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29 March 2007

Show me the money, Niners

I was going to compare the San Francisco and Santa Clara 49ers stadium concepts in this space, but I'll refrain because Ann Killion's column in the Merc captures my thinking almost exactly. For the the Niners it all comes down to one question: How does it get financed? Very little of the information released about the two sites talks about who pays for what. I don't think this is the 49ers hiding anything, I think they simply don't know.

Maybe they're looking for a ginormous loan from the NFL, such as the one approved on Tuesday by the owners for the $1.7 billion Giants/Jets stadium. The previous debt limit imposed on teams that applied for the league's G-3 stadium loan program was $150 million. How much would the 49ers need above that initial amount? The $200 million being sought from Santa Clara's utility reserve? More?

The San Francisco plan doesn't shed anymore light, though to be fair it was conceived by the City and developer Lennar with little input from the team. In the proposal, there's no mention of financing either, except that the City vows not to tap the General Fund to make the stadium alternative work.

There's a good deal of optimism coming from 49er headquarters, but there isn't much substance to back it up. Even though Lew Wolff hasn't yet published the A's plans, at least he's given some indication as to what he plans to do, and has backed it up with land acquisitions and the Cisco partnership. In Santa Clara, the tide is already starting to turn against the stadium proposal with the release of data showing potential rate hikes if the Niners go with the reserve fund. They need to get control of the situation. Stat.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well at least the Niners aren't proposing a stadium in an out-of-the-way place with no access via public transportation.

And Wolff has not provided any more details on financing than have the Niners. I have much more faith in the Niners that they intend to actually build a new stadium in the Bay Area than I do in Wolff, the King of Deception.

Marine Layer said...

Do you really believe the statements about Santa Clara's public transportation access? The two nearby modes are light rail and Capitol Corridor. One services only SC County while the other runs through the East Bay to Sac. Caltrain doesn't even stop nearby. If the stadium were built there, no more than 2-3% of fans would actually use public transportation. Let's all celebrate how progressive that 2-3% is, shall we?

Anon - you are placing your faith in bumbling incompetence. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, you are placing your faith in a con-artist intent on deceiving the public and milking as much as he can out of the taxpayers.

If you want to talk public transportation, let's talk. Football, in case you weren't aware, is played on only 8 days a year during the regular season at home. It's highly conducive to tailgating and is not really dependent on being in close proxity to public transportation. Baseball, on the other hand, is played on 81 days at home and it is ESSENTIAL in this day and age to be in close proximity to convenient public transportation to be successful in the long run. It's also very important for the long-run success of the ballpark to be in a urban center which can complement the ballpark - otherwise, folks have to be inconvenienced by the traffic and parking and are not enticed to stay near the ballpark before or after the game. Don't believe me? Oh then, why are Wrigley and Fenway so successful over the long run??? Can't be the on-field records. Hey, must be the close proximity to public transportation and all the things to do in the city centers before and after the game. Fremont???? Come on, who wants to go to Wendy's after the game?

Placing your faith in a con-man with a "plan" for a stadium in the middle of nowhere, miles away from any public transportation??? Good luck with that!

Marine Layer said...

A lot of assumptions being made there with little to back it up, anon. Do you honestly think the only thing that will be there is Wendy's? P.F. Chang's and Claim Jumper just located there in the last year, with more to follow when the ballpark village is built. One of Wolff's other businesses is restaurant management. The place will abound with eateries and bars. Why? Because he'll make money that way, that's why.

You fail to grasp the most obvious purpose of what he's doing - he's turning nowhere into somewhere. He's willing to invest a lot of money to do it - and already has. You can keep calling him a con man or deceiver, but the fact is that Wolff has spent a good amount of money and time on the concept. The project isn't going to require bond measures or tapping into Fremont's general fund - exactly what swindling is going on here?

Why even compare the public transportation situation of a football stadium if you're only going to tear it down with another argument?

This is completely subjective, but I view "essential" as a requirement for 50% of the fanbase or more. Or perhaps one-third. As it stands one of the only essential things for the ballpark is - that's right - parking.

You can convince yourself of how baseball needs to be in an urban center to thrive but that doesn't make it so. The Bay Area is not New York or Chicago, and most of the Bay Area is not SF. Neither Fenway nor Wrigley are actually in the city centers of Boston and Chicago. They're in established neighborhoods that have their own character. Fenway is as far from Boston Common as Rockridge is from Oakland City Center. If there's some land in Rockridge where a ballpark can be built, let me know. Sorry, Uptown was out of play as long as Jerry Brown was in office. Nancy Nadel shot down my Broadway Auto Row idea. The Port won't go for ballpark + housing near its operations. So where to go?

