Everyone agrees the Oakland A's need a new ballpark -- what has been harder to agree on, for some reason, is where that new home should be. In our view, the only answer is the Oakland Waterfront.
The good news for the A's and Major League Baseball is that Oakland has a 50-acre waterfront site adjacent to Jack London Square and connected to Broadway, Oakland's downtown commercial artery. And, it's available to the A's today.
Because of the hard work of Mayor Jean Quan, the Oakland City Council, and the Port of Oakland, we, along with a larger group of East Bay business leaders, now control the waterfront site, known as Howard Terminal. We stand ready to work with the A's to get a baseball-only ballpark built there as quickly as possible.
As business people, we understand and respect the A's for wanting to run a profitable business. That is why we are such strong believers in getting a downtown ballpark done for the A's.
And, in 2014, there can be no doubt that Oakland is the ripest spot in the Bay Area for this to occur. A decade ago, the center of economic activity was in Silicon Valley. If you owned the A's then, you'd probably want to move the team as close by as possible.
But a decade later, the economic hub of the region has moved north to San Francisco. Since 2003, the amount of venture capital dollars invested into San Francisco has jumped 12 times to $4.8 billion. And, in the first quarter of 2014, more early stage venture capital went into San Francisco than all the other cities in the Bay Area, combined. No large city in the Bay Area is closer to San Francisco, the region's center of economic activity, than Oakland.
Further, in city after city, downtown stadiums have delivered extraordinary value to the teams that occupy them, including a boost in fan support and corporate sponsorship as well as increases in local television revenue. And at 50 acres, Howard Terminal is large enough to provide the A's with the valuable opportunity to develop complimentary uses, adding energy and excitement to an already world-class site.
Not only do these downtown venues deliver additional revenue opportunities for their teams, they also create economic uplift for the cities in which these teams play.
Just take a look at new ballparks in the Gas Lamp district of San Diego, Lower Downtown of Denver and Mission Bay of San Francisco to see how new baseball-only ballparks have catalyzed further development in those areas.
The same thing can happen right here in Oakland at Jack London Square. The ancillary development opportunities on Howard Terminal alone would be a boon for local governments as it would create thousands of jobs and grow the tax base for Oakland and Alameda County.
Some have said that, as a former industrial site and one close to railroad tracks, Howard Terminal poses unsolvable challenges for development as a ballpark. The reality is that Howard Terminal carries no greater challenge to being successfully developed than other former industrial sites along the San Francisco Bay, including Mission Bay and the famous ballpark across the Bay.
Others have pointed out that there are powerful interests against the proposed development of a waterfront ballpark. Actually, the environment in Oakland is very favorable for this project. The Port of Oakland voted unanimously to reserve the site for a ballpark, and the mayor has stated repeatedly that the waterfront is an ideal home for the A's. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of A's fans and scores of businesses have joined the effort to keep the A's in Oakland.
Fighting over the terms of a short-term lease extension is a distraction that threatens to divide, and actually masks the real issue -- how we ensure we have a place in Oakland for the A's to play in the long-term.
Let's get moving toward the development of a world-class, baseball-only waterfront ballpark at Jack London Square. After all, the one thing we can all agree on is we're well past due for a new ballpark.
Don Knauss is CEO of Clorox Corp. and T. Gary Rogers is the chairman of the Board of Safeway and former chairman of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream. Both are part of Oakland Waterfront Ballpark, LLC, a group of East Bay businesspeople dedicated to bringing an A's ballpark to the Oakland Waterfront.