11 October 2005

Fremont City Council approves study

The preliminary feasibility study was unanimously approved (5-0) tonight in what could be viewed as a formality. City Manager Fred Diaz plans to spend $30-50,000 on the study, which will cover land use, transportation, and costs for future services for the planned development. The study will take 90 days or more to complete, and there is no hurry since it should dovetail with Wolff's announcement prior to or at the beginning of the 2006 season.

There were some interesting comments from the mayor and council members:
  • Mayor Bob Wasserman said that he was first contacted by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. Wasserman isn't operating under any delusions regarding the concept. There is huge potential, but there are also downsides. The effort is rooted in the idea of keeping the team in Alameda County. Whatever plan comes out of it will be a joint effort between the city and county.
  • Council member Dominick Dutra asked what kinds of communications the city has had with Wolff. The answer was that they were basically "outreach"-type discussions, but nothing of any real substance since the A's are still negotiating with Oakland.
  • The study isn't just for a ballpark. Another idea is a regional sports facility, which could mean any number of things: sports complex, soccer stadium and fields, almost anything. The facility could be built alongside or instead of the ballpark.
  • There was no mention of public or private financing. It's too early in the process to start discussing such specifics.
Probably the most interesting thing about the session was what happened before the council approved the study. The council acknowledged several police officers who had reached 20-25 years of service with the Fremont Police Department. Most of them had either been born in Fremont or spent the majority of their lives there. It was rather refreshing to see that in an area that is known for its large transplant and transient population, that these officers had been home for so long. It also speaks to the "smallness" of Fremont, that this city of 200,000 has a sense of community and security that belies its physical size: 93 square miles, the second largest in terms of area in the Bay Area. Council member Anu Natarajan mentioned that local writer Jaime Richards felt that Fremont was "on the verge of greatness," and Fremont's suburban nature will always keep it in a struggle between its near-small town character and its cosmopolitan desires. It's the same issue that has dogged San Jose for much of the last 25 years, though San Jose's sheer population size makes it far too big for anyone to feel that sense of intimacy there.

One more thing - council member Bob Wieckowski donned an A's cap while calling for the motion to approve the study. Natarajan seconded the motion, and the vote was taken. The session was adjourned shortly thereafter.

p.s. (10:03 pm) - Where do people get the idea that "Oakland" will remain with the team name if it moves to Fremont? Fremont also wants to get on the map with this move. It's not entirely altruistic. If Fremont's going to make the large investment (land, money), they should get the team name. It was part of the two Santa Clara deals. I hate to bring it up, but there's no glamour in the name "Oakland." There's a better chance of the team being named "The San Francisco Athletics of Fremont" than the retention of the name "Oakland Athletics." Leave your emotional attachments at the door, folks. To the victors go the spoils.


Kenny said...

Thanks for the update. As regarding to a "regional sports facility" I remember a few years ago the city council thinking about building a big soccer complex to host youth soccer torunaments and to lure the Earthquakes from San Jose.

pickinmachine said...

Thanks for the detailed update. Growing up in Fremont I never really thought of Fremont as a city that would try to become the next San Jose, or develop any cosmopolitan qualities. Thats okay though, I always think of Fremont as a nice place to live and raise a family.

In response to the namimg of the team, I have to disagree. First of all, I imagine that A's ownership will still be providing nearly all of the financial resources required other than the right to buy the land with the city booting any current residents. So if the A's put up the money to fund this ballpark, then they should have a huge say in what the team identity is. Fremont A's is not very potent from a marketing point of view. If they did dump the name Oakland, they might have to entertain a regional type name ala Golden State, at least initially. Kind of embarrasing but it sure beats Portland or Sacramento. I definetly think that Fremont is a solid option should Oakland fall through. Thanks again for the update and I'll be sure to check in here more often.

Kenny said...

RE: "Oakland Athletics"

By keeping the Oakland in the A's, even if they are in Fremont can be used as a tie to past dynasties.

That's a marketing angle the A's use all the time

The Jets and Giants don't really play in New York, they play in East Rutherford, NJ.

