18 May 2006

SJ's PG&E bill: $30.8 million

And so the price tag goes up on the Diridon South site acquisition. Not that it wasn't expected to expensive. But to put it in perspective, in Barry Witt's Merc article the city is spending $17.6 million on three acres. The PG&E substation site takes up only 1.25 acres. Unfortunately, it is a crucial 1.25 acres, since it provides extra width to fully accommodate a ballpark, even a smaller 35,000-seat design.

If the land were not acquired, the ballpark could be reconfigured with a short right field porch a la AT&T Park. The substation provides power to Willow Glen and portions of downtown, so it can't be eliminated. It would have to either be moved to the south end of the fire training center on the other side of Park Ave, or it would have to be reconfigured to run north-south along the railroad tracks that front the western border of the site. Due to restrictions in the types of equipment that have to be used and arranged, and the need for vehicular access, the reconfiguration can only go so far. Depending on what the available land would be, this may be the best option because at $21.6 million it's cheaper than the full relocation, and the land to the south would remain available for a park.

Regardless of how the PG&E substation is addressed, it would have to be the last acquisition to complete the site due to its substantial cost. Should the A's stay in Oakland or move to Fremont or elsewhere in the East Bay, the site would be made available for housing, based on the original Diridon/Arena plan. Soccer supporters had rallied to get the site considered for a new Earthquakes' stadium, but that would require a different EIR to be drafted.