Oakland ship workers form coalition to oppose A's Howard Terminal ballpark plan
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Important and influential organizations that have a major presence at the Port of Oakland are forming a coalition to oppose a new Oakland A's Major League ballpark at Howard Terminal, on the basis that it would interfere with shipping operations.
Before this site ever becomes a baseball battle ground, the ground itself must be secured and that is now becoming a bigger battle.
A coalition comprised of labor unions, cargo shipping companies, truckers and train operators say that the potential ballpark is an actual threat to the port's smooth operation as one of the major economic engines of the entire Bay Area economy. Also opposed, the bar pilots, the people that drive ships entering and exiting the bay. They’re worried that the ballpark's bright lights could make it hard to see while turning massive ships around right next to the facility.
Add to that, many retailers, manufacturers and agri-businesses dependent on the port. "It's going to impact labor and thousands of jobs in the port area. There's no infrastructure for transportation. It will impact the trucker getting in and out of the port, ship traffic coming in out of the port. This area of the port is over half our container moves every year," said opponent Aaron Wright of the International Longshore Workers Union.
The A's disagree.
"There's going to be a huge infrastructure plan that we worked with the city on, based on the input of these stakeholders, whether it’s the bar pilots, the truckers or the maritime interests. We've made large concessions on our project. The two are not mutually exclusive. You can have a plan that supports both and that's exactly what we plan on doing," said Oakland A's President Dave Kaval.
But opponents, such as Beacon International Trade Economist Jock O'Connell, say this. "Mind you, it's not just a ballpark. Plans also call for adding four to five thousand housing units immediately adjacent to the ball park. That creates a constituency that will ultimately militate against the operation which contributes much more to the regional economy than does a ballpark."
A's President Kaval said, "Within a one-mile radius of the ballpark site, there's already 26,000 people who live here and it's already a vibrant neighborhood.”
Beyond the port opponents, local politics will weight most heavily on this site which has significant support from other big, well heeled A's advocates.