Clorox CEO Don Knauss was a guest on Chris Townsend’s radio show on Tuesday. He spoke optimistically of the possibility of building a ballpark for the A’s at Howard Terminal. It’s been about 8 years since anyone connected with the A’s has taken a serious look at the Jack London Square area and conditions have changed drastically since then.
Knauss made several important points about Howard Terminal:
(1) In 2005, the Port of Oakland needed the Howard Terminal area for its operations. Today, however, the Port is operating at less than 50% capacity, and its business would not be hurt by giving up the space for a ballpark.
(2) The pollution problem has been shown to be much less pervasive than previously thought and would not require an extraordinary expenditure of funds for remediation.
(3) A tremendous amount of money has been invested in the JLS area in the last few years. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that JLS has blossomed into a thriving restaurant and entertainment venue.
Townsend pressed Knauss about why Knauss’ group hasn’t made an offer to buy the A’s. (He has said in the past that there is a group in Oakland that is interested in buying the A’s; unfortunately, Lew Wolff and John Fisher have shown no inclination to sell.) Knauss said he felt it’s important to respect MLB’s protocol in that regard and to first try to work with current ownership on plans for a new ballpark, although he acknowledged that “getting the team to the table has been a struggle.” When asked whether Clorox would want to buy naming rights to a new stadium, Knauss responded with positive enthusiasm.
Townsend also mentioned that a vote that will be necessary before any public funds can be spent on a ballpark in San Jose. He asked Knauss if he believed Oakland voters would approve such spending. Knauss replied that Oakland and Alameda County have some funds set aside for this project, and, most important, no public vote will be required for those funds to be utilized.
Knauss said he expects that within a few weeks a lease extension for the A’s at the Coliseum will be completed and the Howard Terminal site will be presented to Major League Baseball as a viable option for a new stadium. With a solid alternative in hand, perhaps Bud Selig can convince his old fraternity brother either to work with Oakland or to sell the team to Knauss’ group. In either case, the perils of litigation with San Jose would be avoided.
We couldn’t agree more with Don Knauss: The A’s deserve a world-class ballpark and Oakland deserves to keep the A’s!!