Howard Terminal settlement approved, what’s next?

The Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners approved the settlement with SSA that will free up Howard Terminal for a future ballpark. The unanimous approval was the first of two, but the second is expected to be a formality. SSA will vacate Howard Terminal to move down the harbor, where it will consolidate operations. SSA rival Ports America lobbied against the deal and is dangling a lawsuit threat over the Port. The longshoremen’s union is also protesting the new terms.

Now that we’re here, let’s present the remaining steps that will need to be completed in order to have a truly shovel-ready site.

  1. Need to draft and certify an environmental impact report. Can’t build anything on Howard Terminal without an EIR.
  2. Determine cost to cleanup/prep site. – Howard Terminal proponents claim they can build on the site with as little as $50 million in infrastructure. I’ve investigated this and I estimate that it’s not doable for less than $150 million. Who’s right? We’ll need the EIR (above) to find out.
  3. Determine cost to provide proper car & pedestrian access. – If there’s going to be a lot of parking on site, at least one new multi-lane overpass will need to be built over The Embarcadero at Market Street to provide access for those cars as well as emergency vehicles. Add to that at least one pedestrian bridge from the eastern end of the site and numerous streetscape improvements, and the infrastructure bill could grow significantly.
  4. Avoid other lawsuits. – In working to settle one lawsuit, the Port could find itself fighting a lawsuit two-front war against Ports America and the ILWU. While the labor battle could be resolved through arbitration, a Ports America lawsuit could end up like SSA, dragging on for years. To satisfy SSA, the Port agreed to take it on the chin to the tune of $40 million over the next four years.

How much of this will the Port and Oakland backers accomplish? It’s up to them. There’s only one way to find out – get cracking on that EIR. Without these steps Oakland doesn’t have a site. MLB is looking for something that’s shovel-ready, and the road to getting there is a long one.

45 thoughts on “Howard Terminal settlement approved, what’s next?

  1. I’m wondering what a new ballpark will run you. A football stadium runs roughly a billion in the end. Can a ballpark be done (with EVERYTHING, including infrastructure, traffic, sewage [ha!] EIR, garbage, food taken into consideration) for significantly less?

  2. Hopefully a settlement between SJ and MLB is next on the horizon. Damn, there’s that word “viable” again…

  3. FYI and OT: don’t ever read Ballpark Digest’s take on this whole saga. Sickening would be an understatement. A quarter of the Giants revenue and fans come from Silicon Valley?! Allowing the A’s to relocate to San Jose could pave the way for the Indians to leave Cleveland for Boston or NY?! WTF! No wonder I deleted their bookmark years ago..

  4. I’d really like to see a compare/contrast of the economic impact between keeping the A’s and/or the Raiders. Even now at the Coliseum, which team is more beneficial to Oakland/Alameda Co.? For now, I’m having trouble orienting myself on how I feel about the cost of cleaning/prepping/building at Howard Terminal—especially since that figure($50-$150m) is so up in the air.

  5. Is there a final design for a HT ballpark and its pedestrian bridges and parking structures? Kind of hard to evalute the noise and light impacts (especially on Alameda, as you suggest) without knowing exactly how the stands and lights will be configured. Etc.

    • @xoot – There’s nothing at all. Oakland would first need to get the project out to bid to get some initial design and planning work. After that we can get into the details.

  6. I’m just wondering how long it would take to get the A’s actually playing in this HT fantasy ballpark? I would tend to think that it would take a minimum of eight to ten years to get all the prerequisite ducks in order and for ballpark construction/area infrastructure to be completed. Can one envision the A’s playing in the Coliseum for ten more years? I gather that MLB has no problem bailing out the A’s with their generous revenue sharing handouts for at least the next ten years. At least MLB and Selig will be comforted with the assurance that the Giants will be able to maintain their status as a premium franchise, knowing that the A’s will be either relegated to staying in Oakland or, even better yet, eventually moved completely from the Bay Area.

  7. I saw some discussion yesterday on Twitter, and the one thing I will agree with, is that no matter how difficult this site looks, it has a better shot than Coliseum City.

