Initial renderings show Howard Terminal ballpark outside of BCDC jurisdiction

Howard Terminal ballpark backers are looking for solutions to get past the BCDC. In their case the solution appears to be to build the ballpark outside the area the BCDC regulates. Say, what is the BCDC’s jurisdiction, anyway? Glad you asked. From the website (emphasis mine):

The open water, marshes and mudflats of greater San Francisco Bay, including Suisun, San Pablo, Honker, Richardson, San Rafael, San Leandro and Grizzly Bays and the Carquinez Strait.

The first 100 feet inland from the shoreline around San Francisco Bay.

The portion of the Suisun Marsh-including levees, waterways, marshes and grasslands- below the ten-foot contour line.

Portions of most creeks, rivers, sloughs and other tributaries that flow into San Francisco Bay.

Salt ponds, duck hunting preserves, game refuges and other managed wetlands that have been diked off from San Francisco Bay.

At 50 acres in size, Howard Terminal is a large enough property that plans can be drawn up to move structures around so that they can avoid the BCDC. Ah, but it isn’t quite that simple. Part of Howard Terminal is a pier built over the estuary, so that area is considered tidelands and is in all likelihood within the BCDC’s jurisdiction. Waterfront Action has a map showing where various Tidelands Trust lands lie along the Oakland Estuary.


Map of Tidelands Trust areas where development is highly restricted (note Victory Court’s location in upper right)

If you look at the Howard Terminal section, the Tidelands extend inland past the cranes, as much as 300 feet. Add another 100 feet to cover the BCDC boundary and you have the defined area that escapes the jurisdiction. That means that there could be as much as 400 feet from the water’s edge to the outer wall of the ballpark, the length of home plate to center field at the Coliseum (sorry, no splash hits folks). The BCDC could rule that the shoreline starts at the water’s edge, which would allow the ballpark to be built closer to the water. It will probably take the BCDC and the State Lands Commission to sort all of that out. The recently closed RFP for Howard Terminal explains this further:

Tidelands Trust Compliance

Howard Terminal is currently encumbered by the Tidelands Trust. Uses of the property are therefore generally limited to water oriented commerce, navigation, fisheries, and regional or state-wide recreational uses. Approval from the State Lands Commission would be required for any uses of the property that are not Tidelands Trust compliant. Many non-maritime activities are not considered Trust compliant uses and thus may require lengthy negotiations with the State Lands Commission, and potential legislation, before the Port could proceed with such non-Trust uses for the property.

Howard Terminal ballpark on west end of property

Whatever the final ruling is, filling in that empty area would be open space, which partly explains the presence of the cranes. The crane supports currently at Howard Terminal are nearly 120 feet deep from front to back. A promenade and open space fills that area, which is a good idea (you basically can’t get anything big developed in coastal California without providing open space these days).

Entirety of Howard Terminal with Downtown Oakland in background

A side effect of this placement is that the ballpark would actually be closer to the West Oakland BART station than the 12th Street Downtown Oakland station by a few hundred feet (4,800 vs. 5,100). In either case it’s a pretty lengthy distance and would be best bridged by shuttles.

Despite the placement of the ballpark in hopes of avoiding the BCDC, work done on the waterfront parts of the site would fall under the commission’s sway, even the conversion to open space. That’s because there is a land use covenant in place that is also highly restrictive, preventing all manner of structures from being built there without significant cleanup plans.

Now let’s look at one more picture. It’s an old one from the 2001 HOK study – the one that had Howard Terminal finishing among the worst with $177.5 million in needed infrastructure and other costs.


2001 HOK study rendering of A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal

Note the differences between this image and the newer ones. In the newer renderings the ballpark is on the western half. In the older vision the ballpark’s on the eastern half. There’s also a convention center, hotel, and 1,900-space parking garage here. Mayor Quan referred to Howard Terminal as being zoned for a convention center, but was that an actual result of this study or similar efforts? I’ve seen no record to indicate this happened. In addition the 2001 HOK plan shows the original shoreline as reclaimed, but with a promenade extending out as connected piers, presumably to acknowledge the site’s 100 years as an operating port facility.

