The Alameda County Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to a financing district key for development of a new Oakland Athletics ballpark and $11 billion in related development.
The 4-1 vote came after months of speculation as to whether the county would sign off on the proposal, which was largely hammered out earlier by city officials. The city of Oakland and the A’s have already come to an agreement on the creation of an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) to fund infrastructure upgrades in the Howard Terminal area. In the nonbinding vote, the county was being asked to approve the district and devote proceeds to the area infrastructure upgrades. The EIFD would benefit all businesses in the general area, not just the new A’s ballpark, but obviously the new development would be the biggest beneficiary of the fund. Oakland city officials had put together a fact sheet regarding the tax district, the benefits, and most importantly why Alameda County should support it.
The vote is nonbinding, but it does allow negotiations for the project to move forward. The A’s have proposed a downtown Howard Terminal waterfront development featuring $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 34,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Coliseum. The development would also include 3,000 units of housing, as well as 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-room hotel, 18 acres of parkland and an estimated $450 million in community benefits.
And while the vote was not close, several supervisors expressed some qualms and put some conditions on approval There are widely varying estimates about exactly how much revenue the tax district will generate, and the approval includes a request that the A’s perform a financial analysis of the impact on the country. And while the county approval is key, there are plenty of steps needed before a groundbreaking.
“Tonight’s vote by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is a historic action that creates a clear path to keep the A’s rooted in Oakland and build a world-class waterfront ballpark district that will benefit Bay Area residents for generations to come,” wrote Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in a press statement.
From the East Oakland Stadium Alliance: “It is disappointing that the Board of Supervisors has conceded to pressure from the Oakland A’s and Oakland City Administration by supporting a non-binding resolution to contribute additional taxpayer resources toward a privately-owned real estate development. The Board has needlessly indicated its support for County funding before serious cost, environmental and land-use issues have been resolved.
“However, we are grateful that the Board correctly acknowledged the risk that this project presents and the desperate need for increased mental health services, homeless programs, affordable housing, and infrastructure improvements for County residents. The Board should not commit millions of public tax dollars toward a private project that will displace West Oakland residents, put thousands of working-class union port jobs at risk, and jeopardize the county’s long-term financial stability. We are confident that upon having additional time to do a thorough analysis the Board will come to understand the overwhelming negative implications of this proposal and decline to move forward.”
The next step: an environment impact statement, due this fall, as well as reviews from various state agencies and the Port of Oakland.
Rendering courtesy Oakland Athletics.
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