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26 July 2007

To vote or not to vote?

Fremont Councilman Steve Cho is keeping up his call for a ballot measure to decide the ballpark village. The other council members and the mayor apparently disagree. In Chris DeBenedetti's article there are comments from both pro- and anti-development ex-pols.

So what's the issue here? Cho believes there are "concerns from Fremont citizens that cannot be completely ignored," yet he also believes if it came to a vote it would prevail in a majority. So it's not as if there is overwhelming sentiment against the project, far from it in fact. In a way he has marginalized the process that the city and the A's have crafted, which appears to be the real issue that some opponents are uncomfortable with.

Why would any citizen's concerns be completely ignored? The council as a group has shown its displeasure over certain aspects of the plan, such as residential makeup and the school site. There were pointed land use questions that came from Anu Natarajan and Bob Wieckowski. Lew Wolff actually met with Gus Morrison, though Morrison's concerns weren't allayed. If there is some feeling that the plan is not getting the scrutiny it deserves, it wasn't on display from the comments the council and the city's community development director made. We're talking about Fremont, not Oakland, San Jose, or San Francisco, where big machine politics are the order of the day. Fremont can't count on Don Perata or Carole Migden to grandstand or ram legislation through the state senate.

Then there is the question of what the public would be voting on. Is it simply a land use decision? A vote to accept the team? Redevelopment agency bonds for infrastructure? School bonds? Would it end up being 1, 2, or 5 separate issues? And what would happen if one or more failed while others succeeded?

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what happens when these issues get to a vote. There's something called the 10:1 rule, in which proponents of a stadium plan typically outspend opponents 10:1 in campaigning. In Texas it's even higher. Why? Because usually there is a big tax-free bond measure at stake to finance the stadium. That's not going to be the issue here since it will be a privately financed stadium. Proponents trot out legendary retired players and coaches to shill for the project. Opponents complain that they don't have the funds to compete. Whether or not the issue passes, hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars are spent and the truth frequently gets lost in the hubbub. That doesn't invalidate the idea of having a vote, but it does highlight circumstances. At least in California, we tend to be a little more level-headed about these issues than other states.

Lew Wolff isn't interested in a vote because he thinks the project is far too complex to be left in the hands of a single up-down measure. So do the mayor and the council outside of Cho. Opponents often ask what the proponents are afraid of, that it wouldn't pass if it got to a vote. But we're not talking about your typical stadium subsidy issue here, are we? I've already had to go onto different message boards and respond to e-mail from people who are armed with a lot of misinformation. I'd like to know that all voters are fully up to speed on all issues, that they have read the probable 1,000-page EIR and its comments, that they've reviewed the alternatives. Unfortunately, that isn't realistic. So what would voters base their opinion on? Emotion? Prejudice one way or the other? Whether they're a baseball fan or not? That's definitely not how it should be decided. It's hard to weigh cost-benefit from a single ballot measure unless the concept is egregiously bad (or amazingly good).

I applaud Councilman Cho for wanting to act as the conscience of the council. But honestly, he's jumping the gun on the ballot measure idea. It would be preferable to have the plan's details get worked out, and if there is a bond measure some other major issue that would directly affect taxpayers then it absolutely should be voted on. Until then, let's keep focused on the task at hand, which is fleshing out the details.

76 comments:

Jeffrey said...

I know ML and Bleacher Dave disagree with me, but the fact that this story is even being written is garbage. And it is the direct result of Chris Debenedetti's Oakland only ties.

Zonis said...

I still want to know what exactly the vote would be on... What would it be a vote for?

Anonymous said...

This project has many issues which need to be addressed. Glossing over the the lack of public transportation and the affect this inaccessible location will have on the entire region does every resident of the Bay Area a great disservice.

I don't understand what this Fremont location has over the current centrally located and public transportation accessible Oakland location. In Lew Wolff's world you bring the ballpark to an inaccessible area hemmed in by the 880 freeway on the East and San Francisco Bay on the West just to be near your corporate Silicon Valley buddies at the expense of the quality of life of the entire region.

Why not bring the corporate crowd to the centrally located and transit friendly location instead? Oracle found its way to Oakland and was handsomely rewarded by the exposure in the playoffs. Why can't Wolff market to the same corporations from Oakland? After all, "It's only 20 miles" up the freeway.

Lew Wolff is using the Oakland A's as leverage for a private development to further line his pockets. Fremont should turn that land into open space and park land. Rezoning public land at a discount in order for a private developer to make a profit is wrong. Cramming a ballpark and 2900 residences in that hemmed in area is a recipe for gridlock, increased pollution, and ultimately a drain on city coffers.

At a time when ballparks are being built in central large cities with great transportation access, Lew Wolff decides to go backwards. And then, he and his son have the unmitigated gall to compare this ballpark setting in Fremont to Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston. This project is the antithesis to these wonderful urban ballparks surrounded by great public transportation. If Wolff wanted a Wrigley Field or Fenway Park "experience" he would have exhausted every possible option in Oakland. He made no effort and showed absolutely no desire to do so.

Marine Layer said...

Anon - If you're going to make these types of claims back them up with data or evidence.

Public transit is the most difficult issue to address in the project plan, and as Jill Keimach said, "there is no magic bullet" to solve the issue. That doesn't mean anyone is glossing over the matter.

I am amazed how these arguments get repeated ad nauseam without a simple acknowledgment of the most basic truth: The A's need to have a way to pay for the ballpark. $450-500 million worth. They could do it by trying to convince a municipality into taking on the debt. They could take it on themselves and incur that debt, which would be extremely risky because both financial institutions and MLB frown upon that method. Or they could come up with a creative third way, which is what the ballpark village is. Yes, they will make money at the same time, but if you know of a creative way to finance the ballpark, I'm all ears.

BTW, the gridlock you are predicting will be compared to the traffic that's expected for the site with the previous Cisco entitlements. That's 4.6 million s.f. of office space, or over 20,000 workers, most of whom will have their own cars. If the entirety of the ballpark village is actually worse, that difference is marginal at best.

Also - the land is not public land. It's all privately owned with the majority of the original project site donated for wetlands creation. What remains is already cleared, zoned, includes infrastructure, and is ready to build.

Anonymous said...

I Disagree with Steve Cho Steve Cho suggest that the ballpark village issue be placed on the ballot for city residents to decide.

I agree with Mayor Bob Wasserman, Council member Anu Natarajan,and John Dutra.

"I absolutely, intensely dislike ballot-box planning. Given all of the (project's) complex issues, a straight yes-or-no vote simply won't cut it."

Dutra said, especially when "you're considering a project of this magnitude which could have enormous economic benefit to the region."

He added: "We're talking about a multibillion-dollar project. Let's not sugarcoat it, but let's not sabotage it, either."

"The difference is I'm coming from a positive perspective," Dutra said. "I'm favoring it because I view the project as having huge (pluses) for Fremont, in terms of national recognition and potential economic benefits."

But Bart is working on Public transit from Warm Spring Bart Station to the Ballpark.

Anonymous said...

The City of Oakland doesn't want the A's. They have other things to deal with, like the collapse of the public school system. They took their Sports Money and threw it into the Raiders lap, and chose them as Oakland's team.

And you are saying that because the Warriors made the playoffs, all the corperate sponsors should be rushing to sponsor the Coliseum in Oakland? Well, McAfee has been for a while now, and I doubt they actually pay a whole lot for the naming rights.

So yes, lets build a stadium on in the parking lot! I mean, it will be great! The city will have $300-$500 million debt to work with, and the A's will get a new ballpark in a location that no one wants to go to anyways, as seen by our current attendance.

Rationally or not, most people in the Bay Area are afraid of walking down the streets in that area of Oakland. The only food place I can think of immidietly around the ballpark is the Coliseum Burger, which is horrible at best.

And I don't see how you can say that the A's are using Oakland as leverage. They don't seem to be saying anything anymore about staying in Oakland, and are fully upfront about their intentions to go to Fremont. If they wern't, they wouldn't have throw $500,000 down for the report.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer,

In my humble opinion, you build the ballpark in the best possible location for your fans and for the region. I don't believe in building a ballpark on a site because it's perceived as the only site available. In other words, I don't think building a ballpark on a site because it's available, vacant, or located near your biggest sponsor should be the primary consideration. Build the ballpark in the best possible location for your current customers and in the best location for the economic and environmental health of the region.

We are talking about billionaires here. If they want a new ballpark they should pay for it themselves. This is THEIR idea. Oakland A's fans are NOT clamoring for a new ballpark. According to your figures attendance is up from last year despite competition from Barry Bonds and a lackluster year on the field.

Wolff and Fisher should build the ballpark in a setting which will be accessible to the majority of the current fan base, be esthetically pleasing, and be located in an interesting urban environment with great public transit. In other words, in a location similar to Wrigley Field, or Fenway Park.

