‘A’s’ ballpark project passes EIR acid test


Oakland A’s ballpark take step forward Image: Oakland A's @Athletics (Twitter)

A ruling made recently could turn out to be game-changing for Oakland in California (US) and the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics in their quest for a new waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal in Oakland.

‘NBC Sports’ stated that in April, three lawsuits by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and the Union Pacific Railroad Company were filed against the ballpark project.

The Oakland Athletics are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The 63,132-capacity Oakland Coliseum, currently branded as RingCentral Coliseum, is a stadium in Oakland, California (US). It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. The Coliseum is the home ballpark of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB).

The ‘A’s’ new venue plans include creating mixed-use development with up to 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of offices and up to 270,000 square feet of retail uses. The proposed development at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal includes plans for a $12 billion mixed-use project built around a $1 billion, 30,000-seat waterfront ballpark.

Recently, the Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman rejected the challenges to the team’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

‘NBC Sports’ further stated that the opponents of the project challenged a number of things from rail vs. pedestrian issues to overcrowding of the inner harbor, to potential glare from stadium lighting that would interfere with shipping traffic, among other complaints.

But Judge Seligman’s tentative rulings all went in favor of the certified EIR, simply implying that there’s no way to challenge this.

However, there was one issue Seligman came across in the 70+ pages of documents: Wind impacts.

It’s not so much that the ballpark would create wind, but more being questioned as to how it would disperse and mitigate wind. Basically, how would they make it so it doesn’t turn into a wind tunnel or affect any other part of Oakland?

Seligman said they cannot determine how the wind will be mitigated by the project because they don’t have the final designs. And, there was no determination of a performance standard, like “what is too windy?” for this project.

So, the EIR “improperly defers mitigation measures for wind impacts” and that’s it. And given everything, which seems pretty manageable.

The final ruling is yet to come, as this was all preliminary. But while there still is a chance that some things can change, the ruling provides cautious optimism for the ‘A’s’ and Oakland.

Of course, there also are several other significant hurdles for the ballpark, including a lack of a development agreement yet between the ‘A’s’ and the City, a binding vote by the City of Oakland, a binding vote by the county of Alameda, and several more project approvals by multiple local Government entities.

Overall, while there are more hurdles yet to cross, this was an extremely important step forward for the project.

An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is a document that is required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), respectively. The purpose of these documents is to analyze and disclose a project’s potential effects on the natural and human environment and identify mitigation measures and alternatives to avoid significant effects.

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