The city of Oakland and high-level backers of building a ballpark at Howard Terminal have taken small but important steps to make that dream a reality.
First, the Oakland Tribune reported a team of Oakland business leaders have formed a group — “Oakland Waterfront Ballpark LLC” — to secure an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port of Oakland over Howard Terminal. As the Tribune’s Matthew Artz wrote:
The five-member consortium, which includes Clorox CEO Don Knauss, Doug Boxer and former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream CEO T. Gary Rogers … formally asked the Port of Oakland to enter into exclusive negotiations with the goal of developing a ballpark and other amenities at the terminal. The agreement would include an option period of two to three years during which the businessmen would work to obtain the necessary permits and perform an estimated $1 million environmental review of the site.
And, who knows, there might be another Bay Area supporter (and future A’s co-owner?) involved in the group. In December, the East Bay Express reported that Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob is interested in buying the A’s and building a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. (Co-owner Peter Guber, already a Dodgers co-owner, reportedly would not be part of the A’s ownership group.)
So, what’s next? This Thursday (Feb. 13), the Port of Oakland commissioners will meet and, per the recommendations of the Port staff, may reject all planned maritime uses for Howard Terminal.
Why is that important? If all maritime uses are rejected at the meeting and the Port proceeds with the exclusive negotiating agreement with Oakland Waterfront Ballpark LLC, it paves the way for them to plan the next crucial steps for Howard Terminal’s environmental and infrastructure work, including the environmental impact report.
Clearly these things take time. But in the fight to keep the A’s, Oakland has time on its side. (And the facts, too.) San Jose’s lawsuit appeal against MLB is at least months — maybe years — from being resolved. Heck, we here at Baseball Oakland even celebrated our 4th year anniversary recently, a time period we did not think would be needed when we formed in late 2009.
Please keep in mind: Howard Terminal is no fantasy. It is a very viable A’s ballpark site studied and planned by deep-pocketed Oakland/Bay Area business leaders with a strong track record for putting together big, successful deals.
We believe in this plan and its main backers. As with any process, this one may take some time. But once these crucial steps for Howard Terminal are completed, we believe the Oakland waterfront soon will be the home of the Oakland Athletics, transforming the franchise, downtown Oakland and Jack London Square all in one fell swoop.