Las Vegas Sun

December 9, 2022

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A’s hit with lawsuit over ballpark proposal in Bay Area

Official: Still exploring options in Las Vegas

Oakland A's

Jeff Chiu / AP

Oakland Athletics’ Yusmeiro Petit, bottom center, pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, July 3, 2021.

The A’s and the City of Oakland were served with a lawsuit Friday in a bid to derail a proposed $12 billion development that includes a $1 billion waterfront ballpark, the latest hurdle as the team pursues options for a new stadium in either the Bay Area or Las Vegas.

The lawsuit, filed by the East Oakland Stadium Alliance, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and other area trade groups aims to challenge the Oakland City Council’s February certification of the environmental impact report (EIR) needed to move forward the proposed Howard Terminal project and its accompanying 35,000-seat ballpark to replace the aging RingCentral Coliseum. The team has played there since 1968.

According to the petitioner’s notice, filed in Alameda County, the Howard Terminal project is in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Michael Jacob, an attorney for the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, said the EIR report “did not adequately disclose, analyze or mitigate” the impacts the project would have on the waterfront.

“Every EIR is required to provide an objective and thorough analysis of impacts, alternatives and mitigation measures under California law, but the City’s EIR and environmental process failed to meet that mandate. The A’s proposal to build a stadium and luxury condominiums, office and retail development will cause major disruptions and impacts to both the surrounding community and the operations of the port, yet the EIR did not fully address these concerns or mitigate these well-known issues.”

A’s President Dave Kaval said the lawsuit brings “another level of uncertainty” around the Howard Terminal project, demonstrating the need to negotiate a potential home here in Las Vegas. Major League Baseball in May gave the A’s the OK to look for possible cities to relocate since the team’s lease at the Coliseum expires in 2024.

“These groups (suing) are some of the largest polluters in the State of California,” Kaval said. “It’s just absolutely crazy that they would use an environmental law to prevent a project that’s going to clean up the area. And that’s the challenge of California … they have all these laws and restrictions and red tabe that makes common sense go out the window.”

Kaval told the Sun the organization has placed offers at five sites to build a potential domed or partially domed stadium around the Las Vegas resort corridor, with hopes of announcing a final site and release renderings within the next four to six weeks.

“We hope to have some type of announcement on an actual location by May, which I think would be a big, big step forward, and it would be exciting to be able to showcase that to the community,” Kaval said. “In terms of timing, we’re working very hard to balance the thoughtfulness and negotiating with the different parties with our efforts to just try to make progress and get to the next stage.”

Kaval didn’t say how a potential ballpark in Las Vegas might be financed, saying instead the club’s focus is on securing the land to build a park at a location accessible to local fans and tourists.

“We have some options that are more partnership/joint venture, and we have some more like what the Raiders did, which is more of a go-it-alone approach,” Kaval said. “But you have to remember, baseball is 81 games. It’s a lot of games, there’s a lot more economic impact, there are going to be more hotel nights than the Raiders.

“But it has to be close enough to that resort corridor for tourists to get there in a simple fashion because you’re going to have a mix of both.”

Last month, Oakland councilwoman Carroll Fife held an online town hall exploring the possibility of bringing the final vote for the Howard Terminal project to a public vote via ballot measure. That came roughly a week after a subcommittee for the San Francisco Bay’s governing body voted against removing port authority protections for the Howard Terminal site and transferring use of the port to the development.

All of these hurdles, Kaval said, “certainly has put a cloud over the progress” made in Oakland up to this point, highlighting the importance of ongoing negotiations with private landowners in Southern Nevada.

“We’re taking time to digest all of that information and how it impacts the timing of the project,” Kaval said. “It has thrown a lot of questions in our face about the timing of getting approval, if it’s even possible.”

In the meantime, Kaval points to the success of the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, as well as the inception of the Golden Knights for reasons why an MLB team would likely find success calling the valley home. In addition to combat sports and other marquis events, Las Vegas has shown an appetite for events ranging from the upcoming NFL Draft to next year’s F1 racing event taking place on parts of the Strip, Kaval said.

“It has kind of always had boxing and UFC, but now it’s next-level in terms of how it’s working and I think that’s very exciting,” he said. “And that’s something that’s not only appealing to us as the A’s, it’s appealing to Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner to see that and be a part of that.”