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City of Oakland releases final EIR for A’s Howard Terminal ballpark project

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Environmental Impact Report represents major milestone in the process

Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s reached another significant milestone on Friday in their pursuit of a new stadium in the Bay Area.

The City of Oakland released its final Environmental Impact Report for the waterfront ballpark district at Howard Terminal, where the team hopes to build its new home. Click here to view the entire 3,500-page report.

Back in February, the city put out a draft of this EIR, providing analysis of how the $12 billion project would affect the surrounding area. Click here for more details on that study, which covered topics including local transportation, housing, the nearby Port industry, and the environment. The February draft generated hundreds of public comments, and the final version released Friday includes responses to that feedback.

Now that the final EIR has been released, it must be certified by the City Council. Casey Pratt of ABC7 reports that the Planning Commission could vote on its recommendation on Jan. 19, and that certification from the council could come in February.

Like so many milestones before it, this latest news is not the end of the road in terms of keeping the A’s in Oakland, as there are still plenty of important steps yet to come. But this is a big one, enough to inspire legitimate hope for binding votes on the project in 2022. Completing an EIR is further than any of the team’s previous ballpark pitches have made it over the past couple decades, and the continued progress is encouraging.

It also felt good to keep the conversation centered on Oakland, as the specter of a move to Las Vegas continues to loom. Last month the A’s made headlines by putting in an offer for a plot of land in the Las Vegas Valley. They also surveyed fans in various regions to gauge interest in relocating the club, and on Friday Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the results of the market research “determined there was significant interest” in the idea.

The threat of leaving for Vegas ratchets up the urgency to get a deal done in Oakland, so the clock is still ticking. In addition to getting the EIR certified, the team and city must finish hammering out their financial terms before the project gets official approval.

On the money side of things, Pratt notes that the primary issue remaining is roughly $350 million in off-site infrastructure costs. Last month Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed optimism that the city was “close to the finish line” in securing that funding, after announcing another $14.5 million from a federal grant.

Schaaf commented Friday on the final EIR, in a series of tweets:

Today we release the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the waterfront ballpark district at Howard Terminal. A final EIR is a major milestone on our path to build a new waterfront neighborhood that will create up to 18 acres of beautiful public parks, more affordable housing, and good jobs for Oakland. This 3,500-page document ensures that the project is environmentally safe and sustainable. It also keeps us on track to bring the project for a final vote to the City Council in 2022 — and brings us one step closer to keeping our beloved Athletics #RootedInOakland.

It ain’t over till it’s over, but Howard Terminal is one step closer to becoming a reality. The A’s already have non-binding agreements with the city and county, and now they have their final EIR, plus good news about funding. If all goes well from here, Alex Espinoza IV of The Rickey Henderson of Blogs suggests “we could be looking at June 2024 groundbreaking.”

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Watch below for more! First up, Brodie Brazil of NBCS offers some initial takes on the latest updates.

Pratt chats with A’s President Dave Kaval.