Thursday's MLB: Agency clears way for Oakland Athletics $12B ballpark plan

Olga R. Rodriguez
Associated Press

San Francisco — A California agency on Thursday cleared the way for the Oakland Athletics to continue planning a $12 billion waterfront ballpark project.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted 23-2 to reclassify a 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built. 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.

In this artists rendering provided by the Oakland Athletics is a skyline view of their proposed ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif. The San Francisco Bay and Development Commission are to vote Thursday, June 30, 2022, on the Oakland Athletics' application to remove Howard Terminal's port designation. A vote in favor would clear the way for designation as a mixed-use development site.

The commission followed the recommendation of its staff, which found the team demonstrated removing the terminal from port use “would not detract from the region’s capability to handle the projected growth in cargo.”

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 A’s are the last professional franchise remaining in Oakland after the NBA’s Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco and the NFL’s Raiders to Las Vegas in recent years. The defections weigh heavily on the Bay Area city of roughly 400,000 people, some of whom pleaded with the commission Thursday to work harder to keep the team and accompanying coliseum jobs.

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 top-level minor league team, the Las Vegas Aviators, have played since April 2019. Their stadium is several miles northwest of the Strip and has 8,196 seats and 22 air-conditioned suites but is not considered suitable for long-term use by the A’s. The Triple A team reported drawing an average of 6,590 fans during the 2021 season.

The A’s, by comparison, have drawn noticeably few fans to RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, which seats more than 63,000.

In Las Vegas, local news outlets have since 2021 tracked visits by A’s team executives and have reported, sometimes citing unnamed sources, about team interest in several properties on or adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip.

Both T-Mobile Arena, home to the NHL Vegas Golden Knights since 2017, and Allegiant Stadium, a domed 65,000-seat, are within walking distance of Strip resorts. The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders relocated from Oakland in 2020 and play at Allegiant Stadium.

A’s executives have been focusing on two locations and have met with the owners of the Tropicana Las Vegas, an aging icon built in 1957 and namesake of a key Las Vegas Boulevard intersection, according local media.

In this artists rendering provided by the Oakland Athletics is a water view of their proposed ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square in Oakland, Calif. The San Francisco Bay and Development Commission are to vote Thursday, June 30, 2022, on the Oakland Athletics' application to remove Howard Terminal's port designation. A vote in favor would clear the way for designation as a mixed-use development site.

In Oakland, 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.

MLB Action

(At) Houston 2, New York Yankees 1: Alex Bregman hit a two-run double early and the Houston Astros held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Thursday’s game completes a stretch for the Astros of nine straight games against New York teams. Houston went 3-2 against the major league-leading Yankees and swept four games with the Mets, who had baseball’s second best record before being overtaken by the Astros.

The Yankees were in town for just one game to make up part of a series that was scrapped because of the lockout. They’ll complete the series with a doubleheader here July 21.

Houston starter Luis García (6-5) allowed three hits and one run with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for his third straight win. Ryan Pressly struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.

The Astros had a chance to pad the lead, but the third inning ended on an odd play after a malfunction of New York starter Luis Severino’s PitchCom device. Tucker saw Severino was distracted from third base and tried to sneak home, but Severino threw him out.

Severino (4-3) yielded three hits and two runs in six innings. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer for the Yankees in the sixth inning.

(At) Pittsburgh 8, Milwaukee 7: Backup catcher Michael Perez had three home runs, rookies Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski hit back-to-back shots and Pittsburgh beat Milwaukee.

It was the first multihomer game of Perez’s five-year career. He hit a two-run blast in the fourth inning off Brent Suter (1-2) to break a 3-3 tie, added another two-run homer in the sixth to make it 6-4 then had a solo shot in the eighth to increase the lead to 8-4.

The outburst came one day after the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds had a three-homer game in a win at Washington.

Rookie Yerry De Los Santos relieved closer David Bednar in the ninth with runners on first and third and retired Luis Urias on a pop fly for his second career save, both coming in the last two days.

JT Brubaker (2-7) pitched six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits. He struck out six and walked two.

(At) Cleveland 5, Minnesota 3: Andrés Giménez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Tyler Thornburg (0-2) and Cleveland beat Minnesota for its second straight walk-off win.

José Ramírez drew a leadoff walk, the 10th allowed by Minnesota. Josh Naylor’s groundout moved Ramírez to second and Owen Miller flied out. Giménez followed with his game-winner. The Guardians lead the majors with 17 last at-bats wins, including six against the rival Twins.

The Twins failed to hold a 6-3 lead in the 10th inning on Wednesday night, when the Guardians scored four times and won the game on Naylor’s two-run homer.

Emmanuel Clase (2-2) pitched the ninth for Cleveland.

(At) Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 1: Teoscar Hernández and Santiago Espinal each hit two-run home runs, Yuseki Kukuchi struck out a season-high eight over six innings to snap a seven-start winless streak and Toronto beat Tampa Bay.

Hernández hit his eighth homer in the second, and Espinal went deep in the seventh, his sixth. Both homers came off Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (0-4).

Rays left-hander Jeffrey Springs had been set to start against Toronto on Friday but instead left the team and was put on the Family Medical Emergency List. Rays infielder Isaac Paredes hit a solo homer in the fourth, his 11th.

Kikuchi (3-4) allowed one run and four hits over six innings, his longest outing since his previous win, May 16 against Seattle. He went 0-3 with a 7.30 in the seven starts between victories.

(At) Philadelphia 14, Atlanta 4: Kyle Schwarber finished off the month with another June homer, Darick Hall went deep twice and Philadelphia avoided a three-game sweep with a rout of Atlanta.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos also homered for the Phillies, who reached a season high in runs despite missing star Bryce Harper for the fourth straight game. The 2021 NL MVP is out indefinitely after having surgery on his broken left thumb Wednesday.

Adam Duvall and Michael Harris II went deep for the defending champion Braves, who ended June with a 21-6 mark to equal the most victories in a calendar month since the club moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.

Aaron Nola (5-5) allowed four runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in seven innings. The Phillies pulled away with seven runs and six hits in the second off Ian Anderson (6-5).

Chicago Cubs 15, Cincinnati 7: Patrick Wisdom hit a grand slam and a solo homer en route to a career-high six RBIs, rookie Christopher Morel had a career-high five hits and Chicago beat Cincinnati.

The Cubs collected 23 hits off five pitchers, tying their season high from a 21-0 rout of the Pirates on April 23. Seven of those hits came in the eighth against outfielder Max Schrock, who allowed a two-run homer to P.J. Higgins and a solo shot to Morel.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (4-6) pitched six innings of six-hit ball and tied a season high with seven strikeouts. Hendricks has allowed two runs in his last 13 1/3 innings.

Joey Votto continued his dominance of Hendricks by hitting a solo home run in the sixth. Reds starter Graham Ashcraft (4-2) allowed a career-high seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.