27 August 2008

Wolff/AN Part III - Funding matter debunked?

Part III is the meaty part of the interview, with a lot more insight into the process than had been previously available anywhere. Read it.

One of the items covered is a question about the credit crunch and whether or not it affects financing of the ballpark:

Blez: I've read where people have said that this project is becoming a bit more of a nightmare because of the downturn in the real estate market. Because so much of this project was dependent on the real estate built around it, and I know that you were planning on having commercial and residential around it to fund things. Is that an accurate statement to make?

Wolff: No, for a couple of reasons. We are not foolish enough to go into any long-term project with only one option in terms of how we finance it. Somebody thinks we are, then they're wrong. So the housing element was critical and interesting, and we don't know that if by the time we get going again that it won't be booming again. We've got some other options which I'd prefer not to discuss but they're logical business options. And we have our own resources. So we're not without capital if we need to do something. Listen 3,000 townhomes don't sell in 20 minutes even in a good market. So it's a matter of how you flow funds. The best part about us is that we can say if it takes an extra five years to sell these homes, we'll bridge it now and you can take us out when that happens. You know, things like that.

I can't tell you how happy I am to be wrong on this point. It's something that I opined about many moons ago, followed by the mainstream press picking it up. It's easy to get caught up in looking at the market as a problem since frequent doom-and-gloom coverage makes it convenient to do so.

There's plenty of additional grist in the interview, whether you want to talk about the A's leaving, territorial rights, why it didn't work in Oakland, etc. Comment away.

Fantastic work, Blez.


Anonymous said...

typical wolff crap.

seems like he'd up and move the team to vegas in a heartbeat if he could ... and I'm not so sure he wouldn't be better off.

no doubt vegas fans would support the team better than in oakland or fremont.

Marine Layer said...

Lots of teams would consider Vegas if they could. Problem is they can't.

No one's getting a free $1 billion domed stadium there. The casinos are more interested in building arenas because they're better suited for different types of events. They're on the record as being against public financing, and what they say goes.

As for Vegas fans? I'd be surprised if they could sustain more than 5000 non-corporate season ticket holders.

Anonymous said...

5000 season ticket holders is what the a's get right now ... give or take.

Marine Layer said...

Doesn't say much for either city, does it?

Anonymous said...

sure doesn't.

but my bet is with the congestion near any fremont ballpark, season tickets in year 2 and beyond would not be greater than in oakland.

swpzell said...

Why do you blame the "city." That's like saying "customers don't buy our product because customers suck."

Why don't you point blame at the product and its marketing instead?

David said...

Let's not kid ourselves. Wolff is first and foremost a real estate developer. Buying the A's has always been part of a real estate development scheme for him. Oakland was never going to approve a ballpark anywhere, even if it was privately funded, and Wolff never had any interest in a real estate vanture in Oakland. So he put together some proposals that he knew were never going to fly, and then when they didn't, he moved on with his plan.

San Jose was the prize he had his eyes on, but that was going to take too long for him to accomplish, even with his frat buddy Bud Selig in his pocket. So he went with what he thought was the next best, easiest alternative - an undeveloped parcel in Fremont.

Wolff will never build just a ballpark. It has to be part of a larger development scheme. Yeah, you have to think long-term, but there are a lot of real estate developments out there, even in the Bay Area, that were poorly thought out and executed.

This is one of them. This location is a terrible place for a major league ballpark. It's a terrible place for housing. Wolff just wants to be as close to Silicon Valley as he can be because he thinks the residents there will pay more money to see the A's than Oaklanders will. He's probably right about that, but I don't think people are willing to pay top dollar just to live near a ballpark, especially when there really isn't much else around.

This whole thing is not about the A's, or baseball. It's about making money off the A's. Unfortunately, our team has been nothing but a bargaining chip since Connie Mack sold his interest.

Anonymous said...

Vegas is mostly out of towners there for a good time. The working class there, who would have to make up the LONG TERM bread and butter fan , is made up mostly of folks who couldn't make it in LA, California,elsewhere , struggling for affordable housing , who bought a home with an Ok casino or costruction job there in the boom of the past 10 years ,but now trapped in sup prime debacle .
Not a place I would move a team if I'm an owner .

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Wolff come accross as a sleazly little used car dealer who is intent on selling you a lemon?

- Ralph J.

Zonis said...

It would be interesting if you could give a complete analysis on the Wolff Interviews, at least pertaining to the relevent questions regarding the Stadium, Marketing, TV/Radio situations, ML. I think you are much more adept at reading between the lines than us.

