Ballpark talks continue behind the scenes
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A's winding up to pitch new ballpark
Potential East Bay sites located in urban settings to be named in two months, official with Oakland team says
By Paul T. Rosynsky, STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- The Oakland A's future in the city could become clearer by summer's end, the team's ballpark scout said Friday.
Lew Wolff, the A's vice president for venue development, said he will make a recommendation to the team's owners within two months on possible locations for a ballpark within the East Bay.
"We are not too far away from focusing on sites," Wolff said. "Within 30 to 60 days, there will be more focus on what may be a possibility."
Although Wolff refused to specify possible locations, he said a new ballpark most likely would have to be built in an urban setting similar to the team's current home at the McAfee Coliseum.
"Most ballparks need to be more urban these days ... the Coliseum, I would consider urban," he said. "If you go out to Pleasanton ... that would not be a smart thing to do."
Wolff talked about the time line a day after current team co-owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann gave the luxury hotel and real estate developer a one-year contract extension.
In addition to maintaining his position as vice president for venue development, Wolff also will continue to have an option to buy a portion of the team should he find a site for a new ballpark.
Wolff, who has owned other sports franchises, joined the A's last November and immediately began talking with local officials about possible locations for a new stadium.
City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who also chairs the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, said he has had four meetings with Wolff, including one Friday.
"I am a strong believer that it is possible for the A's to build a new home in Oakland," De La Fuente said. "It could be part of a major development of commercial retail and housing."
Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, also a member of the Authority, said, "I don't think they want to leave and go somewhere else." Wolff's hiring last year and Schott's connections to the South Bay have raised speculation the team is seriously considering a move to San Jose or another South Bay city.
Wolff is friends with San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, owns a part of the San Jose Fairmont Hotel and built the San Jose Park Center Plaza. Schott's home building business is based in Santa Clara, and he has in the past talked of moving the team there.
But the A's would have to overcome several hurdles for such a move, including the San Francisco Giants who own territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
Wolff, however, said the team wants to stay in the East Bay and is willing to "contribute a good piece" of the costs for a new stadium.
A city-commissioned study in 2001, which identified seven potential sites within Alameda County that could host a new ballpark, found costs for such a project would range from $385 million to $565 million.
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| By bubba69 on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 03:59 pm:|
I will believe it when I see it!
| By eyleenn on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 05:50 pm:|
"A city-commissioned study in 2001, which identified seven potential sites within Alameda County that could host a new ballpark...."
And just WHERE were the owners during that process. MISSING IN ACTION.
Why is it different now? I agree with Bubba; I'll believe it when I see it.
| By oaktownfan on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 06:22 pm:|
Yeah, if SJ or any city in the south bay had organized what the city of Oakland and fans did in the spring of 2002; Schott would've been there cheerleading the process.
I don't trust a word what Schott, Crowley or Wolff say
At this point, perhaps Schott has come to grips with the reality that a move to the South Bay is out of the question. Since there is no other place in the solar system that can afford to build a stadium and fill the seats every day, Oakland wins by default.
At the rate they are going, they should break ground in 2020 or so, and that's find with me.
| By kevink on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 09:00 pm:|
bpf, I agree.
It seems that as A's fans we are just going to have to live with this kind of talk forever- they're going to SJ, they're going to DC, they're staying in Oakland, they're getting a new park, they're moving to Fremont, they're staying at the NETASS!!!!!
I, too, hope that Wolff is seriously looking at Oakland but when he says "we may have to look outside the East Bay" this probably means he won't make a serious attempt at anything within Oakland.
"I don't think they want to leave and go somewhere else."
Have they conned the county supervisor, or does she know what she's talking about?
| By tekgraf on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 10:55 pm:|
Has anyone thought that maybe, just maybe, they're actually looking at the possibility of the uptown site?
Maybe, the uptown site is being considered along with Forrest city's plan and maybe schott himself is interested in developing the housing in the area as well. Maybe Wolff would like to build a hotel in that area near the ball park. I know there are a lot of maybes, but perhaps that area is going to be the massive ballpark, hotel and housing project Mayor Brown would like to happen.
| By mutiny on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 10:58 pm:|
that gives me butterflies in my tummy with excitement.
| By oaktownfan on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 01:04 am:|
tekgraf, I don't know how any of the parties could hide the fact that they're interested in a park/housing/entertainment/retail in the uptown area. You'd think that somebody would've leaked it out by now.
Honestly, I've given up on the uptown park idea and the most logical place for me personally would be a park near the waterfront.
I don't like the idea of building a park at the net's parking lot. No!
It is already public knowledge the city has offered to sit down with the owners to discuss the land around that area that they could use for developement and ballpark.
It is not exactly the original portion of land next to the theater at 20th and telegraph, but it is in the general area which is still Uptown. Some of it is closer to the freeway and seemed a bit small when I saw its location. But there might be more with disappropriation of some existing buildings etc...
I know for a fact that DeLaFuente is more than willing to offer land the city owns, to be developed, there around the Uptown site to the A's owners if they were interested. He (DLF) told us that already two years ago.
And Forrest City also showed interest in joining forces with other developers in that area, including to fit in a ballpark.
