John Fisher to tour Howard Terminal with technical experts

After several months of keeping plans mum, A’s majority owner John Fisher will tour Howard Terminal Thursday. The Chronicle’s Matier & Ross report that Fisher will be accompanied by other team executives and Port officials and technical staff. City officials and Lew Wolff may not attend, but if Lew doesn’t there’s a decent chance that his son, Keith, will. The younger Wolff is the current VP of venue development, the same title Lew had when he was hired by Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann in 2003.


Howard Terminal ballpark site rendering (MANICA Architecture)

The tour is being characterized as “hush-hush,” so don’t expect much coming out of it in the way of a statement or anything else. The A’s environmental and legal team will have questions for Port staff about the state of the sealed asphalt cap that prevents toxic leaks. Relatedly they’ll discuss the soil and the water monitoring system embedded within. Most importantly, they’ll talk about requirements to get the site ready, including digging up and cleaning up the toxic dirt underneath the site.

It would take too long rehash all of the details, so I’ll provide links to previous posts instead.

Infrastructure will also come up, but much of that won’t be the responsibility of the Port. Any new transit modes that come to the HT area (BART, streetcar) will be the planning domain of the transportation agencies and the City more than the Port. The Port will be largely responsible for getting people efficiently in and out of Howard Terminal. To do this a system of vehicular and pedestrian bridges will need to be envisioned. This is of paramount importance because there will be some limited amount of parking at Howard Terminal that can’t be jeopardized by the presence of a freight train blocking the gate to the property. Additionally, pedestrian will be descending upon the ballpark from points north and east. Unlike the Coliseum BART bridge, which was designed to provide ingress for at most 10,000 fans for an event, the system in place at Howard Terminal will need to support 35-40,000 visitors smoothly.

The tour is part of the process described last year by Lew Wolff as a search for the best site for the A’s in Oakland. Only sites within Oakland city limits are under consideration. Wolff initially gave 6-8 months as the timeline, but chances are that the ongoing tenancy of the Raiders has complicated matters. Now the A’s are looking to the end of the year, though the A’s can’t fall into the trap of choosing first to wait for the Raiders and their Las Vegas plans. By taking steps to study Howard Terminal and perhaps other sites, A’s ownership is showing a more proactive effort than it had shown in Oakland previously. Nevertheless, it would’ve been nice if the folks who backed Howard Terminal for two years, OWB, published their (unfinished) work. Same goes for the A’s and their decade-old research. It would’ve given fans at least some insight into the process, which has been completely opaque from the start.

42 thoughts on “John Fisher to tour Howard Terminal with technical experts

  1. visually it’s by far the best site in oakland.

    if price wasn’t an issue then howard terminal would obviously be the site most associated with wanting to see the a’s get a new park be it the org, city, and fans would choose. especially the last two where it’d be much better for the city and fans to go to an already urban area to attend games 81+ times a year where you could also interact with the surrounding neighborhood before and after games.

    comparing that to the industrial land of the coliseum and sure some development will be built around a baseball park there but it would pale in comparison especially visually to what a waterfront/downtown park could provide.

    i can only imagine what park at howard terminal could do to revitalize and change the image of the city for the shot and long term.

    but price will matter and i’d guess howard terminal could cost as much as 200-300 million more at least compared to if the a’s were to build at the coliseum. not to mention the coliseum site offers the possibility of development that would help pay for a new baseball park which you wouldn’t get in all likelihood at either howard terminal or laney college.

    unless the city somehow were to give the a’s ownership the land at the coliseum if they did built a park at either of the “downtown” or “waterfront” locations to build development there even though such projects wouldn’t have a baseball park to center around so it probably won’t be as attractive.

    either way i hope we are closer to something major being announced instead of this recent story from wednesday being just another short chapter in a long novel that didn’t mean a whole lot in the end.

    • > I’d guess howard terminal could cost as much as 200-300 million more

      Didn’t the early 2000’s HOK evaluation set the additional costs at more than $550M?

      • these were the figures hok had back in 2002.

        uptown-385 million

        coliseum-400 million

        fremont-465 million

        howard terminal-517 million

        pretty amazing that the uptown site was probably the best site overall for an oakland baseball park back in the early 2000s and it projected as the cheapest site to build a park.

        what a freaking missed opportunity that was.

  2. Wake me up when there is a plan. I’ll support the effort wherever it is in the Bay Area as long as it is privately financed.

    • Jeffrey- what happened to your optimism? I thought you felt there was going to be a plan released soon that would unveil the A’s plans?

      • @ Jeffery

        Yeah, GoA’s has a point. I recall you being pretty optimistic about the Laney site, has that changed? Perhaps, I read you wrong on that.

