OAKLAND -- The Port of Oakland is getting behind a plan to build a waterfront baseball stadium for the Oakland A's on the site of a recently abandoned shipping terminal.
Next week, the Board of Port Commissioners is expected to approve entering into exclusive negotiations with a group of prominent local businessmen who want to lay the groundwork for a stadium on the 50-acre site in the hopes that A's ownership or a future team owner will build it.
A's co-owner Lew Wolff has repeatedly said the proposed stadium at Howard Terminal won't pencil out, but that hasn't deterred the port or the business consortium, which includes Clorox CEO Don Knauss, developer Mike Ghielmetti and former Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream CEO T. Gary Rogers.
They sought the one-year agreement and hope to eventually secure an additional two- to three-year option period during which they would work to obtain the necessary permits and perform an estimated $1 million environmental review on the site. For now, the businessmen, operating as Oakland Waterfront Ballpark, LLC, are proposing to deposit $100,000 with the port, half of which could be used for studies such as land appraisals and site surveys.
Wolff has said the terminal, just north of Jack London Square, is too far from BART and would require a costly environmental cleanup. He declined to comment Monday.
Oakland business leaders prefer the port site to the A's current home in East Oakland because a waterfront stadium could spur additional development around Jack London Square and the city center.
The port, whose shipping business is operating well below capacity, is considering new uses for the terminal, which was vacated recently. A ballpark or any nonmaritime-related development still would need approval from state regulators.
The A's, the only Major League Baseball team that still shares its home field with an NFL club, have failed for five years to get permission to move to San Jose, which has a stronger corporate base to help fill luxury suites and premium seating.
The push for a waterfront stadium is seen as part of a strategy by Oakland leaders to persuade MLB that the city has viable stadium options, while pressuring Wolff, and his partner, John J. Fisher, to either build in Oakland or sell the team.
The future of the team's current home remains uncertain. While the A's are seeking a 10-year lease extension at O.co Coliseum, negotiations are continuing with the Oakland Raiders for a new football stadium that could necessitate demolishing the stadium.
Wolff has broached building a temporary stadium should he lose access to the Coliseum when the team's lease expires after the 2015 season.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.