20 March 2009

Let's build two

First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price? - Billionaire S.R. Hadden in the film "Contact"
In the past, Lew Wolff defended the now-dead move to Fremont as staying within the market, claiming "We're not going to Omaha." Funny that he brought up Omaha, as area fathers there are not merely trying to build one, but count 'em, two ballparks.

Omaha, which I'm sure Wolff referenced as a fill-in-the-blank remote location, is home to the Royals' AAA affiliate, the Omaha Royals. The team currently plays in Rosenblatt Stadium, which is better known as the long time home of the College World Series.

Last year, the NCAA put the squeeze on Omaha by promising to keep the CWS in town only if a new, updated ballpark were built. The squeeze worked, and groundbreaking occurred a couple of months ago on a downtown plot near Qwest Center. Currently unnamed, the ballpark is slated for completion in 2011 and will cost $140 million.
You might think the AAA Royals would jump at a chance to live in an updated home, but it turns out that the sleek, new, 24,000-seat ballpark is too big for their taste. The Royals' attentions
turned towards suburban Sarpy County, where a 6,000-seat, $26 million ballpark may be built.

Net result? Two mostly publicly funded ballparks, totalling $166 million. One will be the largest non-MLB ballpark in the country, yet it will only be in use for about 10 days and 15 games per year. The other is a much more modest ballpark, with less capacity than many spring training venues. Add that to the publicly funded Qwest Center, and you have $457 million in venues with only one professional tenant among them. Well, at least the Qwest Center doubles as a convention center. Omaha, clearly the anchor of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro, is about the size of Oakland. What makes this even more amazing is that the metro itself is smaller than San Jose.


daveinsm said...

hey guys

I'm in Scottsdale right now.

any questions u guys want me to ask LW or BB if I get a chance to speak with them tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Yeah ... ask him when we will see the Omaha Athletics in action?

Anonymous said...

Wow, seriously ... that stadium will accommodate 24K? At capacity crowds for 81 games, that's way more than the A's drew this past year in Oakland. Why couldn't they add on a few K more and call them the Omaha Oaks?

Anonymous said...

Yeah...ask LW if he says that he's, "no longer interested in cover old grounds," does that also include San Jose since he already said two years ago that they were no longer an option??

ezra said...

Why not just tarp up the upper rows like in the Coliseum and only have the 1 stadium? Seriously this is retarded.

And to Anonymous 3:40, it's clear Omaha can only draw ~6,000 fans to games. I don't think a MLB team will bring a 6x increase.

Anonymous said...

/\/\/\ Why don't just keep the upper deck of the Coliseum and keep playing there?

If I were a minor league team and getting something I wanted for free, and I had the cajones to suggest that it wasn't to my liking and I needed it this, more expensive, way, I guess you take what you can get.

daveinsm said...


Hey someone (who works in litigation)help me phrase question for LW so I can squeeze a answer from regarding our new ballpark.

Maybe, "is there a time limit for A's to build a new ballpark? Since their lease will be over in 3-4 yeasr"

ezra said...

@Anonymous 7:13

I'm not sure if your comment was aimed at me (is that not what the /\/\/\ meant?), because if so, you make no sense. My comment had nothing to do with the A's staying in their stadium, I was referring to the Omaha Royals needing their own smaller stadium when they could just tarp over the upper rows in the larger (College World Series) one to make it feel smaller and more intimate (a la Oakland Coliseum - although the A's aren't the only MLB team that has done this, I've seen Angel and Dodger stadium with tarps over the seats too).

Matt in SacTown said...

I usually find that red states get away with publicly funded stadiums, sometimes even without a referendum. Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis is one of them.

But it is hard in blue California build any new publicly funded stadium.

Jesse said...

The A's should build a park just like the new rosenblatt with 8000 more seats, then it would cost about 250 million. They can upgrade when the economy gets better.

Anonymous said...

Good Neighbors: Uncle Lew, your only option is Oakland

THAT "favorite uncle" image that Oakland A's co-owner Lew Wolff likes to project is wearing thin. He's looking more and more like the bad seed of the family.

Not quite Bernard Madoff disingenuous, but in the same ballpark.

Wolff would prefer to bilk Oakland out of millions, not Madoff billions, in future ballpark revenue by moving the A's out of Oaktown in the most egregious manner — and then be delighted in making it appear that it's all Oakland's fault.

This smacks so clearly of collusion with his old college frat pal, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who publicly has said that the A's coming to Oakland was a "terrible mistake."

Mistake? How many World Series have your Milwaukee Brewers won, Buddy boy? Try the next number below one. Oakland has four World Series championship flags flying.

And the A's have, at least, matched the Brewers in attendance, even though the A's are in a two-team market, while the Brewers have all those baseball Cheeseheads to themselves.

Uncle Lew has been deceptively clever, picking out a "ballpark village" site across 66th Avenue from the Coliseum, knowing full well that the local businesses there wouldn't budge.

