OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – While the Oakland City Council will decide next week whether to approve a deal on a proposed new ballpark for the A’s at Howard Terminal, opponents of the plan spoke out Wednesday and the team’s president issued an ominous warning.
The plan to build the A’s new ballpark at the waterfront site is in its final inning.
Wednesday morning, housing advocates and Chinatown residents rallied outside the team’s Jack London Square offices to demand the A’s include at least 35% affordable units in any housing developments to prevent pushing lower income people out of the neighborhood.
“What we’re saying today is, if you play…then play by Oakland’s rules,” said organizers Cherri Murphy of the group Oakland United.
“Give people the affordable housing that they need, make sure that we have clean air, and make sure that people have a place to stay,” Murphy went on to say.
At ILWU union headquarters Wednesday, Port of Oakland worker Linda Adams said they feel any housing development near the Port will cost them jobs, when buyers of expensive condos begin complaining about the noise from trucks and heavy equipment.
“It’s a domino effect,” Adams said, “because the moment they complain, we’re right back at the table debating about what time do we have to stop our operations?”
While others are demanding a hefty benefits package for the community, the A’s aren’t actually offering anything out of their pocket. But President Dave Kaval says revitalization of the area could lead to $450 million in revenue from a special tax district for the city to spend as it likes.
Whether it’s gamesmanship or not, Kaval said Howard Terminal is the A’s last attempt to stay in Oakland.
“We’re down to our last at-bat in Oakland,” Kaval said. “We’ve already failed at another downtown site, at Laney College. The Coliseum is not an option. It’s Howard Terminal or bust. But if that doesn’t work out, we need to find another place, another home. We can’t be in a situation where we don’t have a ballpark to play in.”
Earlier this week, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred turned up the heat, saying if the Howard Terminal site isn’t approved, the A’s should begin looking for other cities to move to.
The struggle over Howard Terminal has become a billion dollar game of chicken. And it’s leaving loyal A’s fans like Myles McGinn wondering if the end is near.
“It would be a knife in the heart if we lost the A’s,” he said. “This is our last team, so we have to do something to keep them.”