The other boring Howard Terminal stuff

The Port of Oakland is expected to approve an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Oakland Waterfront Ballpark, LLC (OWB) at the May 27 board meeting. The terms are simple: they allow both parties to explore a potential ballpark – a non-maritime use – at Howard Terminal, studying costs and effects. OWB will plunk down $100,000 for the privilege, half of which will be immediately usable and the rest held in reserve and potentially refundable to OWB should things not work out. The agenda item also noted that the ENA is not a CEQA matter, though that is meaningless since nothing is being built during the ENA period. When it becomes an actual project that could be constructed, CEQA will come into play.

In preparation for the vote, Port staff had a report written by Oakland engineering and consulting firm Moffat & Nichol, to determine what needed to be done to keep Howard Terminal a maritime asset, capable of shipping and receiving cargo. The report contained several cost estimates, which included various types of new or rebuilt infrastructure. For instance, the cost to make HT a proper container terminal was estimated at $40 million, including $14.2 million dedicated to additional dredging and wharf strengthening. Another $20 million was estimated for two new container cranes ($10 million each? Wow). Port expansion and consolidation in conjunction with the Army Base repurposing project gives Oakland far more container capacity than is needed, so a container terminal isn’t considered necessary. Nevertheless, such a use is considered the most lucrative and there is a business case for it.

Other uses, from bulk dry or wet goods to roll-on/roll-off of vehicles or heavy equipment were also explored. The various options cost $8.9 million to $61.1 million. Think about that. Up to $61 million just to bring Howard Terminal up to date? No wonder the Port is exploring the non-maritime use option, that’s a big infrastructure cost. Of course, we saw earlier today that concerns from other existing Port operators about the compatibility of non-maritime uses like a ballpark can potentially translate into huge costs down the road. Either way, the Port has to be diligent about the future of Howard Terminal.


Summary of costs and returns from Moffat & Nichol report

Interestingly, the report also tried to project ROI on these options. Using an IRR of 5% to break even, it was determined that a container terminal would take 16 years to get there, or 13 for a roll-on/roll-off terminal. Some options took longer than 30 years or didn’t break even at all. I’d like to see the Port do a similar assessment on a ballpark. The context of this kind of examination is important, as these costs and projections are about Howard Terminal being a self-sustaining entity. Most ballpark economic impact reports talk in terms of spillover effects and surrounding impact, but the Port doesn’t control most of the land surrounding Howard Terminal so it can’t claim such positives. The Port’s own financial statements treat the different terminals and other operations (airport, commercial leases) as separate line items, so the case for making a ballpark land deal provide a return to the Port should be a good one if it’s attempted. The case could rely largely on possessory interest tax, the substitute for property tax used for private interests who lease out public facilities. Assuming that the Port and OWB get down to deal terms, the Port may negotiate for a piece of tickets or other revenues to pay for new infrastructure, whatever that costs. In that sense, the Port is acting the same way a City would, in that the Port has its own bonding capacity and could levy fees to pay those bonds off.

Earlier today, the ballpark-following Twitterverse got into a tizzy as Howard Terminal ballpark proponents were on the defensive about the Schnitzer Steel/Union Pacific/California Trucking Association letter. They pointed out issues that, to resolve, will require all new and potentially costly infrastructure. HT proponents, in their usual reductionist manner, labeled such concerns as, “the Howard Terminal opponents say the ballpark is impossible/unviable.” That’s not the problem. Anything can be done if you throw enough money at it. The issues are whether or not the additional infrastructure can be paid for, and whether they can protect the interests of current tenants and Port operators. If that cost is manageable the ballpark could proceed, other procedural matters (CEQA/BCDC/SLC/FRA/CPUC) notwithstanding. If the costs prove prohibitively high, then we’ll be back at square one, with Oakland scrambling to find yet another site, retreating to Coliseum City (which has its own myriad complications), or starting yet another round of recriminations (“If only Wolff were a willing partner this could be done”). That’s why I’m glad all this is happening. Someone’s gonna get to say I told you so at the end. As childish as that may sound, it’s better than not knowing.

59 thoughts on “The other boring Howard Terminal stuff

  1. Just let the A’s move to San Jose!

  2. If Wolff can convince Oakland of the obvious – that Howard Terminal is a nonstarter and it makes more sense to let him have the Coliseum property for development and not the Raiders and Colony Capital – then we might have a new ballpark deal here. Big if here.

