New Stadium Idea "Uninspiring"
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From yesterday's Chronicle
THE OAKLAND A's have decided that their best hope of staying in the East Bay hinges on the construction of a new ballpark on the vast asphalt parking lot at the Coliseum complex.
The idea is every bit as uninspiring as it sounds.
While the A's have talked about contributing $100 million toward the cost of a new ballpark -- relatively generous by modern pro-sports standards -- the project's ultimate price tag could approach $400 million. In other words, it won't happen without public money.
A public subsidy for a sports franchise -- without any significant residual economic benefit -- is not just a bad investment, it's unfair. It's unfair to the people who don't go to the games, and it's unfair to many of those who do. The A's, who now have a nearly rent-free deal at the Coliseum, try to lure working-class fans with $2 tickets and $1 hot dogs on Wednesdays. A couple can bring two kids to the game and enjoy a hot dog, chips and a soda for just $30 on some special nights.
Anyone who thinks those deals would extend to a new stadium should go to San Francisco's privately financed SBC Park with a couple of hungry kids and watch their wallets shrink.
The most successful of the recent wave of ballparks -- San Francisco, Denver, Baltimore, Phoenix -- have all been key components of an urban neighborhood revitalization. As Oakland City Attorney John Russo put it, they have been strategically placed "in the path of progress" to accelerate it. If planned right, a major-league ballpark can attract development and raise property values.
If anyone thinks a third facility on the Coliseum complex will attract complementary development along I-880, we cite 28 years of evidence to suggest otherwise. Those lumber yards, warehouses, RV rental centers and steel- galvanizing plants gain no discernable synergy from major sporting events, and vice versa.
Regrettably, Oakland had other plans for two sites that held promise for the type of ballpark-neighborhood renaissance that proved a winning combination elsewhere. Mayor Jerry Brown pre-empted a potential ballpark site near City Center by pushing through plans for a development that could bring 1, 000 dwellings, 14,000 square feet of retail and a new city park to a plot between Telegraph and San Pablo avenues. City subsidies of that project are expected to approach $70 million.
Plans for a waterfront park at the old Howard Terminal, just north of Jack London Square, were scuttled when the Port of Oakland recently signed a long-term lease for the storage of shipping containers.
Left with no good options, the A's settled on the Coliseum site -- and the ownership's willingness to pursue the idea was initially hailed by some Oakland fans as a great advancement in the effort to keep the team from looking outside the area for a new home.
"Ideally, the waterfront would be a nice idea ... downtown would be a nice idea ... Monterrey, Mexico, would be a nice idea," said Lew Wolff, the team's vice president of venue development, with a presumed tinge of sarcasm on the south-of-the-border idea. "You can fantasize (about) things, but you have to have a site."
Wolff said the Coliseum site's major attribute, besides the land itself, is access -- especially with a BART stop nearby.
There is no doubting the A's ownership's resolve for a new ballpark. The Coliseum, which once had a certain spartan charm and a sweeping view of the hills, was ruined for baseball when a towering east-side addition ("Mount Davis") was built to accommodate the return of the football Raiders.
It is now, unquestionably, the least aesthetic outdoor baseball stadium in the major leagues.
Even so, the A's have shown that savvy scouting and adroit money management can keep them competitive on the field against teams with taxpayer- built Taj Mahals.
Oakland should be reluctant to once again open its checkbook for anything more on the Coliseum site. Raiders' owner Al Davis would almost surely find a pretext -- lost parking revenue, lost pride, shadows from construction cranes -- to file yet another lawsuit against the city. The new baseball park would fall under the purview of the Joint Powers Authority, a collection of city and county officials who are so petty and divided that they just spent months fighting over a concession contract. Imagine what might happen if they were dealing with a major project.
Oakland might not be in this fix if it had a mayor willing to take a leading role on professional sports. But Mayor Brown, who entered office as the full extent of the long-term financial burden of the Raiders debacle was becoming apparent, has taken a passive role toward keeping the A's. He is openly skeptical about the prospects that a new ballpark could be built without public money in a city that has other pressing priorities. He saw no need to wait for a downtown ballpark plan to materialize before charging ahead with the retail-housing project that assures it never will.
"There has never been a pro forma, never a sheet of paper that will show: This is the way it will work," Brown said of the never-ending talk of a new Oakland ballpark. Still, he took issue with the suggestion that he was ambivalent about whether the city retained its sports franchises.
"I like the A's, I like the team, I like the ownership," Brown said. "I'm just saying we have to be honest. The question is -- where is the other $300 million going to come from?"
There is a reason no one from the public or private sector is offering up the money. The only clear beneficiary of a new baseball-only stadium at the Coliseum site would be the owners of the A's -- and they have made it clear they are only willing to pick up a fraction of the tab.
