A’s fans frustrated with growing uncertainty about Howard Terminal ballpark proposal

The Howard Terminal venture hit a bump that could derail the project when the city of Oakland’s latest version of its recommended terms met resistance from the Oakland A’s side on Friday.

The A’s say the Howard Terminal project is their last effort to keep the team in Oakland, but the city’s recent draft terms of agreement set to go to a non-binding vote on July 20 are a no-go for the team, with the main sticking point being the formation of an off-site tax district to help fund the project.

Stephanie Kishi, a die-hard A’s fan, was disheartened by Kaval’s comments, saying the future of baseball in Oakland “didn’t look too bright.”

“I want them to stay in Oakland,” Kishi said. “I’ve heard differing things from both sides, the city and the A’s. It doesn’t sound like an easy situation. I’m fairly young, so I don’t know things about the business. I’m hoping that they stay, but it looks like they won’t.”

Having endured the team’s 20-year quest for a new ballpark home, many loyal A’s fans are losing faith that a deal can get done and fear their favorite team will be relocated.

“It’s frustrating, I’m upset, I’m angry, I’m sad,” Will MacNeil, a lifelong fan of the A’s said in a direct message. “It’s such a wide range of emotions. It’s so many years of a roller coaster ride and not sure what is going to happen and when (Dave) Kaval came in it was like, ‘It’s finally going to happen!’ Now I just feel like he lied to us. I really feel like while it may still work out we are saying goodbye to our Oakland A’s…maybe the next few days will get better but today my reaction is just all the negative.”

MacNeil, from Hayward, has been a season ticket holder since 2005 — known on social media as Right Field Will — and a fan for his entire life. He said years of the A’s trying and failing to identify and build a new ballpark has him losing faith that the A’s will remain in Oakland.

“I’m putting blame on the A’s and the city. It’s equal,” he said. “No reason why this is has to be happening and couldn’t have been figured out a while ago.”

Jon Rushing watched Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter play for the A’s over his 30 year fandom. Since his retirement last year, he’s been attending more games at the Coliseum, but likes the idea of a new ballpark in Oakland.

“It’s been a lot of years. We’re just hoping they can pull it off in Oakland,” he said. “We think it’s good for the economy here. That’s a lot of money. To me it doesn’t make any difference an old ballpark or new ballpark. But I know they’re going to need it.”

Rushing said he would stop buying A’s merchandise if the team moved to another location. He blames the city for the A’s inability to build a new ballpark in Oakland.

“Not in my backyard. Nobody wants houses built, and why do they have homeless?” he said. “I think it’s more politics than anything.”

Andrew Espino is a lifelong A’s fan from San Jose who watched the Bash Brothers at the Coliseum. With all the memories at the Coliseum, Espino says he wouldn’t mind if the team build a ballpark at the current site and said he would be “heartbroken” to see the A’s leave Oakland.

“I think a lot of the fans want the team to stay here, especially with the Raiders leaving,” Espino said. “It’s great for the community. This is the only sports team left in town, so I have a lot of faith that they’re going to pull it together and make it a beautiful project.”

Sam from Berkeley, a lifelong fan and East Bay native, points a finger at the city of Oakland for not making the A’s a priority.

“I would ask the city to make it a larger priority to come to an agreement,” he said. “It seems to me the A’s and city aren’t on (the) same page. A ballpark development near Jack London Square would be amazing. I would definitely go to more games.”

City staff has recommended that the council vote yes on the draft of a tentative development agreement while the two sides continue to negotiate their respective financial obligations. But the A’s say the exclusion of an off-site tax district at Jack London Square is a dealbreaker on the city’s latest term sheet.

A’s outfielder Mark Canha, who grew up in San Jose and went to Cal, said he just hopes the team stays.

“I hope that somebody can do it, that somebody can step up for the city of Oakland. This is a great market. The people of Oakland love the A’s,” he said before Friday’s game. “I’ve lived in Oakland the past two years and people say hi to me on the street all the time, and that question comes up. Just random people asking me, ‘Hey, are the A’s going to stay?’ They want the team here. I hope somebody can step up for the city of Oakland.”

Bryan Johansen is a longtime A’s season ticket holder known for crafting and hanging the banners that hang over the left field bleacher railings. The Coliseum denizen wants to see a new ballpark, but isn’t giving up hope that he could hang some banners in a new ballpark in Oakland.

“I don’t feel strongly one way or the other based on years of this constant stadium drama saga,” he said. “I try not to read into matters too much until there’s a definitive answer one way or the other and just try to enjoy the game on ‘Rickey Henderson’ for however long that lasts.”

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Author: Shayna Rubin

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