Dave Newhouse Ballpark Article
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| By chris_d on Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 10:53 am:|
Column Last Updated:
Monday, April 29, 2002 - 3:00:37 AM MST
Oakland's baseball park: Build it, and they will come
IT'S THE FINAL step, and the most important piece, to Oakland's baseball future. It's a downtown ballpark, the architectural savior that will remove Oakland's name from all rumors of contraction or relocation forever.
The Oakland A's have four World Series championships, but a lovely ballpark is the one jewel missing from the A's crowning success.
"It energizes the whole city," A's manager Art Howe envisioned. "There's going to be excitement, traffic, people coming early for a game, then hanging around afterwards to go to dinner or have a drink. There's going to be excitement."
More importantly, there's going to be a baseball team in Oakland. Anything less than a ballpark, and Bud Selig's devious mind will once again plot the elimination of the A's -- from Oakland or the baseball map.
This is what critics of the ballpark must realize: No ballpark, no ball. Is this what they want for Oakland's future? It will be a fight, economically and politically, to make that ballpark appear in Oakland's skyline. But even a nomadic-minded A's ownership finally came around to the idea of staying in Oakland last week, agreeing to a five-year lease extension at Network Associates Coliseum through 2007.
Everyone in the East Bay, it seems, has an opinion on the ballpark. One of the few voices who haven't yet been heard on the matter are those of Howe and his A's players. They seem to make the most sense.
"I've seen what it's done for Cleveland, all those cities," Howe said. "It's rejuvenated all those cities. None (has been) hurt."
Not Cleveland, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, Texas ... should we just name them all? Attendance has increased. Likewise so has business around the ballpark, a proven magnet for a better economy.
"First, they're state-of-the-art," Howe said. "And each new ballpark does it a little better. There are little tweaks. Across the Bay, the visiting manager doesn't have a shower. I'm sure it was an oversight. Even the minor leagues have showers for the visiting manager."
Howe smiled after his subtle dig at the San Francisco Giants. Nevertheless, Pacific Bell Park is a masterpiece designed by HOK Sport of Kansas City, the New York Yankees of baseball architecture who've been hired by Oakland to design a similar ballpark wonder.
Even 40,000 at The Net has a feeling of emptiness, with unoccupied third-deck seats and the looming presence of Mount Davis. But a ballpark has a feeling of snugness.
Last week, Howe's contract was extended through 2003. What generosity. Although Howe's quiet, strong leadership remains unappreciated by A's brass, he likely will manage the A's in 2006. One reason: Some of his star players have longer contracts than he does.
But if these same star players still are wearing the A's green and gold in 2006, it will be because of a new ballpark.
"A lot of guys here would enjoy playing in a baseball-only stadium," pitcher Tim Hudson noted. "A bunch of us will be free agents (before 2006). We all want to stay with the A's, but a new ballpark would be a huge point."
Hudson, one of the best pitchers in the game, benefits from a large foul territory at The Net. All those F-5s and F-3s would be reduced greatly in a compact, cozy retro ballpark.
"More foul territory benefits a pitcher," Hudson agreed, "but I'd rather have a new (baseball-only) stadium than a big foul territory."
Outfielder Terrence Long wants a ballpark for "the atmosphere," and another safety reason.
"Come August and September, the field is going to take a beating," he said of The Net once the Oakland Raiders start playing football. "With a ballpark, I don't have to worry about the ball skipping after the bleachers are pulled out, tearing the grass."
The word "Coliseum" doesn't fit a baseball atmosphere anyway. "Coliseum" is a dual-purpose stadium, an archaic look that is disappearing from America's landscape. A ballpark is baseball. Baseball is a ballpark. It has been this way since Connie Mack was a catcher.
"It's a traditionalist-style baseball facility," Hudson said. "That's what baseball is supposed to feel like."
Of all the rhetoric uttered about the advantages and disadvantages of a ballpark in Oakland, Hudson offered the most astute observation.
It's what baseball is supposed to feel like. ... Perfect.
Dave Newhouse can be reached at 510-208-6466 or by e-mail at
| By tekgraf on Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 03:37 pm:|
Great article. I love it! This is the sort of thing that gets me excite all over again with baseball and this city. If Cleveland, Baltimore and Denver can build a ball park, why can't Oakland? Of all the cities I mentioned, Oakland is by far the prettiest. With the green Oakland hills, Lake Merritt, the waterfront and our beautiful neighborhoods that still do exist, Oakland can be an exciting area again.
| By jenmed on Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 03:43 pm:|
Very good article, and nice to see Art and the players showing an interest.
| By tufe on Tuesday, April 30, 2002 - 08:51 pm:|
...was visiting Dayton, OHIO, which built a downtown stadium for the Cincinnati Reds Class A team...talked with woman who toured the major league ballparks back in the early Nineties...and again last season...her response about the Athletics home field..."They turned it into a STRUCTURE...It's not even a baseball stadium anymore"...AMEN...
...even Peoria, IL, is building a downtown stadium for the Chicago Cubs minor league team...if this new stadium concept plays in Peoria...hmmm...