  3. Besides the question of who pays for the cleanup and everything else associated with this site, how long would this take to develop? 7 years before ground is broken on a ballpark?

  4. This has the potential to be very exciting news but as ML said, “ it would’ve been nice if the folks who backed Howard Terminal for two years, OWB, published their (unfinished) work. Same goes for the A’s and their decade-old research.”, there are still so many if’s involved with HT. If it can be built on? What will the clean-up cost be? Who/How will it be paid for? I know the A’s are willing to pay for the park itself, but the associated cost, and Who/How it would get paid for seems to be a lot.

    If the folks that were(are) backing this site (or the A’s), had done more then run their collective mouths for the last serval years, then we could have been a year or two out from a new park at this location (if viable), as it stands we are still looking at what 5-7 years?

    • We can be sure that as Oakland pitches A’s officials on the fabulousness of the HT site, the A’s will want to know what the city’s contribution will be to fixing the place. And then Oakland will probably say it will look for federal money. Have fun with that.

  5. This is all posturing by Fisher and Wolff to delay and delay some more. While protecting their broken image to their fans, if that was possible.

    HT has been known to have so many issues, they A’s are better of paying the Giants 200M to buy San Jose than build on a toxic waste dump with several infrastructure and transportation issues.

    The A’s have one choice, the Coliseum in Oakland. Wolff refuses a two stadium deal for his own selfish reasons. Mark Davis is ok with it, goes to show where their priorities are.

    In the end, HT is a pipe dream, Oakland/Alameda County have no interest in shelling out 200M-300M in transportation and infrastructure costs for a ballpark anywhere.

    The A’s will be at the Coli with the Raiders in 2025. The Raiders are just as stuck. Difference is at least Mark Davis is trying….whether that is in Oakland, Vegas or LA. Cannot say the same for Wolff.

    • Posturing does seem like a distinct possibility. “See, Mr. commissioner? We told them HT won’t work but they keep pushing it and pushing it. We even went over to take a tour of the place to find out what we already knew. They want the Coliseum site for the Raiders and there’s no place left for us – except the Diridon station property in San Jose.”

  6. Lew Wolff had once stated that the proposed Howard Terminal ballpark site is unacceptable, and mainly due to the excessive costs associated with making the site suitable for a MLB ballpark. We are talking about the huge costs associated with the toxic cleanup in and around the site, the necessity for building both vehicular and pedestrian infrastructure for fan access, and finally the requirement for building an infill BART station along its current right of way that would put BART in reasonable walking distance to and from the proposed HT ballpark site. Unfortunately, nothing has changed towards resolving these problematic issues. To resolve them, they all require significant sums of money, and I don’t see that happening. I believe that the A’s should be looking more seriously at Laney College and/or Victory Court both near Lake Merritt as by far the best sites for a proposed MLB ballpark within Oakland.

    • Laney College, Victory Court, HT…All sites that have been looked at, studied and ruled out. Remember the collapse of the Victory Court idea when it was determined they couldn’t assemble all the properties needed or something of that nature? MLB had a special committee spend years looking for a suitable site in Contra Costa and Alameda counties and they didn’t find any. All that’s left is the Coliseum site, which MLB also has not exactly fawned over. But that’s still being maintained for the Raiders, unless the A’s want to shoehorn a new ballpark next door to a football stadium.

      • agreed. realistically the coliseum site is likely the place where the a’s will build a baseball park in oakland.

        if i had to put odds on it.

        5%-howard terminal

  7. Of course, by swearing off expansion until the A’s and Rays have new ballparks, the commissioner is serving notice to prospective cities that if they get their act together – as in build a stadium with taxpayer dollars – there are two franchises that are already available for relocation. No takers, so far. But that could change.

  8. If the Raiders do get their Coliseum stadium deal done with the Lott group, MLB will likely force the Giants to allow the A’s to play at AT&T park on a temporary basis. Knowing how things are done in Oakland, the A’s stay at AT&T Park could likely wind up on a long-term indefinite basis. That scenario would be totally unacceptable to the Giants. If that scenario were to happen, I would tend to think that the Giants would likely ultimately relent to the wishes of the A’s and to allow the team to move to San Jose.

    • The Lott group still looks like just the latest shot in the dark for the Raiders. They want partial ownership of the franchise, which I don’t believe is being offered, and need a pile of $$ to make a stadium happen. Too many things have to fall in place. Remember, people believed Floyd Kephart was going to save the Raiders for Oakland, too.

    • I don’t get the idea that the A’s being tenants to the Giants is unacceptable to the Giants.

