24 May 2006

Choose or Lose event wrap-up

A late work-related appointment forced me to arrive late to the "Choose or Lose" event earlier tonight. Organizer Robert Limon assured me that I didn't miss anything. Two mayoral candidates were present: Nancy Nadel and Arnie Fields. Also on hand was OUSD board candidate Chris Dobbins, a teacher who started the Green Stampede Homework Club tutoring program. I counted 40-50 attendees, not bad for a nearly impromptu event.

Nadel had the most time at the dais, repeatedly fielding questions about City Hall's perceived inaction in keeping the A's. One-by-one, A's supporters pointed to the team's legacy and how the A's are woven into the fabric of the community. Nadel painted herself as "realistic," replying that the council was looking for either a site that could accomodate both a ballpark and ballpark village housing, or separate sites for each. She also warned finding a site was not easy because of the city's "built up" nature and the reluctance to use eminent domain. Near the end of her time on stage, she gave a rather ominous statement (paraphrased) to the keep-the-A's-in-Oakland crowd, "If you polled Oakland residents, you'd find that you'd be in the minority." This caused a bit a grumbling in the gallery, which gets me wondering - what if Oakland residents were polled? What would the results be?

Arnie Fields was next, proudly wearing an A's cap. He supported keeping the A's at the current Coliseum, with development around it spurred by a shuttle that operated between the BART station and the plaza between the stadium and arena. The shuttle would have its own guideway that would run parallel to the existing BART pedestrian bridge. Golf carts or similar vehicles would operate on this guideway, and it would be run by a community group, ideally including local youths. Fields would also support a waterfront (JLS) ballpark plan.

Two videotaped statements were made by Ron Dellums and Ignacio De La Fuente. Dellums repeated the "Don't break your pick" quote attributed to Lew Wolff in a previous conversation. He felt that the door an opportunity to keep the A's was "open, but not wide open." IDLF slyly said he's optimistic that the A's and Oakland can get a deal done "if the A's are sincere." Now that's a qualifier if I've ever heard one.

The best ideas seemed to come after the event officially ended, when Limon, several of the bleacher drummers, and other attendees had a little pow-wow to discuss future actions. Another rally-type event is tentatively scheduled for sometime in late June. Ways to raise the movement's media profile were discussed. The group piled on Nadel. I mentioned the ill-fated Broadway Auto Row proposal. The group's sense of frustration with local government was palpable. The good thing about all of this is that there is a movement afoot, and that it doesn't merely consist of putting up banners. It looks like pressure will be applied to pols and local media, though it will take some resourcefulness to come up with concrete plans and proposals. The bittersweet irony of the rally's location came to me as I left for the BART station. Across Telegraph Avenue sits the old Uptown site, once considered the great hope for an urban ballpark in Oakland.


Celynnen said...

I hope they'd poll more than just Oakland residents. I live in San Leandro, less than 5 miles from the Coliseum, and my family has bought season tickets for nearly 20 years. I frequently rally my coworkers in SF to go to weeknight games with me. If the A's were to move further from Oakland or the BART system, I have a feeling I'd be going to games alone most of the time. . . if I could still afford to go.

Georob said...

On this issue, Oakland residents are all that matter because they are also VOTERS. And if Oakland voters(a good many of which feel like they can't afford to go to games anyway) sense another bad stadium deal in the works, the politicos that approve it will be out of office

Nancy Nadel hit it squarely on the head. Baseball supporters within the city limits are a minority, and that ulitimately explains why city officials aren't doing enough

Rhamesis, it sounds like the meeting was pretty civil, which tells me that either everyone's being realistic, or that the OAFC/"Blame Lew Wolff" crowd didn't show up. Were there any comments on the order of "The A's better stay in Oakland OR ELSE......"?

Marine Layer said...

There was one guy trying to push a different Oakland-based ownership group instead of Wolff, but he didn't know how the ownership process worked. Wolff's part of the club now, and he's entrenched.

Oakland Si said...

Attn Ms. Nadel,

Since nobody has polled Oakland residents about wanting to keep the A's, I wouldn't claim to know the result, if I were you.

an Oakland resident

FrStUp said...

Nadel is famous for imposing a preconceived personal overlay onto every Oakland issue. I often agree with her slant, but rest assured she has zero sense of the Citywide body politic when it comes to the A's.

And since the Coliseum JPA is City/County, I'd say opinions outside of Oakland have weight too.

Anonymous said...

In 2002 when the Uptown site was being discussed, the Tribune did a poll of Oakland Voters. Over 50% (along the lines of the San Jose poll results) were in favor of a tax in support of a new stadium in Oakland. Don't be too quick to paint Oakland voters as apathetic. In fact they are very interested in keeping the A's.
During the HOK presentation in that same year, Nadel, adamantly oppose building a new stadium. In fact, she was giving statistics of the reasons why cities shouldn't burden themselves with stadiums. Then she basically said that all sports teams do for a city is employ hundreds of low skilled workers at minimum wage. This brought a rain of boos from the packed City Hall of A's fans. IDLF in fact threaten several times to clear the chambers, if the interruptions continue. Nancy Nadel is not a fan of keeping the team in Oakland.

Celynnen- you being in San Leandro does carry weight. Like frstup said, the city/county is very much involved in this issue. Let your supervisor know how you feel.

Rockridge A

Marine Layer said...

Over 50% of Oakland residents were in favor of a tax? Can you cite this poll, rockridge a? I've tried searching the Trib's archives for it and I haven't seen it. It's one thing to frame a poll in a vague manner that elicits a positive response. It's another to ask people if they're willing to be taxed.

