Lake Merritt wildlife at risk from A’s stadium plan September 24, 2017

Posted by GGAS in Conservation, Golden Gate Audubon

Editor’s Note: Golden Gate Audubon Society came out in opposition last week to the proposal to relocate the Oakland A’s baseball stadium to a site adjacent to the Lake Merritt Channel, currently owned by the Peralta Community College District. We received prominent news coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as in the East Bay Times, KGO-TV, and KCBS radio, and we published an op-ed piece in the East Bay Times. The following is adapted from the press release we sent out.

The large-scale ballpark proposed by the Oakland A’s for the Peralta Community College District site could be disastrous for the abundant birds, fish, and other animals that rely on Lake Merritt.

Golden Gate Audubon Society — which represents over 7,000 members in Oakland and nearby cities — opposes selection of the Peralta site because of the loud noise, intense light, trash, and harmful contaminants it would generate directly alongside the Lake Merritt channel, a narrow and vital waterway connecting the lake to the estuary and San Francisco Bay.

Peralta is the smallest and densest of the three proposed stadium sites. It is ill-suited for the huge footprint of a stadium plus parking, and the additional planned housing and commercial development. (See map below.)

Golden Gate Audubon raises the following concerns over the site proposal:

  • Lake Merritt, the nation’s oldest wildlife refuge and a public asset, is home to nearly 200 species, including ducks, herons, songbirds, nesting cormorants, fish, and other species.

Barrow’s Goldeneye pair at Lake Merritt / Photo by William Clark

2012 Kids' Bird Count at Lake Merritt

2012 Kids’ Bird Count at Lake Merritt organized by Golden Gate Audubon / Photo by Ilana DeBare

  • Siting a ballpark at Peralta could jeopardize major improvements recently made to Lake Merritt through $198 million in Measure DD bond funding, including environmental cleanup, restoration of water quality, enhanced bird and fish habitat, and connection to the Bay ecosystem.
  • Restoration of the Lake Merritt Channel has helped connect Lake Merritt and its ecosystem to the surrounding communities and public institutions, such as the Oakland Museum, Oakland Main Library, and Laney College.
  • Tens of thousands of people would pour over the Lake Merritt Channel bridge at every home game to get to the stadium from the Lake Merritt BART station, dropping trash (including plastic) that is both unsightly and dangerous to wildlife.
  • Loud noise from PA systems, amplified music, traffic, and crowds can frighten birds away from their habitat and into roadways. Fireworks are particularly hazardous, panicking birds and sometimes leading them to abandon their nests and young.

Nesting cormorants at Lake Merritt / Photo by Lee Aurich

Lake Merritt is a treasured oasis for both people and birds. Photo by Lee Aurich.

  • Bright lights such as scoreboard lights, parking area lighting, and security lights take a severe toll on wildlife – disrupting bird and animal sleep patterns and disorienting birds that migrate or forage at night.
  • The proposed new I-880 ramps, plus parking for over 500 cars, will channel heavy metal emissions of lead, zinc, and copper into the improved estuary habitats that were recently restored at public expense. These pollutants pose serious health risks to both humans and wildlife.

Of the three properties being considered for a new A’s ballpark, Golden Gate Audubon supports the renovation and transformation of the existing Coliseum area complex. This site would avoid further displacement of people, wildlife and small businesses, utilize an already developed site, minimize impacts to biodiversity, and allow for a reimagined ballpark village that could help revitalize East Oakland and contribute to the City’s tax base.

This map superimposes the current stadium on the proposed site. Courtesy of Doug Mosher.

This view of Laney College shows the proximity of the proposed stadium site to the channel and Lake Merritt. Courtesy of Laney College.

Tags: Lake Merritt, Lake Merritt Channel, Oakland A's, Oakland A's stadium.


  1. October 1st, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    Nice piece. One note is that your map and image of the site are incorrect. The site of the proposed stadium is not the Laney College fields – it is the site of the Peralta offices which are on the opposite side of E 8th st from the ball fields. Between E 8th and the Nimtz. It is next to the channel and the site is actually smaller than the one you’ve superimposed over the stadium.

  2. GGAS
    October 1st, 2017 at 1:45 PM

    Thank you for the correction!

  3. Erin
    October 9th, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    My daily walk to Lake Merritt BART will be cut off by this new stadium. I see and enjoy this area every day, as do many others. This is one of the few wild places left in my neighborhood, and in my opinion, a very poor choice for a stadium that frankly, we do not need. The traffic, noise, and environmental degradation that would result is not in the best interests of those of us who live here, or the East Bay in general. FIND ANOTHER SITE!

  4. Kit Vaq
    October 18th, 2017 at 1:37 PM

    Thank you for taking a strong stand, Audubon Society. We don’t need this behemoth in Downtown Oakland where it will destroy our existing community and nature preserve. The A’s have other options, but the birds and people who live and work there don’t. The A’s are no longer a community team that cares about Oakland. It is now a major corporation interested in keeping its brand and making a profit at the expense of those who are trying to exist and survive there. A’s already have a stadium with better transit access and accommodations at the Coliseum. They will kill Lake Merritt. This is sheer coveting and greed on their part.

  5. Mary Sue Meads
    November 28th, 2017 at 8:50 PM

    I’ve been looking at the history of birding at Lake Merritt–it would be a shame to mess with it by building a ballpark right next door.
    I never would have guessed that Laney (that is the Peralta college they are talking about?) would have enough space for such a ball park.What I don’t understand is why they can’t stay where they have been for nearly four decades. Isn’t cheaper and as effective just to revamp the existing stadium?

  6. GGAS
    November 29th, 2017 at 11:44 AM

    Those are excellent points!