20 February 2008

Stepping up in Florida

In a recent St. Pete Times update on the Rays' downtown ballpark proposal, I noticed the following passage:

The money would come from a private team loan, Rays senior vice president of development Michael Kalt said. The Rays previously had planned to pay the city $10-million a year in rent payments to cover a third of the $450-million stadium cost.

Changes in Major League Baseball revenue and accounting rules allowed the Rays to reconsider how they paid their part of ballpark construction.

This caught me off guard. I'm trying to find out more about this. UPDATE: I got a clarification from the writer, Aaron Sharockman. MLB now allows teams to pay teams to put in their contribution against revenue sharing upfront. My take on this is presumably, a team could choose to amortize this over several years so that it hits as part of the "stadium operating expenses" revenue sharing deduction.

On the other side of the swamp,
details are trickling out about the Marlins' ballpark financing plan. The Sun-Sentinel has come out in favor of the plan, its argument being, "If it doesn't get done with this deal it won't get done at all." Now that's a sales pitch for ya.


Anonymous said...

anthony dominguez

So R.M., is the Rays proposed financing method now the same as the Giants and AT&T Park (paying a yearly debt service for the private loan over a number of years)? And are the A's, despite the large development at Pacific Commons, going to need a similar private loan for construction of Cisco Field?

Marine Layer said...

Not quite, since the deduction isn't based on typical debt service. In this case they might get the proceeds for the $150 million loan quickly. Their issue might be that they want to spread out the deduction. This would be very similar to what the A's are pursuing, but the A's would be doing this on a larger scale.

Anonymous said...

This piece from Miami Today has more details of the plan:

Tourism tax funding, parking fees key elements of new stadium deal

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the Rays are playing in their new ballpark for many, many years before the a's are.

Anonymous said...

anthony dominguez

Hey R.M.,
Read the latest from Barry Witt regarding the proposed soccer stadium in today's Merc? Supposedly, the land conversion at IStar will hurt the city's general fund (Witt's obviously against the soccer stadium plan; as he was the SJ ballpark plan...I don't think Barry was very good at sports growing up). Anyhow, the article states that the conversion/rezoning will cost the city's operating budget "$100K to $1.1 million" annually. Yet the same article states that the soccer stadium, and FMC development, will contribute $49-62 million annually to San Jose's economy. Come again Barry? Considering that Fremont is smaller than SJ and Pacific Commons/Cisco Field a much grander development than FMC/Soccer...Thank God Barry Witt doesn't write for The Argus!

Marine Layer said...

There is a difference between city budgetary impact - the $100K-$1 million total - and economic impact, which covers various forms of consumption.

Put it this way: I tend to take economic impact numbers with several grains of salt.

Anonymous said...

anthony dominguez

Grains of salt well taken Rhamesis. But still, let's say the actual EI amount is $20 million annually to local economy; I still believe that somewhere that $100K-1.1 million will be covered. Witt also assumes a larger police and fire presence will be needed for Wolff's IStar development, which will further drain the city's budget; he's not planning public housing/Section 8 towers in Edenvale, is he? R.M., if you apply Witt's soccer formula to Cisco Field/Pac Commons, Fremont most likely could go bankrupt when the A's come to town.

Jeffrey said...

Funny, the rays financing plan is based on the A's plan.

James said...

Anon 12:15 said: The real estate scam Wolff is trying to pull over should surprise nobody in professional sports. Wolff used the A's as a front to buy land from an ailing Cisco and its management.

James replies: Wrong! First off, Cisco was not, and is not now, "ailing." Second, Wolff did not buy the land from Cisco because Cisco did not own it. The successful Silicon Valley company leased the land from Pro Logis, a large real estate company spun off from Southern Pacific. Wolff assumed Cisco's land lease and purchased exercised the the purchase option. Be that is it may, please explain who you think Wolff is scamming and how, and please back your assertions with facts.

Anon 2:15 asserts: If Fremont will stop the process by just asking the question - 'What do we get out of this besides window dressing?' this will all be over.

