By Michael Orion Powell
Oakland port and city officials are cheering the approval of a second exclusive negotiating agreement with the Oakland Athletics to potentially build a new ball park on the Howard Terminal site on the Oakland Estuary. Labor union representatives, however, have strongly differing views on the controversial project.
Late last month, the Port of Oakland Commissioners voted unanimously to enter into the one-year-long ENA. Located on the edge of the estuary, the 60-acre Howard Terminal is one of two sites the Athletics are scoping for a new home ballpark. The other location is the team’s current home at the Oakland Coliseum.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf hailed the commission’s decision.
“I am so excited to be supporting exclusive negotiation agreements at both the Coliseum and at Howard Terminal so that we double our chances to keep the A’s rooted in Oakland,” Schaaf said at a recent City Hall press conference.
Howard Terminal, with its location at the end of Jack London Square, currently supports Oakland maritime operations. Union groups representing those working in the area have publicly expressed concerns that a Howard Terminal baseball stadium could interfere with the business there and could cause the loss of as many as 3,000 jobs.
Supporters of the team moving to the Howard Terminal, including the Alameda Building & Construction Trades Council, have argued construction on the new stadium would be a boon for their members.
But representatives of the San Francisco Bar Pilots have reportedly objected to the team moving to the Howard Terminal site, saying the lights of the new stadium could blind their members from seeing hazards in the water as they berth container vessels.
The Conduit could not reach the Alameda Building & Construction Trades Council nor the maritime union locals for comment on this story this week.
The team has made a refundable $100,000 deposit for the rights to the year-long exclusive negotiating agreement. Oakland city officials have confirmed they have entered into a parallel ENA with the team for the Howard site as well as the Coliseum site.
Last fall, the Athletics said they wanted to build a new stadium near Laney College and Lake Merritt, but the Peralta Community College District, which owns the land, eliminated that possibility by saying they no longer wanted to sell the parcel.
Team officials have said they hope to make a decision on the location of the new stadium by the end of this year so the new facility can be ready for the opening of the 2023 baseball season.
Michael Orion Powell is a Bay Area freelance writer.