01 February 2006

Fremont Stadium Task Force Meeting + Announcement

Tonight's Fremont Stadium Task Force Meeting was quite illuminating. So much so, that I can't really share much of it with you. I can tell you that the process for Fremont is going forward, though it needs to accelerate so that if Fremont and the Tri-City area get the opportunity, they can strike while the iron is hot.

All who were present introduced themselves, including me. I mentioned that I run this site on the side, while my day job is in Fremont. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who was seated across the table from me, was taken aback and when it was his turn to speak, prefaced his comments accordingly. I consciously made the decision not to post anything I considered inside information or hearsay. He spoke at length and conjectured about Fremont's standing in the pursuit of the A's.

Later, I offered my services to run the Fremont campaign website. It will probably have a blog-style format with comments, though unlike this news-oriented site, the Fremont site will be advocacy-based. In concert with the decision I made at the meeting, any information I receive from here on out regarding the Fremont campaign will not be published on this blog unless it has been approved for public consumption. I don't have much inside information on the San Jose or Oakland efforts either, so I expect to be treating all three on equal terms. When the Fremont campaign site is up, I'll make a single post on it and place a link on the sidebar, but that's it. I realize there's an obvious conflict-of-interest that could easily be exploited, so I'm exercising editorial restraint to make sure that thin line isn't crossed. This blog will remain dedicated to tracking and compiling news about the A's ballpark plans, and that will not change as long as I run it. I don't expect to ask for help running this site - posts are infrequent enough that I should be able to handle it.

Now, onto the actually newsworthy items...
  • The ballpark village concept continues to be key to the A's plans. The difficulty, as Lew Wolff noted, is in finding available land to make it happen.
  • People may be focusing on the third deck closure, but corporate support may be the most important thing for a new ballpark wherever it's built. That means suites and signage, two things that are not selling terribly well currently.
  • As for the third deck closure, the intended effect has been felt. Season ticket sales are up 150% over last season, and opening night is virtually sold out. Sales are so good that going forward, potentially new season ticket plan purchasers (including yours truly) may not be able to include opening night in their plans, even though it's supposed to be included in all packages.
  • The A's are still working primarily with Oakland and the Coliseum JPA at least through opening day. After that, it could be fair game.
  • Fremont has some work to do, including rallying local civic groups and neighbors Newark and Union City. Expect some news about events designed to raise publicity for the Fremont campaign shortly. (No, the team will not be called the "Tri-City A's".)
You know where the comments link is.


Jeff said...

I look forward to your Fremont blog. I was curious as to why you felt as though there was a conflict of interest concerning a site which you run. The only ethical conflict I can see is if you were to publish confidential information from you meetings with the Fremont advocacy group. Other than that the only thing you seem to be doing is advocating for your point of view on a site which you "own". That's well within your right and is really only fair. You are doing this in a volunteer status I presume.

I am curious as to why you would work for a Fremont site instead of a San Jose site as you live in SJ. For clarity's sake I should mention that either one is fine with long as the A's remain local to the Bay area. I would tend to lean towards SJ in that I feel that the team would have access to a larger market share. If they must move I would want the move to be one in which their chances for success are maximized. But Fremont would be more than acceptable to me.

By the way, I really enjoy your blog. Are you at liberty to rank each potential site in the Fremont area?

Georob said...

Rhamesis, I don't understand the secrecy. Wasn't that a public meeting you attended?

Fremont's going to be interesting to watch. They're going to need support not only from Newark and Union City, but Alameda County as well. That still means working with Oakland people.

I still think a lot of Oakland officials will "do a 180" if it ever starts looking like the A's will actually leave. Whether it does any good is anyone's guess.

I just wish someone like Tyler Blezinskl at AthleticsNation could sit down and interview Jerry Brown and get his thoughts. It would be eye opening to say the least.

But Blez wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole. You up to the task, RM?

Marine Layer said...

It was not a public meeting. Loose lips sink ships - that point was made abundantly clear to me last night.

I like to think this site has a slightly educational tone to it since it is focused on information that the average baseball fan isn't necessarily going to automatically understand. For instance, I've always had an aversion to handicapping or ranking cities. It would be easy to pump up one city or another and influence readers. Since I can't read Lew Wolff's mind or the call up ownership for clarification on a regular basis, that would be irresponsible. So I don't do it.

The San Jose boosters don't need my help. They have their machinery and people in place so it will keep going. The mayoral race there could determine how far San Jose goes in its efforts. Fremont is just getting started, so if I can help it get off the ground, I'm happy to do it. BTW, many things were discussed last night, but not the actual site(s).

I haven't tried for an interview yet with any pols, and Mayor Brown would be the last on my list. He's got other fish to fry.

jeff said...

There was something I forgot to ask. I am not local to the bay area so my geographical knowledge is limited at best. I started looking at the two sites you listed for Fremont and noted the apparent geographical proximity to the SJ area. My question is, how far from SJ is Fremont, both in terms of actual distance and population densities? Could the A's be marketed to SJ as a "local team" without to much distortion...especially if they locate as close to the territorial demarcation line (county lines) as possible within the context of the proposed BART extension? To be honest, a cursory look at maps seemed to indicate that the Fremont A's may be entirely attractive to Wolfe.

