The Port of Oakland staff will recommend at its next meeting Mar. 27 to approve an exclusive negotiating agreement with a group of Oakland business interests hoping to build a waterfront ballpark at the port-owned Howard Terminal north of Jack London Square.

The move was expected after port commissioners voted to reject three proposed maritime uses for Berths 67-68 last month, including one bid to ship coal at the site.

Without any maritime uses available for the site, the port can now discuss a plan brought forth Jan. 15 by a group calling itself the Oakland Waterfront Ballpark, LLC. Initiation of the exclusive negotiation agreement is the beginning of a process that one day may lead to a 38,000-seat ballpark for the Oakland Athletics. The group is led by Clorox CEO Don Knauss, former Dreyer’s Ice Cream CEO T. Gary Rogers, Signature Development Group founder Michael Ghielmetti and Doug Boxer. The co-owner of Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob, has also been tied to the group hoping to bring the A’s to downtown Oakland.

Under terms of the proposal, the port will receive a $100,000 deposit upon signing the ENA and allow the port to lease the property to another entity on a short-term basis, if it desires. Port staff has continually urged for some sort of revenue streams at the property while a permanent tenant or use is determined. Furthermore, staff believes the proposed site is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), however, once the proposal is further developed, the exemption could be challenged.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and other city leaders have endorsed the Howard Terminal, in addition, to support for another proposal to build a ballpark at the existing Oakland Coliseum along with a football stadium for the Oakland Raiders.

However, it is the waterfront site that has become a fan favorite and potential gamechanger for bringing life to the underutilized Jack London Square area and downtown. In addition, legislation is expected soon from Sacramento to help create economic incentives for investment in the ballpark plan and surrounding areas.

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Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.