01 April 2006

Not an April Fools joke

A recap of the Oakland mayoral debate has the following bit about candidate Ron Dellums:
Dellums said that after meeting with Oakland Athletics owner Lewis Wolff, he concluded that the time had passed to keep the baseball team from leaving the city.
For those that held out that the frontrunner Dellums would provide hope for keeping the team in Oakland, this is troubling. Others who have observed Dellums' political career can't be terribly surprised as Dellums hasn't previously shown any significant interest in sports business during his three decade tenure.

I attended the second San Jose ballpark EIR public outreach meeting. This time the questions got more pointed as community members repeatedly poked holes in the draft EIR. I arrived halfway through the meeting because I felt I didn't need to sit through the Powerpoint presentation again, so I might have missed a few comments or questions. Here's what I picked up:
  • Flaws in the traffic and parking study were pointed out repeatedly. Marc Morris, who submitted an analysis of the parking study prior to the first meeting, said that he was working on a similar analysis to traffic study. He pointed out some assumptions that may not be valid based on the idea that the EIR is not team-specifc: statistical data is based on extrapolation of usage patterns during Sharks games, and 20% (or 9,000) of those fans come from somewhere in the East Bay. Depending on how many mass-transit options are available, it may be higher. The traffic study will be expanded to include impact on intersections outside the Downtown Core and Didiron/Arena areas. The reason for this is that it is expected that as gridlock ensues, some fans will decide to take different routes to get to the ballpark, and that means increased use of other roads and intersections as well as parking in areas that don't currently see high demand.
  • SSV member Don Gagliardi pushed the working group to have a soccer stadium as a studied alternative. No commitment was made, but it will be put under consideration. Gagliardi also distributed a letter to project principal Michael Rhoades touting the reduced environmental impact of a SSS (soccer-specific stadium). I think it would be help if soccer supporters provided something more specific as a counterpoint. If designed correctly, a SSS could provide significantly less impact, but if it's designed without noise mitigation built in the difference could be much smaller. This isn't easy since it costs money to design and study such impact, but that's where it will take the soccer community to provide something substantive that can be taken seriously as an alternative.
  • Delmas Park and Shasta-Hanchett neighborhood residents were present, expressing grave concerns over the impact of the ballpark. I met Joe Bentley, a S/HNPA member and the guy who pointed out the problems with noise propagation in the concert configuration on Tuesday. There was a request of the working group to simulate different levels of noise in order to better inform the neighborhood what those impacts mean. Again the group was non-committal. Early last year some of you know that I bought a basic soundmeter. I plan to have a little surprise rigged up just in case nothing is prepared by the City. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have effective, realistic TPMP in place, since the prospect of regularly bringing in 60,000 people into the area looms should this project move forward.
I'm off to take pictures of the Fremont site.


gojohn10 said...

I'll support any A's move as long as the stay in the Bay Area. However, I find it troubling that the city of Oakland isn't going to put up even the appearance of fight to keep the team :(

tony d. said...

The SSV folks want a soccer specific stadium to be included in the EIR as a "Studied Alternative." What does that mean? Do they want a soccer stadium alternative in the event a ballpark ISN'T built? Or do they want a soccer stadium instead of a ballpark PERIOD? As for the NIMBY's living around the ballpark site, I'm sorry...BUT SHAME ON THEM! Don't they realize they live in the core of the nations 10th largest city! If they want a quite downtown, move to Los Banos! Besides, they should realize that many a new ballpark around the country has totally rejuvenated downtowns and sent property values through the roof! DSJ should be an exciting, lively place, not a neighborhood for small town living).

Old Blue Guy said...

The hand writing is on the wall. The A's will leave Oakland. The city simply doesn't care enough, nor can it afford to pony up what's needed in this day and age. I also think Bay Area politicians and voters may have their heads screwed on a little better than those in other parts of the country. Imagine being a middle class resident of Detroit or Pittsburgh, areas where somehow or other politicians were able to spend millions (a billion in the case of Pittsburgh for baseball and football) on subsidies for millionaires. Then imagine the municipal needs left unfilled because of these expenditures.

Look at San Diego, a city literally on the verge of bankruptcy because of out-of-control employee pension costs. Then they build a new ball park for a team that's never drawn that well. That stadium is a money pit for the residents of San Diego.