With these renderings, there are a few questions to carry forward.

  • It’s not at all clear how much control the BCDC has over the site. Where is the true BCDC jurisdictional boundary?
  • Given the site’s use as a port, how much say will the State Lands Commission have in lieu of the BCDC?
  • How much do the land use covenant’s restrictions affect the cost to build here?
  • Will a full cleanup be required, or can Oakland get away with limited cleanup if only certain uses are realized?

I’m sure there will be more questions to come. Those can be answered with a feasibility study and an environmental impact report.

179 Responses to Initial renderings show Howard Terminal ballpark outside of BCDC jurisdiction

  1. Karim says:

    @tony d just clarifying the facts and I’m right there with ya if there is a group I don’t want no part of him, cocky, stuck up ass. Bad for business on all parts.

  2. Dan says:

    Tony, I hate to even suggest it, but SJ signing a long term lease with the Little Giants (with some pretty heavy concessions about long term capital improvements to Muni Stadium), Wolff showing interest in Coliseum City (a first in Oakland in over half a decade in a position that on the surface would seem to undermine his desired move to SJ), the reports the SJ plan as it existed is dead (and there not being much SJ can do to sweeten that pot)…

    Sure doesn’t look like it’s adding up to that happy Silicon Valley future people like you and I wanted.

  3. Tony D. says:

    Just stop will yah. If we were really going to be screwed by MLB and the Giants I say no way in hell we do anything for their little club. SINGLE #%&@! A BASEBALL FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! They don’t do shit for the nations 10th largest city; let them rot (or move) for all I care! You know, the more I think about it and calm down, the more confident I feel that no way in hell is Wolff going to abandon his business partners, civic friends and fellow A’s owners from San Jose/SV (i.e. DiNapoli Family) in order to placate Baer and Quan. Gotta keep fighting! And I’m sure Wolff and SJ will. Tired, until the next thread…

  4. xoot says:

    @tony–Those yellow and green glasses don’t permit much sight. Someone in San Jose bought tonight’s winning $636M lottery ticket–according to a headline I saw. There’s your investor. Get that San Jose person–obviously an A’s fan, per force, right?–to buy a managing share of the team and start fighting mlb like a real tough guy should.

  5. Karim says:

    Let’s Go Oakland

  6. Lakeshore/Neil says:

    @xoot That was pertty funny, it was about time, you got in a good one. (-:

  7. duffer says:

    Wolff could be using the CC as plan B. As an earlier ML story mentioned, Quan’s plan (with the A’s ballpark as stage 3 of the CC plan)gives the A’s a perfect opportunity to do so, this gives the A’s extra time to see what develops with the SJ vs MLB lawsuit, or an MLB deal with the A’s and San Jose.

  8. Lakeshore/Neil says:

    @Tony D. come on man, none of us know anything, hell it could still be in SJ, we are all just reading the tealeavs.

  9. Lakeshore/Neil says:

    @Karim I here you, my man.

  10. GoA's says:

    I see the whole CC release as just one more move in the chess game. By public ally stating CC is viable LW has now challenged Oakland to show him what they got. The same Oakland that is trying to show mark Davis what it has. LW just put a stake in the ground that said whatever you give to the Raiders you had better give to us also. Oakland can’t afford 1 stadium much less a stadium and ballpark at the same time. Recall A’s are phase III of CC and Kaplan climbed that by 2020 they should have their act together to get serious about a new ballpark for the A’s. guess what- time to deliver now. S let’s assume the impossible and they actually deliver $300M or so of public money to the A’s. LW would take it and run. He would retain small market status (territory is not equally shared) and have a new ballpark. At that point put the team up for sale- get max return on his investment and wash his hands at that point. A’s fans will have to accept the small market status.

