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10 April 2007

Opening Night notes

Tomorrow, Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball will post the interview he conducted Monday with Lew Wolff. Over the weekend Maury kindly asked me if I had any questions to contribute, but I didn't have anything that I didn't think wouldn't be covered by the development proposal and follow-up questions.

Chron's John Shea notes that Ron Dellums sat with Wolff last night as Wolff's opening night guest. Shea got a quote that could be interpreted as leading or meaningless, depending on your view of the A's move:

"I like him a lot," Wolff said of Dellums. "He said, 'Look, if there's a way you can stay or we can help you, let me know.' But we need that space (in Fremont). When the Coliseum opened, it must've been fantastic, but it's aging. It's 40 years old."

As for San Jose, Wolff said, "That won't happen in my reign."

Fremont wants the ballpark and housing components to be joined at the hip, and I don't expect them to budge on that stance. Shea continues:

So it's Fremont or bust -- or stick around the Coliseum for another decade or two, receive millions in revenue sharing from MLB, draw a couple of million fans annually even though they're denied access to the upper deck and always turn a profit.

How bad is that for an alternative?

Not bad if you've been a hardcore fan for several decades. Not bad at all if you want to go to many games every season for cheap. Of course, it's not you that matters that much. It's a bad alternative for Bud Selig and the Lodge of owners, who really don't care to see a team continually receiving revenue sharing while consistently outperforming their own teams on the field. I'm certain that Selig's main motivation for staying on through 2009 and perhaps longer is that he wants to see the last three stadium deals through. It would serve as his crowning achievement.

If we're going to pick this apart, let's go back to Dellums and Wolff. Wolff stated that he needed the Fremont land, and I've already said that Fremont has no interest in allowing the housing development and rezoning without the ballpark. But what if there were an alternative in Oakland?

Take a look at Chip Johnson's review of Dellums' first 100 days:

The veteran politician and longtime congressman is long on social issues, short on day-to-day operations and shows troubling signs of meddling with development.

And in the one development project where he has taken an active role, Dellums effectively killed it. In March, Dellums blocked a proposal to build a 1,575-unit condominium project atop light industry in a desolate section of West Oakland.

The West Oakland project under consideration is developer Peter Sullivan's mixed-use project at Mandela Parkway and West Grand Ave. The main reason cited for pulling the project was the desired preservation of Oakland's diminishing industrial areas. City Councilmember Nancy Nadel approved the move:
"I felt the report wasn't in the best interests of the city," Nadel said. "It made me feel better that the zoning commissioners restated their intent to implement the zoning called for in the General Plan."
What if Dellums' staff are working on a ballpark proposal incorporating that piece of land? The housing component would still be needed, and such a change would effectively be the same kind of rezoning that was pooh-poohed last month, only on a larger scale. Though there's zero indication that this is actually being discussed, it can't be ruled out completely if Dellums is interested in rolling up his sleeves. Then again, West Oakland is Nadel's domain, and judging from the fans' reaction to her in one of the "Choose or Lose" rallies, they don't think she's much of an ally. BTW, the location is 3/4 mile from the West Oakland BART station.

It doesn't hurt Wolff to play nice with Oakland, even though the situation there looks bleak as it relates to the A's.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, like the Silicon Valley NASDAQ/Leadership Group, Cisco, SJ's DiNapoli's, and other South Bay interests in the A's are going to allow a "West Oakland" ballpark...I think it's a little to late for that one. As for San Jose not happening on "his reign," I wonder what REAL OWNER John Fisher and "O'Flaherty's" Tom McEnery have to say about that?

Anonymous said...

Hey, anything is possible. And if Dellums could get Wolff excited about that location, there could be a partnership with the developer who wants to build numerous high rise condos on the site. A ballpark on that site would effectively split the distance between Downtown Oakland and Emeryville. That location is near the most traveled freeway intersection in the entire Bay Area. It would link up a condo construction boom in Downtown Oakland with the booming retail opportunities in Emeryville. I would still prefer the ballpark in downtown near the Auto Row/ Lake Merritt area.

Anonymous said...

