Howard Terminal and… Oakland’s Outer Harbor?

Yes, Howard Terminal is high on the list for the A’s. Eastshore Empire looked the last week’s Port Commissioners’ meeting agenda and found something interesting:

That type of language comes up a lot for the Coliseum JPA’s board meetings, especially when the JPA and its tenants are negotiating leases. It’s great to hear that the A’s are having talks about land use and potential acquisitions or leases with the Port. That shows that they’re willing and able to move on multiple sites without waiting for the Raiders to clean up their own mess. Having Berths 20-24 (?) on there is a different matter altogether.

I chimed in with the following:

Berths 20-24 are better known as the former PAOHT (Ports America) site. Due to an ongoing dispute with the Port over their own lease and slow business, PAOHT declared bankruptcy last year, abandoning their 50-year lease in the process. I wrote about the potential of the site last year, though I framed it as more of a replacement site for the Raiders should the A’s take over the Coliseum. Because of the site’s lack of transit availability (BART runs nearby but can’t stop there) but massive size for a future parking lot, it could work as a NFL stadium site. For baseball it makes little sense at all. It’s two miles from West Oakland BART, three from Howard Terminal, and three from downtown Oakland. There’s nothing around it and the wind there makes Candlestick feel like a light tropical breeze. And because a ballpark can’t face west, fans would never benefit from the incredible view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco.

The site may function as parking for a Howard Terminal, which might work better in terms of planning and maintaining Port operations. However, as mentioned before, the site is a three mile bus ride from HT. That’s the same distance along Broadway from the Embarcadero to 51st Street. Having dozens of shuttles running such a lengthy distance on regular Oakland surface streets during peak hours sounds like a recipe for disaster. It belies the urban ballpark concept that Oakland and the A’s are seeking. Still, parking is rather scarce at JLS/HT, and maybe the shuttles can be routed to stop by West Oakland BART to pick up fans.


David Kaval reaffirmed that the A’s will announce their site choice, plan, and timeline this year. While the communication lines are open to fans for suggestions, the decision-making process isn’t exactly open. That was a major mistake made under Lew Wolff, and I hope that the team at the very least provides more insight into the factors driving the decision (cost, transit, land availability, development potential, etc.). A’s fans deserve at least that much.

58 thoughts on “Howard Terminal and… Oakland’s Outer Harbor?

  1. Are there any new EIRs or studies on the HT site? I think the last figure bandied about was $100M to remedy.

  2. Oh man 20-24 sounds like a crappy idea if the wind is like candlestick, unless their thinking retractable roof.

  3. So HT for ballpark and 20-24 for parking and some other development. I get it.

    • The other development piece might be key. I have’t had time to look it up, but one of the things that makes HT a tough dell is the land use covenants that restrict certain types of development. Maybe they figure they can have a different development down the way a bit that isn’t really part of the park but isn’t as restricted.

  4. Would it be at all possible to do a ballpark at HT, parking at 20-24 and run frequent water ferries from a new terminal at 20-24 to JLS ferry terminal?

    Clearly wouldn’t be feasible as the main conveyance to an HT park, but it might work to take a few thousand people off the streets each game…

  5. Parking at 20-24 for an HT stadium is completely absurd.

    I read the agenda as meaning two potential, but separate projects. As in either/or.

    I have no inside knowledge, so I am not saying that’s the case.

    I still think the Laney/Peralta/adjacent parking lot is the right place to do it. walkable from all BART lines without a transfer. On the right side of 880.

    But I’ll take anywhere besides berths 20-24 and Brooklyn Basin. Howard Terminal or Laney/Peralta area. I’m ready to do my part and call elected officials, show up at meetings, whatever.

    • I wonder if howard terminal area has more redevelopment money available than Laney area and mayor can help a lot more at the HT site?

      • If the Coliseum “plan” for the Raiders is any hint, I’d think it would be the opposite.

        But I don’t quite understand the infrastructure bonding as it is now in the post Redevelopment Agency era. Basically, the Raiders plan, the funds from the City were “redevelopment” funds that are available because of proximity to the BART station. Laney is directly adjacent to BART as well.

