The deal to build a new waterfront baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s moved forward Friday with the Port of Oakland’s release of a key financial document intended guide negotiations over a potential lease of port property for the project.
Commissioners for the Port of Oakland are scheduled to vote May 13 on the document, called a term sheet that provides a “framework” for financial negotiations over the lease by the A’s of the Howard Terminal site for the construction of a new 35,000-seat stadium.
The term sheet was posted on the port’s website Friday and details a possible minimum guaranteed lease of $3.8 million annually for the first 20 years for the 50-acre site.
Port of Oakland spokesman Mike Zampa said:
“The big picture is that no decision has been made. This is non-binding. … There are several years of work to do I would think … before this comes to a final vote, if at all, at the Port of Oakland.”
The term sheet provides for a four-year process, during which the A’s will complete the necessary environmental studies, identify environmental and traffic mitigations and work though Oakland’s land-use and permit processes to win city approval of the project, which includes the ballpark as well as housing and retail components.
Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval said:
“It’s a great day. … It’s another key milestone and we’re going to keep pushing forward to get the necessary approvals to open the ballpark by 2023.”
The financial framework is the result of a year-long negotiation between the A’s and the port and it includes a provision to allow the port to expand or reconfigure the Harbor Turning Basin, where massive container ships are turned around by tugboats during docking and undocking operations. The basin is positioned in the Oakland Estuary next to the proposed ballpark, which, according to critics, could interfere with normal port operations, including those within the Turning Basin.
The term sheet, however, contains a provision that would allow the port to modify or expand the basin if that becomes necessary in order to accommodate even larger ships.
“That’s a new development. … We got a lot of feedback from the maritime community… We value their input and it informs the plan as you see it.”
Kaval said the privately-funded ballpark project will:
“… preserve and enhance the maritime capability of the Port of Oakland. That’s really important.”
The port will “insist on project designs compatible with seaport operations as well as uses in the West Oakland and Jack London Square neighborhoods,” port officials said in a news release Friday. Still, International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Melvin MacKay said the ballpark is a bad fit for the proposed location and urged port commissioners to reject the term sheet:
“The union families I represent depend on a working waterfront unharmed by this impractical and unnecessary development plan at Howard Terminal. … The term sheet released today only reinforces my firm belief that port operations should remain the primary economic activity on the waterfront and that they provide the strongest value for our workers and the port itself.”
Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, said it appears that the A’s will pay less for their lease than the port’s marine terminal operators and that the project:
“… will undoubtedly harm the port’s long-term competitiveness.”
Currently, the A’s are in the midst the environmental studies required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and could be finished by this December or January 2020, Kaval said.
The project also requires a change in the city’s general plan, additional city permits and a long list of approvals from state and regional agencies.
After the project moves past the city’s land use process, the port will have final say on how and whether the ballpark is built. The A’s will also work with the city and the port to identify the community benefits required of the project, including affordable housing, the hiring of local and unionized workers and the development of open-space components of the project, among other things.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did not immediately respond to a request for comment.