Meanwhile, Uncle Lew wouldn't even look at the other side of the Coliseum, where Interstate 880 meets Hegenberger Road, and where there's plenty of open space for a ballpark village.

AT&T Park, Camden Yards and other recently built retro-style ballparks are squeezed into similar acreage. But Uncle Lew deemed Fremont his ballpark paradise, even though the two spots he picked out were nowhere near an existing BART station, a mandatory point in his Oakland ballpark demands.

Fremont didn't want him anyway, though you know Uncle Lew has been thinking about San Jose all along, because the Prune City is an integral part of his building empire. Only there's a hang-up there, too, because San Jose falls within the San Francisco Giants' self-declared "territorial rights." Selig isn't about to mess with that scenario, not after the Giants have been buzzing in his ear for years to get the A's out of here.

San Jose, like Fremont, might not want the A's regardless. So what's left in Uncle Lew's so-called game plan to keep the A's in Northern California? Sacramento? Lodi? Weaverville? Give me a break. If he can't make it work in Oakland, then he's disingenuous to the core.

That prime property just south of the Coliseum is perfect — too perfect. It has a highway next to it, as well as BART. A huge parking lot already is there. The Oakland Raiders could have the Coliseum all to their blackhearted selves. Thus nobody has to move. What's not to like?

Now, I'm not blaming Uncle Lew for everything. Oakland had a chance to build a downtown ballpark, with the restored Fox Theater directly behind center field. But then-Mayor Jerry Brown told an Oakland politician that "a ballpark will be built there over my dead body."

Brown, who doesn't know a baseball bat from a croquet mallet, fired City Manager Robert Bobb, a ballpark proponent, and built the Forest City housing development right where the A's would have played — a housing development, by the way, that now has limited occupants.

And the A's took it on the chin when the Raiders came back; the Coliseum was redesigned to favor the eye-patched prodigal sons. The old bleachers where Hendu's Bad Boys congregated and conferred with their hero, Dave Henderson, were gone along with the good times, replaced by limited sightlines for fans. Who was the architect? The nearsighted Mr. Magoo?

So it's not entirely Uncle Lew's fault. His predecessor as A's owner, Steve Schott, was as cold as a tailgate brew. He refused to step to the plate financially in terms of a new ballpark unless pulled by his fingernails.

But Brown doesn't escape so easily. If Washington, D.C., could be granted a third Major League Baseball franchise — as it was in 2005, when the Montreal Expos moved to the nation's capital to replace two failed teams called the Senators — Oakland could have built a ballpark. Wrong mayor.

Oakland needs another Walter A. Haas Jr., the best owner that ever was, with nary a disingenuous bone in his body. Wolff won't ever be Mr. Haas, but stop repeating the big lie, Uncle Lew, that you're finished in Oakland while portraying Oakland as the reason.

Your keg-party chum Selig let the steroids era develop and then rage forward with his blinders on. Now that's a "terrible mistake." He's the last one to be throwing stones at Oakland.

As for you, Uncle Lew, sit down with Oakland politicos pronto and negotiate a ballpark deal on an available plot of land that's targeted for redevelopment anyway.

For 30 years, I've written columns on the A's often stormy relationship with Oakland. Larry Jackson became engaged in the same relationship, mostly out of his own pocket, around the turn of the century. He contends it was his downtown ballpark plan that was aborted.

Jackson, 52, of Hayward, works as an AT&T administrator, helping East Bay residents get their dial tones. He's a father of two and a grandfather of three who has watched the A's since 1968, their first year in Oakland.

So how good is the south-of-Coliseum site?

"It's an ideal place," he said, "because it produces for Oakland a piece of land that serves a baseball purpose only — baseball and retail, really. A nice, clean pristine area where Lew Wolff can build what he wants, ... an entertainment mecca for the Bay Area."

Jackson envisions a ballpark with seating for around 40,000. He is convinced that Wolff's 66th Avenue ballpark village plan was a "red herring." That's because he thinks Wolff and Selig have been in collusion from day one and that "Oakland got played royally ... and we've paid for it ever since."

He predicts that the A's won't wind up in San Jose and that rumors of their heading to Las Vegas are weightless because of "book." Selig won't relocate a team to a gambling empire — even though more cities nationwide are sprouting casinos.

This means the best place for the A's is Oakland, just across the parking lot from where they've played for more than 40 years.

Nothing new, Uncle Lew.

Anonymous said...

Wow ML--seems like you allowed a violation of your recently published blog standards---not only too long but completely worthless in any coherent message. Haven't we covered all of this ground before?

Marine Layer said...

Anon, did you not read my "Guidelines for Commenters" post?

There's a reason I haven't written extensively on territorial rights: I'm not certain about it. It's quite rich for agenda-laden columnists of all stripes (including Newhouse, Dickey, and Purdy) to be so certain of something that is so clandestine in nature. We have zero idea what it will take or how it's going to turn out. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something. The quicker that the columnists admit this to their readers, the better the information that comes from their columns will be.