      • Jeff – Some $40 million is in the form of transit grants. That’s not redevelopment money. There’s a separated IFD covering the Coliseum and surrounding land that would be used to raise the non-transit infrastructure money.

      • There’s no such thing as redevelopment money anymore, not in the classic sense. Cities can create and designate infrastructure financing districts (IFDs) that are allowed to raise money only for infrastruture. That’s it – no stadiums, housing, convention centers, etc. The Port also has its own bonding capacity, but it used a lot of that for the Oakland Army Base project. Much of the stuff the Port funded is right next door to Berths 20-24, and is meant for Port intermodal operations.

      • Thanks, RM.

        So and IFD can be set up for a ballpark anywhere, and then there will be a specific capacity based on expected tax revenues? Also, that $40M at the Coliseum could theoretically exist near Laney in the same form but not necessarily at Howard Terminal/JLS because no BART?

        Either way, the infra funding is going to be tricky.

        I quit paying attention for a few years and everything goes berserk!

      • IFD bonding limits are up to agency and voter approval. IIRC the voters are not of the whole city, but inside the district. 55% approval required. The $40 million was identified for Coliseum for the purposes of building a transit hub. That’s not happening at Lake Merritt or Jack London Square. Another thing – I previously thought that a BART station could be built at 5th and Market. After reading a BART planning doc I suspect it couldn’t happen because it would adversely affect the Oakland Wye, the junction where all the routes meet at Broadway and 980/880. The headways (frequency) are already slow there and a big concern. Putting another station there would only make it worse.

  6. It’s gonna be a floating stadium. Google Floating Data Barge Park, opening in 2021. They’ll start right there at Berth 20-24, and if the fans don’t show up, they’ll be Rob Manfred’s new floating threat of relocation. You can tow Data Barge Park down to Puerto Vallarta for a few games, tow ’em to Acapulco for a week, tow ’em to Hawaii.
    If it works, Manfred will float the idea at the Rays, who can grow the game on the Eastern seaboard, spending a week each in Cuba, the DR, and Caracas.

  7. What is interesting is that both HT and Berths 20-24 are linked on the agenda, discussed together on the same agenda item. My guess is that the A’s need the site for some kind of mitigation. Off the top of my head, I am guessing that maybe it has something to do with Schnitzer Steel, which is next to or near HT, and I’ve heard that they aren’t too happy about having a ballpark next to/near them. Perhaps the A’s are helping Schnitzer relocate at least part of their operation. Or maybe 20-24 would be used in connection with some environmental mitigation that the A’s would need to do at HT. Just guessing.

    With all the craziness and unpredictability going on with the Raiders, I think the A’s have decided they don’t want to have to depend on an outcome for the Raiders at all and are getting their ducks lined up for the other sites. We know Kaval and Fisher really like the idea of a downtown ballpark, bolstered by the successful FanFest. I have also heard that the remediation costs for HT that have been floating around are exaggerated. That would be nice.

    • The EIR should tell us the real mitigation costs. I don’t think we will know until it is done.

      Also, the thing that keeps getting confused, at least from my perspective, is that it’s not JUST environmental clean up/mitigation. It’s also infrastructure to make the area accessible to 10,000 cars and 6,000 pedestrians 80 plus times a year (hopefully more if they make the ballpark into something that can also be used for outdoor concerts, etc.).

      When people float out $1.5B, or even $1B… that is all of this stuff taken into account. It’s a stadium (and site prep), plus environmental remediation, plus infrastructure. I don’t think $1B is really that high of an estimate all things considered. And I’d expect the A’s are betting on $600M of that being their nut… everything else is the City and/or the Port’s problem.

      All speculation, I know. But if we throw in moving Schnitzer Steel on top of that…

      I have become a fan of saying it like this: Not any single thing, nor all of them combined, make this project undoable. It just adds time and money to the equation.

