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Oakland A’s reveal fresh plans for Howard Terminal ballpark

Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise Oakland Athletics has taken what it claims is another “important step forward” in efforts to develop a new ballpark as plans were revealed for a third major redesign of the project.

The plans were revealed as the City of Oakland on Friday released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) showing the path forward for the A’s privately financed 34,000-seat ballpark project at Howard Terminal. The Draft EIR aims to illustrate how current and future Port activity and a new neighbourhood can not only coexist, but also thrive.

The A’s currently play at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, a stadium it used to share when the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders played in Oakland. However, it has long been seeking a new stadium and in November 2018 declared Howard Terminal as the site for its proposed new home.

The A’s have since been met with multiple challenges to advance their plans, with the Draft EIR representing the latest iteration of its vision. The Draft EIR outlines how the project intends to open up the waterfront to the local community.

This will come through creating public waterfront access and more than 18 acres of new waterfront parks and open space areas. The SFGate website notes that the stadium will now drop to ground level in right field instead of centre field. The redesign will also allow grant people on the waterfront promenade the ability to look into the stadium and view the action on A’s game days.

The latest generation of the design retains an eye-catching rooftop park that will be continuous around the structure. Under what the A’s claim is a forward-looking transportation plan, transit will be prioritised, reducing car trips by 20%, expanding public transportation options, and investing in bike safety and infrastructure, pedestrian walkways and bridges. A gondola transporting people to the stadium is part of the plans.

The Draft EIR includes measures aimed at improving air quality in surrounding communities, achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and providing numerous other long-term health benefits for residents. It proposes the development of 3,000 homes, including affordable housing.

“The release of the Draft EIR is another important step forward in the process of building a new privately financed ballpark at Oakland’s Howard Terminal,” Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval said in a statement.

“The Athletics are the last professional sports team in Oakland. We employ thousands of Oakland and Alameda County residents, and local businesses, the City, and County derive significant economic benefits and revenue from our games.

“While the release of the Draft EIR is a great milestone, it is imperative that the City Council take a vote on the project this year. We look to the City for their support and partnership to keep the A’s in Oakland for generations to come.”

Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf, added: “I’m excited about keeping our A’s rooted in Oakland. The Howard Terminal ballpark requires the highest environmental standards while giving us an opportunity to expand our entertainment district near Jack London Square, increase housing, provide good jobs, and keep our beloved waterfront working.”

Members of the public will have until April 12 to submit their comments on the Draft EIR. The A’s then hope to strike an agreement with the City Council and Port of Oakland later this year ahead of a possible opening of the new ballpark in 2024.

Images: Oakland A’s