14 November 2006

So where are the bullpens?

I'll start with the nitpicks just to get them out of the way.
  • There's no batter's eye in centerfield. The ability to see through from the park into the playing field is nice, but it's not going to work during games. I could see them putting in a curtain or screen that retracts during off days or in between innings.
  • I can't say for sure which way the ballpark is oriented, but from the flythrus the field appears to be facing northeast. If that's true that's a shame, because if they positioned 45 degrees south they'd have Mission Peak as the backdrop. Note: the field may actually be facing north.
  • The brick exteriors. I really hope the brick is only there to provide texture for the renderings and sketches. We've seen enough of it. Try something else.
  • I don't see the bullpens anywhere in the sketches or renderings. Do you? They might be beyond the 410' markers. If so, they're hidden underneath the scoreboard and have two rows of seats between the pens and the field. Now that's odd.
  • 320' down the lines and the cut-ins. I understand the neighborhood concept, but the short porches down the lines could mean a few extra cheap home runs. The extremely deep gaps (410') are a good counterpoint. The dimensions look a little similar to Petco's but the fog and marine layer won't be as much of a factor. I'll do some temperature surveys next spring to show the difference between the Coliseum and Cisco.
  • I'm still concerned that the club level (field) will prevent regular fans from being able to walk down to the front row for autographs. It's a tradition worth keeping.
  • It would be nice if the grandstand down the first base line used the same angles and the grandstand down the third base line. It's cleaner and sharper.
  • What the heck is Big Mutt?
That said, there's a lot to love about this concept. Let's start with the grandstand, since that's where most everyone will be sitting.

It appears like four decks, but it's more like two large decks. Take a good look at this cross-section, taken from the animations page:

This will be, by far, the most intimate new ballpark in baseball. The upper deck cantilever is really aggressive. It's even better than I could have hoped for, better than I've drawn up. The yellow/red model is Cisco Field, while the white model is... SBC Park in all likelihood. All of the decks are closer and lower than their SBC or McAfee counterparts. Techies (like me) better be on the lookout, because if they're busy staring down at a smart phone, they're liable to get a screaming liner right in the grill.

The upper deck is actually split in two. The lower section has 13 rows, while the upper section has 7. That makes the combination one row deeper than the Coliseum's upper deck. Why are they separated? Three reasons:
  • Wolff said that he wanted all concourses to have a view of the game. The separation allows that to happen.
  • Wheelchair seating positions are easier to come by. I wrote about this in my review of Stanford Stadium. This arrangement has also in use at New Busch Stadium and Great American Ball Park.
  • It's easier to define different pricing within the upper deck. The A's might decide to have a handful of cheap seats in the upper deck corners. Even those will be good seats.
The leftfield bleachers rise above a small street and connect to a building across the street. Now that's integration. I hope the risers are made of steel or aluminum so that they can get really noisy. It wouldn't be hard to bring the "A" or triangle shape used in last year's model.

The full street concourse is an evolution of what's been done in Baltimore and San Diego. Rightfield looks a lot like Eutaw Street, and the centerfield park is a lot more cohesive than the park-within-the-park area at Petco. The double-sided video board isn't new, but its sheer size will make it compelling. It wouldn't be a bad idea to show all road games on the exterior board. And once a week during the summer, the board would be a natural place to have outdoor movies and concerts. One of the neat things about Petco is that they have a $5 Park Pass admission, which acts as a cover charge of sorts that allows for standing room admissions. Since the street and park would be part of the ballpark when during games, it's conceivable that several thousand of these Park Passes could be sold without violating fire code. It's a cheap ticket to get in, a bump in revenue, and a way to bring fans into all of those restaurants in the ballpark village. Yes, standing room sometimes sucks, but...

You'll have a lot of places and room to stand. The entire outfield/street concourse for starters. Perhaps those steps that lead up to the area beneath the video board. Both the upper and lower deck concourses.

I'm pleased with the ballpark concept and the village integration. It builds upon earlier ideas and adds a few neat twists. Unlike most other new ballparks, this one's really got the potential to make the game experience truly intimate. I look forward to seeing more.

Tomorrow: the parking and housing mystery.


I'll have a first impressions review of the design soon, but for now I'll let this cute little souvenir speak for itself:

Sorry folks, this one's not for sale or trade.

A's-Cisco official press release


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland Athletics owner and managing partner Lew Wolff announced today the A's have reached an agreement to purchase a 143-acre parcel from Cisco Systems with the intent of constructing a baseball park in the City of Fremont.

The state-of-the-art baseball-only stadium will be named Cisco Field as part of a 30-year naming rights agreement, which is valued at $4,000,000 million annually, with the potential for annual increases based on inflation. This naming rights agreement is transferable at any time. As part of the naming rights deal, Cisco will be granted an undisclosed amount of guaranteed print, radio and television exposure.

