03 June 2007

Praise from afar

South Florida Sun-Sentinel baseball columnist Mike Berardino praised the A's ballpark plans and thinks the Marlins should consider downsizing its planned 38,000-seat ballpark in an effort to to reduce their current $30 million funding gap. Not a bad idea, IMHO. It doesn't resolve the need for a retractable roof in the Miami area, but that's another kettle of fish.

Berardino goes on to laud other aspects of the project:
Another aspect of the A's plan that is refreshing is the limited reliance on public funds.

Wolff, 69, has already secured purchasing rights for 226 acres that would be used for the proposed Ballpark Village. The A's new home would eat up $450 million of the planned $1.8 billion redevelopment deal, a project that would include a hotel, nearly 3,000 luxury townhouses and 550,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

There is also talk of an A's-funded school on the property.

The club would fund the vast majority of that overhaul. No bond issues. No grab for general funds.

"I'm basically a developer that does urban redevelopment," Wolff said. "I've learned over the years, the more cookies you take out of the public jar, the sicker you get. It's really good for the public and private side to minimize trying to use funds that can go to other priorities."

Now you might say Wolff has little choice but to go this route after the Giants built their new home across the bay without taxpayer assistance, but it's still nice to hear such straight talk from a member of baseball's ownership fraternity.
Talk of an A's-funded school? If there's one thing that could really make the project a winner, that's it. That said, let's wait to find out the true infrastructure costs before declaring it a no-brainer.