10 February 2007

Keeping up with the Joneses - Winter '07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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