The Choose or Lose event was well coordinated on short notice. That said, virtually all of the attendees were from a specific constituency: A's fans who are residents of Oakland. I'd like to see an open forum that gets a better cross-section of all Oakland residents. Then we can get a better read on how much Oakland voters support the A's.

Anonymous said...


I'll look for it. Good luck trying to find it in the online archives. They dump it after a couple of months. Too bad you weren't on this topic a few years ago. There was quite a lot of press on the subject. The Oakland Chamber of Commerce was backing the plan, there was a lot of will in the city for this uptown site. No will on the A's part though and they went with the forest city option, you all know the rest. The A's excuse for not showing was that the team was going to be sold shortly. We had city hall rallies; it had quite a lot of momentum.

This weekend I'll head over to Oakland Main and look at the micro film of the Tribune. I'll see what else I could find. Say what you will about Oakland, we are the highest taxed city in the Bay, yet propositions get passed each and every time. Being a resident and a voter, I would bet that, if there was a well written, not rushed, well run campaign the City of Oakland would pass a tax.

Rockridge A

Anonymous said...

there might have been discussion already about this, but where does the port of oakland stand in all this? i'm sure some sweet deals could be made by selling some of it's land near jack london.

Marine Layer said...

You don't need Lexis-Nexis to find archived ANG articles. Looksmart's is quite good. It found articles as far back as 1995.

I didn't have the blog up in 2002 but I was following the subject closely. My memory must be foggy on this poll. Regardless, I'm not terribly interested in rehashing the events of 2002. There's an overly black-and-white view of what happened which pro- or anti-Oakland partisans tend to spin by selectively pointing at certain facts that support their respective views.

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree about Oakland residents approving a tax for a new stadium. It's been years since any new ballpark faced a referendum and for good reason - they tend to poll miserably. It's gotten bad enough that MLB has put "don't let them vote on it" in the playbook. Why would Oakland be any different? Combine that with the bitter taste leftover from 1995, and I have to be skeptical.

The Port has control over large swaths of land, but much of it has already been slated for other development, such as the 029 site and JLS. Howard Terminal is locked up by a shipping giant, and the Port wants to use much of the Army Base for expanded facilities.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it was quite 50%, but I believe it was 40%+ in favor of the city spending money on a ballpark if it was included as part of major downtown redevelopment.

oaktowngal said...

Hello all,

I remembered the Oakland voter poll in question and conducted my own search. I did not want to pay for the full article, but here is the abstract from the Tribune, which gives the gist.

Oakland Tribune, The

June 14, 2002
Section: Headline Stories
Article ID: 673715

Surprise support for A's ballpark

Backing linked to revitalization plan

Robert Gammon, Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- A recent poll commissioned by the city reveals that 51 percent of Oakland registered voters would support a downtown revitalization plan that includes a new ballpark for the Oakland A's. The poll also showed unexpected support for spending public funds on a new ballpark if it were part of a larger plan to redevelop downtown.

The poll found 45 percent of voters said they would be willing to use $180 million in public funds on such a project, while 48 percent said they would vote "no."

The results surprised some Oakland City Council members who had expected far less support for spending public money on a new stadium for the A's, especially in the light of the Oakland Raiders financial debacle.

Marine Layer said...

Now that IS surprising. $180 million is not chump change. It's not enough to get a ballpark built even when combined with the A's supposed $100 million pledge, but it would've been a start.

Anonymous said...

With the Uptown site gone, I think the best bet is development around the Lake Merrit Bart station. There is loads of blight and underused real estate near Bart and the Freeway.

As Nadel pointed out, housing doesn't have to be completely contiguous for a ballpark village idea. Why not let Wolffe build an expensive high rise on the lake front where the Kaiser Convention center is (Oakland City loses about $8 million/ year on the facility). Build the ballpark where this website lists the the OUSD plan. Maybe get some more housing at some of the other underused real estate in the area. Link it all together with pathways.

Marine Layer said...

Anon - a year ago I researched both the HJK and OUSD sites along with Laney. All three were ruled out because of land use conflicts (OUSD, Laney), irregular lot size (OUSD, HJK), or landmark historical value (HJK).

Georob said...

There's only been one site ever discussed in conjuction with a "downtown revitalization" (the operative phrase in the poll) and that was the uptown/20th & Telegraph site across from Sears.

Guess who killed that site?

Not Lew Wolff
Not Steve Schott
Not Bud Selig

It was Jerry Brown. The same Jerry Brown that was elected twice Mayor of Oakland by a pretty substantial margin.

So, you want to look at polls? There's a REAL one. One that lesser Oakland officials have taken note of. One that says that if someone THAT anti-stadium can get votes, then his philosophy is worth emulating, whether you agree with it or not.

drummer510 said...

Georob, the 2002 Oakland mayoral race was a joke, Brown won by a landslide, he Wilson Riles Jr. people knew that Brown was going to win before the election even happened. That election was in March and this poll wasn't published until June. Oakland voters weren't going to change their vote to a challenger, for an Uptown plan.

At this point in time with the broke Alameda county schools, I don't know whether Oaklanders are for public funds use for a ballpark. Yet what this poll shows is that many Oakland citizens may be willing to spend extra money on a redevelopment plan. If the right mayor and right city council members are pro-ballpark, a new stadium in Oakland isn't sooooo unlikely. I hope that the Oakland Trib can conduct another study about Oakland voters position on public funds for a new park, especially after the election.