James replies: What Fremont is getting out of this is high-end retail that it has been trying to attract to the city for years, white-tablecloth restaurants which it also has been trying to attract, a high-end boutique hotel, national recognition as being one of only 31 MLB venues, and the sales, lodging, and property taxes that go along with all of the above. Fremont is also getting parks and the ability to utilize the stadium for civic activities on non-game days. Fremont is getting a development it can be proud of. It's laughable how you OAFC idiots find fault in the venue going to Fremont and present a veiled "half glass emply" argument, yet you wouldn't be putting forth such pathetic arguments had the A's decided to do an itentical project in Oakland. Taken at face value, if you really believed your remarks, one would think you'd be happy to get rid of the A's. Rest assured, however that the City is looking at this project very carefully and asking questions of Wolff to make sure it gets done right. In any event, thank you for your concern.

Anon 2:15 states: The Keebler Elf is a prick. Stating that the A's just won't stay in Oakland provides us the opportunity to label him the douche bag he is. His son Keith, who is heading the scam, then would be the douche nozzle.

James replies: Calling him names does nothing to advance your argument or to give it any semblance of credibility. One of the reasons he stopped working with Oakland is because Oakland's former mayor didn't want the project. If the elected leader of the city won't work with the A's, what is Wolff to do? Stay in a crappy stadium that can't compete with the shiny new masterpiece across the bay? Bow to the almighty Raiders when that team uses the Coliseum about 1/8th of the time that the A's do? You've got to be kidding me! Oakland had and has bigger problems than losing the A's, and your loss doesn't make Wolff a scam artist, a douchbag, or a Keebler elf. Get over it already. If you don't like the loss of the A's, try to do something constructive to make a major league baseball team want to locate in the city.

Anon 2:15 claims: Drive along the freeways in Oakland and near Emeryville and you can spot a half dozen sites that would house a ballpark. Abandoned warehouses. Rusted train yard. It can all be had for a tenth of the price the A's paid Cisco.

James replies: Really? Wolff can't just drive down the freeway and say "Geez, I think I'll build my ballpark there" with no sayso from the owners or the city. First, there has to be sufficient land to build not only the ballpark, but the village and housing (those pesky little details that are paying for the stadium) as well parking. Second, and as I have said multiple times before, if the area is under multiple ownership, he would have to get each and every owner to sell to him or undergo eminent domain proceedings which would add years (and millions of dollars) onto the project. Third, assuming the property consists of a bunch of warehouses or run-down structures, he would have to remove all of them and haul the debris away. Fourth, it's likely that some of them may have toxic waste issues that would need to be dealt with. Add to that the insurmountable issue that Jerry Brown didn't want the A's, it is unlikely that he would have done what the city needed to do to prosecute the eminent domain proceedings in the first place. Your argument fails.

Anon 2:15 says: The long and short of it is that Wolff is going to be 79 years old this year. How much money does a dying man need? The stadium would only profit ownership and not do a single thing as far as the product the A's put on the field. A legacy would be keeping the A's in Oakland and building a jewel out of a tarnished landscape doomed by changes in the business world. Sheer greed would to build a shopping mall and condos surrounding a half-baked ballpark.

James replies: Okay, the age thing is about the most stupid thing I've seen on this board, and belive me, I've seen some pretty stupid arguments. If you followed in a level-headed manner, you would know that Wolff isn't doing this to profit, based on the fact that he's building a masterpiece stadium without taxpayer dollars (contrast that with Oakland and Alameda County getting stuck with the bill for "updating" that monstrosity called the Coliseum). He's building the village to pay for the ballpark. If he's doing this whole thing for money, there are a lot better ways to make a lot more profit than he stands to make in Fremont. And to rebut your argument that the stadium would do nothing to improve the A's standing, this too is absurd. By moving the A's to Fremont, they stand to increase corporate sponsorships (they've already got a major one... Cisco) as well as ticket sales (which have been pathetic in Oakland). The stadium will also improve revenue streams from leasing consession facilities. Add these together, and the team can increase its payroll budget, which means attracting better players and retaining the great rookies it already has. As for your legacy assertion, it too is absurd. The United States has a legacy of slavery. Does that make it right? Of course not! We've progressed and the A's are now trying to make progress in their standings and in their image. They've decided to do so in a city that will support them, and yet within the region that has supported them. The Oakland miniker notwithstanding, the A's belong to the region. This move is brilliantly planned to make the team a financial powerhouse which in turn will afford it the opportunity to become a successful franchise that the entire region can be proud of.

