11 October 2005

Fremont City Council approves study

The preliminary feasibility study was unanimously approved (5-0) tonight in what could be viewed as a formality. City Manager Fred Diaz plans to spend $30-50,000 on the study, which will cover land use, transportation, and costs for future services for the planned development. The study will take 90 days or more to complete, and there is no hurry since it should dovetail with Wolff's announcement prior to or at the beginning of the 2006 season.

There were some interesting comments from the mayor and council members:
  • Mayor Bob Wasserman said that he was first contacted by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty. Wasserman isn't operating under any delusions regarding the concept. There is huge potential, but there are also downsides. The effort is rooted in the idea of keeping the team in Alameda County. Whatever plan comes out of it will be a joint effort between the city and county.
  • Council member Dominick Dutra asked what kinds of communications the city has had with Wolff. The answer was that they were basically "outreach"-type discussions, but nothing of any real substance since the A's are still negotiating with Oakland.
  • The study isn't just for a ballpark. Another idea is a regional sports facility, which could mean any number of things: sports complex, soccer stadium and fields, almost anything. The facility could be built alongside or instead of the ballpark.
  • There was no mention of public or private financing. It's too early in the process to start discussing such specifics.
Probably the most interesting thing about the session was what happened before the council approved the study. The council acknowledged several police officers who had reached 20-25 years of service with the Fremont Police Department. Most of them had either been born in Fremont or spent the majority of their lives there. It was rather refreshing to see that in an area that is known for its large transplant and transient population, that these officers had been home for so long. It also speaks to the "smallness" of Fremont, that this city of 200,000 has a sense of community and security that belies its physical size: 93 square miles, the second largest in terms of area in the Bay Area. Council member Anu Natarajan mentioned that local writer Jaime Richards felt that Fremont was "on the verge of greatness," and Fremont's suburban nature will always keep it in a struggle between its near-small town character and its cosmopolitan desires. It's the same issue that has dogged San Jose for much of the last 25 years, though San Jose's sheer population size makes it far too big for anyone to feel that sense of intimacy there.

One more thing - council member Bob Wieckowski donned an A's cap while calling for the motion to approve the study. Natarajan seconded the motion, and the vote was taken. The session was adjourned shortly thereafter.

p.s. (10:03 pm) - Where do people get the idea that "Oakland" will remain with the team name if it moves to Fremont? Fremont also wants to get on the map with this move. It's not entirely altruistic. If Fremont's going to make the large investment (land, money), they should get the team name. It was part of the two Santa Clara deals. I hate to bring it up, but there's no glamour in the name "Oakland." There's a better chance of the team being named "The San Francisco Athletics of Fremont" than the retention of the name "Oakland Athletics." Leave your emotional attachments at the door, folks. To the victors go the spoils.

Fremont City Council meeting tonight

Fremont's City Council is considering conducting a ballpark preliminary feasibility study tonight. Here are the specifics:


    Consideration of a Preliminary Study and the Possibility of a Proposal to the Oakland Athletics Baseball Team to Locate in Fremont

    Contact Person:

    Name: Fred Diaz Christine S. Daniel

    Title: City Manager Deputy City Manager

    Dept.: City Manager’s Office City Manager’s Office

    Phone: 510-284-4002 510-284-4008


    RECOMMENDATION: Authorize staff to retain a consultant and conduct a preliminary feasibility study or studies to enable the Council to determine whether to make a proposal to the Oakland Athletics baseball team to locate in Fremont, should their ongoing negotiations with the City of Oakland not prove successful.

If you're interested, the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Council Chambers is at 3300 Capitol Avenue in Fremont, within walking distance of the Fremont BART station and the Fremont Hub shopping center. I'll be there, and I should have a follow-up post later tonight.