Fremont Site Losing Steam
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| By chris_d on Monday, April 22, 2002 - 01:26 pm:|
Article Last Updated:
Monday, April 22, 2002 - 3:02:46 AM MST
Fremont shows little interest in ballpark idea
Second site on A's list hesitates in bidding
By Staff Writer
FREMONT -- While Oakland officials are studying financing deals and exploring how other cities have financed new ballparks, Fremont -- second on a list of proposed sites for a new A's stadium -- has done nothing to court the team.
A's officials, saying the team can't compete effectively at the outdated Coliseum, want a new ballpark.
HOK -- the Kansas City-based design firm that built Pac Bell Park for the San Francisco Giants -- surveyed a number of Alameda County sites and ranks a 107-acre parcel in Warm Springs, north of the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. plant -- as the second-most desirable spot for a stadium.
A stadium on the site is estimated to cost $465 million.
The No. 1 site is in uptown Oakland, but Supervisor Scott Haggerty, president of the board that oversees the Coliseum, says Fremont has a "far better" chance of landing the park by virtue of its location in Silicon Valley.
The city, however, has done nothing to bring the team to Warm Springs.
Some Fremont City Council members say the city couldn't possibly compete with Oakland in a bidding war. City officials note there has been no ground-
Mayor Gus Morrison is more blunt. Oakland may be willing to help pay for a stadium, but he is not.
"I'm not willing or anxious to spend any money to build a stadium so they can pay very rich people to play a child's game," Morrison said.
"It's basic philosophy. We don't build a plant for NUMMI, which employs 4,000 or 5,000 people. We don't build a facility for somebody to run a business. I just don't believe in that."
By comparison, Oakland officials hope to have a comprehensive plan for a baseball stadium finished by the end of the year. Oakland has commissioned an analysis of how other communities have financed new stadiums and how new stadiums affect urban areas economically.. The city also is looking into possible financing plans.
This month, Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb and other city officials will take a fact-finding tour of new ballparks. They are expected to visit several cities, possibly Seattle, Denver, Baltimore and Cleveland.
But if the A's don't want to play in Oakland, they won't, Haggerty says. And Fremont, the supervisor insists, could be an attractive alternative.
A Fremont native who moved to Livermore after he was elected to the board, Haggerty represents a district that includes more than half the city. It was at his suggestion that HOK included Fremont in its study.
Locating in south Fremont, he points out, would allow the A's to tap into the coveted Santa Clara County market without infringing on the Giants' territorial rights -- an issue that has complicated efforts to bring the team to Santa Clara.
The Warm Springs site "gets the A's where (owner Steve) Schott wants them to be: Silicon Valley," Haggerty says. That could create access to fans and, critically, corporate funding, he said.
"Corporate participation is paramount for any stadium deal," he said.
But the county also could look for "creative solutions" to help finance a stadium, Haggerty says.
For example, the county owns some lucrative properties in the Tri-Valley area that it could swap with the landowners of potential stadium sites. The county then could work out a long-term lease with the A's -- for example, 99 years for $1 dollar -- to lower their costs, Haggerty says.
"All the details still need to be worked out. These are only possibilities," he said.
And the supervisor isn't bothered by the fact that city officials haven't spent taxpayers' money to attract the team.
"I don't think they have to do much right now," he said, noting that HOK soon could do further analysis of issues surrounding sites -- factors such as transportation. Fremont can wait for the details to shake out, he said.
Councilmember Steve Cho agrees, saying he doesn't want the city to "give away the farm" by acting too quickly.
"We want to let Oakland play out the scenario first just in case (the A's) are trying to use us as leverage," Cho said. "If we show too much up front about wanting them to be here, we may have to offer up more to make it ... enticing as opposed to them reaching a dead end and saying 'we'll go to Fremont instead.'"
The proposed site -- between Fremont Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, near the intersection of Old Warm Springs and Grimmer boulevards -- lies between two major freeways and is within walking distance of BART's proposed Warm Springs station.
After it is decided whether HOK will do further analysis, Haggerty may give a presentation to the City Council on the company's reports, he said.
Councilmember Bill Pease says he is willing to listen to a proposal to bring the A's to Fremont, but he also does not want to kick off a bidding war that would drive the team out of Alameda County.
Pease's colleague, Bob Wasserman, notes that if there were a bidding war, Oakland has made it clear it would be aggressive in keeping the team.
"If we get into something to precipitate an offer battle," Pease said, "we can't match any offers that Oakland can make."
A's spokesman Jim Young said location and the ability to successfully finance a stadium will be key components in deciding where the team will go.
"We're not ruling out any of the options, and certainly HOK targeted the south Alameda County site as being one of those options," Young said. "We have four viable sites we are taking a look at and we have not endorsed any of the sites specifically yet."
Young wouldn't say whether team officials have visited the Fremont site.
Cho doesn't want to see any burden on taxpayers, but he does think a ballpark would be a boom for the area -- sparking commercial development in the area.
"It certainly would put Fremont on the map," he said.
Maybe, but as A's outfielder Jeremy Giambi struggled to recall where the city is, he illustrated that -- at least for now -- there's no A in Fremont.
"Oh, yeah," he said finally, "I think I went to an Outback Steakhouse there one time."
Conan Knoll covers the city of Fremont for The Argus. He can be reached at (510) 353-7026 or email@example.com .
Staff writer Mark Saxon contributed to this report.
| By rono on Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 03:59 pm:|
Message to Schott- step up or shut up. No more playing out your options.
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - 11:15 am:|
The financial packages for the various sites being considered will be finished at the most in 90 days....until then, nothing will be resolved and nobody will step up to the plate to make any significant statement. Without the financing, no argument in favor or against any of any sites will have any validity.