No one said, or wrote, anything about Wolff being "excited" by Dellums! Were'd you get that!? Yeah, anything is possible. And there's a better chance (albeit minute) that the A's ballpark is built in Downtown San Jose then West Oakland. Wolff hypothetically u-turns back to Oakland, and he looses all support from the South Bay/Silicon Valley; Say goodbye to Cisco Field and hello to...Kaiser Permanente Park? By the way, former SJ mayoral candidate Michael Mulcahy sat next to Wolff at a game last year, and as I recall, all talk at the time was of San Jose. My point? Don't read to much into who sits next to Wolff at a game, because it doesn't mean crap!

fremontsuckas said...

Notice how Marine Layer is not objective. He doesn't even post Monte Poole's article about the A's situation in Oakland and the whole Cisco Pipe dream!!!!!

http://www.insidebayarea.com/sports/ci_5633000

Marine Layer said...

Sorry bud - er, linusalf - if you actually knew did the homework you'd see that the Fremont plan is anything but a pipe dream. You probably thought that the Uptown site was available last year too, right?

(And you probably thought I was going to reject your comment, eh?)

I just put out a small glimmer of hope for an Oakland site by putting 2 and 2 together. Will someone run with it? I proposed Auto Row and it was rejected.

Seriously, folks. If there is a legitimate Oakland site that can work as a replacement or a contingency for Fremont, it's time to step up and present it. I will let you post your summary unedited (besides spelling/grammar) and I will even drive out to the site and take pictures, even conduct interviews with neighbors and interest groups.

The requirements? That there is a ballpark site and a housing/retail site to allow for the funding mechanism being used for Cisco Field to work. I'm not talking about a single 12-acre parcel. It's much more than that.

Please. I'm waiting. Now if you actually believe that the A's will play indefinitely in the Coliseum, that's your pipe dream right there.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, could you interview Lew Wolff and ask him why he rejected the offer from Signature Properties to incorporate a ballpark on the 66 acres of the Oak to 9th 3100 unit residential development on the Oakland Waterfront?

After all, this site is within 1/2 a mile of the AMTRAK station in Jack London Square, and within 3/4 of a mile of the Lake Merritt BART station. The Oak to 9th site could also have easy Ferry access with the addition of a second stop to the Jack London Ferry.

It's a gorgeous site fronting the widest and most scenic part of the Oakland Estuary. This site even offers Clinton Basin for possible "splash" hits (If one likes that sort of thing) similar to the "Cove" at AT&T Park.

A ballpark on the site would go along with the Estuary Plan which places an importance on public use and public access to the site.Wolff turned this wonderful opportunity to build this ballpark in Oakland down flat.

Oakland A's fans realize that this is really all about relocating the Oakland A's out of Oakland. This relocation is all about putting the A's, as near as possible, to perceived corporate money. Wolff has NEVER given Oakland a serious opportunity to keep the team. This fact will continue to have a detrimental affect on attendance. The decline started last year, will continue, as Oakland A's fans realize that Lew Wolff continues to put his personal financial interests ahead of their loyalty, ahead of their convenience, and ahead of their opportunity to have a beautiful, charming urban ballpark like the fans in San Francisco and San Diego have had the pleasure of experiencing.

Wolff owes it to Oakland because of 40 years of loyally hosting this team, and the fact that the Oakland A's have played virtually rent free, to make this ballpark and investment happen in Oakland. There are plenty of sites I've just documented one of these viable sites which Mr. Wolff has shown no interest in because its not close enough to his corporate pals who have the same attitude regarding Oakland as he does.

Marine Layer said...

I've already covered the reasons why the O29 site isn't feasible. It has nothing to do with Wolff rejecting Ghielmetti or vice-versa. When looking at a site, all parties have to look at the difficulty involved and decide if it's worth the cost.

The ballpark would've eaten up most of the remaining open space available. Community groups were never going to support that. The freeway access to the area is terrible even though the site is right next to the freeway, so improved access would have to be addressed. In addition, how was the ballpark going to be financed? Do you think Signature would simply hand some of its profits to Wolff for the ballpark? Fat chance.

I agree that moving away from Oakland makes it easier to sell the ballpark to Wolff's preferred customers. But that's putting the cart before the horse. It always starts with a site, then the financing. Covers those two first, then proceed.

linusalf said...

excuse me? i never made any post in this fourm until now. please dont stepdown to personal attacks using my name unless you are sure that it is me. thank you.

