25 January 2006

Stadia news from elsewhere

There are other sites that chronicle the daily happenings in the stadia world, but to put the A's situation in perspective, here's a short recap of what other teams and cities are doing.
  • DC - The lease deal should have been done months ago, but MLB decided to get greedy and not announce the winning ownership group until after the lease agreement was completed. Meanwhile, cost estimates continued to escalate dangerously close to the approved limit even though major features were being stripped away. Stuck at an impasse, MLB decided to go through arbitration. A mediator was brought in and got MLB and the District on the same pages on many issues. Among the issues that remain: who pays for cost overruns. A new lease is due this Friday, after which the District council will deliberate and vote on it. The District is also asking for permission to exercise its eminent domain powers and push out current landowners on the ballpark site by February 7.
  • Florida - The David Samson Nationwide Tour continues. The Marlins president has already visited San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Portland, while keeping options open in Miami-Dade county. Hialeah has jumped into the fray with site candidates, including the now closed Hialeah Race Track. Hialeah is intriguing because it compares in size and stature/recognition with our own Fremont. Both cities would pursue their respective local teams to get on the map. After meeting with Hialeah, Charlotte is next.
  • St. Louis - The new Busch Stadium is scheduled to open April 10. Though no updates have been posted to the Cards' website in several months, the ballpark should be largely complete, with testing of things like plumbing (the "flush every toilet at the same time" test) and electrical (scoreboards) needed before the place opens up. Busch will not have trouble selling out any seats or any of its 60 luxury suites or 45 (!) party suites. The latter number has to be a record of sorts, and St. Louis native Lew Wolff and his committee almost certainly cribbed some ideas when they visited Busch last year. Based on the drawings that 360 architecture made for Wolff's August presentation, the party suite concept is merely one resplendent course of a lavish meal, with condos or a hotel being the dessert. My major critique from looking at the renderings - those upper (fourth) deck seats are both quite high and far away from the action. To be fair, it appears that HOK followed a new design convention by splitting a large upper deck into two smaller decks to accommodate more ADA/wheelchair spaces. Still, the place looks utterly enormous.
  • NY Yankees - The pinstripers continue to clash with neighborhood activists crying foul over the temporary and permanent loss of parkland at the site where the new, $800 million Yankee Stadium is to be built. The Yanks claim that the net result will be a gain in parkland in the area, but at least one park facility will be on top of a multilevel parking garage. Unfortunately for the community activists, they appear to be fighting an uphill battle, since the Yanks have all necessary political power behind the stadium effort, and even noted baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist has come out in favor of the new stadium.
  • NY Mets - That other New York team's plans have been overshadowed by the hullabaloo surrounding the Yankees. The Mets' new digs will cost around $444 million, and since there's a large parking lot surrounding Shea Stadium instead of existing parkland or residential/commercial buildings, the ballpark will cost far less to construct since it will be located right next to Shea.
  • Kansas City - The Royals, Chiefs, and Jackson County (MO) have announced a plan for renovations to Kauffman Stadium and Arrowhead Stadium. Still refreshingly modern even after three decades, both stadia will get a single gigantic rolling roof which could cover either facility in the event of inclement weather. The roof structure resembles an oversized bus stop shelter or airplane hangar (thank goodness we live in California). Wider concourses and updated clubs/restaurants will be part of the package. Funding comes from two separate taxes that face an April referendum. Should the plan go forward after voter approval, Kansas City will be awarded a Super Bowl to occur sometime between 2012 and 2021.
  • San Diego - Little tweaks to Petco Park are due this season. Chief among them is the right-centerfield fence (a.k.a. "Death Valley"), which will be brought in 11 feet (to 400')and hopefully prevent Ryan Klesko from having early season nervous breakdowns.
  • Philadelphia - Homer-happy Citizens Bank Park is having its leftfield fences moved back a few feet with the wall extended to 10'6" high in hopes of cutting down on home runs.
  • Chicago Cubs - Expansion of the venerable bleacher section (1,702 seats) should be completed before the season starts. The most important feature is the fact that bleacher fans will be allowed to venture into the rest of the stadium, though fans in the grandstand won't be able to enter the bleacher sections.
  • Boston - The .406 Club at Fenway will finally have its hideous Plexiglas windows removed for the 2006 season, so that all of the wealthy people who can afford Red Sox tickets will have the pleasure of an open air game in Fenway. Roughly 1,100 seats will be added in all.
  • Tampa Bay - The D-Rays are spending $10 million on mostly cosmetic changes, such as cleaning and repainting of walls and seats. They're trying to do the seemingly impossible task of capturing an outdoor game feel in a dome.
Some changes are major, others incremental. Expect this cycle to continue as stadium operators continue to work to differentiate their game experience from other sports and entertainment.


Anonymous said...

A's roster + Frank Thomas, Milton Bradley, and Esteban Loiaza = WORLD SERIES RUN!!! Something we can finally all agree on!

Georob said...

Because the A's don't have a big turnover of players this year, it's quite likely that they may get off to a decent start, which in turn will drive up single ticket sales.

And you watch, if we end up selling out a whole lotta games this season, everyone will say that it was because of the improved performance of the team, not closing off the third deck.

The season ticket numbers will be monitored very closely, to be sure.

Georob said...

Had an experience last night that brings all this stadium talk home.

