OAKLAND - The final Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Oakland A's ballpark at Howard Terminal was released by Oakland city officials Friday morning.
The team has long said that when it comes to staying in Oakland for the long term, a new ballpark at Howard Terminal is essential. The team wants to build a $12-billion ballpark and surrounding development with housing, shopping and other features. There are still several steps needed to approve it, but the release of the final EIR is one of them.
"It's a huge milestone to get the final environmental report," said Oakland Athletics President, Dave Kaval. "It's been three years in the making, tens of millions of dollars, thousands of hours of work."
The final EIR outlines some of the issues and problems that will need to be addressed in order to build the ballpark at the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal site.
The report is 3,500 pages long and details how the development will need to manage issues like rail safety, parking, pollution, waste removal and increased traffic. The EIR explains that pedestrian bridges will need to be built across the railroad tracks at Jack London Square. Some of the shipping cranes at Howard Terminal will transition to "public art" and will remain, unused, as part of the 18 acres of public parks at the ballpark development.
"They're going to stay as a public 'homage' to the maritime heritage of the location," said Kaval.
A final vote could be held in the Oakland City Council in 2022, Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement.
"The completion of the EIR… brings us one step closer to keeping our beloved A's rooted in Oakland," Schaaf said.
However, the release of the final EIR is just one step in a long and complicated process. It does not guarantee the A's are going to stay in Oakland, or that a final agreement on the ballpark will be reached.
"This is an important milestone step. It allows us to get that final approval, but we're still a little ways out on that," said Kaval.
The A's and the City of Oakland are in ongoing discussions about how to pay for the infrastructure upgrades and changes that will be needed around the ballpark and surrounding development.
"We're having weekly, and even daily conversations," said Kaval of those specific financial negotiations. "We're hopeful those things can be resolved, shortly."
The City of Oakland Planning Commission could vote on the final EIR next month. If it does, it will go to the full Oakland City Council for a vote in February.