16 January 2007

Playing the waiting game

Well, if you were expecting anything significant from tonight's session, you probably came away disappointed. Lew didn't give details. There were no fire-breathing opponents. And while the chambers was packed, the tone was predictably civil, if not downright subdued. Press coverage: Merc / Argus / Chron

Still, there were some important things to come out of Wolff's brief presentation and Q&A:
  • The team name will be "____ Athletics at Fremont" - not "of Fremont." Does that make a difference? Should someone actually take the name literally, it would appear that the team doesn't "belong" to Fremont, even though it's part of the community. Feeling marginalized yet? Or dizzy? This leads me to believe that a regional name is seriously under consideration.
  • 2,900 housing units is the current number, but more interesting is that Wolff indicated that most of the housing would not be mid-rise condos, but rather townhouses. Townhouses could be worth more on average than a typical mid-rise condo unit, but they'll take up far more room in the project area, and as noted before, space is at a premium.
  • The A's are underwriting the $500,000 cost of the EIR and related studies, though the city is contracting all of the work. Wolff apparently has anticipated the instant calls of conflict-of-interest problems by vaguely referring to one study as not as favorable as might be believed. On a related note, I recognized one of the consultants from San Jose's ballpark study work. The consultants were not introduced because, as Wolff said in jest, he couldn't remember all of their names.
  • City Manager Fred Diaz recommended a letter of interest, similar to one drawn up between the 49ers and the City of Santa Clara.
  • There were sentiments by both Wolff and council members to accelerate the process, tempered by comments from the public and environmental groups to keep the parties moving on a thorough EIR study.
  • Bo Magnussen of Magnussen Lexus inquired about the impact to the Fremont Auto Mall nearby. He had contacted someone at Coliseum Lexus in Oakland to see how much sporting events impacted their dealership. The traffic generated on event days was in fact detrimental, so Magnussen pleaded with the A's and the city to figure out a way to mitigate that impact on weekends. The obvious way at first would be to have Saturday games at 7 p.m. instead of 1 p.m.
  • There will be many community meetings, but none have been scheduled yet.
A positive I saw was that there were several supporters whose origins/nationalities did not fall into the typical baseball fan profile. One even mentioned the use of the ballpark as an occasional cricket ground (!). Fremont is a city whose population is now just under 50% Asian, so demographics may be a factor when it comes to public support.

There was a small contingent of "Keep the A's in Oakland" folks, but if they had filled out comment cards, they weren't called up.


Jeff August said...

I have got to say it is pretty interesting to me that Chris De Benedetti finds in enws worthy that 5 folks showed up to say keep the A's and Oakland and ended his story with quotes from them.

I know he was once very involved with the OAFC and I believe his inclusion of this wreaks of a lack of journalistic integrity.

If anything, the story is that only 5 people from the keep the A's in Oakland crowd were there. That speaks volumes about how much support keeping the A's in Oakland has.

It was interesting to me that there 15 presenters and only 1 was against it outright while 10 were for it.

Hardly a big enough sample size to draw hard and fast conclusions but encouraging evidence that Bill from Fremont doesn't have the 80% backing he boasted on the Ron Owens show.

Anonymous said...

typical wolff lack of details and empty rhetoric. he's hiding something and me thinks that something is a big fat subsidy that poor taxpayers from fremont will be forced to pay if this thing gets off the ground.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all those Fremont residents against the project don't really live in Fremont.

Of course they still could have showed up anyway. Perhaps they were too busy ghost riding in Oakland or low riding in San Jose.

Anonymous said...

Those 5 " keep the A's in Oakland " people were outside with their banner and pretty much ignored/invisible to the assembled masses who attended.
Saturday night games would mitigate some of the auto dealer concerns and possibly generate more biz for the village's upscale stores/restaurants/ sports bars before/after games . As with the Giant's AT&T Park, you will get a lot more new -to -the -Bay Area casual fan probably with higher disposable income , who want an " entertainment " day for family including ballpark and shopping tour. It creates a more balanced inviting atmosphere for region's changing ethnic demographic .The hardcore 30- year- loyal contingent of 5000 " little old ladies with tennis shoes and scorecards " type fan is aging , along with " flight of their kids who grew up in East Bay and San Ramon Valley /Livermore area as A's fans now living in Reno, Tracy, Modesto, etc.

