A ruling made earlier this week could turn out to be game-changing for Oakland and the Athletics in their quest for a new waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal.
In April, three lawsuits by East Oakland Stadium Alliance, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and the Union Pacific Railroad Company were filed against the ballpark project.
But on Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman rejected the challenges to the team’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The opponents of the project challenged a number of things from rail vs. pedestrian issues to overcrowding of the inner harbor, to potential glare from stadium lighting that would interfere with shipping traffic, among other complaints.
But Judge Seligman’s tentative rulings all went in favor of the certified EIR, simply implying that there’s no way to challenge this.
However, there was one issue Seligman came across in the 70+ pages of documents: wind impacts.
It’s not so much that the ballpark would create wind, but more being questioned as to how it would disperse and mitigate wind. Basically, how would they make it so it doesn’t turn into a wind tunnel or affect any other part of Oakland?
Seligman said they cannot determine how the wind will be mitigated by the project because they don’t have the final designs. And, there was no determination of a performance standard, like “what is too windy?” for this project.
So, the EIR “improperly defers mitigation measures for wind impacts” and that’s it. And given everything, that seems pretty manageable, as NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil notes.
The final ruling is yet to come, as this was all preliminary. But while there still is a chance that some things can change, the ruling provides cautious optimism for the A’s and Oakland.
Of course, there also are several other significant hurdles for the ballpark, including a lack of a development agreement yet between the A’s and the city, a binding vote by the city of Oakland, a binding vote by the county of Alameda and several more project approvals by multiple local government entities.
Brazil and NBC Sports California A's analyst Bip Roberts broke it down in baseball terms Wednesday on "A's Pregame Live."
Roberts: “So we were in the American League Division Series, are we now in the Championship Series?”
Brazil: "If we’re equating it to winning a World Series, the A’s were already in the playoffs, they’re already past the Wild Card round, they’re already out of the ALDS, that was the BCDC vote back on June 30, so I would technically say that we’re still in the ALCS, and although the A’s might have already been up one game to none now that the City of Oakland decided a public vote wasn’t going to happen, they might be up two games to none now, potentially three to none."
Overall, while there are more hurdles yet to cross, this was an extremely important step forward for the project.