  3. Think logically as in Philosophy 1A, 10A or 101A, depending on what school you went to.

    1) The A’s Ownership is fighting for San Jose because they have been told they will get there by MLB (notwithstanding the rejected proposal – which is merely a missing amount of payoff or ransom money which A’s currently refuse to pay to Midgets).

    2) The A’s Ownership would NOT be fighting for San Jose, BUT FOR an MLB go-ahead or green-light so to speak. Wolff is not that type of businessman. He is coy and clever (his first real estate deal in San Jose was Park Center Plaza – take a look at that deal for an appetizer). In other words they have relied upon an MLB go-ahead. Selig underestimated his bargaining power and is still mediating the deal (like a good retired judge works a mediation for months/years if he has to – to get the deal done). I heard that the bridge that needs to be crossed is getting shorter by the day; which may be accelerating due to the Coliseum situation.

    3) Logic: Had MLB truly told the A’s NO SAN JOSE EVER they would have never moved forward with a San Jose strategy.

    4) Wolff’s family (except for his wife) all live here – in South Bay Luxury town. Their plan is for the long haul and it doesn’t include Oakland. Greatest Return On Investment is when San Jose gets built. Logic, not hyperbole.

    5) For all you real estate buffs check out the activity around Diridon station over the last ten (10) years, and then ask any commercial broker what has happened recently. Sometimes its hard to keep stuff like that quiet. Logic.

    6) Forget what Purdy just printed for a minute – just look at the FACTS from Wolff prior to Purdy’s recent article – and think Logically.

    6) Think logically, not emotionally.

  4. Multi-purpose reefer? I thought that was a Humboldt thing.

  5. why no ballpark at Quaniseum City? it could be on *a* waterfront, though not the Bay it could be on the Estuary…

  6. Can always count on Rayburn to bring wisdom and common sense to this forum. Thank you my brothah! 😉

    @Steven, you’re 100% correct! In the meantime, let’s “sit back, relax and enjoy the ride,” all while tolerating this HT, CC “sideshow”..

  7. @pjk,

    Wolff is “coy and clever” and a smart real estate developer. That should answer any questions re Wolff (hypothetically) wanting full control of the Coliseum development site.

  8. Tony: It’s such a no-brainer. Do you want to anchor a new development with a $2 billion football stadium that sits empty for 355 days a year or a baseball stadium that costs half that much and is used more than 80 days a year?

  9. Excuse me, $1 billion football stadium

  10. Wolff is playing this on two fronts:

    1. San Jose lawsuit- If the 9th Circuit rules in their favor it will force MLB to settle the lawsuit or risk heading to the Supreme Court. Even if San Jose loses they will appeal anyways to the Supreme Court. The end game here will be messy but will bring resolution this year or next year.

    2. Raiders vacate the Coliseum premises by moving to Santa Clara or Portland, LA, or where ever. In this scenario Wolff now gets the upper hand on Oakland and the County. He can do what he wants to the Coliseum complex as he sees fit. Of course the Warriors may at that point may want to partner with him or perhaps not.

    These are two big moving parts that will see clarity soon enough.

    As for HT, ML makes great points on this “boring stuff”. The devil is in the details and he is pointing out so many to make your head spin.

    It goes to show how complex HT is….

  11. @Rayburn…. I agree. Logic says the A’s should be in SJ. Unfortunately, logic has no bearing when politics and greed are involved. I don’t think any of this will move any quicker until all the sordid details get national media attention and the Giants, MLB and BS get a well deserved black-eye over this. Whether that’s a SCOTUS case or an unbiased deep “investigative report…” either will do.

  12. @DP

    I’ve proposed, on this blog, the “Investigative Report” and “Frontline Expose” but no one seems to be willing to carry that torch… gold in them thar hills…..I suspect.

    It’s my understanding that the A’s ownership group truly believes that “Logic” will prevail eventually. In this situation Logic has a price tag and we are just waiting for what that final number is.

  13. @Rayburn- Your logic is sound around Selig’s bargaining power. He thought he could get the Giants to agree for the “best interests of baseball” and instead he got the “will not negotiate” answer.

    Selig has nothing to offer the Giants. TV and marketing have been shared for decades so his Washington/Baltimore solution does not apply here.

    He cannot ask the A’s to pay the Giants AND privately finance the ballpark in San Jose. Hence why the A’s refuse to pay the Giants a dime. Now if the ballpark was publicly financed he would barter a deal with no issues and the A’s could pay off the Giants easily.

    Another issue is the Giants will not put a # out there. They are telling Selig if he allows the A’s into San Jose it would cripple them and create two revenue sharing losers. That is complete bullshit as the market is too wealthy for that to occur, but that is the Giants argument.

