OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland Athletics are one step closer to a new stadium after San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) votes 23-2 to remove Howard Terminal's designation as a port priority use area.
The vote is the first in a series of legal hurdles the team would have to overcome before it gets permission to break ground for the project.
A BCDC subcommittee voted against the new stadium back in March. But BCDC staff issued their final recommendation two weeks ago.
"BCDC staff finds that the Oakland Athletics have demonstrated that removing Howard Terminal from Port Priority Use Area designation would not detract from the region's capability to meet the projected growth in cargo, and has demonstrated that the cargo forecast can be met with existing terminals."
"The fundamental question is, is Howard Terminal necessary to meet the cargo needs now and in the future? And the report came back with a resounding 'No, it is not,'" said Kristen Connelly.
Connelly is president and CEO of the East bay leadership council which represents 100s of employers in the East Bay.
She was many who encouraged the BCDC to vote in favor of the new ballpark with the theme - this is bigger than baseball.
The say the new stadium will be an economic engine for the city - generating hundreds of new jobs and millions in tax revenue.
Even Kristi McKenney, COO for the port of Oakland, says the port can meet future cargo needs without the Howard Terminal.
"It is simply not operational viable nor financially feasible and it if is not today, it is not going to be in the future," said McKenney
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the approval moved the city closer to bringing "this bold vision into a beautiful reality and keep our A's rooted in Oakland for generations to come."
"Our city has historically been overlooked for major economic development, but today that story about Oakland changes," she said in a statement.
The two commissioners and members of the public who opposed no longer classifying Howard Terminal for port priority questioned whether the Port of Oakland would have the room needed to expand as shipping traffic grows if a massive real estate development were in its midst.
Erin Wright, a third-generation longshoreman and member of ILWU Local 10, said the maritime community opposes the project because it would interfere with the shipping and receiving of cargo.
"Everyone with a working brain knows that the building of houses in an industrial zone is going to have a huge negative impact on all operations and lead to a downturn and degradation of our seaports," he said.
"Our port is busier than it's been in my 33 years. We need (Howard Terminal) for operations. We are using it, we have been using it every day," he added.
Last year, the Oakland City Council approved preliminary terms for the project but A's President Dave Kaval said the financial terms didn't work for the team. Kaval said the team was proceeding with "parallel paths," planning new ballparks in Oakland and Las Vegas.
The A's proposal includes a $1 billion privately financed 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal, which is currently being used as overflow parking for containers and trucks. The project also would include 3,000 residential units, office and retail space, hotel rooms and an indoor performance center.
The team's lease at the aging RingCentral Coliseum runs through 2024. The league has said rebuilding at the current location is not a viable option. In May, Major League Baseball instructed Oakland's brass to explore relocation options if no ballpark agreement could be reached.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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