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Oakland Chinatown Leaders Fear Neighborhood Impact Of New Howard Terminal A's Ballpark

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Some Asian-American community leaders believe Oakland's Chinatown neighborhood will lose big under the current A's Howard Terminal ballpark proposal. They believe the ballpark will clog up Chinatown traffic and speed up gentrification.

Under the current proposed design, the 35,000-seat ballpark would only have 2,000 parking spots. Many worry that will force fans to park in Chinatown, which is less than a mile away, and walk to the game. Daytime parking is already a nightmare in the busy shopping district.

"We circled the whole area twice and everybody is double parked," said Chinatown shopper Fatma Kassem. "And we just go home without parking and stopping anywhere."

That's why community leaders say adding a ballpark nearby could gridlock the business district.

"There will be good traffic and there will be bad traffic," said Carl Chan, the president of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Chan said good traffic is when fans park and spend money in Chinatown before or after the game. Bad traffic is when they take up a spot and leave without spending a penny.

"Many small businesses are left out of this conversation," Chan said. "That's the reason why we need to make sure we will voice their concerns."

Evelyn Lee is the board president of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. She says the A's have to look at building more parking spots and find ways to solve traffic problems that their fans could potentially cause.

"Chinatown was not included in the city's environmental review," Lee said. "We haven't been consulted about these concerns. The A's have never approached us directly."

Community leaders would like the A's to not only promote Chinatown as a shopping destination to their fans, but also allow Chinatown restaurants to have free or discounted concessions at the ballpark.

"We're counting on the A's to step up as a member of the community, as a neighbor, and to be a good neighbor, not one that comes in and wipes out an existing, thriving community," said Lee.

Many Chinatown leaders said they're not against the Howard Terminal Ballpark. They want the A's to stay in Oakland. But they said the modifications would make it a win-win game plan for the A's and Chinatown.

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