Updated: Jul 20
Amidst a season averaging a league-low 8,283 fans at home games, the Oakland A’s are trying to secure a new stadium at Howard Terminal on the waterfront. Currently, industries that work on the waterfront have filed multiple lawsuits to halt the project. Soon, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission will vote on whether to re-designate Howard Terminal to allow the stadium project to move forward.
In February, the Oakland City Council voted to certify the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the stadium project at Howard Terminal. After issuing the “Notice of Determination,” affected parties had 30 days to challenge the adequacy of the EIR.
In April, before the expiration of the 30-day deadline, multiple shipping groups and the Union Pacific Corp., representing the railroad industry, filed lawsuits challenging the EIR.
The shipping groups allege that the EIR did not address how development will impact port operations and that the project will lead to “massive displacement and gentrification.”
The groups’ displacement concerns are not unfounded, as a 2020 study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition revealed that The Bay Area is the most gentrified region in the United States. In response, Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval has reiterated that the team will set aside $50 million for anti-displacement measures.
On the other hand, Union Pacific Corp. alleges that the stadium project will lead to severe congestion due to the city’s failure to adequately consider certain traffic patterns, including adding an underpass or an overpass built over the railroad tracks to eliminate crossing the tracks. It is unclear how effective the railroad’s argument will be since the city council ultimately considered an overpass but chose alternate measures.
Notably, the proposed stadium site is no longer used to load and unload container ships. In fact, Mayor Libby Schaaf previously stated that “[t]ime has shown [Howard Terminal] is not needed nor ideal for shipping activities.” Thus, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is considering whether to remove Howard Terminal’s current designation as a priority port.
In May, the commission recommended removing the designation, which, if fully approved, is a key approval needed to move forward with the stadium project. On June 2, the commission held a public hearing, which highlighted the divide amongst residents of the city, including local workers urging the city to maintain Howard Terminal for maritime use.
On June 30, the 18-member commission will issue a decision on removing Howard Terminal’s designation. Removing the designation requires two-thirds approval.
Future in Oakland
The Oakland A’s lease agreement with their current stadium runs through 2024. Thus, the team will continue in its current stadium for a little while longer. Unless and until the Oakland A’s are fully-approved to build the stadium at Howard Terminal, the A’s are also keeping their future options open by looking at land in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For now, the A’s hope to remain in Oakland, but whether they will rests on the commission’s decision and favorable outcomes in the lawsuits.