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Ports & Terminals

Oakland’s Wan defends ballpark while urging terminal rebuild

Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan defended the decision by Port Commissioners and the City of Oakland to proceed with negotiations for the Oakland A’s to locate a baseball park and condominium complex at the Port’s Howard Terminal site. Wan noted that there is room for seaport growth along with the ballpark.

Wan also argued that new federal and state infrastructure dollars could support rebuilding the shuttered container terminal at the Port’s Outer Harbor so as to relieve West Coast port congestion.

Wan was speaking at the “2022 State of the Port of Oakland” that took place on February 2nd.

He argued that adequate seaport compatibility measures would be incorporated into the proposed Oakland A’s baseball and condominium project: “We need to build into the project simple compatibility measures to make sure that the project is compatible with the Port seaport operations.”

Proposed ballpark rendering at the Port of Oakland
Proposed ballpark rendering at the Port of Oakland

Howard Terminal

He said the current Howard Terminal site lacked sufficient draft for container ships to berth at and that the site’s 50-acres was insufficient for a container terminal operation.

He added that after the last maritime use at Howard Terminal ended, the Port issued “an RFP for terminal uses and seaport uses. At that time, we did not garner any interest for that Howard Terminal space. And therefore, the Port Commissioners embarked on looking at other uses for that space… Low and behold we had a proposal … about relocating the Oakland A’s there. At which point the Port Commissioners decided we would consider that under an exclusive negotiating agreement.”

Wan also said that Port Commissioners looked to see whether the Port had sufficient space to accommodate port operations and the ballpark. He said the Port had previously projected that the Port would grow “to a 4-million TEU volume but currently we’re at 2.5 million so we’re nowhere near that planned growth.”

He noted that there is currently an unused terminal at the Outer Harbor site that had been previously run by Ports America and then shut down, because: “the money investment that was made in the terminal was insufficient to continue operation as a seaport. So, it is now used for container parking and container storage which is not the most efficient use of waterfront land.”

As a result, Wan has told federal and state officials that the Port of Oakland could help relieve the port congestion crisis facing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach: “The Port of Oakland has extra land capacity and terminal space to develop.”

The unused terminal site needs investment: “This terminal needs tens of millions of dollars, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, to upgrade… If we had made that investment before today, we probably would have had some flex space to play with to relieve our congestion but, unfortunately, we did not make that investment. So, we need to make that investment with the upcoming federal and state investments that they are now willing to make.”

Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan
Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan

Other Port News

Imports and Exports. Wan said that in December “imports hit a new record of 1.05 million import containers in 2021. That was the most in our 94-year history and 6% above 2020 levels … Exports were down 8% compared with last year (2020).”

Agriculture Export Depot. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) selected the Port of Oakland as its first project to assist agricultural exporters to utilize a fully ground and refrigerated container yard, Wan said. The Port had previously announced that USDA “would fund 60 percent of start-up costs for Oakland’s export container depot. Agricultural exporters would have exclusive access to pre-cool refrigerated containers for loading perishable products … Agricultural exporters will also receive direct incentives from the USDA to utilize the pop-up yard.”

Lost Vessel Services. The Port of Oakland lost some scheduled container vessel services in 2021 that have still not returned. Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes reported: “The actual sailings by-passing the Port of Oakland will continue for now. There are… 7-8 services by-passing the Port of Oakland. We’re still working with those lines to try and get those services back.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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