About seven years ago, I sent a proposal to every elected member of the City Council and board of supervisors detailing a model of the Coliseum property with two distinctly different venues for the baseball and football operations.
This proposal, as presented to readers by then-Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse, featured a Coliseum that had been redesigned as football-only by retaining the entire East Side structure commonly known as Mt. Davis, duplicating it on the West Side while retaining the existing North and South end zones with some work needed to square off the three levels for better sight lines. The main reason for doing this was that it would drastically reduce the cost of redoing the Coliseum, which is essentially half-built already.
Do the math. It works on so many levels. On the baseball side, I proposed building a ballpark not on the existing parking lot but on the adjacent land that once housed the old White Front store at the corner of Collins Drive and Hegenberger Road. The site has been vacant for years and only serves as separate parking for Raiders games.
With the exception of a few power lines that would have to be moved to the edge of the property, the land is ready for development and large enough to handle a footprint the size of Anaheim Stadium with ample room to spare. Just as Lew Wolff is learning that you make no money from tarped seats, the city makes no money from a large, vacant piece of prime open space nobody wants to buy.
If Wolff wants to be a developer of the project, I say call his bluff and give him the property to build his ballpark and develop whatever type of retail space he wants. This was his plan for Fremont. Now he can do his thing right next door to the Coliseum and still take advantage of the transportation flexibility of the Coliseum area he stated to MLB was so important including a new BART tram that can be used to directly support the venue and new hotels and shops that will spring up there.
Oakland benefits from the taxes, revenue and jobs this development provides.
In the meantime, the Coliseum City project can go up just across the canal from the ballpark without either the Raiders or A's being affected by the other. Oakland is a blue-collar port town with a rich sports history. To lose either of these teams does diminish this city more so than losing the Warriors -- since the Warriors never accepted Oakland as its hometown from the get-go. I have an idea why, but I'm tired of dealing with the Donald Sterling types of the NBA.
The Coliseum/White Front property is big enough for all parties to get what they want without bruising their egos or stepping on one another's toes. All it takes is a little cooperation from the adults in the room.
Larry E. Jackson, an Oakland native, is a resident of Hayward.