Port of Oakland clears the way for A’s to pursue ballpark plan at Howard Terminal

OAKLAND — Despite protests from longshoremen and maritime
business representatives, the Port of Oakland on Monday cleared the
bases for the Oakland Athletics to possibly build a 35,000-seat
ballpark on its Howard Terminal site along the estuary.

The port’s board of commissioners unanimously approved an
exclusive negotiating term sheet that would give the A’s four
years to obtain land use permits, conduct an environmental review
and do other preparatory work needed to eventually lease the
50-acre Howard Terminal.

The term sheet lays the framework for an agreement that would
allow the A’s to lease the port property for about $3.8 million
in each of the first 20 years of the 66-year lease, with the rent
to increase after the first couple of decades.

Before voting, port commissioners listened to about two hours of
public testimony, much of it from people saying they oppose a
ballpark in that location because it would drive existing port
businesses away and result in a loss of longshoreman jobs.

But board president Cestra “Ces” Butner told the crowd
he’s confident the port can accommodate both a ballpark and a
growing maritime industry.

“You can do two things at the same time. You can walk and chew
gum at the same time, and we can build a stadium and protect our
maritime industry,” Butner said. “We refuse to accept the
notion that it’s an either-or proposition.”

The commissioners added a last-minute amendment to the term
sheet, calling on the A’s and the seaport businesses to join
forces and negotiate standards that would ensure the project
doesn’t hurt or otherwise interfere with port operations.

However, the promises of A’s officials and port commissioners
didn’t allay the fears of longshoremen who said they don’t
think a port and ballpark could co-exist.

“The industry is going to go, one by one, and the truckers
will not be able to get in and out,” said International Longshore
and Warehouse Union member Aaron Wright, “You cannot mix baseball
game traffic with semi-trucks. It can’t happen.”

Andy Garcia, chairman of the board at container transporter GSC
Logistics Inc., said putting a ballpark in the middle of a busy
port is like putting a “playground in the middle of an assembly
line.”

Several A’s fans and Jack London Square residents spoke in
support of the ballpark proposal, saying it’s important to keep a
sports team in Oakland after both the Warriors and the Raiders
leave.

Port of Oakland spokesman Mike Zampa said the annual rent amount
was reached in private negotiations. He stressed that the term
sheet is nonbinding, and port commissioners could still back out of
the deal after the four years are up.

The A’s will have 10 days to pay the port $100,000 to cover
staff expenses under the agreement, $150,000 after the first year,
$200,000 after two years and $250,000 after three years.

Mike Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping
Association, a trade group representing marine terminals and vessel
operators, said he believes the A’s are getting special treatment
under the proposed deal, noting that other companies who lease
terminals have to pay more per acre.

Butner, in an interview after the meeting, said that Howard
Terminal is not fit to be a container terminal and is thus worth
less per acre.

A’s president Dave Kaval said after the meeting that the A’s
have tweaked their plan to accommodate other port businesses and
may tweak it more in the coming years.

“We’ve made many adjustments to the plan, including the
maritime reservation area, the transportation plan and also the
buffer zone to make sure that we can have a thriving port and a
beautiful ballpark,” Kaval said.

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He called the port commission’s vote a “critical step as we
move forward with our new privately financed ballpark here at the
waterfront.”

The A’s have agreed to pay the cost of cleaning up the
contaminated site, which could carry a high price tag. Over the
years, the site has been occupied by a gas plant, a charcoal plant
and oil tanks. Chemicals remain in the soil and groundwater,
including some known to cause cancer .

The A’s plan to construct the ballpark by 2023, as well as
triangular buildings around it that would either house apartments,
condos or hotels.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Port of Oakland clears the way for A’s to pursue ballpark plan at Howard Terminal