Jeffrey said...

Why not just put a link and say "This guys opinion matches mine?"

There is nothing in that article particularly news worthy. If you want the A's in Oakland and nowhere else, you agree with the columns thesis. If you don't, you don't.

Anonymous said...

That article chokes on it's own illogic. It states that Wolff and Selig have been in a conspiracy from the beginning, but that Selig still won't let the A's move to San Jose or Vegas, and no other markets are feasible.

Huh? So what was the supposed objective of this nefarious conspiracy?

Anonymous said...

The article seems to to think that the only issue in Oakland is land. I think we all know that more serious matters current take top priority in the city, so it's pointless to pile on. However, they count a lot when measuring the current viability of Oakland as a place in which you'd like to keep doing business. Just because you have a team, you're not entitled for life. Oakland needs to fix itself up and become attractive to business, not simply beg for business and guilt prospective businessmen into not forsaking the future of Oakland.

FC said...

No doubt Mr. Newhouse wrote the article with the intent of pleasing his Oakland readers. He's an Oakland fan, not an Oakland A's fan.

Any true A's supporter would want a ballpark built in a location which would be economically beneficial to the team. Such benefits would then translate into better personnel, and a better fan experience.

I have no doubts Wolff wanted the A's down in SJ all along. Whether there is a conspiracy or not, if that is where the A's will be best served financially, I all for it.

Jesse said...

The only problem with Oakland is that the current owner of the A's and the most recent owner both wanted San Jose / Santa Clara more. The Warriors have just as many corporate sponsors as the Sharks. They draw just as well. There is nothing wrong with Oakland.

Oakland, San Jose, Fremont, Dublin, I prefer which ever one can build first because time is the only factor. The bay area is not a disjointed place, we have rapid transit, excellent highways and we share the same media. Every year the A's dont have a new park they loose and so do we.

FC said...


I don't know whether it's fair to use the Warriors and Sharks as a gauge, when they are the only teams in town with respect to their sports. The A's have to compete with the Giants and their large fan base. If there is nothing wrong with Oakland, then why don't the A's enjoy greater corporate support now?

With all due respect to those who live in Dubin and Pleasanton, the closer the A's can stay to the large urban centers, the better off they'll be.

Anonymous said...

So, the tin foil hat crowd has a kindred spirit in the media. How cute.

Georob said...

Allow me to change the subject here.

From time to time I wonder why Wolff never gave more thought to the Dublin/Pleasanton area. After all, it's at the intersection of two major freeways, has BART(with another station planned for Dublin), and arguably is near a strong and affluent segment of the fan base(not to mention some corporate presence in San Ramon/Pleasanton)

But what really got me thinking was the conglomoration of strip malls in Dublin on the northwest corner of the 580/680. I know much of that dates back to the 70's and I wonder how the area is holding up, what with competition from Stoneridge mall and newer power centers along 580.

I guess my question is whether or not there's an opportunity to redevelop a lot of that into a stadium/ballpark village? I know of two big retailers(Mervyns and Expo design) that recently pulled out, and with all the shakeouts going on in retail I'm curious what other vacant properties will be sitting there before long.

Granted, Lew Wolff would be faced with the problem of mutiple property owners, but unlike the industrial users along Coliseum way, a couple of struggling shopping center owners might be willing to talk.

Another thing too is that the area is already heavily commercial, so a lot of the infrastructure is already there. Obviously you'd have issues about traffic in an already conjested part of the East Bay, but it couldn't be any worse than what Pacific Commons was looking at.

...just a thought

Jeffrey said...

Georob- I live in Pleasanton. I'd love for the A's to be in backyard... but there are a lot of challenges with anything like that getting done.

First the new BART station is right next to Stoneridge Mall, there is no where in the nearby vicinity that a stadium could be built.

Second, traffic is ridiculous here. I guess, considering the current stadium is smack dab in the middle of the most congested freeway section in the 2008 Bay Area Freeway rankings (580 is a close second) is an argument that it can be dealt with, I still don't see it.

There are other places in the Bay Area that are much better suited to a ballpark, unfortunately for me :)

MikeTeeVee said...

Jeffrey said: "the new BART station is right next to Stoneridge Mall, there is no where in the nearby vicinity that a stadium could be built."

That station will also have access from the Dublin side, a stone's throw from the shopping area Georob mentioned, across Dublin Blvd, bounded by Regional St. and Amador Plaza Rd.

And the A's color scheme is perfect for Dublin. 8-)

Of course, Dublin might have other ideas about what they want within walking distance of their new BART station.

Tony D. said...

New thought for the day. Nice qoute from Bud Selig in this mornings Mercury News; regarding MLB GM's crying over the World Baseball Classic:

"...This is a time in life where I know how important your individual club is, this is a time to put the best interests of the game ahead of your own selfish, provincial interests." What did Wolff say again about doors being open that were previously closed? I like it!