16 November 2006

Ballpark Village

There's a very good reason why we haven't heard how much the whole development is going to cost:

We don't know how big it will be.

The orange area represents the Cisco land that will be purchased by the A's. The red area contains land that Wolff has recently acquired (they haven't acquired all of it yet AFAIK). Blue areas are additional land that probably will be acquired. Now take a look at the area with an approximation of the ballpark:

The cryptic message, "9,000 spaces within a comfortable walking distance," means two things:

  • They want people to walk through the village to get to the parking garages/lots. There will be garages adjacent to the ballpark, but those will be geared towards VIP's, suite holders, and personnel - 1,200 spaces or so. Everyone else will be walking 1/8 to 1/4 mile.
  • They're going to need every square foot they can get. The village will extend into the blue area immediately to the north. That red area, nearly 20 acres, could be very important. So could the old Christy Concrete plant. Combined, they'd provide 31 acres, or around 4,000 spaces. If it's surface parking, perhaps the tailgating tradition will live. If they build garages, tailgating's dead. The blue/red areas by the freeway are the best locations for parking from a development standpoint because of that all-important freeway access and the fact that the location automatically routes fans away from quieter residential neighborhoods to the south.

Village planners will have some challenges ahead of them. Questions to ask include:
  • How can housing and the wetland preserve co-exist? It appears that a large buffer will be required between the two, perhaps a couple hundred feet. This could be a good thing, since some amount of open space and parkland will be required. Might as well put them both together by making a greenbelt run along the southern portion of the orange area. The transition between the two areas would be smoother, plus there would be a nice place for families to go outside of the ballpark village core. But would that be enough to ease environmentalist concerns?
  • Where will the fire station/police station go? There is a fire station on the other side of I-880 on Grimmer Blvd., so it may not be necessary to have yet another one. Fremont doesn't operate police precinct stations, but considering the likely higher crime rates that will come with a new entertainment district, it makes sense to have some kind of community police center. This plan means 40,000 additional people and 10,000 additional cars coming into the city 81+ times per year plus playoffs and exhibitions, along 5,000+ permanent residents. Fortunately, such a station need not take up much space. As far as actually policing the games, I get the feeling that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department will be tapped for that role.
  • What about schools and parks? This is that additional infrastructure piece that is uncertain regarding funding. Lew Wolff's admission on Tuesday that the team's new name will have "of Fremont" is a big deal from a political perspective. It's a bargaining chip. How much value it actually has is up for debate, but it's Wolff saying that if Fremont wants the publicity that comes with being part of the team's name, it should contribute something other than simply pushing paperwork around. What that "something" is, is uncertain. It's absolutely clear that one elementary school will be required due to the large number of new residents (5,000 or more). There should be a park with playing fields. It's likely that the developers would donate this land in exchange for the city of Fremont and Fremont Unified partnering to build the school. If you're looking for a similar type of development, you need look no further than Santa Clara, whose Rivermark development stretched over 150+ acres on the old Agnews Hospital site. Obviously, no ballpark was included, but the community got a new $20 million K-8 school, a community policing center, a fire station, and a 11-acre park.
I haven't included the transportation part because it deserves its own discussion, and from comments here and elsewhere, it is quite a divisive issue.

Kudos to Carl Steward for
mentioning Drawbridge in his column today. I love Drawbridge.
I saw the Cisco Field commercial broadcast for the first time during a break on KGO-7's late newscast. Cisco's seriously into this.