    Selig has no bargaining power unless MLB loses the San Jose lawsuit. Only then can he force the Giants to bow down. Perhaps that is his strategy…..I wouldn’t put anything past that coward who won’t do the right thing.

  14. @pjk

    You did forget that Oakland has another viable spot…980 Downtown Oakland ballpark…it would be a lot cheaper and can use eminent domain. ..I did my homework ML.

    Pro Oakland NATION Sgt.Harry

    • @harry – 980 Park wouldn’t be an eminent domain situation. It’s about air rights – a completely different set of rules, cost unknown.

  15. @rayburn- hope you are right- feedback I hear is bs lack of leadership allows the situation to continue to languish- a successful SJ lawsuit is really key to SJ moving forward-

  16. “reductionist” and “recriminations” are just unnecessary and inaccurate generalizations. Taking potshots like that makes your post inflammatory when it doesn’t have to be, detracting from the actual content of the post which clearly took a fair amount of research.

    • @Vivek – Analysis isn’t limited to situations, it extends to people as well. I call it as I see it.

  17. @Marine Layer sure, it’s your blog, just saying it comes off as cheap.

  18. @pjk,

    It’s such a no brainer? Uhh, where are the vast Coli Parking lots located? Not in San Jose, not in Silicon Valley or even southern Fremont…THEY’RE LOCATED IN CORPORATE POOR, INDUSTRIAL EAST OAKLAND. Over 35 miles from the corporate and business interests that are needed to privately finance an A’s ballpark. Again, the Raiders actually want to stay in Oakland, AT THE COLI, and are finding the going extremely tough. Yet somehow it would all work out for Wolff as some development dream come true? No brainer?

    Oh, and by the way, unlike Mark Davis Wolff doesn’t want to be in Oakland/at the Coli (at least long term). That was easy…

  19. BTW, Levis Stadium is generating a lot of positive buzz from surrounding SC/SJ developments, both current and planned: mix-use districts, sports bars, hotels in North SJ, etc. A lot of biz folks are expressing excitement over the Niners new play pen. I don’t see why a new Raiders stadium at the Coli can’t do the same. Again, Mark Davis and Da Raiders WANT TO STAY…MAKE IT HAPPEN OAKLAND!

  20. Has anyone in the EB media questioned the viability of HT before or after this letter- pointing out the fact that Oakland only cheerleaders minimize the challenges seems to me appropriate to point this out

  21. Tony: I guess what Wolff has to look into is whether he can again try to finance the ballpark with retail/residential construction to supplement the stadium. That could be what he’s looking at now. Who knows? He made that comment about possibly doing something at the existing ballpark site. He hasn’t said anything since then. All this surely would involve supplanting the Raiders as the principal tenant at the Coliseum site and replacing Colony Capital as main developer. I don’t Oakland can keep both teams.

  22. @Sid

    There is a number on the back of a napkin.

  23. For either car importation or a ballpark, Schnitzer Steel has to go. It is a major air polluter. An auto importer told me they won’t consider the site for cars because of the particulate matter fallout from Schnitzer Steel. A better site for Schnitzer Steel would be Wharf 1 at the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge. The cost of relocating Schnitzer Steel has be be included in the cost equation.

  24. @ pjk,

    Like the Warriors, the A’s want to leave Oakland. The Raiders however want to stay in Oakland (which is great). A very simple concept to grasp IMHO. If The O can’t make it happen for the Raiders then it won’t happen for any team, including the A’s. And these pie in the sky scenarios of Wolff being the so called “master developer” of Coli City and turning rust into gold in East Oakland are just that; pie in the sky! But believe what you must…

  25. You may be right – that it’s pie in the sky. But we just don’t know yet. Why did Wolff say they might be able to do something at the existing site after years of trying to get San Jose?

  26. @Tony D – You are absolutely blind.

  27. @ pjk,
    Yes, Wolff did state such…and then later stated that they were only talking to their landlords about the current lease AND NOTHING ELSE. Wasn’t this already discussed here? Peace.

  28. Well, if believing that it can’t “magically” happen for the A’s if it can’t happen for the Raiders equates to blindness then I guess you’re right RM. I thought what I was describing was an easy concept to grasp re the seemingly utter ineptitude/woes of The O and a potential Raiders stadium…(Oh well)

    • @Tony D – As I said before, a ballpark is cheaper to build (by half) and easier to finance privately because of the frequency of events fueling ancillary development. There doesn’t need to be some third party investment group complicating things by asking for a piece of the team. It’s a much simpler, more straightforward deal. Not sure why this is so hard for you to grasp.

