09 May 2007

Reading between the lines, Part I

It's bad form, but I'm going to start off with a few sidebar items because they're rather interesting. Advance ticket sales account for 80% of all tickets sold. The remaining 20% is walkup sales. Here's a geographical breakdown:
  • Oakland accounts for 8.8% of advance ticket sales
  • San Francisco accounts for 13% of advance ticket sales
  • Fremont's share is 2.3%, Santa Clara County is at 10.5%
  • Alameda County in total buys 27.3% of advance tickets
  • Contra Costa County buys 20.7%
  • 10.4% comes from outside the nine-county Bay Area
  • 8.2% comes from outside California

The San Francisco number has to take into account certain factors such as Giants fans' impact on attendance during the 3-game set played at the Coliseum every year (rough estimate: 1.5-2% of ticket sales). One has to wonder what negative impact will come with the lack of BART access, especially for SF residents who have no other public transit alternative.

That said, there's no better representation of how regional the team is than the table the above information comes from on page III-10.

Page III-6 has a graph showing historical attendance. Surprisingly, they use both paid attendance and turnstile attendance figures in the comparison. Since the start of the A's run of success in 2000, actual (turnstile) attendance has run only 80% of paid attendance. Since sellouts are sellouts, that can only mean that those Monday/Tuesday night April series openers draw even worse than you'd think (or they'd announce). The upshot is that concessions sales are behind the curve.

Now onto housing. Start saving your pennies, prospective buyers. A townhouse will run on average $675,000 at the Ballpark Village. Some units will obviously be cheaper and others much more expensive, but they put the number out there. Construction on each new residential unit is estimated at $380,000. Other important figures:

  • The 600 first units would be available in 2011, in line with the opening of the ballpark.
  • 600 units would be sold each year through 2014; 500 would be sold in 2015 to finish the rollout
  • The residential portion would bring in 8,787 new residents to Fremont

This is the point where the questions come up. The first is about tax increment financing. From Page VI-4:

The projections in Table VI-3 assume that the County and other affected agencies will agree to raise the cap for this project area. If the cap is not raised, less future money will flow into the Redevelopment Agency, and somewhat more will flow into the City’s General Fund...

The assumption here is that the Redevelopment Zone would remain for some time. I have to correct myself on this. In the past I noted that the zone's existing debt would be retired in 2014. However, the zone itself would expire on November 22, 2023, long after the ballpark village has been built. The city's redevelopment arm would accrue over $58 million in property tax increment just through 2016, possibly $150 million through the end of the zone's life. What would happen to that money?

The area redevelopment plan shows a transit hub as a requirement. That's pretty much a given with this project. How expansive would the transit hub be? It's one thing to have a rail platform, some bus stalls and a parking lot. Would they also consider additional road or rail infrastructure?

Speaking of infrastructure, something needs to be done to make sure new kids in the area have access to schools. The report touts the infusion of $10 million into FUSD's coffers. But it also says this:
New enrollment will be directed to existing school facilities as efficiently as possible to balance the student population with capacity.

The area is projected to have 684 new K-12 students. The statement above implies that all of these new students would have to be bussed or driven to existing schools on the other side of 880. Two schools in that area have around 500 students, so the impact could be enormous. We're talking about adding a new neighborhood's worth of students without a new school. That makes very little sense.

Schools are not cheap. Don Callejon School, which was built as part of the Rivermark development in Santa Clara, cost $26 million to construct. Even then, I don't think price is so much the issue as available land is. If the ballpark village core takes up 25 acres and housing takes up 120, that leaves precious little land for parking, required park facilities, or a school. Will someone pony up for a school in the project area?

Next, do a search for the term "affordable housing" in the report and you'll get no results. There's no reference to Fremont's requirement that all new residential construction have 15% of the project be available at affordable housing cost. There's also no reference to various incentives that the city gives to developers to encourage them to build affordable housing.

This is the one issue I can see becoming a real sticking point. How would the A's and their partner developers tackle this? It's great that Fremont offers a density bonus, but the lack of information about how the requirement would be fulfilled is troubling. It's something that frequently holds up other housing developments, since it affects developer profits.

In the tabulation of tax increment revenue, it is mentioned that there's a mandatory set aside of around 20% of the revenue for low and moderate income housing. Is that money under consideration to fulfill the requirement? If so that's quite an endaround.

The next post will cover direct and indirect economic impact.


Zonis said...

The school issue is a big thing. I always assumed that a shcool would be built in the area they are building as part of the project.

Are they not building one then, or are they planning on building it later and will have the incomming children pushed into the existing schools until the new one is built?

58edsil said...

Kudos to Mr Wolff and the A's. This is a great start to the project. I am sure all of us want to get this done asap, but you have to appreciate all the work and detail that the owners are putting forth. The impact report goes a long way in showing that the owners are putting together something very special. As a longtime season ticket holder and hopefully future owner in the Ballpark Village, I want to thank Mr. Wolff for his vision on the future of the A's.

whyareyou said...

I think the school thing is messy as well.

When I was growing up in Fremont kids from the Ardenwood area were being bussed all over, not just to the nearest school. I went to Kennedy High and the kids would pass 2 high schools on they way there because we had the space, and if memory serves, some kids went to other schools as well.

So, that may be something to consider. It won't necessarily mean that the nearest schools would get hammered.

While it worked though, it wasn't very desirable. Many of the kids I knew hated the situation.

armas said...

I wonder how much of the San Francisco numbers come from A's fans who live in the Eastbay but buy their tickets while at work in SF.

Anonymous said...

is it based on IP address or on credit card zip code? i'm assuming it's almost certainly the latter, so that's probably not the case.

i wonder what the OAFC folks would say about those ticket numbers...