Let's look at West Coast baseball when it comes to transit. The truly downtown urban parks are in SF and San Diego. Seattle's is not actually downtown, is heavily dependent on parking and has no rapid or light rail system that it can utilize. The others? Dodger Stadium may be close to downtown but its lack of public transportation is legendary. Angel Stadium has better parking but is in a suburb, though it will soon be surrounded by a vibrant new community - that sounds familiar. Amazingly, it's overcome the transit issue to consistently pull in 3 million fans. The Coliseum has the best transit infrastructure outside of SF, but is as far from downtown Oakland as you can get. Phoenix has its ballpark downtown but only has buses until light rail is opened a few years from now, meanwhile there are 20,000 parking spaces in the vicinity of Chase Field. AT&T Park is a total gem and the envy of many, but was as much shaped by city politics as the desire to move from the 'Stick.

Please. I've researched the transit issue even before I started this site and haven't stopped. Don't you think that I dislike the lack of transportation options? I initially endorsed Warm Springs over Pacific Commons until I found out that Warm Springs wasn't available. As I said before, it's a compromise, for everyone from the owner on down.

Jeffrey said...

Wow. The "Oakland Only" crowd is out in full force. Shooting at Fremont as often as they can... why? Because logically Fremont makes more sense than they care to admit.

It is 10 miles from the economic center of the Bay Area. North First Street in San Jose is teaming with corporate money that Oakland isn't.

That is a huge attraction for Lewis Wolff, and any other business owner for that matter. A customer base that can pay a premium to enjoy your product is no small thing.

With all due respect, where did you get your business degree from? What evidence do you have that paints Wolff as a con-man? What does character assassination have to do with the feasibility of Fremont? What other stadiums can boast the "city center" and sustained fan base of Wrigley and Fenway? Why do you believe that something as complex as building a stadium has one simple set of environmental concerns in order to succeed?

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey ... huh?????

Oh, and to answer your question ... MBA, UC Berkeley.

Where did you get yours???

Bleacher Dave said...

OK, I'll bite.

Firstly, let's remember that the Angels booming attendance is due to the WS win. They drew remarkably similar to the A's before then. Couple that with a wildly popular and charismatic owner, who has made all the right marketing moves, and you can see the latent value that was in that franchise.

C'mon ML. You know that this project is gonna require indirect general fund or bond support. If Wolff gets the tax increment to pay for his stadium construction costs, the general fund is left to bear the capital and operating costs related to the new residents - schools, police, fire, infrastructure. Either that, or HOA fees out of this world.

Hasn't Denver proven that baseball can't support eateries? 82 dates isn't enough to live on.

Marine Layer said...

BD - That's the old playbook. We're talking about something completely different. TIF means the general fund since Fremont doesn't have a sprawling redevelopment agency with that kind of bonding power. I understand the skepticism behind the financing mechanism, I believe instead that Wolff's being a straight shooter here.

When I wrote my infrastructure post a while back none of the subsequent comments were directed at my idea of using entertainment gross receipts taxes to take care of event-related costs - taxes that wouldn't be collected if the A's don't move there. Yet that concept still remains viable and IMHO politically expedient for both parties.

As far as taking care of other infrastructure, there are other mechanisms like Mello-Roos districts to cover school construction and perhaps the establishment of a community police station. It would be relatively easy to do because the neighborhood wouldn't be surrounded by older established communities that could leech off benefits.

Denver's problem is that it's too small to be a 4-sport city, while much of the area money is spread out in Boulder and in the mountains.

On another note, it's hard to find anyone who posts anonymously credible - whether they sign an alias or not.

Anonymous said...

Having the perspective of living outside the Bay Area and knowing that I won’t be one of the suckers (taxpayers) saddled with the cost of a new baseball stadium. I can only ask “Why Fremont, California?” The most successful ball parks in the majors are located in urban settings. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is proof positive that ballparks belong in the city. It’s interesting to note that the Washington Redskins want nothing more than to ditch their relatively new digs in suburban Landover, Maryland and return to the District of Columbia. The gridlock in and out of FedEx Field on game days is legendary. It will be interesting to see how your Nimitz Freeway handles the week day evening games. Twenty thousand fans jamming the freeway just as workday comes to an end. Good Luck!

Marine Layer said...

The Redskins want out? That must be why they continually add seats and renovate FedEx Field, making the 'Skins the most valuable franchise in the NFL. Yes, I'm sure Dan Snyder's just begging DC pols to let him back into RFK. I can see DC pols wanting nothing more than to repeat the Expos-Nats ballpark experience. The team owns the stadium. They have a vested interest in making it succeed, and it is in no way obsolete at less than a decade old.

