16 December 2005

Notes from the SJ ballpark scoping session

I showed up a few minutes late for the EIR scoping session, but I think I got most of the pertinent points. The schedule is as follows:
  • Public comments for this scoping phase are due January 3, 2006.
  • The Draft EIR will be released sometime in late February, with a 45-day public review period to follow.
  • The final EIR will be up for Planning Commission certification around May 31.
  • June 20 is the deadline for any appeals.
  • The plan will then be placed before the City Council for a vote. If successful, it will become a ballot measure in the November 7, 2006 General Election.
Other things of note:
  • Several residents from local neighborhoods expressed concern about noise and traffic abatement. There is a distinct possibility that some streets in the Delmas Park area would be closed on game days/nights to better manage traffic. Soundproofing may have to be done on nearby houses and the ballpark would have to be built in a way that best mitigates noise and light pollution.
  • Parking is going to be a problem, especially when the SJ Water lots are developed. Something will have to replace lost parking.
  • The redone street grid will have some unknown impact. The Autumn Parkway development being planned for the area north of the arena is not budgeted at this time.
  • Various ballpark configurations will be studied for their potential impacts and fitness.
  • Alternate sites will be included as part of the EIR.
  • District 6 councilman (and county supervisor candidate) Ken Yeager was present.
  • I asked a question about PG&E's willingness to reconfigure the substation on the site. This does not appear to be a feasible option, which means the substation would have to either stay intact or relocate.
  • An option to dig a bowl for the stadium and place the field 15-25 feet below street level will be studied. I brought it up because I think it could help mitigate light, noise, and vertical (FAA) clearance.
  • Initial drawings continue to have the ballpark in the northeast orientation. It also has the ballpark jutting into what is now Autumn Street. That would force Autumn Street further east, next to Los Gatos Creek. One of the drawings showed a park on the creek's west bank.
We'll see how it goes from here. No news on this expected until after the end of the year.


Anonymous said...

Why do people still want a baseball stadium in San Jose? They are obviously unable to maintain a major league team. San Jose is nothing but a suburb people, get used to it.

Kenny said...

Are San Jose's efforts now solely focused on baseball now that the Earthquakes are out of the mix or is the MLS going to grant an expansion franchise to San Jose a la the Cleveland Browns.

Didn't San Jose and Cleveland share a ballet company one upon a time?

Georob said...

Okay, let me play devil's advocate here:

San Jose officials are laying the groundwork for a baseball stadium while MLB has stated many times that San Jose is in the Giants' territory. There has to be more than a few people in San Jose asking why the city is spending any effort at all on this.

Until a deal to work around territorial rights is made public, this is a total waste of time, manpower, and money on the part of San Jose officials, and it'll be interesting to see what type of opposition surfaces within the city.

tony d. said...

Georob, Let me play the role of blind optimist. The land that SJ is acquiring for a "ballpark" is currently designated for mix-used development. To that end, the city was going to have to get this land anyway, baseball or no baseball. I can see some high-rise condos, offices, or a "Santana Row"-like development going in at Diridon South. Now, if San Jose gets all the parcels and presents them to Lew Wolff, don't you think he would try to work out a deal with MLB (buddies Selig and Rheinsdorf) and the Giants to relocate the A's to SJ? I think so.

peanut gallery said...

That's right Tony. There's no risk at all for SJ. If baseball falls through, they can easily make a profit selling that land to a developer for housing, etc.

From the city's perspective, they need to eliminate all the barriers they can (land, infrastructure, zoning, etc). Territorial rights aren't one of them, so they'll have to leave that to Wolfe. It's a much more compelling pitch if they go to him with all that other stuff sewn up.

murf said...

For those not familiar with land use planning, this may seem like a bad idea or at best a chicken and egg proposition.

The city may be gambling on spending money right now on preparing an EIR for a ballpark, but it is a small price to wager for a potentially huge return. None of us are privy to the "odds" of this wager, but city hall clearly sees it as worth the gamble. Cities and Counties prepare EIR's for projects every year on prospective developments that never materialize. It's part of the planning process. Sometimes in the EIS, it becomes evident that impacts cannot be mitigated, and the project dies on the vine. If the determination coming out of the EIR is that this location is not feasible, then it won't go to the ballot in November; remember that a campaign to pass a ballpark measure would be much more expensive than conducting the EIS/EIR. This is the natural chronology of municiple planning.

