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20 February 2009

For Oakland fans with solutions

Okay, Oakland-first partisans. Here's your chance. By virtue of the comments at today's SFGate article, many of you think staying in Oakland is the cheapest and most reasonable choice. Instead of just spouting off a comment (you know who you are), lay out your plan. Here's the handy-dandy drawing from a few days ago. Take it and redraw it in the manner you think would work best. I'll even accept the Coliseum option from the HOK study, if you can fulfill the requirements below.

The fun doesn't end there. Next, you have to explain how much it's going to cost and how it'll be funded. It's perfectly okay to say it'll be privately funded if you can say what the private instruments are. I'm not requiring a pro forma spreadsheet showing all of the sources, just show you can pencil it out.

Finally, set us in motion. Give a timeline showing when certain key milestones can be reached.

Submit your plan to newballpark@gmail.com. I'll put up a post next week containing your solutions, with attribution and a distilled explanation for each. I will not print diatribes about A's ownership, Bud Selig, Al Davis, politicians, or anything else not germane to your concept. You have until the end of Wednesday.

37 comments:

Jeffrey said...

where is FSU? I know you can pull this one off.

Anonymous said...

This is a loaded offer. I mean, for Fremont and SJ sites you've done all the work yourself. Tons of work, hundreds of hours, well researched and detailed. We're all better informed for your efforts. But offering the under-resourced masses the opportunity to have their less-well-developed ideas picked apart isn't exactly what I'd call a level playing field.

I don't recall you demanding that the South Bay partisans site, design, and finance their own ideas. For that matter, the A's themselves haven't shared the meat of their financing scheme either.

Anyway, when you get few if any Oakland responses, it would be fallacious to then say "see, the Oakland advocates have no real ideas." All it'll mean is that said Oakland first-ers aren't planning wonks, don't have the time or knowledge base, and/or are disinclined to offer up their ideas in a forum dominated by South Bay partisans.

A lack of responses also won't mean there's not actual work by actual Oakland planning/development interests underway. There is...but the players aren't talking about it in public. Nor should they.

--FSU

Marine Layer said...

Are you saying I made no such effort when it was time to look at Oakland sites a couple years back, FSU?

Why am I doing this? Because I am admittedly no expert on Oakland. Others are. I would like to see what ideas those experts have. If I'm being narrow minded about potential sites or creative ways to get this done, I'd like to know. If there's something I can point to say, "That's not realistic, maybe there's a different way" it's meant in a constructive manner.

Pardon me for trying to actually foster ideas. If I don't get submissions, it hardly means that Oakland is bereft of ideas or people with ideas. But if this exchange can help hone the arguments the Oakland-firsters use, all the better.

Jeffrey said...

ML,

Can you post a link to your older posts about the coliseum site, the broadway site, the JLS site so we can sue as a starting point? I just tried to find them, but I suck.

I'd like to take a Bay Area Partisan approach to tryign to figure some fo this stuff out.

Anonymous said...

How about the fomer Broadway Ford site at 27th & Broadway? We have the 19th Street BART station less than 1/2 a mile away. This area already is full of restaurants, new apartments and condos, along with tremendous entertainment venues like the Paramount Theater and the Fox Oakland Theater.

If that doesn't work, how about the parcel just east of Oak Street and west of the Lake Merritt Channel. You have the Lake Merritt BART Station less than 1/4 of a mile away.

Jeffrey said...

Anon... in 2001 the HOK study looked at the Oak parcel I think you are talking about and ruled it too expensive. Your are referencing Oak to 9th?

ML Did some Auto Row analysis long ago, and I think most folks (including me) think that is the best option within Oakland. I have written the City Council about ti a few times but have only really received any info back from Nancy Nadel who said it wasn't an option.

FSU told me she is a moron. I take him at his word.

The question that I have, is how do we get people who are in power in the Town to start pushing a site? I honestly don't think they have ever really been into making something happen with the A's as much as the A's are not interested in staying in Oakland. How does that change?

Anonymous said...

