Oakland’s Port settlement gamble: Short-term pain, long-term gain
The Port of Oakland’s board ended today’s session without a decision on the SSA settlement, pushing the matter to a special session next Tuesday. Thankfully, the Port also released the upcoming meeting agenda, which includes summary of the settlement terms this afternoon, allowing the public to review the settlement.
At no point in the document do the words “Athletics”, “stadium”, or “ballpark” show up. While anyone following recent news could divine Oakland’s purpose for Howard Terminal, no pro sports (or any other development) are associated with it. For now. Instead there’s a pretty level-headed analysis of the pro’s and con’s of settling SSA’s lawsuits against the Port, repurposing Howard Terminal for non-revenue uses, and the broader effects on overall Port operations.
As part of the settlement, SSA would cease operations at Howard Terminal on behalf of Matson, and would move down the harbor to Berths 60-63, where they’d take over for Eagle Marine Services (who chose SSA to succeed them). SSA, which was complaining about higher fees compared to competitors, would starting running the new terminal under the same fee structure as EMS. In exchange for the lower costs, SSA has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the Port.
If Howard Terminal is vacated, the Port assumes that it will lose $10 million per year in revenue, minus any offsetting revenues gained by SSA’s consolidation and costs associated with the lawsuits (I pointed this out last year).
While the settlement is driven by Port’s desire to get rid of the lawsuits while consolidating facilities, the ballpark push looms in the background. There’s no amount of ballpark activity that can pump $10 million per year into the City/Port, but that’s a moot issue since there’s no way a ballpark would be ready anytime in the next four years. The big gamble is what happens to Howard Terminal if MLB doesn’t like the site, or if MLB approves the A’s move to San Jose? What to do with land that has to be regularly monitored that has limited use?
Assuming that the settlement is approved as expected on Tuesday, the City is showing that it’s making an effort towards providing a proper ballpark site away from the Coliseum. That may be just as well, since former Coliseum JPA board member and current Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid said this towards the end of City budget discussions tonight:
CM Larry Reid tells council he doesn’t want to spend “another dime” on the Coliseum JPA. #oakmtg
— East Bay Citizen (@eastbaycitizen) June 28, 2013
Ah, but will Oakland and Alameda County spend many, many more dimes to get Howard Terminal spiffed up?