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Howard Terminal Ballpark Bill Advances

New Oakland Athletics Ballpark Renderings May 2019

California lawmakers have approved legislation to help Oakland finance infrastructure improvements for a proposed Oakland A’s Howard Terminal ballpark project, sending it to the desk of governor Gavin Newsom.

The Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal is being targeted by the A’s for a proposed project that would include a new ballpark to replace RingCentral Coliseum. In addition to a new ballpark, the concept for Howard Terminal calls for new mixed-use development to be constructed at the site, including housing units, retail, office space, open space, and more. It has been expected that the ballpark and development would be privately financed as part of this plan, though it could call for the City of Oakland to finance infrastructure improvements that would support the project.

At the state level, officials have been debating SB293–a bill introduced by senator Nancy Skinner that allows for the creation of a new tax district in Oakland that would help cover the cost of infrastructure improvements. Senators voted 32-2 on Tuesday to approve the bill, which now goes to Newsom for his consideration. More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“For the win!” Skinner tweeted after the vote, adding in a statement that the bill “gives Oakland a tool to finance infrastructure upgrades and affordable housing. One is needed to help the new ballpark for the A’s, and the other is needed to help all of Oakland.”

The A’s hope to open a privately funded stadium in spring 2023 that features 35,000 seats, along with nearby housing and commercial developments, on a 50-acre site at the Oakland Estuary near Jack London Square. Groundbreaking could come as early as 2021, said Dave Kaval, the president of the baseball team.

“Passage of SB293 is another important step in the process,” Kaval said Tuesday. “We still have a long way to go, but we have made tremendous progress in our effort to build a new privately financed waterfront ballpark in Jack London Square. We appreciate the efforts of Senator Skinner and respectfully urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law.”

The project is opposed by maritime workers concerned that the basin the stadium would occupy would be heavily impacted and prevent them from doing their jobs. The basin is a key waterway where an average of 25 ships unload and load cargo each week.

Although Tuesday’s decision by the state senate helps advance the project, there are still plenty of steps of remaining to make it a reality. An environmental impact report still has to be completed, and the A’s have been hoping to present findings to the Port Commission and the Oakland City Council early next year. Key city council votes would also have to be taken in the future to approve the project as well as potential financing deals, and the council will have plenty of issues to sort out as it considers the proposal.  Along with a new ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, the A’s have proposed a redevelopment of the Coliseum complex that would include an amphitheater to replace the Coliseum, new construction in the existing parking lots, and the operation of Oakland Arena–the former home of the Golden State Warriors–for a variety of events.

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