      The A’s playing at AT&T would obviously not be a permanent solution. If they started playing there without definite plans for a new stadium, they essentially become a lame duck, which would kill long term corporate support, season tickets, tv deals, etc.. Their attendance would go up from the novelty perspective but that’s not a long term solution.

      The A’s also have a problem attracting free agents because no one wants to play in the dump that is the Coliseum. While AT&T would obviously be world’s better, it would be temporary and a lot of free agents don’t want to deal with the high probability of relocating.

      From the Giants perspective this essentially makes the A’s a minor league team (they would be like the Barracuda to the Sharks) who is paying them rent. It’s not like they’re going to lose corporate sponsorship to the A’s in that scenario. It’s just another way for the Giants to make money off of the A’s.

  9. HT is a 1B+ gamble but Fisher does have the money to build there. Maybe the mayor and city already told Fisher that they will pay for all or majority of the peripherals cost.

    I believe by the end of this year, if Fisher does not come up with a reasonable new ballpark plan, he will be forced to sell. CC is an embarrassment.

    Let’s go Las Vegas !

    • Forced to sell to who? Somebody else who doesn’t want to shell out a half billion dollars+ for an Oakland ballpark with little chance of ROI? Not to mention the $725 million purchase price just to acquire the franchise. Forbes has the A’s valued at that much.

    • Forced to sell? By whom? For what reason (under MLB rules/regulations/etc)?

      I don’t see that happening for anything less than an LA Clippers / Donald Sterling meltdown by Fisher (who has stated he wants to pass the team to his children).

      • MLB is absolutely not going to force an owner to sell a team because he can’t get a stadium deal done in a city that is offering $0.00 for ballpark construction.

  10. Oakland currently has a Downtown Specific Plan in process, and the HT site is included within it. That means that the issues of developing HT will be addressed as part of that pubic process, and in the EIR. It will be interesting to see if/how the HT site will be integrated in with JLS and the rest of downtown Oakland as part of the specific plan — if there is an effort made to do that, it may signal that businesspeople and property owners in the area would support a ballpark at HT to draw people to the area and benefit all parties economically.

    Also, Schaaf has previously suggested that the City would contribute funds towards infrastructure improvements related to both the A’s and Raiders new stadiums. Bridges, shuttles, parking, BART could all receive such funding.

    Finally, nothing has been said about the Port throwing in some money towards site clean-up and other pre-development costs. The Port has already approved the concept of non-maritime uses on HT, signaling that it wants some type of development there. In order to lure developers, the Port may throw some money towards site clean-up.

    It may well be that Fisher is doing this as a publicity stunt to show Manfred that they are looking at ballpark options. But the fact that there is a specific plan which will soon be going through public review may give a ballpark there some impetus, especially if some of the ballpark issues are addressed in the plan. But it’s hard to escape the fact that the A’s would much prefer building at the Coliseum and that HT is a distant second from their perspective.

    • >Also, Schaaf has previously suggested that the City
      >would contribute funds towards infrastructure
      >improvements related to both the A’s and Raiders new

      The complication to this is that the city has made every effort to promise/propose not just ‘only half of the Coliseum lands’, but the same monetary amounts for infrastructure assistance to the two teams (in order to not be accused of favoring either).

      The huge issue with *that* is that HT will require 5-6x as much infrastructure spending as will the Coliseum. By trying to seem to not favor a team/location, they have done exactly the opposite.

      “We’re only going to offer each team half the Coliseum land.”

      (both teams) “Not acceptable”

      “we’re only going to offer each team the same amount of infrastructure spending at any location”

      I can only guess the A’s response to ‘We’ll only cough up $110M for infrastructure at Howard Terminal’ to be
      “Take HT and shove it up your ***”.

      • The flip side is that the city could say that by the A’s moving to HT, even with higher infrastructure costs, it opens up the possibility of giving all of the Coliseum land to the Raiders which counteracts the additional infrastructure costs.

    • I think HT is a distant third, behind a distant second Laney College athletic fields.

  11. With the CBA expiring at the end of this year, this seems like more of a publicity stunt so that the A’s can continue to claim revenue sharing dollars. There’s no way the Fischer / Wolff would pay for a billion dollar stadium (including cleanup, construction, and infrastructure) and sacrifice their mlb welfare. Its too much of a gamble, regardless of how rich they are.

    • The only reason I believe otherwise… Howard Terminal is only one of a few sites they are touring (I think the number is 3). It gets a lot of press because there are people pushing it as a story in the local media, but it’s far from the only spot they are considering, and from what I understand is the least likely to actually happen.

      • @ Jeffreyaugust

        So, are you hearing anything more about the Laney college site? If you can guess what would you say were the major issues with that site?
        It seems a lot more feasible then HT.

