30 March 2009

Diridon South - No PG&E move required?

Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal's Katherine Conrad has an update on the Diridon South site acquisition process. Apparently redevelopment head Harry Mavrogenes and others within City Hall have been talking about squeezing a ballpark in without either moving or reconfiguring the PG&E substation on its northwest corner.

In the past, I had said that doing this would be unlikely and impractical based on a ballpark's typical footprint and size requirements. However, if turns out to be a change to which the A's are amenable, a much smaller footprint (8-acre) stadium could be placed on the northeast section. This should be doable without altering current plans for Autumn Parkway. The remaining land could be used for parking, administrative offices, and other ballpark-related uses.

Conrad's report mentions a savings of $20 million if the PG&E substation is not acquired. The savings could actually approach $50 million because the costs associated with moving the substation across Park Avenue would not be incurred. The best part is that by moving the parking facility next to the ballpark instead of across the street from it, the land south of Park Avenue could be used for a park. It's a major concession I expect to be made to get some amount of neighborhood buy-in.

Note: In a previous post I mistakenly had marked the AT&T site as "acquired." SJRA has not acquired the site but has an offer out. I don't expect this to be a problem as there are plenty of sites nearby for this type of facility to be relocated.

One more thing: the Merc's John Ryan nailed it.

MLB to create ballpark committee

The commissioner has signed off on the creation of a committee to "thoroughly analyze all of the ballpark proposals that have been made to date, the current situation in Oakland, and the prospects of obtaining a ballpark in any of the communities located in Oakland's territory." Names are named, and the table is being set:
"Lew Wolff and the Oakland ownership group and management have worked very hard to obtain a facility that will allow them to compete into the 21st Century," Commissioner Selig said. "To date they, like the two ownership groups in Oakland before them, have been unsuccessful in those efforts, despite having the significant support of their corporate partner Cisco. The time has come for a thorough analysis of why a stadium deal has not been reached. The A's cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation."
Now, if you really think that this is going to help Oakland, pass the bong please. As benign as the description sounds, this is actually an official "let's delineate all the ways Oakland no longer works" committee. The blockquote above, which comes at the end of the press release, is step #1 in the committee's mission.

Key within this initiative is the appointment of former Giants executive VP Corey Busch to the committee. Busch has been in numerous advising capacities in the years since his Giants tenure, and according to the Chronicle's Susan Slusser, who broke the story, Busch may not exactly be sympathetic to their interests (he left as the Magowan group took over). In the early part of the decade, Busch served as a consultant to MLB's relocation committee (PDF), the one that eventually presided over the complicated Expos-to-DC move. He's no stranger to the process, as he worked almost tirelessly to get the Giants out of the 'Stick and into new digs in San Francisco, Santa Clara, or San Jose. Busch even worked for SF in the 70's and as a consultant to San Jose several years ago as San Jose expressed interest in bringing in a NBA franchise - and the A's - to town.

If Oakland, per its request to Bud Selig, really wants to retain the A's, they're gonna have to get started with new site proposals quickly. I'm certain that the few remaining sites identified in the HOK study aren't going to be deemed sufficient, which will only rubberstamp Lew Wolff's complaints about the City's efforts. We're about two steps from Bob DuPuy flying in to negotiate with whatever City is deemed the future home of the A's.