Anonymous said...

honestly what is wrong with Oakland A's at Fremont or of Fremont?? IM a reasonable Oakland resident that wants a new stadium but I think our name still shouldnt change (well even if they do at the at Fremont) I think its still should be name Oakland. hat is wrong with that?? Fremont is in Alameda-Oakland county. I just dont see why people arent talking about this issue more

Anonymous said...

yeah, it should be oakland a's at fremont (and i'm not an oakland person).

"I have got to say it is pretty interesting to me that Chris De Benedetti finds in news worthy that 5 folks showed up to say keep the A's and Oakland and ended his story with quotes from them.

I know he was once very involved with the OAFC and I believe his inclusion of this wreaks of a lack of journalistic integrity."

normally i'd agree with you, but since when is the garbage on considered journalism?

Anonymous said...

The A's problem is that they've never been seen as a team that represents the entire Bay Area with the "Oakland" label. On the other hand, the name "San Francisco" tends to unify the casual fans more even if they never even set foot in the city. (Remember, that big pond we have in common is still called the SAN FRANCISCO BAY)

San Jose is much bigger and wealthier than Oakland and can likely support a team on its own, but it still won't have the corporate and fan support that an "SF" labeled team does, for much of what is considered the San Jose market overlaps with what is historically San Francisco's.

To truly be at parity with the Giants, Lew Wolff needs to go with a regional name. Problem is that "Bay Area" and "Golden State" are too general and bland, "San Jose" is too limiting, and "San Francisco" just plain dishonest.

Which is why "Silicon Valley" is a good choice. It's never been used, has worldwide recognition(if not downright sex appeal), gives the South Bay its due, and is just vague enough to resonate with the entire Bay Area.

Beyond that though, the A's may be best served by staying with "Oakland", at least for awhile. If the "Oakland A's at Fremont" support doubles by being at Cisco Field, there would then there's no reason to change the name.

And if East Bay fans disappear and South Bay fans are turned off by the Oakland name, Wolff is then very justified in calling them the Silicon Valley or even San Jose Athletics.

Cisco Field season ticket marketing should probably start around the time they break ground. Which means the A's will have at least three years to figure out where the support will be and whether a name change is called for.

anon-a-mouse said...

Good food for thought and sound reasoning, anon 8:46.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Fremont get accommodating, and change the name of the city to "Philadelphia"? I think everyone could agree that "Philadelphia Athletics" would need no "at" or "of".

I'm sure that print shops and other signmaking businesses could be enlisted to promote a name change to "Philadelphia"!

The oldest continously occupied city in the world is Amman, Jordan, ..originally named "Philadelphia" when Alexander the Great came through. That's where the big city in Pennsylvania got its name.

John C Fremont was a blowhard and a vainglorius individual. A town named after him is like calling a town "Trumpville" after "The Donald". Just not worthy of the citizenry.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:46 sure sounds a lot like our old friend Georob; championing everything San Francisco and spitting on San Jose! By the way, why are the Sharks named after San Jose? They are sold out every game and attract fans from throughout the Bay "SF" or regional name needed! I fully expect the San Jose A's AT Fremont to be playing by 2011. By the way Marinelayer, why haven't we had any renderings or layouts of the surrounding ballpark village yet? When Lew Wolff presented the ballpark/village plan for Oakland back in 2005, we at least had drawn out references to 880, the Coliseum, and the BART line (as well as how the residential developement might look like). We've had nothing in regards to Pacific Commons. Heck, none of us even know what direction the stadium outfield faces. I find all of this to be quite strange.

Mike L. said...

In all of his public comments, Lew Wolff has gone out of his way to emphasize that the A's are staying in "their territory" and staying in Alameda County. And although nothing stops him from using San Jose if he wants the fact remains that the city of San Jose is NOT, as far as MLB is concerned; in the A's territory.

"Silicon Valley" will be as close as San Jose gets to having the team named after them. The question is will that be good enough for San Jose boosters? Judging from the comments I've seen here and elsewhere, that's a hard question to answer.