No, ML, I meant neither to demean your past Oakland posts, nor to suggest it's a bad idea to solicit Oakland ideas. I simply observe that you set a very high bar for submissions--higher in some ways than the standard you've held even the A's own ideas to--and thus to say that if you don't get a lot of ideas it doesn't mean that there aren't any possibilities. As you state yourself, better than I did.

Every random internet ballpark suggestion, anywhere, is easily shot down as impossible right up until the moment a deal is struck.

FWIW, here's my list of Oakland sites, in rough order of feasibility, political considerations aside:

1. In the current Coli parking lot.
2. The Oakland Army Base.
3. The fields now owned by Laney College (and I say raze the Kaiser, though most would hate that idea).
4. The big triangle along Broadway bounded by 27th and 24th.
5. The Estuary area off High St., on the Alameda side of 880.

--FSU

Marine Layer said...

Broadway Auto Row

Estuary/O29

Other Oakland sites

Choose or Lose mayoral event wrap-up

Marine Layer said...

You're giving me far too much credit, FSU. If it appears that I'm not subjecting the A's to enough scrutiny, there's a rationale behind it. In today's political/economic climate, it's going to be extremely difficult to do any amount of public financing. So if Lew Wolff and some pols agree in a MOU somewhere that no public funds will be used, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Once that wall has been erected, it matters little what the actual funding mix is since it's all private. In fact, I expect the mix to be rather fluid for the entire development period as the A's figure certain things out. As long as taxpayers are protected, I'm happy with it.

Move north or south along 880 and the equation changes. It's a safe assumption to make that the further south you go, the greater number of opportunities you'll have for sponsorships, corporate dollars, PSLs, etc. Go north and those opportunities dwindle. That means there's a tangible difference between Oakland, Fremont, and San Jose, and that there's a potential gap to be bridged depending on where you are.

greenmachine said...

Marine Layer,

Thanks for your great work on the ballpark issue. Though I would like the A’s to play in a nicer ballpark, I don’t understand the urgency of the matter. I understand why baseball owners have a financial interest in creating a sense of urgency in the matter of building ballparks, but as a lifelong A’s fan, I don't understand the rush to build the wrong ballpark. What would happen if the A’s played at the Coliseum for the next ten years? Would the sky fall? What if Wolff spent as much energy promoting the A’s as he has spent promoting Cisco Field?

That said, the Coliseum is no longer a good ballpark. But those who call the Coliseum a dump should be more specific in their criticisms. The main faults of the Coliseum are Mt. Davis and the extra foul ground. (Prior to the construction of Mt. Davis, the Coliseum was an attractive stadium, and its outfield bleacher section was one of the best in baseball.) Also, the location of the Coliseum is excellent from a transportation standpoint—BART, freeway, and Amtrak. With the Raiders lease expiring shortly, it seems that Wolff has some leverage to remake the Coliseum into a baseball-friendly stadium. Mt. Davis could be knocked down—-and replaced with something more similar to the original bleachers-—and the rise and run of the lower deck could be modified slightly to bring the front row closer to the field, thus cutting down on the foul territory.

These fixes wouldn’t be cheap, but they would be cheaper than building a new ballpark. Of course, recouping the cost of these improvements would require Wolff to make a long-term commitment to (an investment in) the Oakland A’s of Oakland, something he has never been willing to do. There would be no accompanying get-rich-quick real estate development to alleviate Wolff’s concerns about investing in his team purely for his team’s sake. There is no guarantee that Oakland officials would hear Wolff out even if he proposed to pay for most or all of the improvements. But one thing is clear. Al Davis is not likely to put much—-if any—-money on the table in his quest for a better football stadium. If Wolff puts money on the table and Oakland officials still tell him no thanks, then Wolff can truly say he tried to build a ballpark in Oakland.