Jeffrey said...

I didn't realize Berkley taught business students that one factor is what always predicts the future of a business. In this case, a baseball stadium that is in an "urban core" is always successful, or so you seem to be saying.

I too have the 'ol MBA, from a far less reputable school of course. National University in San Diego.

Baltimore... the bell weather of urban core ideology- 2001- 3.1 mil, 2002 2.6 mil. 2003 2.4 mil, 2004 2.7 mil, 2005 2.6 mil, 2006 2.15 mil.

So years of futility and the attendance drops 1 million. Even in an urban core. With 50+ years of tradition.

Coors Field? 2001 3.1, 2002 2.7, 2003 2.3, 2004 2.3, 2005 1.9, 2006 2.1.

Urban Core and failing. The point is the bull crap argument that an urban core either makes or breaks a stadium is inaccurate. There is more evidence that the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox draw so well in times of trouble because they have a larger potential fan base (MSA/sports teams) and are more established in their markets (they have become a part of the area's culture). Not because they are in, or near an urban core. They are exceptions to the rule, not the rule.

Outside of those 2 specific teams, and possibly New York, there is a correlation between winning and attendance more than anything else.

Jeffrey said...

BD,

Isn't t true that over the time the A's and Angels have existed in their present cities (almost 40 seasons)... the Angels have outdrawn the A's by close to 20 million fans?

I don't remember where I read that. But I do remember that to be the case. 1 million more on average a season isn't really similar. Provided that si true.

Jeffrey said...

BD,

Quick update... A's 68 and 69 1.615 mil, 70's 7.646 mil. 80's 15.812 mil, 90's 17.639 mil, 00's 14.557 mil. Total 57.269 mil.

Angels 68 and 69 1.783 mil, 70's 12.500 mil, 80's 24.412 mil, 90's 20.716 mil, 00's 19.621 mil. total 79.032.

That is a difference of over 20 million . I wrote 1 million a year earlier, but I meant half a million a year. Doesn't seem like much of a difference on year to year basis, but a huge difference in overall attendance.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer or anyone else,
How much will the entire Pacific Commons Ballpark and village cost? I've read the ballpark itself will cost about $500 million. What about the rest of the concept; dense ("faux downtown") mixed-use development covering over 100+ acres. It seems as if the entire project could cost well into the billions of dollars...who pays for that?

James said...

Anon 11:44...

Who pays for that? Uhhh, the developer!

And since you're bringing up faux downtowns... mixed use developments such as Santana Row and Bay Street in Emeryville seem to be doing remarkably better than Oakland's downtown core, thank you very much!

Bleacher Dave said...

jeffrey,

I was thinking more recent attendance history:

2000 - 2002

ML: I'll go back and read that post. My initial thought is that not only are their construction costs, but community safety operating costs. And let's not forget that Alameda County has to bless it also - Wolff keeps pointing that out in his press releases.

I'm with you - ignore anonymous posters.

Zonis said...

If I am not mistaken, I think the financial plan was to use the profits from selling the houses and condos from the village to fund the ballpark, isn't that right?

Jeffrey: I think the Angels attendance success over the A's in that timeline has a couple factors, one being population and the other being the outright hatred of Charlie Finely.

Marine Layer said...

Ballpark: $500 million
Ballpark village: $500 million (ref. Santana Row costs, not adj. for inflation)
2900 townhouses: >$1.5 billion depending on housing market

That's $2.5 billion in development right there. Very rough estimates, of course.

Fremont isn't pledging any bond money, and I doubt Alameda County will, so that leaves the developer. They'll make a ton of money off that enormous investment, so they should pay for it.

Bleacher Dave said...

How many housing units are at Santana Row? It's nowhere near 2900 is there?

Jeffrey said...

I understand there were a lot of different reasons why the Angels drew the equivalent of 14 more seasons worth of A's attendance. That is the difference between the 2 teams total attendance divided by the A's average attendance in that period. 14 seasons of average A's attendance over the past 39 years is a heck of a lot more to outdraw another team by.

My only point is that BD suggested the A's and Angels had similar attendance. The Angels drew way more than the A's did in total. So I would say, as far as suburban stadiums go, The Angels have a more successful record at the gate than the A's or Rangers.

The original point being that there are suburban stadiums that draw as well us urban core stadiums.

As for Finley, the facts are that the Angels did out draw the A's every decade, including the Haas era.

Marine Layer said...

BD - Last figures I saw had 1200 or so housing units at Santana Row. The area associated with the village is half the size of Santana Row so I don't expect nearly as much development. Costs have risen so it could be close. I expect a few hundred additional housing units above the village retail, so add that to the 2900 townhouses outside the village. The numbers will be different in the end based on market conditions.

