08 December 2008

Workshop: Setting the stage

Tonight was spent mostly observing various people's responses to the displays and the back-and-forth with representatives of Fremont and LSA Associates, the firm conducting the environmental impact report. Keith Wolff was also in the house.

The largest crowd was gathered around the image above, and for good reason. Many of those in attendance were residents of that neighborhood across 680 from Warm Springs. They are going to be there tomorrow, and they will have numbers. The session tomorrow is shaping up to be an interesting contrast of constituent groups. We'll see four types of comments:
  • NIMBY types from the Mission San Jose neighborhood. Regardless of which parcel in Warm Springs could be chosen for an alternate ballpark site, many of those residents will protest vigorously.
  • Ballpark supporters who prefer the baseball village in its original, whole form.
  • Transportation advocates who would like to see the decoupled village/ballpark concept as shown above.
  • Environmentalists who don't want to see development endanger the adjacent wetlands.
It's hard to say which group will be more prominent. I'll make an informal tally while I'm there. A warning about that - the session tomorrow is only an hour long, and even if they devote the entire hour to public comments (which they won't), only 30 or so comment slots will be available to speakers. Commenters are encouraged to use either the written comment forms or contact project principals via e-mail. From a process standpoint, public comments all get the same treatment and attention since they are a matter of public record. People tend to feel better about voicing their concerns directly, so if you get there early enough to get in the queue, let er rip!

I did learn one thing about the process that is, well, depressing. I mentioned earlier that the Warm Springs Alternative would be included in the EIR, but due to the lack of information about the alternative, additional time-consuming EIR work would be required. Traffic and other impacts would have to be studied in the same detail as the original site. That would conceivably push back the completion of the EIR, which then would delay construction, etc. I struck up a pleasant conversation with LSA's Shannon Allen, who when asked about this possibility said, "It gives me a headache." Me too.

Fremont sessions (yes, plural) and other news

While I was away prepping the Turkey Day feast, I had received an e-mail from the City of Fremont, advising me a City Council work session for the baseball village scheduled for this Tuesday, December 9. This is not a rescheduling of tonight's "open house" type event, it's an additional session to occur prior to the Council's normally scheduled meeting. So here's the complete schedule to avoid any confusion:
  • Monday, December 8 - General Public Scoping Meeting on the Notice of Preparation for the EIR, 6:30-8:00 p.m. @ Fremont City Hall Council Chambers.
  • Tuesday, December 9 - City Council Work Session for Ballpark Village Project, 6:00-7:00 p.m. @ Fremont City Hall Council Chambers.
Fremont City Hall is located at 3300 Capitol Ave.
The Giants and developer Kenwood Investments received an extended deadline, January 15, to present their vision of a retail/entertainment complex across McCovey Cove from AT&T Park.
The Sharks acquired a 10-15% stake in the Earthquakes from the A's for up to $3 million. That's a pretty low figure compared to the reported franchise fee of $20 million (Correction, $3 million is a correct amount. I edited out a reference to the new asking price for an MLS expansion franchise, reportedly $40 million). Franchise values for teams outside of the NFL and MLB could take a hit in the near term, even small market NBA and NHL teams.

For SVS+E, the Sharks-related company that manages HP Pavilion, ice rinks in San Jose and Fremont (very close to the Warm Springs BART station site), and the San Jose Civic Auditorium, it's a chance to seal up the large events market in the South Bay. They'll manage the new stadium, which may or may not have a stage to accommodate large concerts. Only Shoreline Amphitheatre, which is run by events giant Live Nation, qualifies as local competition.

The agreement appears to be a few steps removed from having SVS+E operate Cisco Field. Given that many of the business-side and money people from both the A's and Sharks tend to rub elbows a lot, such an arrangement is a near formality. But where will that stadium be located?
Despite the recession, the Yankees are positioned to bring in an extra $200 million a year in revenue because of the new Yankee Stadium. Perhaps pinstripes will have a slimming effect on Vallejo native C.C. Sabathia.