This plan would also make sense from an environmental impact perspective. Under this plan, the Coliseum footprint would not get larger—-if anything it would get smaller. Wolff, who has always stressed the urgency of the ballpark situation, could move very quickly to get something done in Oakland if he makes a bona fide effort at improving the current Coliseum. Finally, the approach of renovating the Coliseum instead of building an entirely new ballpark immediately would leave the door open for the A’s to build a new downtown ballpark in Oakland should a great site present itself in the future. Sometimes it takes a number of years for the right site to become available. By playing in the renovated Coliseum, the A’s would have the luxury of playing in an acceptable ballpark—-the hallowed ground of their 4+ World Series titles—-while still keeping their eyes peeled for the ideal downtown site. No more running out of town on a whim.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey, The site I'm referring to is not Oak to Ninth. This site is between Oak Street and the Lake Merritt Channel. It's right next to Jack London Square and less than a 1/4 mile from the Lake Merritt BART station. It's were the current training tower for the Oakland Fire Department stands. There are some surface parking lots along with some older warehouses on the property. I think it would be a great location convenient to the Amtrak Station and the Ferry Terminal on Clay Street.

Jeffrey said...

thanks ml..

On the Coliseum tip... Mt. Davis bites. But I wouldn't categorize the other defect simply as "too much foul ground."

I would call it "fans not close enough to the action." Simply changing the rise and run of the lower deck doesn't fix this. If you go over to the dark side of the bay and sit in the 3rd deck, it feels as if you are closer to the action than sitting in the second deck in Oakland. This is painting with a bit of a broad brush to be sure, because there are many spots to sit and there are spots in the second deck of Oakland that are clearly closer to the field than the third deck in San Francisco. But the feel and the angle of the seats and the slope of the deck... it all conspires to make sitting in third deck in San Francisco a better vantage point than sitting in a similar spot in the second deck in Oakland.

Additionally, the concourses in Oaktown are too narrow, except for behind mount davis :)

Another challenge is that Center Field disappears from view in a lot of spots because of the little pocket back there. This doesn't come into play a lot, but it is frustrating when it does, because it is almost always a play at the wall that disappears.

Anyway, I would like to use the sites listed by FSU and try to come up with a stack ranking based on feasibility based on costs. Now I just gotta find good sources for the cost information.

Jeffrey said...

hey Oak guy... I will see if I can figure anything out about that site. I just found it on Google earth.

Anonymous said...

Where in the Oakland Army Base would be theoretically available. Too bad it's too far away from the bridge for a major league equivalent of this: http://www.minorleagueballparks.com/camp_nj.html (Campbell's Field in Camden, NJ).

Jesse said...

They should look into the area where Mothers Cookies and used to be, nothing important over there anyways. between 81st and 77th and as far west as Rusdale Street.

nothing but old closed plants there. Demolish that and build there. If they can do it in Diridon why not Oakland.

Jesse said...

better yet, between 75th and 81st from San Leandro to Rudsdale. Why the heck not. Pay for it with those revenue streams they were talking about.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say this is a South Bay partisan site. It's a get the A's a new stadium partisan site. Just because we don't have an irrational fear of that stadium being south of where it is today, doesn't make us South Bay partisan.

And the reason the Oakland-only crowd needs to do this is because ML has already researched the various Oakland options and found none of them to work for a variety of reasons. Yet your crowd continues the "Wolff is a crook because he could have easily built in downtown Oakland" bleating. I don't hear anyone in the South Bay saying Wolff should just build in some magical spot in San Jose that will pay for itself and doesn't require him to buy land from 35 different owners to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Great post anon 8:47--you hit the nail on the head- I would like for the Oakland crowd to cite one "business" reason that makes Oakland a better place than Silicon Valley/San Jose---note--1 "business" reason--not the emotional crap everyone throws around---to allow your team to compete there needs to be revenue streams from corporate sponsors etc---on what "business" level does Oakland trump Silicon Valley/San Jose--and if these corporate sponsors exist in the Oakland/East Bay why have the A's struggled so much--and it wasn't because of a poor product on the field--

Answer the question honestly and remember that the financial health of franchise and its ability to compete year-over-year depends on this---and than maybe you can move beyond that Wolff is a crook---and thank him for trying to establish a franchise that can compete in MLB

Anonymous said...