Then there is San Jose. San Jose is the wannabe, the city whose municipal leaders chafe at being in the shadow of San Francisco and aren't content with providing a decent environment for people who want to work hard for excellent salaries. San Jose is a joke. As a person who actually chips in for the salaries of the people doing these studies and also then pay for the land purchases, I say the city leaders are fools. They are fools because they are putting the cart before the horse. It outrages me that they are making these expenditures without first looking MLB in the eye and addressing this whole Giants' territorial rights nonsense. As an American, I wouldn't mind my tax dollars going for a huge antitrust suit against MLB. I don't care about the Congressional exemption for baseball. This is a constitutional issue and it is high time somebody made the MLB fat cats uncomfortable. Screw the Giants. They are business people. High time they acted like it. Maybe they wouldn't have overlooked and in fact been enablers for one what's going to turn out to be one of the major scandals in sports history if they weren't so fat and happy.

Incidentally, this nonsense of conflating a decidedly minor league sport with MLB supports my opinion that San Jose is ultimately a minor league city. Paradoxically, Oakland is much more major league than is San Diego. Unfortunately, it's one of those failing and broke major league cities.

Fremont? Who knows? I do know that placing anything next to I-880 is playing with fire. I've been all over this country and I can't think of a worse urban freeway. It has long deterred me from going to A's night games during the week and I know I have a lot of company. IMO, rapid transit is a must. Oh, and WRT rapid transit, San Jose folks, I hate to tell you but BART to San Jose is a chimera. You will be old and gray before it happens. Are you going to vote for the next sales tax increase? And the next? To get the A's? So Alameda County residents with less expensive homes can more easily take your jobs?

Wolff is a businessman and the A's are a business. Businesses have to make a profit. Period. I think the A's will ultimately leave the Bay Area. And look for the Raiders to follow suit, likely back to L.A.

Old Blue Guy said...

"Paradoxically, Oakland is much more major league than is San Diego."

I meant "San Jose," of course. Was typing faster than thinking.

Anonymous said...

call me naive but I don't see the A's leaving the bay area. I think Fremont has the land that Lew wants and that's where they will go.

Marine Layer said...

I hate to say it old blue guy, but you're sounding like a broken record. If you're going to continually end your diatribe with "I think the A's will ultimately leave the Bay Area" you need to back up your assertions. Otherwise you're just blowing hot air. There are sites and solutions in the area. If there weren't, this site wouldn't exist.

You obviously don't get the territorial rights situation. This isn't "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington." It's one thing to purchase the site with a viable contingency plan (housing). It's another to spend a ton of tax dollars on what most residents would consider a frivolous lawsuit. It may be a winning case but it would take several years if not a decade to resolve, and by the end the A's would be elsewhere and MLB could simply say they have no plans to expand to San Jose or anywhere else for that matter. The only way the exemption gets broken is if some exceedingly well-funded private party were to start legal proceedings. The only person I can see doing that is George Soros when his group isn't awarded the Nats, and even that is really far-fetched.

Old Blue Guy said...

I hear you, Marine Layer, and I certainly take no offense. You're right, I sound like a broken record. the problem is, I am a realist. My problem is that with the A's, we're discussing one of the truly storied franchises in baseball history. They rank up there with the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals, as the exemplars of the sport. And the fact that they've been treated like stepchildren since they moved here has always irked me, even before I moved to the Bay Area and became an A's fan. I'm old enough to remember that great 72-74 team not even being able to sell out playoff and WS games. It's always Giants, Giants, Giants here.

This is true even though the Giants have realistically been losers since the 1930s. The current version of the Giants proudly displays as their centerpiece a player who could rank with the Black Sox and Rose as those who've done the most to despoil this wonderful game. And yet, all of the buzz in the Bay Area is about the Giants and Oakland seemingly cares nothing about a team that's trying to do it right.

It hasn't always been like that. I did not like the A's when I first moved here in 1989. I saw something wrong with the whole Bash Brothers thing and it looks as if I may have been right. However, since those worthies moved on and new management came in, the A's are arguably the most compelling franchise in baseball. Certainly far more compelling than my first love, the Dodgers, who've slipped considerably in my estimation.

