OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- When the Oakland Athletics announced their intentions to build a ballpark on the Howard Terminal site next to Jack London Square, people quickly voiced their concerns over transportation options.
The Oakland Coliseum may not be in the most desirable location, but it does have a massive parking lot and conveniently close proximity to BART.
A Howard Terminal stadium would have a desirable waterfront location and more favorable pre and post-game dining and hangout options.
The question lingers - How hard will it actually be for fans to access the stadium via public transportation?
ABC7's Casey Pratt and Jeff August decided put boots on the ground in December of 2018 to find out just how practical the options really are. Casey and Steve Berman of The Athletic did the final stretch of West Oakland BART to Howard Terminal in 2021.
They chose to test out BART because it will likely be the most commonly used mode of transportation.
To give a baseline for their research, they started out by walking from the Oakland Coliseum BART gates to Championship Plaza, where the food trucks are stationed on game-days.
Then, they walked from Lake Merritt Bart to Howard Terminal and repeated the walk from the 12th Street Station - live streaming on Facebook the whole way.
They call it the Howard Terminal Experiment!
Here are Casey's reviews:
TREK 1 - Oakland Coliseum BART to Championship Plaza
Distance: 0.4 Miles (0.3 Miles to D Gate)
Time: 8 minutes
Pace: 18:02 / mile
Level Of Difficulty: 1/10
Review: Simple, straight-forward, clean and easy. Most fans have grown accustomed to this trek. The only negative is that there are no restaurants, shops or pit-stops until you reach the stadium, unless you count street vendors.
TREK 2 - Lake Merritt BART to Howard Terminal
Distance: 1.4 Miles
Time: 33 minutes
Pace: 23 minutes / mile
Level Of Difficulty: 6/10
Review: Lots of crosswalks, mild confusion, an abundance of dining and pit-stop options. We decided to tackle the longest walk first. Jeff lives in Pleasanton, I live in Livermore, so we thought this may be the best BART option for Tri-Valley residents since there is no transfer involved. We were wrong. The walk is doable and not too taxing, but you spend a lot of time waiting at crosswalks and crossing busy streets. If you look at the map, you can also see where we accidentally made a wrong turn and almost walked to Alameda - but hey, we were live streaming and talking so we were distracted.
TREK 3 - 12th Street BART to Howard Terminal
Distance: 1.0 Miles
Time: 21 minutes
Pace: 21 minutes / mile
Level Of Difficulty: 3/10
Review: Easy to navigate with very few turns, wide sidewalks, and much fewer crosswalks. There are ample dining, shopping, and pit-stop options. This route is worth the BART transfer. The first thing we noticed is that the BART walk is actually fun. Unlike the Coliseum, there are plenty of places to hangout and socialize along the way. At one point we even ran into Marshawn Lynch in front of the Beast Mode store along the route.
More notably, about 0.4 miles into the walk, the same distance from BART to Oakland Coliseum, you are already at Jack London Square, which is going to be a vibrant hub of A's fan activity on game days. As you make the walk, you can visualize the game-day vibe as you approach the waterfront.
TREK 4: West Oakland BART to Howard Terminal
Distance: .84 Miles
Time: 17 minutes
Pace: 20 minutes / mile
Level Of Difficulty: 2/10
Review: Surprisingly, this was the shortest and easiest BART walk of the three options. Back in 2019, Jeff and I didn't even bother walking it because we thought it would be impractical. Boy were we wrong. It is a straight shot from the corner of the BART parking lot down Mandela Parkway/3rd Street. One right turn on Market Street and you're there. Unlike the other walks, this is more commercial/industrial, so it's sort of a no nonsense path. The sidewalks were wide and clean with only minor infrastructure issues and there aren't many roads to cross.
There are no restaurants, bars or shops and it doesn't route you through Jack London Square like the other two options, but it is the fastest and easiest. All lines also run through the West Oakland BART station, so there are no connections needed. If you wanted to get to and from the ballpark quickly, this is the way to go. If you want to make an experience out of it, take the 12th Street downtown exit.
The sidewalk on Broadway heading to Jack London Square is wide and I could envision traffic officers helping navigate the hordes of fans through the crosswalks. The City will probably need to do something to brighten and cleanup the 880 overpass between 5th and 6th streets. It is dimly lit and had several people in tents under it. Whether you BART from Lake Merritt or 12th Street, you'll hit this portion of Broadway.
Once you approach Jack London Square, you need to cross train tracks. It wasn't an issue for the two of us, but it will be problematic for a large gameday crowd unless there are some fences and a pedestrian bridge.
The route from Jack London Square to Howard Terminal will need some work, too. They could create a straight shot to the ballpark by removing the fire station located on 47 Clay Street, making it a pretty easy and direct trek that keeps people on a dedicated waterfront walkway.
As it stands now, you have to walk down a chewed up Embarcadero West with very thin sidewalks that are in various states of disrepair. The sidewalk ends before you get to the main gate of Howard Terminal. That would all change if a stadium was there as the whole plot of land would be opened up.
They could close Embarcadero West near game-time, creating a much larger walkway, but you're still walking along the train tracks.
It's also very important to note that there will need to be access options for folks with disabilities. We have to keep in mind a one-mile walk isn't a reasonable expectation for all people. The A's will surely have a plan in place to help accommodate everyone. Shuttles from West Oakland BART would be the best option. There will likely be some on-site parking, but I don't know how many spots there will be yet.
Overall, Jeff and I (and later Steve and I) walked at a leisurely pace while livestreaming and talking baseball. Heading into the experiment, the distances seemed a bit daunting on paper, but in reality, it wasn't bad at all. I left thinking the 12th Street to Howard Terminal and West Oakland walks seemed really practical.
To paint the picture of how simple it truly was, we actually did the first 3 treks consecutively. We walked Coliseum Station to Championship Plaza and back, then walked Lake Merritt BART to Howard Terminal and back to 12th Street - Meaning we walked about 3.2 miles before even starting the 12th Street to Howard Terminal trek, and we aren't exactly in world-class shape or anything - OK maybe Jeff is.
BART will still likely be the way the majority of fans experience game-day, but there will also be options to take the train, ferry, or drive - but parking will be spread out. If the A's and Oakland can pull off the Aerial Gondola, all of this becomes even simpler.
Thanks for joining us on our journeys.
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