  8. @jordan/All
    If it’s true that MLB likes the site, and we really don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, it has a better shot. I guess MLB could not care any less about total cost, because clean-up, and infrastructure cost could be twice what it would cost at C.C., as long as you can get it near downtown, next to water, with extra space (50acers), to developed, and protect the Giants precious TR rights, it really does not matter. Well MLB better call in all their chips from Sacramento, to major business interest, and look under ever rock, because that’s what it will take if the A’s ever play at H.T.

  9. LSN- Agree with your comments on HT–If Oakland is able to deliver this site than the question remains is there sufficient corporate support to build a privately funded ballpark or will they (Oakland) need to committ to a public subsidy. Assuming the site can be prepped for $50M (would love an analysis on why this range varies so significantly from $50-$150+M)and additional infrastructure work wont go beyond $50M than what else would Oakland have to put up to make sure a private entity would build in this area. If Oakland is so confident that it will be successful than they should assume the risk of PSL’s/Corporate boxes to support it—I figure $200M–so really Oakland needs to look at spending $300M on the low-side to support the A’s in developing this site—not bad comsidering what other cities have spent to retain their teams.

  10. Lakeshore, the only thing that matters in that scenario to MLB is that Oakland pay for it all and then some.

  11. It still looks like HT is a maximum-cost-to-make-it-viable site situated in a place where there is no public money available and insufficient corporate support. So what’s the point of bringing it up? Do we want the A’s so saddled with stadium debt that they can’t put players on the field? Do we want a New Jersey Devils situation, with the franchise crushed by debt? I don’t think MLB will even allow the A’s to embark on such a path. If Oakland wants HT, it is going to have to pony up several hundred million for ballpark construction and forget about getting the free ballpark deal that Frisco got.

  12. Thought I read somewhere that Oakland was ready to put a TIF on the JLS area that would include the proposed ballpark. Wonder how much they project this to deliver which I assume would go to infrastructure improvements.

    • @GoA’s – JLS is already one gigantic TIF zone that has been capped thanks to AB1X26. The TIF ship has sailed. Maybe they could develop an overlay Mello-Roos district, but that requires a vote and there’s no telling how that might go.

  13. @Lakeshore/Neil – building a HT ballpark will not protect the giants precious territorial rights, if the SJ vs MLB goes to trial – a federal judge will decide the MLB ATE and territorial rights, not MLB or the giants.

  14. @IIpec:
    Can one envision the A’s playing in the Coliseum for ten more years?

    I guess it depends on what happens to the Coliseum complex, whether it’s Coliseum City or Crackhead City. In all honesty, as much as I want to see the A’s make money so they can be more competitive, I’m perfectly happy with the underdog story we currently live in. Whether we want to admit it or not, the current ticket pricing/availability is a dream-come-true for hardcore fans. Being surrounded with empty seats is more enjoyable that being crammed next to an obnoxious jackhole wearing a giraffe on his head. When the new A’s ballpark comes, we’ll be getting all the negatives that comes with the casual fans.

  15. @duffer
    Yes, that is certainly a big part of this three city, two (MLB,) team soap opera, and very well could change the landscape interlay, if it has not already.

  16. I still think Coliseum Ballpark is better and cheaper than Howard terminal. But I will take the good news. Rough day for san jose lol

  17. @Aaron–your lack of understanding of the facts is amazing..tough day for SJ–you can perhaps say that in August if they don’t establish standing in their lawsuit–even then its a stretch as everyone points out–Oakland will need lots of cash to make HT happen–not to mention if they want a Raiders stadium at CC. And for anyone to suggest CC is “better” than HT or SJ is beyond me. You can’t even get your other Oakland only brothers to support you on that—

  18. Thx ML–guess I need to brush up on the M-R district requirements. Assume it is a vote of affected property owners only- right?

  19. @GoA’s – That’s right. Including, presumably, the hundreds of condo owners the area has brought in over the years.