  29. Even if Wolff wanted to build at H.T., he would have to be obsessed with the site to build on it, it’s not like the guy is running the Roman Empire or anything.

  30. Tony, If Oakland/JPA gifted (including the debt service) the entire Coliseum Complex to the A’s with the understanding that they’d boot the Raiders & Warriors from the site at the end of their leases and helped with the red tape involved with development, you’d better believe Wolff would be interested. It wouldn’t seal anything by any means, but he’d have to be a fool not to consider it. It’s more or less what the Braves are getting.

  31. New billboards went up throughout San Jose advertising the San Francisco Giants, including ads on our metro transit. Little pieces of mockery haunt me every time I step out into my city. :-{

  32. @ Tony D. If Wolff had to build at the coliseum it’s not as he hasn’t given San Jose his best shot, it’s not like it’s personal. If it ever come to that, it would only be because he felt everything else failed.

  33. The Coli parking lots in East Oakland don’t equate to wealthy Cobb County or $ilicon Valley…and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Boy was that fun!… (until the next thread)

  34. The Raiders currently have a one year lease at the Coliseum with an option for a second year. They are looking to get a CC stadium deal done within this year. If it gets done, the Raiders will be playing temporarily at Santa Clara starting with either the 2015 or 2016 NFL season. With this scenario, the A’s will be facing long-term homeless status. In addition, the HT Oakland waterfront project has a very long way to go for even the remote possibility of getting a ballpark built at that site. MLB will never allow the A’s to remain homeless and playing at a temporary location beyond a few seasons. For that reason, If the Raiders do get on board at CC, then MLB will have no choice other than to approve the A’s move to San Jose. The Raiders indirectly now hold the cards to finally getting the A’s their new Bay Area ballpark.

  35. Steve – nothing preventing a’s from doing same thing

  36. @IIpec I agree with you, hopefully if the Raiders work something out at the coliseum that will put more pressure on MLB to approve San Jose, since it would seem to difficult for both teams to do something at coliseum with the Warriors on the premises at the same time, and as you said even if the A’s wanted to build at H.T. and they got past all the other issues at that site it may take 10 years.

  37. @pjk tony d and lakeshore

    At the Warriors gAme..looking at the Coliseum /Oracle Arena area…lew wolff has enough money and it would be a good investment if he build a ballpark “Coliseum City field” and the Coliseum are fine venues for the Raiders and Warriors. ..what all the talk about new stadiums…how is with me #Coliseum field”

  38. @harry we are only up by 2 at the half, what’s up with that.

  39. @ml, pjk, lakeshore and tony d

    Are u guys Marvel or DC Comics??

  40. @ harry
    Man that’s way O.T., not even sports related but I am old school Marvel all the way, the scenarios where more reality based, as much as a comic book can be reality based to a twelve year old, but one of favorites was Batman a D.C. guy.

    We probably better get back to the A’s and their 40 years (plus), in the wilderness, it’s one thing to talk about the Warriors, Raiders, Sharks, 49ers, Giants, Kings, or Earthquakes, but Spiderman and Superman that’s altogether another subject.

  41. Tony, of course that’s all you’re going to say because that’s all you can say. I never suggested it was equitable, so much as it’s a similar deal. It doesn’t have to be a rich, prevalent area for you to make money off of it. It just has to be a blank canvas and free. Wolff once had the Coli North plan and unless he was just full BS about the potential, the same thing could be accomplished at the Coli site itself. Does it have the same money making potential as the Braves? No. Would it have the same money making potential as it could if it were done in SJ? No, but then SJ doesn’t have that kind of land available to it, does it. All it needs to be is enough to properly finance a stadium and create a place that can be draw for a new stadium.

    Now that being said, right now, Oakland isn’t making any sort of offer, so it’s a moot point at the moment.

  42. If the Raiders bounce it might be a better deal for Wolff to build on the Coliseum site with full rights to develop around it.

    I see Tony’s point on it not being the best location in the world. But if Wolff can put up ancillary development around the ballpark it would be huge as he would keep the lion’s share of revenue.

    Now the Warriors would be the next issue, how would they react if they are going to stay? Would they cry about the lack of parking while a new stadium and development goes up? Or would they want in and build a new arena on the sight and want to put $$ to develop the area with Wolff?

    That is another moving part that is pretty big here unless they bounce to SF or SJ. In that case Wolff would stand alone and have Oakland would have zero leverage all of a sudden on him with the Raiders and Warriors gone.