Marine Layer said...

You've commented here twice logged in through your account, and another two anonymous comments are attributed to linusalf. Here's the proof."

You sure you never commented here before? Yet you go on the OAFC board and post the same comment as the one here... Whatever you say.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, in dismissing the Oak to 9th Ave site you mention that, "The freeway access to the area is terrible even though the site is right next to the freeway." This sounds similar to the Fremont site. The only difference being that the Oak to Ninth site has BART,AMTRAK and possible Ferry service, all within 3/4 of a mile of a ballpark at Clinton Basin.

As far as sharing the profits on the site,Wolff could have charged a premium for the units with field views, and premiums for units within close proximity of the ballpark. That's where Wolff's share of the profits would come from. They would come directly from the additional premium charged for being near the ballpark.

Ghielmetti was perfectly willing to work with Wolff to implement the ballpark into the 66 acres. As far as the open space, that could have been preserved by increasing the height of the buildings to include views of the field. You would then increase the open space everyone desires, along with making the area more accessible, and more usable to the general public, as is specified in the Estuary Plan.

Linking that site with the proposed 300 million dollar expansion of Jack London Square would provide Oakland A's fans with a truly remarkable venue which would be the envy of MLB. It was doable and Wolff rejected it out of hand in order to be close to his corporate pals who harbor outdated attitudes about the viability of MLB in the city of Oakland. The site is still there. It's not too late if Wolff has the courage to do what's wright for Oakland A's fans, and for the city which has loyally hosted the Oakland A's franchise for forty years.

Marinelayer, you can't say that on one hand, the Oak to 9th site is not viable because of transportation reasons and then support the Fremont site which has far less transportation and access options.

linusalf said...

what i ment to say is that i never commented on this particular post.

i have made other comments on the blog itself.

fremontsucksas is not me

Marine Layer said...

Anon - the two freeway exits that would service the ballpark are modern, high-capacity interchanges. They'll be able to handle the ballpark traffic. The issue in Fremont is actual freeway capacity especially during commute hours, not the interchanges.

At O29, you have two old freeway exits that were never built to handle significant short-term bursts of traffic. 880 in that area also needs an earthquake retrofit. The project there has no provision for expansion other than a single southbound aux/merge lane. Both would then funnel traffic onto a two-lane frontage road. There are already major concerns about the Embarcadero being able to handle the increase in residential traffic. Plus 880 in that area doesn't have an HOV lane. A ballpark there would break the camel's back.

Ghielmetti may have shown interest by his willingness to talk with Wolff, but the last thing he wanted to do was make major changes to a plan that was already under intense scrutiny. Build taller and you get heat from folks in the hills who don't want their views blocked, which is a key reason why the Tidelands Trust was instituted in the first place. If there was a way to make it work without having to scrap the EIR and start from scratch, I think they would've tried. But that wasn't going to happen.

Let's go with your premise that condos with a view would be sold at a significant premium. They probably couldn't do more than 100 units especially if one side of the ballpark were waterfront. If each of those units had a $500K premium (that's really pushing it), they'd get $50 million in revenue. That's a mere 1/10th of the ballpark's budget. Where would the rest come from?

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, because of the excellent transit options at Oak to Ninth, the freeway on ramp issue isn't nearly as crucial as at the Fremont site. Furthermore, a parking garage could be built on the other side of the freeway with a connecting ramp across 880.

Also, the premium Lew Wolff could charge could include a prorated portion of the entire development. The addition of a ballpark in that exciting urban setting would undoubtedly add at least 10% to the value of each of the 3100 units.

The ballpark would energize the development much like what AT&T Park did for Real Estate values in the South Beach area. Let's say a condo would command an average price of 500,000 without the ballpark. It no doubt would sell for 550,000 with the ballpark on site. What's 50,000 x 3100 units? This could be Wolff's premium, along of course, with naming rights and other types of funding.

There are ways to do this. The problem is Wolff has NEVER had any interest in getting anything done in Oakland. If there is a will there is away. Unfortunately, right now there is no will coming from Lew Wolff and the Oakland A's.

Marine Layer said...

Freeway on-ramps aren't as crucial in Oakland? Even if the ballpark were built at O29, you'd still have 80-85% of fans coming via car, just as they do at the Coliseum. Poorly designed interchanges make for bad traffic jams. So unless you've got a way of financing improvements to those interchanges and the surface streets in the area, you're asking for trouble.

