Once written off as an expensive alternative for a ballpark site, the Howard Terminal waterfront site in downtown Oakland is being pushed as a prime location for a new Oakland A’s facility thanks to changing circumstances.
What’s different? The site’s owner, the Port of Oakland, has decided the 51-acre terminal isn’t crucial for maritime operations; there’s plenty of capacity on the Oakland waterfront and the terminal’s only tenant, SSA Terminals, wants out. And while it’s not ideal — the nearest BART station is a little less than a mile away and parking would need to be constructed — it does benefit from being a beautiful site already controlled by local government. These merits were reportedly relayed to the MLB committee changed by Commissioner Bud Selig to determine the future of the A’s ballpark needs.
Now, this doesn’t mean construction can begin tomorrow on a new waterfront A’s ballpark in Oakland. And we’re told there are some in City Hall who see a redevelopment of the Coliseum complex as having a bigger payoff for the city. But Oakland doesn’t necessarily need a finalized ballpark plan to keep the A’s: the city needs to show there is a viable ballpark effort underway in order to give Selig an excuse to turn down Lew Wolff’s request to move to the A’s to a new downtown San Jose ballpark. To his credit, Selig is an opponent of franchise shifts, and his stated preference is to give municipalities every chance to build a new ballpark to retain a team. Oakland would seem to be complying with this dictate — for now — and given that there are some issues with the San Jose site that need to be worked out, we don’t expect a resolution to the A’s ballpark efforts any time soon.
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