360 Architecture, with offices in Kansas City, Mo., Columbus, OH and San Francisco, and Gensler, with offices worldwide, will serve as the primary design companies for the ballpark.
Cisco Field will be located in Fremont, which is approximately 20 miles to the south of McAfee Coliseum, five miles north of the Santa Clara County line and 12 miles from downtown San Jose. With a population of over 210,000 people and an area of 92-square miles, Fremont is the fourth most populous city in the Bay Area and California's fifth largest city in area. The ballpark site is proposed to be located on the west side of Interstate 880 off the Auto Mall Parkway.

The partnership with Cisco also includes a broad marketing and business agreement which will underscore the A's commitment to create a unique fan experience by leveraging state-of-the-art network technology throughout the ballpark and franchise operation. As a result, Cisco Field will be one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world and will demonstrate the positive role technology can play in sport, entertainment and connecting communities. Cisco's technology will be used to enhance every facet of the stadium, from ticketing and concessions to management of game day operations.

The partnership allows Cisco to utilize the facility for corporate and community events and to create a Cisco Customer Solutions Center at the ballpark in an effort to showcase the use of networking technology in a stadium. Cisco becomes the "Official Technology Partner of the A's and Cisco Field" and the A's will deploy Cisco technology to serve the needs of Cisco Field and the baseball village.

Groundbreaking on the project will commence once the A's gain approval from the City of Fremont, Alameda County and other government agencies.
The estimated cost of the ballpark is between $400-500 million (excluding land) with construction time taking between 24-36 months.

The anticipated funding for the ballpark will be a combination of private equity and the application of the value of land use entitlements that will be generated by the activities of the ballpark and the adjacent ballpark village developments. The public assistance sought will be in the form of processing the development activity in the most efficient manner possible, the agreement that benefits generated solely by the development will in part or in total be used to facilitate the development program in a manner that will not impose on general fund or bonding issues on local government and other aspects of public-private cooperation that will stand the test of public acceptance.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era in A's baseball in the Bay Area," said Wolff. "Cisco Field will become a destination attraction that will be enjoyed by baseball fans throughout the Bay Area and beyond for generations to come. The location of the ballpark will able us to significantly expand our market place while giving our fans a unique experience at what promises to be one of the most exciting venues in the country. We thank Cisco Systems for the will and ability to make this new standard in fan and sponsor experience a reality. We have a number of rivers to cross, but once the value of what Cisco and the A's are committed to accomplish is clear to the citizens of Fremont and Alameda County, we are confident our plans will add to the economic, social and community base of the region we serve."

"The A's are more than just a great baseball team, they are a symbol of the Bay Area, and Cisco is proud to play a role in ensuring they continue to call it home," said Cisco President and CEO John Chambers. "Technology is changing every aspect of our life experiences and for Cisco, this is an opportunity to harness the power of our own innovative technologies to create a truly unique experience that transcends sports, connects communities and takes the fan experience to a whole new level.

"Cisco intends to be aggressive in ensuring the entire Bay Area community, particularly younger fans, have the opportunity to enjoy the A's experience. We have a vision for how to make Cisco Field the model for all sports franchises," he concluded.

"This announcement of a new ball park for the Oakland Athletics ensures the long-term stability of the club in the Bay Area," said Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "I congratulate Lew Wolff of the Athletics and John Chambers of Cisco for developing a partnership that will benefit the community as well as the A's and Cisco.

"As the landscape of baseball economics has changed dramatically in recent years, the importance of new ballparks that maximize the fan experience and expand club revenues, enabling the home team to remain competitive, can not be understated."

Up to date information on the progress of Cisco Field can be obtained on the team's official website The Cisco Field link will include an overview of the project, artist renderings, videos, a virtual tour and ballpark facts and figures. Fans may also offer their suggestions regarding any aspect of Cisco Field through a special feedback section. Fans suggestions will be compiled on a weekly basis and forwarded to A's management.

The A's will continue to operate under its current lease agreement at McAfee Coliseum through the 2010 season, with the addition of three one-year club options through the 2013 season. Opened in 1966 and home of the A's since 1968, the Coliseum is the eighth oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues behind Fenway Park (1912), Wrigley Field (1916), Yankee Stadium (1923), RFK Stadium (1961), Dodger Stadium (1962), Shea Stadium (1964) and Angel Stadium (1966), although both Yankee Stadium and Angel Stadium have undergone significant renovations over the years. The Coliseum is one of only four multi-purpose stadiums in the Major Leagues, including Dolphin Stadium in Miami, The Metrodome in Minneapolis and Rogers Centre in Toronto.

One of the American League's original franchises, the Athletics have won nine World Series championships and have captured 15 American League pennants. Only the New York Yankees (26) and St. Louis Cardinals (10) have won more World Series championships than the A's. Since 1968, the A's have captured four World Series titles, six American League pennants, 14 AL West Division titles and one AL Wild Card. The A's are one of the most community-minded teams in all of sports as the organization continues to support numerous charitable organizations in an effort to improve the quality of life of people throughout the Bay Area.

Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to