Having transit modes more than 1/2 mile away is not excellent access. Once you get past a 1/4 mile walk, usage drops significantly. Buses may be an option, but that's a mode switch (bad) and increased use of surface streets (traffic). The required infrastructure could run in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Who's going to pay for that?

$50K x 3100 units is $155 million. That's all well and good but pricing the housing units is going to be a tricky process. If Signature had a set price in mind for the housing, adding $50K to each might price them out of the market even with the ballpark in place. Other luxury housing is being planned for downtown Oakland, so developers have to be wary of pricing else they'll encounter market saturation like what's being seen in the Central Valley.

Bleacher Dave said...

$150 million is nowheres close to $500 million. Besides, we've been through this before.

"Not bad if you've been a hardcore fan for several decades. Not bad at all if you want to go to many games every season for cheap." Amen, brotha, Amen!

fremontsuckas said...

If traffic is already bad on 880 as noted by such writers as Glenn Dickey, how will a ballpark with no direct public transportation be a boon for the A's? Also, a lot of the south bay money is tied up with the Giants and Sharks. With the Niners possibly moving down to the South Bay and if the A's are in Fremont, what makes you think that the A's will get all the corporate money. All these teams will be competing with each other for corporate dollars.

Marine Layer said...

I fear the South Bay will be oversaturated if the 49ers move down to Santa Clara. For the A's sake, I hope it doesn't happen. The 49ers have a much tougher road to get their stadium built than the A's.

Dickey should try driving south on 880 at 5 PM on a weekday, a time I'm certain he doesn't use when commuting to Santa Clara. Southbound the traffic situation isn't bad at all. 680 flows freely southbound as well. Coming from Milpitas and San Jose - now that's bad. That won't dissuade that many South Bay fans since they'll have a team at least 30 minutes closer than either Oakland or SF.

Wolff's argument is that the land, if developed according to the old plan, would produce more traffic than the ballpark plan. If that's true, the net effect of the ballpark would be better than the initially planned use. Traffic doesn't stop Dodgers and Angels fans from going to games. Should it really stop A's fans?

Dan Spitzer said...

For those in need of comedy relief, check out the OAFC site under Off the Field Matters. The paranoia attendant to so many OAFC loonies is manifest by Diamond Ill, linusalf, eyeleen and Lil Bartholo's other drones who are opining that marinelayer has created false e-mails and attributed them to OAFC members to put that ridiculous organization in a negative light. Barth and linusalf, you guys do a superb job of making yourself ridiculous and need no help from marinelayer.

Speaking of pretentions, did you know that sactodavey was really Lil Bartholo in drag?

Bleacher Dave said...

ML,

I'm all for free speech and unfettered commentary. But, if you have a policy to approve comments, Spitzer's latest commentary is nothing more than personal attacks.

It only cheapens this discussion.

Marine Layer said...

I let danguide's post go because he pointed out how ridiculous it was for anyone to think I'm somehow creating fake anonymous posts. I can't edit posts so it has to go as is. That will be the end of it. I have stricken down several posts that were nothing but attacks on me AND OAFC, BTW.

Bleacher Dave said...

Good for you, ML. No one thinks you'd create fake anonymous posts. And those that do, will never be persuaded otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Marine Layer, I don't think the South Bay will necessarily become "oversaturated" if the A's and 49ers move south. I think the Bay Area Sports Scene is changing or going through a shift so to speak.

For many years the terms West and East Bay have been used to describe Bay Area Sports teams, but I think in the near future the terms North and South Bay may become more relevant. The North Bay would have the Giants, Raiders and Warriors. The South Bay would have the A's, 49ers and Sharks.

I am mostly basing this on the large number of swing fans or causal fans in the Bay Area Sports Scene. I think there is this automatic assumption that the South Bay is mostly made up of Giants Fans just because the South Bay is part of their territory. But I think there are alot of swing or causal baseball fans in the South Bay as well as many A's Fans.

If the A's moved South many of these causal fans would mostly go to A's games due the to the fact that Cisco Field would be alot closer for them then going all the way to San Francisco to watch a Giants game. This will also mostly likely apply to football as well as more South Bay Fans will go to more 49er games instead of Raider games due to being closer to the proposed stadium near Great America.