Speaking of Radio, he did say something very interesting when he was talking about spending money on the right things; "So if we need a better radio station and we get one, I say, give me a check mark or a plus for that one."

That he brought up radio specifically with no prompting is intriuiging to me. Are the A's indeed still searching for a high power station to buy themselves and turn into a second Bay Area sports station? Expounding on that, would it make sense to try to create a West Coast Wide Sports Station with a string of stations all along the West Coast, playing A's games, while spending the rest of the time talking about West Coast Sports (with A's as a primary theme).

Anonymous said...

Hey, why didn't my post on Wolff reminding me of a used car salesman show up?

Do you guys selectively post ... only things flattering make the cut?


Marine Layer said...

Commenters need to have patience. I'm not checking this site every 5 minutes and I'm not always in a place where I can moderate and reply.

I'll provide a full analysis after tomorrow's interview part 4.

Anonymous said...

David hit the nail SQUARELY on the head! These are points that I've felt strongly about all along, namely ...

- Wolff never, ever was serious about putting a ballpark in Oakland and was never upfront about this

- Fremont is a terrible location for a new ballpark due to traffic and access problems (no convenient public transit options)

- Fremont is a terrible location for housing of this type ... who in their right mind would want to pay top dollar for a small condo in a fake city with nothing to do but shop at tommy bahama and get a smoothie at jamba juice?

- Wolff constantly talks about how this is the smallest 2-team market out there and cries poor. Moving south won't solve this problem. I think he'd be better off expanding Railey Field ... the a's and rivercats could then switch venues.

reztips said...

Wolff's desire to have the A's on a TV outlet where they don't play second fiddle to the Gnats is indeed important. But of still greater significance would be to hire broadcasters who are real professionals.

My friends and I find Glenn Kuiper insufferable. His predilection to segue from the playing field to signs, fans eating, and other inanities reflect someone who needs to fill in trivia to substitute for lacking a genuine knowledge of the game.

As for Ray Fosse, he is your quintessential "homer," long on excuses for the home team and short on analysis. That may fly in the Midwest, but it simply won't do out here.

Kuiper and Fosse are so awful that I have taken to taping games and fast forwarding them from pitch to pitch to avoid the sportscasters' monumental ineptitude.

On the radio side, Korach is priceless. Unfortunately, Vince Cotroneo personifies the mediocre. I have to listen to the crowd response to find out what is happening, for by the time Cotroneo describes the action, it is long over.

As for Robert Buan on the post game show, he is the very personification of the term "amateur." One would think that Buan would be an embarrassment to the team, yet for some reason he has been on the air for several years. For this, there can be no rational explanation.

While sportscasters can't be credited or faulted for a team's overall attendance, they can be cited for keeping the fans interested over the long season. Lon Simmons and Bill King were able to do this, even during lean years. Kuiper, Fosse, Cotroneo and the excremental Buan greatly detract from an appreciation of the A's. Ownership can find far better professionals at the cost of a tiny percentage of signing a free agent hitter...

Marine Layer said...

reztips, I rejected your first comment because I can't have every thread turn into a bash-Oakland session. Enough.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, reztips, you nailed Cotroneo. That's exactly what I do, listen for the crowd reaction because you know what happened long before he finally spits it out.

BTW, so glad to see all the tin-foil hat wearing crowd is still around.

Anonymous said...

Ralph J. ... I'm with you - Wolff looks like a little carpet-bagger only interested in swindling his millions from the taxpayers - oh, wait a minute ...

Anonymous said...

"- Fremont is a terrible location for housing of this type ... who in their right mind would want to pay top dollar for a small condo in a fake city with nothing to do but shop at tommy bahama and get a smoothie at jamba juice?"

Other than parts of Berkeley,Lake Merritt,Sausalito,parts of SF and maybe a bit of central Los Gatos ,Danville ,Palo Alto and Burlingame , with scatterred pockets of older wealthier " leafy " neighborhoods , most of the rest of this area is not much different from Fremont . Which itself is not mush different from similar suburban areas all around the country that have seen a trend to faux " front porch"-style planned self contained and walkable massive developments planted right smack dab in the middle of otherwise suburban sprawl .

If I'm a Silicon Valley worker bee a few years from now looking at $4 gas commuting 3-4 hours a day to " sub-prime land " in Tracy/Mountain House/Patterson or 30 minutes to a " faux " Wrigleyville ( the Ballpark Village in Fremont ) where I can park the hybrid and spend the whole weekend on foot or bike - and with NOTHING else to comp this replica " South of Market/Mission Bay /ATT Park "lifestyle anywhere near Silicon Valley , it's gonna be a very high demand and profitable development . That's why there is a $500 million commitment from some extremely wealthy and savvy families and several long time developer families from San Jose whose roots date back to their grandparents' ownership of orchard lands and canneries 60 years ago.

