Last Friday, Port of Oakland staffers recommended moving forward with a ballpark at the Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square. As you may recall, a group of business leaders calling themselves Oakland Waterfront Ballpark LLC submitted a bid for an exclusive negotiating agreement in early January. The port commission vote is scheduled for March 27 and, if it passes, it gives Oakland backers something that not even Wolff can claim with San Jose — total site control of 50 acres of prime waterfront property. When that is complete, OWB and other Oakland ballpark boosters can start the site’s environmental impact report, as well as talks with state agencies about land use issues there.
A’s co-owner Lew Wolff, as usual, alternates between radio silence on the issue to outright denying that Howard Terminal is viable, referencing “studies” that he has done there, but has yet to release publicly. Maybe he’s just selling “Wolff Tickets” because very credible Oakland business leaders — including Clorox CEO Don Knauss, developer Mike Ghielmetti, and former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream CEO T. Gary Rogers — want it to be the next home for the A’s.
And there’s a lot of momentum for other projects on the Oakland waterfront, near Howard Terminal. Last week, a $1.5 billion dollar development broke ground at Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin site, just south of Jack London Square. Also, it has been announced that a major entertainment center — featuring a bowling alley, a beer garden and bocce ball courts — is being planned at the old Barnes & Noble site at Jack London Square. The investors of these developments not only believe in the potential of Oakland but have committed serious dollars behind it. The new housing and entertainment center could serve a ballpark quite well. Imagine having a beer and playing bocce ball prior to an A’s game on a warm Saturday afternoon. Sounds good to us.
The Oakland ballpark train has gained steam and is about to move faster with committed, dedicated corporate leaders with deep pockets. Now, it’s up to Wolff if he wants to join the fun or sell to someone who will.