A’s waterfront ballpark advances with release of environmental report

(Rendering courtesy of Oakland Athletics and mlb.com)

Another step was taken Friday toward the construction of a new waterfront Oakland A’s ballpark and adjacent development including a stadium seating 35,000 and housing, office, and retail space.

The city released a Draft Environmental Impact Report outlining potential effects of the ballpark on the environment, which may include impacts to air quality in West Oakland and greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed site is about 55 acres at the Charles P. Howard Terminal and the development may include up to 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of office space and 270,000 square feet of retail. Also proposed is a potential 280,000 square feet of hotel space with 400 rooms.

A’s President Dave Kaval said the report’s release is an important step and it doesn’t have any “show-stoppers” that might keep it from approval.

Aerial view of the Jack London waterfront marking the area proposed for a new baseball stadium and complex (Photo courtesy of City of Oakland)

The project is opposed by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, a coalition of labor, community and industry groups who want to see the A’s redevelop the Oakland Coliseum site where the team plays now. The alliance has not had a chance to completely review the report.

“We anticipate that the Howard Terminal Draft EIR will once again confirm the obvious and what everyone already knows — that the current Coliseum site remains the ideal and most logical location for a new ballpark that will make A’s fans proud to call home,” said Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, a member of the coalition and a Port of Oakland tenant that is part of a lawsuit opposing the project.

The ballpark project has the support of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“I’m excited about keeping our A’s rooted in Oakland,” Schaaf said in a statement. “The Howard Terminal ballpark requires the highest environmental standards while giving us an opportunity to expand our entertainment district near Jack London Square.”

Aerial view rendering of proposed ballpark complex (Image courtesy of mlb.com)

Other possible components to the project include a gondola to Water and Washington streets in Jack London Square from 10th and Washington streets in downtown Oakland, the conversion of the Oakland Power Plant near Jack London Square to a battery energy storage facility and a performance venue with up to 3,500 seats.

More than 18 acres of publicly accessible open space is part the proposal.

Rendering of public space adjacent to the proposed ballpark complex (Image courtesy of mlb.com)

Issues raised by the public so far include greenhouse gas emissions, the nesting and migration of birds, effects on historic structures, and among others, air quality in West Oakland and regionally.

Kaval said earlier this month that the Howard Terminal project will make the air cleaner in West Oakland, the neighborhood closest to the project, and historically affected by pollution. He maintains the ballpark at Howard Terminal will have the highest environmental standards of any project in California history, and on Friday said he hopes the draft EIR will go before the City Council for a vote this year.

The A’s have been working for nearly five years on the project, which has been delayed by the lawsuit filed by Port of Oakland tenants who recently appealed a ruling in favor of the A’s.

The suit centers on whether the A’s met a Jan. 1, 2020, deadline to demonstrate that the Howard Terminal ballpark meets thresholds for greenhouse gas emissions.

Jacob said because a lawsuit is still pending “we are very disappointed that the A’s and the City are moving forward with the release of this Draft EIR prior to the final resolution of this critical issue.”

The public has until 4 p.m. April 12 to comment on the draft environmental report. Comments can also be made before the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board at 5 p.m. March 22 and Planning Commission at 3 p.m. April 7.

The public can hear the key analyses and conclusions of the draft EIR and get help locating information in the document at an informational webinar on March 6 at http://bit.ly/HTDEIRWorkshop.

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