Marine Layer said...

Fremont is closer to San Jose than Oakland is. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to drive from downtown San Jose to work in south Fremont everyday. That proximity to San Jose and the rest of Silicon Valley may become an important selling point, especially if the territorial rights issue becomes intractable.

tony d. said...

I've said it once and I'll say it again R.M...While I'd love to see the A's play in Downtown SJ, having them move to Fremont would really be sticking it to Magowan an the Giants. Like you said before, they would be appealing greatly to San Jose/Silicon Valley without violating the stupid T Rights...and PMac would get nothing $$$!

Kevin said...

Aside from the fact that Fremont has far less name recognition, and perhaps less corporate support, what are some of the other major drawbacks to Fremont? Seems to me that transportation to and from the ballpark would be much better in Fremont. In addition, there would be a lot more space for Wolff to construct his baseball village.

Kenny said...

I don't necessarily see less corporate support from Fremont. Fremont is a bona fide part of Silicon Valley. A major league team in Fremont has to be able to draw some corporate bucks from San Jose and Santa Clara. Fremont is home to its share of tech companies.

Jeff said...

Maybe I'm not asking my questions correctly Marine Layer, or perhaps you don't feel it's ethical to answer let me re-phrase my main question. Of the two sites you noted in Fremont, can you list each ones drawbacks/advantages over the other? Also, are these the only two viable sites? Of course I'm asking these questions in relation to Wolfes stated pre-requisites for development/tranportation ammenities related to the park.

gojohn10 said...

I wonder how much of an issue BART will be regarding a move to Fremont. Seems like the situation would be a whole lot more enticing if the Warm Springs extension was approved. What is the state of the extension project and how would a proposed move to Fremont affect the decision? Here's what Wolff said in the Chronicle a few weeks back:

"Our focus has been pretty much in the East Bay. We're assigned a district. Our district includes only Contra Costa County and Alameda County. We need a site, and we have two criteria: One is we need to be near a freeway system, and we need to be near BART."

Marine Layer said...

Sorry Jeff, didn't mean to appear evasive there. The two site candidates are in south Fremont on either side of the Nimitz (I-880). One is on the north end of the NUMMI (GM/Toyota) plant, the other is on some undeveloped land near a new shopping center. The former is called Warm Springs, the latter Pacific Commons. The Warm Springs site is right next to a planned BART line extension and a future BART station. Pacific Commons won't have BART, but it will have Amtrak/ACE and other rail like the high speed initiative if that ever gets going. Both have plenty of land for a ballpark village. If you need more info, check the photo overview section in the right sidebar and download the Fremont file. It has pictures and maps.

Anonymous said...

Honorable Blog Host,

I have learned a ton about the stadium and league terrain on your site. Your educational ambitions have been really successful, so thanks.

Having said that: Keep ‘em in Oakland has never been the tone here, and your personal shift shouldn’t surprise anyone. But that does really take objectivity out of the question, noble aims or not. So while I will still look forward to your stuff here, readers of an Oakland First bent—the famed Option A—should understand clearly that the publisher is an advocate (and a good one, I bet).

Jeff said...

Thanks ML, I didn't think you were being evasive, I did however wonder if I was putting you in an awkward position regarding my question. I see the BART extension is scheduled for completion in 2010, which would seem to coincide with a completion time for a proposed station. How far would the Pacific Commons site be from the extension? It seems the larger of the two, which would seem to allow for much more commercial development in a proposed ballpark village.

It seems that the drive time from SJ to south Fremont is fairly neglible (20 minutes?)....does that allow for traffic? I wonder how a regional vs. local marketing approach would actually work in this area. The poster who pointed out that the Giants get nothing if the A's relocate to Fremont may really be on to something. If Wolfe can show that he can in fact sucessfully market the A's to Santa Clara county while in Fremont, might that not alter Mcgowans view on territorial rights? Fremont is really beginning to look like an intriguing site. It would seem to at least give Wolfe a tremendous amount of leverage in any negotiations over territorial rights.

Are you at liberty to state who will be taking the point in the Fremont bid for the A's? Also, can you state with any accuracy if the political will exists to make a serious run at the team? I noted that you mentioned a Supervisor with the county, is he the only local politician with ties to the Fremont bid? I understand if you will not/cannot answer these questions....I am suddenly finding the Fremont site very very appealing, on a lot of levels.

Maury Brown said...

Rhamesis, welcome to the tightrope act. As you well know it's something that I've had to walk daily since becoming the co-chair of SABR's Business of Baseball committee (my interview that I published today with David Samson is but one example. I have an editor's note within the lead-in mentioning my dual roles and how I approached the interview, as such.

Being objective is something that has to be front and center at all times if you want to keep credible with both feet in different pools.

That said, I'm sure you will easily be able to do so, and the Fremont effort is lucky to have you on-board.