They had the opportunity to do this in Oakland. Forget the "ballpark village" idea and put the ballpark in one of many interesting areas in Oakland. So what if you have to knock down a couple of existing buildings. Let's forget about 164 acres for a minute and start thinking about 12 acres with a city already surrounding it. It worked for Magowan.

Why can't Wolff and Fisher put away the tin cup and the "creative" financing and just build the ballpark where it should be built regardless of how far it is from CISCO? They have plenty of money to do this. If all they truly wanted to do was to create an authentic "Fenway Park" or "Wrigley Field" experience for Oakland A's fans, they would do it in a real authentic urban setting instead of a contrived suburban "ballpark village."

This is nothing more than a money making housing development for these developers with the lure of the Oakland A's as the carrot to entice the Fremont politicians.

Marine Layer said...

Sorry anon, your comment is well-intentioned but incredibly naïve. It's all too easy to say the owners to pay for it out of their own pockets just out of a sense of entitlement. They didn't become billionaires by taking those kinds of deals. It's a straw man argument that doesn't reflect how sports business operates.

There's a simple truism to most stadium building projects: the stadium itself doesn't make money. Or at least it doesn't if the team has to foot the entire bill for it as well. It only works when outside revenue comes in to defray the costs. In the past that was public funds. Here it's private funds via profit turnover. Wolff is redirecting profits into the community to pay for the ballpark! Hide the women and children!

A sports franchise pulls in around $200 million a year in revenue but also gets media attention completely out of proportion for a company its size. If you asked the owner of a $200 million/year manufacturing operation to spend $500 million on a new factory, you'd get laughed out of the room.

If someone can answer the simple question I posed (How do you pay for it?) then we can get a real dialogue going.

FC said...

Hey ML,

I'm willing to bet that these guys who are demanding that Fisher and Wolff pull $500m out of their pockets will be the same guys complaining about why there aren't anymore dollar Wednesdays and dollar dogs. Sheesh!

tarmas said...

anon wants Wolf to put up the 400-500 plus million to build in downtown Oakland.

Yes the A's would then have a great ballpark in an urban setting. they would also have 30 plus million dollar debt service per year.

If the building of such a ballpark did not result in a doubling of their TV and Radio audience and constant sellouts over the life of the debt service the yearly tag could be much more.

That's a big risk to take, so big that I think Wolf would have a hard time finding a bank to help finance it, and perhaps more to the point I don't think MLB would allow him to carry that kind of debt. If I'm not mistaken they instituted a rule against it after the Giants built their park.

Anonymous said...

2:15, it's obvious that you haven't stopped to read others posts and continue to just post the antiFremont talking points...

Yet you contradict yourself many times over; to wit:

"Why can't Wolff and Fisher put away the tin cup"

- a tin cup infers that Wolff is out begging for $$$, also implying that he is asking the public to finance this when in FACT he is building the Ballpark village to make this project work, all on its
own.

"We are talking about billionaires here. If they want a new ballpark they should pay for it themselves."

Hey, they ARE paying for it themselves and are coming up with the financing plan themselves. You are implying that they should just pay out of existing $$$ that they may or may not have. It doesnt take a genious to recognize that though they may be "billionaires", that their assets are not so liquid that they could just make a withdrawal and build a ballpark...

"In my humble opinion, you build the ballpark in the best possible location for your fans and for the region"

An entirely subjective sentance in that there are many who believe that "best possible location" is somewhere else in the bay area other than Oakland.

"I don't believe in building a ballpark on a site because it's perceived as the only site available. In other words, I don't think building a ballpark on a site because it's available, vacant, or located near your biggest sponsor should be the primary consideration"

That is just ludicrous. Wolff TRIED to build next to the Coliseum site, (and remember, he can NOT use public $$$ - the voters would NEVER stand for it), so he NEEDS the retail/housing ballpark village to go with it. The other property owners near the flea market site made it known very quickly that Wolff was NOT going to be able to acquire all the land there that he needed.

" They have plenty of money to do this."

Really? And you know this how? Again, being a bazillionaire, and having "plenty of money" are two different things - its entirely possible, likely even, that their capital is tied up in long term investments and other real estate.

Marine Layer said...

tarmas - Thanks for bringing up MLB's 60/40 debt rule. If the A's assumed all stadium debt and could only pay it via stadium revenues, they'd be in clear violation of the rule.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:15

Wolff and Fisher are not going to build it "themselves." Wolff and Fisher need the City of Fremont to rezone the land to residential in order for Wolff and Fisher to be able to make a profit. You can't just pull profits from thin air. Someone is going to have to lose out on this deal. More than likely it will be the City of Fremont subsidizing Wolff and Fisher with this "rezoning" scheme.

As far as the "best location" for the ballpark. Oakland is centrally located to the entire Bay Area. Fremont is not. Oakland has an excellent public transportation and highway system. Fremont does not. As far as esthetically pleasing urban location? Oakland has many, Fremont does not. Oakland is convenient to most of the current fan base. Fremont is not. Oakland is a major city in the United States with the fourth busiest port in the country. Fremont is not. Oakland has won 7 championships in the three major sports. Fremont has not.

"Wolff tried to build next to the Coliseum." Unfortunately, Mr. Wolff used that presentation to the Joint Power Authority in Oakland as a plausible excuse for leaving Oakland. That plan was totally unworkable and was doomed from the beginning. Wolff even insisted on a new BART station for the project. Wolff was so convinced that the "66th Ave. to High Street" plan would never work that he invited Mayor Wasserman from Fremont to attend the presentation. The Mayor of Fremont was at the meeting while Wolff presented his "proposal" to the Joint Powers Authority in Oakland. This was nothing more than Wolff's plan for Fremont presented to the folks in Oakland and then used in his letter to season ticket holders explaining how he "tried" to make it work in Oakland.

PS: To the poster who stated that he can only think of the Coliseum Burger as the only place to eat near the Coliseum. You can try IN n OUT. It's the busiest franchise in the entire Bay Area. If that doesn't work for you try Francesco's.

Marine Layer said...

Re: Fremont losing via "subsidizing this scheme" explain what you mean. They don't own the land. They're not in the position to buy the land. You can talk about indirect subsidy but from a bottom line risk analysis standpoint, it's a pretty sound deal.

You can try to turn this into a pissing contest between two cities, but that's not what it's about. Answer the question I've posed, that's all I'm asking. How do you pay for the ballpark?

Anonymous said...

Marine layer,

Do you want Oakland A's moving to Fremont?

anthony dominguez said...

Well, if anything, at least OAKLAND anon has taken the heat off my "eternal optimist" posts. The faster they break ground on Cisco Field, the faster I'll be able to rest in peace (God Bless yah downtown San Jose!).

Marine Layer said...

My stance on the team staying or moving has never wavered from my first blog post:

I prefer to see the A's stay in Oakland, and have hope in new owner Lewis Wolff's efforts to get a new ballpark built. However, I hope that if a new ballpark can't be built in Oakland, it can be built elsewhere in the Bay Area so that I can continue to support the team. This includes San Jose, which is not currently available due to the Giants' territorial rights over Santa Clara County.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, it certainly is an indirect subsidy. There is a value to that rezoning. That value should be quantified and Mr. Wolff needs to pay fair market value for that rezoning.

Also, I have no intention in turning this into a pissing contest between two cities. I was merely responding to the previous posters assertion that the "best location" for the ballpark is purely subjective.

Jeffrey said...

The coliseum si the most hallowed sporting venue ever. Oakland is great.

BLAH BLAH BLAH.

I can't wait for opening day 2011 and Cisco Field.

Marine Layer said...

What do you mean by "pay market value for rezoning?" He'll probably pay capital gains for the benefit. Beyond that?

If there's a supposed loser in the land deal, it's ProLogis and to a lesser extent, Cisco. ProLogis would probably love to be able to sell development rights on newly rezoned land. Trouble is they don't bring anything to the table like a major league baseball team. Cisco's getting major exposure and extra clout out of the deal. Can't cry for those two.

Just answer the question, "How do you pay for it?"

They Might Be Anonymous said...

Anon wants the $$$ to come out of the City of Oakland, and the School District, of course.

Anonymous said...

What I mean is open up the land for bid as residential zoning. Wouldn't that mean more property tax money for the City of Fremont and Alameda County in a competitive sale?

The city of Fremont is providing a direct benefit to Lew Wolff by rezoning the land. Wolff would never have purchased these parcels without an understanding from the City of Fremont that they would indeed rezone the land in order for Wolff to make his profits.

The rezoning will instantly increase the value of Wolff's property. The City of Fremont will however be left with additional liabilities in the form of increased infrastructure maintenance, additional police and fire services, possible increases in crime, new schools, along with possible increased health care costs due to environmental degradation issues.

