Port of Oakland set to vote on Howard Terminal ENA

Does this read like deja vu?

That’s because it is.

The Port of Oakland is getting ready to approve a one-year window for negotiating with the A’s on Howard Terminal. To help pave the way, they will also approve a feasibility study for the site. I know you’re asking, wasn’t a study done a few years ago? And I’m here to tell you, no, it was never done. Not one released in public, at least. The A’s shared their findings with the City and Port. Neither the Port nor City furnished their own study or EIR. Neither did Oakland Waterfront Ballpark, the group that championed Howard Terminal oh so long ago. Here’s the agenda item:

1. CLOSED SESSION (1:00 p.m.)
Closed Session discussions and materials may not be disclosed to a person not entitled to receive it, unless the Board authorizes disclosure of that confidential information.
CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR – (Pursuant to California Government Code Section 54956.8)
Property: One Market Street, Oakland, CA (Howard Terminal) Negotiating Parties: Oakland Athletics and Port of Oakland
Agency Negotiator: Pamela Kershaw, Director of Commercial Real Estate Under Negotiation: Price and Terms of Tenancy
Property: Oakland International Container Terminal (Berths 55-56 and Berths 57-59) and Matson Terminal (Berths 60-63 – Port of Oakland
Negotiating Parties: SSA Terminals (Oakland), LLC; SSA Terminals, LLC, and Port of Oakland
Agency Negotiator: John Driscoll, Director of Maritime Under Negotiation: Price and Terms of Tenancy
File ID: [141-18]

Not much has changed in the intervening years. Obstacles remain for any project at HT. There’s the lack of BART serving the area. It’s still polluted. It’s still on the wrong side of the tracks, as mentioned by former city administrator Dan Lindheim:

“The reason was it was on the wrong side of the tracks,” Lindheim, now an assistant professor at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Policy, said recently. “Major League Baseball feared in the event of a catastrophe. their illustrious fans and players would be stuck. They didn’t want 40,000 people stuck over there.”

And don’t forget the A’s finding that Howard Terminal is appreciably colder than other sites in Oakland. Or the constant pounding noise coming from Schnitzer Steel at night.

Maybe the A’s-led effort will resolve the myriad issues plaguing the site. You have to give the parties credit for giving this a good old college try. However, I’m afraid that thanks to MLB backing the A’s into a corner, the team will have no choice but to kick the can down the road. We’re all familiar with that routine by now.


P.S. – You noticed how third parties came out of the woodwork to hopefully bid on the Coliseum, but none have done the same with Howard Terminal? I wonder why.

19 thoughts on “Port of Oakland set to vote on Howard Terminal ENA

  1. ML, what is your best guess as to why the A’s are still considering HT? I realize the Coliseum site was not their first choice (not mine either), but it certainly seems a lot more appealing than HT. Do you think the City of Oakland has privately told the A’s they have other plans for the Coliseum site?

  2. @fc

    I was thinking along the same lines. I realize HT has numerous challenges, perhaps to many to overcome. I also realize a lot of well connected, and some not so well connected people would love for an A’s new ballpark to be at that site.


    I believe you mentioned something to the effect or hinted at the possibility, that the A’s interest in HT may be a favor to the mayor for her support? (I apologize if I miss read, or miss quitted you)

    Anyway, it was something I was wondering myself, but this seems like a lot to do for nothing more than a political favor, if that’s all it is. Perhaps, there is something there? Not that I would get my hopes up too high for that site, there could be more to it for sure, but that doesn’t mean the challenges get any easier to pull off.

    • Mayor Schaaf has already come out and said that she loves the idea of the gondola. I believe that the powers that be in the city are indeed pushing the A’s to seriously consider HT, warts and all. What that constitutes is the real question.

      To your point, a “political favor” is probably only a part of it. Some type of sweetheart land deal, financial assistance for transport and clean up. After all, I believe the A’s were willing to foot the bill on the toxic cleanup that would be required at Peralta.

      I believe that Oakland wants to develop both HT and the Coli. Think about it, the city gets out from the Coliseum debt (and then some) by selling to Mark Hall/Elon Musk, keeps the A’s w/a ballpark on the bay, and turns JLS into a new generation China Basin.

      Now, that’s a lot of moving parts, but I can see Kaval as a guy wanting to leave behind a legacy vs. just putting a new park at the Coliseum location if even remotely possible.

      The MLB complaint about HT being on the “wrong side of the tracks” is an interesting one. Is that still a big thing? If so, I would have thought the A’s wouldn’t have even bothered trying by mandate of MLB.

    • @LS/N – I don’t think I ever said that. It’s a reasonable suggestion.

      The way I look at this, the A’s and Oakland bought themselves some time by bringing HT back into the game. Given the difficulty I don’t think it’s much more than that.

