Key recommendation in A’s ballpark project to come Wednesday

The Oakland A's have released renderings of their proposed new ballpark at Jack London Square. new stadium Howard terminal (Courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group)

Regulators will get a recommendation early Wednesday on whether the Port of Oakland needs Howard Terminal or whether it can be used for a new Oakland A’s ballpark project.

Starting at 9:30 a.m., the Seaport Planning Advisory Committee will hear from staff and make a recommendation by 12:30 p.m. to the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

That commission will decide whether the Port of Oakland needs the land at Howard Terminal.

If the commission decides the Port needs the land, an A’s ballpark is out of the picture.

The commission’s decision will hinge in part on a forecast for cargo growth because cargo growth requires more land.

“The redesignation of Howard Terminal from ‘Priority Use Area’ will not detract from the regional capability to meet the cargo growth,” said a March 3 letter to the commission from Richard Sinkoff at the Port. Sinkoff is the director of environmental programs and planning. Sinkoff’s conclusion is based on a forecast for moderate cargo growth at the Port. If the commission chooses to base its decision on a stronger growth scenario, the Port will need Howard Terminal to meet its needs.

But the Port argued in the letter that stronger cargo growth is not expected.

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

Stronger growth “must be considered speculative, at best,” Sinkoff’s letter said.

Compound annual growth in containerized cargo was 1.1 percent between 2010 to 2018, according to a forecast prepared for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. A moderate growth forecast shows containerized cargo growing at 2.2 percent through 2050. Under the moderate growth scenario, the Port has just enough land to meet its needs.

Plans for the new ballpark project call for a stadium that seats about 35,000 people, along with a hotel, housing, commercial space, parks and a performance venue seating about 3,500. Total cost for the project is about $12 billion.

The Oakland A’s have been pursuing options for a new stadium in Oakland as well as in the Las Vegas area. A’s President Dave Kaval has called the two options “parallel paths.” Kaval has also said it’s Howard Terminal or the A’s are leaving Oakland.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has expressed confidence the A’s are going to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, but more steps are needed before shovels go in the ground.

Besides the approval by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the city and the team need to agree on binding financial terms. That could happen this summer.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission must make its decision on Howard Terminal within 140 days following the certification of the project’s final Environmental Impact Report. The Oakland City Council certified the final EIR on Feb. 17, which means the commission must vote by July 7.

Information to participate in the Seaport Planning Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday can be found at https://www.bcdc.ca.gov/seaport/2022-03-16-Agenda.html.

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