This rezoning scheme certainly benefits the billionaires at the expense of Fremont taxpayers.

Rye or the Kaiser said...

Wow, so the A's moving to Fremont does all this bad stuff to Fremont? Wow...

Good thing the A's arn't staying in Oakland, or Oakland would have to suffer from all those, right?

And if you say that Oakland would be willing to take on those "problems", and would be fine with them, then your argument against Fremont falls apart.

The land in question was already going to be rezoned into Commercial Space for Cisco anyways. And your proposal of nixing the A's purchase of the land in order to open up a RESIDENTIAL BIDDING WAR on the land, IE: the developer with the most money wins, would do the same thing thats happening right now, the difference is that Fremont wouldn't get a sports team, and the developers would likely take even greater advantage of the City than what you were saying the A's were.

All you seem to be saying is that the A's, namely Wolff, should have to pay more money for the land they already purchased. Your "proposal" still gives nothing to the City of Fremont. The only thing it does is give more money to the original land owners.

So my conclusion is simply that you can only be from 1 party. And it is not Oakland, it is not Fremont, it is not the A's, and it is not Cisco either.

You must be from ProLogis. Which means you are exactly the 'capitalist scumbag' who is 'ruining the area' that is destroying the cities by the bay.

(Sorry ML, but if he can pull random assumtions out of his A's, so can I)

Anonymous said...

"This rezoning scheme certainly benefits the billionaires at the expense of Fremont taxpayers."

WRONG...The rezoning will allow retail which will bring in both Sales Tax AND property taxes, residential (more property taxes). That actually BENEFITS Fremont taxpayers.

And my point stands as to the "best place" for a ballpark...
Fremont is most definitely better than say, Charotte, Indy, Vegas or even Sac...23 miles people, its only 23 miles away. Definitely a subjective opinion, I prefer a shiny new ballpark in Fremont than nothing in Oakland, with threats and posturing of moving as we've endured over the last 30 years with the exception of the Haas ownership...

Those of you clamoring for a "Better Place" in Oakland, WHERE IN GODS NAME IS THIS BETTER PLACE???

It has to be attainable, and able to support the retail / housing village complex, because, again, thats the funding mechanism which will allow the ballpark to be built without trying to obtain taxpayer financing, something that will NEVER happen here in northern californtia.

So, you may point a site, but I would bet you that ML has already scoped it out here on this blog and explained WHY it WONT work...

Seriously though, the people like Diamond Shril and her ilk make me SICK; they'd rather have the A's leave the bay area altogether instead of moving 23 miles away, in the SAME county...

Marine Layer said...

I've covered the effects on city services in my "Reading between the lines" series. Check out Part IV, Police and Fire. It deconstructs the economic impact report and shows that the new sales and property tax revenue should be able to cover the incremental demands.

Fremont's been against residential development within the Industrial district for decades. Meanwhile, nearby cities have been more aggressive on the commercial/retail front and have gotten serious tax revenues as a result. Newark did this with NewPark Mall. Union City has Union Landing. Milpitas has the Great Mall and McCarthy Ranch. Fremont finally decided to roll the dice with Pacific Commons and so far that's been a hit. Next is this high-end retail/entertainment center that based on location and demographics alone should also be a hit. And it has a ballpark to boot.

Opening up the land for bidding only makes sense if Fremont owns the land. They don't. ProLogis and Cisco (via dev rights) does. If Fremont came to ProLogis/Cisco and asked them to sell, why would ProLogis/Cisco accept if they knew what the endgame was? Would Fremont advocate eminent domain to acquire the land? Of course not. Fremont has already declined various attempts by landowners in the area who have requested rezoning of this type. If a developer wants to do it, they better bring something to the table that can benefit the community. That's exactly what the A's are.

Anonymous said...

I live in Oakland and am less than thrilled with the lack of transit options and I do like the coumnal feeling of the bleacher bums. However, I disagree with the Oakland only types. I think its crazy for people to want them to leave the bay area. I do believe that Wolff wasn't intrested in building here, but neither was the city of oakland when Schott was looking for a new staduim.
Outside of oakland, I would've loved the tri valley site that was proposed a few years ago.

The SJ types are beig too stuborn. It will probably have San Jose in the name and is much closer to it than Oakland. I don't see why you guys are so upset.

Side question: where do you guys think the SJ Giants will go? North Bay? another Central Valley city???

Georob said...

ML, you can bemoan all you want about those who still support a Downtown Oakland stadium being naive and unrealistic and I'll likely agree with you.

Problem is, too many look across the bay at ATT Park with no ballpark village and wonder why it can't be done in Oakland. Naive as it is, you have to admit it's a fair question.

Therefore, perhaps you should dedicate a thread discussing the various and sundry differences between SF's situation and Oakland's and maybe we could diffuse some of these theories floating around. Many of which are just made up, if you ask me.

After that we can then tackle the San Jose supporters who still believe that once territorial rights are removed they can hit the "Easy" button and VOILA... Downtown Stadium!

anon-a-mouse said...

For one, the Giants took on a huge amount of yearly service debt. They can afford this by way of their much higher revenue from TV and radio. The A's are not in this position.

I completely agree with ML's stance on the location of the stadium. I would have loved to have seen an Uptown or JLS location, but those sites (and others) didn't work for various reasons. I would like to see better public transportation to PC. But I also have faith that solutions to that can and will be found. I'm at least willing to give Wolfe the benefit of the doubt until an actual plan is presented.

Almost forgot to comment on the vote idea: it's just plain silly. The very concept is completely devoid of thought or reason. I'm not sure whose, but Cho is humping someone's leg with that one.

Anonymous said...

What are you guys talking about? The Fremont A's are the best team in baseball. They have more championships than Chokeland! Also, I can't wait to sport my Fremont Road Jersey at the next council meeting!!! Forget about Chokeland, they never win World Series. They're just like the Giants. But the Fremont A's, that's a winner!

Anonymous said...

I was just in San Diego last week and marveled at what Petco Park has done for that Downtown. The same thing could have happened in Oakland if Wolff and Fisher ever had any real intentions of making anything work in Oakland.

I've already touched on the farce of the "66th to High St." "presentation" to the Joint Powers Authority. I've already explained how the Mayor of Fremont was present during this presentation to Oakland officials. Yet, no one on this site acknowledges that Oakland has been jerked around by these carpetbaggers.

I read comments that "Oakland blew it when Schott wanted to build a ballpark downtown." Malarkey! Schott NEVER showed ANY interest in building a ballpark downtown or anywhere else in Oakland. AND, what in the world does that have to do with Wolff's promise to do everything he could to build the ballpark in Oakland?

Also, the Fremont deal should come up for a vote. This deal will change Fremont forever and every resident should have the opportunity to vote on this issue.

Not only will this ballpark location have an impact on Fremont, but it will also have a tremendous impact on the entire region. The difference between building a ballpark in centrally located Oakland and building a ballpark in a suburban hemmed in area with no public transportation is huge. The best place for the region for a ballpark is Downtown Oakland. This is the trend in just about every market in the Country. Why do Fremont supporters want to inconvenience the region just so that you can have a "shiny new ballpark" regardless of the ramifications of the location?

It could have been done in Downtown Oakland through public private partnerships. Wolff mentioned that the land for the housing didn't have to be next to the ballpark. Wolff could have developed the land around the Chabot Golf Course while building the ballpark downtown. He could have acquired the land near the former Naval Hospital in Oak Noll as a Southern California company eventually did. That land eventually sold for over 100 million and is now slated for 900 hillside homes. He could have developed county owned land in the Tri-Valley area while building the ballpark downtown. Instead, Mr. Wolff went through the motions in Oakland while he lined up his CISCO deal in Fremont. He was running out the clock in Oakland as he dismissed the business and civic group led by former Councilman Dick Spees.

These deceptions and machinations perpetrated on Oakland and on Oakland A's fans will ultimately result in an inferior ballpark compared to all the great ballparks currently in downtowns all over the United States. It will be the fans who will ultimately lose out.

Marinelayer, why don't you acknowledge that Oakland has been jerked around by Mr. Schott and NOW by Mr. Wolff? You're very familiar with all of these issues. I'd have a heck of a lot more respect for you if you did.

Marine Layer said...

Hmmm, not sure if getting respect from an anonymous poster is something to strive for, but here goes nothing.

