.Laney Students and Staff Express Concerns About the A’s Ballpark Plans

“This​ ​will​ ​flush​ ​out​ ​more​ ​of​ ​us.”

With​ ​the​ ​Oakland A’s’ decision to build a new ballpark next to Laney College, students and staffers are raising serious concerns about the impacts of a new stadium ​on the campus and the nearby community. ​A’s President Dave Kaval is in negotiations with the Peralta Community College District to build a new ballpark on a site now occupied by the district’s headquarters, next to the Laney campus.​

“Here​ ​we​ ​sit​ ​in​ ​a​ ​school​ ​that’s​ ​pretty​ ​deprived — ​it​ ​has​ ​bad​ ​bathrooms​ ​and​ ​bad​ ​plumbing,” said student Michelle​ Jones. ​“The​ ​structure​ ​of​ ​the​ ​school hasn’t​ ​been​ ​taken​ ​care​ ​of.​ ​Would​ ​this​ ​stadium​ ​take​ ​care​ ​of​ ​the​ ​structure​ ​of​ ​the​ ​school?​ ​Or​ ​would the​ ​school​ ​sit​ ​with​ ​busted​ ​pipes,​ ​beside​ ​a​ ​billion​-dollar​ ​stadium?”

Jones ​believes​ ​the​ ​stadium​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​negative​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​Laney​ ​students.​ “This​ ​will​ ​flush​ ​out​ ​more​ ​of​ ​us …,” Jones added, referring to the surrounding neighborhood, which is inhabited by many immigrant families and people of color.​ ​“We’re​ ​the​ ​environment;​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​just​ ​come​ ​in​ ​and move​ ​us​ ​out.​ ​You​ ​don’t​ ​displace​ ​people.”

While​ ​attending​ ​Laney​ ​College,​ ​Mauricio​ ​Lopez-Perez​ ​also​ ​works​ ​at​ the Oakland Coliseum and ​Oracle​ ​Arena.​ ​“Because​ ​of​ ​the​ ​A’s​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​Laney,​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​affected​ ​personally.​ ​I’d probably​ ​be​ ​out​ ​of​ ​a​ ​job,”​ ​said​ Lopez-Perez.

He added that if ​the​ ​A’s ​were​ ​to​ ​build next to Laney, ​it​ ​would​ ​create significant traffic problems for students.​ “Traffic​ ​here​ ​is​ ​already​ ​bad​ ​enough — ​getting​ ​to​ ​school,​ ​getting​ ​to​ ​an​ ​event.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​to commute​ ​here​ ​every day.​ ​It​ ​would​ ​create​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​pollution​ ​and​ ​congestion​ ​in​ ​the​ ​streets.”
Lopez-Perez​​ ​also believes​ ​the​ ​construction,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​the​ ​stadium​ ​itself​ ​“will​ ​create​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​distraction during​ ​class.”​ ​

Evelyn​ ​Lord,​ ​head​ ​librarian​ ​at​ ​Laney​ ​College,​ is worried about the impacts of tens of thousands of fans coming to games. “If​ ​a​ ​stadium​ ​comes​,​ ​then we’re​ ​going​ ​to​ ​have​ ​to​ ​deal​ ​with​ ​all​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​with​ ​a​ ​stadium.​ ​That​ ​means​ ​that​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be crowds​ ​drinking,​ ​coming​ ​in​ ​through​ ​our​ ​campus,​ ​using​ ​our​ ​facilities,​ ​making​ ​noise.​ ​There​ ​will​ ​be a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​noise.​ ​There​ ​will​ ​probably​ ​be​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​games,​ ​if​ ​they​ ​build​ ​a​ ​stadium.

“We’re​ ​concerned​ ​about​ ​the​ ​future​ ​of​ ​the​ ​college,”​ ​Lord​ ​continued.​ ​“If​ ​the​ ​learning​ ​environment was​ ​disrupted​ ​that​ ​much,​ ​then​ ​it​ ​would​ ​be​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​our​ ​enrollment.​ ​The​ ​noise,​ ​not​ ​just from​ ​the​ ​stadium,​ ​but​ ​from​ ​the​ ​construction​ ​that​ ​would​ ​go​ ​on​ ​for​ ​years.​ ​That​ ​would​ ​be​ ​very​ ​hard to​ ​deal​ ​with.”

One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​top​ ​reasons​ ​why​ ​community​ ​members​ ​are​ ​against​ ​the​ ​stadium​ ​is​ ​the​ ​possibility​ ​of displacement.​ ​“Many​ ​of​ ​our​ ​students​ ​come​ ​from​ ​neighborhoods​ ​around​ ​Laney​ ​College,”​ ​Lord said.​ ​“We​ ​are​ ​connected​ ​completely​ ​with​ ​the​ ​community​ ​around​ ​us​ ​and​ ​beyond.​ ​We​ ​don’t​ ​want bad​ ​things​ ​to​ ​come​ ​to​ ​our​ ​community,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​want​ ​bad​ ​things​ ​to​ ​come​ ​to​ ​our​ ​college.”

When​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​elaborate​ ​on​ ​displacement concerns​, especially for the nearby community and small businesses that may face much higher rents if a stadium is built, Lord added: “There​ ​are​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​studies​ ​and​ ​examples​ ​of​ ​Chinatown​ ​districts​ ​that​ ​have​ ​been​ ​essentially destroyed.​ ​It’s​ ​happened time​ ​and​ ​time​ ​again.​ ​We​ ​have​ ​so​ ​many​ ​immigrants​ ​that​ ​come​ ​through​ ​Chinatown,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​go​ ​to Laney​ ​College.”

At an anti-ballpark rally and press conference earlier this month at Laney, Roger Porter, a faculty member of the Laney English Department, said a stadium will dramatically impact life on campus. “​Let’s​ ​be​ ​clear​ ​about​ ​something:​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​way​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can​ ​build​ ​a​ ​stadium​ ​… ​and not​ ​totally​ ​disrupt​ ​our​ ​institution​,​”​ ​said Porter, who​ ​was​ ​a​ ​student​ ​himself​ ​at Laney​ ​and​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​long​ ​time​ ​Oakland​ ​resident.​ ​“​As​ ​much​ ​as​ ​we​ ​appreciate​ ​[the​ ​A’s]​ ​staying​,” he​ ​added,​ ​“​we​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​ultimately​ ​this​ ​is​ ​gentrification​, ​and​ ​they​ ​are​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​uproot​ ​our institution.​”​

​Laney student John​ ​Lee said at the rally that he’s an A’s fan but has lost respect for the organization because of selection of the Peralta Community College District headquarters, next to the Laney campus.​ ​“​I’m​ ​becoming​ ​less​ ​proud​ ​to​ ​wear​ ​my​ ​hometown​ ​gear​,” ​he said.​ ​“​I,​ ​unfortunately,​ ​have​ ​to​ ​view​ ​my​ ​home​ ​team​ ​as​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​a​ ​team,​ ​but​ ​actually​ ​as​ ​a business​ ​and​ ​an​ ​entity​ ​that​ ​is​ ​making​ ​a​ ​decision​ ​that​ ​is​ ​more​ ​about​ ​profit​ ​than​ ​it​ ​is​ ​for​ ​people.​”


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