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Oakland hits minor roadblock in quest to keep A’s

Updated January 25, 2023 - 3:48 pm

Oakland’s quest to keep the Athletics in the Bay Area hit a minor roadblock last week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recommended the denial of a nearly $183 million application by the city through the agency’s Mega Grant Program, according to a document posted online.

Projects are chosen for the grant awards based on their potential to create national or regional economic, mobility or safety benefits, according to the USDOT’s website.

Money from the grant in Oakland would have been used in part to upgrade offsite infrastructure in the area where the proposed A’s Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark project would be constructed. The city is responsible for any offsite infrastructure improvements tied to the project.

The A’s, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and the Oakland City council did not respond to requests for comment on the loss of the grant.

The $12 billion mixed-use development planned for 56 acres of land near the Jack London Square area of Oakland would include a 35,000 capacity ballpark, housing, retail and commercial space, public space and an event space.

In a note released by Oakland assistant city administrator’s office in September 2022, the Mega Grant was described to be used to “offset the significantly increased offsite infrastructure costs estimated by city staff since August 2021.”

Last year the city outlined various funding mechanisms they were in the process of trying to obtain tied to infrastructure improvements needed to make a ballpark work in the area.

The Mega Grant application was part of hundreds of million in funding the city noted would be needed for the offsite infrastructure work.

Late last year the city noted they had secured or were in the process of securing over $321 million in funding toward those costs.

Aside from the USDOT’s recommendation for denial, it’s been mostly quiet on the Oakland front as it pertains to the Howard Terminal project.

The A’s have been tight-lipped since last summer and the city missed a key deadline last fall to ensure a deal would be struck by the end of last year, before then Mayor Libby Schaaf’s term was up.

As May approaches the ballpark saga is nearing the two-year mark that Major League Baseball gave the A’s the green light to explore relocation.

The Las Vegas Valley has been the only location the team has identified as a possible new home.

Once noted by A’s President Dave Kaval to have more 20 potential Southern Nevada ballpark locations, the team’s search has apparently narrowed to one.

A source indicated to the Review-Journal last year that the A’s were down to two sites, the Phil Ruffin-owned Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the north Strip and the Tropicana hotel site on Las Vegas Boulevard south.

Earlier this month Ruffin’s assistant told the Review-Journal that there had been no recent talks between the A’s and the casino magnate.

Meanwhile, Bally’s Corporation President George Papanier, who oversees the company’s land-based casino operations, confirmed to the Review-Journal talks between them and the A’s remain active. Bally’s oversees the operation of the Tropicana.

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

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