I have written previously here and elsewhere what I think about how Wolff dealt with Oakland. In fact, I'll clip one of my posts from a couple of days ago at the A's Fan Forum:

I don't disagree with you about Oakland. I've felt for a while that Wolff ran the clock out on building in Oakland. But I know that he had staff and consultants working on the Coliseum North plan. They were probably working out Fremont in parallel since some pieces of the concept are portable, such as the ballpark and the commercial district. But I also know that Pacific Commons wasn't some nefarious scheme, years in the making. Why? Because it wasn't necessarily the first choice. NUMMI was a major contender because of proximity to the BART extension. NUMMI didn't want housing near their plant because they didn't want resident complaints, so that broke the site concept there. Moreover, Fremont didn't have a pro-stadium mayor until 2005. It was that mayor and county supervisor Scott Haggerty who started the discussions, not Wolff. Discussions with Cisco about their undeveloped property made the deal work. Meanwhile, Wolff watched Oakland to see if they would elect a pro-stadium candidate such as IDLF. Dellums was elected, further greasing the skids. Maybe Wolff should've waited until he had both a mayor and city council in Oakland that had the political will to see this large a plan through. That's a big gamble and a long wait.

Do I have your respect now?

Most importantly, will you answer the question I've asked several times now in this thread alone?

Anonymous said...

Sigh,

Once again, tell me exactly HOW Wolff was going to build in D-town Oakland...

"It could have been done in Downtown Oakland through public private partnerships"

That's a nice, catchy phrase, but it does NOT mean anything.

Furthermore, when the "public" portion of this so called partnership (ESPECIALLY in the Jerry Brown years) showed absolutely NO interest (remember, he was the one who FIRED the Oakland City Manager who was the biggest OAKLAND Baseball ADVOCATE)
How exactly can a partnership exist?

At least the City of Fremont wants to have a working relationship with the A's. You need to acknoweldge that most certainly was/is NOT the case with the City of Oakland...

Finally, let me address your continuing orgasmic fixation on downtown/urban ballparks.

Baseball, like everything else in the business world is cyclical; this has borne out in the stadiums built...You had the multipurpose cookie cutter stadiums of the 70's,
and now the downtown stadiums of the last 15 or so years, beginning with Camden Yards.

But Wolff has said, as recently as this week, that his new ballpark will be the beginning of the NEXT trend of ballparks.

Will this turn out to be the case? Time will tell. Wolff is certainly willing to risk his $$ to do so.

At the time Camden Yards was built, nobody realized this would be the start of the current building trend; Skepics of downtown revitalization through
the building of new ballparks abounded, much like you exist as a skeptic of Wolff's plan...

23 miles....

If you are so fixated on Downtown ballparks, then go watch the Giants.

Anonymous said...

Fremont A's is the Best Location, and attract people from South Bay.

Without Cisco Field, they wouldn't be alot of technology and High-tech stadium.

I know why the ballpark would be one of the smaller stadiums in the league.

"Most stadiums today have 43,000 seats, but only draw 26,000 people," Keith Wolff said. "We don't want to see empty seats, so we'll build the smallest stadium in the league with just 32,000 seats."

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer,

You're wrong about the " Wolff waiting for a pro ballpark Mayor."

As a matter of fact, Wolff went to Dellums BEFORE the election and attempted to dissuade the Mayoral candidate about keeping the A's in Oakland. He went to Dellums and basically told him that the A's were gone. He intentionally fed Dellums the false story about Schott wanting to build the ballpark downtown but Oakland shot him down. Wolff implied that was Oakland's chance to keep the team. Oh really? He then tells Dellums "You have other priorities." AND the infamous quote "Don't break your pick on this one."

Now, does that sound like an owner who is trying to get public support for a ballpark in Oakland? To me this sounds like an owner who is trying to cut off any hope and future support for a ballpark in Oakland. It sounds like an owner who is trying to grease his way out of Oakland.

Also, I've already mentioned some of the possibilities for funding the ballpark with the development of land outside the ballpark site. This possibility was laid out by Wolff while he was pretending to work with Oakland.

Marinelayer, Please answer the question which I posed to you directly. Please don't pull out an old post which barely touches on this issue. Did Wolff Jerk Oakland around?

Marine Layer said...

The Coliseum North presentation was in August 2005. Dellums entered the mayoral race in October 2005. Wolff's "Don't break your pick" comment to Dellums was in May 2006.

By the time Wolff made the comment, it was abundantly clear that the Coliseum North plan was dead. Is that running out the clock? Definitely. Is it jerking Oakland around? That's entirely subjective. At least he was upfront with Dellums about it. Sitting Oakland councilmembers made noises as if they wanted to make a deal - remember Larry Reid's "I'll stake my career on this" quote? - but after Wolff announced Fremont some said, "I knew he was on the way out." Well then, why didn't they call him out in August 2005? Where they just trying to be polite?

It's quite simple. Neither party wanted to deal with the obviously uphill political battle that would've been waged to get a ballpark down anywhere in Oakland. Is it so hard to believe that the city and the team had divergent priorities? It may sound lazy, but it's realpolitik.

And no, you haven't answered my question at all except to say Wolff's deal was possible in Oakland in some non-specific way. I've looked at every conceivable Oakland ballpark and development site over the past 30 months. There's nothing out there that works. The only possible option was the Estuary, but Signature already had a deal in place there and community groups would've been up in arms if a ballpark replaced the parkland they'd be fighting for.

So I ask again, and please be more specific this time, "How do you pay for it?"

Marine Layer said...

A couple more items -

At 2,900 homes, the A's would have to pull in over $150,000 in profit per unit just to pay for the ballpark. All of that would come from the rezoning and sale of dev rights.

Oak Knoll development is 900 homes. The land was not cheap ($95 million) and NIMBY issues restricted how dense home construction could be there. How would they have raised enough money?

There is no way any pol in Dublin or Pleasanton would allow the ballpark to be built in Oakland while he/she had to take the brunt of the city services strain and with no revenue to show for it.

A separate village concept was not the preferred way. Even in San Diego and St. Louis, two of the downtowns you cite, there are multi-acre ballpark villages right next to the parks either in development or finished. Perhaps the lower density residential portion could've been separate, but you still need to build a large number of homes over a fairly short span. Where in Oakland could this happen?

anthony dominguez said...

So much for the pro Oakland posts taking the heat off of my SAN JOSE ISN'T DEAD YET ranting. C'mon Rob!! No need to tackle me! You know I'm a realist that can't wait for the Cisco Field groundbreaking. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me harboring a little SJ hope until that joyfull, golden shovel day arrives.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer, Let's be honest, Wolff was hired by Schott as director of venue development. The focus since Schott bought the team has always been to take the A's away from Oakland. Nothing changed when Wolff and Fisher bought the team.

Marinelayer, there is room in virtually every city in the Country for a Downtown ballpark except for Oakland. There is room in San Francisco which at 49 square miles has twice the density of Oakland's 56 square miles. There is room in San Diego, Saint Louis, Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New York. But not Oakland.

Wow, Oakland must be the most built out city in the United States. Demand for Downtown property must rival Hong Kong, London, or Tokyo.

I wonder about all of those under utilized warehouses along the waterfront. What about tearing down a few of the buildings west of Broadway directly across from the Produce District? The Produce District with its historic facades and wooden sidewalks could be developed as an entertainment venue in direct correlation with the ballpark.

Did Wolff ever explore these possibilities? Of course not. He was to busy greasing his way out of Oakland in order to make his infatuation with the South Bay come to fruition. Isn't interesting that with the thousands of units built by dozens of developers in Oakland during the last five years, Wolff hasn't shown ANY interest at all in developing so much as a shed in Oakland.

I think Wolff is very anti-Oakland for whatever reason. He's an older wealthy white businessman from Los Angeles who confesses to know very little about Oakland. His business interests lie in Los Angeles and San Jose. Oakland has never been on his radar screen. Oakland NEVER had a chance to retain this team. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

anon-a-mouse said...

And anon, while you're thinking about the abundant available locations and obvious funding streams just sitting aroung waiting to be had in Oakland, perhaps you can devote a bit of thinking to what exactly the people of Fremont should be voting on. Once you've figured that out, perhaps you can then let us all know why we don't vote on every other zoning change, development issue and other construction project that happens in our cities without public funding every single day of the year.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a referendum on this issue. This is the largest development in the history of the City of Fremont. This will have an affect on schools, crime, traffic congestion, air quality, public services etc.

Every resident of Fremont should have an opportunity to vote on this issue. This will have an affect on the daily lives of Fremont residents. It will effect their property values, their schools, and many other quality of life issues.

I know if I was a Fremont resident I would want to vote on this rezoning of land for this particular development. Wouldn't you?

Marine Layer said...

For so many Oakland sites, I saw two words: eminent domain. The city got hammered - and rightfully so - when it acquired the Uptown property, and I seriously doubt they were willing to do that again for a ballpark, university, casino, or hospital. Why do you think no one from Oakland City Center ever suggested a site besides the Estuary (which wasn't actually available)? I know you'll say it's because Wolff wasn't interested. I've heard Jane Brunner say the same thing. Funny how that didn't come out until after the fact. Could it be that they simply didn't have anything remotely concrete?

