Port Businesses Dispute Proposal for A’s Stadium on Oakland Waterfront

Apr 5, 2014

Posted in BusinessEconomic DevelopmentEnvironmentPolitics

Manica Aritecture’s rendering of proposed A’s Oakland waterfront stadium.

By Ken EpsteinA plan to build a new A’s stadium on the downtown Oakland waterfront just west of Jack London Square is drawing opposition from major port-related companies that fear a stadium could undermine industrial and transportation operations at the nation’s fifth-largest container port.

The letter was signed by representatives of Schnitzer Steel, Union Pacific Railroad and the California Trucking Association, who say they speak for “a diverse array of companies that have collectively invested millions of dollars into the industrial and transportation infrastructure of the Oakland waterfront.”

Their letter, addressed to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, requests a meeting with the mayor, who is on record as an enthusiastic backer of the Howard Terminal move.

The 38,000-seat, 14-acre stadium would be built on the 50-acre industrial site at a cost of about $500 million. The proposal already faces significant environmental and regulatory hurdles.

The writers of the Feb. 25 letter point out that companies currently located near the terminal include a electrical substation, a metal recycling and exporting terminal, a power plant, two separate major trunk pipelines, a mainline portion of the country’s largest Class I railroad, as well as Amtrak and Capitol Corridor passenger trains.

These heavy industrial uses require industrial zoning and are not compatible with the “new walkable and stadium-supporting community and businesses” proposed for the terminal site, the letter says.

“What consideration has been given to the energy infrastructure surrounding the Howard Terminal location?” The letter writers ask.

In addition, the letter says, “Short-sighted designs and plans (can) create chronically unsafe interactions between incompatible modes of transportation and conflicting uses, which unfortunately result in thousands of accidents each year.”

“Are the city or stadium proponents actually considering relocating any uses from their locations near or adjacent to this proposed stadium site?” Asks the letter, which questions who would pay for these companies to move.

Before the mayor and proponents make any decisions, the letter asked them to address “the very serious questions included in this letter.”

“We respectfully request you provide us with preliminary answers to our questions,” they wrote.

Backed by Mayor Quan, the Howard Terminal proposal is supported by the Save the A’s group — spearheaded by Clorox chairman Don Knauss, T. Gary Rogers of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream and local developers Doug Boxer and Mike Ghielmetti.

The group has hired Manica Architecture to promote their vision. “The site is perfectly situated along the waterfront near downtown Oakland,” Manica told SI.com.

“The design concept seeks to capture the unique history of the site by maintaining the port cranes as an integrated part of the iconic design.”

However, A’s owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff remain skeptical of the proposal. Wolff – a longtime backer of moving his team to San Jose – told the SF. Chronicle, “It would be easier to build on Treasure Island.”

“All I care about is getting a new home for the A’s in the best possible circumstances – and under any circumstances, Howard Terminal would be as close to impossible as anything,” he said.

The Post did not receive a reply when it requested Mayor Quan’s reaction to the concerns raised by the port businesses.