Uptown Oakland remains premier site
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| By diamond_lil on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 09:53 am:|
Article Last Updated: Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 9:10:48 AM MST
Study confirms uptown best site
Recommendation based on design, transit nearby, total costs
By Robert Gammon, STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- Uptown Oakland remains the premier site for a new Oakland A's ballpark in the East Bay, according to the final results of a study commissioned by the city of Oakland and Alameda County.
Results of the yearlong study by HOK Sport of Kansas City comes on the heels of news that a wealthy Silicon Valley venture capitalist wants to buy a half-interest in the Oakland A's.
The investor, who wishes to remain anonymous for now but plans to make a formal offer to the team in the next few weeks, also "loves downtown Oakland" as a site for a new A's ballpark, two high-ranking sources familiar with the potential deal told The Oakland Tribune this week. Proponents say the uptown site is the only financially viable stadium spot in the city.
The investor is interested in buying out A's co-owner Ken Hofmann, who owns half of the A's, the sources said. The investor also wants to take full control of the baseball team, but the other A's co-owner, Steve Schott, is not yet ready to sell his half. Schott, the sources said, wants to wait to see whether the team wins the World Series in 2003.
Sam Spear, a spokesman for Schott and Hofmann, partially denied the pending deal Friday, saying that although Hofmann has at times expressed an interest in selling his half of the team, neither Schott nor Hofmann -- as of earlier this week -- were aware of a "bona fide candidate" who had surfaced to buy the A's.
Spear, who said he last talked to Schott on Dec. 23, added, "At no time is Mr. Schott interested in selling. ... The team is not for sale."
Spear also said anyone who wants to buy Hofmann's 50 percent stake would have to be approved by Schott because he is the managing general partner of the A's. The buyer also must receive approval from MajorLeague Baseball, Spear noted.
One source told the newspaper, however, that the league is aware of the Silicon Valley investor and may be willing to approve the deal.
Moreover, Schott and A's officials twice in the past 16 months have denied reports of two other potential sales of the team, only to acknowledge later that the original reports were essentially true.
News of the Silicon Valley investor coupled with the final HOK report could rekindle the debate over what to do with Oakland's languishing uptown area.
As of last week, the site all but seemed destined to be a large housing development -- a plan strongly backed by Mayor Jerry Brown and Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Fruitvale-San Antonio).
"I was at the point of giving up on the uptown site," said A's superfan Larry Jackson, who was the first to propose uptown as a potential spot for a new A's ballpark. "This new investor, to me, is our last hope. The uptown site is a perfect spot for a ballpark."
According to the report by HOK, which designed San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park and Baltimore's Camden Yards, uptown ranks as the best site among seven locales analyzed in the East Bay.
Uptown won in every category from design to proximity to transportation and total costs.
The uptown site is a 12.5-acre parcel between San Pablo and Telegraph avenues bordered by 18th and 20th streets. It's one block from the 19th Street BART station and a few blocks from Interstate 980. Not counting costs to acquire the property, which is mostly a parking lot, HOK estimated a ballpark uptown would cost $352 million.
HOK's report, to be presented to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority next month, represents a further analysis of findings made by HOK earlier this year.Alternative sites
After uptown, HOK ranked the Coliseum parking lot next to the A's current home in second place, followed by a site in Fremont near the NUMMI auto plant. A spot in Pleasanton came in fourth.
The Pleasanton site, which borders Interstate 580 and El Charro Road, moved up a notch in the final report, while the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal dropped from fourth to fifth.
Representatives from HOK were unavailable for comment Friday, but according to the report Howard Terminal was downgraded because it would take too long to build on the site, thereby missing the 2006 or 2007 goal for completing a new stadium.
Nevertheless, HOK recommends in the report that the Howard Terminal, which sits on the Oakland Estuary next to Jack London Square, remain in the mix for potential stadium sites.
A's co-owner Hofmann has told ballpark proponents he would prefer a spot along the city's waterfront, such as Howard Terminal.
Coming in sixth and seventh, just as they did in HOK's previous report, were a spot on the campus of Oakland's Laney College and a site along Oakland's waterfront near the port's old Ninth Avenue Terminal.City manager committed to housing
Despite HOK's findings and the potential change in A's ownership, Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb said the city still is committed to building the Forest City housing project on the uptown site.
"We've always known that uptown is the best site for a ballpark, but it's not in the cards," said Bobb, who has been the leading backer of a new A's stadium in downtown Oakland. "It's going to be housing."