Hey, I admit that Wolff ran the clock out. I'm not sure what else you're looking for. If you want me to sign on to this ridiculous "victimization of Oakland" theory you're smoking something. Because it completely neglects the political side of things, the market realities in place. If you want to ignore that, fine, I suppose it suits your worldview. But it takes two people to get divorced just as much as it does for them to get married. And that's exactly what has transpired.

And let's keep something in perspective. Cisco's option to buy the site, which I assume is being transferred to the A's, runs out in 2009. So both parties had to act quickly, otherwise it would revert back to being only a lease from ProLogis. Then the land deal would be back at square one. Killer land deals like this don't come around often, and as the Bay Area continues to grow land will get more scarce. As cold as it sounds, Wolff has every right to jump on the deal because it might not come around again.

Marine Layer said...

You're welcome to contact the mayor and city council to express your opinion. Of course you're a non-resident with a not-so-hidden agenda, so...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is real cold.

To take the team I followed as a kid in 1969 from my hometown and turn it into the CISCO A's is cold.

But, you can make all the excuses you want for Mr. Wolff. It's still wrong to take a piece of the fabric of this community and tear it to shreds. It's wrong to behave in a disingenuous manner while you're doing it. I'll never be a cheerleader for Mr. Wolff's business ventures at the expense of my integrity. The willful disregard for a community which hosted his team rent free for nearly forty years is astonishing to me.

Marine Layer said...

Excuse me while I break out the violins.

I may not be from Oakland nor do I live there, but I'm a part of the greater fan community in the Bay Area. Is my value as a fan worth less since I'm not from Oakland and my ties are less location-centric? I guess you put me in my integrity-free place.

For all the regular readers out there, I hope you relished this exchange. I felt a little frisky today, and lately I've let others do the debating. This zest might not come around again for a while since we are heading into a silent period.

Jeffrey said...

If I was a resident of Fremont, I wouldn't want to vote on this rezoning (but if I could vote on it I would vote yes). As a resident of Elk Grove, Sacramento and Pleasanton I didn't vote on rezoning for anything at anytime. In Elk Grove, where the population has grown from 70,000-130,000 in less than a decade and major zoning changes were made, we didn't vote on them ever. We paid our elected officials to do it. And when they rezoned inappropriately and blocked zoning that the majority of the residents wanted, we voted 2 of them out.

Representative government is how our country operates. There is nothing wrong with expecting the city government to make the decisions they have been elected to make.

Oakland, the city government specifically, is at least equally at fault for the A's moving. There are many reasons for this, starting with the horrible deal they made with the Raiders to come back to Oakland, including the firing of Robert Bobb for his pushing of a ball park in uptown, and all the way up through making no counter proposals to Wolff's 66th and High presentation.

I noticed the fixation on Fremont's mayor being in attendance at the 66th and High presentation. So what? That wasn't hidden then and nobody has tried to hide it now. In fact I remember it featuring very prominently in the East Bay Express article on how the A's ended up looking towards Fremont. Maybe you should read that as it highlights the entire picture. Including the fact that it was Haggerty who approached Wolff about Fremont, and Wolff who initially told him no.

Cisco Field is Wolff making lemonade out of lemons. From my view, it is one hell of a jug of lemonade. And as a person who was born in Oakland and has lived (and died) with this team for many years I thank him for making that jug of lemonade.

I think the folks at oaklandfans.com (all 15 of them) are waiting to pat you on the back.

The Muffin said...

I'm pretty sure that Anonymous is Ted Stevens...

FC said...

ML,

For whatever reason, it seems you weren't happy with my previous post as it was never published, so I'll ask again. What do you mean by "silent period"?

Marine Layer said...

Sorry fc. That'll teach me to moderate using my Blackberry.

City Council is taking a one month summer recess, and the next work session/review of any kind is scheduled for sometime in September. Until then, expect little news. I'll still put out 2-3 posts a week.

anon-a-mouse said...

The city of Fremont is currently working on the biggest public works project in its history. Something the city is spending considerable budget and time on. Guess what? There was no referendum on that one either. Why weren't you banging on Fremont city hall's doors over that? Because it didn't fit your obvious agenda, anon, that's why.

What exactly are the people of Fremont supposed to be voting on? There are no bonds to approve. No new taxes. No city funds of any kind. Do you run around the country screaming at every city to have a vote on every zoning change they make?

It's no wonder ML finally took one of these people to task. They just don't deal with reality and it gets tiresome. "They should have built the stadium on the magical piece of land in downtown Oakland that no one else can see, but is there, and which contains a huge pot of money from the fantastical public-private partnership that I just dreamed about." Yeah, why doesn't Wolfe do that?

anon-a-mouse said...

Also, isn't it funny how the Oakland-only crowd seems to think the A's in Fremont are going to be a disaster for the host city (the crime! the traffic! Oh, the humanity!!!), but if they stayed in Oakland, it would be the greatest thing that could possibly happen to their city?

Anonymous said...

The A's are already in Oakland. Oakland already has the public transportation and highway infrastructure to handle the A's. Fremont does not. Is this a difficult concept to grasp?

Also, this Zoning change will be done specifically to increase the profits of this developer at the expense of radically changing the quality of life of every resident in the City of Fremont. It's not a simple zoning change. The people of Fremont should vote on weather or not they want major league ballpark in an inaccessible hemmed in area of their city. Is that a hard concept to grasp?

Marine Layer said...

The fact that the A's are in Oakland right now has zero bearing on a potential ballot measure. It is not certain the A's would stay in the Bay Area if Cisco Field were not built, and any ballot measure should only focus on issues pertaining to Fremont.

There are constant claims that Fremont is inaccessible, as if the claims were repeated enough they would be true. The facts are that Cisco Field will have 880 next to it and 680 less than 2 miles away. There are two freeway exits on 880 that will service the ballpark as well as the current exits that serve the Coliseum. Not to mention that additional improvements in the area will free up much of the rush hour commute clog, while making it a virtual breeze for those coming from the north. There will be a transit hub of some kind, though it will be admittedly less convenient to reach the new ballpark via public transit than it was to reach the Coliseum. If that's the major detraction, they're far ahead of the game.

And I suppose I have to repeat this again: The developer will reinvest $450 million of profits into the ballpark. As for quality of life, there are numerous Fremont residents that believe this development would improve their quality of life. Enough that Councilman Cho admitted it. The funny part is that when the Coliseum North proposal was first made, these exact arguments were made for Oakland. I didn't hear about Oakland residents clamoring for a ballot measure then. I haven't heard much clamor for Oakland residents to vote on the Estuary project either, and that has fairly significant impact on Oakland as well.

Ballot box planning is generally short-sided and wasteful. Let the mayor and council do their job. If it comes to a major expenditure, then that's fair game.

Anonymous said...

Ml,

Can you tell me the Traffic issue of the proposed Cisco Field?

Can you tell me the Crime issue of the Proposed Cisco Field?

How can people go in and out of the Stadium?

Can they build Highway on wetland?

These is the only Concern for me of the proposed Stadium.

Marine Layer said...

See my January post on infrastructure for some answers. Neither the A's nor the city have released traffic or crime studies yet. They should be coming in the next several months.

Judging from questions I've posed, no one is willing to entertain the concept of building anything on the wetlands preserve. Doing so would be politically difficult and costly.

Georob said...

I've argued this point before, but it bears repeating:

If I felt about any business the same way that the "Oakland Only" people feel about Lew Wolff, I'd have nothing more to do with the A's and walk away.

I used to give JRBH a bad time when he said that he was no longer going to support the A's and start going to ATT Park. However, he hasn't posted here in a long time and if indeed he's followed through on this, you at least have to give him credit for meaning what he said.

But for all you "Anons" out there still bashing Lew Wolff, I say this: If you still feel something can be done to keep the team in Oakland, then find a way to get the voting citizens of Oakland and the city officials to work with the man. Otherwise, you're just whining and if you're still buying tickets, Wolff is still profiting from you.

Lastly, for all the anti-Wolff comments posted here, only 10% responded "outright betrayal" to ML's recent poll about how folks feel about Fremont. I'd guess that's a good estimate of any likely defections from the fan base
once Cisco Field opens.

And I'll also guess that the A's will more than make up that 10% from Southern Alameda County fans alone. Throw in new fans from Santa Clara County(excuse me Tony, SAN JOSE!) and the A's will be in good shape.

anthony dominguez said...

