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30 October 2006

A suggestion: Build the museum ASAP

Last week I drove by Pacific Commons and went to Brandin Court, where a front company for Maritz-Wolff bought much of the cul-de-sac. I noticed that one of the buildings was vacant, so I decided to do a little research. The building's address is 5070 Brandin Ct. (assessor's map in PDF), and according to this listing it has over 53,000 square feet of space.

According to the listing the building is "Under New Ownership" and has "Exterior and Interior Renovations in Progress" even though I didn't see any cars out front. It has an
anonymously blah exterior, as would be expected of most Silicon Valley office parks. As a structure designed to hold both office and light industrial/manufacturing operations, much of the building does not have windows.

The Fremont office market is not hurting too badly at this point, so the owners should be able to find a tenant at some point if they haven't already. If/when the land deal for the rest of Pacific Commons is done, there's a particularly novel application just waiting if no tenant comes:

Use the building as a tentative site for a baseball museum.

Why not? Yes, ownership would undoubtedly lose money at first, but it's an extremely good way to build a rapport with existing and future fans. I went to the
Baseball as America exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California last year, and as impressed as I was with the collection, I also came away asking myself, "Why isn't there a local baseball museum?" Sure, the A's have been criminal for not adequately touting their history, but the Giants don't have a museum either even though they're constantly talking about their own history. In fact, not only is there no baseball museum in California, there's nothing west of the Rockies. The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum had been trying to get a home in San Francisco since 2002 but little has come of their efforts (Citgo is working with the HoF on a Latin American traveling show). Are you as surprised as I am that no baseball museum exists nearby? The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame is well-intentioned but its plaques and monuments are spread out all over the Bay Area.

In March it was reported that a
baseball museum would be part of the A's Pacific Commons development. That little heralded nugget may be the best part of the package because it would present the A's a unique opportunity to finally acknowledge the franchise's rich, 106-year history (38 years in Oakland) with something tactile and permanent. 5070 Brandin Court would of course be a temporary home until a proper museum could be built closer to the ballpark. In the meantime, the intervening years could be used for fundraising efforts, to gather collections, and to focus the scope of the museum properly. Consider the possible categories:

  • A's franchise history
  • The old Pacific Coast League
  • Bay Area baseball legends and notables
  • WWII and its effect on baseball
  • Broadcasting wing with nods to Bill King, Lon Simmons, Bill Rigney, et al
  • How technology has changed baseball and how we experience baseball
  • Sabremetrics
  • The usual kids exhibit - "Physics of a curveball" and other topics
  • Existing Cooperstown exhibits
If you visited Baseball as America you'll see that some of these ideas were covered by the collection shown, so I'm not exactly covering new ground. But wouldn't it be nice to have something permanent and at the same time more expansive? The only limitation is the amount of depth that the A's want covered. Some intriguing issues:

  • How is the steroids era treated?
  • Is the museum A's-only?
  • Do the A's attempt to work with the Giants?

The Rangers operate their "Legends of the Game" museum as an all-encompassing collection rather than one that trumpets the team's history (admittedly, the Rangers/Senators history is not that rich). Having a museum open well before anything else would be a fantastic way to get people into the Pacific Commons area early. Not only would they see A's tradition on display, but ownership could have a development sales office next door (if anyone's interested in buying a condo). I'd be willing to help out (with the museum, that is).

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is horrible. Oakland Baseball should be celebrated in a museum in Oakland, not in Fremont!!!

John said...

anon-

Then I suppose the A's should also open up museums in KC and Philly?

catfish said...

This isn't horrible. If we were talking about an "Oakland A's Museum" then putting it in Fremont would kinda suck. If we are talking about a California baseball museum then it would be fine. I love the idea of a Cali baseball museum, especially giving tribute to the old PCL and west coast baseball's origins. If anyone hasn't read The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball, I highly recommend it as it beautifully details the rich history of the sport here on the West Coast. Anonymous 2:28, I'm sure you are a fellow Oaklander but we've got to stop the Fremont hating. That doesn't mean give up on the dream of a new ballpark in our beautiful city, but i'm tired of all the negativity surrounding this topic. Fremont is a hell of alot better then Las Vegas or Portland.

