22 December 2005

Purdy connects the dots

Update 12/22 09:00 - David Pollak has a wrtiten an article on the complexity of the soccer-baseball relationship.

Ever the ballpark advocate, Mark Purdy's new column
in the Merc builds on the theory that a soccer stadium initiative will sprout into something containing both baseball and soccer facilities. From this there is one glaring question: Is the pursuit of a soccer stadium an end-around to a ballpark?

Yes and No. Yes in the sense that it's an extremely clever way to get the facilities on the ballot. Separately, they're much weaker than they are together. There's no commitment from Wolff to bring the A's to San Jose, but there is a pretty clear threat should a ballot initiative be approved. No because territorial rights are still a major problem, but the thinking may be that the offer is so good for Wolff (and by extension MLB) that it would be foolish for the commish to pass it up.

So what would it look like? Try this:

The key to the idea, as I've said before, is the inclusion of public park space. There is a lack of courts and playing fields in the Midtown-Downtown area, and by including them in the package, stadium proponents could get a crucial ally that may otherwise be a NIMBY foe.

The 22-25,000-seat soccer stadium sits on top of what is now Park Avenue. To get the right amount of space, Park Avenue would have to be closed down. It actually works out quite well, since any excavated ground can be used to fill in the underpass leading to the railroad tracks. Close down Park west of the tracks for about a block, and the neighborhood will have 4-5 acres of park facilities linked together by an underpass. There would be plenty of room for the following:
  1. A public park situated west of the ballpark with picnic areas and unique landscaping
  2. A multi-purpose playing surface for a youth soccer field or sandlot
  3. Basketball and tennis courts west of the ballpark
  4. A pedestrian-only plaza or paseo between the two stadiums
  5. A single vehicle access ramp for both facilities and other shared infrastructure
There's more to the concept including ballpark specifics, but this is all I'll release for now.


Georob said...

Maybe this has been covered already, but how much of San Jose's plan is dependent upon the passing of a ballot initiative?

Remember all the initiatives in SF for the Giants that went down to defeat? Santa Clara couldn't it, either. Finally(if memory serves me correct) the initiative required to get Pac Bell Park started passed by a tiny margin; and it was clearly spelled out that the stadium was to be built with private money.

Once you get the general(ie: voting)public involved, building a baseball stadium no longer seems as urgent as schools, roads, and putting more cops on the street. Which is exactly the problem in Oakland.

Marine Layer said...

San Jose's plan does not get past square one without a referendum being passed. That doesn't kill the deal, however. Think creatively. That's all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

Is Park Avenue in the area of Diridon South viewed as a major thoroughfare? Would closing it create major traffic problems for the downtown? Great work with the concepts, keep it up!

Marine Layer said...

There would be some controversy about closing Park Ave. But the removal of a thoroughfare might be mitigated by the fact that there would be less through traffic in the area. It looks like a zero-sum game. Planning docs have drawn up a redone Park Ave as a tree-lined Boulevard, yet it doesn't really function as a thoroughfare because through much of that part of town it's only one lane in each direction. What many in the area really want is a road that will connect the area to the shopping center on Coleman and Taylor since nothing will for some time due to budget issues. That was mentioned at the ballpark scoping session, and I bet it will be included on the ballot measure as an additional incentive. That road happens to be Autumn Street/Parkway, immediately east of the stadium sites.

Georob said...

So, when would a referendum go before the voters? If it's while the A's are still working with Oakland and before an agreement is reached on territorial rights, it's not gonna stand a chance of passing.

Imagine the campaign any opposition to this will mount:

"Citizens of San Jose, you're being asked to use tax dollars, YOUR dollars to build a stadium for a baseball team that has made no plans to move here, in a league that says we can't have a team anyway. What a waste, VOTE NO ON MEASURE X"

Even if the stadium is privately funded, any use of city resources and manpower to help build it is a use of taxpayer money, so that claim is not a lie (Just a stretch of the truth, nothing new to political ads)

Remember everyone, the general public is not inclined to "read between the lines" like we do about such things as territorial rights and Lew Wolff's intentions.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all just give up, not have any vision whatsoever, and allow the A's to move to Portland, Vegas or (God forbid) Sacramento! Nonsense!! If cities like Detroit can get stadiums built, my bet is that San Jose can as well. I agree with you Marinelayer, let's start to think creatively and outside the box.

Kevin said...