Thanks Rob!
R.M., if things get to slow in the next month regarding Cisco Field news, can you do a post on HP Pavilion (like your post regarding new HD video screen at AT&T Park)? I saw some home game/SJ Sabercats highlights over the weekend, and it appears the fascia LED boards are in at The Tank! The HD scoreboard is reportedly in the works at Daktronics. The Tank will definetely be ready for Sharks hockey and (the eternal optimist that I am Rob) NBA basketball; be it by relocation or the Warriors in 2017. Hopefully our NBA dreams aren't screwed by a new arena in SF/SOMA. Gee, San Jose getting screwed by something San Francisco (again!)..imagine that! Ever been to HP Pavilion Rob?

anon-a-mouse said...

Is our ability to see that you make things up so hard to grasp? It is obvious with every word you type that you know nothing at all about the city of Fremont. Inaccessible? Hemmed-in part of the city? Someone else (or was it you -- so many anon's) makes up the claim that they are building on wetlands. Uh, no. If you ever set foot outside Oakland, you might notice that it's on turned soil that's already prep'd for construction, and sits right alongside 880 -- the very same freeway the Coliseum sits next to! Oh, but in Fremont the traffic will be a disaster, because you know there's no traffic in Oakland.

The one valid complaint is that there is no direct Bart connection. But there is rail at one end of the property and I have faith that they will come up with a way to get people from the existing Fremont station (and the future Warm Springs station) to the stadium. I'm sure you'd rather condemn the whole transportation plan before it's even been written, though.

PS: way to sidestep the fact that Fremont is actually spending money on another very large, expensive project without asking for voter approval. That one doesn't add one cent of new city revenue, by the way. Unlike this project. Doesn't affect you though, so who cares, right?

Anonymous said...

Mouse,

You can't compare the accessibility of the Coliseum to the proposed Cisco field. The Coliseum is located on the East side of 880 and is not hemmed in by 880 and the Bay, as is the case for CISCO field.

As a matter of fact, the location for CISCO field has many similarities to the location of the Oak-to-Ninth development in Oakland. Marinelayer has pointed out in the past the lack of infrastructure and freeway accessibility many times for Oak-to Ninth even though Oak-to-Ninth has an AMTRAK station a quarter mile away at Jack London Square, and the Lake Merritt BART station a little more than a half a mile up Oak Street.

So, let me understand this. CISCO field has good access without public transportation options, while Oak-to Ninth has poor access WITH public transportation options? Why the double standard? Is it because one is in Oakland while the other site is in Fremont next to the Silicon Valley corporate fat cats?

If this is such a good project for Fremont, then why are so many posters on this board so nervous about a referendum on this issue? My guess is you're afraid it would be voted down by a majority of Fremont residents.

Also, anyone who thinks that CISCO field will spare this franchise from crowds of 12,000 on weeknights has put a little too much faith in the Lew Wolff propaganda. CISCO field has no legs. This ballpark will not generate enough excitement among the current fanbase to make it worthwhile.

Also, don't discount the alienation of many loyal Oakland A's fans such as myself. I've been a fan of the Oakland A's through 36 years. I've watched every televised game and listened to every broadcast for all of those years. Mr. Wolff has managed to do something that Charlie Finley and Steve Schott could never do. Wolff has made me lose complete interest in this franchise. The lies, the deceit, and the corruption in tearing away a piece of the fabric of my hometown will not be forgotten or forgiven.

If I feel this strongly about this after being bonded to this franchise for so many years, I'm sure there are many others out there who feel the same way and will no longer support this franchise.

This CISCO field misadventure has all the markings of the Titanic heading right for the nearest iceberg. This franchise will become the Pittsburgh Pirates of the American League. A franchise can't just abandon its hometown and its long storied history and pretend it's OK to remake itself as the CISCO A's twenty miles down the freeway and no one will notice.

It's not going to happen. Lew Wolff better reduce that seating capacity to 20,000 or to minor league levels because that's exactly what the CISCO A's @ Fremont will become.

Marine Layer said...

No, the Coliseum isn't hemmed in by 880 and the bay. It's hemmed in by 880 and East Oakland. Is one worse than the other? You tell me.

The Oak-to-Ninth comparison was done to point out how from the business standpoint, it's similar to Cisco Field. The O29 site was bought dirt cheap. Large amounts of residential and mixed use development will go up there. And the land use is not what was originally intended for the site.

But there are differences that are worse as far as O29 is concerned. O29 required state legislation to sidestep the Tidelands Trust land use issue. Access to the site will be via a single road and extremely outdated interchanges, which is not the case in Fremont. Remarkably, there will be even more residences than the entire Cisco Field project - yet I don't hear about a pledge for a school other than the usual developer fees. And they'll demolish most of the historic 9th Ave Terminal. Why? To create parks that weren't in the original plan because they used so much land for housing! Yet I don't hear calls for a referendum on that project. At least be consistent.

As for access to transit, that's nothing to brag about. The JLS Amtrak station is almost 1 mile away. Lake Merritt BART is roughly the same distance. They'd need a shuttle for O29 too. Of course, O29 wasn't really an available site. It was simply something IDLF threw out there on a lark even though he knew it wouldn't work for either Signature or the A's.

There are doubtless many people who feel strongly about Oakland-only or Oakland-first. Unfortunately, I don't think there are that many of you. Prove me wrong. You haven't answered my question, so I don't expect a response here either.

dmwytq said...

Marine Layer said...

"No, the Coliseum isn't hemmed in by 880 and the bay. It's hemmed in by 880 and East Oakland. Is one worse than the other? You tell me."

Yes, obviously. Access through east Oakland is fine, a good driving alternative on busy days, a quick enough shot over to the 580 or 13. Unless someone's so lily-livered as to be, uh, the Wolf's target demographic, perhaps?

"Oak-to-Ninth... Yet I don't hear calls for a referendum on that project. At least be consistent."

Hello. Read the news much? There was an entire petition drive, it's hung up in Russo's office.

"There are doubtless many people who feel strongly about Oakland-only or Oakland-first. Unfortunately, I don't think there are that many of you."

I may not be Oakland-only necessarily, but I am strongly anti-LA land developer/property grabber, who put a tarp over very good seats with wonderful sightlines, and honestly doesn't give a crap about middle-class baseball fans nor the infrastructure of the Bay Area.

Marine Layer said...

Lily-livered, eh? Hope we're not resorting to name-calling. The route to 580 or 13 is not direct or convenient. At least the route from 680 to Pacific Commons is a nice large arterial road.

Didn't the "referendum committee" have difficulty disclosing important information about their efforts? If there really was an outcry would they have anything to hide? And why do I get the feeling a large number of those signatures would be invalidated?

Think about what's happening in Oakland for a second. You had a mayor, much of the city council, and a powerful state senator's machine devoted to getting this done. Yet they're not even close as they're wrapped up in lawsuits. You don't think Ghielmetti and Wolff swapped war stories when they met over a year ago? Even with that, the whole matter has receded from view, replaced with the garbage problem and yet another school problem.

The A's are a badly performing franchise economically. Not for the ownership group, for MLB. Seeking a better performing location while serving most of the same market isn't criminal or disgusting. It's the right thing to do.

Let's lay the cards down. I challenge you to submit a treatise on how a new ballpark can be constructed anywhere in Oakland. You don't have to give me 50 pages, just 500-1000 words with a basic pro forma. I will post it here unedited. You can even submit a poll question and I'll put it up for a week. The only rule is that it can't include sites that are now unavailable, such as Howard Terminal and Laney College or OUSD. You up for that? Either you have a solution or you don't. Let's see what you got.

Anonymous said...

Marinelayer,

A ballpark can't be built in Oakland because Lew Wolff is not now, nor has he ever been interested in building a ballpark in Oakland.

Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel have told me that they showed Wolff many sites and he never showed the slightest amount of interest. They were told by the A's to keep the discussions private while at the same time Wolff was lining up his Fremont deal. Oakland was trying to live up to their end of the bargain by not going public with the discussions as Wolff had requested. Wolff used this silence as a way to run the clock out on Oakland as he laid the ground work for Fremont. The feeling coming out of City Hall was that Wolff was never serious about Oakland and was going through the motions for PR reasons. So yes, you are absolutely right. A ballpark could never have been built in Oakland because the ownership had no intention in making it happen. You need two parties to negotiate and Wolff and Fisher never came to the table.

As far as your comment about East Oakland, I'll take it with a grain of salt and not read anything negative into it. Although, a comment like that plays well on this particular board and possibly to the demographics Mr. Wolff is looking for.

Also, if you check your map, you'll find that the Jack London Amtrak station is much closer than a mile to the Oak-to-Ninth site. The Lake Merritt station is also much closer than a mile.

Marine Layer said...

Ah, I should've known this was coming.