Marine Layer said...

anonymous: Guilty as charged. I have always been consistent about my stance since my very first post. It's unfortunate that many see what appears to be a San Jose-bias or an anti-Oakland bias. That's not the case at all. It's just that there's been little good news coming out of Oakland, and frankly it's rather depressing. I've done quite a bit of work researching the situation in Oakland, and have come up fruitless.

jeff: I can't say who the point person will be. That should be made clear in the coming weeks. Both Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty have been out in front, which is important. In fact, the two of them initiated contact with the A's last year.

The biggest issue with Fremont will be transportation. BART to Warm Springs is not guaranteed to happen by 2010. A shuttle system may be required even though it is inelegant. Traffic is also a problem, not so much for people coming from elsewhere in Alameda County, but for people from Santa Clara County. Coming from the Silicon Valley at 6 PM on a weekday, commuters face one of the biggest bottlenecks in the Bay Area in the south Fremont/Milpitas area. That will have to be addressed somehow. Then again, that may be a selling point of sorts since having a stadium in Fremont might allow it to capture many of those thousands of commuters who might otherwise be stuck in traffic. The massive 880 widening project is scheduled to be completed by 2008, but we'll see what effect it truly has when it's done. Having a ballpark there might wipeout any positive effect during rush hour on game days.

Maury: Thanks for the encouragement. You've provided a blueprint of sorts, and that's what I intend to follow.

Anonymous said...

Quick question: According to the bogus territorial rights "rules", would the Athletics have the right to move to Fremont and call themselves the San Jose Athletics?

If so, some serious flirtation with Fremont could cause the Giants to ponder making some money from what the A's gave to them for free.

I'm really curious what McGowan's take on this would be.

Although, I'm sure Selig has probably already covered this base.

Kenny said...

The 880 traffic problem would be allieviated (by a bit) when the new Mission Blvd. interchange is completed, right?

I won't bottleneck into a four lane freeway anymore.

Anonymous said...

Kind of piggy backing off the last anonymous post...just talking about the A's possibly relocating to Fremont makes the Giants Territorial Rights to San Jose completely irrelevant. It's always been my belief that Peter Magowan/The Giants have secretly wanted the Bay Area all to themselves...blocking San Jose from having a Major League team was cornerstone to this vision. Well Mr. Magowan, it doesn't appear that Wolff has any intention of relocating the A's out of the Bay Area. So now the ball is in the Giants they watch the A's possibly relocate to Fremont, and steal "their" fan base and corporate support for nothing $$? they deal with Lew Wolff for San Jose/Santa Clara County, and get something $$ out of an A's relocation? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Kevin said...

I think Wolff's position going into any talks with the Giants and MLB should be "we don't owe you anything". I know this is not very realistic, but he should try to convey the message to the Giants that the rights to the entire BA should be shared.

Why pay the "Evil Empire" any money if you don't have to.

jeff said...

npFor those of us anxiously awaiting a firm course of action, I guess the name of the game continues to be wait and see. One thing for sure is that the "drop dead" date of April is rapdidly approaching with seemingly no sense of urgency on Oaklands part. I have to agree with ML, it seems as though Oakland is lacking any initiative to keeep the team. I for one have felt that Oaklands' days were numbered when Wolfe aquired the team. To be fair, he has given them an opportunity, but their response has been tepid at best. My own feeling is that this has been part of Wolfe's manuevering all along. The primary question seems to be lacking, namely, if you were given the opportunity to relocate a sports franchise anywhere in the bay, what would be your primary target? How would Oakland rate compared to SJ, Fremont, or other areas" in terms of profit potential and marketability? If you can answer those questions, I think you can reasonably come close to Wolfe's own personal ranking of each area in the bay. It seems to me that he would act on this information in a progressive manner to achieve his goals. I think Oakland would rank a distant fourth in all categories. Sorry if that offends anyones sensabilities, that's just my own cold personel assessment based on current "market" realities. Hopefully the next few months are an enjoyable ride that ends with most fans satisfied, or nearly so, with the final outcome.

Tracey Hartle said...

Thanks for the great info. I would love to attend future public meetings as I have a great interest in the new A's stadium. Please keep us posted as to when and where they are!
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Who would've thought anything could happen outside of LA? Well, it did. 51 years ago, Disneyland opened in the middle of orange groves in the sleepy town of Anahaim. Almost overnight, Orange County was transformed. Look what happened to Anaheim after Disneyland came. A big convention center opened up across the street. Soon, professional sports followed. The Angels. The Rams. The Mighty Ducks. Anaheim became a major player in southern California. It's true that the dynamics in Orange County are different than those in Alameda County. After all, Oakland will always be the core center of the East Bay, not Fremont. But, why not spread the wealth around? Fremont has a lot of land, is part of Silicon Valley and close to San Jose. If it means keeping the A's in the East Bay and the Bay Area, why not Fremont? Oakland sure as hell has its problems and must focus on those problems. It's clear a new ballpark in Oakland is not a priority there. If Oakland can't help, why can't Fremont step up to the plate? Let's face it, the Bay Area has three great major cities within close proximity of each other: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose. It's unique. Unfortunately, San Jose remains in the shadow of SF, even though it has the Sharks. Unless MLB changes its territorial boundaries, San Jose and Santa Clara County are in Giants territory. Sorry, but it's true. Fremont is part of A's territory.