Marine Layer said...

No need for caps, Rob, but thanks.

Attention trolls - from here on out all of your snide remarks will be deleted posthaste. No need to check if they're going to show up - they won't. Have fun trolling somewhere else.

James said...

Wahooo! No more typers cramp for me!!!

Transic said...

At the very least, the A's ownership is putting in some risk in order to make this proposed development a reality. From first glance, the Fremont plan might turn out to be a success. While the location is not optimal, it is in the middle of an affluent area in the most populous state of the Union. If you're a business, you would want to do business in a state with the most people with a relative affluence above the national average. The A's could remain in Oakland and be OK but imagine how much more competitive they can be and how many more titles they might win utilizing the same baseball philosophy with some more dollars that can be accessed.

That's why they want this to succeed. Then again, it's an opinion coming from an outsider.

Oh, and more Florida news:

FC said...


In an interview with the CC Times, Lew Wolff made the following statement:

"But Monday he said he's hopeful an environmental impact study can be completed and that the project gains approval from the Fremont City Council sometime this year"

How realistic is this? I thought the report itself would take at least a year, and then there would need to be a series of public hearings.

Marine Layer said...

I think Wolff's still working from the assumption that much of the original EIR can be used. But as noted in the consultant Q&A, they cautioned that because of the original EIR there's a lot of assessment "rework" to be done, which is different from a normal EIR study. So it really depends on how long it'll take to wrap all of that up. They may be largely finished with it now (I doubt it), they may be done in June. After the notice of preparation, then everything tends to go a certain schedule for review and certification. The public comment period could be 2-3 months, publishing the final EIR could easily take upwards of another 3 months.

Anonymous said...

Are we free to post dissenting opinions?

Marine Layer said...

Absolutely. I encourage reasoned debate. Just stay away from trolling.

Anonymous said...

anthony dominguez,

I read that to and thought "approval this year?" Perhaps Mr. Wolff's comments were intended to be a moral booster to those who are now doubting the Fremont plan. In any case, I wouldn't expect any approval until a year from now (at least).

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why Glenn Dickey insists that the A's Fremont plan is "ill-considered" as mentioned in a recent column ...

"We have learned over the last few decades that baseball parks need to be downtown, as the Giants park is and the ill-considered project for an A's park in Fremont is not."

Anonymous said...

Dickey, like many, believe that to be successful in the long run, ballparks must be in downtown city centers and have convenient public access. A fool I guess.

Marine Layer said...

It's too bad Dickey doesn't consider what it takes to get a ballpark built. Everything else makes for nice PR.

Jeffrey said...

Since when is Dickey and expert on anything?

The guy is a newspaper columnist who says things to stir the drink. I personally love the dude, but he isn't usually right in any provable way, just opinionated.

The Angels seem to do fine in a suburban park with no mass transit. Likewise the Rangers.

Question, how many parks are located in downtown's? How many have mass transit?

I know ML has posted a chart about this before, it'd be nice to see again. I don't think a lot of teams do have downtown stadiums with mass transit.

Jeffrey said...

So I was thinking about it... how far is BART from AT&T park? 1 mile per google maps.

You can then take MUNI to the stadium...

How is this any different than taking BART to the eventual Warm Springs station and catching a bus the last mile?

Additionally, wouldn't traffic be worse on the freeway and surface streets when comparing China Basin to Pacific Commons? I have only driven to a game there once, and I never plan on doing that again.

SO wouldn't transportation, eventually with Warm Springs BART, be better than at China Basin?

I am asking, not telling.

bartleby said...

Sheesh, that Dickey column was pretty much discredited when it originally ran. We have to go through this again?

Dickey is another arm-waver. He cites no facts whatsover for his proposition that "We have learned over the last few decades that baseball parks need to be downtown," just as anon cites no facts to support the notion that "to be successful in the long run, ballparks must be in downtown city centers and have convenient public access." (Hey, maybe Dickey is one of these arm-waving anon posters...)

In fact, there are plenty of facts to the contrary. Many of MLB's attendance leaders have suburban ballparks, including the Angels, Dodgers, and Brewers. Many others are not located in downtown areas, such as the Yankees, Mets, and Phillies. The Rangers are not an attendance leader, but maintain solid middle of the road attendance after many years in their suburban ballpark. The Royals achieve almost the same attendance in an old suburban ballpark as the Pirates do in a beautiful, new, downtown ballpark. (Not impressive numbers for either team, but the common denominator there is terrible product on the field).