      • I agree, and I certainly know that there are many costs in addition to site clean-up. I have no idea what they are, and you’re right, the EIR will identify them. But the A’s, Port and City must have a pretty good idea of what they are now and the A’s are hopefully trying to get ahead of the EIR and mitigate them as much as possible. Access, parking, and other infrastructure needs are clearly some of the most significant issues with HT.

        I was simply trying to figure out the connection between HT and Berths 20-24 and those guesses seemed liked possibilities, unless the A’s are getting into the shipping business.

      • Careful. Mitigation is often a slow, deliberative process. There’s a great chance that whatever the A’s think is necessary is miles apart from what the community thinks. Don’t make too many assumptions about how this is going to go.

        The power plant at Howard Terminal cost $4+ million for only 1.58 acres. Maybe a limited amount of area will need to be cleaned up at HT, or some technology can somehow make cleanup less necessary. I’m not counting on it.

      • All revenue streams should be explored: AthLogistics Global

  8. don’t know how true this is but that is some shade being thrown at the niners though i do think the negatively around levi’s stadium is unwarranted and having more due to the backlash of the niners downfall on the field ever since arriving at the stadium in 2014.

    if the niners continued their success from 2011-2013 into the stadium sure there would be some backlash but not the amount cheap shots we’ve seen over the last 2-3 years since it opened.

    if this is true then it does give me some hope that the a’s rather go the route of waiting an extra few years and spending more money on a new park at howard terminal if it means they get a park that could be pretty special and the envy of other teams rather than a ho hum nice park but situated out in the middle of nowhere without much a wow factor.

    sort of be what you get with the admiration that at&t and pnc parks get compared to what you have with citi field.

    • I’ve been to a few events at Levi’s now. It’s a light years better stadium than Candlestick. It’s a great place to watch football, that’s for sure.

      I can ride ACE from Pleasanton and be there in 30 minutes, walk a few hundred yards and be in the stadium.

      I think the backlash is ENTIRELY about what happened on the field and front office in the aftermath of the move.

      • Agreed that place is awesome

      • yeah i went to a game earlier there earlier this 2016 nfl season vs the nyj and comparing it to candlestick, there is really no comparison.

        even if the niners were winning at levi’s stadium there would still be criticism about the stadium. i could see fans and the media still complaining about it being built in santa clara or the fans aren’t as loud as they were at candlestick but every new sports venue faces those issues with the blue collar fans being priced out.

        i can’t wait until the warriors open up their arena across the bay and the die hard warriors fans who made oracle arena so special are priced out and you get a white collar atmosphere at chase center. hell i’ve seen some who’ve argue it’s been happening now as in the last few seasons the crowds at warriors games have been less proactive and are more reactive especially after the warriors won the nba title in 2015.

        we may see that with a’s games down the road although i think in baseball it’s less likely to be a factor due to the not only the bigger capacity when compared to nba arenas where you could see twice as many people attending a baseball game compared to an nba game.

        but then you have 81 home games in baseball which is 10 times more than what you get when you compare it to the nfl season.

        back to levi’s stadium visually or design wise i don’t think it’s all that special like what we seen with what was built in dal, what’s being built in atl, or other retractable roof nfl stadiums built over the last decade all which seem to be well received.

        but i don’t see a huge difference between levi’s and lets say what’s been built in ne, pit, bal, nyc and other “non roofed” nfl stadiums over the last 10-15 years.

      • I was at the same game. Two seasons ago I was at a 49ers v Seahawks Thursday Night tilt and the place was crazy loud for the first quarter… after that it was pretty obvious that the Seahags were going to win easily and everyone went up to the concourses to eat the good food 🙂

        I have been to AT&T STadium in Arlignton and really, there is nothing super stunning about any NFL stadium. They are giant rectangles.

        bringing this back to the A’s… that is why I am excited to hear a commitment to being closer to downtown. Laney or Howard Terminal really represent an opportunity for something uniquely Oakland. Baseball has that advantage over football, the architecture of the stadium can be unique.

