02 May 2005

East Bay Business Times article

Eric Lai wrote a good summary of the development climate in Oakland with regard to the ballpark situation. He contacted me last week, and while I didn't get back to him in time to be quoted, I did respond in time to give the paper permission to use my Coliseum South mockup on the front page. He interviewed Zennie Abraham of Sports Business Simulations, who is the first person I've seen actually discuss the use of redevelopment money (tax increment funds) to finance a ballpark at some length. That's important, because I think there's a misconception that an A's ballpark will be financed the same way that SBC Park was. The chances of that happening are not good. It's best to get the public educated as early as possible about the financial ramifications and costs. Proponents should start early to educate voters on how such a deal would be different from the Raiders' deal, and that kind of outreach could make a difference. At the same time, I will scrutinize such a deal myself to see if it is truly fair for the public. No polls have been taken of the populace, but I would speculate if one were taken now, poll results would be similar to those in the Twin Cities, where the majority of the public is currently against public financing of a ballpark. It would then fall on ballpark proponents to turn that number around in time for a June/November 2006 election.