Bay Watch: A's get major boost to stay in Oakland

Decision does not end Las Vegas’ hopes of becoming home to the A's, but it does boost Oakland’s chances of keeping the franchiseOakland A's

A state agency voted Thursday “in favor” of the A’s request to remove Howard Terminal’s 56 acres from port designation -- “dealing a major win” to the team’s $12B waterfront ballpark project and surrounding development, according to a front-page piece by Sarah Ravani of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The S.F. Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted that Howard Terminal “isn’t needed for port use.” The 23-2 vote “doesn’t approve the project, but it allows it to move forward.” A’s President Dave Kaval said that “this is closer than the A’s have ever been to ‘building a new privately financed ballpark in Oakland.’” The A’s have proposed building a $1B, privately financed 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal, “with 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, up to 270,000 square feet for retail, an indoor 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms and up to 18 acres of publicly accessible open space.” Kaval said that the A’s on Thursday “have requested a final vote by the Oakland City Council for late September or early October," but "haven’t heard back yet.” The BCDC approval Thursday gives the A’s and the city until ‘25 “to enter into a binding agreement.” If that does not happen, Howard Terminal “will automatically revert back to a port priority use designation” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/30). In Las Vegas, Mick Akers writes this “decision doesn’t end Las Vegas’ hopes" of becoming home to the A's, but it does "boost Oakland’s chances of keeping the franchise” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/1).

RELOCATION PENDING? In San Jose, Dieter Kurtenbach writes the "threat of Oakland’s last major professional sports team relocating remains high,” but Thursday’s vote “was a significant checkpoint in a process” that began in ‘18. This building process “will not suddenly become easy for the A’s in the weeks, months or years to come.” There will be “lawsuits, other state committees and issues with local governments.” Kurtenbach writes the A’s “will even have to go back to the BCDC for building permits, too.”  But there is now “some serious momentum behind the A’s effort and a good number of key steps remaining will be made alongside advocates with the city of Oakland and Alameda County.” Kurtenbach: "The A’s don’t really want to leave. They will if they cannot build at Howard Terminal, but leaving is not Plan A” (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 7/1).

PARALLEL PATHS: In Las Vegas, Casey Harrison writes progress in the Bay Area aside, Kaval said that the A’s remain on what he has called a “parallel path” in negotiating for a new ballpark in both Oakland and in Las Vegas. Kaval said Thursday that he and other team officials have been "meeting weekly with landowners and design teams in Southern Nevada with the hope to release renderings of a Las Vegas ballpark sometime this summer.” A timetable for when those renderings “may be released wasn’t given,” with Kaval citing the “feasibility and logistics of certain sites not yet cemented.” Wherever the team ultimately lands, Kaval said, the goal “is to solidify that plan by the end of this year.” When asked about his parallel paths plan, Kaval said, “Both things are still happening, and none of that has changed.” Kaval: “But I think it just shows that things are culminating for this year" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/1).

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