18 November 2008

Revised Plan and Notice of Preparation submitted

Early today, the A's submitted their long awaited Notice of Preparation, along with a revised site plan. This time, the site plan is much shorter, as it acts mostly as an addendum to address concerns about traffic and parking:
  • Parking for fans at The Fountains Business Park (north of Auto Mall Parkway) has been eliminated. Instead, the A's aim to replace 2,600 spaces there with a similar number east of 880. Fans would access the ballpark and village via a pedestrian bridge over the freeway. The purpose is to mitigate congestion at Auto Mall. The parcels haven't been acquired by Wolff/Fisher, instead they intend to work with area businesses and landowners to provide the spaces. The Fountains would still be used for employee parking. The plan provides scenarios in which the "East of 880" parking is used either immediately or in the long term as major development is completed.
  • The three primary stadium lots would provide 10,990 spaces. This includes the "Interim Lot" immediately to the south of the ballpark. Given the likely delays in housing development, this lot may be less interim than previously planned. In addition, the "Municipal Lot" along Auto Mall near the railroad tracks is planned to have 2,500 spaces.
  • Traffic routing has been designed to direct cars from specific exits to specific lots. Some of the streets would be designed or widened to include center reversible lanes, which would change direction before and after games. Electronic signage from the freeway and arteries and optimized signal timing would help control traffic management, similar to the system used for HP Pavilion.
  • The A's would staff a parking monitoring system (tire chalking) which would identify violators, including frequent ones. A sort of soft validation system would be instituted, in which repeat violators would be warned after the second offense, and towed or booted after the third (I am refraining from the obvious sports metaphor).
The deceptively eye-popping takeaway from the plan is that a project alternative will be included that decouples the ballpark from the rest of the development, placing Cisco Field near the planned Warm Springs BART station. This should not be interpreted as a preference, as the whole, contiguous plan is obviously more synergistic. Still, having the alternative should make for some interesting discussion on this site and others - I didn't see it coming. The A's have not bought any of the land surrounding the BART station. It is not clear that any area landowners have any interest in selling to the A's. NUMMI, in particular, may look at the ballpark's location and use as a threat to their operations, for reasons discussed previously.

The City of Fremont has scheduled a community workshop for Monday, December 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The session will be held at the usual location, City Hall's Council Chambers.

Interested parties can start submitting comments on the Notice of Preparation immediately, they have until December 18 at 4 p.m. to submit comments. Keep in mind that this is not the EIR. Instead the comments will help guide the Draft EIR, which may not be released until early spring.

Checking the couch cushions for financing

The Merc has a piece covering the three local stadium projects: Lew Wolff's A's and Quakes stadia, and the 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara. We've discussed at some length the impact of the economic collapse and its impact on Cisco Field. While proceeds from housing sales will have to be pushed back while the market becomes friendly again, Wolff doesn't appear to be appreciably scaling back the vision, as he is with the Quakes' next home. From the article:
In a bid to wait out the real estate markets, he'll tap other sources of cash, including private investors, parking fees and naming rights. On Monday, he hired the William Morris Agency to help identify a naming rights sponsor.
Naming rights to the stadium have already been sold, so that's not under consideration. However, just about every other piece of the stadium can be sponsored, from suite concourses to kids' play areas to the press box and broadcast booths. Every vertical surface that could be picked up on camera could have electronic or rotating signage. It wouldn't surprise me if the concourses had numerous interactive displays for sponsors, or a show car parked beyond the outfield fence somewhere. If you're worried that the ballpark itself was going to go mallpark, you have reason. It's important to keep in mind that things have already been trending in this direction for some time. The sad truth is that these days it will take these kinds of efforts to pay for construction and keep the team from carrying a massive mortgage.