Oakland A score wins as ballpark plan gets preliminary green light from key state agency

The Oakland A’s scored a victory in their quest for a new ballpark on Monday as staff from a key state agency recommended that Howard Terminal be approved for the team’s proposed waterfront project at $12 billion.

Staff of the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission recommended monday that the commission approve the A’s request to remove the 56 acres of the Howard Terminal from the designation of the port where the team hopes to build a new waterfront baseball stadium – a step towards opening up the parcel Development.

BCDC staff said in a report that they determined that removing the Howard Terminal from operating port functions “would not adversely affect the region’s ability to meet projected cargo growth.”

In March, a committee of the waterfront development watchdog agency voted against removing the Howard Terminal from port functions. It was a major setback for the team that referred the issue to the full committee, which is due to hold a public hearing on the issue on June 2 before voting on June 30.

To move forward with the stadium project, the A’s need a two-thirds vote from the committee. Without it, the project could die. The A’s said that if they are unable to build a baseball stadium at Howard Terminal, they may move to Las Vegas, where they explored potential stadium sites.

A’s chairman Dave Kaval said on Monday that BCDC staff’s recommendation was a big step forward for the stadium project.

“I think we had a momentum that took us away from us with that advisory vote on the seaport (in March). And those kind of stops that in its tracks and turns it around and gives us the momentum,” he said. “It’s almost like maybe we had a five-point deficit and now we have a five-point lead. He overturns it completely. … We were off track and now we are on the right track.

The A’s want to build a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, 3,000 housing units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a live performance venue, and more. capacity of 3,500 places, up to 400 hotel rooms and 8,900 parking spaces on the property. If the project gets final approvals — which the A’s are asking for this year — it would be one of the biggest developments in state history.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf applauded the BCDC’s recommendation.

“Today’s report is great news for Oakland and our region,” she said in a statement. “I appreciate the BCDC staff’s due diligence and preliminary recommendation to move this project forward and open the Oakland waterfront to the public.

“I wholeheartedly agree: the best use of an idle Howard Terminal is to convert it into a thriving waterfront baseball stadium neighborhood, with 18 acres of new public parks, 3,000 desperately needed and thousands of good union jobs for generations to come.”

The Port of Oakland backed plans for the waterfront baseball stadium of the A. Danny Wan, the Port of Oakland’s executive director, said at the BCDC’s last meeting in April that the port and other Bay Area ports will be able to handle the projected growth in cargo and that through therefore, the Howard Terminal is not required for port uses.

Mike Jacob, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and a spokesman for port workers who filed one of the lawsuits against the city’s environmental review of the project, said he was disappointed with the staff’s recommendation.

Jacob has spoken at previous BCDC meetings urging the commission to maintain the Howard Terminal for port uses. He said he was still going through the report and trying to figure out why BCDC staff made the preliminary recommendation.

“We need to go through all the data, we need to see what people are actually claiming and what backs it up and what doesn’t,” Jacob said.

The BCDC vote in June is the next hurdle the A’s must clear to get closer to a new stadium. The As and the City are still negotiating the development agreement, which sets out the terms of the development project. The team and city leaders are still negotiating the terms of project infrastructure funding and community benefits.

The city council will have to vote on the development agreement to move the project forward. A vote has not yet been scheduled as the A’s and the city continue negotiations.

The A’s plan also builds on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ agreement to join the city in creating an infrastructure funding district at the Howard Terminal site. The county hired a finance company to analyze the project. A vote has not yet been scheduled.

The city has agreed to fund approximately $352 million for offsite infrastructure and is currently vying for state and federal grants.

Additionally, three separate lawsuits were filed against the city and the A’s after council voted to certify the project’s environmental review. Although the lawsuits were expected, both the As and the city must argue in court that the environmental analysis of the project’s impacts is sufficient.

Chronicle writer Matthew Kawahara contributed to this report.

Sarah Ravani (her) and Michael Cabanatuan are writers for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected], [email protected] Twitter: @SarRavani@ctuan