The mentality to go after corporate sponsors and the fat cats is what got the A's in this mess in the first place. They need to start thinking about putting buts in the seats. Forget the corporate dollars. That's not going to happen in the current economy. Lew Wolff needs to stop salivating about the corporate money which no longer exists and start recruiting average people and families to the ballpark. In this respect, Oakland and the East Bay trump Silicon Valley every time. This is where Oakland A's tradition lives, not in Silicon Valley where most of the people identify with San Francisco and the SF Giants.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:33- you really think that the attendance is what drives the bulk of a MLB franchise revenue? You couldn't be more off the mark---of course season tix holders are one component---and as I understand the A's have about 10,000 or so--which has been pretty much the same story since way before Wolff--

Relative to Silicon Valley/San Jose being Giants fans....the A's are the ones marketing to Silicon Valley/San Jose--participated in holiday parade--autograph signing in Plaza Park after--ticket office in Fairmont--Giants are no where to be seen---they are 45 miles up the road and do zero...and I mean zero marketing to the Silicon Valley/San Jose area---

I'm more of a Nat'l league fan--but when the A's move to San Jose--I will become a big fan of the local team--and support the A's-

So at the end of the day--you still didn't answer the question--what is the business rational for putting any sports team in Oakland?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do think that attendance and broadcasting revenues is what drives revenues. Lew Wolff lost his way. Chasing corporate dollars at the expense of alienating long time fans,families, kids, students, and senior citizens, is not the way to go. It's especially incredulous in these terrible economic times. Corporations don't have the money to spend on corporate suites or on purchasing large blocks of tickets for their employees.

The way to go in these tough economic times is to lower prices ,take the tarps off, commit to Oakland, and get as many people in those seats as possible. During these hard economic times average folks still want a diversion from there everyday problems providing that it's affordable. Trying to cater to the well healed and to corporations in these times at the expense of average folks is a recipe for disaster. Wolff has taken attendance from 2.2 million to the current 1.5 million because of this misguided thinking.

Jeffrey said...

This debate about attendance versus corporate sponsors is lame. Both are part of a team revenue streams.

But do some research before you come out here spouting crap like "Lew Wolff ruined the team by courting corporations."

The A's value during the time Wolf has owned them has increased a great deal. In 2005 when Wolff/Fisher took over the team it was valued at $150 Million, in 2008 the team was valued at $323 million. Doesn't seem that the team has suffered much as far as that goes.

The teams revenues have gone from $116 to $154 million.

This info is form forbes.com team valuation website. One component of the value of the team is the "Market Value." The A's share of the Bay Area Market is $98 million. The Giants is $193 million.

The major difference between the two is the Stadium/Corporate Sponsor situations. If you honestly believe that Corporations are not going to buy sports tickets anymore you are naive. Sure, the demand will be cut back a bit, but that is all the more reason to be attractive to the biggest companies in the region.

The top 20 in the Bay ARea includes HP, Intel, Cisco, Apple, Oracle, Google, Sun, Applied Materials, E Bay and Yahoo... any geographical trend there? more than half are based in the South Bay. So from a premium ticket base, the South Bay has it all over Oakland.

So the next question becomes, how do the A's fix the Stadium situation? San Jose has an approved EIR. Funding will require something creative no matter where it is. But I imagine part of the funding will be some sort of PSL thing. Ughhh.

If so, resident Median income becomes important... Santa Clara, San Jose, etc... they win that battle over Oakland too.

So from a "business" perspective, the South Bay trumps Oakland 8 days a week.

That said... I will go to a new stadium in Oakland just as often as I would one in San Jose. I am not partisan towards ether city, I just want to watch games in a new yard.

58edsil said...

I'm sorry. I don't buy the tarp excuse. Ticket prices are reasonable. A lot of those third deck seats were sold and the ticket holders migrated down to better seats. I do like the idea of opening the seats directly behind home plate. Those are great views. The concept is simple: Supply and demand. There is no demand for A's tickets when you can walk up to the box office and buy tickets before game time in the prime seating areas. Also, with the fans sitting so spread out, the stadium looks empty and depressing for TV, players and fans.