      • @ML are you thinking that the A’s are buying themselves time to wait for Peralta to come back into play?

  3. Mayor Schaaf is delusional about Howard Terminal and the gondola. Non of her building ideas have come to fruition. She is not a builder like Jerry Brown. Sad for Oakland.

    Among the many demerits of HT are poor auto access from major freeway ramps, toxic site, poor soils to build on the parking assets are on the north side of 880 far from HT, and horrible pedestrian access from BART and anywhere north of the freeway. All the traffic that does get in will kill Jack London Square not help it. The Coliseum is a non starter. A downtown site is needed that has access from freeway ramps, walkability from BART and parking assets.

  4. It’s very unfortunate that both Oakland elected officials and MLB are in effect restricting the A’s to two high risk less than desirable proposed Oakland sites for their new ballpark. Adding insult to injury, the A’s will be forced to build this stadium with only their own private funds and MLB is also doing away with their revenue sharing funds that were once used to compensate for the unfair and unequal territorial dividing up of the Bay Area market with the Giants. Lew Wolff saw the handwriting on the wall and got himself out of being the managing partner of the A’s. .

  5. @ IIpec

    “Lew Wolff saw the handwriting on the wall and got himself out of being the managing partner of the A’s. . .”

    Oh, yeah. Because he being a public relations nightmare, and insulting to the fan base, and at times the city had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    • @lakeshore Exactly! Wolff came in with the sole focus of getting the hell out of Oakland. Evidently, he was served a bill of goods by his buddy Bud Selig. Once that died, any continued association of his with the club was toxic. I know he still has a percentage or two of the club, but the less he’s involved with the A’s on an everyday basis, the better off the franchise is.

      He “got out” because the SJ/Fremont deals didn’t happen, ergo he was of no use and despised by the fanbase.

  6. It wasn’t too long ago that John Fisher came out of hibernation and expressed support for HT, along with Mayor Schaaf. So the A’s bear some responsibility for HT still being considered. Although Kaval probably wishes Fisher had never opened his mouth, it did serve the purpose of getting the matter back in the public eye, leading to getting rid of Wolff and hiring Kaval and his energy and enthusiasm.

    @ Bry – “Non(e) of her building ideas have come to fruition. She is not a builder like Jerry Brown.” Selective memory. Jerry Brown was the guy who killed the Uptown site, over the recommendations of Robert Bobb. That would have been the perfect “downtown” ballpark site. Instead, Bobb, probably the one person in city government that could have done a ballpark deal, was dismissed. Brown wanted, and got, housing there. His “ten thousand units of housing downtown” was a good idea for injecting life into Oakland, but he certainly bears some of the responsibility for the current situation. Seems like that housing could have been (and was) built elsewhere, thus enabling a ballpark on the Uptown property, with everyone winning. And there’s quite a lot of building going on in Oakland right now, under Schaaf’s administration. I don’t recall that Brown built anything; he simply supported developer-built housing, which is what Schaaf is doing.

    There has been a downtown specific plan process going on for the last few years, which includes JLS and HT — that would have been the logical process for discussion of a ballpark and ways to mitigate impacts at HT or whatever other downtown site was proposed (none). Instead of flushing out public debate, we have people shooting from the hip and the A’s getting embarrassed with Peralta. You can bet that whatever site they choose, someone will come out of the woodwork and oppose it.

  7. The A’s would most certainly have to build their new ballpark at a site that would be attractive enough to draw both casual and diehard baseball fans from the entire Bay Area, not just from Oakland and the East Bay. This requirement severely limits the options available to the A’s for a desirable Oakland new ballpark site. Neither HT(inaccessibility) nor the Coliseum property have what it takes to be a popular destination for casual fans to want to attend MLB games, as is in the case of AT&T Park for the Giants .

  8. Maybe the A’s will come out with a report that says, “We have determined that HT is viable for a ballpark, as long as the following conditions can be met: Public funding for $200 million in cleanup costs, $150 million to place a dome on the new stadium to avoid the frigid weather, a new BART station, buying out and moving of the recycling plant, expensive bridges over the railroad tracks, highway exit ramps, etc.” When Oakland offers its usual $0.00, HT dies once and for all.

  9. I saw that HT ENA was approved by the port, but I think Coliseum is a better choice. When will city council vote on a potential ENA there?

  10. OT – Hey ML, I see where 95.7 will be simulcasting on 1550 AM. I tuned in a few minutes ago and the signal seems pretty strong. Any idea as to 1550’s signal strength?

    • @fc – 1550 is one of Entercom’s Bay Area stations. Its radio locator page hasn’t been updated, so I can’t tell what its signal strength is. That page says the station is based in San Francisco, while its old Wikipedia indicates San Jose. In any case, it used to be a South Asian station, but switched simulcasting The Game on May 1.

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