Jeff August said...

I think it was Councilmen Reid who summed it up best about Oakland, "there isn't the political will..."

I whole heartedly agree that a baseball museum in Fremont is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

I fully support this idea and suggest we bludgen Wolffe over the head until this is put into action.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys forget that the Pacfic Coast League had history in Oakland with the Oaks, not Fremont. And if you want to get technical, that was Emeryville which was a lot closer to Oakland than Fremont. Also, the World Series championships were won in Oakland, not Fremont or San Francisco.

jrbh said...

More negativity from me. Bummer.

Fremont is a terrible place to put a baseball museum for all the exact same reasons it's a terrible place to put a ballpark. Geez. It belongs in Oakland. Or San Francisco. Or San Leandro. Or Richmond. Or Walnut Creek. Or, really, anyplace near BART and that schoolkids from all over the Bay Area can get to.

And while I'd appreciate the cooperation of A's and Giants management in putting such a museum together, the very last thing I'd want is either of them in charge of it. A real museum needs independent and academically legitimate management, something I guarantee you we wouldn't get from either the A's or the Giants. A hagiographic shrine to one or the other, or MLB, would actually, I think, prevent the creation of a better museum.

When I was in high school, my mentor, after a fashion, was Dick Dobbins, one of the great Bay Area baseball memorabilia guys and perhaps the leading expert around on the Pacific Coast League. He's gone now, but whenever this topic comes up, I think of him. He meant a lot as a baseball freak and as a superlative educator to a lot of kids out in Contra Costa County. He loved major league baseball, but he understood that cooperating with MLB was a mixed bag.

Anonymous said...

School kids can't ride a bus?

Marine Layer said...

The value of BART is being blown well out of proportion. As cited before, 15-25% of fans take BART to the Coliseum. Compare that to NYC, a place with a much more comprehensive and integrated transit system. Care to guess what percentage of fans use the subway to get to Yankee Stadium?

13-30%.

That's it. You'd think half or more would take the subway, but it's roughly the same proportion as the less transit-friendly Bay Area.

If the kids have to take transit to the museum, Capitol Corridor will have a station there, and small groups will have discounted fares comparable to BART. Otherwise, I'd hope that parents or guardians would have time to carpool kids down to the museum. There's nothing better than to have a mentor to provide added context and guidance. Museums aren't attended frequently by the same users like baseball games, so it is possible to prepare in advance for a trip.

Despite the efforts to make baseball a more academic pursuit than other sports, it is not grounded in academia. Unless someone is starting a physical location for a baseball research center and library, I can't see how an independent management situation can make a significant difference.

Jeff said...

jhrb,

It often seem to me that you have a pathological hatred for all things Fremont. I can understand being frustrated as a local Oakland partisan at the prospect of losing the A's, but why bash so hard on a community that is at least stepping forward with its time and resources in an effort to keep the A's local? It really isn't their fault that Oakland has decided that it is through with committing resources to sports enterprises. I don't blame Oakland for its stance, but I am extremely pleased that there is a Fremont willing to pick up the slack. People and sports venues the world over manage to survive without mass transit right out their front door. So will the A's. So will the citizens of Oakland who choose to continue to support the A's. After all, if it were a competetion between the two cities to keep the team, Oakland would win hands down. But Oakland just isn't that interested. The world moves on. So be it. Fremont see's an opportunity and is willing to take a chance on the team. Why not at least give them their props for effort? They really do seem to want the team and are willing to shoulder the burden that Oakland seems anxious to get rid of.

Sratomatic said...

You made your point jrbh. Lew wolff is out to screw Oakland and the working class and anything he does is aimed at that. How many more words do you need to say it?

Were talking about a museum here, move on!

jrbh said...

I don't have a "pathological hatred" of Fremont. I have a reasonable argument against building there -- I'm simply opposed to major attractions in small cities whose only transportation access is one of the busiest freeways in the country -- and I even used to live there. Had a nice time.