While even the slanderous Mr. de la Fuente has shown interest in a new ballpark in Oakland, hizzhonor, da mayor Moonbeam has not. I suspect stuff will not happen in earnest until Oakland seats a new mayor.
| By bparkjamo on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 08:46 am:|
diamond lil, can You give me an idea of where the other site is in relation to Uptown?
this portion of land was shown to us (two members of the oafc) by DLF when we met with him at his office at about 2 years ago.
It was just prior to the first city council vote to proceed one more year with the Forrest City project (which I believe expires again this July).
The portion of land I remember was very close to the freeway several blocks away from 20th and Telegraph. At the time DLF said that it was small but it could be bigger if some disappropriation took place in that area.
Perhaps is ChriD reads this post, he can elaborate on what I'm saying.
| By tekgraf on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 10:00 am:|
The area that lil is talking about is the area on and near the Gray Hound bus station.
| By chris_d on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 10:17 am:|
Lil is right. In the summer of 2002, De La Fuente told our group that even if the Uptown site is taken by the Forest City project, he felt that the land right around Uptown could still be used for a ballpark, if needed. I don't recall if it was right on the Greyhound Bus station, but it was definitely very near it. He showed overhead pictures of the area with sketched designs of where a ballpark could be shoehorned into the area. That was De La Fuente's point of view at that time.
| By chris_d on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 10:29 am:|
Also, it's important to note that during that whole process between November 2001 and July 2002, the Oakland City Council slightly delayed moving forward on Uptown with Forest City because then City Manager Robert Bobb was touting it as a possible A's ballpark site. But the City Council kept asking a question: Where are the A's? While Schott and Crowley went to separate Santa Clara meetings in hopes of getting a new ballpark down there, they never went to an OAKLAND city council meeting during that process. So, after a while the Oakland city council asked, how can we keep holding up these plans when the A's are expressing little to zero interest to us?
My point is that, even if the city council goes forward with this Forest City plan next week, sure, it will be a mistake for the city. But, the majority of the blame for Uptown not being used for a new ballpark has to be blamed on the A's. That's an important distinction. They A's have had over 2 years to make a play for the site, and we, and the city council, are still waiting. Wolff has been on board for 7 months now. And he still has a week to make a play for Uptown if he wants. Even further, leaving Robert Bobb hanging like that in 2002 partially led to his firing last year. So, the A's inaction also cost them one of their biggest cheerleaders with the city.
But, if tekgraf is right, and somehow Wolff is working behind the scenes to put a ballpark in Uptown, then I'll gladly eat all the crow in the world. That would be awesome.
And also important to keep in mind is that right at the same time Robert Bobb was trying to get the A's to come to the table to iron out the financial details...Butt Selig once again sent in another one of his Trojan Horse interested and recommended bidder for the team, the DC based business man Ledecky...at the time he even had a deadline set to put down his non-refundable deposit to purchase the team...deadline which he did not meet due to lack of assurance from MLB that he would be able to relocate the team.
Don't forget folks...there have been bidders with very local involvement with a lot of interest in building a ballpark (one was particularly interest in the Uptown site according to a close staff member of the Robert Bobb group) which have been shut down and nixed by Selig...
We have many forces against our cause folks, and the biggest of them is Selig and his close cohorts, including Magowan.
| By eyleenn on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 02:51 pm:|
Having made numerous trips from Berkeley to the Oakland Greyhound station to pick up/drop off my son while he was in college, I can only say -- Yippee!! That would be a terrific site for a ballpark. Great access by BART and freeway, and there's certainly not much else going on around there.
| By bparkjamo on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 09:02 am:|
well,if it's the area immediatly south of the bus station,it could work. Looking at the maps of the area, the forrest city project would work better there.
For the sake of full disclosure, I've been working on a design proposal for uptown,as well as one for the Coliseum. I have a stadium architect who tells Me that a ballpark can be built for as much as 100 million LESS than what HOK estimates.
Once again,I thank one and all for their responses.
thanks for the input and the interest...
good luck with your project and please keep us posted.
we'll be ready to support any project which would benefit the A's and keep them in Oakland where they belong.
| By oaktownfan on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:48 am:|
I've seen a 3-D model of what a park would've looked like on the Laney site. KRON showed it a long while ago when they discussed about a new park in Oakland.
It wasn't some picture model or the brown model that was shown on this board a couple of years ago, this was a real 3-D color computer model of the park. The model actually looked like Petco Park with sections of the upper reserved being cut being replaced by huge lighting towers.
I don't know how KRON got that clip because I've yet to seen it elsewhere whether it be on tv or on the internet.
| By bparkjamo on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:16 am:|
Diamond Lil, I will keep one and all up to date on the effort.
I've been at it for a while,not full time mind you. I have one design pretty well fleshed out for Uptown,and I have one started for the coliseum. I will look closer at the maps I have of the area near Uptown, to see what can fit there.Uptown looks dim,but I love the site. The Coliseum has great potential in the great scheme of things.But a site next to Uptown would work for Me.
Question to Oaktowners- Who would be best to talk to on the city council?
| By simplefan on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 10:22 am:|
Start there and well good luck.