Before it goes to the ballot in November, the city will have to have conducted some analysis as to its probability of being successful. Part of that analysis will undoubtedly be what the likelihood of surmounting territorial rights are. We can't know now what the structure of those rights will be after they expire in (April?) 2006. If conditions are right in November, the city would be kicking itself if it didn't bother to do some of the legwork upfront. If San Jose is to capitalize on it's slim chance of landing MLB, it has to have a stadium plan in place before the fact. If, at any time it becomes obvious that it can't happen, then as others have said, the land will be put to other uses already designated in the GP.

tony d. said...

Great post Murf,
However, did I read it correctly...the Giants territorial rights will expire in April of 06? This would be great if true, I just haven't read it anywhere else.

murf said...

Tony, while I didn't misspeak, that comment could be taken as overspeak.

The Major League Agreement specifies the rights and territories under which all teams operate. This agreement will sunset in 2006, I think in April, or maybe at the end of the season... either way, prior to a potential November 06 ballot measure.

In drawing a new agreement, territories could be adjusted. Baltimore/Washington will need to be addressed at that time, and Wolff could request that the Bay Area be examined as well. The case could be made at that time, that in other shared markets, the territories are shared, not split. If the owners agree in majority (in think it's 2/3rds, not just simple majority) then the Giants would be powerless to challenge. Nothing Selig has said to date has denied this possiblity either.

Will this request take place and would the owners side with the A's? Nobody knows yet, but a better understanding of the climate of MLB towards the idea will help SJ decide if a stadium package goes to the voters.

Georob said...

I don't believe there is an expiration date on the territorial agreement at all. Where'd you get that idea?

If that were the case, Lew Wolff probably wouldn't even be talking to Oakland about a stadium at all. In fact, Steve Schott probably wouldn't have even sold the team if he could have moved them to San Jose after the Coliseum lease is up in '07.

Much as I want the A's to stay in Oakland, I have to agree that San Jose would be a better place for them. But a lot(and I do mean A LOT)of stuff has to happen before that becomes a likelihood. If not, then there must be an understanding already in place with the Giants.

Marine Layer said...

There's no real sunset provision or expiration on territorial rights, but they are part of the Major League Agreement, which runs concurrently with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Both expire after the end of the 2006 season. Remember when MLB and MLBPA were frantically negotiating towards the end of the 2002 season? That's because the last CBA was set to expire, and a lockout or strike loomed. Neither party wanted to get into that situation.

Since the MLA expires next season, a new one will have to be drawn up with territorial rights defined. The commish and owners could have a vote during the winter meetings or some other time during the offseason on any changes in territorial rights. That would only happen if the terms were right, including any indemnification for the Giants. Otherwise the language would remain the same. Selig pretty much delayed the vote on the Expos' move to DC as long as he could while negotiating with Angelos. After the terms were worked out, the vote was mostly a formality. Even though those terms aren't part of the stadium location language, something will have to be put into the new MLA that describes the unique revenue-sharing relationship the Nats and O's have with MASN.

Kevin said...

I am probably very naive for thinking this, but I don't think the Giants should receive any compensation for "their" territorial rights.

Wally Haas generously granted the Giants rights to SC when they had plans on moving to SC. Granted the A's probably stood to gain a few fans with the Giants moving south, but nevertheless, Haas agreed to the transfer with no expectation of any compensation. Fast forward 10 years. Now the Giants not only own the rights to SC, but they still have their snooty butts in SF.

The rights to the Bay Area should be shared, with no territorial restrictions. If the MLA is ever amended to reflect a shared market, SJ had better seize the opportunity, and not screw it up with a "no vote."

Maury Brown said...

The Major League Agreement specifies the rights and territories under which all teams operate. This agreement will sunset in 2006, I think in April, or maybe at the end of the season... either way, prior to a potential November 06 ballot measure.