The thing is, I didn't say anything about Wolff. All I asked for was a site in Oakland and a way to pay for it. It has nothing to do with whether or not Wolff's interested. It's about whether or not it can happen in Oakland regardless of ownership.

All I see are copouts. Brunner and Nadel showed Wolff sites? I know Nadel shot down my site idea, that she admitted that A) Oakland is a built up city, and B) that a ballpark wouldn't be politically popular. Saying, "We had sites but they weren't interested" after the fact is a nice fat CYA that has zero political risk. And they know it.

So if it helps you sleep at night, play the blame game, the race and class cards. I'd rather discuss solutions.

Marine Layer said...

BTW, it's 0.9 miles from JLS Amtrak to the eastern part of O29, the only section truly large enough to hold the ballpark - and not partly owned by JW Silveira. Don't believe me? Take a look at this.

It's also 0.9 miles from Lake Merritt BART.

anon-a-mouse said...

I see. So there is the Coliseum's quality of access and there is inaccessible. Nothing in between. Interesting. And for the record I never compared the two. Yes PC sits physically between the bay and the freeway (a freeway with two large, modern interchanges -- the comparison to the situation at O29 is beyond laughable). So everything west of 880 is inaccessible in your book. That Jack London Square. What an inaccessible waste of space. I demand a voter referendum to tear it down immediately!

No one is afraid of a vote per se. The question is: what would they vote on? It's a complex development deal. Which aspect of it should voters approve? The only decision that has ever made sense in any other voter referendum is when government funding (direct or the issue of bonds) is involved. I can see where someone like you would like to see it so you have an opportunity to influence people with fabrications about inaccessibility. Perhaps you can get a bunch of your buddies to register in Fremont. Hey it worked for Ed Jew, for awhile anyway.

You can avoid the huge rush to abandon the team that surely is coming "the moment they set foot outside Oakland city limits!" Really, no one is stopping you from jumping ship right now. A "fan" who can't be troubled to extend their trip to the game by a few miles within the same county isn't really anyone's target market, you know?

logic said...

This is a very interesting discussion. I’ll jump on it. It exposes the fundamental contradiction which somewhat dooms the central argument of this website and the lack of reasoning (or honesty) within the A’s new ownership. And I echo the sentiment regarding the tarping of the third deck.

Marine Layer says:

"Let's lay the cards down. I challenge you to submit a treatise on how a new ballpark can be constructed anywhere in Oakland."

and later:

"I'd rather discuss solutions."

That's the contradiction right there. We're putting a pre-defined solution before the problem itself. The problem, as defined, is generated from the solution Marine Layer and the new owners propose. If you are ever going to solve a problem, you need to define the problem first.

Let's lay the cards back down again. What's the problem?

Is the problem that the A's cannot continue as a revenue-generating corporation, viable team, etc., without the benefit of a new stadium? Does this entity look as if it's on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse? Hardly, I'd say. Financially, they seem to be doing pretty darn well just pissing on their feet. I'd wager that the sum the new owners have spent on potential land development dwarfs what they've spent on the team itself.

If they believed this franchise was so bereft of value, they shouldn't have bought it, you think? City council meetings seem to take priority over trading deadlines, in any case.

Is the problem that we're not paying our MLB dues? Hell, this is Oakland, let's stand up for the other small markets and stick it to the man! (Tantamount to beating the Yanks – and taking their cash, to boot!)

Is the problem that the A's wish to increase revenue, i.e. put more butts in seats? In that case, there are plenty of other solutions which deserve to be exhausted before you throw $500+ million at constructing a huge new complex. I'd suggest first a critical analysis of the A's internal marketing department and their current advertising agency of record. In any other business, those entities would be held directly accountable for their results. If their efforts were unsatisfactory, they would be overhauled and fired, respectively.

Upon review, the recommendation: these entities should be dismissed, full stop. I’ve received a personal message from an internaI employee which would had him kicked to the curb, if forwarded to his supervisors; fortunately for him, it made me laugh. I've heard some damning testimony from the head of an agency which previously held their account. He admitted: they’d milk ‘em. (i.e. “Got Green?” – though that was Goodby’s recycled result.) If the A’s ownership really wanted to increase revenue, with a healthy respect for budget constraints and the long-term viablity of their core brand, that would be just a start. The fact that they ignore such unsatisfactory marketing efforts is disheartening, at best. The stands - user experience - suffers as a result.

Is the problem with the current fans? They don’t support the team? They don’t buy the product? In what business is the customer ever to blame? I, like others, was a very loyal customer – the ideal customer, a true converter. But they banished my product – the third deck seat – from their product line. They covered it with a tarp! In any other successful business, customers like myself are never turned away, they are certainly not insulted; rather, they are valued more than anything else. Successful corporations have entire departments who cater to us. The situation regarding a new stadium should have been handled in a manner which did not generate so much heartfelt dissent – so sack PR while you are at it.

And bring back the hammer kids.

Is the problem with the current stadium? Honestly, I like it, though it could definitely be improved. But why don’t you give the old lady a facelift and a boob job before you chuck her out? Hell, we’re all sleeping in her bed for a few more years.

Is the problem that the consortium who purchased the A's did such with land and property development on their mind from the start? Is there more money in construction than sport? That's entirely possible, and if that's the case - you are right, a new high-tech, upscale ballpark with a gated community, mixed retail and Silicon Valley ties in Fremont will work just fine, won't it? Yep, you’re right – if that’s their problem, Oakland won’t work.

Here’s another problem: in two short years, I'm afraid the new owners of the A's have already destroyed their core brand – they’ve certainly pissed off some of their core supporters, like myself. Contrast some of the opinions above with the community spirit expressed in "Rebels of Oakland," which just happened to re-run on HBO. When you have a core value as deep as that, you can modify it, capitalize upon it, but you never want to destroy it. Honest. Look at the other clubs with a similar great asset - the Yanks, the Red Sox, the Cubs.

Or perhaps the intention - the problem, once again - was to destroy that core brand, to start completely anew, with a brand new client base. That would make sense. That explains the rush to new land, last call on open space. The sign-spinners who will be dancing “affluent lifestyles” on sidewalks where nobody walks. That would explain the tarps. One can wave their hat and dismiss the "the race and class cards," but who once sat in those seats?

So there's your treatise, pro forma, 500-1000 words - I accepted that part of your challenge. But a new ballpark in Oakland? That part of your challenge rings false.

What's the problem? Or what are the problems? That's the very central question, and it deserves an honest answer before any stadium building plans should proceed. Unless that was the plan from the start. I'm on nobody's payroll, so I'm quite happy if this core question simply gets buried in this thread.

I can think of a ton of problems the A's can solve right now. In their current stadium, no less. All of you would be much, much happier if they began to focus on some of these very real problems first.

And, you know, Lew Wolfe and Bud Selig might even be happier, too.

I’ll even go for the extra credit:

Poll question:

I'm just a regular guy, but an expert baseball-watcher. I used to sit in the third deck. I really liked the view and the people up there. I could afford treating my friends to games, good games. People around us had fun, too.

_ That's your problem, deal with it

_ At least they could do is open up (some) of those sections again

_ They should give you the 3rd deck and see if you can run it at a profit

_ If I have an extra ticket going to waste, I'll treat you to a game (and I'd love to know about MLB game notes, and the best basketball in the city, too – act fast.)

Marine Layer said...

Sorry, this doesn't pass the smell test. Here's why.

Stick it to the man? You can't be serious. "The man" owns the team. We don't. So our personal preferences aren't applicable. You can slough the blame off on marketing or PR but you're just evading the question.

I wrote the "Deconstructing the Coliseum" series that goes over many, many reasons why you can't simply renovate it to make its problems go away. You can argue those points if you like but you'll be hard pressed to address them in a cost-effective manner.

I've already said earlier in the thread that the owners may make a profit, but they've been serious MLB underperformers for a decade and are perennial revenue sharing recipients to boot. They're obviously not losing money or bankrupting MLB, but they should be performing much better.

Regardless of what anyone feels about the Coliseum's state of affairs, ownership has been looking for a ballpark in earnest for 2 years now and has no sign of letting up. That can't be summarily dismissed. It has to be addressed. So the question remains.

Try again.

anon-a-mouse said...

That was a lot of words to say: "I like the Coliseum and don't think the A's need a new stadium." (Plus some comments about the third deck.) That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. I disagree, as do many other fans. But what really matters is that the A's and MLB disagree. They own and control the team and feel their business needs a new facility. That is reality, and it is indeed a problem if you want the A's to remain here. Please let fly with your solutions that keep the team in Oakland (ie: location and funding mechanism).

Anonymous said...

Mouse,

After the dust settles what exactly will be left of the Oakland A's as we now know them? By the way, are you a fan of the Oakland A's or just a fan of the A's regardless of what town they call home? Does the Oakland part of the equation have any meaning at all for you?

