Dealbreaker on Howard Terminal ballpark: A’s looked for two infrastructure projects Oakland Council gave them only one

Oakland A’s owner John Fisher and team president David Kaval behind the Oakland A’s dugout in undated photo have turned down the Oakland City Council’s offer after they voted yes on Tue Jul 20, 2021 (file photo from Athletics Nation)

By Jeremiah Salmonson

The Oakland City Council held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the A’s Howard Terminal Development Proposal. The meeting took place at 9 AM local time over zoom.

Tensions were high heading into the meeting on Tuesday. The climate over the development project has been hot since Major Lague Baseball and the Oakland A’s essentially delivered an ultimatum to the city. The ultimatum was essentially, “approve our Howard Terminal ballpark plans or we are leaving town.”

MLB has stated they do not beleive the current site to be viable for the future of the MLB product. This obviously leaves the A’s with little choice but to pursue a more updated model of a downtown ballpark with other amenities.

On Tuesday after the community input section of the meeting, Councilmember Fife asked A’s President Dave Kaval a very direct question to the tune of, “If the current city proposal isn’t in consideration from the A’s what are we doing here?”

The response from Kaval drew mixed responses after the meeting. The A’s appeared very set that the council either vote on the A’s proposal or the A’s were not interested in hearing what they had to say. The council did not do so. Instead, after hours of community input and conversation with the council they decided to vote on the term sheet the city had released on the prior Friday.

One key difference between the two are the number of IFD’s (Infrastructure Financing Districts). The A’s want two in order to pay for the project while the city of Oakland only wants one. The city did appear to make the concesison of adding a BID (Business Improvement District).

However, the A’s did not appear to want to play ball at all with the city on this issue. One concession the city did seem to make is that the A’s would not have to pay for off-site infrastructure. It appears the city is willing to reimburse the A’s through taxes of these costs or at a minimum subsidise them.

The Council voted in a 6-1-1 decision to approve the preliminary term sheet the city put together. All members voted in favor excpet Councilmember Carroll Fife abstained and Councilmember Noel Gallo voted against the project. However, it will prove mute if the A’s refuse to return to the negotiating table on the approved term sheet and not the one the A’s put fourth.

The meeting did not end on an overly optimistic tone as it appears the A’s will not return to the negotiating table. Only the next few days if the A’s are headed out of town or if they are willing to try and get a deal done with the city that involves some compromise.

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