  20. I hope the owners tell wolff that he has two viable sites. GRAB THAT SHOVEL WOLFF AND BUILD IN OAKLAND. ITS OVER PJK AND TONY D


  21. My face just melted. I love/hate reading stanforcoliseumAarons comments. It’s like sniffing gasoline.

  22. @Aaron–right–the owners are going to tell LW to make a bad financial decision and build a private ballpark in Oakland…these are the same owners who have all gotten significant public handouts for their own ballparks…you think they expect anything else from Oakland taxpayers? And your right, August could be a month to remember in terms of a first step in resolving the TR issue…at worst it just means we are still in a holding pattern until Oakland finally crys uncle and says they can’t afford to invest $200+M in HT.

  23. @aaron,
    I extend a hand of peace to you, and you’re still intent on talking crap about San Jose?! BTW, how was it a rough day for SJ? Was there something in the news we missed today?
    I’ll tell yah what Berry (aka aaron), if Oakland can come up with nearly $500 million for HT site clean up, foundation construction, infrastructure improvements, and an actual subsidy for ballpark construction, then I’ll talk shit right along with yah! Until that happens…

  24. If Oakland gets anything done in the way of a new ballpark it’s going to take a chunk from everywhere Congress, in some must pass bill with some kind of amendment for transportation for inter-city projects, MLB/Giants we did not let you move to SJ money, Sacramento, and some arm twisting at the state capital level, environmental push down , and Brown setting up a new redevelopment fund, that each city has to apply for, and guess what this project is at the top of the list, don’t forget the Asian investors that have made a mint of low wage labor, but need somewhere to invest since China has created hole city’s (ghost city’s), without people to perches anything in them, and please don’t forget the people of Alameda County, and the residents of Oakland, they will get hit twice as hard, also we have to come up with a new property tax, increases an old property tax add PSL’s, and a hotel, taxi, movie, food, and my favorite, You get to breath clean air next to our new stadium tax, oh everybody the born, and the un-born will be paying for this, and after all that Wolf might just do it.

  25. All I can say about Aaron is “hope is not a strategy”.

    Oakland was touting Victory Court for years only to have it die a slow death. Howard Terminal died years ago in the 2001 HOK study. Wolff knows full well Oakland nor Alameda County will give him a dime for even infrastructure around a possible ballpark.

    Actually neither will San Jose or Santa Clara County. Difference is San Jose has the infrastructure in place in a Downtown location that Oakland lacks.

    Even if Oakland paid for the infrastructure cost to build a privately financed ballpark 12 miles way from the Giants would be financial suicide for the team.

    Wolff knows this full well and he tried explaining this to Oakland but it seems to go through one ear and out the other.

    In the end, the courts are going decide the fate of the A’s. I am willing to be big on San Jose winning because of the whole American Needle Case vs. NFL that the Supreme Court voted 9-0 against the NFL being a single entity.

    San Jose is the only way…

  26. Bingo Sid. Even if San Jose’s lawsuit were dismissed by Judge Whyte within the next few months, it’s not over for MLB. San Jose will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit and MLB’s antitrust exemption will once again be under scrutiny. And if San Jose loses in the 9th Circuit, they will appeal to the US Supreme Court. That amounts to several years of pressure and scrutiny on MLB’s antitrust exemption. I don’t see The Lodge having the stomach to put up with that kind of long-term threat.

  27. I’d like to add that the threat of an adverse ruling to MLB’s exemption (i.e., a ruling from the Court that the exemption does not apply to franchise relocation) would be extremely damaging to MLB. It’s already happened twice before, once with the Piazza case in 1993 and again with the Butterworth case in 1994. If I were MLB, I’d settle the case sometime before Judge Whyte issues his ruling. That’s at least what I would advise MLB to do if they were my client.

  28. @mike421,
    Very on point! Way, I mean WAY, easier to settle and allow the A’s access to San Jose (with, gulp, a little scratch for the Giants of course) then risk bringing the whole AT house down. MLB in San Jose: a win, win all around (always has been)!

  29. Howard terminal is way too expensive for Oakland and the A’s. Its better and again fuckin cheaper to have a coliseum ballpark. No watrfront??? Fine we can make a small lake as part of the ballpark for Yohan to hit homeruns into. Howard terminal woule be a great backup option for the Warriors. Right next to their offices. Again you jerks are scared san jose could lose this case.

