OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A crucial vote is set to happen Thursday evening that could determine the future of the Oakland A's proposed ballpark at the Howard Terminal.
The Oakland City Council's vote to certify the environmental impact report would move the lengthy process along faster, but still allow it to vote against the project down the road. It is not a final approval or binding agreement.
"It's been a 20-year saga trying to find a home for the A's. We're running out of time for our current facility and have a lease through 2024 and we really need to get decisions for the future of the A's," said Oakland A's President Dave Kaval.
A green light by the Oakland City Council would be a critical step in what would arguably be Oakland's most important development project in its history.
It would move the A's and city one step closer to building a $12 billion state-of-the art ballpark that would completely transform Howard Terminal, where trains and trucks cross paths in a heavily industrialized part of the city next to the Port of Oakland.
"I know we will continue to have a growing world-class port and waterfront ballpark district," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff.
But labor unions held signs demanding "Stop privatizing our port," protesting in front of Oakland City Hall. They say the project would negatively impact maritime jobs, truckers, and affordable housing in the area.
"Many of the IBEW members, single mothers with good paying jobs have to be kept here. The shippers wouldn't come to Oakland. They would go to Los Angeles and Seattle and not here," said United Front Committee for Labor Party's Steve Zeltzer.
"It would drive out the black and brown working-class community. It's a gentrification plan," said Zeltzer.
It has taken five years to get to this vote. The Howard Terminal hasn't been used as a container shipping port for years.
"With the addition of all the former Army base land that's on the outer harbor part of the port that has the deepest water that can accommodate the new generation of ships, the port is gaining space and not losing it," said Schaff.
"It would redefine and reimagine the waterfront in Oakland. It would allow Jack London Square to really achieve its potential, a new ballpark, new housing, including affordable housing," said Kaval.
Kaval said the team continues to pursue sites in southern Nevada.
"We remain on parallel paths," he said, in Oakland and in Nevada until the team gets a new home.
He said the team is "driving forward with great haste" toward that home.
The City Council meeting started at 3:30 p.m. and the public can watch at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85184082009.
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