Oakland’s Maritime Industry Frets over New Stadium

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The Port of Oakland is balking at the Oakland Athletics’ proposed new 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, saying it could pose a number of risks to the area’s maritime industry.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the stadium could be a safety risk to ships and a threat to the port’s future as a major, regional economic engine.

“Between the traffic congestion it will bring, the navigational risks it will pose to shipping vessels and the land-use conflicts it will create, there’s no way for this project to proceed without doing irreparable harm to Oakland’s working waterfront,” Mike Jacob, vice president at the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association to the Chronicle.

Jacobs is leading a coalition of port workers, bar pilots, truckers and cargo terminal operators who are bringing their concerns to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners.

The A’s say the new ballpark won’t endanger port jobs or have any impact on shipping business.

“In fact, it will create 5,000 new jobs, alongside the hundreds of jobs that currently exist there now,” A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said.

The new stadium is set to be perched on the edge of the port’s Inner Harbor turning basin, a key waterway where each week bar pilots turn around an average of 25 massive cargo ships. Pilots are concerned the new ballpark will impact how they operate.

“Given the size of the ships, the 1,500-foot-wide turning basin leaves pilots with very little room to spare,” said San Francisco Bar Pilots Association President Capt. Joseph Long.

The Pilots worry that the ballparks lights at night could interfere with their vision. They’re also concerned that fans will gather along the shoreline and in the harbor in kayaks the way they do down south at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park.

“Counting on regulatory and law enforcement agencies to keep those spectators out of the ships’ way at every game is not realistic,” Long said.

The railroad industry is also concerned about the stadium’s placement in Oakland. According to the Chronicle, the Union Pacific Railroad Company, which owns the train line adjacent to the ballpark that serves freight, Amtrak and Capitol Corridor lines, has also waded into the debate.

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