10 February 2007

Keeping up with the Joneses - Winter '07

Last October I posted an article that kept track of other teams and their ballpark suits. Some news about other ballparks came out this week, so it's a good time to revisit those other cities.

First, let's look at the A's.

Site acquisition is the major progress point here, as the Cisco deal and surrounding purchases have all but sewn up the land piece provided the project and rezoning are approved by Fremont (and perhaps Alameda County). I've also moved the A's up on the funding meter, as I figure that Wolff wouldn't commence with the land acquisitions unless he had some generally positive feelers on financing from one or more institutions and potential investors. The political process meter hasn't budged since the A's haven't formally submitted a proposal for consideration. Construction, of course, has not started yet.

The Twins' project has stalled over a land cost dispute. You'd think this would be the first thing they got out of the way. Alas, the two sides are caught in a risky game of chicken, one that threatens to severely delay if not derail the project altogether.

The political process and funding meters haven't changed, as legislation passed before October. However, the funding part isn't complete because the land cost remains an X-factor. There's a myriad of opinions on what to do about this. One columnist suggests that Twins owner and billionaire Carl Pohlad should bridge the gap, while another thinks that it's time to ditch downtown for suburban Anoka County, where a football stadium proposal recently failed and money (and land) may be available. While a judge has cleared the way for eminent domain proceedings, there's still no set value for the land and county/ballpark officials aren't budging from their $13.5 million offer for the 8-acre parcel and the county has said on more than one occasion that a cap on the $522 million project prevents them from offering more. The scary part: Unveiling of the design is scheduled for this Thursday.

The Marlins' fortunes started to look up when Republican Charlie Crist won the November election for governor. Crist has expressed interest in providing some level of state funding for the ballpark, moreso than his predecessor, Jeb Bush.

Unfortunately for the Marlins, that's the only good news so far. Napoleon-like Marlins president David Samson thinks a deal could be made by October, but there are a ton of issues left to work out. A site has not been finalized yet, though the front runner appears to be a downtown location near the old Miami Arena. The funding mix will be heavily dependent on that state source, and there's some potential backlash if Crist works with the Marlins but doesn't open up the state's wallet to other pro sports. There's also the question of whether the ballpark will have a retractable roof, the inclusion of which would certainly blow the lid off the ballpark's budget.

After much political heartache and bad planning, the Navy Yard ballpark is well on its way to opening next year. The project website even set up a webcam to show off the progress. The bowl foundation is in place and structural work continues.

Plenty of issues remain, like the amount of parking that will be available in the area. Still, the Nats are definitely going to be the only team of these four that will open in new digs before the end of the decade. Too bad it took a fantastically horrendous deal to do it.

One more note: Next Tuesday is the first of four open houses set up by VTA to get public input on the BART-to-San Jose extension. The schedule is as follows:
For all four sessions, the Open House portion will run from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM, with the Presentation and Formal Public Comment period to start shortly thereafter.


anon-A-mouse said...

The Cisco deal is a big piece of the funding puzzle as well as sight acquisition. Stadium naming rights are one of the major sources of funding these days. I would think that deal was worth a notch on your meter. Surely we're further along than the Marlins in funding.

Anonymous said...

What does the BART to SJ information have to do with the A's Fremont Ballpark? I personally think it's good info, but it has no relevance to the A's new ballpark. Also, what's up with SJ completing/certifying the Diridon ballpark EIR (Mercury News, 1B 2/11)? I'm pretty sure Lew Wolff rubs shoulders often with SJ leaders...being that he's one of them. Mr. Wolff probably views fiscally-conservative Reed and the rest of his SJ colleagues as insane for completing the EIR, does he not? And I don't buy the argument that the Diridon EIR could be used for "future housing." Doesn't make any sense, unless...

Marine Layer said...

The Marlins already have their local funding mechanism at place. There's still a gap of $50-60 million remaining, which could grow depending on the final ballpark specs. The A's may very well be further along, but we don't have enough information to make that judgment.

I'll keep the BART-to-SJ info going because without the BART-to-SJ project, the Warm Springs BART extension (WSX) won't get built.

Wolff encouraged SJ to move forward on the ballpark EIR. And Reed approved the expenditure last time out even though the situation looked bleak. My issue with the EIR is that it isn't nearly comprehensive enough to pass muster in the end. Perhaps it should be shelved until a real opportunity comes forward, if it ever does. The EIR doesn't just cover the ballpark. It also covers an alternative that includes the originally planned purpose for the land, which was housing. It's possible that the land would get used as the housing piece that would be needed to finance the Quakes/Spartans stadium, but that's speculation at this point.

anon-A-mouse said...

Thanks, ML. As usual, you're all over it.

Anthony Dominguez said...

If, in the future, a new development were proposed for the Diridon South site (say, an "Arena Village" with retail, residential, entertainment), wouldn't an entirely new EIR be required? I'm sure bits and pieces of the ballpark EIR could be used, but not the entire document. Am I correct? Being that Cisco Field will now go up in Fremont, I personnally don't get completing/certifying this Diridon EIR rather than shelving/tossing it into a round file.

Oakland Si said...

I agree about keeping tabs on BART to San José news -- I too doubt that the Warm Springs extension will actually get built without it. (And by the way, even if it does the proposed station(s) still will be pretty far away from the proposed Cisco Field site in Fremont; there will still be public transit issues (distance, the fact that the ballpark will be west of 880 and BART east of it, etc).

San José is probably still Wolff's ideal choice for the A's ballpark. Of course, he's had to give up on that for now, and is committed to trying to get the Fremont village plan approved. But business and politics are strange creatures. You just never know what will happen with Fremont or even the Giants' hold on San José rights. So it makes sense for Wolff to encourage continued work on possible San José proposals, both for a soccer stadium and a ballpark...ya just never know...