The city of Oakland released a 3,500-page environmental report related to the Athletics’ planned waterfront ballpark project, per a report from Sarah Ravani and Roland Li of the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a mandatory step towards actualization of the project, with A’s president Dave Kaval calling it an “enormous accomplishment.” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf remarked, “Releasing the final environmental impact report is a major milestone on our path to build a new waterfront ballpark district.”
The next steps will be that the city’s Planning Commission will now review the report and vote whether to recommend approval, with that vote coming on January 19. Then City Council will decide about whether to approve the project or not in February.
The project appears to be quite ambitious, including much more than just a ballpark in its scope. It also includes “3,000 units of housing, 1.5 million square feet of offices, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 3,500-person performance venue, up to 400 hotel rooms and 8,900 parking spaces,” per the report. Kaval says that the inability to develop such a dynamic project is what caused the Warriors and Raiders to depart Oakland, leaving the Athletics’ as the only major sports franchise in the city.
The ability for the city and the team to reach some kind of satisfactory agreement has broad implications for both the team and the league. The club has been looking into the possibility of following the Raiders by moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, going so far as to make an offer on a piece of land that could act as their future home. The current stadium lease in Oakland runs through 2024. As for the league, it has been reported in the past that Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to resolve the ongoing stadium sagas of both the Athletics and Rays before considering the addition of expansion franchises.
The developments of this scenario will also have impacts for some players. For instance, agent Scott Boras said in July that extension negotiations between the team and his client, Matt Chapman, would wait until the stadium situation is resolved. That may end up being a moot point if Chapman is dealt as part of the club’s anticipated post-lockout selloff, but a trade is certainly not guaranteed.
Despite the release of the environmental report marking a step forward in the process, there are still obstacles ahead. As detailed in the article from Ravani and Li, there are still many elements to be negotiated between the team and the city, such as the financing structure and affordable housing, as well as opposition from a group called the East Oakland Stadium Alliance. Even if all of these issues are overcome and the project goes forward, the ribbon isn’t going to be cut anytime soon, as the piece says that construction “could take eight years or more.”