Bottom line to me is the A's deserve far better than Oakland's given them and they also deserve better than they've gotten in the Bay Area. I agree that San Jose could be the solution, but, as I've posted, I don't think San Jose can get its stuff together sufficiently to make it happen. To me, Fremont is kind of a desperation ploy, somewhat akin to the Texas Rangers' situation—a suburban team—and I fear it won't work out to be the ultimate salvation. I'd love to be proven wrong.

In the best of all worlds, I would like to see the A's stay in Oakland, preferably at Jack London Square. Imagine the dueling parks across the bay: the better franchise would win hands-down. The idea of locating in the industrial park around the Coliseum stinks in comparison. So does Fremont, or even San Jose.

IMO, Oakland crossed the Rubicon when they sold out to the Raiders. The Coliseum is now a football park. What was once a not unattractive baseball yard has been made into yet another NFL monstrosity. Oakland made the choice; the A's lost.

I am very well aware of the territorial rights issue. I'm not saying I'd favor a lawsuit; what I am saying is that I don't want to pay for planning, land acquisition, etc., until this issue is resolved. Why have we heard nothing about a Nationals-Orioles deal cooking? MLB wanted the Expos out of Montreal and a team in D.C. They made it happen. If MLB agrees with all of you guys about how great San Jose would be as a new venue (10th largest city, hooray), then someone will put the A's and Giant's ownerships together and not let 'em out of the room until they can make a deal.

I recall you recently posted the Business Journal stuff about area incomes and how many teams can be supported. I suspect MLB read the same stuff and is therefore reluctant to commit to San Jose. The Bay Area is big, but it's already got a lot of teams. This is not L.A.-Orange County or NY-NJ. There may ultimately not be sufficient critical mass here to support both teams at the current desired level of 3M attendance.

This is ultimately what I'm saying.

Jeff said...

Old blue guy has intriguing opinions on the state of the A's and their history in Oakland. I disagree with some of what he says, but he is dead on when acknowledges the A's as one of the most storied franchises in baseball. They have also been one of the best. Not so much with the Giants. While they have a rich history, they cannot compete with the A's as far as winning ways go. It is a SHAME that the A's have not received the adulation and respect that they deserve in the bay.

It's interesting that he brings up Detroit. There are parrallels between Oakland and Detroit. Detroit is a shadow of its former self it terms of industry. They have not kept pace with the times and are suffering the consequences. It isn't the rustbelt for nothing. The death knell for pro sports in Oakland has sounded, and it's doubtful that the city can turn back the clock. The Raiders will soon leave too. A confluence of politics, economics, and leadership are conspiring against the city. That's to bad.

But it is an opportunity for the A's. Maybe their third move will be the charm. I have to believe that SJ offers their best chance of long term success. The city may be the 10th largest in the US, but I don't think that they have reached their full potential as of yet. All those factors mentioned above, especially economics place the city in an enviable position. The technologies of the future are there for them to capitilize on. Silicon Valley will continue to grow in dominance as the world becomes more dependent on tech. Oakland in in decline, SJ on the other hand is in ascencion....and will continue to be so for the forseeable future.

The money is there....what remains to be seen is if the political establishment can finally make one of those last steps in identifying the city as a player on the world stage. Pro-sports due in fact lend prestige. The SJ A's will give the city exposure to people who have never heard of it. They will be shocked to learn that it is the 10th largest city in the world. Interest and exposure will be generated. It WILL happen sooner or later....the question is merely...when?

ML, I continue to believe that you are misinterpreting what will happen if the matter were tossed to the courts. Federal court is no small matter, especially when viewed through the prism of MLB economics. I am in agreement that it is not likely the matter will end up in court, but I differ in my views as to why. MLB will certainly act to prevent any anti trust exemption. A deal will be struck. I am looking to Fremont to see if this is merely leverage to force Mcgowan to the table with out resorting to strong arm tactics. We will soon see.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country, not the world.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised to see the A's leaving Oakland. Part of me is disapointed but ultimately I want the A's to stay in the Bay Area and it would not bother me if they relocated to Fremont or San Jose if it means getting a brand new stadium. I don't believe there is some conspiracy or foul play by Wolff. It comes down to "which city can provide to most land for the stadium and village near the most transit options." It appears Fremont is currently in Wolff's radar with exra land combined with not too far away transit, freeway and Bart.