Or they can steal a trick from the Angles playbook and call the team "the Oakland Athletics of Fremont."

Kenny said...

Also, if Oakland was playing such a negative part of their marketing strategy, why don't the A's just rename themselves the San Francisco Athletics of Oakland?

Anonymous said...

"New York" Giants. "New York" Jets. "Los Angeles" Rams (when in Anaheim". "Dallas" Cowboys.

They could end up going with a state name like Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, etc.

"California Athletics" I could get used to that.

Marine Layer said...

All good points, but they're not rooted in the deal. If Fremont becomes committed to this, they will negotiate this item, and they'll probably be pretty hardnosed about it. I work in Fremont, and I can't begin to recount the number of times I told out-of-town business contacts that I worked there, which was followed up with a "where is that?" response. This move is designed to reduce instances of that happening.

Fremont's entering this with the idea that there's a price to get in the game, but that price won't include civic pride. Just like Wolff, they'll come up with a proposal and if Wolff responds, great. If the price is too high, they won't pursue it. Fremont's image was brought up at the meeting, by the way. This is not a small issue for them.

The mention of other markets isn't a good comparison. Irving is about the size of Fremont, but it's also less than 1/6th the size of Dallas. Fremont's half the size of Oakland and is trying to make a name for itself. The New York teams keep the name for the marketing value. You think someone's going to call the teams the "East Rutherford Giants and Jets?" Come on now. East Rutherford, NJ has a population of less than 10,000. And I won't go into detail about the New Jersey Devils' and Nets' attendance woes.

It's all about image. If the name Oakland had some real cachet, there'd be an obvious case for it. The only case right now is history, and that sadly is a tenuous one at best.

If you want an indicator of where this is headed, just look at the A's official website. Then look at the Giants site."A's Brand" doesn't just serve a marketing purpose. It also serves to deemphasize "Oakland." Whether that's intentional or not I don't know. It is curious...

Anonymous said...

I agree, it doesn't make sense to keep the name Oakland Athletics if the city of Oakland refuses to step up to the plate like Fremont. I mean, what's in it for Oakland to keep them in Oakland if they'll keep the name "Oakland" on their jerseys and just move a few miles down the road? Something's gotta give.

I would not mind one bit if the name changed to "Fremont Athletics". It would actually make being a fan of the team feel more intimate and exclusive, IMHO. And how good will it feel to rub it in the faces of opposing fans when a city they've never heard of is kicking the crap out of their team and winning championships in the near future?

For example, I was living in New York when the Angels knocked the Yankees out of the ALDS in 2002, and it was very satisfying to see the look on the faces of Yankee fans when they would ask themselves "We lost to Anaheim? Where the f*ck is Anaheim??". Unfortunately, now when the Yanks lose to the Angels, they feel less humiliated since they're losing to L.A..

Michael Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Patrick said...

What's so unglamorous about the name "Oakland"? "San Francisco" only sounds glamorous because the city is also. Same goes for Chicago and New York, because people love those places. It's very subjective. But if you love Oakland--or Fremont--the team's city has a ring to it.

Anonymous said...

I also grew up and lived the majority of my life in Fremont and continue to work there. The citizens will not want a ballpark in Fremont. Hell, Mission San Jose residents didn't want to turn Mission into Mexico (as quoted in the local newspaper), when the School District boundaries changed and some of the Irvington students would change schools. They certainly will not want the blacks from Oakland coming in on BART. The Mission residents will not want the light pollution that goes along with a ball park. No glamour in the name OAKLAND!?! Why because you say so? Hell two professional sports teams go by Oakland, an airport, and the Mormon Temple all go by the moniker Oakland. I was in Wales and people knew of Oakland because of our sports teams. Glamour is what you make of it. A hell of a lot more people know of Oakland over San Jose (isn't that in Costa Rica) globally anyway. Why do you think they go by Silicon Valley.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Fremont I can also attest to its "smallness". It was always viewed as a bedroom community. I guess it's trying to shed that image now.