However, some City Council members who previously showed support for a ballpark on the uptown site but voted earlier this month for the Forest City deal left open the door Friday for ballpark in uptown.
Changing their votes, however, would depend on the A's current or future ownership coming up with a concrete financial plan to build a new stadium -- something Schott and Hofmann have never done. It also would take cooperation with Forest City.
"At this point, I think it would have to be in combination with Forest City," said Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland), noting that Forest City officials have said they would listen to proposals by the A's. "Plus, there's still the problem of how to finance a ballpark."
Councilmember Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland), who was a reluctant supporter of the Forest City deal, added, "The question for me will be, are (the A's) willing to step up to the plate and say they're going to put in 'X' amount of their dollars?'"
Staff writers Paul T. Rosynsky and Mark Saxon contributed to this report.
| By diamond_lil on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 10:32 am:|
Meanwhile, it's easy to see why Sam Spear, Schott's spokesman and PR guy, is deneying there's a prospective buyer for the team.
The last time Sam Spear denied the A's were being sold, the prospective buyer failed to deposite 12 million dollars as a non refundable deposite. THAT'S what Sam Spear qualifies as a "bonafide" prospective buyer.
Furthermore, if you read the Mercury News article posted below, you can expect that Schott is ready to once again play one city against the other and has not given up on his Santa Clara pipe dream.
Posted on Sat, Dec. 28, 2002
A's deny report of imminent sale to South Bay investor
By Guy Ashley
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
OAKLAND - A spokesman for A's co-owner Steve Schott on Friday rejected reports that a deal may be in the offing to sell half of the team to a South Bay investor, who then would take full ownership after the coming season.
"There have been no offers for the team and nothing to indicate there will be any offers in the near future," Sam Spear, a senior consultant for the A's, said in reference to a report published Friday in the Oakland Tribune.
"If there were a person who was serious about purchasing the team, I don't think that person would come forward now," before even talking to the A's ownership.
The name of the interested buyer has not been publicly disclosed, and Spear said he did not know his name.
Schott was out of town and could not be reached for comment, though Spear spoke to him by telephone Friday morning.
The report appears to be built on recurring speculation that Schott's fellow co-owner, Contra Costa County developer Kenneth Hofmann, wants to sell the team.
Hofmann will turn 80 in the coming months, and officials close to the A's say he has expressed doubts about keeping up with the rigors of owning a major league franchise.
But Spear, who spoke to Hofmann as recently as last week, said the A's co-owner has not made up his mind.
"Some days he feels it's time to share his portion of the team, some days he doesn't," Spear said.
Hofmann also could not be reached for comment. "Mr. Hofmann doesn't talk to reporters," said a secretary in his Concord offices.
A friend of Schott's, Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, said reports that Schott might be willing to sell his share of the team after the coming season are plausible.
"I think Steve knows he's got the best team in baseball and he would like to continue to own his share of the A's and take at least one more shot at winning the World Series," Stone said.
Bringing in an outside investor now would enable Schott to maintain his control of the team for the coming season, while stars such as Miguel Tejada remain under contract, Stone said.
He said Schott indeed may be interested in divesting himself of the team in coming years, however, when many of the team's talented young players will be demanding significantly higher salaries.
Word of a possible sale of the team comes as officials in Santa Clara County reportedly are mulling a revived effort to lure the team to the South Bay.
The Santa Clara City Council last year voted to engage the team in talks about bringing them to the city to play in a ballpark that would be built on vacant land next to the Great America amusement park.
The council pulled the plug on the effort, however, when it was reported that Schott and Hofmann were in serious talks about selling the team to a group of investors based in Las Vegas.
As a result of last month's elections, a mayor who opposed talks with the A's was replaced by a city councilwoman who is one of the strongest supporters of bringing the team to the city.
The incoming mayor, Patricia Mahan, will be replaced in her council seat by Dominic Caserta, who said last week he would be interested in entertaining proposals to bring the A's to Santa Clara County.
The changes prompted another longtime councilman, John McLemore, to predict that plans to engage the A's will be revived soon after the new year.
"I expect the city council will come forward with something in the next 90 to 120 days," McLemore said.
| By bubba69 on Saturday, December 28, 2002 - 12:21 pm:|
Pardon me if I do not get excited here. This is a been there done that.....When I see it happen then I will get excited. Besides,who is to say any new owner will not be another Steve Schott!