Something I really haven't heard discussed is whether the Bay Area is even interested in another MLS team.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest soccer fan around. For those that do follow the MLS, how would you gauge the popularity of the sport/league here in the Bay Area? I did a search to find out the Earthquake's attendance over the past 9 years. Here's what I found.

Obviously the group which owned the Earthquakes didn't feel as though there was enough interest, otherwise they wouldn't have moved to Houston. I'm just curious as to whether we even want to consider building a soccer stadium if the interest is not there.

Marine Layer said...

Rule A of stadium measures: Outspend your opponents 10-to-1. Either way local airwaves and mailboxes will be flooded by pro-stadium propaganda. Opponents can try to push their agenda forward, but their voices will probably be drowned out.

That is exactly what will happen for a San Jose stadium initiative. The ballot measure will come in either November 2006 or June 2007. Local groups from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to SJ Downtown Association will be throwing money at the campaign. Not to mention that Baseball San Jose has raised some money on its own. The local groups have been preparing for this for some time.

True, San Jose is still in an awkward position on how to pitch the ballpark plan. But we've already seen the landscape change a lot in the last six months and it's likely that it will continue to change. I don't think it'll be simply a stadium bill. It'll be a "Finish Downtown San Jose" bill.

Georob said...

You wanna get creative, here's my idea:

Deal with territorial rights first. Reach an agreement with Selig, Wolff, and Macgowan of what concessions need to be made.

Wolff then goes back to Oakland and says he's essentially free to go to San Jose. I guarantee you, Oakland will be now be ready to cut a deal to keep the team. If so, no change in territories need to be made. If not, Wolff goes to San Jose(I'll presume Fremont never enters the picture)

With those two obstacles out of the way, we can then go to the voters of San Jose. However, the A's still better be ready to think "outside the box", if the voters still don't like this.

Taxpayers can be funny creatures.

tony d. said...

I think once San Jose get's all the pieces of land together and presents them to Lew Wolff, an agreement for the territorial rights COULD be ironed out. Remember, at the end of the day they (Wolff, Magowan, MLB heirarchy) are all businessman looking to make a buck. As for Oakland cutting a deal with the A's, unfortunately it's appearing more and more that this idea is wishful thinking..."fighting crime/poverty or fork out taxpayer money for a ballpark?" And speaking of "funny creatures", we are all taxpayers Georob. We can be very funny if given the wrong information. San Jose voters rejected the proposed utility tax/Giants back in 92 based on the recession and mis-information from the tax watch dog groups. "NO TAXES FOR SPORTS"...even though it would have cost us ONLY $34 a year in extra money for utilities. Would such a tax proposal fly today? Besides, if a ballpark could be built in the same fashion as the Pittsburgh Penguins new arena, then the taxpayers have nothing to worry about. Great posts Georob!

Marine Layer said...

Rob, good idea but it doesn't reflect the reality of the situation. Right now Oakland doesn't really have any leverage. They're just a suitor - the incumbent, which helps - but a suitor nonetheless. Wolff playing hardball with Oakland isn't going to get him anywhere. They'll either have a site plan in time or they won't.

It's Magowan and the Giants that have the leverage, since territorial rights mean they have just as much say over where the A's can play as the A's themselves. If it comes a negotiation over territorial rights, it could be fierce and drawn out. It's Selig's job to ensure that it doesn't become a legal battle, to make it as smooth as possible.

Georob said...

This whole thing is a pure guessing game until Bud Selig makes his intentions known. Until then, all we have is what he's said publicly which is:

-That it was a mistake for the A's to move to Oakland because it hurt the Giants.

-That territorial rights are essentially binding and/or non-negotiable.

-That the A's must work out their difficulties within their current territory.

We also know that in the process of dealing with the Expos situation, Selig's been open to the concepts of contraction and relocation to places like Portland and Las Vegas.

And what has Bud Selig said about San Jose? Very little if any. Yet, everyone chooses to read between the lines and every tea leaf on the planet for clues that he's willing to negotiate territorial rights to bring baseball to San Jose.

But if we're to take the commissioner at face value, a reasonable person can only deduce that he wants the A's to work things out in Oakland. However, if that can't be done, he then prefers they leave(either by relocation or contraction)

Only if any of the above can't be done does San Jose become an option to save a weak franchise that can't be sold, moved, or put out of business.

I'll say this for the umpteenth time: A lot of time and a lot of events have to come to pass before we see the A's in San Jose.

Happy Holidays, Rhamesis! And thank you so much for starting this blog.