Oakland Athletics management identified Howard Terminal as one of five potential sites for a new ballpark in Oakland. Mayor Libby Schaaf and her predecessor Jean Quan have advocated for the same waterfront site, located just north of Jack London Square. And last week, the Athletics announced it would reveal sometime this year where they intend to build its baseball cathedral. But did the team give a hint of where that new site will be last week, in addition to interest in another Port of Oakland property not previously unidentified as a possible site?
An agenda item for the Jan. 26 Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners meeting included a closed session discussion between the Athletics and Port about Howard Terminal. Furthermore, according to the agenda, the parties were negotiating “price and terms of payment” regarding “Howard Terminal and Berths 20-24.” The item was spotted earlier this week by @EastshoreEmpire and proliferated on Twitter.
According to a Port of Oakland agenda last week,
the A's and Port met in closed session over two
Howard Terminal, however, includes Berths 67-68, not 20-24. Athletics and Port officials may have been discussing two different locations last week. Berths 20-24 is located near the eastern approach to the Bay Bridge, also a potentially scenic backdrop for a new ballpark.
This second property, however, is much larger than the 50-acre Howard Terminal, a plot of land already large enough to fit the proposed ballpark, but also an arena (Reports in 2014 suggested Warriors owner had interest in building the team’s arena on that plot of land, possibly in tandem with a bid to buy the Athletics.) Because of the size of Berths 20-24, one possibility is the team is eyeing the property as possible parking for the potential Howard Terminal ballpark. Newballpark, which has followed the teams various stadium plans over the years, noted some the potential problems with Berths 20-24 as a stadium site, including its distance from public transit.
Because of the nature of closed session, by law, the conversations between the Athletics and the Port can be kept secret. In addition, no reportable actions followed the Jan. 26 meeting and the Port’s next meeting on Feb. 9 contains no mention of a second consecutive close session meeting. The prior closed session meeting could signify the team merely performing early due diligence on a site it has already stated interest for building a stadium. Conversely the property owned by Laney College, also identified by the team as a possible site for a new stadium, has not formally appeared as of yet on an agenda for the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees.
The appearance of team officials participating in some type of negotiation with the Port over Howard Terminal is a tantalizing fact for many of the team’s rabid fan base, most of which already romantically dream about spending their summers watching baseball on the bay. In the meantime, until the A’s show their cards, it's just an exercise in reading tea leaves.