  9. honestly i’d be extremely happy with any new a’s park if it’s built outside of the coliseum location.

    just don’t see a wow factor at the current location no matter how great a ballpark village might be surrounding it. but even if it’s built at the coliseum i’d be okay with it but just wouldn’t be as exciting.

    howard terminal being the site with the most potential. has a bit of at&t/pnc/gabp due to it being near water. has some of safeco with the train rolling past the park.

    the one unique aspect a howard terminal park could have that no other park would have are the cranes as the drop back for the park which could be worked into the park in so many ways. could you light them up in green/gold during night games? have fireworks shoot from them after home runs?

    i don’t know how they could be integrated with the park itself. i know in the fremont plan they had the idea from the renderings of having the video scoreboard being “double sided” so the people outside of the park could watch games on the screen.

    i think petco park has something similar to this with their park behind the park feature where the have a video screen behind the cf wall where people who are there can watch the game live.

    if howard terminal is the site could the a’s do the same along the waterfront? have a screen be integrated with one or a couple of the cranes so those who decide to hang around the estuary on boats or kayaks could watch the game live from the outside?

    with it being very unlikely a baseball would ever splash into the water like with what happens across the bay. how about giving a howard terminal park along the water a different dynamic and a great reason for those who travel onto the water nearby in the estuary a reason to stay with the ability to watch games live on a video screen from their water vehicle? i could see it being a great atmosphere on the water there during games.

  10. imagine a video screen being integrated onto that crane directly behind right field where people from their kayaks and boats could watch the game live.

    • A stadium at Howard Terminal can’t face the direction of these renderings. It would have to be turned towards downtown, east northeast.

    • Kayaks and other sitting watercraft won’t be allowed at a Howard Terminal ballpark. Kaval admitted that during Blog Fest. The whole waterway is an active, working harbor unlike Mission Creek in SF. It wouldn’t be safe.

      • damn that’d suck and take out a fun element if the a’s were to build at the howard terminal or any waterfront site along the estuary.

      • I don’t know why they put them that way, but the stadium should face east northeast. In this case, it would mean the stadium is angled towards downtown, which I think is actually quite cool.

      • There are some parks that face southeast, such as Arlington. As long as it faces generally to the east it should be fine. Southeast Southwest would be a total no-no.

        As for cute little boats and rafts in the water, well, it is a fantasy, isn’t it?

      • I think you meant “Southwest is a total no no.” Right?

      • And you fixed it, ha

      • i would’ve thought hok who has had a long and successful history of building baseball parks even back in 2002 when they released that image along with the other sites would know whether or not a park at howard terminal couldn’t face the direction of the estuary?

        guessing many a’s fans who prefer the howard terminal site it was because of the estuary view you’d get. in my opinion that’s one of the HUGE selling points for a howard terminal park with the estuary backdrop and with the cranes too.

        i remember reading about at&t and their initial plan was to have the park oriented toward downtown and the bay bridge but they instead opted to change the orientation towards the bay due to a study about the wind being not as big of a factor and although the view of dowtown and the bay bridge would be great i don’t think anybody would change the orientation of at&t at this time with the sweeping view of the water.

        as for a howard terminal park facing downtown oakland.

        still very nice but if that’s what we’d get i would think the laney college park could be a better location or at least give you a better view of lake merritt, the oakland hills, and downtown oakland too.

      • That picture facing downtown is one that ML created at my request. It’s not for Howard Terminal, but not that far away from Howard Terminal.

        It’s a site they called JLS West back when Ron Dellums held a press conference ot say that Oakland had 4 sites.

        I have always argued that it’s a mistake to attempt to copy AT&T Park within view of AT&T Park. But it’s not like I won’t be at the stadium if it is a copy of AT&T Park, it’s the casual fan that will probably pass.

      • yeah but the draw of having the park face where it is in all the renderings was a huge draw and without that it’d lose some wow factor for me personally.

        i guess being close to jls and or downtown oakland is still a huge positive. but imo the back drop of the estuary and cranes beyond the of wall i believe would’ve given a park at that site a huge edge over every other proposed site in oakland.

        could’ve been something other teams, fans, and the media would talk about in a positive light.

        at&t, pnc, great american are the only three other parks built alongside some body of water and all of them face it. i don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that if the a’s were to build at howard terminal it’d be the only park built next to water that faces away from it.

        be like having an great huge house next to the beach and not having a bunch of windows to view it from the inside?