Anonymous said...

im anon 3:01 pm and I just dont see how "Silicon Valley" will work. Please explain to me how that will work? It sounds too semi-pro team name. They wont have New York @ Silicon Valley. Thats a bad idea, that should be scrathed off. San Jose A's seem like it most likely will happen but from our South Bay fans, will you support Oakland A's at Fremont?? I like our move to fremont (again I mention Im from east Oakland and stayed literally right down the street) I love our new ball park but I just dont know why a name change would be called for (besides the at Fremont at the end). Oakland is a famous city and we have a great history with the city of Oakland. Even though were moving down the 880 freeway, why change that. Lets carry on tradition. Thats how I feel, I just want us to be Oakland A's at Fremont, it will (well my opinion) satisfy both sides (south and east bay). Its still in Alameda-Oakland County. What do you guys think??

Jeff P. said...

As far as the team name goes, here is what I think. Follow the money. Whatever angle the A's feel will maximize revenue, that is the angle they will pursue. My own feeling is that the team will ultimately be the San Jose A's at Fremont. That's not to say that there will not be a "transition" name. That could very well be the case. I can see the Silicon Valley A's at Fremont for a short spell. But in the end, the money is in SJ.

Anonymous said...

But Jeff, the "money" ultimately lies with the high-tech companies. And the high-tech companies identify with the term "Silicon Valley" WAY more than they do San Jose.

Marine Layer himself experienced this when he was out of the country and was asked where he was from. Everyone understood "Silicon Valley" and "San Francisco", but very few knew where San Jose was.

If the main objective here is to bring sports to the South Bay then we all have nothing to worry about. The problem is that so many are fixated on getting the name "San Jose" on a major league team that you're forgetting what the bigger goal is.

Jeff August said...

I know this qualifies me as a nerd, but I frequently listen to BBC on on my xm radio.

I have taken to informally counting the number of times a US city is emntioned in the business report... the top three "cities" mentioned in order:

1. Silicon Valley
2. New York
3. Los Angeles

On the BBC programs, they sometimes even refer to San Francisco as "Silicon Valley." Imagine the revenue that comes in when the road jersey is sold abroad with the words "Silicon Valley" across the forn.

It is similar to Anaheim v. LA. Advertisers will be more apt to spend money on signage and what jnot knowing their audience is Silicon Valley rather than Oakland or San Jose. Just like advertisers are more apt to spend on an LA team v. an Anaheim team.

For this reason, I believe the team will come to be knwon as the Silicon Valey Athletics at Fremont.

I think it would be interesting if the A's put a new soccer team in San Jose called the Silicon Valley Athletics at San Jose. That, however, will never happen.

From a marketing perspective, it would be interesting to see if you could build a brand across multiple sports.

Jeff P. said...

Those are good points a2:48. To be honest, I don't know if I can dispute what you say. But the center of the "universe" for Silicon Valley is San Jose. In some ways it's a ridiculous situation. SJ is a major US city, and Silicon Valley doesn't in fact exist. Sooner or later, the name and reality of San Jose will supplant the "idea" that is SV. That's the primary reason I believe that a transitional name is a distict possibility. FWIW, I don't have a dog in this show. I don't care what the team is called, I will still be a fan. Really though, it doesn't matter if they use SV or SJ, both will serve to draw attention to the city of SJ, which would be the goal of the city.

Anonymous said...

no renderings of ballpark or village because the whole thing's a mirage and pipedream ... just like the ballpark on the parking lot that wolff originally floated.

anon-a-mouse said...

Interesting idea Jeff. It was a common practice in the early days of the NFL (a lot of teams simply borrowed the name of the local baseball team). But the business side of the sport is so different today, I'm not sure if looking at those examples would be all that meaningful.

Marine Layer said...

Right, because spending millions of dollars on land is simply a ruse. Remember that Fremont holds the key here. Wolff & Co. can't make money, finance the ballpark, etc., unless Fremont approves the zoning changes. That won't happen unless the stadium is built in Fremont.

Anonymous said...

How can they NOT call the team the San Jose A's?

Where did Hewlett Packard start the computer industry? San Jose

Where was the garage that started Apple? San Jose

Where do the majority of the people in the Bay Area live? San Jose!