The current version of the MLB Constitution, from which the territories are outlined, expires in the current form at the end of 2006. That doesn't mean the whole document goes out the window. In fact, many parts of the Constitution have been in place since 1921 when it was called the Major League Agreement.

On overturning or restructuring territories...

Amendments to the territories can only be made by the Executive Council. Who's currently on the Council? Fred Wilpon, for one. The other? Peter Magowan.

For those that are interested in reading about the MLB Constitution, you can read Part I of my series on the document from last Monday, here on The Hardball Times

The conclusion of the series runs Monday on THT, and yes… territories is within it.

Genaro said...


Excellent work on the THT article as well as your work on Business of Baseball, it's much appreciated.

You know, I always come back to the problem of Haas giving the rights away to the Giants under the impression those rights were needed for a ballpark in San Jose.

I know that the "clean hands doctrine" is the idea that someone who is complaining cannot complain if the actions were also committed by the complainer.

Couldn't that be used to against Magowan being paid for the A's infringing on his rights of Santa Clara County if his acquistion of said rights was an infringement on the A's?

There are some other things I had mind like the Piazza trial in the instance of Santa Clara County being removed from the territorial rights.

I know I have said this before to Marine Layer but if Selig won't budge, I think the only way for the A's to make it into San Jose is for the County to sue MLB on the basis that they are preventing them to negotiate withing MLB.

Anonymous said...

This blog should be called "new San Jose ballpark." Seems like 75% of the information is on San Jose.


Kevin said...

"This blog should be called "new San Jose ballpark." Seems like 75% of the information is on San Jose."

I don't think Wolff wants the team in Oakland, and he outlined many of his concerns during his press conference over the summer. Whether we like it or not, I believe things are going to openly start moving in San Jose's direction in the next 6-12 months. Up until now we've only heard about the City of SJ acquiring land to possibly build a ballpark. Once the April 2006 deadline has come and gone, Wolff will actively start looking for other sites. At that point, I wouldn't be surprised if we actually heard Wolff openly start lobbying for an amendment to the territorial rights. Whatever the case, you had better believe he and Fisher have already started laying out plans for a move.

Just my gut feeling.

Marine Layer said...

I would love to write more about Oakland's progress on a ballpark. I've put out 3 separate ballpark concepts within the city of Oakland. Unfortunately, nothing new is happening in Oakland. At least not right now.

Anonymous said...

The A's season ticketholder office is telling us (full season ticketholders) that the A's expect a "major stadium announcement" by opening day. Any clue what the news is projected to be at that early date?

Kevin said...


Was the information about the major ballpark announcement communicated to season ticketholders via letter/flier, or was it casually passed on by someone in the ticket office? Also, are you the individual who previously wrote that a businessman claimed first hand knowledge that Wolff has pulled his North of 66th site plan off the table? Can anyone confirm or add to any of the above?

Two very interesting comments. The plot thickens.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, etc,

No, I'm not the north 66th poster. Sorry for not signing, as I should have. I'm a long time MVP full-season ticketholder.

Before renewing my 2006 seats 2 weeks ago, I asked about the new stadium and if they had even a "guess" as to when. I didn't want a guarantee, but a guess would be nice....hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel.

Personally, I expected a 2-3 year negotiation, plus 3 year construction type reply.

Their (A's season ticketholder office) reply though surprised me, as they stated that "there would be a major announcement by opening day". They couldn't elaborate further, but hopefully something big is in the works.

While the info I have have isn't consistent with what's been written so far, just wondered if anybody else has heard anything similar, or hopefully more specific.



Anonymous said...

genaro's argument concerning San Jose's standing to sue MLB for interfering in its economic development seems intriguing. The rights for SC were ceded to the Giants with the implicit understanding that the Giants would relocate there. Correct me where I am in error, but a bond measure failed in San Jose did it not? Yet the Giants went ahead and built a stadium in SF without public financing. Was SJ offered the same type of arrangement at the time? In other words, could SJ make a legitimate claim that they were misled and thereby deprived of the opportunity for economic development via a MLB franchise? Can Mcgowan be held responsible for economic harm by implying relocation and failing to do so and that his continued claim of "territorial rights" are continuing to impede SJ's economic development?