05 October 2005

Tribune: Progress internally, but externally?

According to a new article in the Tribune, there is some good and bad news about the ballpark. The good news is that Oakland has assigned a staffer to work on the project, and that IDLF said that the city should have a detailed report (feasibility study?) done this winter. The bad news is that apparently none of the area landowners have yet been contacted by the city. That's not entirely bad since the city is still trying to figure out proper market values of the properties, along with relocation costs. It would behoove Oakland to make sure they were armed with the proper information before they start knocking on doors. Then again, the "...consensus around here is that the A's are doing this as a posturing move," according to one of the landowners who runs a soapmaking business. Perhaps the operative rule is, "You do not talk about ballpark."


Bleacher Dave said...

The good news is that Wolff GETS it..

"In the last seven years, we have been very competitive ... but for some reason, there is a limitation to the attendance we are able to draw," Wolff said. "Naturally, I think our team deserves a lot more attendance. We are in the private business, so it is up to us to figure out a way to get it.

"The way I figured it out is through a new venue," he added.

In an earlier thread, ML mentioned that Oakland's perception could be turned around by the A's. Some of the perceptions about Oakland are deeply rooted is cultural and social stereotypes. The A's aren't going to change those.

Marine Layer said...

Well, BleacherDave, I'm not of the opinion that the A's and Wolff are going to rescue Oakland from the depth of poverty or anything like that. It is important to understand what Wolff will be selling if the project goes through.

First, he's creating a brand new community within Oakland city limits that may not have any really identifiable links to Oakland. The ballpark may be the anchor, but the community itself appears to be somewhat self-contained, with its own services, BART station, etc.

The purpose of this is to raise the prices of housing in the community by making it more attractive. The closer the developers can get to the Alameda County median price the better.

Again, there's no implicit intent to remake Oakland. If it causes further development to occur surrounding the community that is in a similar vein, then Oakland will be remade simply through turnover and "progress."

I can't emphasize enough how this development is nearly as big and aggressive as anything we've seen in the Bay Area in 20 years except for Mission Bay and the former military properties (Mare Island, Alameda NAS, Treasure Island). It's bigger than what Google is proposing at NASA/Ames. And it's the only project of its type that is based mostly on currently occupied land.

Bleacher Dave said...

It was recently announced that his company is developing the Hilton Hotel in the LA sports and entertainment project. $4? Billion dollar privately financed project near the Staples center.

There's a development near E. 14th and Durant ( Durant Square) at the San Leandro line that has seen some impressive appreciation.

Marine Layer, I wouldn't see that Oakland is in the depths of poverty. That's just the perception. As you know, Oakland runs the gamut of the economic spectrum.

Georob said...

Perhaps this is a good time to give us a primer on the current economics of baseball as it relates to ballparks, attendance and revenue.

My impression has been that the A's are unwilling to pay more to keep players because they don't have a high enough season ticket base to protect themselves in case the team doesn't do well. Instead, they strive to put a team on the field every year that is competetive, generates walk-up business and positive vibes. However, this is undermined by their playoff failures and free agent defections; both of which get plenty of media coverage.

People point to Walter Haas' ownership years as the right way to run a ballclub. But there were only four years (89-92) that the club drew higher attendance than numbers than the 2.2 mil we can't seem to crack now. And those were pretty much our World Series years. As for the ballpark? Well, except for Mt. Davis, it was pretty much the same park as today.

So, when was the last time you heard someone say: "I don't go to A's games since I can't see the Oakland hills anymore!"? So, is it REALLY the ballpark after all? Just what HAS changed in the last 15 years?

What we hear is that the economics of MLB have changed to where the teams rely more on corporate season ticket holders to build an attendance base. Fair enough. So then, what does a new ballpark provide that the old stadiums didn't? Luxury boxes? Seating configurations? Fancy scoreboards?
Wi-Fi? And wouldn't it be cheaper to remodel the old parks to provide those things?

I'm obviously playing "Devil's advocate", as I'm for a new ballpark as much as anyone for two reasons: Getting fans closer to the field, and the A's having control over the facility. But except for those, I have to admit that our current venue could indeed be upgraded to provide a lot of things at a reduced cost to all.

And you know what? That's what our opponents are going to be saying, and saying very loudly.

Bleacher Dave said...

The late Doug Pappas wrote a primer on baseball finances based on the 2001 financial disclosures to Congress. It appeared on Baseball Prospectus.