So why are people so pissed off and personal about opposition to a Fremont ballpark? I actually have a theory about that. Well, three theories. One is that on-line life attracts more than it's share of people with socialization problems.

I also think a lot of people are assuming a Fremont ballpark is a fait accompli, and are trying to rationalize it, thinking the only alternative is Vegas, or Portland, or wherever. I say, "No ballpark in Fremont," they hear "You want to rip the baby A's screaming out of my hands and sell them to white slave traders in Las Vegas."

Finally, a lot of people, including me, care a lot about the A's. We're all of us in a position in which the ability to keep a beloved asset in our lives is utterly out of our control. There's inevitably going to be a lot of anger tied to those feelings of helplessness as we watch Wolff manipulate this process towards his own ends, not ours. A lot of rationalization, too.

And yes, of course schoolkids can take busses to a baseball museum in Fremont. But wouldn't it be better all around if they could take BART, both ecologically and educationally? Is that really something we need to argue about?

Anonymous said...

Jeff, if the A's were going to move to San Leandro, say, Davis street, two or three exits from the coliseum, JHRB would still be spewing this.

I for one, cant wait for the new ballpark.

catfish said...

Anon 5:55:

Wow that was a pretty weak argument buddy. Do you think the PCL consisted of nothing but the Oakland Oaks (who played a majority of their games in Emeryville)? Here are a list of teams who played in the PCL from 1903 - 1957:

* Fresno Raisin Eaters (1906) moved from Sacramento, moved back to Sacramento 1907
* Hollywood Stars (1926-1935) moved from Salt Lake, moved to San Diego 1936, team also known as Hollywood Bees in 1926
* Hollywood Stars (1938-1957) moved from Mission, moved to Salt Lake 1958
* Los Angeles Angels (1903-1957) moved to Spokane 1958
* Mission Reds (1926-1937) moved from Vernon, moved to Hollywood 1938, team also known as Mission Bells or Missions
* Oakland Oaks (1903-1955) moved to Vancouver 1956, team also known as Oakland Acorns
* Portland Beavers (1903-1917, 1919-1972) played in Pacific Coast International League 1918, moved to Spokane 1973
* Sacramento Solons (1903, 1905, 1909-1914) moved to Tacoma 1904, returned 1905, moved to Fresno 1906, returned 1907 but played in California League 1907-1908, moved to San Francisco 1914, team also known as Sacramento Sacts
* Sacramento Solons (1918-1960) moved to Honolulu 1961, team known as Sacramento Senators 1918-1934
* Salt Lake Bees (1915-1925) moved from San Francisco, moved to Hollywood 1926
* San Diego Padres (1936-1968) moved from Hollywood
* San Francisco Missions (1914) moved from Sacramento, moved to Salt Lake 1915
* San Francisco Seals (1903-1957) moved to Phoenix 1958
* Seattle Rainiers (1903-1906, 1919-1968) played in Northwest League 1907-1918, team known as Seattle Indians 1903-1937
* Spokane Indians (1956-1983)
* Tacoma Tigers (1904-1905) moved from Sacramento, moved back to Sacramento 1905
* Vancouver Mounties (1956-1962), moved from Oakland
* Venice Tigers (1913-1914) moved from Vernon, moved back to Vernon 1915
* Vernon Tigers (1909-1912, 1915-1925) moved to Venice 1913, returned 1915, moved to Mission 1926

Come on fellow Oaklanders, some of you out there are making us sound like idiots. P.S. thanks to wikipedia for the info here on the PCL

Constance said...

The A's will be staying in our community. Why are people against that?

If Oakland was like Houston Phoenix, or San Jose, they would have annexed everything they could and Pacific Commons would just be another part of the city. The community does not end at the city limits, my friend.

But what do I know? Jrbh just thinks I'm a stalker.

Anonymous said...

"You want to rip the baby A's screaming out of my hands and sell them to white slave traders in Las Vegas."

Marine Layer, why do continue to allow this?

Jeff August said...

