Howard Terminal

MLB commissioner tells Oakland to drop lawsuit or A's could relocate

MLB commissioner tells Oakland to drop lawsuit or A's could relocate

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was in attendance for the A's AL Wild Card Game loss to the Rays at the Coliseum, but he also has made his presence known in Oakland in even bigger ways recently. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's Phil Matier reported Sunday that Manfred told Oakland officials they need to drop their lawsuit of the Coliseum land site to the A's or risk the team relocating to another city. 

“He kind of laid down the law,” City Councilman Larry Reid, who also sits on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, said to the Chronicle. 

The A’s want to develop the 155-acre Coliseum site to help pay for a privately financed ballpark, which they have proposed be built at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square. One warning Manfred made to officials is that the A's could make Las Vegas their future home, just like the Raiders are. 

“The commissioner pointed out that Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A’s as well,” Reid said to the Chronicle. 

The A's moved their Triple-A affiliate to Las Vegas this season and saw great results. The Las Vegas Aviators led all of the minor leagues in attendance (650,934) and average attendance (9,299) in their inaugural season. 

While the $150 million Las Vegas Ballpark seats 10,000 fans, the Aviators recorded 47 sellouts in 2019 and housed a stadium record 12,111 fans on May 14. 

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Oakland already has lost the Warriors to San Francisco this year and will lose the Raiders to Sin City in 2020. Manfred is making it clear he doesn't want to see the same happen to the A's, but the county, the city and the A's brass all have to be on the same page. 

It feels like the three haven't come together in quite some time.

Five takeaways from tour of A's Howard Terminal ballpark location

Five takeaways from tour of A's Howard Terminal ballpark location

Earlier this week, A’s president Dave Kaval offered the opportunity to step foot on a place that has been equally discussed and dreamed about during the last 10 months: Charles P. Howard Terminal.

He gave us an exclusive, personally guided tour of the terminal, which led to five instant reactions after visiting the site for the first time.

The site is 55 acres in total

This sounds large numerically, but instinctually feels small when walking the premises. Your brain instantly tries to render the optical illusion of how a Major League Baseball stadium would fit in this defined space. That is, until you realize Oracle Park in San Francisco sits on less than 13 acres and doesn’t feel cramped.

The cranes

You’ve definitely seen those cranes on renderings, and from a distance. They’re even more imposing and magnificent up close. And they’re destined to be a defining landmark of the new ballpark. Four of them exist: Two will be moved south, the other two northward on existing rails.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually become improved with themed lighting and maybe even … bungee-jumping?

Neighborhood improvements

As much as this ballpark is about Oakland’s baseball team forging a new home, so much of the local neighborhood infrastructure needs repairs and improvements. There are train tracks with improper crossings and main roads crumbling -- this project is sure to address it. The shipping terminal has not been active since 2014, and presently serves as a desolate parking lot.

The other geographical realization after visiting Howard Terminal is how close and seamless it would be to Jack London Square and all its amenities.

Weather conditions

We know the Bay Area is famous for microclimates, but outside of small variances in wind velocity, weather conditions between the Coliseum and Howard Terminal should be comparable if not identical on a given day or night. Due to sun angles, the baseball diamond will face east, which means the stadium structure will shelter fans and the playing surface from typical onshore breezes out of the west.

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Views for days

In New York’s baseball heyday, Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds were separated by less than 5,000 feet across the Harlem river. Nothing might ever replicate that. However, the Howard Terminal ballpark will only be 5.91 miles in a direct line from Oracle Park. In fact, that venue, plus the San Francisco skyline, the Oakland skyline and the East Bay hills are all visible from the project site.

This suggests elevated views and vistas could be extraordinary from the higher vantages at Howard Terminal.

A's possible future waterfront park aims to maintain Oakland's culture

A's possible future waterfront park aims to maintain Oakland's culture

OAKLAND -- Before we piled into the van in front of the A's offices at Jack London Square, team president Dave Kaval led the small group of local reporters into his own office.

When you pass the two corner chairs decorated with emoji throw pillows, you can see where the franchise's future home could be: A picturesque waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal.

As we made the very short drive to a massive parking lot filled with trucks, shipping containers and cranes dirtied with time, you get a feel of the Oakland that Kaval doesn't want to erase. Over the bumps, Kaval joked with us "this would, of course, be paved," for an easier drive. But the culture didn't hide from what he, and many others, hope will be built.

Kaval pointed to the maps that the A's provided of the 55-acre lot between the square and Schnitzer Steel, as his ever-present enthusiasm peaked through his reflective sunglasses. A place that, despite the transportation worries, the A's know will be more accessible than they realize.

For starters, the ferry would add more stops on its route. It glided by us as we stepped on the water's edge. There also will be three BART stops near the location. 

It's also 2019, so technology will have people able to escape the on-foot travel and put it toward scooters. Kaval also mentioned that, in the future, there could be specific lanes designated for such means of mobility.

I asked Kaval if there were any surprises or bumps in the road that he came across during the entire process that still has a ways to go. Getting to the ballpark was something that stood out.

"There's been a lot on the transportation," Kaval told reporters. "One thing I really appreciate is the City of Oakland has been very thoughtful about the impact of this facility, on the transportation grid, on the downtown plan, on the residents that are here, and I think they're holding us and everyone involved in this project to a high standard.

"But I think that would be good because I think in the end, it'll create a better project where you can get in and out better, where the types of infrastructure are actually developed in the appropriate way."

Kaval said that sometimes when these types of projects are put together, they think it's complete, only to come to the realization something was missed.

"We want to have it easy to get in and out of the ballpark because that's good for our fans," he added.

[RELATED: Photos of plans for A's Howard Terminal ballpark, Coliseum site project]

And he's thinking about the players, too, of course. So much so that there's a plan in place for a committee to add input to the project. Possibly former and current players. Dallas Braden and Dave Stewart's names were casually mentioned.

"Everything from the areas where they are, like the locker room, but also how people are experiencing baseball and how close are fans, all these types of aspects that may have not been considered in the past," Kaval said. "I think relying on our players who are at every game, leaning on their expertise, is very important."

So, we have a better visual as to where this area is, and how the A's view it. We even stood at the possible place for the ballpark entrance, and it has the hope of being a beautiful view.

But will A's fans get the real thing? Not the "what could be's" and illustrations.

So far, it's looking pretty good, but the next steps are crucial ones. 

The California Environmental Quality Act is one of the next items on the agenda. Come March/April, the city council has to vote and see if the impact report is one that would work, and that's after stakeholders offer input. It's possible a litigation period will be involved, but if that's the case, following that, the A's could break ground.

"We are hoping the end of 2020," Kaval said. 

Still, he's made it aware that anything is possible throughout the rest of the process.

Kaval tackled everything you could think of during the tour, from fans in sun exposure in the bleachers to how the ball itself could play on the field, and he even said he's open to changes once the stadium is done.

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But one thing Kaval will not change is the essence that is Oakland. So the cranes might stay. They would receive a bit of a facelift, of course, but get used to them.

"Anyone watching on TV would know, 'Hey, we're in Oakland,' and that's a really cool thing."