23 May 2006

A's-Quakes announcement on Wednesday

Updated: The Merc's Dylan Hernandez wrote an article on the MLS-A's deal. The A's bought a three year option on the Quakes, contingent upon a new SSS (soccer-specific stadium). MLS prefers that the team start playing when a new stadium is ready, which probably wouldn't be until 2008-09 at the earliest. Long-suffering Quakes fans would obviously prefer a 2007 launch.

A small blurb in
Mychael Urban's beat article for and a report from both point to an announcement on Wednesday in which the A's involvement in Earthquakes v 3.0 will be made official. Details are scarce, which leads to some potentially wild speculation about the respective futures of both the Quakes and the A's. Some possibilities (none of which are confirmed):
  • Quakes play at Spartan Stadium starting in 2007 (under new management for the next couple of years), until Spartan is either replaced or revamped (with the A's help).
  • Quakes play at a new Fremont stadium near the A's future Fremont ballpark.
  • Quakes and A's share a stadium (unlikely due to demands by both MLS and MLB).
  • Quakes play at a new stadium at the Diridon South site.
  • Quakes play at a new stadium in Santa Clara, either at Mission College or near Great America.
  • Quakes play at a new stadium in the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
  • Quakes play in Oakland?
In all of these cases, the Quakes' interim home would probably be Spartan Stadium while another facility is spec'ed out and built (there is no current development process underway for a soccer stadium).

A conference call held by MLS commissioner Don Garber is scheduled for Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. PDT.

Feeling Minnesota

A good amount of incoming e-mail about the Twins' new ballpark plan prompted me to write something about it. Until yesterday, I hadn't found anything interesting about the "circa-1996" type of financing plan:
  • The Twins' share is $130 million, one-quarter of the current estimated cost.
  • A Hennepin County sales tax hike of 0.15% will fund the remainder.
  • The ballpark will be located in the "Warehouse District," across I-394 from Target Center and next to HERC, the local garbage burning plant.
  • Other development is expected occur around the ballpark in a village concept called "Twinsville."
  • The $522 million total does not include a retractable roof. Such a roof could cost upwards of $100 million extra.
The lack of a roof brings to mind repeatedly cold Marches every season, though the novelty of outdoor baseball (not seen since the Met closed almost 25 years ago) should bring out plentiful crowds for at least the first few years. An interesting solution for the cold may come from HERC, which generates large amounts of heat when operating. There may be a way to pipe hot water from HERC into the stadium for heating the concrete seating risers. As heat is transferred, the water is cooled and returned to HERC to be reused. Building such a complicated system into the stadium design could prove quite costly, but it's an idea worth tossing around at the very least.

I figured the roof would be one of those "oh well, can't do anything about it now" signs of resignation, but it looks like the ballpark site's proximity to HERC may end up being a sort of double-edged sword. The site happens to be downwind from HERC. That prompted a smell study to understand if exhaust emanating during the summer months would cause problems. While the results of the study appeared to indicate that smell shouldn't be a problem, proof will come when games are actually played there. This bears a similarity to Fremont's Pacific Commons, where the ballpark is situated a couple of miles east (downwind) of the local garbage dump. I've eaten lunch around Pacific Commons many times and haven't smelled the dump myself, but I admittedly don't have a very sensitive nose.