I have been a season ticket holder for 20 years and it's not the residents of Oakland that attend games, it's mostly people from the suburbs of Alameda and CoCo Counties. If a move to SJ makes some fans stop attending games, I truly believe we will pick up a lot of South Bay fans. So the A's should be in better shape by moving. Current attendance is abysmal due to poor radio, TV and newspaper coverage. Some of these have been addressed this winter. The more the A's saturate the media market, the better off they will be. Corporate dollars are important, don't fool yourself. That is what makes the game run, now. Try getting a ticket to NY games! They have priced the fans out to the cheap seats or out of the game. The corporate dollars are not gone, just waiting. If the A's want to be successful, they need those dollars to compete.

Wolff has no other option but to address the lack of funding by getting more corporate sponsorship. How low can ticket prices go? Have you ever tried buying tickets at other parks? The A's prices are a bargain. Attendance has dropped because the economy is failing and the product on the field has been sub-standard for what we expect. Some of the lower expectations were caused by trying to rebuild and lots of injuries.

I want the A's to stay in Oakland if a site is available and the city would sell it to Mr Wolff. The City of Oakland has had many opportunities. They have at least one more now. If anyone in that City cared, they would call Mr Wolff and make something happen. He's a businessman. He will listen to all offers. The stadium need to be replaced. I wouldn't put a dime in it to replace the old bowl if the Raiders leave. It was substandard 20 years ago and it is even worse now.

I do not buy the conspiracy theory that Bud Selig is trying to get the A's out of the Bay Area or contract them. I'll leave that for another blog site to fester under their skin.

BleacherDave said...

I like the huge expanse of foul ground. It makes the game play different in our park different.

bartleby said...

Dave,

I think you are a small minority on that one. I'm all for quirkiness and uniqueness, but the big foul territory affects game play relatively rarely (would you say, maybe 0-2 times per game?). When it does, it does so in a relatively dull manner (e.g., foul-pop-caught-in-the Coli-which-would-have-been-in-the-stands-in-any-other-ballpark). Meanwhile, spectators must endure the lousy sight lines which result from the big foul territory on every single play. I've been to over 20 ballparks, and I can't think of one with lousier views overall. And isn't feeling you're part of the action part of reason to go in person rather than watch on TV?

Anonymous said...

with the economy the way it is and in the near future, i'm wondering how open some of the previous business owners who balked at being bought out or being relocated would be. perhaps with the drastic change in circumstances an old oakland plan or variation of it may seem mor viable now.

Anonymous said...

bartleby,

i totally agree with bleacher dave and the foul territory actually changes every single game played at the coliseum. 0-2 times per game does mean that every game is affected in some way. you do watch baseball enough to understand how and why our stadium has been considered a "pitcher's park" all these years, right?

don't get me wrong...i'm all for an intimate setting in a new ballpark which could bring the fans closer, but one of the main reasons why the a's have always been so good is because of good pitching. and what huge factor has always helped out good with pitching?? good defense and a "pitcher's ballpark."

depending on how many runners are on base and what the score is, every foul ball caught in foul territory at the coliseum could make the outcome of the game completely different than if it were being played in any other stadium!!

every ball park comes with their own personally...ours just happens to have the largest foul territory in one of the oldest park compared to all the others.

Jeffrey said...

Good pitching is good with no foul territory, little foul territory or expansive foul territory. If your pitchers are better than the other teams, they will perform better because they are better.

Anonymous said...

that's no the point. the point is that good pitching can always use a little bit of help whether it's with good defense, good offense or a pitcher's friendly ballpark. the other point that was being made is that the wide foul territory does make a difference in every game played. that's the nature of NOT having a cookie cutter type playing field where the coliseum would have the same exact dimensions as every other stadium. look at fenway for example. how many more homeruns would there be if you took down the green monster to make it look like all the others???

the a's have always been known to have good pitching and you can count on having a "pitcher's ballpark" has helped us establish that image around the league.

