Oakland port sets date for ballpark vote

Oakland port sets date for ballpark vote

The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners on May 13 will vote on the Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet that lists specific requirements that must be met if a stadium is to be built at Howard Terminal. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

The Port of Oakland commissioners Friday scheduled a May 13 vote on a proposal that will give the Oakland Athletics professional baseball organization four years to secure environmental and land use approvals for construction of a proposed 35,000-seat stadium at the Howard Terminal.

The commissioners’ action does not commit the Port of Oakland to the project. The freight logistics community has expressed reservations about locating a ballpark so close to container-handling operations. No binding agreements between the port and the Oakland A’s would be reached until the organization secures regulatory and land-use approvals from the city and various state and regional authorities.

Port stakeholders individually and through organizations such as the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Harbor Trucking Association are concerned that the additional vehicle traffic on game days will interfere with thousands of trucks hauling containers and bulk products to and from the port. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, terminal operators, shipping lines, truckers, railroads, and logistics companies are also concerned that stadium traffic will upend the recently announced port traffic mitigation plan designed to address current traffic conditions.

The seven-member Board of Port Commissioners on May 13 will take action on the Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet that lists specific requirements that must be met if a stadium is to be built at Howard Terminal. Although the 50-acre facility has not been used for ship-to-shore operations since 2013, it contributes to port fluidity as a depot for truck and container staging operations, as well as the training of longshoremen and other logistics operations.

In addition to the baseball stadium, the plan calls for commercial developments and housing, which port stakeholders say will also contribute to traffic congestion as Oakland continues to grow its cargo operations. The port last year handled 2.5 million laden and empty TEU, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2017, according to port statistics, the second-fastest growth rate on the West Coast.

Requirements under the Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet — an important step in the stadium negotiations that have been under way for a year — include the completion of an environmental impact report (EIR) that studies the impacts of a ballpark and mixed-use development in the port area. The port authority will retain the right to reject or modify the project based on the findings in the EIR.

The term sheet also lists preliminary principles for further negotiations on the lease or sale of about 50 acres of port property at Howard Terminal. In addition to a 66-year lease for the ballpark, the terms include a requirement to secure regulatory approvals and a community benefits plan, as well as a requirement to assure compatibility between the project and future port operations.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bill.mongelluzzo@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @billmongelluzzo.