Five takeaways about Howard Terminal from Oakland Council Member


Where do things stand with the Athletics' ballpark project at Howard Terminal? Oakland mayoral candidate and District 6 Council Member Loren Taylor spoke with NBC Sports California in a recent interview about what lies ahead.

Here are five takeaways from the conversation.

There will be no Oakland binding vote on Howard Terminal in 2022

Nobody with an official title has publicly proclaimed this. But looking at the City Council’s remaining sessions, and what would need to come following an agreement and before a vote, there’s simply not enough time.

“I think my math is similar to yours,” Taylor said. “All the things that need to lead up to it, it’s getting close to unlikely that we’ll have a vote before the end of the year on Howard Terminal.”

That’s an arbitrary yet significant deadline that wasn’t met, which now means current Mayor Libby Schaaf will not get to see a project she heavily promoted become reality under her watch. 

“Unfortunately, let down a little bit when you find out we’re going into extra innings,” said Taylor. “That’s where we find ourselves. But that doesn’t mean things are stalled or not going to move forward.”

Just because things have been quite silent for five weeks, doesn’t mean a stall

Since their Sept. 20 session, there was high anticipation that Oakland’s Council only had a week or two to secure an agreement with the A’s that could be voted on. There was speculation that something was imminent. But that missed deadline and a lot of radio silence doesn’t equate to a halt in the process.

“There is still progress being made behind the scenes,” Taylor said. “By some accounts, maybe less noise outside means that we’re getting more work done behind closed doors.”

“We have a number of points that still need to be worked out before a final decision, not the least of which is the gap on infrastructure [costs] offsite.”

Securing offsite infrastructure funding remains the top priority for the ballpark project

Oakland took most of 2022 to secure state and federal grants specific to Howard Terminal that reached 90 percent of the A’s 2021 offsite infrastructure cost estimates.

Unfortunately, inflation and other rising costs moved the goal line.

“We thought we were tens of millions of dollars away from our goal,” said Taylor. “But with cost readjustments and assessments, that ends up being a hundred or so million dollars away. That’s what we’re working on, to secure that gap.”

Which could be achieved by more infrastructure-specific grants, or something more creative.

“There are some paths we’re pursuing," Taylor said. “Not quite at the point to go into detail but, we definitely have to look at additional ways that can complement what’s happening here.”

The new year will bring Oakland a new Mayor, and several Council Members

Taylor said he, like other Council Members, are not in a direct negotiating position with the A’s. However, they do get the final binding vote, and he would have a lot more personal involvement if elected Mayor.

“I expect to be very hands-on with this, and other transformational projects going on,” Taylor said.

RELATED: Manfred stresses urgency for A's waterfront ballpark pursuit

And even though it won’t be entirely the same city staff voting in 2023, getting an agreement ironclad is more important than rushing it.

“It makes sense because we want to make sure that we have the tightest possible agreement, ensuring the benefits that are necessary for the town,” Taylor said. “And ensuring there aren’t holes that will be poked through, or that we end up with an albatross deal like the Raiders.“

It also can’t be ignored -- Oakland has several other pressing issues to tackle, including the ballpark

The past few months have presented an uptick in crime, violence, and homelessness across Oakland. And some question whether the City, at current state, has the bandwidth to focus on these life issues in addition to Howard Terminal.

“The bottom line is that we have to,” Taylor said. “We have to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time.”

“We have to be able to prioritize our focus there. That’s immediate. But we also have to understand there’s things we can do now that set a foundation for long-term transformation, like a piece of property that’s known as Howard Terminal.”

Contact Us