    Even with the development aspect MLB has to allow the A’s to stay on revenue sharing even with a new stadium in Oakland. Otherwise why would Wolff waste his time?

  43. When is feasibility study for CC supposed to be released- thought it was April? This will give us the insights as to what type of economics LW might be looking at.

  44. @Sid- I don’t see revenue sharing continuing once a new ballpark is built which means that $35M loss annually has got to factor into the economics that LW will be looking at-

  45. @ GoA’s
    I am with you on most things and you may be right on this as well, but if Wolff is forced to build in a location that’s not as advantageous (coliseum), then otherwise could be (San Jose), he should rise holy hell and let the league know, hay you guys put me in this situation part of the settlement is the A’s being eligible for revenue sharing as long as I am confined to two counties out of nine.

  46. @LSN- while I am certain that LW will argue for that in next CBA in I believe 2017 he won’t have an answer before then so he needs to make economic judgments based upon what he does know today which is that revenue sharing goes away when anew stadium is built. Bottom line he will factor this into any proforma which will mean Oakland needs to give up more in any CC negotiations- assuming we ever reach that point-

  47. @ GoA’s
    I agree with you, he will have to factor in everything (which I am sure he will), and the timeline will be tight, but he could do it with the understanding that they will take care of him in the next CBA and beyond, I mean it doesn’t matter if you’re in a top 15 market, if you can only build in 1/3 of it.

  48. While Oakland may be in love with its NFL team and have a shrugged-shoulders attitude about it MLB team, there is no question that if CC is to succeed even though all teams can’t be accommodated (I don’t believe they can), then a $500 million ballpark used 80+ days a year is a no-brainer choice over a $1 billion football stadium gathering dust 355 days a year. Oakland is in a tough spot now, having already taken the engagement ring from the Raiders.

  49. @pjk
    I am with you 100%, but the fact still remains that the Raiders are making a commitment (supposedly), and the A’s have not, but yes all things being equal it’s a no brainer.

  50. Lakeshore: The Raiders are only committed to Oakland for the upcoming season. There’s no deal yet on any new stadium. There’s lots of talk, a pep rally, etc. Then Davis signs a lease extension and all progress stops.

  51. @ pjk
    Again I agree with you, the Raiders commitment to Oakland is only for this season, I was referring to their supposed commitment, that’s why I said (supposedly).
    If the Raiders are ready to step up and commit to a new football stadium, that will keep them in Oakland for 30-40 years (or longer), and the A’s are willing to commit to a lease, which will probably amount to 5 hard years with 5 single year options after that, and no commitment to build a new baseball park in Oakland beyond the “we will think about it, if you give us are 10 year lease”., well in that case Oakland has to go with the Raiders.
    We can talk all day about what makes economic sense football 10×50, 000=500, 000, or baseball 81×30, 000=2, 430, 000, baseball makes better sense then football for a municipality, ok what’s new?
    If the Raiders are serious and that’s still an if, but if they are and all Lew is saying is give me a ten year lease and I might, maybe, if I fill like it, I could consider a new park in Oakland one day, perhaps we will think hard about it.
    Well then the actual economics are A’s baseball 5-10 years x maybe a new park= bull shi*t, and Raiders football 30-40 years or more x new football stadium = Oakland can’t turn it down.
    If the Raiders can’t make it work, then we have a conversation, but at this moment that’s what is supposedly on the table.

  52. @pjk
    I hope the coliseum is not Wolff’s only real option if the Raiders and A’s cant both do coliseum city, with enough ancillary development, to make it pencil out, then as I have said before Oakland would be stupid to go with a 5-10 lease, with no commitment to build in Oakland from the A’s, IF,IF, IF, and when they have a firm commitment from the Raiders to build a venue that keeps the team in Oakland for 30-40 years or more, sorry I don’t see the debate on that one, this may be the first and only time, that it actually makes sense for Oakland to put the Raiders before the A’s.

  53. Since I like the rest of you lost the billion dollar March Madness Challenge here is my billion dollar bet (j/k):

    The Raiders to LA or London in 2015 with the A’s getting the green light to move to SJ or another market at the end of this season.

  54. @ML: what are the myriad complications of building at the CC site. The site has built in infrastructure for stadium(s) – plenty of real estate, easy freeway access, and no costly toxic waste cleanup problems?

    • @duffer:

      1. Significant new infrastructure required for new commercial/residential development
      2. Revamp of BART station and pedestrian bridge needed if TOD built
      3. $100+ million remaining debt on Mt. Davis alone, double that if arena included

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