11 January 2009

Uncomfortable positions

Effects from the economic crisis are hitting everyone, including wealthy team owners. Bruce Ratner has been forced to scale back value engineer his Brooklyn arena vision. The Yankees are looking for $370 million to "finish" New Yankee Stadium. Locally, talks of the Niners and Raiders teaming up to get a stadium done together may have started up.

Wait a minute. Haven't we heard that last rumor before? Indeed we have, about this time last year. And we're going to continue to hear this every year as both teams' seasons end unceremonious early while their stadium destinies hang in the balance. We have no idea if there are any substantive discussions. We don't know what it will take for the two teams to arrive at a proper compromise. Finally, we have no clue which muncipality out there would be interested in playing matchmaker, though I suspect that certain Santa Clara pols might be. The stadium architect may also have to play intermediary, as 360 architecture's George Heinlein did with the New Meadowlands Stadium. Sure, it makes sense. It's not, however, without its issues. As long as LA remains a tantalizing option for both teams (and the Bolts, Jags, and Vikes) there may be little progress on this front.
Back in Fremont, Warm Springs residents want details on the WS site alternative. That request is going to be difficult to fill, as the A's aren't going to purchase area land until they know there is a clear path to getting the ballpark approved. That means just about any of the WS parcels could be used for the ballpark, making it a little more difficult to spell out precisely all of the potential impacts. Sound a bit chicken-and-egg-ish? It is. In the meantime, A's and stadium supporters are going to hold a series of koffee klatches with affected residents starting this week.

The plan is to enact a "Neighborhood Protection Plan" that works in a two-way manner. Not only does it prevent stadium users from driving from the stadium area to the residential area, it also prevents anyone from using back roads into the residential area from parking and then walking to the stadium area. The plan is helped by the street grid, in which there are limited access points to the Weibel neighborhood on the opposite side of 680 (so named because of the area elementary school). It remains to be seen how residents will react to the plan and the additional inconvenience that may come with it.

Some residents south of the stadium site (Warm Springs/Mission) are more concerned about the single north-south artery between 680 and 880, Warm Springs Blvd., being clogged on game days. Only the traffic study will have any real answers, as it will probably take into account situations in which normal traffic flows and signaling can be compared with gameday situations in which police will be called upon to control traffic.

What next? We're about a month away from the next City Council meeting to review the plan. Until then, stay tuned.