The $500 million being touted for the ballpark itself is confusing. At which point does the ballpark end and the village begin? On game days, the village will be part of the ticketed area. On off days it will be open to the public for free. It's a detail that I'm most curious about.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of hostility, and belittling, of those who aren't quite sure about Fremont (see James 9:36 on anon 11:44). The fact of the matter is is that no one on this site, not even Marinelayer, knows 100% how this ballpark process will play out. Marinelayer is a blogger with opinions, not an A's insider. We are all posters with opinions, not A's insiders. Will the A's eventually get a new play pen at Pacific Commons? If I were a betting man I'd say yes. On the other hand, 6 years ago it was a given, 100% lock that the New England Patriots were headed to Hartford, Connecticut...I better not play in Vegas anytime soon.

James said...

Anon 5:02...

You are absolutely correct that none of us has a crystal ball and we don't know that Pacific Commons will be the A's saving grace.

But we do know that the McAfee model isn't working. We also know that moving to Silicon Valley will afford the A's an opportunity to tap not only into a new fan base, much of which is reluctant to fully embrace Bay Area baseball because of distance, but also this move will position the A's to better pursue valuable corporate sponsorships.

And it is similarly clear to me that moving to Fremont keeps the A's in the Bay Area for the forseeable future.

Jeffrey said...

Hostility seems to be abound. There has been a lot of recent oakland or bust posts to the board, which is why the Fremont backers get the hackles up. (for instance, anon 11:25 writing 'with all due respect' and then being completely condescending... 'football, in case you weren't aware')

It isn't cool. And I have probably been a jerk more than I should be. (like asking where he got his business degree) Sorry.

I am not partial to Fremont for any reason other than I see that it can work (more than any other proposal to date) and is a novel concept.

My preference is that the A's stay in the Bay Area (Oakland, Fremont, San Jose, Concord, Antioch, Drawbridge, Alviso, Mt. View, wherever)so I can go to the games with my kids kids, just like my grandpa took me to games in the 80's and 90's.

Bleacher Dave said...

"But we do know that the McAfee model isn't working."

Really? I've seen some pretty good ball there over the last half-decade.

Jeffrey said...

The McAfee situation doesn't work. A few reasons:

Results: McAfee has relegated the A's to the bottom 3rd in revenue and attendance. I think they can do a lot better. And they did at one time.

Environment: The coliseum was at one time a marvelous place, it has sucked for over a decade now. It is half a good football stadium and half a good baseball stadium. Not that it matters for anything but symbolism, but it looks like a giant toilet on google earth. I love watching the centerfielder race back and disappear chasing a hot shot and then waiting 15 seconds to see what happened on a video scoreboard. I can understand if this is the case sitting in the bleachers, but it isn't just the bleachers where this happens.

Pre and post game atmosphere: Now this is probably an unpopular viewpoint, but tailgating isn't for me so much. I'd like to be able to to a restaraunt before or after the game with my wife and kids rather than stand in a giant parking lot surrounded by drunk idiots with frisbees.

Ironically, the ONLY thing the coliseum has going for it, absent a winning team, is that BART dumps you off with a relatively short walk to the turnstyles. Of course, that hasn't been enough to get the A's anywhere near the top half of attendance in the league.

James said...

BD,

Everything that Jeffrey said is true. You may enjoy the games... I do. But theres more to it. If a team can't attract the best talent because the revenue streams aren't in place, there's a problem.

The A's are now too frigging close to the Giants, and it's even more of a detriment than it was in the G's Candlestick days. The G's have a great ballpark in a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood. So now that's a problem for A's attendance because some people from Walnut Creek and Antioch who would before be inclined to go to the A's games because they could jump on BART, are now more inclined to support the G's because they can still jump on BART, transfer to MUNI, have dining options, and watch a game in a beautiful park.

Will the A's take those people back by moving to Fremont. Perhaps, but maybe not. But what the A's absolutely will get in Fremont is a San Jose following, a Pleasanton/Dublin/Livermore/San Ramon following, and there will likely be a significant following from Redwood City and Menlo Park, southward, when baseball fans don't have to schlep into the city but will get every benefit that the city has to offer commuting baseball fans.

The A's downward spiral, in my opinion, is primarily because of it's proximity to the other Bay Area team, and secondarily because of an eastward and southward shift in Bay Area demographics. When the G's played in a crappy park with no pre- and post-game entertainment options, people in the East Bay didn't want to support the team. Now that they've improved their location and status, it's impossible for the A's to compete in that Bohemoth called McAfee Park.