If the A's sell out and call it Silicon Valley I suppose I will still be a fan but it will very hard to do so. And I know a lot of people that wont stand for it not being San Jose

thats my opinion

Constance said...

In reply to Anon 7:47, the Sharks are the ONLY NHL team in Northern California. That's probably why they sell out and why no regional name is needed.

The Sharks also have no other professional team within 30 miles. It will be interesting to see how that changes with the A's and 49'ers (if the San Jose boosters have their way, the Raiders and Warriors too) close by

Jimmy Jam said...

Anon 9:39 FWIW HP was founded in Palo Alto and their headquarters are there today. I'm not crazy about a regional name but if we're talking about the origins of the more prominent Silicon Valley companies most were founded in other South Bay cities.

Transic said...

I don't know. I'm just so used to the name "Oakland" that it's become ubiquitous. The fact that if they do leave the city they won't go to another city but a bedroom community makes it much more complicated than we would like. If I wanted to be a smartass I would say that they are going from a place where "there is no there there" to a place that is "somewhat there but not really there" but that wouldn't be exactly fair to both communities, now isn't it?

To me, if they do leave Oakland, they also left it "spiritually". Oakland and San Jose (or Fremont for that matter) have quite different cultures and vibes. One is working-class, blue-collar (at least in image) and proud of it. The other's synonymous with sky-high real estate prices, somewhat nerdy image, ambitious to become bigger than they are, obsessed with gadgets and terabytes.

It's a clash of cultures being played out here, with a baseball team being put in the middle.

SexFlavoredPez said...

I don't really understand why all this regional talk is going on. Why does anyone care what comes before Athletics? The team is more a brand name than anything else. The A's have a unique situation. With the revolving door that is our roster fans are forced to root for the team, not the individuals that make up that team. The only permanant star on this club is the GM! The A's are a brand and the only thing that matters from an ownership perspective is selling the brand. So the name that comes before A's will go to whoever can best sell that brand to as many potential investors as possible. With that being said, Silicon Valley A's at Fremont will be the name. Not that it matters, even if they were the Los Angles A's at Fremont in Silicon Valley, I'd still root for my team.

anon-a-mouse said...

I'm with you, sex-pez. It's much ado about nothing. The important thing is that the A's are staying in the Bay Area and getting a new stadium. The rest is just details.

Michelle said...

Well, SFP:

What this is about is bragging rights. Why do we want our teams do to well and win the World Series or Super Bowl? Part of that reason is so fans can feel good about and brag about "their" team. Granted, there may be many fans who don't care about such things, but a good many more do.

Therefore it's only natural to extend that fervor to the locality that precedes the team name. If the A's were still named for Kansas City or the 49'ers named for Salt Lake City, I doubt they would have the same level of support.

The problem with the Bay Area is that there is no one city that dominates in size to where its name becomes the default title for sports teams and other things. As much as San Jose brags about being #1, its population is still only 1/7 of the region. And while history and tradition favor San Francisco, it isn't even the largest city or largest COUNTY.

Throw in the hills, microclimates, and traffic congestion; and it's easy to see why a resident of one Bay Area region feel no connection at all to towns only 20 miles away.

Therefore, to Oaklanders Fremont may as well be Tijuana, San Jose considers San Francisco to be Seattle, and any attempt to find a "regional" name for the A's is considered as silly as calling them the "United States Of America Athletics" Fremont:)

anon-a-mouse said...

Well michelle, it's time to grow up and embrace the region. You're missing out on a great deal by never leaving Oakland city limits to visit "Seattle" and "Tijuana" and everything in between. Judging from the number of people on the freeways, I'd say lot's of people get around and connect with other cities within the region.

What do you do when consuming the local media? Ignore everything they say and write until the word "Oakland" pops up? Whether you like it or not, this is a single, integrated market and your supposedly favorite team is staying within it. You sound like the dude who said he roots against the Sharks just because they're in San Jose. To me, that is a very telling reflection on the limited depth of thinking that person is capable of. To root against your only local hockey team because of the city limits the team's stadium sits in? Something that is a largely arbitrary line on a map? That's just pathetic.

So, I guess you're either going to have to root for the Tijuana A's or Seattle Giants or give up baseball altogether.