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March 1, 2021 8:30 AM, EST

MLB’s Athletics Move Step Closer to Ballpark at Port of Oakland

Trucking Interests Opposed, Citing Congestion
Artist rendering for proposed Oakland ballparkRendering of new Oakland Athletics ballpark (mlb.com)

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As the 2021 Major League Baseball season begins April 1, a long-standing issue may be resolved in the coming months. The decision will have a big impact on trucking operations.

The American League’s Oakland Athletics play in MLB’s fifth-oldest and arguably worst stadium, RingCentral Coliseum. Built in the mid-1960s, it’s the last of a long line of multipurpose facilities that for years hosted both MLB and NFL teams, trying to fit two sports with diametrically different field shapes into one building and, in the process, pleasing no one.

The NFL’s Raiders relocated from Oakland to Las Vegas and played the 2020-21 season in a new, $1.9 billion football-only stadium, leaving the A’s behind in Oakland in the aging Coliseum. City of Oakland officials say they do not want to lose another team, as the NBA’s Golden State Warriors departed for San Francisco at the end of the 2019 season. In 2019, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that without a new stadium, the A’s eventually could be moved.

Draft EIR-New Oakland Ballpark Intro by Transport Topics on Scribd

Now, a new, draft environmental impact report written by City of Oakland officials and released Feb. 26 is pushing forward plans for a privately funded, baseball-only stadium at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. The document analyzes how a $550 million, 35,000-seat stadium would impact the port, transportation, housing and surrounding area. It outlines what it says could be a peaceful coexistence with the port.

“The release of the draft EIR [as the document is known] is another important step forward in the process of building a new privately financed ballpark at Oakland’s Howard Terminal,” Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval said in a team press release.

Several industry stakeholders are opposed to the proposed stadium’s location, maintaining that the existing Coliseum site is the best place for a new ballpark because it’s far less congested than the port, and a baseball stadium would interfere with port operations.

Mike Jacob

Jacob

“We know that Oakland’s working waterfront is no place for a stadium, office and luxury condominium complex, and this environmental review must ultimately shine a bright light on the many significant adverse impacts of building the proposed stadium complex at this location,” Pacific Merchant Shipping Association General Counsel Mike Jacob said.

“We anticipate that the Howard Terminal draft EIR will once again confirm the obvious and what everyone already knows — that the current Coliseum site remains the ideal and most logical location for a new ballpark that will make A’s fans proud to call home,” he added.

Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan told Transport Topics he believes the new stadium can be incorporated into the port. The Howard Terminal property is no longer an active terminal and has been used for chassis and container storage for more than 10 years. He said the decision ultimately is up to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the city council, and the port authority board.

“From the port’s perspective, a ballpark at Howard Terminal, which is not in use for terminal operations, could be a great enhancement for our visitor-orientated business,” Wan said. “Our primary concern is making sure that whatever development is proposed is compatible with our seaport operation. Our board has clearly said it will consider a real estate transaction with the A’s if the mitigation measures make it compatible with the seaport.”

Trucking officials also insist the draft EIR was improperly released during a legal dispute over whether the project can proceed. Earlier this month, an Alameda County judge dismissed a lawsuit against the A’s by several port stakeholders, including Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Harbor Trucking Association and California Trucking Association.

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They charged the team did not meet a Jan. 1, 2020, deadline to show that the Howard Terminal ballpark meets environmental regulations for greenhouse gas emissions. The group is appealing the decision.

If the new stadium at the Port of Oakland goes forward, the Coliseum would be demolished, and the baseball team controls half of the property. Former A’s pitcher-turned-businessman Dave Stewart also has put in a $115 million bid for the other half of the property. He would like to develop the East Oakland site with affordable housing, restaurants and other stores.

Sports stadium consultant Marc Ganis, co-founder and managing director of Sportscorp Ltd, says the old Coliseum is obsolete in today’s sports business environment. “It was enormously successful during its time. But the land is now more valuable for other uses. It is prime development land for a major complex that can bring significant money and tax revenues to the City of Oakland,” Ganis said. “I’d tell the A’s it’s time to push hard on the port site. But there will be a lot of issues, not the least of which is the fact it’s a working port. None of these are easy solutions.”

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