      • Barely any room for the stadium, no room for parking, no room for dvelopment, the college wants the land for development…

      • @ manimalof7

        Thanks for the response.

        Well, there is a lot of heavy lifting to make it work at HT (if it even can work), and by heavy lifting I mean money. Oakland better talk to the feds and the state first, so they can see how much redevelopment money you can come up with for the site. Then its on to the county, city, and whatever hidden transportation tax that has passed lately, that you may coble together for such a massive of prep job before anything is built.

  12. look at these renderings of a park at howard terminal one thing is for certain it’s not going to be at&t or even at times pnc in pittsburgh in terms of hitting balls in the water in rf.

    looks like there is a good distance between the where the park ends and where the estuary begins. so any idea of splash hits into the estuary won’t happen unless they design the park closer to the water than these renderings show.

    if anything if this were ever to be built, which i doubt it will, it’d be more like what cin has with their “waterfront” park. i don’t even know if a ball has ever reach the ohio river beyond the rf seats.

    just like at gabp in cin most of the fans get a view of the ohio river and parts of northern kentucky. any park at howard terminal would give a’s fans a view of the oakland estuary and the island of alameda.

    • It happens. I think Dunn hit a HR which landed in the river, which technically belongs to KY.

      • did some research and the longest hr hit at gabp was 535 ft by dunn in 2004, the hr you brought up. it was hit over the cf batter’s eye.

        it supposedly bounced and went into the river which was the story although that has never been able been confirmed as ever truly happening.

        looking at this zoomed in view of what would be the west side of the ballpark near the waterfront and i don’t know how you can calculate the distance from a picture but there’s no way a ball would ever be hit out of the stadium and into the estuary. least not on the fly and probably not happening even on a bounce(s) either.

        seems to be a huge open space below the crane. don’t know if that would be public space outside of the park or it’d be within the park’s limits. i’d guess it’d be open space for the public to hang around thru out the year.

        also the idea of moving the park closer to the waterfront won’t happen as there wouldn’t be any room with the cranes in the way unless they became part of the park itself which is very unlikely to take place.

      • if this thing were ever to be built and if that’s what’s beyond the rf wall i’d guess that’s where the fireworks would be staged from, would shut down that area before, during and after games.

        would be pretty cool to have the fireworks show near the waterfront 3 or 4 times a year.

        i don’t know where exactly at&t sets up their fireworks when they have displays thru out the season.

        i believe at the coliseum they currently have the fireworks staged beyond the mt davis near the bart bridge which they close off later that night during the game.

    • All a Raiders move to Vegas will do is further isolate and decentralize their fanbase. When the Raiders left Oakland in ’83 they left behind a highly engaged fanbase that sold out the Coliseum (an albeit smaller Coliseum) consecutively, to move to LA, where they hardly ever sold out, just to return to Oakland 13 years later. The problem was, the success of the Niners in the 80s drew so many former Raiders fans across the Bay that they couldn’t even fill a pre-Mt. Davis Coliseum upon their return. Them leaving the first time ruined what was arguably the best fan base in the league. Now that they’ve finally sold out their season tickets for the first time in history (, they want to ruin the fanbase again by leaving.

      The Raiders have never been a particularly smart franchise, but this just takes the cake!

      • They sold out for the first time after reducing capacity from a barely acceptable 63,000 seats to a sub-acceptable 50,000 seats, no?

      • The blame is squarely with Oakland officials. Davis has presented Oakland with a very fair offer – paying $600 mil. of the cost for a $900 mil. new Raiders stadium (67% of the cost) with Oakland needing to finance only the remaining $300 mil. Most municipalities do the opposite – and typically brunt 67% or more of the cost for a new stadium.

        Davis is also correct, the Coliseum is too old and obsolete of a structure, revamping it is likely not a good idea. It needs to be demolished, and a new stadium built instead. Most municipalities, in a situation similar to what Oakland officials are facing concerning a new stadium, would likely finance the $300 mil. – Oakland evidently is not in a financial position to do that – so it’s likely viva Las Vegas for the Raiders.

      • I believe that $300 million of the “team contribution” comes from the league via the G4 loan program, which is supposedly a loan but is actually repaid through the rebate of revenue sharing that would otherwise be due to the league from the team. So it’s basically free money from the league.

  13. Save Oakland Sports was just on KRON Sports Live. Very optimistic about Howard Terminal. No talk about how much it would cost to clean it up, where the money comes from, how far it is from BART, the incongruous adjacent uses (recycling plant, etc), Just a lot of cheerleading about how HT frees up the Coliseum site for the Raiders. At least the KRON sports anchor noted HT would be “way down the road.”

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