A’s Oakland ballpark efforts receive potential boost

Bay Area voters could decide the fate of the $12 billion Howard terminal project planned by the ...

The Oakland Athletics’ efforts to get a new ballpark in the Bay Area received an informal boost as a key group recommended approval of a regulatory change needed to keep the ball rolling in Northern California.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) staff preliminarily recommended Monday that the port priority use designation on the 56-acre Howard Terminal site be removed. That’s the site where the A’s are looking to construct a $12 billion development, centered around a $1 billion waterfront ballpark, and the designation’s removal is needed to allow a mixed-use project on the site.

The recommendation paves the way for a potential June 30 vote by the commission that could formally remove the designation and allow the A’s efforts in the Bay Area to continue moving forward. Without the removal of the port use designation, the ballpark project would be all but dead in the water, clearing the way for the A’s to focus on finding a home ballpark in Las Vegas.

While pursuing a waterfront ballpark in Oakland, the A’s brass also have been scoping out potential ballpark sites in Las Vegas as part of a “parallel path” for finding a new home in either city.

If the commission votes in their favor next month, the A’s would still need other key votes to go their way, including a vote on a development agreement with the city of Oakland. The Oakland City Council approved its version of the agreement last July, though the A’s disagree with aspects of it. The two sides have been negotiating their differences ever since, with key issues regarding community benefits, infrastructure elements and affordable housing remaining.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement following the news of the BCDC’s staff recommendation, citing optimism for the long-talked about project.

“Today is great news for Oakland and our region,” Schaaf said in a statement. “I appreciate the BCDC staff’s due diligence and their preliminary recommendation to move this project forward and open Oakland’s waterfront to the public… The best use of a dormant Howard Terminal is to convert it into a thriving waterfront ballpark neighborhood, with 18 acres of new public parks, 3,000 desperately needed housing units and thousands of good union jobs for generations to come.”

The preliminary recommendation also had A’s President Dave Kaval excited about the prospects of the Howard Terminal site.

“Massive deal,” Kaval wrote in a tweet regarding the recommendation.

Massive deal. Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) staff recommends allowing @Athletics waterfront ballpark to move forward. https://t.co/Qn0mb4MAy6 pic.twitter.com/FsR6rsDfzK

— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) May 2, 2022

Last month Kaval expressed concern to the Review-Journal about the potential BCDC decision, as well as the lack of action from the Oakland City Council. That lack of city council action still lingers heading into the summer.

“We’re growing increasingly concerned that that has not happened,” Kaval said last week. “We’re not really sure why, but that’s another reason why we have a parallel path.”

Las Vegas sites

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, two sites have emerged as frontrunners for a potential A’s ballpark from a list of five finalists.

Kaval has yet to release where those sites are located, but the Tropicana appears to be among the contenders.

Last week, a Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. executive said during an earnings call that the group met with A’s officials on their most recent visit to Las Vegas regarding building a ballpark where the Tropicana sits.

Peter Carlino, president and CEO of Gaming & Leisure Properties, which owns the real estate the Tropicana sits on, said the A’s are looking at the site.

“I think it’s safe for me to say that they have a very, very strong interest in our site if the transaction can work to their advantage,” Carlino said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.