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Sierra Club: Build A’s ballpark at Coliseum site, not Howard Terminal

New Oakland Athletics Ballpark Renderings May 2019

The Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter is recommending the Oakland Athletics build a new ballpark at the current Coliseum site, arguing that there are too many environmental issues associated with a Howard Terminal waterfront location.

With the Oakland Coliseum clearly not the long-term home of the Athletics, the team had been promoting a plan for a privately financed ballpark a the downtown waterfront Howard Terminal site, and a key economic component of that plan was generating future revenue from a redeveloped Coliseum site. But last month the Athletics said the Howard Terminal plan may end up being delayed or even scrapped, which could launch a new plan to build a new ballpark next to the Coliseum, tear down the Coliseum and then redevelop the area with mixed-use amenities.

And that’s the path recommended by the Sierra Club, which is warning about significant environmental justice impacts on West Oakland residents if a Howard Terminal ballpark comes to be.

“The Coliseum site is already approved for use as a stadium, is transit accessible, and would lift up surrounding East Oakland neighborhoods rather than displacing maritime businesses and workers,” said Igor Tregub, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Northern Alameda County Group, in a press statement. “Howard Terminal, on the other hand, has less transit access and is vulnerable to sea-level rise.”

The two main arguments against the Howard Terminal site: the lack of mass transit serving the site and the environmental issues involved with developing what’s essentially a brownfield site. The transit issues and increased greenhouse gas emissions can be addressed with city cooperation, but there’s no doubt there’s a better arrangement at the Coliseum site when it comes to mass transit.

The bigger issue is the environmental status of the Howard Terminal site: it’s a dirty industrial site where there are known land toxins currently contained under a cap. With no clear plan for remediation and the possibility the site would remain capped, there’s the potential of a large mixed-use development disturbing the existing cap. A site like Howard Terminal is extremely challenging, to say the least.

The next step in the A’s ballpark saga: continued negotiations to close on a purchase of the Coliseum site.

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