I know will you always have diehard fans of certain teams. I am an A's and Raiders Fan who lives in the East Bay. I am willing to make the trek to South Fremont to see my A's play. But for the most again, I would underestimate the number and swing and causal in the Bay Area Sports Scene. Marine Layer, tell what you think of my view on this.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous 2:03, I want fix a couple of typos in the last part of my post, to add the words "part" and "not". I ment to say:

But for the most "part" again, I would "not" underestimate the number and swing and causal in the Bay Area Sports Scene. Marine Layer, tell what you think of my view on this.

Marine Layer said...

The casual nature of fans in the Bay Area and especially the South Bay makes it difficult to make the claim that the South Bay could easily support the 49ers, A's, and Sharks.

Bizjournals.com does an annual assessment of each market's ability to support franchises, and the Bay Area is at its tipping point. Shifting the balance so that half of the franchises would lie south of the Dumbarton Bridge is risky. While there is a lot of disposable income and numerous Fortune 500 companies, those numbers won't directly translate into sales. The Valley is notorious for having companies who don't follow the last half of the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally." At 1.7-1.8 million residents, the Valley is a small market unto itself, which makes putting 3 teams there a potential strain. We're talking about over doubling the current inventory of luxury suites and club seats. It makes the market much more competitive, uncomfortably so in fact. From an economic balance standpoint, it makes more sense to have 2 teams in SF, 2 in Oakland, and 2 in/around the South Bay.

Anonymous said...

Marine Layer, Thanks for responding back. I wasn't necessarily saying that the South Bay could "easily" support 3 teams but I don't think its entirely impossible either.

The Bizjournals.com assessment definitely brings up some legit concerns about the Bay Area Sports Market reaching a tipping point. But I think there are some other factors that should be taken into consideration.

The Sharks are already firmly established in the South Bay in terms of fans and revenue. The 49ers would be based in Santa Clara and could also get some fan support and revenue from the Peninsula or the West Bay. The Sharks and 49ers would both be playing in South Bay proper and would be the 2 teams the South Bay would mostly be responsible for.

The A's would be playing in Southern Fremont near the South Bay but there would also be some fan support and revenue coming in from the East Bay as well. So both the East and South Bay could support the A's jointly.

I guess what I am saying is along with the causal fans of the South Bay who may become regular fans of these 3 teams, you also have some diehards from the North Bay who will make the trek to the South Bay (and vice versa)to support and bring revenue to their favorite teams.

Some may argue that is it the North Bay that is oversaturated and only having the Giants, Raiders and Warriors would provide some relief. There is also some who doubt that SF would be able to help construct and facilitate a football stadium in its current political and economic climate.

I know there is alot of "ifs" in the scenario I described but I think it can be feasible or possible. I do agree though that economically speaking it would be safer to have 2 teams in SF, 2 teams in Oakland and 2 teams in South Bay Proper.

Bleacher Dave said...

Future growth seem to be to the North and East - along the 80 corridor to Sacramento, and the 580 corridor into the Central Valley.

Anonymous said...

Bleacher Dave said:" No one thinks you'd create fake anonymous posts"

Uhhhhhhhh Dave, the fruitcakes wearing the tinfoil hats at OAFC DO in fact think ML is in fact creating fake posts and attributing them to Shril.

Bleacher Dave said...

"Anonymous said...
Bleacher Dave said:" No one thinks you'd create fake anonymous posts"

Uhhhhhhhh Dave, the fruitcakes wearing the tinfoil hats at OAFC DO in fact think ML is in fact creating fake posts and attributing them to Shril.

10:40 PM"

And - like I said - there's nothing you can do to change their minds about that. Read the 2nd sentence of my post that you quoted.

Anonymous said...

"Read the 2nd sentence of my post that you quoted

I did - its directly contradicts the preceding sentence.

James said...

fremontsuckas said:

Notice how Marine Layer is not objective. He doesn't even post Monte Poole's article about the A's situation in Oakland and the whole Cisco Pipe dream!!!!!

Pipe dream? Wolff just dropped of a half million dollar check at Fremont City Hall. Awefully expensive pipe dream!