Oakland A’s stadium plan takes ‘giant leap forward’ with EIR certification

The $6B project includes 35K-seat ballpark, 3,000 homes, 1.5M sf of offices, 400-room hotel, 18 acres of public parks

Dave Kaval and the Oakland A’s stadium project (Getty, Oakland A’s)
Dave Kaval and the Oakland A’s stadium project (Getty, Oakland A’s)

A $6 billion ballpark project at Oakland’s Howard Terminal hit what its mayor called “more than a milestone” after city officials certified its environmental impact report, laying the groundwork for further negotiations tied to the 55-acre development.

The Oakland City Council voted 6-2 on Thursday to certify the almost 4,000-page report, signaling that the waterfront project near Jack London Square passed environmental muster, according to the Mercury News. The development consists of a privately financed, 35,000-seat ballpark, 3,000 market-rate and affordable homes, 1.5 million square feet of offices, room for shops and restaurants, a 400-room hotel, a performance center and 18 acres of public parks.

“Tonight’s action is more than a milestone — it’s a giant leap forward in our shared mission to create a regional destination that gives back our waterfront to the public, connects a new vibrant neighborhood to our downtown, and provides tens of thousands of good union jobs for our residents,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote in a statement after the vote. “And it does it all while keeping our beloved A’s rooted in Oakland.”

A’s President Dave Kaval wrote in a tweet after the vote that it represented a “big step closer” to a new ballpark at Howard Terminal.

The MLB team has played its home games in the East Bay city for more than 50 years, but it’s seriously considering moving to Las Vegas. It made an offer last year for an unidentified plot of land in southern Nevada to possibly build a $1 billion ballpark, Kaval said at the time. It’s repeatedly threatened to move out of Oakland if its ballpark plans there don’t come to fruition quickly enough, the Mercury News said.

MLB endorsed the A’s departure from Oakland in May, saying that the team playing home games at the 1960s-era Coliseum after its lease expires in 2024 was “not an option.”

Many of those who spoke during the five hours of public comments leading up to the Thursday vote questioned whether the report would adequately address issues such as traffic and displacement, the Mercury News said. While city consultants will conduct additional traffic management studies, Councilmember Carroll Fife, whose district includes the project site, still voted against certifying the report. She said she’s “really concerned about how fast this is moving” and that residents in West Oakland, Chinatown and other neighborhoods surrounding the project aren’t having their voices heard.

The report will now be analyzed by local and state agencies, including the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the Mercury News said. Oakland and the A’s, meantime, still must come to an agreement on who will foot the bill for the project’s infrastructure, affordable housing and community benefits. That could involve several more months of negotiations before a deal comes to the City Council for approval.

As a side note, the community benefits component must receive the governing body’s OK before or at the same time as any development agreement, according to a resolution approved by the City Council on Thursday.

[The Mercury News] — Matthew Niksa

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