Newhouse: Naysayers wrong: New home for A's would improve area
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Naysayers wrong: New home for A's would improve area
Sunday, March 17, 2002 - HEY ARE marshaling their forces again. They always do whenever it's a new ballpark, whether it's Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver or Oakland. They are determined to stop any ballpark effort. Whatever it takes.
Their reasoning always is the same. Schools need to be improved. The crime rate must come down. Housing is a more important priority.
A new ballpark, these armies of pessimists insist, won't improve the economy. They have sheaves of proof supporting that argument from the slide rules of economics professors.
The pessimists argue further that the ongoing sting of the Oakland Raiders' return -- the Coliseum renovation backlash, the potentially costly lawsuit in Sacramento -- makes a ballpark foolish. Who will fund it if Al Davis mugs the city and county for $1.1billion in the state capital?
So the pessimists, including local elected politicians, are unified against a downtown ballpark in Oakland, in a downtown with boarded-up storefronts, empty streets at night, and a look of hopelessness.
These critics haven't alternatives to offer to change this desperate appearance. They haven't plans to present that make more sense than a ballpark centered in the heart of a struggling economy.
Instead they just hold up red flags, build their ranks, make phone calls, send e-mails. They have a collective voice, but their words make no sense. For schools and ballparks, crime and ballparks, they don't compete. Sorry, folks, different financial ballgames.
"There are different funding pots. People never understand that," said Oakland City Council member Dick Spees, a ballpark proponent. "We have a chance to substantially increase tax revenues from various sources: sales tax, transient occupancy tax based on more people coming here (for Oakland A's games), more people staying overnight, spending money in restaurants. This gives us a chance to develop retail downtown.
"By substantially increasing your business investment and tax revenues, this gives you the money to increase the quality of life in Oakland."
The negative nabobs don't have any better answers towards improving the quality of life in Oakland. Thus they complain without foundation. For what other choice is there but a ballpark?
"There isn't any," said Spees. "(A ballpark) will have the greatest impact. Nancy (Nadel, council member) brought up professors' studies (that a ballpark doesn't aid the economy). But professors have their own agendas. If you look at Baltimore, Detroit, Denver and even south of San Francisco, you see the improvement in those cities (following new ballparks) are substantial. Irrefutable."
The nabobs suffer from myopia. They can only see the moment, today, based on what they think they've learned from the past.
"You don't build a city on the issues and problems of today," said Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb. "You build a ballpark for future generations. A ballpark creates jobs. Eighty-one games a year makes baseball different from football."
Yes, but football, i.e., the Raiders, is the main roadblock in the path of a ballpark. A badly devised ticket marketing plan following the Raiders homecoming, plus five years of bad football, has taxed Oakland's citizens, literally. Now Davis, who goes through life unhappily, is eager to rob the pockets of the city and county that took him back when there weren't any other takers, because he said he was promised sellouts upon his return.
And what if he is awarded the $1.1billion he seeks?
"We're not going to lose that suit," Spees predicted. "They can never prove ($1.1billion). Even if we lose the suit, it will be appealed in a second. It's a long fight."
But can a ballpark be built by 2006, the projected goal, with the Raiders' suit hanging over Oakland like a thunder cloud, ready to burst?
"If we don't get a new stadium," Spees warned, "we lose the A's."
There is that possibility though the A's have moved for years without moving. But where would Oakland be without the A's -- who still could be contracted -- after having lost a cool billion to the greedy Davis? The best answer: There better be a ballpark package that makes sense financially.
"Even if we lost the suit, you keep moving forward," said Bobb. "There are many (ballpark) financing schemes we're working on. In 90 days, we'll have a financial package the community can chew on."
The naysayers already have chewed it up and spit it out even without tasting it. That's their lot in life, it seems, to make baseless conclusions.
The plain hard fact is that Oakland's downtown, even with its new high rises, is a house of cards that could topple without a ballpark.
Dave Newhouse can be reached at (510) 208-6466 or by e-mail at
| By jenmed on Monday, March 18, 2002 - 10:28 pm:|
Excellent article, Lil. Much better than his pre-rally article. Just the right words to express what many of us feel about the Nancy Nadels of the world.
| By fanamy on Tuesday, March 19, 2002 - 09:42 am:|
Thanks for posting Dave's article, Lil. If I've learned anything in life, it's that opposition is necessary to come to the best possible solution for all concerned. If there is little or no opposition (like the Raider deal) really bad decisions can be made. I don't think we or the people who are for the stadium should spend a lot of time refuting Nadel's economics, but there should be an irrefutable counter to her ivory tower economic analysis. This can only make our side stronger.
I think you're absolutely right. In a very sick sort of way, I feel that complacency and relief
from thinking the A's can't go anywhere anytime soon is a very bad thing for the ballpark drive.
So in a way, the more Selig and Schott whine and throw threats around, the best for the ballpark drive and for those of us who feel the marathon is just now starting but the finish line and silver lining will be there in Oakland, at Telegraph and 20th to be exact :')