Let's face facts: The A's do not have an urban ballpark NOW. Not in a meaningful sense, the way that makes Petco/Wrigley/AT&T etc. special. In fact, the Coliseum has the worst of both worlds: an isolated location in an ocean of parking lots with no restaurants or bars nearby like a suburban site plus the ugliness and crime one can only find in an urban industrial neighborhood. The real question isn't why would someone accept a suburban locations, but why, knowing that a downtown ballpark is currently a non-starter, would anyone prefer to perpetuate the current situation?

Bottom line: A downtown location for a ballpark is preferable, but far from an economic imperative.

Anonymous said...

Jeff - if you really believe that, then I have a plot of land for you to buy in Vallejo that's pretty cheap. Oh my god, do you not know of Caltrain that let's passengers off within 1 block of AT&T park? Did you not know that the muni system in SF is pretty well established means of transportation that is quite efficient due to it being in a major metropolitan area? Did you not know that the freeway access to AT&T is extremely efficient? Did you not know that traffic moves in and out of AT&T area quite efficiently, due in part to many folks stopping at nearby restaurants before and after the game? Oh my god!!!

Anonymous said...

After an A's game , what's the big difference between walking 600 feet to the BART station at the Coliseum or walking to the exit at Cisco Field and climbing aboard fleets of free shuttles to the future Warm Springs BART Station .
You could stay and hang around the Ballpark Village for shopping ,dining or drinking .
Hang around the Coliseum neighborhood after a night game only if you are looking to buy drugs or get mugged .

Tony D. said...

I finally signed up R.M.

As much as I would have liked to see a major league ballpark in downtown San Jose (I still dream of watching a game, cold GB Pilzner in hand, under the warm San Jose sun), I also agree that a ballpark (and the given team) doesn't have to be downtown to be successful. The White Sox, Marlins, and Angels are recent winners of the WS, and their yards aren't close to being in a city center. Would teams, and their owners, prefer to be in a downtown setting vs. suburban...probably. But in short, I think downtowns need ballparks/teams more than the teams need downtowns (did that make sense?). Anyhow, enjoy the rain all.

bartleby said...

Tony, you hit the nail right on the head. The fact that Cisco Field will not be in either downtown Oakland or downtown San Jose is a missed opportunity for the cities much more than for the team.

Jeffrey said...

So how did any of that answer my question?

I have taken BART and then MUNI to ball games at AT&T Park. It takes a while. I have also ridden from San Mateo to San Francisco on Cal Train. Not as convenient as BART as far as schedule goes, but it drops you off nearby sure. Why wouldn't Amtrak trains working to shuttle folks from the Tri Valley and San Jose serve the same purpose?

I have driven to games a AT&T Park (it was called SBC park then). It didn't seem that efficient to me. But for argument's sake, if it is about planning for an efficient traffic flow to a stadium using the existing freeways... how is that not possible in Fremont?

I guess, the idea of people hanging around the site to eat, drink and be merry is an argument in favor of Pacific Commons rather than the Coliseum?

Anonymous said...

Guess what the Giants want to do with those large parking lots south of their stadium ? Yup, build housing , retail and entertainment , i.e., a BALLPARK VILLAGE , to capture those dollars . They know LW is on to a trend that's happening all over the country near ballparks .

Anonymous said...

Hey Anthony ... I saw your letter to Dickey this morning ... your letter and his response sure makes you look silly!!!

What a naive chap you are ... ha!

Anonymous said...


Maybe Tony is naive and maybe he isn't. But I'm betting he will soon be living closer to a MLB park than you.

Marine Layer, I'm glad you have decided to filter some of the garbage that these idiots spew on your site. I visit here frequently because you seem to have a handle on this whole ballpark process and welcome alternate opinions as well as thoughtful input. Your hard work is appreciated.


Anonymous said...


hmmm ... closer to a ballpark?? perhaps if he lives in Tampa!

Anonymous said...

We'll see. It's a sure thing that he doesn't live in Oakland.


Anonymous said...

The A's are not going to be named San Jose.