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Elephant Rumblings: Howard Terminal avoids ballot measure in City Council vote

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Photo credit: Courtesy of BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

Happy Thursday, Athletics Nation!

Oakland City Council had a barn-burner of a special meeting lasting over 12 hours on Tuesday, and it was even interrupted with another meeting for about 5 hours in the middle. But for a meeting that started at 10AM and ended with a vote at almost midnight, there was a huge outcome for the A’s Howard Terminal project. With a 2-yes and 4-no vote result, the A’s new waterfront ballpark won’t be put on a ballot measure in the municipal election this November.

This is a huge boon to the project’s progress, as having to delay the majority of the ballpark process that is set to happen through the summer and fall would be a complete break in momentum, as well as leave the fate of the stadium in the hands of a referendum and a newly elected mayor and council. Instead, the Howard Terminal project will keep on progressing towards a likely September approval date from the current Council.

While Tuesday’s vote was just one of many topics on the Council’s docket for the day, it was the topic that dominated public comments for the meeting. The length of the meeting, and the mid-meeting interruption, also meant that many of these commenters were stuck waiting for upwards of 6 hours on the Zoom call to finally get their chance to speak.

After public comment finished, there were still a dozen orders of business to take care of before the Council voted on the ballot measure. The vote finally arrived around 11PM, with the two Yes votes supporting a ballot measure coming from Councilmember Fife (who proposed the vote) and Councilmember Gallo (who still seems bent on the A’s staying at the Coliseum site). The rest of council voted No, aside from Deputy Mayor Kaplan who abstained from the vote.

It was mentioned by several councilmembers that they are waiting for more information before making absolute decisions on the Howard Terminal project, but that information will be coming from the A’s soon. Overall, it was another win for the project, albeit a potentially unnecessary one. We are still a few months out from any other major ballpark developments, but as we approach September look for more news to be trickling out.

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