14 May 2006

Fremont website recognized + Wolff speaks

Chris De Benedetti of the Fremont Argus wrote about the A's Baseball to Fremont website and the effort behind it. There's a comment from Cindy Bonior, head of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce:
"It's been a slow process because the city warned us the A's are obligated to work with (Oakland)," Bonior said. "We're looking to be more vocal. We're just waiting for the right time."
For those who were wondering why we took so long to get the Fremont site going, that's a big reason.

Wolff also showed up in the booth at today's A's-Yankees game to talk stadium and development. He also said there's no news, but he gave insight into how long it would take to develop the ballpark.
Kuiper: What has made the Fremont site so attractive to you?
Wolff: One of the things is the size of the land. As you know, land is scarce. We had a friendly welcome in Fremont, we had one in Oakland too... The economics of the ballpark village will pay for the ballpark... We're going to need a lot of help from the city and the county.

Fosse: How long will it take to get started?
Wolff: It'll take a year to design it and get a building permit. I'd say that it'd take two to two-and-a-half years to start building. It might take a year-and-a-half to get it built... There's an environmental impact report on the site already. If we can get a revised report (instead of a new one), we can take six months off the time required.

Fosse: Talk about the luxury suites.
Wolff: We'll have 40 4-person suites at the 15th row. We'll also have regular suites. The suites will be packed with technology.

: What will these 4-person suites look like?
Wolff: Behind it will be a private area for bathrooms and food. It looks pretty neat from the drawings we have... The 18 to 20-person suites require a (huge base). If you have a law firm or a family, the 4-person suite makes a lot more sense... Milwaukee is the worst at selling suites, and we found out that the type most in demand there are those smaller suites.

Fosse: Will it be "underground" or above ground?
Wolff: It'll be above ground. (Note: This is probably due to the location's low elevation - 27 feet above sea level - which makes it susceptible to tidal flows.)
What's unclear to me is why it would take so long after the the team gets the permit. There's no demolition or remediation that would need to be done on the site. It might take a few months to get it ready, but since it wouldn't be a sunken field, there wouldn't be a significant amount of excavation. I'll have to defer to the people in the know on this one.

If that timeline is right, the ballpark could open in 2011 or 2012 at the earliest. That would coincide with the A's desire for a Coliseum lease extension to 2013.
The San Diego Union-Tribune has an eye-opening report on how the sports industry cooks attendance figures. Sometimes I wonder if the multiple choice "You Guess The Attendance" bit done near the end of games is a matter of guesswork for the A's front office. The article lends credence to the idea, though I've been able to guess the Coliseum's attendance within 1,000 most of the time based on who shows up by the 4th inning.