  11. duffer says:

    @Lakeshore/Neil San Jose doesn’t need a $363 mil. lottery winner to fight MLB – the Cotchett law firm appears to be doing an excellent job doing that already – Selig is likely privately very p.o’ed concerning the SJ vs MLB lawsuit.

  12. Lakeshore/Neil says:

    @ duffer Yeah, I just thought what xoot said was funny, thats all @GoA’s Not that CC will happen, but if so, I am not sure Oakland will need, that much. If they really plan to give the land away, or sale at little cost, thats a lot of acures, that would make up for a lot of money.

  13. GoA's says:

    @LSN- lots of acres in a less than desirable area of town. But you are right- public money can come in the form of new taxes or land/development rights- interesting to see how this affects any discussions with Malik and Colony who are there to subsidize a raiders stadium by Oakland giving them land. Quite possible with LW throwing his hat in the ring and wanting a piece of the pie that there may not be enough to go around for both stadiums-

  14. Karim says:

    @goA’s there’s more than plenty they have over 800 acres of land. Everyone will be more than satisfied that investment group wouldn’t come close to touching all of that land

  15. GoA's says:

    @karim- nice to see you back supporting CC- guess HT was just brief euphoria- we will see on whether or not it pencils out- was already on shaky ground and now you have a 2nd developer saying he might be interested in playing. Control is a key word- and all 3 parties are going to want lots of control

  16. Karim says:

    @GoA’s lol thanks, naw I believe from the very get go I stated that they are toting both sites as being able to work to satisfy MLB, its never been one or the other. And yes I agree with you splitting up pieces of land seems like a given but greed always finds its way to the table.

  17. pjk says:

    FWIW, if Lew finds a way to get it done in Oakland – and I’m still skeptical that this can happen – it could mean a big time damages payment by MLB to San Jose. Everybody wins – We keep our team in the Bay Area, San Jose gets a chunk of money, Selig looks like the big zero that he is.

  18. llpec says:

    Putting aside the funding issues, Is there enough room at the Coliseum site(parking lots) to construct both one NFL football stadium and one MLB ballpark concurrently, without disturbing the existing Coliseum structure? I believe that it was done in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati before their respective old multipurpose stadiums were replaced.

  19. pjk says:

    Having driven right by the Philly site last year, I can verify there is an arena, football stadium and baseball stadium on the same site right outside the downtown. But it would have been better to put the arena and ballpark right in the downtown.

  20. Lakeshore/Neil says:

    That’s a good question, It’s one thing to say the project is 800 acres, but considering where each t team would like to build (if the A’s and Raiders want to), could be a potential problem, and don’t forget it’s not like they would be taking down the arena either, so is there enough room to build two new venues, while two old venues remain standing?, I would say probable not, but I don’t know much about such things, if it can be done, they would defiantly need to stager the start dates on each new venue, but I am sure that’s something Lew was thinking , when he made the statements.

  21. Marine Layer says:

    @llpec – There is, but it’s not space efficient. The Coliseum is almost 1000′ in diameter. Coliseum City renderings show a much tighter plaza, which makes it look like the football stadium would overlap the existing southern third of the current Coliseum footprint.

  22. Sid says:

    I would agree with Xoot if the Giants were able to blackout the A’s in San Jose, similar to the Kings/Warriors.

    The Giants would have exclusive marketing rights and in that case it would make sense this whole T-rights argument.

    On the other hand, the A’s could blackout the Giants in the East Bay and ban all marketing in that area. (I.E. Giants dugout store in Walnut Creek).

    Why is this not the case?

    Because it comes back to restraint of trade and anti-trust issues. For the Giants to block the A’s into San Jose is flat out wrong and does not hold water in any other professional sport league or any business in general for that matter.

    Hence San Jose will prevail in the higher courts as MLB ATE is outdated from an era that was so long ago “rule of reason” has to apply.