Jeffrey said...

anon 10:05

Like every other park? You are on crack. Find one of the newer parks that shares dimensions with another.

Your point is a bad one. The foul ground at the coliseum makes mediocre pitching better, and good offense mediocre just as it makes good pitching great. It affects everyone who plays, not just the A's. So any advantage it gives the A's pitching staff by reducing the opposing offenses batting average by 5 to 7 points it takes away from the A's pitching staff by reducing the A's offense by 5 to 7 points.

Last time I checked, it wasn't the "image" of having good pitching that helped any team win. It was the actual performance of the pitching staff over 162 games in multiple parks.

Anonymous said...

jeffrey,

you're still missing the point regarding foul territory and if you read my comment clearly you would see that i was indicating the fact that every ballpark does NOT have the same exact dimensions as all the others. that's what makes the coliseum stand out from the rest.

yes good pitching will be good pitching no matter where a game is played, but every park having it's own uniqueness to it can make a difference in a win or a loss for either team. the whole point of the topic was that having an expansive foul territory makes the game play a little different at the coliseum than anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

I too think the foul territory is great and hope (yeah right) that any new park has the sense to include that into the design. I'm sure we can find a way to make the fans feel closer to the action without sacrificing a part of the game.

The loss of foul territory around the league has been to the detriment of the game.

Jeffrey said...

I am not missing the point. Your supporting argument for why the foul ground is good is weak to me. Although I did misunderstand what you meant about cookie cutter stadiums. I thought you were saying that Oakland was not cookie cutter while others were, sorry. I agree with you that having different dimensions at each and every park is a good thing, and is probably my favorite aspect of the new stadium trend through the 90's and early part of this decade.

As a fan, I'd much rather be close to the game than to have foul balls turn into outs 0-2 times a game. (which by the way means that not every game is impacted by the foul ground. Every game where it impacts the play 0 times means it didn't impact the game).

The unique feature you point out in Fenway is endearing to baseball fans all over. Needing binoculars to see a play on the other side of the infield from very expensive seats is not. I know, hyperbole abounds.

Also, your argument was that the foul ground gave the A's pitching a good image or somehow helped them perform better. So what on the image, bull crap on the performance, at least relative to the 81 games played over the course of a season. It may help them more than it helps another team over the course of a given game, but it may very well hurt them more than the other team on any given game. It helps and hurts both teams the same as the green monster helps and hurts both teams. Image doesn't mean a thing in the context of winning baseball games.

And I assume the comment about the lack of foul ground being to the detriment of the game is in regards to higher offensive production? I disagree and so do a lot of other people. If you like pitching duels each and every game that is fine. I just disagree. I like home runs so the lack of foul ground works out pretty nicely for me.

Go A's!!!!!

Anonymous said...

yes i agree...go a's!!!

maybe we should all give the ballpark discussions a rest for just a little bit and start talking about how we can reclaim the AL west title from the angles this year. i know your post is about the ballpark ML (great job by the way), but now that no one knows where the a's will end up for the time being, maybe we can all come together now on a positive note and talk about how good we can possibly be this year with spring training just around the corner??

i can't wait!!

Anonymous said...

Just move them to Quebec City or Montreal and rename them the Expos, the conditions are much better now. Move em' to the AL East. Come on Bug..make it happen!

BleacherDave said...

I sit in the bleachers. That puts me between the foul lines and my sight line isn't affected by foul terrority. As a matter of fact, I have a pretty good view off to the side of the pitchers' shoulder - I can see break, run, drop, in, out, high, low. In fact, my sight line is a lot better than in SF, where the front bleacher rows are at about ground level.

bartleby said...

Dave,

Fair enough, but the vast majority of fans at the game are sitting in locations where there views are greatly impacted by the amount of foul territory.

Just out of curiosity, why the passion for the bleachers? (I can guess what you might say, but I'd rather hear it from you).