You can accept it for what it is, a business decision that in the long run will help the club flourish in the Bay Area for years to come, and you can continue to support the A's in their new Alameda County home. Or you can continue to bitch about it and you and your friends can continue to play the race card (a card which, of course, has absolutely no merit) and take your mit and your ball and go home. The choice is yours, my friend, but it matters to me not one bit because I will be enjoying the games in Fremont, staying at Pacific Commons afterwords to consume food and beverage, and be proud that the A's are, once again, a successful time.

Cheers!

Bleacher Dave said...

"Everything that Jeffrey said is true. You may enjoy the games... I do. But theres more to it. "

Maybe if you're an investor in the Athletics Baseball Company. I'm not.

The team is winning - what more should I care about?

New stadia don't seem to have a correlation with winning baseball. For example: Brewers, Pirates, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles.......Heck, look at the Giant team you reference. Lots more money than the A's since they opened the new stadium, but the A's have more wins, more playoff appearances, and a better shot this year. Your premise doesn't seem to hold up.

I don't live vicariously through Lew Wolff, don't get a kick out of bragging that "my owner has more money than your owner", and am not rooting for the P&L. I just want to sit in the front row on a warm summer day, hanging out with fan-friends of many seasons, and enjoy some ball. From time to time, the team will be good; and from time to time the team will be bad. It's the rhythm of baseball, and I enjoy it.

I don't see any need to pay extra money for the fancy packaging. Then again, when the marketers put "New and Improved" on the packaging and up the price, it does seem to stimulate comsumer demand.

I'm less of a consumer, and more of a fan.

On the other hand, the Coliseum is the 4th? oldest stadium in the league. It's a historic relic! A veritable treasure! An antique!

Jeffrey said...

"The team is winning - what more should I care about?"

this:
"Environment: The coliseum was at one time a marvelous place, it has sucked for over a decade now. It is half a good football stadium and half a good baseball stadium. Not that it matters for anything but symbolism, but it looks like a giant toilet on google earth. I love watching the centerfielder race back and disappear chasing a hot shot and then waiting 15 seconds to see what happened on a video scoreboard. I can understand if this is the case sitting in the bleachers, but it isn't just the bleachers where this happens."

BD... you have to admit, the bleachers as they are configured now, are not what they once were. I don't just mean the physical difference between aluminum benches and actual seats. They aren't even angeled appropriately for baseball.

The coliseum was excellent and probably one of the best baseball stadiums in the country into the early 90's.

Since that time 2 things have happened to relegate it to crusty relic, rather than something worthy of antique status (besides an antique toilet is still a toilet, symbolic toilet or not):

1. A bozillion other stadiums have opened and have enhanced the experience a baseball fan expects. I have been to some of the new parks. In fact I would argue the baseball experience in Oakland ranks 3rd in Northern California behind AT&T Park and Raley Field. The Triple A stadium is a better experience for Pete's sake.

2. The Raiders have returned and built half of a football stadium right in the middle of center field. No ice plant, no view, no nice sight lines from the outfield. I used to be able to sit in the second deck by the foul pole and see the whole game... not now. Not even close.

These things have nothing to do with rooting for a bottom line. However, ti should be said... if Fremont doesn't happen the A's will be gone. You are fooling yourself if you think they will stay in the Coliseum.

So in short, either way the afternoon watching a winning team, in the sun with lower prices will not exist in Oaktown in 5 years.

Bleacher Dave said...

Hey Jeffrey,

I have to respectfully disagree.

I spent lots of time sitting on the aluminum benches in the old outfield, and those benches made my butt numb. They were, literally, a pain in the ass. I do wax nostalic for them, but I recognize it as nostalgia.

The bleachers are higher up now, and kids don't get to engage in that scrum run down the stairs after home run balls, but I do have a great sight line. Over the pitchers shoulder and into the strike zone, I can see pitch location and movement. And if you don't like your view, attendance is sparse enough that its easy to get another seat wherever you wish.

AT&T park is charging $33 for bleachers seats (premium games). My baseball experience is centered on the game and my baseball family. I'm not interested in ferris wheels, coke slides, faux rock piles, mascot slides, or the approval of people I don't know. I come for the ball.

Crusty relics become classics over time. I haven't beem to Femway yet, but Wrigley is a hell hole that reeks of stale vomit. The apex of the CF bleachers will give you both a nosebleed and vertigo. Yet we hail it as a classic.

Finally, I don't think the A's are moving anytime soon. They have nowhere to go. There will be a political changing of the guard, and another opportunity in Oakland will present itself. One thing we can count is on change.

Jeffrey said...

