and the city of Oakland at the announced plan to build a venue near Lake Merritt, just down the street from Laney College.
But knowing how often the roster turns over, he wondered who on the A’s current team might still be wearing an Oakland uniform by the proposed grand opening, set for the start of the 2023 season.
“I don’t know when it’s gonna be finished, but hopefully some of us get to experience playing in it,” said the 26-year-old Semien, who is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. “Maybe some of the guys in the minor leagues might be able to. It depends on who’s here and who’s not. But either way, (it’d be great) if we can play in it — for the A’s or for someone else.”
Outfielder Matt Joyce shared the same sentiment, saying he was happy for fans but admitting it was tough to get too pumped about a plan that’s so far down the road.
The A’s built in that five-year cushion to complete an expansive to-do list.
They’re aiming to buy a 13-acre plot of land that currently houses the Peralta Community College District headquarters. Before the first shovel hits dirt in 2021 at that location, team president Dave Kaval anticipates taking one year to continue meeting with Peralta officials as well as local residents and business owners, many of whom have expressed skepticism about building a ballpark in the area.
Another two years is expected to acquire all the needed permits, complete the necessary environmental reviews and finalize ballpark design.
The upshot is the A’s are looking at another five years playing at the Coliseum. And given that, it’s worth taking into consideration what changes and improvements the A’s might aim to make to their current home. They’ve already made attempts this year to improve the fan experience at the Coliseum, adding food trucks and opening Shibe Park Tavern inside the stadium.
It’s a solid bet they gradually look to improve things from a team and player perspective. Earlier this season, Kaval told NBC Sports California that after the Raiders leave for Las Vegas, he has designs on possibly taking over the Raiders’ locker room space and making it the A’s new clubhouse.
Manager Bob Melvin would be a big fan of that idea.
“That would be great,” he said Wednesday. “Look, I’m a Raider fan, and I don’t want to see them go. But the fact of the matter is they are gonna go, and there is more space at our ballpark for us to be able to take advantage of, whether it’s training room space, whether it’s weight room type space, whether it’s expanding the clubhouse. Those would be important things for us, and we would have the ability to do that once the Raiders leave.”
The Raiders’ lease runs through the 2018 season, but owner Mark Davis has mentioned a desire to possibly play at the Coliseum in 2019 before his team’s Vegas stadium is ready in 2020.