The Oakland A’s have announced a commitment to building their new ballpark in Las Vegas, ending the long negotiations to create a new stadium site along the Oakland Estuary at the Howard St. Terminal near Jack London Square. While this is a huge disappointment for local Oakland A’s fans and the City of Oakland, it keeps critical land adjacent to the deep-water waterfront available for the maritime trades.
The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce was not happy, nor was Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who was quoted in the San Francisco Business Times, saying, “I want to be very clear: This announcement happened mid-negotiation, and it shows they have no interest in making a deal with Oakland at all. Oakland is not interested in being used as leverage in an A’s negotiation with Las Vegas.”
Barbara Leslie, president of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, issued this statement: “For over five decades, the Oakland A’s have been an important local employer and are woven into the cultural fabric of The Town. We hope circumstances work out for the team to remain rooted in Oakland. However, we are a strong and resilient community and will move forward as One Oakland.”
The entire Bay Area waterfront remains under pressure from real estate development, often more suited to inland uses and needlessly reducing space available for the maritime trades and public access to the Bay. Many planning commissions and developers consider public access to be walking or bike paths or decks with views of the Bay, while most boaters know public access comprises launch ramps, docks, marine repair facilities and other infrastructure that actually allows people to get into and out of, or onto and off the water. We want to preserve the working waterfront and would rather see ramps that expand access, rather than seawalls that reduce access.
Unless there’s an unforeseen change, the future of Howard St. Terminal now goes back to the drawing board.