Well. I guess then I would only say your view point is limited to the front few rows of the new bleachers.

The site lines are different now than pre 96 and you cannot see the whole game from many places in the Coliseum. Many places where you once could.

You have to acknowledge that your view point is in the minority. I wasn't talking about coke bottle slides, I was talking about sitting in the second deck and being close to the action. Hell, sitting in the third deck and being close to the action.

In the Coliseum the second deck is farther from the action then the third deck at AT&T Park, or so it seems. I don't know if that is really the case.

Comparing the Coliseum to Fenway. That is rich.

Bleacher Dave said...

Hey Jeff,

It doesn't really matter to me whether or not my viewpoint is in the majority - it is, after all, my viewpoint. Moreover, I don't see why that's relevant - merely being in the majority doesn't make you correct.

By definition, the second deck isn't close to the action. If you want to be close to the action, sit in the MVP section; in Oakland you can do so without purchasing a seat license.

As I said, if you can't see from your second deck seat - move. With rare exception there are plenty of empty seats from which to choose. But I must admit, I have a hard time imagining where it is you sit in the 2nd deck with an obstructed view, and even harder time understanding why you choose to sit there with so many other choices.

Finally, go sit in the left field upper deck at AT&T. Not only will you pay a premium to do so, but you won't be able to see huge swaths of the AT&T outfield.

anon-a-mouse said...

I think what Jeffery meant by minority is that there are relatively few bleacher seats with an unobstructed view, not that your opinion doesn't matter because most disagree with you. He meant that most people in the bleachers do not share your view point of the field, not your view point of the situation as a whole. That's how I read it anyway; a nice little play on words.

Also, sitting in MVP seats is not within most people's means. Funny that you cavalierly throw that out there in the same paragraph that you complain about paying a premium for seats in a much better stadium. The point is that in a new, more intimate park, even us low-life's up in the second deck will be much closer to the action with better views of the entire field.

Besides, MVP seats are hardly the antidote for getting close to the action at the Coliseum. The vast majority of them are further away from the infield than the front rows of any other park in the major leagues.

Anonymous said...

Bleacher Dave posted:
>>Crusty relics become classics over time. I haven't beem to Femway yet, but Wrigley is a hell hole that reeks of stale vomit. The apex of the CF bleachers will give you both a nosebleed and vertigo. Yet we hail it as a classic.<<

I'm guessing you haven't been to Wrigley since the 70's. The bleachers were completely re-done last year and don't reek of much anything other than frat-boy testosterone these days. And there are *plenty* of pockets out there where the regulars take the game as seriously as you do.

The nosebleed/vertigo comments are laughable; the upper bleachers go only 15 rows above the concourse and aren't nearly as high at the top as the upper deck (which is certainly one of the lowest in the majors.)

Had you mentioned the Yankee Stadium upper deck--that's the "classic" with vertigo issues. Gotta hold the rail both ways on those steps.

Bleacher Dave said...

Anon-a-mouse,

I may have misread Jeffrey; I took him to be saying that there were MANY locations in the Coliseum from which you can't see the whole field, including his regular spot near the 2nd foul pole. I disagree - other than most of the bleachers, the only other obstructed views I can think of are way under the overhang.

In a new stadium, the second deck low-lifes will be much further from the action. You'll either have to pay significantly more per seat to maintain your current location, or for the same price you'll be seated farther away from the action.

For example, a $33 Giant top of the bleachers seat doesn't cost too much different from a $45 A's MVP seat.

Bleacher Dave said...

Anonymous,

I was in the Wrigley bleachers last seasons. And you're right about one thing - it no longer smells of stale vomit... it smells like fresh vomit. I've never seen so many people behind the stands drinking in my whole life. That's not to say there aren't lots of serious fans, or that Wrigley isn't a great place to see a game. But, the stadium is still a dump. Classic, but still a dump.

Reaching the beer stand up at the top of the CF bleachers underneath the scoreboard requires the dexterity and courage of a mountain goat.

The bleachers requires a seperate entrance, and there is no circulation between the rest of the park. Not enough bathrooms.

Yet, the "fan experience" is great. Why? Because you've been told so. Stop believing the baseball marketers that tell you that you need a new stadium to enjoy the game. Sit in the sun, have a beer, talk to your friends, and have some laughs (and sighs.) Good times.

And take the extra bucks you save and go to more games. Or whatever you choose.

Jeffrey said...

For the record, I don't have a regular spot.

But in the new parks, that I have been too, the second deck is much closer to the action. And frankly, that is a selling point.

I have sat in many locations in the coliseum over the years, both in the old configuration and in the new.