      • Will all the talk about various sites, wouldn’t be fun to see what Bud Selig’s BRC came up with after studying all of the Oak sites over 3 years? The rumor was that they felt none of the sites other than the Coliseum were economically feasible. They actually felt downtown SJ was the best site… and that is why the BRC studys never saw the light of day!

      • The “BRC” started its work in 2009. Only the most delusional Oakland supporters were talking about the city being able to support new stadia at the time.

      • looking at the pics of the howard terminal park more closely the park looks like it’s oriented more so south than southwest. even if they orient the park directly south will that be enough to satisfy the issue with the sun?

        the rules said the mlb parks are “desired” to be looking east/northeast according the rulebook.

        “It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast.” – Official Baseball Rules, section 1.04.

        but a lot of parks do look south, really more south/south east.

        comerica park in det, miller park in mil, us cellular field in chi, rangers ballpark in tex, pnc park in pit.

        comerica park in det probably is the closest park in terms of orientation towards south.

        with any howard terminal park if it points directly south i still think you can get a good view of the water as the backdrop and the cranes too.

        if the a’s were to build at howard terminal those are two of the key features of the park i really wish does get integrated into the design.

      • here’s a high overhead shot of the site with howard terminal right smack dab in the middle of the picture.

        are we sure the park’s orientation isn’t looking more south?


        actually are we sure the park isn’t looking southeast right here in this above shot?

        if this ordination is indeed southeast then it’d fit in line with other parks that face that direction.

        maybe hok and or the city of oakland who did those renderings are right with the design?

        or maybe I’m wrong and really want to see the park built along the estuary the way those pictures showed it would be built?

  11. From RaidersWire yesterday – Bruce Allen, former Raider exec, re: Oakland: “They had to make a decision in their minds, evidently, of baseball or the Raiders. They chose baseball.”

    • and it makes sense.

      for mlb you have 81+ home games if you include one or two exhibition games, the 81 season home dates you’re sure to get, along with whatever playoffs games you might host for a 600-700 million dollar venue.

      for the nfl you have at the very maximum 12 home games during a given season with 2 preseason, 8 regular season, and at the most 2 postseason games for over a billion dollar venue.

    • That’s total BS, anyone that comments (reads) here knows that all the Raiders have to do is come up with a plan, and I think a 10 million dollar deposit, and the A’s would most likely be renting from the San Francisco Giants in two year’s. Bruce is slinging BS, period.

      I wish the A’s would just come out and say they want to build at HT, or Laney, if that’s what they want to do.
      What would be Davis excuse then? It’s ok if he doesn’t want to build in Oakland, or if he thinks the city and the country are not giving enough. I live with either, but to say the A’s are the reason? Whatever, Wolff is gone, that excuse had some marit to it then. It dosent any more.

      • I think they still don’t know where they want to build.

        HT or Laney have several hurdles before becoming a “thing.” Maybe neither is likely, or doable.

        I’d love Laney College to happen, but for ti to be feasible it would require “both” Laney sites and the parking lot adjacent along 880. Maybe thats too big of a pill to swallow?

        HT has land use covenants that will block any development for years. Maybe they are testing what they can and trying to come up with a timeline that works and not liking what they are finding just yet?

        If they knew what they wanted, I have a feeling we’d know.

      • from what i’ve read i’m guessing the a’s have the coliseum location as basically the last resort.

        it’s the easiest to build a park on that site compared to howard terminal and laney but it provides the least excitement or “wow” factor for all parties whether it’s the a’s org, city, and fan base.

        a’s could be looking at all options at both howard terminal and laney and seeing if either are even close to being feasible both financially and practically.

        if neither make realistic sense then they’ll pick the coliseum when it comes to making an announcement later this year.

        but it does sound like the a’s really want to build in the downtown or waterfront area of the city rather than out in the middle of nowhere of the coliseum site.

  12. a’s going very pr heavy on celebrating it’s oakland history both on and off the field since naval took over huh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.