Peak Logistics Season vs. Peak Baseball Season

The Port of Oakland's cargo division has expressed its concern and has ongoing meetings with all stakeholders scheduled to take place this fall.

Bay Area Seaport Forecast!

With the regular major league baseball season drawing to a close, many Oakland Athletics fans are hoping that they’ll have a new ballpark on the waterfront in a couple of years.

The team has even gained the Port of Oakland Board of Port Commissioners’ unanimous approval to an exclusive negotiating term sheet. 

Still, the port’s cargo division has expressed its concern and has ongoing meetings with all stakeholders scheduled to take place this fall. 

The Athletics plan to develop 3.3 million square feet of housing, 1.5 million square feet of commercial and office space, a hotel and a performance center in the area surrounding a new stadium on property currently serving the port’s Howard Terminal.

It is worth noting, however, that a new study prepared by the consultants Tioga Group and Hackett Associates for the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) warns that plans to accommodate a new generation of mega-vessels may be at risk if port loses acreage intended for a new turning basin on the property. 

The report titled “2019-2050 Bay Area Seaport Forecast” examines our region’s ocean cargo gateways for throughput and capacity.

It says that the 50-acre Howard Terminal site “is below the current standard for new container terminals, but maybe a necessary increment to seaport capacity under moderate-to-strong cargo growth scenarios.”

And as we’re well aware, Logistics Management readers care less about baseball season than peak season. 

“There has been a recent downward trend in U.S. West Coast shares of total U.S. container trade and of transpacific container trade,” says Tioga’s principal, Dan Smith.

“The Port of Oakland handles nearly all containerized imports and exports for Northern California, as well as some intermodal cargo moving to and from inland points. Oakland competes for different trade flows in different ways.”

For example, Oakland competes for Asian imports to Midwestern consumer markets with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

For exports, Oakland’s geographic position near California agricultural production gives it an advantage.

“Oakland is also often the last port of call before vessels return to Asia, providing a later and faster shipping option for exporters,” says Smith.

“As a result, Oakland is one of few U.S. ports where containerized exports often exceed imports”

Karen Vellutini, a vice president with Oakland-based Devine Intermodal and author of a monthly newsletter, recently stated her opposition to the ballpark.

“We don’t believe 3,000 to 4,000 homes, small watercraft, personal vehicles, pedestrians, and added congestion are congruent with maritime operations,” she says.

While the Oakland Athletics have four years to complete an environmental impact report, negotiate lease terms with the port, and secure additional regulatory approvals, the organization has stated that has plans to break ground next year. 

“The Oakland A's may think they have hit a home run, but the industry is far from throwing the game,” says Vellutini. 

“We are still swinging for the fences.”

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How New Regulations Will Impact Shipping, the Environment, and Freight Rates

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson's avatar
Patrick Burnson
Mr. Burnson is a widely-published writer and editor specializing in international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He is based in San Francisco, where he provides a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts.
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Hackett Associates was established in August 2007 to provide expert consulting research and advisory services to the international maritime industry, government agencies and international institutions. Founder Ben Hackett brings over thirty-five years of experience in liner shipping, ports, international economics, trade and transportation planning as well as in-depth knowledge of the industry to Hackett Associates, LLC.

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