I suspect that most supporters of this move care very little about the linkage between the A's and the city of Oakland. Should the A's keep the name "Oakland" if they relocate to Fremont? Would you support that?

Those 40 years in Oakland mean very little to many people on this board. It really doesn't matter what they're called. The Silicon Valley A's, the San Jose A's, the CISCO A's, the Morgan Hill as of Fremont etc. That kind of disrespect to a city which hosted your team for nearly forty years is amazing. This isn't just about building a new ballpark. This is a complete makeover and relocation of one the more successful franchises in recent years. And the mere fact that the question of "what should we call them" even comes up is a slap in the face to the good folks of Oakland.

Dean M. said...

Well as only 27% of A's ticket sales come from Alameda county one could extrapolate that the people of Oakland are not overly excited about the A's.

I'd love the A's to stay in Oakland but it's too late ... the horse has bolted. The A's were doomed in Oakland when the Raiders came back.

The "Oakland only crowd" would be taken more seriously if they presented a financing plan and location rather than whining about the fans. Time to sh*t or get off the pot.

logic said...

"Try again."

I accepted your challenge. That response borders on insulting.

But that's okay. Pretty much expected here.

You clearly don't have enough experience with marketing to understand the difference between product and packaging, or how a successful organization builds relationships with its customers.

For example, how you handle folks on this blog. I’m essentially a customer, moreover one who was willing to provide you content for free. On the terms you dictated, including word count – I followed them to the dot. Better yet, if you were to realize it, someone who spends time on his writing, contributing an opposing point-of-view.

A blog is media, silly. If you want to create successful media, you'll need to learn some rules – such as don’t insult the audience. Otherwise your content becomes one-sided, undynamic, boring, and readership moves along. Unless you are satisfied preaching to your choir while enjoying the aroma of your collective farts.

Nope, in that context, I'll never pass your smell test. I wouldn’t want to, in fact.

To reiterate: "new stadium" is not the problem. It's a proposed solution.

If you can't define the real problem, you'll never be able to solve it.

I’ve never said once you can’t have a new stadium. You simply need to define the real problems. If the new stadium is the true answer to your problems, I’m happy to accept it. Break ground where you choose.

Just because the new ownership is intent on building a new stadium doesn’t define it as a problem, or a solution. In fact, this focus on building the new stadium/condo/retail complex could be perceived as having little or nothing to do with the sports franchise itself. Why did they really purchase this franchise? What is this field of dreams really about?

There’s no point arguing with a child who keeps whining that he wants a candy bar. Candy bar! Candy bar!

If I accept the fact that the problem is the kid wants a candy bar, and I give him one, I’m pretty much a failure as a parent, right?

If the kid is truly hungry, that would be a different story. That’s something a responsible parent would figure out.

Better, perhaps, to plop the kid in front of a TV:

Bert: "Hey, you've got a banana in your ear!"

Ernie: "What?"

Bert: "You've got a banana in your ear!"

Ernie: "What?"

Bert: "You've got a banana in your ear!"

Ernie: "What?"

Bert: "I said, YOU'VE GOT A BANANA IN YOUR EAR!"

Ernie: "What? I can't hear you; I've got a banana in my ear!"

Substitute “new stadium” for banana – you gotta spell out everything here. And you can deduct all the points you want for humor. I’ve done enough work in real world marketing to know how to succeed - keep your clients and customers happy, that’s rule number one.

Here’s a reply from a colleague in the marketing business, someone able to grasp the basic concepts, someone who I introduced to the A’s:

“I hope that posting is read - that was a very well constructed
argument - very well written in both style and substance - forward
any responses”

Okay, I’ll get out of your sandbox now. This sandbox is dull. Its premise is null.

Try again yourself.

Marine Layer said...

I admit it. I'm not a marketing guy. Never wanted to be one. I work in the B2B world, where I'm relied upon to provide effective solutions in a expeditious manner. Very little marketing involved. Excuse me for my ignorance.

I've never devoted a single post on this blog to marketing of the team. I'm not an arbiter of what makes a good ad campaign or good PR. I don't pretend to know that subject. And I'm not going to criticize the A's or any other team as a result. So honestly, I can't respond to your inquiry about marketing.

The blog has a single purpose - to present news and promote discussion about a new A's ballpark. Occasionally it gets into media matters and other area teams, but I generally remain focused on the original mission. This site is not a side business as I don't run ads. This is a public service. It's also a passion of mine. That's it.

So for you to in one fell swoop discount the concept of a new ballpark is to disregard virtually all of the 463 posts I've written over the past 2.5 years. If you don't want to see the purpose after I've written paragraph after paragraph on the subject, then I can't help you. Just as you can't help me with marketing. However, I have tackled issues such as "is this a ballpark or merely a sweetheart land deal?" I've discussed casual fan demographics and race matters. I've presented information that does not paint the A's in a favorable light. The sidebar and search box at the top are there if you want to check out the archives.

The funny thing is that I've presented point after point and you haven't actually provided a rebuttal. Instead, you've criticized me for how I handle anonymous commenters, analogized the ballpark quest with a juvenile temper tantrum, and assailed me because I clearly know nothing about marketing. I'm a numbers guy, so I'm quick with numbers to back me up in many debates yet you haven't attempted to look at those - which means you're definitely a marketing guy, I suppose.

Here's an idea. How about starting your own blog dissecting A's marketing's various gaffes and peccadilloes? I'm sure it'll be informative and perhaps entertaining - seriously. I'd like to understand it. The thing is whatever ails the A's in terms of selling their product isn't merely an A's phenomenon. I imagine it's endemic in many other markets and for other teams as well.

Now if you'd like to actually accept my challenge, please present something. If not, there's all sorts of space elsewhere to dispense your platitudes. 'kay?

gojohn10 said...

Personally, I frequent this blog because I've identified a problem. The A's ballpark is a dump. I used to not mind the negative aspects of the Coliseum’s multipurposeness when it had ice plants in the outfield and a beautiful view of the Oakland hills. However, thanks to the Raiders and the city of Oakland that stadium is gone. Whereas many parks add to the baseball experience, most notably the home of our competitor across the bay, the Coliseum takes away from it. Outside of nostalgia, the team itself, and the high proportion of die-hard fans at A’s games, there is nothing positive about watching a ballgame at the Coliseum these days. I will admit that public transit is a huge plus in favor of the Coliseum and, conversely, this is my biggest concern with Cisco Field. However, I believe the positive aspects of Cisco far outweigh the negatives. Not to mention it will keep the A’s in the Bay Area, improve their weak attendance figures, and help them field a competitive team. Unfortunately, the new ballpark solution works in Fremont and not Oakland. That is depressing because of the Oakland legacy, but the team survived for 68 years before moving to Oakland and dammit, I’m sick of Mt. Davis.

Anonymous said...

A ballpark is not a condo for the exclusive crowd. You're suppose to pay attention to what's happening on the field and not use the game as some sort of backdrop or background noise while you consume food, beverages and talk on your cell phone to your stock broker. Is baseball that boring of a sport that the fans need all these diversions?

Also, baseball is suppose to be representative of American culture. It should be available to every segment of society and not some exclusive club for the well-heeled.

This is what Wolff is in the process of doing. He's turning the Oakland Athletics into his personal high end country club and if your poor, or you belong to a church, or you work at a gas station, or you have a nail business, he doesn't want you within 20 miles of his good old boys club.

What a shame. This is what America's pass time has come too. And many of you on this board are the biggest cheerleaders for this ugly metamorphose.

Dean M. said...

The Coliseum isn't exactly cheap.

A family of four traveling from Concord by BART wishing to sit at Field Level would pay:

$28 for four BART tickets
$128 for four Field Level tickets.
Add $30 for food and drinks
and you're talking about $186 to watch a ball game.

The poor were frozen out of baseball a long time ago.

Jeff P said...

Anonymous,

Do you have any idea of how baseball came to be? Originally, in the late 1800's baseball was a game played by men for recreational purposes. Gentleman's clubs (read country clubs) began assembling teams to play against each other for the purpose of betting on the outcome. This is why baseball teams are referred to as "clubs" and not "teams". In the fullness of time these gentlemen began pursing the better players to play for their club...and paying them to do so. As the sport garnered more interest it suddenly occurred to these gentlemen that they could charge people for the right to watch the games. Thus was born MLB.

There is really nothing new under the sun. For all that baseball has changed over the years, it's still the same concept that caused it to be formed that drives it today. I'm sorry if this brings disillusionment to your idea of Americana, but it is what it is. Wolfe is doing nothing to the city of Oakland or poor people in general. He's not a monster bent on hurting anyone. He's just another businessman in a long string of them marketing baseball. Trying to demonize him is pointless and stupid.