Oakland Athletics To Build Ballpark At Howard Terminal
A good friend of mine with a financial interest in Howard Terminal at The Port of Oakland told me this evening that “word is the Oakland A’s are going to sign with Majestic Realty to build a stadium at Howard Terminal. Now, I don’t now how they’re going to get around the problems down there, but that’s the word on the street.” I have no reason to doubt my friend’s out-of-the-blue information during our informal hangout, given his backround. Moreover, it’s the logical conclusion of a process that started back in the year 2000.
It was then that Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown (now California Governor) was involved in considering a new home for the Oakland Athletics. Then-Oakland City Manager turned City Administrator Robert Bobb and then-Oakland City Attorney John Russo favored and pushed for a downtown Oakland venue on land now occupied by apartments in the Uptown District of Oakland. Brown wanted the housing and (for some strange reason) vehemently opposed the ballpark at Uptown – so much so that he fired Robert Bobb over the issue in 2002.
But what came out of that was a study released in 2001 that compared six different sites as possible locations for the A’s – the Uptown site scored best and Howard Terminal was next to the worst and only because of the then $150 million environmental cleanup cost.
Brown finished his second term as Mayor and gave way to the legendary former Congressman Ron Dellums in 2006. By 2009, Dellums created several task force groups that considered the future of sports and entertainment in Oakland – I was on one, and Oakland lawyer Doug Boxer was on another. That one recommended Howard Terminal and Dellums wrote a letter to then Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig that the area next to Jack London Square would be the A’s next home.
Dellums didn’t run for re-election in 2010 and Oakland School Board Member Jean Quan emerged as the new Mayor. Under Quan Howard Terminal was still in the eye of consideration by Oakland developers and business people, but not by Oakland A’s Owner Lew Wolff. Wolff now famously tried to move the A’s to either San Jose or Fremont. Both efforts stalled due to issues of territorial rights and financing – finally MLB made the call, basically instructing the A’s to stay in Oakland. By 2014, the Port of Oakland granted an exclusive negotiating agreement with a group of CEOs called OWB which worked on trying to convince the A’s to build a new stadium at Howard Terminal. But OWB gave up in November of that year, saying that the A’s were not interested in it, or in staying in Oakland.
Last Summer of 2015, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stated that she wanted the A’s at Howard Terminal and flew to New York to meet with new MLB Commissioner Bob Mansfield. Later in the year, the A’s stated they were going to find a site on their own – in January, Oakland A’s Majority Owner John Fisher stated his personal interest in Howard Terminal. That led us to where we are today, with the A’s about to enter an agreement with Majestic Realty and the Port of Oakland to build a new stadium at Howard Terminal.
I left a lot of details out in this brief history, and, as my friend said, this is not entirely 100 percent a done deal. Indeed, it will not be until papers are signed and filed and public hearings are scheduled.
The Raiders Should Rejoice
All of this should make the Oakland Raiders and Raiders fans very happy. How Coliseum land was going to fit the needs of both teams was a bone of contention.