My letter to Oakland officials on an A's stadium at Howard Terminal:
Dear Mayor Quan (every letter was personalized),
I have no doubt you share my joy and exultation in the A’s being crowned Western Division Champions. This is an incredibly exciting time for A’s fans, one that we can all share as a community. As much as we are all enjoying this ride, this ride brings the A’s stadium issue back into the spotlight. I’m intrigued with the possibility of a baseball only facility being built on the Howard Terminal site at Jack London Square. We have all seen just how big of a success AT&T Park has been in San Francisco, and like me, I’m sure you have thought about what a stadium like that could do to revitalize West Oakland, and the jewel that is Jack London Square.
In order to make such a dream a reality, it will take a collective effort of both political and community support to make it happen. I am hoping you can clarify a few issues and answer a few specific questions surrounding the Howard Terminal site, which would help garner support.
In 2002 the Department of Toxic Substances Control released an investigative study on the Howard Terminal site, a follow up to previous investigations that took place in 1998 and 2000. The study showed that having been a manufactured gas plant from 1902 to about 1960 an “area of aged hydrocarbon fuel, about three inches thick, was found in the groundwater in the southwestern corner of the Site.” This contamination does not pose an immediate risk because of an existing asphalt concrete cap. However the study concluded “that the construction activities that would breach the asphalt concrete cap would cause excessive exposure. Therefore all construction would need to be performed in accordance with a Health and Safety Plan.”
A Removal Action Work plan (RAW) was drawn up, and the RAW leads to several questions that have yet to be discussed publically by officials who have spoken in favor of an A’s stadium at the Howard Terminal site, more specifically the role City and County governments would play in regards to the RAW.
The RAW states that should these asphalt concrete caps break, the removal of contamination would cost “in excess of $100 million. It would also require the terminal to shut down for a long period of time.” If the caps were to be broken during the building of a stadium, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say cost over runs could be in the neighborhood of $200 million (contamination removal and stadium building costs), and could delay the opening of a Howard Terminal stadium by at least a year and possibly longer. The worst case scenario being the project being permanently shut down causing the A’s to leave the Bay Area altogether. Such an accident would undoubtedly find its way into a court room as well.
Is it the belief of the City that should such an event take place, that the $100 million cleanup costs be the responsibility of the company who broke the caps, or do the A’s and MLB share responsibility for the $100 million cleanup and cost overruns as a result of the broken caps? Such an event would require immediate attention; would the City of Oakland have to spend emergency funds to begin the cleanup process?
Is it possible to buy insurance for such an event? And if so, has the City of Oakland looked into buying insurance, since buying such a plan would not need the approval of current A’s ownership? Or does the City of Oakland feel that the Howard Terminal site is stadium ready as is? If that is the case, is the City of Oakland willing to offer documentation to the public that Howard Terminal is 100% structurally sound and that there is no need for any pile driving, and no chance that the asphalt concrete caps can be broken?
It would be much easier for people like myself to get behind a specific plan to build an A’s stadium in Oakland if we had a few more specifics on what are not only speed bumps in the road, but red flags that could derail a stadium project altogether. And God forbid, should these red flags become visible after a stadium project gets underway, it might not only lead to our A’s leaving the Bay Area for good, but would almost certainly devastate our economy for decades to come.
I realize that I might not get a direct response to this letter; I know you are very busy. But if these issues surrounding Howard Terminal could be addressed publically at some point, sooner rather than later, we the community would get a much better understanding of where we truly are when it comes to building a stadium in Oakland. That’s something we would all benefit from. Thank you very much for you time, and enjoy the playoffs. Go A’s!!
(This is where I signed my name)
I doubt I’m going to get a response, but I sent it to everyone in gov’t, hopefully the contamination cap questions get a full public response by gov’t leaders who want to build there. It would make things easier if we had detailed specifics, and knew exactly what Oakland politicians feel their role is when it comes to building in Oakland, instead of just saying ownership hates us. But whatever, I’m not going to think about this again until after the season. And if anyone is actually reading this (which I doubt), may God bless you…