01 April 2005

Friday Press Conference Notes

Quotes from Lewis Wolff at today's 11 AM press conference:

Regarding what would happen if a deal could not be struck with Oakland/Alameda County:

"I'm not going to get into 'what if' at all.. We need to put blinders on and look at where we're at today."

When asked if he was "optimistic" about the effort:

"I wouldn't use the word optimistic. I believe we can implement if we can balance the issues here."

About other sites:

"I think there's a possibility that there's more than one site... We're going to start looking at other sites starting next month."

Regarding how long it will take to put it together:

"It's going to take the bulk of the next 12 months. We may get lucky."

About the financing gap, around $250-300 million:

"There may be other ways to finance this than the (strategy) 'How many luxury suites can you sell?' ... If I recall, (this area) is not so hot on seat licensing."

When asked if the San Jose Redevelopment Agency was wasting their time in buying a site for a ballpark:

"You're going to have to talk to them about that."

LA Times article on ownership change

Most of the same information, but two new tidbits came up in the article:

Commissioner Bud Selig said he had no trouble with Wolff's wanting a deal done by season's end — "They've had enough conversations," Selig said — but added that Wolff should not look elsewhere.

"I want him to concentrate on getting something done in Oakland," Selig said.
... and...
Wolff said he could limit a ballpark to 35,000 seats, to minimize construction costs and maximize demand for tickets. He said the A's could not afford all of what is estimated to be a $400-million bill but would pay 25% and would consider involvement in real estate development — surrounding the park and elsewhere in Oakland — that could help the city and county recoup investment costs.

The first comment indicates that Wolff is sticking with the 6-month planning deadline. Oakland/Alameda County voters have to decide on a new ballpark, even if it's entirely privately funded. Since this year's election would be a
special election, it's not likely to be on that ballot. Look for the issue to come up next March.

Limiting the ballpark capacity to 35,000 will create the inelastic demand the owners want, but reducing square footage will cut construction costs a lot. It costs roughly $300 per square foot to build a ballpark, and cutting 100-200,000 s.f. or more would lower the cost $30-60 million. In today's era of large club areas and concourses, it's hard to know where the cuts would occur. Pittsburgh was able to control costs significantly by keeping the design limited to two decks.