I agree about the A's always playing second fiddle to the Giants and I am also sick of it. Even though the A's were a historically a better team record wise, the Giants have had the advantage of playing in the Emerald City of San Franciso and some bias media figures who are die hard Giants fans. I think a move down south may help the A's distance themselves from the Giants and help establish even more of a identity for themselves, not to mention hurt the Giants alittle financially. The up and coming new generation of Bay Area media figures may change some of the old bias as well.

I also would like to comment on the assumption that the Raiders leaving Oakland or the Bay Area at some future date. My question is where would they relocate to? I doubt it will be L.A. Court decisions have already ruled that the Raiders must honor their lease with Oakland through 2011. Los Angeles will already have an NFL team by then, most likely the Chargers. San Diego is broke and they can't afford to help build a new stadium for the Chargers. The owners of the Chargers may use the escape clause in their lease with SD in 2008 and relocate to L.A. Besides the Raiders requested an extension in their lease with the Oakland Coliseum pass 2011 this past December, that doesn't sound like they are in a hurry to leave the Bay Area.

I would not be surprised if the Raiders and the 49ers got together and built one grand NFL stadium for the Bay Area and shared it, just like what the New York Jets and Giants are going to do. It doesn't seem like the Raiders or 49ers have the money by themselves to build a new stadium, but they would if they put their money and resources together.

This is my first post at this blog. I would like say Marine Layer has done a very good job with this blog and I enjoy reading it and staying informed about the process of getting a new stadium for the A's.

Jeff said...

Thanks anonymous 8:43, I know that SJ is the 10th largest in the was a typo. I got a little ahead of myself. But hey, you never know....with tech positioned to rule the world shortly, SJ may become capitol of the planet.

Anonymous said...

I figured it was a typo, and I wasn't going to point it out because I didn't want to seem like an ass.

Georob said...

The poster that called San Jose a "wannabe" resentful of San Francisco hit it dead on.

San Jose's problem is that once you get outside California, it is percieved to be just a part of the greater Bay Area which is centered in San Francisco. And as long as that big body of water lying in the middle of it is named after SF, I don't see that perception changing.

Scoff all you want about SF being reduced to no more than a tourist destination, it keeps the name "San Francisco" in the public consciousness out there far more than a zillion high tech campuses ever would.

Anaheim has the same problem. Though it's well known as the home of Disneyland, there's still a good chunk of the world that thinks the Magic Kingdom is in LA. And to locals, it's just a part of the "O.C."

As for "Silicon Valley", it's a double edged sword for SJ. They can rightfully exploit themselves as the "Capital of Silicon Valley", but once again; those outside the region probably associate "Silicon Valley" with the "Bay Area"

....And though it's 50 miles away, that means San Francisco.

Jeff said...

It's true what you say Rob, but perceptions change. How many people are aware now that Anaheim is a city in its own right? Change comes slowly, but in comes iexorably. Pressure in the right areas provides direction for change. While not occuring occurs.

Moreno hit on a grand idea. Even the controversy served a purpose in getting Anaheims name out in the public consciousness. More people are aware now that Anaheim is a distict entity from LA. Their name and "brand" are recieving publicity. And well all know that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

The challenge for SJ is to get its name out there.

jonclaude4 said...

Looking forward to those upcoming pics of the Fremont site ML. I've been a season ticketholder since '75, and when they enclosed our outfield views and covered the flowering iceplant with concrete, it wasn't the same. Your overlay pic in your 3/31 posting showing a centerfield view made my day! I've lived in the east bay, peninsula, and now the south bay, and am more than looking forward to the new stadium, wherever it lands.

Optimistic we get a new stadium with the A's still in the bay area...

Georob said...

It could happen Jeff, but not in our lifetimes. And FOR it to happen, you have to reach a point where people think of SF and SJ the same way they think of SF and LA. Namely, as two entirely different and separate regions.

And that's going to be difficult, as there's just too much overlap between the two: culturally, politically, as well as economically.

Granted, there are cities on the East Coast that are very close to each other (Washington, Baltimore, Philly, NY, Boston) but manage separate identities. But they had the advantage of being major cities for over 100 years before the automobile, when a distance of 50 miles was considered a big deal.

The question for San Jose is what's more important, to feed off the synergy of the greater Bay Area and develop accordingly, or to ignore everything north of the Dumbarton Bridge and become a totally self sustaining metropolis?

