The Oakland Roots—who, in just three years, have ascended to one of the city’s top sports attractions—announced they have zeroed in on two possible locations for a new soccer stadium: the Oakland Coliseum site and a former naval base at Alameda Point.
The Roots are known for their professional men’s soccer team, currently in the USL Championship, the second tier of American soccer. Since its founding, the club has also launched a women’s team: Oakland Soul, which will debut in the USL W League in 2023.
Tuesday’s announcement came after the club assessed dozens of locations. Roots home games are currently being played in a 5,500 seat football stadium at Laney College, close to Lake Merritt. Last season, they sold out multiple games.
More specifically, this new stadium is only expected to have a 10-year lifespan and be built via modular construction—components that are created off-site and then assembled at the site—as the club continues to search for a more permanent home.
Sources at the club have previously told The Standard that for now, the intention is to give its growing number of teams a bigger, better place to play, while leaving the door open to higher ambitions such as Major League Soccer once they are economically viable.
Of all the sites explored, the Coliseum and naval base locations were the only ones that met the club’s requirements of adequate size, accessibility, potential for community impact, designation for sports-use, and can fit a proper soccer field.
“Both locations have challenges, but nothing that we can’t work through,” said Roots and Soul President Lindsay Barenz. “The Coliseum will require work to ensure an interim stadium plan and the future of the Coliseum site are coordinated with several parties involved, and the former Naval Base at Alameda Point presents some transportation and parking issues.”
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
The Coliseum site is well known to Bay Area sports fans. Less than five years ago, it was home to all three of the Golden State Warriors, then Oakland Raiders and the Oakland Athletics. The Warriors and Raiders have since left, and the A’s are trying to leave as soon as possible.
But with the space already there and proximity to both BART and Interstate 880, it makes sense that the Roots would want to move in. They already have had success repurposing the Raider’s old training facility in Alameda.
The Roots aren’t the only Oakland-based party eyeing the Coliseum site. In 2021, the African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) won exclusive negotiating rights from the city of Oakland to lease or buy the 130-acre Coliseum site for redevelopment.
AASEG has said it hopes to launch a WNBA franchise and its own professional women’s soccer team (separate from the Soul) at the site.
In response to the Roots’ latest announcement, AASEG told The San Francisco Business Times: “We’re rooting for the Roots. […] We just have to be coordinated and make sure that if it is at the Coliseum, it’s not at the expense of foreclosing from the highest development potential for the site in the long run.”
The city jointly owns the Coliseum site, which was built in 1966, with Alameda County.
In San Francisco, new soccer developments are limited and have been dragging for decades. The SF Glens, a semi-professional team—with ambitions to be the next face of soccer in the city—are currently building a 1,000 seat stadium on Treasure Island instead of anywhere inland.
The Roots and Soul are seeking community input before they move forward with either site.