11 October 2006

Finally, Oakland responds

Quotes abound in Paul T. Rosynsky's Trib article. While Ignacio De La Fuente continues his bravado filled whistling-in-the-dark routine, fellow councilperson Jane Brunner has more pointed comments about Wolff:

"We all got this feeling, everybody who met with him, we all walked away thinking he was just not interested," said Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland). "When you negotiate with someone, you need a nibble. ... There was just no nibble."

Brunner said the city had put together plans for three potential sites for a new ballpark, including one that would have incorporated it into the Oak to Ninth housing development along the waterfront.

Each time a proposal went to Wolff it was rejected, she said.

Start off with Brunner's quote about Wolff's willingness to work in Oakland. Now this makes sense. Cynics point to Wolff's single concept (Coliseum North) and its small chance of success as a "token" proposal. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence that makes it appear that Wolff hasn't tried very hard to make it work in Oakland. At the same time, Wolff has in the past said that the city hadn't suggested any other sites. Brunner's comment contradicts this, and while I've heard rumblings about three site proposals being floated, this is the first time I've really seen this sentiment in public.

Let's go back to the summer, when the final development plan for Oak-to-Ninth/O29/Estuary was up for city council review (it passed). A coalition of citizens groups worked in August to get the plan on the November ballot, and while they appeared to get enough signatures, the petition was blocked by Oakland's city attorney. Why was this coalition against the project? The reasons:
  • Housing goes against the scope of the Estuary Policy Plan. This would not have changed if a ballpark village with housing were under consideration.
  • A lack of open space. With 60 acres available to develop and 18-20 used up by a ballpark village, that leaves 40 acres to split between parkland/open space and housing. And that's if it were done from the ground up. If, as I've heard, the proposal was to shoehorn the ballpark into the open space set aside for Signature's project, that would've been a complete nonstarter.
  • Height concerns. When I spoke to a community group about the possibility of a ballpark, they asked me how tall the ballpark would be. When I said that it would be at least 100 feet tall not including light towers, there was a unanimous disapproval of the idea. Part of that comes from people in the hills not wanting anything blocking their view, not even a ballpark. And going back to the previous point, the housing would have to be in tall towers, which would make for even more obstructions.
  • Preservation. The Ninth Avenue Terminal has historic value and should be preserved regardless of what goes up at O29 (It would make a nice location for a farmers market, a la SF's Ferry Terminal). However, it takes up too much space for it to be saved in any development plan.
Now, honestly, do you think that a ballpark village would not have experienced the same kind of resistance, if not moreso? And that's even without the consideration of additional subsidies, or the legislation/quid pro quo situation that made the O29 land deal possible.

Finger pointing has commenced.


Jeff August said...

I really would like to hear more about the three proposals. I figure they most likely are small parcels with no promise of public funding.

So really, they were as much token offers as Lew's north of the coliseum plan.

Georob said...

But was there ANY site in Oakland other than the Coliseum North proposal that had enough room for a ballpark village large enough to pay for a stadium? In my opinion, Oakland's chances pretty much died when this became more than just a stadium.

Even Downtown San Jose couldn't have pulled this off unless the city provided help. Which of course, would have required approval from the voters (Remember them, Tony? Those "small town thinkers with no vision")

I originally hoped that Wolff's stadium financing method might be replicated elsewhere in the country. But unless cities want to engage in large scale redevelopment teardowns, the "ballpark village" concept may just force stadium projects back to the far flung edges of metropolitan areas where open land is.

anthony Dominguez said...

To make a correction to your post. The city of SJ was providing help by buying up the parcels of land at Diridon South. Also, does the new Busch Stadium and Petco Park have "ballpark village" components to them (condo's, shops, etc.)? Way off the ballpark those of us not fortunate enough to attend the last two ALCS games live; is it just me, or is FOX's coverage all about the Tigers? Are the Detroit Tigers playing the Detroit Tigers or something? I guess the Motor City qualifies for "East Coast Bias" also...oh well, GO A'S!!

Georob said...

How would a San Jose stadium be financed and could it have been done without voter approval?

(crickets chirping)

If a ballpark village was part of San Jose's plan I never saw it on any of Rhamesis' overlays. I'm assuming Petco and Busch were a combination of public and private monies, none of which would fly in the Bay Area (I'm guessing there so I'll gladly stand corrected if need be)

I honestly believe that the A's are the least respected organization in major league baseball. It pretty much started with animosity towards Charlie Finley and just grew from there.

The Giants have had a hand in this as well, as once you get outside the Bay Area, San Francisco is the dominant entity. And since national outlets pay attention to San Francisco media, they've pretty much bought into the KNBR line that the A's are a glorified minor league team.

Walter Haas did a lot to change that, but most of his time was spent undoing the damage done by Finley. Had he been around for another ten years, it may have been different.

Which is one more reason I hammer home the point that the A's must market themselves as a BAY AREA TEAM. The "Oakland" label has certainly hurt, but "San Jose" would improve it only slightly.

San Franciscans make just as many jokes about San Jose as they do about Oakland, perhaps even more; as a San Jose joke would have more to do with "bland suburbia" as opposed to a politically incorrect racist joke about Oakland.

Marine Layer said...

In Downtown SJ, the ballpark village would have taken up the space in between the ballpark and the arena. As for the large housing development, that would have to be done elsewhere, perhaps in North SJ. There's a large move to create infill housing there because of several outmoded buildings and properties.

anthony dominguez said...

How would a SJ ballpark be financed?...see R.M.'s 10:41 post. Could it have been done without voter approval?...maybe (100% privately financed), maybe not (public subsidy/tax); at this point, we'll never know.

Anonymous said...

While O29 might have the same opposition with and without a ballpark, the big difference is without the ballpark only the develpers supports it. If you add a ballpark suddenly there are two sides to the equation.

With the recent dip in the JLS condo market, now might be a good time to re-examine an O29 ballpark.