  30. @aaron- definition of insanity is doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result- that my friend is CC. And since you realize that HT is way too expensive I would suggest the odds of the A’s moving to SJ is pretty darn high- regardless of outcome of lawsuit- which hopefully will drive a more expedient move.

  31. My experience with toxic site cleanups is the cost never ends. The more you dig up the more toxic stuff you find that has to categorized and disposed of. A nightmare. Plus the process is regulated by the State, so expect years to implement.

  32. @Bryan Grunwald – If we get to a point where this issue is discussed in a public forum, a council meeting or planning board meeting etc., would you be willing to say as much when the floor is open to the public? I remember you speaking at the council meeting during Victory Court EIR approval, and I’m curious if you’d be willing to say that publicly should Howard Terminal actually be a topic of discussion in a city run forum.

  33. Thank you for clarifying that Mike421, Selig’s belief must be that if he ignores the A’s/San Jose plan to move long enough, eventually they will quit their efforts for the move. Good luck with that – the guy must be getting senile. It definitely appears that San Jose and the A’s will continue the push for San Jose, Cotchett, the attorney representing San Jose, has clearly stated that he wishes to overturn the MLB ATE. Selig is always making bizzare moves anyways – this shouldn’t be surprising.

  34. Man, the numbers being thrown around here are CRAZY!! Look, the town is going to want to put something there so I’m sure the toxic cleanups and all that other stuff is necessary. But for a ballpark?! I mean, being an Oaklander by roots, I would love for the A’s to stay but these numbers are ridiculous. Add that to an owner who isn’t having it, and who is not trying to sell, the situation being literally out of the town’s hands anyway w/ the pending SJ v MLB lawsuit, and a citizenry in Oakland that would be completely unwilling to float this bill. Man, hope is good, but that hope had better float on a flying carpet.

    Remind me again why the A’s moving to San Jose would be such a bad thing.

  35. Hey, if the A’s want to build at HT and Oakland wants to pay for a bunch of it, consider this San Jose taxpayer good with that. But then again, I have never cared where this park is, just that we have a new one. It obviously means a lot more for some to keep the “Let’s go Oakland” cheer in tact and have the uniforms reflect the city. The only way I’m paying for either park is through much higher ticket prices (in Oakland or San Jose) or the cost of gas to get to Oakland. The cost to keep my team in the bay? Priceless.

  36. Amen daveybaby! We want to keep the team in the Bay Area and put them in the best position possible to succeed long term.

  37. And let’s not kid ourselves guys and gals, “Plan B” for the current ownership (Beane included) is to sell the team for the highest price possible, and that’s not in Oakland. Why? Because of the stadium situation.

  38. OT

    Commissioner’s Town Hall Chat on, 1:30 p.m. ET

    I wonder old Bud’s response is going to be when someone asks him about the SJ lawsuit.

  39. Oops meant to put July 16th on there.

  40. @Mike2
    Selig: “No comment.”

  41. ” I have never cared where this park is, just that we have a new one. It obviously means a lot more for some to keep the “Let’s go Oakland” cheer in tact and have the uniforms reflect the city.”

    AS long as the A’s want to privately build their new ballpark with complete private funds, they should be able to build at a site of their own choosing within the Bay Area market. This means that the A’s should be able to build their new ballpark at a site which ideally and potentially could bring in the most revenues from that ballpark at that location. As long as a potential site meets the building code laws for that area, the ballpark should be allowed to be built there.
    Regarding the A’s uniforms; as long as the team has played in Oakland, their uniform caps have always had the geographical generic A’s lettering. The Oakland A’s, as far as I know, have never worn caps with the letter “O” for Oakland. I would tend to believe that if the A’s do move to San Jose, the team would still retain the same geographically generic A’s cap lettering. Also, it should be noted that the A’s seem to be wearing less often their “Oakland” road gray uniforms, as well.

  42. Hey llpec. 66th ave coliseum ballpark will be just fine…you will see the gray green yellow uniform in Oaklakd new ballpark. Like tony d keeps chirpin Oakland field 2018

  43. Pingback: Could Oakland Lose All Of Its Pro Sports Teams?

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