Ok oaktownpat...I'm taking time out here...and
I'm calling you out on this one. Why don't you give us YOUR very logical and inpassionate opinion on this Editorial by the San Francisco Chronicle?
When you say outtownpat, are you calling me out?
I disagree with the article but thought I would post it for discussion.
No, I wasn't calling you out oaktownmojo. I was calling oaktownpat who is always accusing many of us here, particularly me, of being illogical and blind with passion about our thoughts on this issue.
I'm grateful to you oaktownmojo, for posting this Editorial from the Chronicle (which has no signed author) because I for one can read in between the lines what it really means... I totally missed it.
I'll wait to see if anybody else chimes in about this.
| By ramjet1 on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 01:15 pm:|
The editorial comment attempts to take the wheels of the northern parking lot site before it has a chance to gather momentum. This in turn discourages corporate participation which is vital for this thing to work.
Is this the best location for a ballpark in the eastbay? No, Robert Bobb paid HOK sport 100,000 dollars to determine that, and they came up with the Uptown site.
Is this the only location in Oakland that the owners appear to be willing to put up at least 100,000,000 dollars for? Yes.
So this is what we have Chron it aint perfect but with some imagination it can be a nice venue that improves the area.
| By bparkjamo on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 03:54 pm:|
All you need to remember is that this is a SF paper we're talking about,all the bias you want and then some.
I plan on being at the august 28 game,and would look forward to meeting one and all.
| By jesse on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 06:31 am:|
I bet Barbieri wrote that.
MLB owners meet in Philly this week. Any discussion of the future of the Expos could impact the A's and their stadium plans. The rumor that the Expos would be moved to RFK stadium for 2 years makes sense when you consider that there is more than one potential ownership group in DC. Bud would like nothing better than a bidding war to up the franchise price tag. Then there is the pesky issue of Peter Angelos and compensation to the Orioles.
What does this have to do with the A's? Selig already has hinted that there will be other opportunities for some Expo suitors left at the altar. We may see a deadline placed on Oakland for committing to a new stadium, or it's off to Vegas or Portland for the green and gold. Which means where is the missing $300M for the new "stadium in the parking lot" going to come from? It could be put up or shut up time. Stay tuned...
I just can't get over how concerned and interested this San Francisco Chronicle Editorial was...and the timing is really great.
Could it possibly be that they really have no interest in seeing Oakland build a ballpark?
Could it be an attempt to throw cold water at a project chosen by the A's owners?
I suppose it is real paranoia for me to assume this editorial belittling the building of a new baseball park at the Oakland Coliseum site has an agenda.
I suppose it is illogical of me to suspect that they know that if Oakland doesn't facilitate the building of a ballpark, the team will probably be leaving the Bay Area?
Stay tuned indeed...I bet the San Francisco Chron has the headline of the A's relocation ready in bold letters.
| By deajay on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 07:30 am:|
Awww, they're still pissed because the A's wouldn't allow the Giants to play their home games at the Coli, lo those years ago, when the Giants were trying to figure out what to do about a new park.
Only thing is, on their way to packing for the Oakland Coli, they forgot to check with A's ownership. And Haas politely informed them and (former) friend Bob Lurie, "Head elsewhere young men."
| By oaktownpat on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:00 pm:|
I like this article. It pretty much sums up how many of us feel:
Downtown is the best - We all have our eye on the downtown plan as the best place for a ballpark, be it for the location in respect to major transportation (the finleyshero concept, which is probably the best of all arguments), the surrounding neighborhood’s potential and character, the redevelopment that could go with it. It just works so much better than any of the other plans in so many ways. Except for one VERY important way - Mayor Moonbeam blew it (side note: did you guys know the reporter from Chicago(?) who originally labeled him that publicly stated that he regretted it? I wouldn’t cal him that, but it works perfectly in this situation).
Jerry Brown screwed it up, and its hard to figure out why. He’s had this agenda to bring more people into the downtown area and he has done a respectable job at making downtown a bit better. But he just has no idea how important this team is to our city. However, on top of that, this just simply seems to be a bad business decision. There are many places to put a housing development around there, but only one to put in a ballpark. Let's see, would I pay more for a condo near a booming district with a ballpark, or one that is just in a park full of condos near a downtown that is dead at night (with the exception of a few places - Cafe Van Kleef comes to mind). I suppose it depends on who you are, but I'm thinking the ballpark idea generates a lot more revenue, character, and interest than some condo development. Jerry – I don’t get it – it simply doesn’t make sense! Unless of course you believe there is absolutely no hope in anything getting done, or you just really don’t understand any of the intangible benefits of a sports team . I’m glad the article called you out, and to me, your answer proves your ambivalence (“I like the A’s” – sure buddy, it doesn’t even read as believable).