    As for Howard Terminal, where did Knauss get this 500M dollar figure from? If it was that cheap and do able then I say lets get on it and make it happen.

    If MLB allows the A’s to stay on revenue sharing with a HT ballpark then have Oakland pay the cleanup and infrastructure. Lets assume that is 200M. (ML has 177.5 from the 2001 HOK study), while the A’s pay for the stadium itself privately.

    This works if MLB allows the A’s to stay on revenue sharing.

    I for one believe if HT was feasible and Giants saw it would sell San Jose in a heartbeat as a HT ballpark would be so close to ATT Park and with a good team the A’s could take major market share from the Giants being so close to each other.

    The Giants know the A’s are stuck with zero options, if Wolff could produce something in Oakland it would force the Giants to negotiate SJ. Why negotiate SJ when the Giants know full well there is no where to go in the East Bay? Choke them out and make them leave.

    MLB knows this too but yet does nothing, I still firmly believe a new younger commissioner or the lawsuit is the only way for the A’s to stay in the Bay Area.

  23. Sid says:

    Also, I forgot to mention in the 1990s Magowan was negotiating with Steve Schott the Santa Clara site the 49ers are currently building on.

    The Giants saw the A’s were going to renovate the Coliseum for baseball only and did not want the A’s with a better ballpark so close to them. The Giants were still rotting at Candlestick with no end in sight.

    The moment the Raiders came back and ruined the Coliseum Magowan stalled negotiations with Schott and then it was a few months later they got funding to build Pac Bell Park and broke off talks completely.

    This supports my argument if there was another option in the East Bay it would force the Giants to deal SJ as a new Oakland ballpark hurts them more as in the case of Magowan-Schott all those years ago.

  24. llpec says:

    ML, LSN, Thanks! This just seems to add to the complications to what at first would seem to be the easiest of stadium venue options.

  25. Briggs says:

    @Sid: [citation needed]

  26. GoA's says:

    @sid- I agree with your statement that if Oakland could produce something that is really viable we would most likely see a speedy resolution to TR…says a lot about what LW is doing right now with comments about the Coli. My guess still is that TR issue will be ironed out before any decision is made on where to build a ballpark. When this is ironed out both the A’s and gints will be part of a large shared market and pay into the welfare system rather than take from it. Tow ways the A’s are trying to drive this- thru the SJ lawsuit and now advocating that there is a possible site in Oakland. While AT&T is beautiful it will be nearly 25 years old before the A’s have any hope of opening a new ballpark- and the last thing the gints want is anew ballpark within spitting distance of their own-

  27. Nicholas Doughery says:

    The SJ deal is dead. The Giants would be crazy to relinquish the territorial rights to the area…. MLB has no interest in being there. They said as as much earlier this year (thus the law suit the city filed against MLB) With our US economy in a shambles and MLB expansion taking up all of he “economically viable” spots(most of which are failing)THERE IS NO PLACE LEFT TO GO!! Lou Wolf and is gang of bully’s are screwed. They need to get on board with his deal or risk loosing this team all together. I guarantee you MLB is looking at all of this closely.
    I would prefer MLB stepping in and forcing the sale of the team to the guys from Clorox and Dryers at least then they wouldn’t thumb there noses at the fans. I had a brief conversation with Mr Wolf in the parking lot two years ago I asked him if he could keep the A’s in Oakland and he turned his back on me, as he was walking away he said “I wish I could.” I didn’t believe it for one second. Thank god for Billy Bean keeping us competitive and in the spot light.

  28. dmoas says:

    Nick, MLB only said no to Wolff’s current deal for SJ, not the city itself. And more importantly, MLB can’t force him to sell.

  29. Tony D. says:

    Don’t feed these first time trolls who don’t know what they’re talking about. The man can’t even spell Lew Wolff’s name right for crying out loud. Let them spout whatever nonsense they want to get off their chest and simply carry on..

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