I live in Fresno, and was invited to attend the ECHL(sub minor league, mind you) Hockey All Star Game at our new "Save Mart Center" arena on the Fresno State Campus.
(SF gets AT&T, we get a Modesto grocery chain)

Truth be told, it's an impressive facility given the size of our market. And there are very nice luxury boxes in a ring around the entire arena. TV's, Wet Bars, etc.
In Frigging FRESNO for Christ's Sake! (Although they do get a lot of nice concerts that come through town)

Of course, CSU will no longer allow beer to be sold at Collegiate functions. I wonder if that applies to the boxes as well?

It ain't the college gym no more!

BTW, Fresno also has a new downtown stadium for the Grizzlies(Giants AAA team) Also impressive.

If Fresno can do this......

Anonymous said...

Hey, Georob;

I am one othe anonymous conspiracy theorist guys. I too live in the Fresno Selma. You are absolute dead on about the Save Mart center and the Grizzlies stadium. If Fresno can pull these things off and enjoy a modicum of success with them, then the possibilities are endless. That is why I suspect the A's will move to SJ. There are a lot of similarties between the two, accept than SJ's position allowed it to become a huge metropolitan area. I cannot believe that the potential that exists there will be left untapped by MLB. There is just to much money to be made there for conditions to remain as they are. The city of SJ has the clout and size to command respect on the national stage, if not the international. SJ has tried before to secure a team in the past and failed. That will not be true forever as it continues to gather influence and power. Anyone or anything that stands in the way of money is usually crushed. Thats the way the world works.

Kevin said...

"...if we end up selling out a whole lotta games this season, everyone will say that it was because of the improved performance of the team, not closing off the third deck."

My wife and I decided to purchase one of the A's mini plans today. The sales guy said that this off season has seen the largest increase in season ticketholders. The phones have been ring off the hook since the Thomas announcement. He cited the off season signings and the closing of the third deck as reasons for the spike in demand. I have to admit that the closing of the third deck did influence our decision. We normally purchase our tickets either thru Craigslist or Ticketmaster. We were concerned that the reduced pool of tickets would make it much more difficult to buy our tickets.

Lew Wolff knows what he's doing.

Kenny said...

Fresno State probably has an excellent alumni development staff (comaprison: Cal State "East Bay," a dingy portable on the edge of campus property). Last time was at Fresno State I remember their Alumni house was a nice victorian in the middle of campus.

As a school some deep pocketed alumni can make a big donation for a new stadium as a tax writeoff. Schott pretty much financed a new diamond for SCU by himself at $4 million.

Cal is starting a big renovation project with Memorial Stadium, also financed by alumni support.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt that the A's should see an upturn in attendance this year based on the upgraded roster. But if you have a consistantly packed 1st and 2nd deck, would that justify the A's staying in Oakland? It would be interesting to see where exactly the A's fans are coming from...Southern Alameda County, CoCo County, Santa Clara County, etc. Perhaps Marinelayer could conduct an impromptu poll of fans at the Coliseum..."Where are you from?" I imagine there are actuall citizens of Oakland that attend A's games, but I'll put my money on it that they are in the minority...GO A'S!!

Marine Layer said...

It would be pretty difficult to conduct a realistic survey at the Coliseum. The logistics are problematic. I am compiling statistics on transit usage which could be helpful later on.

Georob said...

Can't (or don't they already) ask your zip code when you buy tickets? And don't they get that info when you buy tix online with a credit card?

I'm sure the A's already have a good idea of where the fans come from, but my guess is that "ground zero" is probably some place like Hayward, continuing out the 580 and 880 corridors.

What I'm curious about how we're doing in Contra Costa, as I feel this is where the Giants being at SBC has hurt us. Particularly in the upper income areas around Walnut Creek, with executives and white collar folk who identify more with SF if only because they work there.

Bleacher Dave said...

I always thought it odd that the A's discontinued the frequent fan club. That's a great way to get the demographic data.

Given that only 400,000 of the 4? million Bay Area residents live in Oakland, of course Oakland residents are in the minority.

We've been sitting with the same group of fans for several years now. Our group resides in San Jose, Santa Clara, Redwood City, Hollister, Alameda & Oakland.

Wolff said he wanted to spend the money to see if the fans would come out. He added this offseason without subtracting. It seems that folk are plunking down for season tickets and we should see some spike in attendance if the team performs well. In past seasons, good results on the field haven't necessarily been rewarded at the box office. Potential A's fans have shown that on-field results are not enough.

Wolff's willingness to spend should certainly solidify support for the team. I think that the A's image as a shoestring operation has hurt them at the turnstiles more than anything else. They are certainly the butt of a fair amount of media jabs.

I've always thought that fan avidity was the result of two things more than any other - solid media outlets, and an ownership group that was respected and admired in the community.

Georob said...

I've said this before, but I truly believe that many families make ticket buying decisions for the summer season during April and May. But with the A's playing so poorly during those first two months, it hasn't been uncommon for many fans to "write off" the A's before June 1st. So much for advance summer ticket sales.

And by the time that the team goes into one of their late summer winning streaks, it's too late to get back that business that they could have had earlier in the year.

Which is why I'm hoping that a lack of player turnover this year will see a difference in revenues as well as W-L record by May 30th.

Unfortunately, the news out of today's Fan Fest was mixed. They had less people than last year, and opening night is not yet sold out despite the fact that A) It's against the Yankees, and B)stadium capacity is 10,000 less.

And you wonder why the A's might be better off in Las Vegas?

Anonymous said...

From the CCTimes 1/27/06: More on the Quakes and Lew Wolff (Don't know if this is mentioned anywhere else)

"Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber was in the Bay Area on Thursday to speak with A's owner Lew Wolff about investing in an expansion franchise to replace the departed Earthquakes."

Anonymous said...

Try the link to CC Times story again