30 March 2005

Press Conference on Friday

Lewis Wolff will be formally introduced as the new managing partner of the A's on Friday. Ballpark plan unveiling then? Maybe, maybe not.

I won't be there due to my day job, but I hope the media brings up some good questions, not just the same-old, same-old stuff (moving, territorial rights, Billy Beane's extension). Some examples of good questions:

  1. Steve Schott made a $100 million pledge towards a new Oakland ballpark while you were in the VP of venue development position. Now that you are the majority partner, has that stance from ownership changed at all? If so, how much?
  2. Do you have a generally agreeable figure for the amount of public investment required for a new ballpark? If so, can you shed some light on what that figure is?
  3. You have mentioned that the Coliseum is probably the easiest site to develop, but other Oakland sites are being explored. Is the Estuary/Oak-to-9th site one of these? If there are others, what are they?
  4. Gensler and HOK have been mentioned as firms that may be involved in the project. Can you clarify which architect(s) you are working with?
  5. What will the design process be like? How much will the public be involved? (HOK tends to be very focus group-based)
  6. Are you leaning towards a specific theme or type of construction when designing the ballpark?
  7. Is the ownership group pursuing alternatives to the current media situation, such as operating a radio station, switching cable channels from FSN to Comcast, etc.?

If you have other examples, please post them in comments.

New Brewers owner thinking retail

In what could be a harbinger of things to come for Oakland, new Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is exploring opportunities to develop land around Miller Park. He even has thought about the issue of preserving the large parking lot there for tailgaters:

Attanasio said he already has been taught about the tradition of tailgating in Milwaukee and the importance of convenient parking at Miller Park.

"I am confident we could come up with a mix that would work," he said. "I look at this as an opportunity to make this an even better place to visit."

Like the Coliseum, Miller Park has over 10,000 parking spaces and is conveniently near an interstate freeway. The new structure replaced the aging but venerable Milwaukee County Stadium, which for decades was a multipurpose facility that had little character.

That's where the parallels end. Miller Park, unlike the Coliseum complex, is a single-attraction venue with little development, especially residential, immediately around it. The Coliseum complex has both the stadium and arena, which offer entertainment all year-round. Miller Park only has the baseball season. The Coliseum also has BART and AC Transit serving it. Milwaukee not only does not have any kind of rail transit system like BART or light rail, but the buses that serve Miller Park only run during baseball games.

Although the city of Milwaukee is open to development ideas, it would appear that luring retail to the area is not a slam-dunk. Even with the differences in comparison to the Oakland situation, Miller Park could become a good case study for any future Coliseum-area development, especially if Milwaukee and the Brewers pursue the construction of a hotel on-site.

Sale goes through

From ESPN and

Vote at 2 PM

They'll need at least 3/4 of the owners to vote yes. All indications are that there will be little-to-no resistance.

There's another angle I hadn't considered until now for John Fisher. Fisher does not have any official ties to the Gap, but he did have a share of the Giants while SBC Park was being built, and he still manages money for the Fisher family, much of which is still on the Gap's board. Could there be some sort of quid pro quo involving his being the majority partner? For instance, Fisher may have been brought in to prop up the bid, and in return, the Gap or one of its subsidiaries would get a good deal on exclusive advertising rights in the ballpark. The Gap used to have prominence in the 'Stick, where the outfield fence had Gap signs in the power alleys (yes, the pun was intended). With SBC, the right field facade is one large Old Navy advertisement. Would all Oakland stadium personnel wear Gap khakis or Banana Republic chinos? Would fans see Old Navy commercials on the big scoreboard display in between innings?

Fisher is pretty much guaranteed to make good money on his investment once a ballpark is completed and the franchise's value rises as a result, at which point he could sell some or all of his share (with MLB approval). Or perhaps Fisher is aggressive in nature, looking to push for a better position within local media (TV, radio, cable) for the team.