Latest on Howard Terminal ballpark site
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| By chris_d on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 10:51 am:|
Interesting that Uptown isn't even mentioned ...
Article Last Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 3:47:58 AM PST
Bye-bye to A's field of dreams
Prime Howard Terminal spot near Jack London Square to be leased
By Paul T. Rosynsky, STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- Those still harboring dreams of an Oakland A's ballpark on the city's waterfront will have a rude awakening next week when the Port of Oakland approves a 25-year lease with a shipping company to occupy Howard Terminal.
Adjacent to Jack London Square, with picturesque views of both the Oakland Estuary and downtown San Francisco, the 22-year-old terminal was considered a top choice for a new stadium by A's co-owner Ken Hofmann.
A city-sponsored study three years ago had pegged the 48-acre site as a possible location for a new stadium, saying it could help in the redevelopment of Jack London Square and include a convention center and hotel.
But that same study, conducted by renowned sports stadium designers HOK Sport, found the site would be one of the most expensive to build on, mainly because of environmental cleanup costs.
Despite the more than $517 million price tag placed on constructing a ballpark at Howard Terminal, many continued to hope city and port officials and the A's would come up with a way to build their field of dreams.
Speculation increased two years ago when the terminal became vacant and the port struggled to find a new tenant.
But the hope and speculation will be shattered Tuesday when the port commission is expected to approve a 25-year lease with SSA Marine, which will use the terminal for its intended purpose: shipping containers.
"I think it really was not a financially feasible site for a ballpark," said Jerry Bridges, director of the port's maritime division. "We had a need (to fill it) and they had a need to use it. This is a perfect situation for us right now."
Lewis Wolff, vice president of venue development for the A's, said the team was unaware of the port's decision to lease the terminal but was also not surprised.
"I would say that it is interesting news, but we probably felt that there was too many challenges there," Wolff said. "Howard Terminal would be a great-looking place for a ballpark ... but the economics would never work."
Those economics included a high cost for environmental cleanup, site acquisition and parking, the 2001 city-sponsored study found.
Parking garages at a cost of more than $75 million would have to be constructed, $38 million of traffic improvements made and more than $27 million would be needed for environmental cleanup, the study said.
But with SSA Marine Terminals at the site, the port will earn "multi-millions of dollars" and move at least at least 50,000 40-foot-long containers through Howard Terminal's gates, Bridges said.
Generating those funds is more important for a struggling city than keeping land vacant in hopes the A's might build a stadium on the sites, said City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (San Antonio-Fruitvale).
"We cannot stop the train, we cannot stop our continuing efforts to revitalize the city," said De La Fuente, who also serves as chairman for the A's landlord, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. "We cannot just sit there and do nothing with sites the A's might be interested in."
However, De La Fuente said, the city is prepared to talk seriously with the team about a new stadium within Oakland. In fact, Wolff already met with De La Fuente, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, De La Fuente said. But those talks were more of a "meet and greet" rather than serious negotiations, he said.
"We're ready to tango when they are ready to dance," De La Fuente said. "We just haven't gotten any real serious discussions under way."
Officials in San Jose are also warming up for a chance to lure the team.
This week it convened a new Sports Facilities Task Force to investigate what the city needs to do to attract a professional sports franchise.
Although San Jose City Manager Del Borgsdorf said the task force's focus is not on one particular sport, he said, "It doesn't take long before the conversation gets to the A's."
The South Bay has long been considered a potential re-location site for the team. Co-owner and managing partner Steve Schott has deep roots in the area and Wolff is good friends with San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and other top city officials and businessmen.
"The one real ace in the hole for us ... is Lou Wolff," said William Gates, a San Jose attorney who has worked for 12 years trying to lure Major League Baseball to the area and is on the task force. "I think (Schott and Hofmann) are going to either sell the team or they want to move the team somewhere else in the Bay Area."
The city of Fremont is another possible suitor for the team. The City Council there recently voted to ask County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, to schedule a meeting with the team to discuss potential sites in Fremont.
Despite the recent clamoring for the team, Wolff said all talks are preliminary.
"The A's I guess are in play," he said. "But I think people are misreading a little bit. Wherever we can get a new venue we have to consider that, but it's not like there is a panic."
De La Fuente echoed those remarks and said despite the port's move to lease Howard Terminal, other waterfront locations are still available.
The 2001 city-sponsored study also labeled property commonly referred to as Oak Street to Ninth Avenue as a possible site.
That land is in the process of being sold by the port to Signature Properties, which is planning a residential development along the water. But De La Fuente said a deal could be made with the developer to include a ballpark.
The study, however, found any stadium there would cost at least $545 million because of its remote location and need for more than $116 million in parking improvements.
"The A's belong to Oakland," De La Fuente said. "There are still possibilities."
| By jesse on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 05:02 pm:|
Its encouraging that there are so many sites interested!! I just hope they can figure a way to finance this yard wherever it may be without public funding. Not including, redevelopment funds!
Those punks in the South Bay are obsessed with our baseball team. Maybe if we give them the Warriors they'll leave us alone for awhile.
| By eyleenn on Thursday, February 12, 2004 - 10:41 pm:|
I wonder if there's some sort of Jerry Brown-imposed gag order on talking about the uptown site. There sure as hell isn't any Forest City construction going on there.
We could always blow up Mt. Davis and put the coli back the way it used to be!
| By jesse on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 08:13 am:|
We will know a lot more in 2 and 1/2 months! I beleive that the A's want to get something done soon because their window of opportunity is closing. They need to be in a stadium in 2006 or '07. They need to keep their free agents.
"We could always blow up Mt. Davis"
Careful what you say Eyleenn, you don't want John Ashcroft knocking on your door.
Also, I think the best chance of keeping the free agents would be to stay put, build-up fan support, save the profits, win a World Series and avoid the debt that comes with a new ballpark.
| By ronc on Friday, February 13, 2004 - 05:52 pm:|
Maybe if whatshisname doesn't find WMD on Mars we can tell him there are WMD on Mt. Davis so he'll destroy it.
Watching the Grammys the other night listening to George Clinton and Parliament performing "Give up the funk" made me think of Mt.Davis. Keep the club and as for the rest
"Tear the roof off, we're gonna tear the roof off the mother, sucker
Tear the roof off the sucker
Ow, we want the funk
Give up the funk
Ow, we need the funk let us in we'll tear this mother out"
| By ramjet1 on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 02:54 pm:|
Ah, do not attempt to adjust your radio...
| By ronc on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - 08:12 pm:|
... we've taken control to bring you this special show ...
we gotta have that funk