Where did the Mission Reds play exactly? I guess I should wiki that.

jrbh said...

anon 9:42 --

Perhaps I meant the remark, you know, humorously. As hyperbole. Just something you might want to consider.

Anonymous said...

Come on ML. I've never left Oakland city limits and I don't plan to now. You can't put an A's museum in Fremont. No one will go because there will be so much traffic going in and out of the museum who wants to sit in that? Plus, think about the children. My god! What about the CHILDREN!!! Have you considered that? And don't you think western civilization has crumbled enough? If you move A's things to Fremont, well, you can kiss the rest of it goodbye too. I'll put it as plainly as I can: If the A's move to Fremont, the terrorists win. Is that what you really want?

Anonymous said...

Besides Eckersley, what has Fremont contributed to Major League Baseball, the Pacific Coast Leage, etc. that warrants a museum about baseball?

Marine Layer said...

The minority view should always have a chance to be heard, even if it is sometimes unsavory. At the same time, jrbh, you might want to consider making the hyperbole less so.

I find it revealing that no one has commented on the Baseball as America exhibit. I take it that no one has seen it?

jrbh said...

Honestly, ML, if anyone took that comment as anything but a joke, they should probably take some time off. I'm fine with how I write.

I'd be interested in what you think about my last two points, about how people hear opposition to a ballpark in Fremont, and the issue of control, assuming that they're savory enough and all. ;)

I went to the Baseball as America exhibit in Oakland, and I liked it all right, although I thought it was way too MLB-centric, and I'm tired to death of the "baseball as a metaphor for America" crap. (It's why I can't stand Malamud.) It reminded me a lot of the Disney exhibit the museum just had: some very interesting stuff surrounded by the stultifyingly obvious and some lazy curating.

Marine Layer said...

The anti-move/anti-Fremont crowd is out there but it doesn't appear to be very strong or organized. Call them apathetic or disaffected. Whatever the case, there aren't that many of them. Despite this, they deserve a voice and I'm happy to give it to them.

There are many people that think Fremont is a Bay Area-or-bust option, but it's much more complicated than that. jrbh and I agree that Wolff's moves are by design with the skids greased to leave Oakland. Where we differ is the reasoning. jrbh thinks a Fremont-type deal could be done in Oakland, at the Coliseum or downtown/uptown. I've done the numbers and surveyed the political landscape. I've come up with the opposite viewpoint. I honestly believe (and the e-mails back me up on this) that fans recognize Fremont as a compromise plan and support it, though not without reservations. Give people credit for having a nuanced perspective, not just some ethereal notions about how the A's and baseball in particular should be run. It's unfair to hold current ownership to a standard that no MLB team in existence has created, and that includes the A's during the venerable Haas tenure.

bartleby said...

ML: A different thought from a different thread - How high is the upper deck of Mt. Davis relative to the upper deck of newer stadia such as Heinz Field?

Marine Layer said...

I've never seen published numbers, but Mt Davis has to be higher due to its third level of suites and the way the upper two suite levels overhang the club area.

Ken Arneson said...

I saw the Baseball as America exhibit when it was in Oakland. I gave it a mixed review at Catfish Stew.

Jeff August said...

Baseball as America rocked!!!!

My favorite picture is available on my myspace.com/jeffaugust

It was a great way to introduce my two daughters, and to a lesser extent my wife, to the joy of baseball.

My girls still talk all the time about Harry Cary's glasses, of all things.

It was awesome and I wish something like that was available year round in Northern California.

Bleacher Dave said...

Baseball as America was great. I was surprised by the attendance - lines to get in were quite long!

15-25% of attendees riding Bart to the game is HUGE.

The Cactus Leaguer said...

I went to the exhibit a few years back when it was in St. Petersburg and I really enjoyed it.

I'm still in shock that there are no baseball museums in the Western US - truly stunning. I searched "The Google" and came up with this old USA Today list of baseball museums in the US:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/hallfame/00hall5.htm

The Cactus Leaguer said...

Whoops, here's the last part of the link:

/hallfame/00hall5.htm