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Reactions to the Oakland A’s ballpark plans at Howard Terminal

The overall vibe is positive, but with plenty of caution attached.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

The Oakland A’s announced initial plans for a new ballpark on Wednesday, one that will be privately financed and keep the team in the town they’ve called home for the last half-century. It’s a long way from becoming reality, but this is the furthest progress we’ve seen on any Oakland stadium proposal so there is reason for optimism.

Major news like this naturally elicits plenty of reactions. Here’s a roundup of some highlights. First, a refresher on the basic facts:

The club also offered some follow-up answers to frequently asked questions.

Next up, our own Grant Brisbee of SB Nation put together his usual masterpiece. He doesn’t deny the daunting complexity of the project, but he’s excited about its prospects.

After years of proposals and renderings, though, it looks like the A’s are finally moving forward with plans for a new ballpark that looks like it’s going to be a complicated, ambitious mess. It’s like an American Ninja Warrior course of bureaucratic and logistic difficulty, with chasms and swinging pendulums and floating platforms. It also looks perfect.

Over at the S.F. Chronicle, Kimberly Veklerov has a similar stance. She offers plenty of positivity where it’s warranted, but also doesn’t pull any punches on the obstacles that remain.

But it’s not a done deal and many hurdles remain, including all the challenges of fitting a professional sports stadium into an industrial port and getting buy-in from community members and commercial neighbors. No agreements are in place between the team and public agencies that are part of the negotiations. The parties have not reached any economic deal, and there will be a months-long process to hammer out community benefits, infrastructure spending, transportation plans and other issues. Still, Oakland officials projected optimism Wednesday as the team unveiled its vision for the two pieces of property.

Meanwhile, Julian McWilliams of The Athletic reminds us of the effect that a new stadium could have on the team’s ability to compete, which is the ultimate goal of all this.

If Kaval and Fisher pull this off, it will be the final step in their rebuilding phase. On the field, the A’s arrived a bit ahead of schedule, but ultimately didn’t have the firepower to make a run to the World Series in 2018. Frankly, that’s been the A’s story for the last two decades: overachieve and catch baseball’s attention only to see a ceiling on what can be achieved. ... Kaval believes they can reverse their recent history with entertainment. The goal is to not just make the A’s an ideal destination for free agents, but a long-term home for their homegrown talent like Matt Chapman and Matt Olson.

Also at The Athletic, Marcus Thompson introduces us to Taj Tashombe, the A’s vice president of external affairs, whom Thompson cites as a key to the project’s potential success.

That feeling, the tingling hope, that sneaking suspicion that this is the one, is largely because of Tashombe. He wasn’t front and center for the A’s big announcement. He does his work behind the scenes. But his value was on display. He’s the one person in A’s leadership from Oakland. His love for the city and heart for the community, his connections that can go as far back as St. Paschal Baylon School, is exactly what was needed on the A’s end.

However, John Hickey of UC Berkeley News notes that rising sea levels will have to be factored into the picture.

Howard Terminal, just north of Jack London Square, is right up against the Oakland Estuary. The A’s and the Oakland consider that an asset. But with climate change leading to rising waters globally, including San Francisco Bay, that’s going to be a problem, says [associate professor Kristina] Hill, whose research delves into coastal design and its problems in the Bay Area. The A’s and their Danish designer, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), could, in fact, build a wall. Hill, who was part of the team that designed New Orleans’ water strategy post-Hurricane Katrina, expects they are already planning on doing so.

On a less serious note, Peter Hartlaub of the S.F. Chronicle saw something beautiful in the design drawings: The Shire from The Lord of the Rings series. Click here to read more about that, including lots of 80-grade LOTR puns.

Oh, and slugger Matt Olson chimed in with his two cents. (Check out more player reactions at MLB’s Cut 4.)

What do you think of the whole story, having now had a couple nights to sleep on it? We’ve already discussed it here at AN over the last two days, but let’s get a new thread started.