All that said, the Coliseum plan is better than nothing , or specifically, better than them moving somewhere else. IMHO, Oakland makes the most sense for the A’s future success, regardless of any loyalty they owe us or anything along those lines. But that’s for a different discussion. The main point here is that the Coliseum plan just kind of sucks – it’s totally uninspiring just like the article states. But is it uninspiring when compared to the other plan, or just uninspiring period? It’s hard to say – we all seemed to enjoy the pre-Mt. Davis Coli. But does that work these days, given the more “touristy” type of fan you need to attract? On top of that, the article couldn’t be more right-on about how difficult and unlikely a revitalization plan in that area will benefit the city. I know there is already one planned around Coliseum BART, but what kind of impact will this thing REALLY have? The jury is still out on the similar Fruitvale Village project, but it seems to be successful. However, that was is in an already-bustling part of town. It wasn’t some barren industrial land right next to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. Drive down San Leandro Ave. and try to visualize that street as being some spectacular place to be – yeah, it ain’t real easy to do. Regardless, its a whole-hell-of-a lot more inspiring than some ballpark in San Jose, which would alienate a great deal of the current fan base (anybody know how many A’s fans come to games from north of Oakland – I’m guessing it’s a whole lot). So, we’ll take the Coli if that is all we got.
BUT! I’m still holding out hope. What are the chances that, when we elect Robert Bobb for mayor (hehehe), that the city can back out of the Forrest City (?) development? Am I just a hopeless romantic, or can this be done? Anybody?????
| By bparkjamo on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:28 pm:|
While I continue to work on a coliseum ballpark design, I do cast an eye towards Uptown,just in case the forest city plan craps out. I don't give much credence to any story about Oakland's ballpark pursuits in a SF paper. But the fact is that Jerry Moonbeam has a friend at forest city,and that drove the agenda.
A's fans in Oakland need to politely stay on the city council and the JPA. Please keep in mind that Mr. DeLaFuente is looking to be Mayor in two years.
A ballpark can be built in Oakland,wherever in Oakland. It can be built for less than what is estemated. I want to put together a plan that will have a dual effect- forcing the A's & Selig's hand,and make the giants GREEN with envy.
It can happen.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 05:46 pm:|
I'm not here trying to defend the Mayor re the Forest City site...it is true they were major contributors to his political campaign.
But when the chips were down and Robert Bobb put together the plan which was to be presented to the City Council, we the fans were there...but Schott and the A's never showed up and never showed any interest whatsoever...
Robert Bobb tried until the last minute and finally said as the plan was shelved, "you can take a horse to the water, but you can't force it to drink it".
I'm sure that if Schott had shown interest, the politicos would have listened. AND...Forest City went on record stating that they were ready to incorporate a ballpark into their developement plans.
| By oaktownpat on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 07:05 pm:|
Yeah, I suppose in retrospect, you can see why we are in this situation now. At the time, there was too much uncertainty to just wait for the A's. On the other hand, he shares some responsibility for that uncertainty. The Mayor probably genuinely thought he was doing the best thing at the time, but now look where we stand. We have the A's brass stating that they are going to stick around (at the least, its progress) but the spot that made the most sense for everyone is taken!
Maybe Forest City is still willing to incorporate a ballpark? The sunk costs could be offset by projected additional revenue.
I guess all we can do is hope and, in the meantime, hate Schott.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:02 pm:|
I don't blame the city or the mayor of Oakland if by some chance the A's move out of the city. Sure you can blame Brown in some capacity but he offered to fly the A's ownership over the city looking for potential sites and the A's brass never showed up. They didn't show up during any of the A's city council meetings in mid 2002 and they give you some half ass attempt statement saying that they'd be willing to invest 100 million for a park in the parking lot of the net. Fat chance I see that happening.
This ownership has played the city of Oakland so many times that I will never trust it anymore. Whether it be buying the A's from the Haas family for a lower price, to have this ownership eyeing the south bay ever since they bought it, to playing the Pinccinni/Dolich group like a fiddle to get out of some lease deal with the city, for not taking any of the A's fan who want to keeep the A's in Oakland seriously, the list can go on and on.
The A's ownership especially Schott can kiss my ass.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:14 pm:|
Regardless of how this ownership has conducted it's business in the past, the Oakland A's is still our team and we don't want to see it relocated.
I see Schott as a temporary custodian of the Oakland A's...and the same goes for the current Mayor as far as the city of Oakland is concerned...
The Oakland A's will still be our team, regardless of the present ownership or politicos of Oakland when they are long gone.
