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NEWS RELEASE: Mayor Sheng Thao, City Leaders and Oakland Ballers Celebrate Historic Partnership in West Oakland

City leaders announce major improvements made to Raimondi Park and surrounding streets on the morning of first game of the season

press conference at ballpark

Today City and community leaders gathered with the Oakland Ballers baseball team to kick off the season at Raimondi Park in West Oakland, after making $1.6 million in improvements to the park and surrounding areas. Multiple City Departments worked tirelessly with the team to deliver large scale improvements in a record amount of time. 

The result is a new professional-grade ballpark that will not only host Oakland Ballers home games but will be available for public use on non-game days and host other community programming. The Ballers will be securing and maintaining the park, costs the City would otherwise bear. 

Local street improvements include:  

  • Removal of railroad tracks on 18th, 20th, and Wood Streets; 
  • Pavement rehabilitation on Wood, 18th, 20th, Campbell, and Willow Streets;  
  • New curb ramps at paving locations;  
  • Installing high-visibility crosswalks at paving locations;  
  • Installing new sidewalks to fill in gaps on Wood Street (18th - 20th Street), 20th Street (Willow to Wood Street), and Campbell Street (16th to 17th Street); and  
  • Repairing existing damaged sidewalks on Campbell Street (18th to 20th Street)

OakDOT also made recommendations for the Ballers’ Transportation Management Plan (TMP) to encourage walking, biking and transit to the ballpark; provide adequate off-street parking for attendees who do drive; and minimize impacts to the surrounding neighborhoods. 

The Economic and Workforce Development Department approved the Ballers’ season through the City’s new streamlined interdepartmental special event permitting process. Instead of requiring the Ballers to separately apply for permits with multiple departments and submit separate applications for each event date, the City’s interdepartmental special event permitting process allowed for simultaneous review of one application by the Oakland Police Department, Oakland Fire Department, Oakland Parks and Recreation and Youth Development Department, and Oakland Public Works. 

The City and Ballers also teamed up to clean and activate a vacant lot at 1707 Wood Street. The City-owned site is slated for development of 170 units of affordable housing but has been held up by the presence of 9,700 tons of contaminated soil. The Ballers have removed this hazard from the neighborhood and will be using the site for parking during the season, clearing the way for progress on the affordable housing project. 

What they're saying... 

"Oakland is a baseball town! Our die-hard fans are so passionate about their teams and the community. The Ballers are a homegrown baseball team that reflects the Town’s hustle and heart and is worthy of our love. Because of the Ballers’ investment and commitment, we will “Play Ball!” in Oakland tonight and for seasons to come," said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao.

"The stewardship of Raimondi Park by the Oakland Ballers has allowed the park to start receiving much needed investment so it can serve as a central hub for not only baseball games, but also community gatherings, outdoor activities, and family-friendly events," said Oakland District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife. "The work city staff and my office have had to do to develop this partnership and bring these resources to the park has felt nothing short of a miracle. The Ballers are committed to Oakland thriving and bringing joy to our public spaces. I can’t wait to see everyone together for the first game."

“The Oakland Ballers are a community team, owned by neighbors. Our players are not household names, they are working to become household names and to bring a championship back to Oakland. There are so many naysayers who like to tell Oakland what it can or cannot be. What we know is that when the community comes together to build something—nothing can stop us. I encourage the people of Oakland to come over to Raimondi Park and check out what we’ve built. The Ballers are built by Oakland for Oakland and we’re in the first inning of the greatest sports comeback story ever told," said Paul Freedman, Oakland Ballers cofounder.

“Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth Development (OPRYD) celebrates that this public-private partnership will bring baseball back to the field that produced such greats as Ernie Raimondi, Vada Pinson and Curt Flood,” said OPRYD Director Fred Kelley. "OPRYD staff are eager to provide programming opportunities for youth and adult community members on the newly improved field.” 

"Our staff have made improvements to the permitting process to make getting a permit to do business with the City of Oakland easier and faster," said Ashleigh Kanat, Director of the Economic and Workforce Department. "Economic and Workforce Development Department is also supporting the surrounding neighborhood in West Oakland with the Activate Oakland-funded monthly West Oakland Night Market launching later this week, June 6, and other direct support for business and commercial properties in the area." 

"The removal of contaminated soil from 1707 Wood Street for the Ballers to use as a temporary parking area has addressed a significant source of environmental contamination in the neighborhood," said Assistant City Administrator LaTonda Simmons. "We are now one important step closer to advancing the redevelopment of that site with 170 units of affordable housing." 

"The City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) has made critical street improvements around Raimondi Park that align with the Department's continued focus on bringing long overdue investments to Oakland's most underserved communities," said OakDOT Director Josh Rowan. "Removing old railroad tracks, adding new curb ramps for accessibility, and repaving streets are much-needed improvements that will make the area safer for our residents." 

"Oakland Public Works’ Park Services crews have been focused on mowing, weeding, and picking up litter in the area surrounding Raimondi Park to provide a clean and inviting approach for visitors," said Oakland Public Works Interim Director Michael Kashiwagi. "Oakland Public Works is committed to providing clean and welcoming public spaces and we hope residents and visitors will come out and enjoy them this summer."

"The City of Oakland Planning and Building Department (PBD) worked diligently with the Oakland Ballers and other city departments to obtain the required planning entitlements and building permits to develop this important community amenity for Oakland residents," said Planning and Building Department Director William Gilchrist. "PBD is committed to making continuous improvements to our internal processes to meet the development needs of all communities across the City of Oakland."

"As an advocate for parks, sustainable transportation, and strong neighborhoods, I’m thrilled to see the Oakland Ballers' investment in Raimondi Park bring all these elements together and so much more. This project embodies the best of Oakland, with our city leaders, the Ballers, and the community working collaboratively together,” said Josh Gunter of Friends of Raimondi Park.

 

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Posted: June 6th, 2024 1:59 PM

Last Updated: June 6th, 2024 2:07 PM

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