Also , don't forget this is to be " Cisco Field " and you can bet it's execs stand on their kids' soccer fields with other Silicon Valley CEOs/CFOs/VP/VCs who will be encouraged to jump on the sponsorship/corporate luxury box bandwagon at the new ballpark.

Jesse said...

to all Giant fans that post on this site as anonymous, i know what your problem is. You fear the A's progress, you fear that this will always be a 2 team market. You dont want there to be an equal playing field between the two teans for attracting fans. And this is how you express that.

To all you Oakland or bust fans, I'll see you in Fremont :-) You know you love the Green and Gold. You know you swell with pride when you see old Highlights or Reggie and Rickey and Stew and Huddy. Come on, just be happy theyre staying in the BAY.

Tony D. said...

Looking forward to your analysis ma~nana! However, let me get it started. Chances of staying in Bay Area without Fremont very high? Major League Baseball wants A's to stay in Bay Area? (possibly) Opening up the A's territories in some manner? Alternative ways of financing ballpark? Very, very interesting...

Anonymous said...

Ever hopefull eh Tony? I think your optimism may very well be warranted. For all intents and purposes, Fremont is San Jose as far as the A's are concerned. I have no doubt Wolfe would have jumped feet first into San Jose if at all possible. Fremont will have to do, for a lot of reasons....up until the minute those reasons are no longer fiscally relevant. Selig would be perfectly content for the A's to remain in the Bay. In fact, I imagine it's his first choice. But not Oakland....and not because he harbors the city any ill will. It's a straight up business decision. Get a little distance between the two Bay franchises so as to reduce the friction of going head to head with each other. Seems smart enough to me. One markets to the central population core while the other focuses on the larger population base in the south bay.

There may be hope yet for you Tony!

Anonymous said...

Wonder why some people think that you have to either be a) an oakland or bust lunatic, or b) a Giants fan if you have the gall to point out that this fremont plan is seriously flawed???

If you can't see how this plan presents serious traffic and access problems which will threaten the long-term viablity of the ballpark, then I guess you must be drinking from the same wolff koolaid as other folks I've encountered.

Marine Layer said...

All right, smart guy, here's your shot. You come here blasting the same crap over and over again, now you can back it up.

I'm laying down the same kind of challenge I did regarding an Oakland ballpark plan. Lay out the entire case as to why the plan presents serious traffic and access problems. I'll give you an entire post (or series of posts if necessary) unedited.

There are two rules. First, the post must be at least 500 words. Second, you must cite at least two pieces of recent (within the last decade) statistical data to back you up. That's all. Comply with those two rules and I'll post it unedited. You can email me at marinelayer at gmail dot com.

Keep in mind that if you submit a bunch of gibberish or swear words, I'll keep that in there just to show how ridiculous you look.

I await your reply.

Anonymous said...

ooh, wow, what a tempting offer ... get published on a site as famous as this one? I shudder to think of how much an honor this is!

but I don't need 500 words ... again, if you or your fellow wolffian kool aid drinkers cannot understand the FACT that this proposal lacks any sort of convenient public transportation option for fans - as wolff himself said was a requirement for any ballpark in the east bay some time ago - then I cannot help you.

funny how you act as if I'm some sort of lonely voice out there ... plenty of columnists have cited the same thing time and again.

when this plan finally blows up due to this issue as well as financing ones, I'll be sitting back, laughing at you all!

Marine Layer said...

All hat, no cattle. That's all I have to say.

Mike D. said...

but rhamesis you dont have any facts anyway....just your own analysis that you put out there to premote your fremont is that any different??

Marine Layer said...

When I've talked about the traffic and transit situation, I've always used the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's statistics and data, always the most recent possible. I visited the MTC library in Oakland a few weeks ago to look at their archives. When I discuss economics I go with the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. And when I discuss development I take cues from sources in companies that do similar types of projects.

This blog isn't some 30-second post every other day situation. I research everything as thoroughly as I can. Then I analyze, because nobody else will do it - at least not on a consistent basis. I am an A's fan, not an "insert city name here" A's fan. If I were truly looking for my own self-interest, I'd criticize the Fremont plan and promote San Jose, where the ballpark site is a 20 minute walk from my house.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. Other blow hards talk out of their ass too. That sure makes your point stronger, anon 2:17.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the only FACT (boy, all caps sure does make my point stronger!) is that you haven't seen the transportation plan because it hasn't been published yet.