The Fate of the Oakland A’s Continues to Hang in the Balance

Over the past 10-15 years, the Oakland Athletics' attempts to build a new stadium have been stymied by incompetent ownership, local officials and rival teams. They are now down to their final strike with the Oakland waterfront project (Howard Terminal) that represents the franchise's last hope of remaining in the city they have called home for more than 50 years.

Howard Terminal Ballpark Design: Credit @mickakers twitter

Their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, is dilapidated and riddled with leaking sewage and possums due to decades of deferred maintenance. From the arena's opening in 1966 until 1995, spectators could see views of the Oakland hills beyond the ballpark, and the team had a lot of success, most notably winning three straight championships in 1972-74. But to accommodate the return of the Raiders to Oakland in 1995, city officials added a 20,000-seat section known as Mount Davis to the arena, completely changing the Coliseum experience for baseball.

Just a few years ago, three professional sports teams played in Oakland. Now the A's are the only ones left in the wake of the Warriors moving to the Chase Center in San Francisco and the Raiders now calling Las Vegas home.

Like their former neighbors, the A's have toyed with the idea of ​​moving for the past decade. From 2012-14, the team was interested in moving to San Jose, but the San Francisco Giants blocked the move, believing they controlled the territorial rights to that city. So that plan died. Since then, the team's leadership has been looking for potential locations in Las Vegas as a parallel road alongside the Howard Terminal. On June 29, 2022, Major League Baseball (MLB) made the potential move easier by announcing that the A's would not have to pay a speculated relocation fee of as much as 1 billion dollars. But despite all the research the A's have done, it seems quite clear that Las Vegas is plan B for now as the team hasn't even publicly revealed a chosen location.

Meanwhile, Howard Terminal continues to get closer to becoming a reality. The A's $12 billion proposal would radically transform and improve Oakland's waterfront. In addition to the main attraction of the privately financed $1 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark, the development would create more retail and commercial space, hotel rooms and public access to the waterfront. The project received another key vote on June 30 when the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (SFBCDC) voted overwhelmingly (23-2) that the A's could build on Howard Terminal after determining it was not needed for any other purpose.

While this is good news for A's organization, the divisive project still has hurdles to climb. Among the biggest is a final vote in the municipal council, which is expected to take place in the autumn. Council members Noel Gallo and Carroll Fife have been particularly outspoken in opposition to the Howard Terminal. They both voted against approving the project's environmental impact statement in February. Gallo held a meeting before today's vote, calling for the A's stadium project to be put on the ballot for voters in November to decide whether or not the city should commit public funding to this project. As of last year, A applied 855 million dollars in taxpayer dollars to support the infrastructure associated with this ballpark.

Although the Howard Terminal project is moving forward, it remains unclear whether a shiny new stadium will be enough to bring fans back to games after the A's terrible start to the season in this first year of yet another redevelopment caused by owner John Fisher's reluctance to invest and retain key players. The team enters today's game with a record of 25-52, the worst in the major leagues. They are on pace for the worst home record ever, and their anemic offense is putting up historically poor numbers. At least the A's dwindling die-hard fan base can rest assured that the team's plan for the Oakland ballpark is still alive.

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