Like their cousins in Oakland, San Jose residents want safe streets, good jobs and schools, plus a high quality of life. But Jeff, if you ever run for mayor of San Jose promising to "make us more important than San Francisco", you're going to get laughed out of town.

...even by those who agree with you.

TONY D! said...

Jeff and Rob,
Let me be honest. As a proud native of San Jose, I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO!! It's a beautiful city that's known as one of the worlds greatest...cosmopolitan, sophisticated, urban. It's the place where I spent most of my 20's nightlife back in the 90's; the place where I proposed to my wife (Golden Gate!); and it's the place that we take out of town guests for sightseeing. Now all this being said, DOES THIS MEAN THAT SAN JOSE CAN'T STRIVE FOR IT'S OWN BRAND OF GREATNESS? Because the bay is named after Saint Joe, DOES THIS MEAN THAT SAN JOSE CAN'T PURSUE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL? ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BOTH QUESTIONS!! Yes, I love Frisco...BUT I LOVE SAN JOSE EVEN MORE! By the way, did anyone catch Phil Matier's A's ballpark comments this morning of KRON? Henry Tenenbaum had the guts to ask "Why don't the A's simply move to San Jose?"

Georob said...

San Jose can and should strive for its own brand of greatness.

Just as Oakland has, and Berkeley, and Sausalito, and Walnut Creek, and Palo Alto, and many others. But because of their size, NONE of these wonderful towns would even try to claim to be as important as San Francisco. Instead, they are part of the patchwork quilt known as the "San Francisco Bay Area".

On the other hand, San Jose; by its size has a legitimate claim to equal importance. Problem is that for so long, IT TOO has been seen as part of the patchwork quilt of the Bay Area.

I've already talked about the geopolitical overlaps, but history plays a role here too; as much of San Jose's growth during the mid 20th century was from people who commuted either into San Francisco or communities near it. Consequently, much of that growth was suburban residental, giving San Jose the numbers, but not the importance.

And during all this time, Downtown San Jose pretty much lauguished. I applaud what they're doing now, but if you ask nine out of ten San Jose residents where the center of town is, they'd be more likely to say Valley Fair Mall rather than First and Santa Clara. Stevens Creek is a magnificent boulevard, but it screams SUBURB; which to a lot of people is perfectly OK.

San Jose needs to take advantage of its location, population, and resources to become the best city it can possibly be, and instead allow fate and future generations to make the judgement on just how "important" it is.

And I would guess that people who truly love San Jose don't give a damn how others rate it.

There are a lot of second-tier, medium sized cities in this country who would literally commit millions in taxpayer money in order to get a major league team. And why do they do it? Because they want RECOGNITION. In a way, it's like a teenage boy who buys a hot car so he can attract girls. San Jose need not follow this model.

If San Jose DOES wind up with a baseball team, it will be because it makes economic sense, not because some overpaid civic boosters with a blog or two have managed to convince enough owners that they were "important enough"

Look at LA. They've gone ten years now without an NFL team. They may eventually get one, but no one in the City Of Angels seems to care about their "major league reputation". They don't need it.

Jeff said...

Hey Rob,

As usual you bring up lucent points. The LA NFL comparison is not quite accurate. LA doesn't care because it is ALREADY a world class city. They know that sooner or later the NFL will come to them. There is no need for them to pursue a team. They see themselves as the courted....not the other way around. Considering their market demographics, I would say that they are correct in their thinking. Taglibue has all but capitulated and indicated that the NFL would pursue the LA market.

SJ, despite its prominence has no such appeal. They are going to have to force their way onto the national stage. How much benefit to the city in getting its name out there? There are economic incentives in being identified as a world class city. This is one of the benefits that sports franchises bring. SJ will be able to use the added attention to diversify. The city has so much more to market than just its tech base. Access to the sea, mild year round weather, etc.

As for SF, it will go on as an international city for decades to come. But it has reached its full potential. The city already incorporates the entire county it resides in. True, it will continue as a financial center for years to come, but it has reached its peak. The best it can hope for is to maintain a stasis. SJ has no such constraints placed upon it. It is in a position to begin making a transition to dominance. And sports franchises will facilitate that transition. I have to believe that civic pride will assert itself sooner or later. As for those voters, who is to say that the right leader won't come along and inspire them with visions of not only what could be, but what should be.