From a logistical standpoint, a ballpark in Fremont sure looks a lot easier then the current Oakland project. The freeway access would be great, with 880 and 680 close by. The S. Fremont Blvd. interchange at 880 was upgraded just a few years ago so it should be able to handle the traffic. There's currently a bottleneck on 880 at Mission Blvd where it goes down to 6 lanes, but it's currently under construction and will be done in 2008.

Besides the big BART question, the other big hurdle will be the residents who live in the $1+ million homes just east of 680. There's going to be a lot of NIMBY's in there and they will mobilize.

Georob said...

Wherever the A's play, they MUST be marketed as a regional team. Calling them the "Fremont" A's simply won't work. The only reason we briefly had the Anaheim Angels was to get the city involved with the ballpark improvements...that didn't last long, did it?

What to call the team is anyone's guess: "California" implies the Angels. "Golden State" is identified with the Warriors and all their problems. "East Bay" could work, but still limits you geographically(and do folks in Walnut Creek and Pleasanton REALLY identify with that term?)

My guess is that the name "Oakland" will stay for awhile. At least long enough to get a Fremont stadium built. They'll need help from Alameda County to do it and that means working with Oakland interests who'll feel jilted.

Fremont will get it's notoriety every time a game is broadcast, and every time you read a game recap in the paper or online. And having the stadium will enable the city to persue many other projects it otherwise could not. But as long as media outlets and the census bureau identify Fremont as part of the SF/Oakland/San Jose market, it will be difficult for the city to differentiate itself too much.

Had the Giants been able to move to Santa Clara, I don't think they would have taken that name. But even if they had, "Santa Clara" also refers to an entire region, not just the city. If it had been Sunnyvale or Cupertino making those demands, the Giants would have laughed in their faces.

Michael Patrick said...

The Alameda County A's. The Bay A's. Hmmm...

Georob said...

How about "Bay City"? Except that it would remind too many people of the "Bay City Rollers"



Marine Layer said...

Santa Clara negotiated the city's name into both the Giants and A's deals. It is a big deal to the cities. Don't discount it. We as fans have a different perspective tied to team history, continuity. City politicians (except those in Oakland) aren't as concerned about that.

Anonymous said...

Is Arlington getting any naming rights when the Cowboys move there in a few years? I don't know any of the details of that deal and was surpised to find out that they weren't moving to Dallas.

Also, I'm not sure if it's a fair comparison, but if Arlington could score a premiere NFL franchise, maybe, just maybe, Fremont could land the A's.

Marine Layer said...

Alas, Arlington did not get the Cowboys named after them. No way was Jerry Jones going to let that happen. Jones had a plan B to use as leverage - a stadium in Fair Park, at the site of the old Cotton Bowl. Somehow all of the money and TV/radio time spent convincing Arlington voters of the goodness of the plan worked, and Arlington's paying the tab - again. They did this with the Rangers as well. Of course this is Arlington we're talking about, the largest city in the US without a public transportation system.

Georob said...

The only way I see Fremont getting away with such a demand would be if it's the last(and I mean absolute last)chance to keep the A's in the Bay Area. Otherwise, it would be a terrible marketing mistake. I wonder if the other MLB owners could even veto such a change?

Anaheim's situation is not a fair comparison. Anaheim was known worldwide as the home of Disneyland(as well as the terminus of Jack Benny's fictional railroad) long before they were allowed to have their name on a MLB team. And as we all know, it lasted only what: two years? three years? "Angels Of Anaheim" covers legal butts, but all the official titles say "LA" now.

I can't think of any other major professional sports that use the name of the suburb. If it's allowed to happen here, Fremont(like Anaheim) will quietly give way to something else within a few years.

Marine Layer said...

If you can convince of some great value in retaining "Oakland" in the name, then I'll believe it. Right now, I don't see it. Why would Wolff/Fisher make such an effort to keep the name? If they market the team as "A's Brand" or "Baysball" or some other generic term, Oakland has already been marginalized. That should tell you what they think of the place already.

Bleacher Dave said...

In Sunday's (10/16) Matier & Ross, Fremont's mayor says that Fremont would not demand that the A's drop Oakland.

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