When the raiders came back, there is a section of seats that used ot have a great view of the game, that now no longer have that view. I am sorry if that bit of reality is hard for some to agree with, but it is not really debatable.

When centerfield goes from being part of a circular design, to a pocket in the outfield, seats will lose their view of that part of the field.

I respect your opinion BD, but opinion is not scientific.

I am done gum flapping on the subject.

Go A's!

Anonymous said...

Bleacherdave is wright. Most of these "great old ballparks" are dumps.

I remember when actress Peggy Marshal was in Oakland for the A's Tigers American League Championship Series, she said about the Coliseum, "It's a very nice ballpark, I like it much better than Boston." That was her first visit to the Coliseum. That's what you get from someone without an agenda just making an observation. She hadn't been conditioned by the Bay Area media to believe that the Coliseum is a "dump." There is nothing wrong with the Coliseum. It's still a fine place to watch a ballgame.

Bleacher Dave said...

"But in the new parks, that I have been too, the second deck is much closer to the action. And frankly, that is a selling point."

Objective statistics seems to run counter your subjective opinion, Jeffrey. New ballparks don't seem to result in sustainably higher attendance. New packaging only gives you a temporary increase in sales. Refer to the Reds, Brewers, Pirates, Orioles.....

Besides, low attendance is a virtue. It's a much nicer experience without the long lines; although tarping off the upper deck did go a long ways to preventing most of the hassle.

James said...

Who the hell is Peggy Marshal?

Jeffrey said...

Who the heck is peggy marshal? And where can I find record of this quote?

I have never heard anyone say that the Coliseum is better than Fenway.

Whoops, i siad i wasn't going to flap my gums anymore. Now I won't.

bbison said...

(un-Anoning here)
Bleacher Dave mentioned:
"Reaching the beer stand up at the top of the CF bleachers underneath the scoreboard requires the dexterity and courage of a mountain goat."

There is no beer stand at the top of the CF bleachers under the scoreboard. Never has been. Just seats. But to get from the concourse (where the concession and beer stands are) is hardly a treacherous walk either from the lower or upper bleachers. I'll take a survey Monday at OD to see if I can find anyone who needed a sherpa to get around LF at Wrigley.

"The bleachers requires a seperate entrance, and there is no circulation between the rest of the park. Not enough bathrooms"

There is a seperate entrance, but as of last season you can leave the bleachers and roam. They also added bathrooms in the bleacher area (previously that was a problem.)

"But, the stadium is still a dump. Classic, but still a dump."

I guess dump is in the eye of the beholder, or something like that. I like going to games at the Coliseum, but on my last family trip...we sat in 126, and I took my boys (then ages 5 and 6) to the closest bathroom. They're not tall enough to use the urinals, so we have to wait for the stalls. But one appreared to be semi-permanently closed off with yellow tape, another one had puke all over, and the line of fathers/kids waiting to use the only functional stalls was out near the door. What to do? Luckily, there were 5 gallon buckets nearby that were catching drips off the sinks so they didn't flood the floor. We dumped them out, flipped them over, and let the kids use them as stepping stools. Big fun!

"Stop believing the baseball marketers that tell you that you need a new stadium to enjoy the game."

We can agree on that one. I've been to 22 of the current 30 parks, and my personal top 5 would be a mix of old and new. Some of the worst are new ones. I'll be at Miller Park Sunday, but sorely missing the old "dump" County Stadium--wide-open (almost compulsory) tailgating, $5 bleacher seats, no loud canned music, cheap food/drink.

Would you agree that either the Raiders or the A's need to play somewhere else eventually? They un-footballized Anaheim. They could do it in Oakland.

Jeffrey said...

BD,
I know I wrote no more gum flapping, but it's so much fun to have discussions with people who refuse to see another's point of view or admit that someone else has a point.

Not all objective statistics argue counter to my argument. But I don't know what the heck you are talking about in reference to my comment about 2nd decks in new stadiums being closer to the field than in Oakland and that being good for the fan experience. Are you saying that it isn't better to be closer?

I pointed out in this very thread that a new ball park doesn't mean sustained higher attendance. In fact I pointed it out in regard to an urban core stadium not being the panacea.

Attendance is the result of many factors, most important of which is winning. There is an established pattern of winning resulting in higher attendence in most markets, Oakland is no different.

It would be interesting to see how many new stadiums have resulted in lower attendance on average after the honey moon period. I don't know if any have, but I do agree with you that new stadiums don't mean huge gate for much more than 3 years without a winning club.

Or, how many new stadiums have resulted in no revenue growth after the honey moon period. I think if the A's had a new yard, my favorite recent A Tim Hudson would still be in Green and Gold. Of course the A's can't keep all the good guys that come through new stadium or not, but they can keep more than they do I would venture.

