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A’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ as key Bay Area ballpark vote looms

Updated June 30, 2022 - 7:34 pm

The Oakland Athletics are “cautiously optimistic” heading into Thursday’s key vote by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission on future use of 56 acres that could be the site of a new ballpark for the A’s.

The 27-member commission is set to vote on whether to remove the port priority use designation on the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal. If 18 members agree the site is not essential for the Bay Area’s long-term seaport needs, the A’s proposed $12 billion waterfront development centered around a $1 billion ballpark would be allowed to move forward.

If not enough commissioners agree, the A’s Bay Area ballpark plan would be all but dead.

“We’re hopeful that the commissioners seek the advice of the staff and their report and all the hard work that has gone into that,”Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal on Wednesday. “We’ve made a very clear and compelling case that Howard Terminal is not needed for the seaport plan.”

Kaval said he realizes the outcome is not a certainty.

“You need a supermajority, you need 18 of 27 votes, that’s a high bar,” he said. “We realize it is not an easy vote to get; it was always going to be one of the more challenging ones in the process, and I think we are cautiously optimistic that we can prevail tomorrow.”

In its report, commission staff said there is an adequate amount of port space available around the Bay Area to fulfill future needs. Also, Kaval hopes that environmental aspects that the A’s plan would address, such as future impacts of rising sea levels, plays into commissioners’ decisions.

“Not only the sea level rise, but also access to public open space and 18 acres of public parks, those are big deals,” Kaval said. “I think those things are going to make a big impact as well, in terms of the benefits of the project. All those things together are going to have a material impact in how the commissioners look at it.”

Yes vote isn’t end

While a yes vote would clear a major hurdle for the A’s, there still would be work to make the Howard Terminal project a reality. Key among those is coming to terms with Oakland on a binding development agreement. The two sides have been negotiating their differences over the past year, with issues still lingering.

Next week, the Oakland City Council will discuss the potential of adding a referendum on the A’s ballpark plan to November ballot. The vote would be advisory in nature, serving as public guidance for the council.

“We just want to bring this to a resolution, one way or another,” Kaval said. “Hopefully positively, because we put so much into this, this year, under this administration with (Mayor) Libby Schaaf. We don’t fully control that, we can just advocate for it and hope progress is made over the next week.”

Vegas work continues

A’s brass have been making weekly trips to Las Vegas as the team works toward announcing its preferred site for building a $1 billion ballpark in Southern Nevada.

Sources told the Review-Journal on Monday that MLB would waive a potential relocation fee, figured to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if the team made the move to Las Vegas.

On top of that, Kaval was working on the Southern Nevada side as recently as Tuesday, furthering the progress as the A’s are down to two potential Las Vegas sites.

“The parallel paths march on,” Kaval said. “We are looking forward to the point where we can make a public announcement of our vision for the community. But even in advance of that we’re having a lot of really important meetings and working with landowners and joint-venture partners and doing a lot of work on design.”

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

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