I think we just have to continue to do whatever it takes to retain this team in Oakland.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 09:28 pm:|
I love my A's and the city of Oakland. I know Brown and Schott/Hoffman will leave eventually but it's hard to see that neither party has real respect for the city of Oakland and the residents.
Brown has his eyes in Sactown looking towards the attorney general job and we all know where Schott really wants as the home for the A's.
I love everything about the city of Oakland except the Raiders because I have a extreme dislike of Al Davis who unlike Schott/Hoffman or Brown, is the face of the franchise and will never leave until he leaves this world.
No doubt, I'll try my hardest to keep the A's in Oakland and will always root for them if they stay in the bay area but this ownership group has taken me to the limit as a sports fan and a citizen of Oakland
Whatever Brown's position on the A's has been in the past, he is now a lame duck who will do nothing. It is probably safe to say now that the A's will not leave town on his watch. What we need is a winning mayoral candidate to champion the cause of keeping the A's in Oakland.
I feel it is important that the OAFC get all serious mayoral candidates to state their positions on the A's staying in Oakland. We want their position to be clear, pro or con, to the Oakland voters. It is important that the issue be keeping the A's in Oakland, NOT building a new stadium at the expense of the taxpayers.
| By jenmed on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:05 am:|
My letter in today's Chronicle, published in response to their editorial.
| By eyleenn on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:39 am:|
Try to see the print version. Has a picture of the Coli, nice headline.
I was walking around SF this weekend, and I explored SBC Park and the surrounding areas...and what they have done there is truly awesome with that park. They got a big firm to pay for a lot of the bill and used money from fans and other donors. The statues and brick walls with dedications, the places to eat, the fan shop.... the park.
My question is, why can't Oakland do this? Why can't we build a beautiful new park somewhere near in the north side of town near Emeryville? Who gives a crap if it's hard to get to - people should use BART or park and be shuttled. OR better yet a place on the waterfront? Or somewhere wehere you'd get a view of the new Bay Bridge? We shoudl have statues of Rickey Henederon, Dave Stewart, Catfish Hunter, Dennis Eckersley.
I hate to say it but I think rebuidling the park on the parking lot is not a great idea. I mean has anyone ever walked in the neighborhoods around the park? Totally awful. It's not going to revitalize anything. I hate to be negative but building a new park closer to current shopping or downtown is the best bet.
| By jenmed on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:45 pm:|
RFF, did you read my editorial? How can you say there will not be revitalization in that area? There are massive redevelopment plans in progress and soon to be in progress for the Coliseum area, and a new baseball only ballpark could be the jewel in the crown. Show me the hard evidence that the current revitalization plans in conjunction with a new ballpark will not improve the area. The contention makes no sense.
Of course you have every right to disagree, but your post is along the same lines as the original Chronicle editorial - i.e. ignoring the HOK reports as well as the existing redevelopment plans.
Jenmed, oops, no I haven't read it. Let me go back and do that. I guess I was just feeling a bit jealous, looking at SBC Park. If the A's do build on the current Coliseum site, I really hope it does revitalize the area because it really does need it.
| By jenmed on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 03:36 pm:|
OK, it's cool, I think my editorial (or better yet, the OAFC column that has a bit more detail) will help you to understand our optimism.
| By oaktownpat on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 10:54 pm:|
I admire your vision. But I just can't imagine how an Amtrak station with some restaurants and a bit of shopping is going to revitalize a completely dead/industrial part of town. I think it will do some good things for the area, but I don't see it being enough to attract fans from other cities, which is obviously what we need to happen.
I'll say it again though - it’s better than nothing. But there are just so many better places in this city to put a new ballpark.
| By ramjet1 on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:42 pm:|
Oaktownpat you are so right, but you've got to play the hand you've been dealt and turn lemons into lemonade. I'f you saw the area around SBC park just 15 years ago I guarantee it wasn't on the S.F.tourism must see list, unless you were into freeway off ramps, muddy vacant lots, old industrial buildings and the Caltran depot. A lot of good things can be done with some inovative design and vision. For example why not relocate the Western Air Museum from Amelia Earhart drive to the area below the ramp between BART and the Coliseum, if people knew the air museum existed it would draw a lot more visitors year round. There are currently millions of federal, state and local funds already committed to the Coliseum BART location for housing, transit and commercial improvements. Areas can change and peoples attitudes about areas can too.
| By oaktownfan on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 04:40 pm:|
Still would love to see a park built near the waterfront or downtown area.
If a new park is built in the colisuem parking lot, I'll be happy with it but wouldn't be all that thrilled about it like I would if it were built in more deseriable locations where it can benefit the city of Oakland more.