The thinning out in Oakland actually started pre tarp. I don't know how you decide what exactly caused the A's attendance to start southward after maxing out at 2.2 million in 2002, but I would say that contending wasn't enough anymore for the casual fans.

Low attendance may be a virtue for you, and that is cool. I don't agree. Game 3 of the ALDS last year was an awesome experience. And mostly because the place was packed and rocking.

In the end, your opinion, my opinion, majority opinion, etc really doesn't matter much. The A's days in the coliseum are numbered. I choose to look at that as a good thing.

Bleacher Dave said...

Hey bbison,

Welcome from out of the shadows and into the light. You're right - there wasn't a beer stand under the Wrigley scoreboard until last year's remode.

Here's an excerpt of one Chicago bloggers admonition to avoid it. "What could be better than an Old Style in a waxed-paper cup???
For hungry Bleacher Creatures, I recommend bypassing the counter just below the scoreboard and instead descend the ramp. Get yourself an Old Style from the smallish beer stand (it's small put they just keep pouring the beer), and then descend the ramp further to get yourself a hot dog that is grilled with onions (all other dogs in the park are steamed)."

http://www.chicagobarproject.com/Reviews/WrigleyField/WrigleyField.htm

Are you saying there used to be NO bathrooms in the bleachers? It' bad enough having to go down several ramps since the bleacher remodel.

"Would you agree that either the Raiders or the A's need to play somewhere else eventually?"
Is that a need? or a want?

Everything changes. Eventually.

Bleacher Dave said...

Oh, and I like Kauffman. Love its openness, and sunken bowl. Miller Park is sterile.

Anonymous said...

C'mon BD, you need to respond to Jeffrey (at least for the sake of my curiosity ;-) ).

His comment re: being closer to the action at the new ballparks certainly doesnt seem subjective to me.

I need to tell you, I have your pic from last year with B.Bonds in the background and you holding the "Game of Shadows" book at the ballpark.

I emailed that pic to everyone of my Giant fan friends. Toooooooo
funny.

anon-a-mouse said...

BD's point was that for the same price ticket in the new stadium you will be farther away, and he's probably right. The new stadium will be more expensive. There is no doubt that the front row second deck seat will be much closer to the action than the front row second deck Coliseum seat (plus it won't have an aisle between you and the action). But you will pay more for it. I'm OK with paying more for a much better seat. I just won't be able to afford as many of them. That's life.

Bleacher Dave said...

"I need to tell you, I have your pic from last year with B.Bonds in the background and you holding the "Game of Shadows" book at the ballpark." I had that picture printed onto t-shirts, and wore it to last year's A's/Giants at AT&T.

"There is no doubt that the front row second deck seat will be much closer to the action than the front row second deck Coliseum seat (plus it won't have an aisle between you and the action). But you will pay more for it. I'm OK with paying more for a much better seat." My point is you can already do that . As ML points out sections 115 - 119 are some of the best in baseball. http://newballpark.blogspot.com/2006_10_19_archive.html If money is an issue, i'm guessing you're not going to be paying StubHub or A's Replay $200 - $600 seat to sit in comparable seats in a new stadium. So, if you're willing to pay more to sit closer, do it now while it's still affordable, and be an MVP.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this "closer to the action" argument regarding the game of baseball.

The "action" in baseball, mostly revolves around a guy 60'6" away, throwing a little white sphere at a guy squatting behind an umpire. The rest of the "action" moves from one area to another. The "action" also moves to the foul areas of the field.

Some of the most exciting plays in baseball are made in foul territory. The Coliseum has provided more great plays in foul territory than any other ballpark in MLB precisely because of the abundance of foul territory.

The expansive foul territory in Oakland, gives players like Eric Chavez, and Eric Burns, among others, a chance to make sensational plays that they wouldn't be able to make in any other ballpark. Aren't great plays made in foul territory considered "action?" SOMEONE was close to Chavez and Burns when they made their sensational plays. Probably most of the left field side of the stands.

Give me a guy running an all out sprint, and then making a great play, over a guy walking ten feet to the guard rail and leaning over someones beer cup. The Oakland Coliseum is the most exciting ballpark in MLB because of all the "action" in the expansive foul territory.

anon-a-mouse said...

OK BD, but degree matters. I seriously doubt upper deck seats in the new park are going to be anywhere near the price of 115 - 119.

I admire your loyalty to the Coliseum. I used to love the place myself. But the Raiders ruined it for baseball. It is the absolute joke of MLB in September when they kill half the outfield grass. The A's deserve better. Fortunately, they will soon get it.