Oakland has year to find funding for new ballpark
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Oakland has year to find funding for new ballpark
Challenge will be devising plan that satisfies investors, wary public
By Paul T. Rosynsky, STAFF WRITER insidebayarea.com
OAKLAND — It's no surprise building a new ballpark for the Oakland A's will come down to money.
But who will raise it and where it would come from continue to be a mystery.
With soon-to-be team owner Lew Wolff basically giving the city and county exclusive rights, for at least the next year, to come up with a stadium plan, attention is turning to how that plan will shake out.
Wolff has already said the team is willing to put down $100 million for a $400 million stadium and indicated the Coliseum parking lot is an ideal location.
Top city and county leaders have said they want the team to stay and agree the Coliseum parking lot could be one of the best spots in the East Bay.
But after that, discussions become muddy as both sides attempt to craft a potential deal that won't scare a wary public or kill negotiations before they begin.
"It is a very delicate line to walk," said Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, the newly elected head of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. "It's a matter of moving forward immediately but having patience at the same time."
What is certain at this time, however, is the stadium cannot be built as a stand-alone project. Such a plan is not cost-effective, nor would it be able to generate the interest from investors and developers needed, many said.
"It has to come with additional benefits," said Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, also a Coliseum board member. "The stadium becomes more attractive."
Building the ballpark as part of a large project also would generate revenue not available should the ballpark be built alone. And it allows the city to possibly avoid using tax funds currently earmarked for other projects.
Since the Coliseum site is in a city redevelopment area, any increase in property tax generated by a project must be reinvested in that area.
Those extra funds could be used to help subsidize construction, De La Fuente and others said.
Having the site located in a redevelopment area attracts investors who are basically guaranteed a return on their projects.
"Now that it is a redevelopment area, there will be significant investment," said Dan Vanderpriem, city redevelopment director. "Also, the political environment is encouraging people to look at that area."
Former City Councilmember Dick Spees, who has created a group of private business people to help in the quest for a park, said having the stadium built in a redevelopment area is key to the project's success.
"Every instrument available in development is available there," he said."
Wolff, a hotel mogul with business investments estimated at more than $1.4 million, appears open to the idea of creating a "destination" rather than just a ballpark, team spokesman Jim Young said.
"In the end, we want a destination, a ballpark that a fan can enjoy year round," Young said.
But whether Wolff would agree to invest more than just the $100 million for a large project remains unanswered until negotiations begin in earnest.
"I'd rather not comment about our financing," Young said.
Also unclear is who would build or invest in such a project.
Already, at least two businessmen with long ties to Oakland developments have stepped to the plate.
Developer Glenn Isaacson and attorney Michael Dean said they are willing to help in the city and county's quest for a stadium.
Isaacson was project manager for the City Center development before he was fired when his firm re-juggled executives. He also was a member of Portside Associates, a company formed to help redevelop Jack London Square in the mid-1980s.
Isaacson also is a friend of Wolff's, Spees said.
"What we hadn't realized when we bounced the idea off Mr. Wolff was that Mr. Wolff knows Glenn," Spees said. "They had done projects together. Wolff said, 'If it's Glenn Isaacson, that makes all the difference to me.'"
Spees said his group will try to generate interest for a new ballpark and bring investors to the table through the sale of season tickets and luxury boxes or through direct contributions to a development.
"There are going to be lots of tug of wars," Spees said of the upcoming year. "And it's the funding mechanism that is going to be the key."
Those tug of wars also could develop between public officials and private figures, such as Spees' group. In fact, some on the Coliseum Authority already have questioned whether they should pay a private group for help.
"We have to heed their ideas and the (authority) has to think about what would be the best way to proceed," Steele said. "Because they propose something it doesn't mean that it is something we want to do."
While the talks proceed, politicians will have to assure a wary public it won't lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars as it did the last time the local leaders pledged tax funds to a stadium project.
"It is very easy for people to say, 'Hey, we want to keep the A's, we have to build a new stadium,'" De La Fuente said. "But there are basic things we need to do, the basic priorities like fire, police, library, you name it. We have to be careful.
"We don't have the luxury of spending public funds," he added.
Although the failed deal that brought the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995 will make building a new ballpark more difficult, many said it has also helped leaders come up with a better plan.
"What we learned is a lot about how people take you to the cleaners," De La Fuente said. "So hopefully, all of that knowledge will help us.
"At this point, though, we don't know what kind of animal it is going to be," he said.
| By simplefan on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 09:27 am:|
Ok, I think I might be the only person in Oakland that will pay higher taxes for this to happen!
Sad thing is, I know some great people in Oakland that are high up in the food chain o politics, but they all hate the idea of another Raider fiasco! So.. back to square one on how to raise the funds...
For now I will save cans and bottles and see if that will put a tiny dent in the funding issue!
| By asch on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 10:36 am:|
ok, I am not very smart when it comes to this stuff...but someone help me out here.
How many A's fans do you think live in the US who WANT the team to stay in Oakland.
I ran some numbers and I am tired, but it looks like if we had 666,666 people donate $300 to the project, that would cover 200million.
That's a dumb thing right? BUT, what if donators GOT something in return? Maybe there is a donation wall - where within the stadium, in the concourse area or something, there is a list of ALL names of people who dontated the $300 OR if each one of those people get 2 free GOOD tix to a game of their choice within reason - plus free food and drinks or whatever and some merch or something.
I am NOT a rich man at all. BUT, I would be MORE than willing to dontate $300 to keep the team in oakland. If in return I got tix to a game, honored in some way (the wall I talked about above), some merch, or something like where you can meet some of the players (in the offseason they can set up group tours of the stadium for donators who get to meet some players - or get a signed ball from the team with a thank you note or whatever...) that's something I would do. AND you get something in value in return.
The logistics would be very difficult, but can't something like that be done?
On the reverse, how much extra taxes would the city have to enforce to get this done? In a nutshell, what happened with the Raiders "fiasco" that made it a fiasco? Sorry, I just am not up on the raiders thing - not a big football fan.
Just brainstorming some crazy ideas. Please done flame me.
An A's fan in Cincy willing to help keep the team in Oakland!
I'm a Joplin Missouri resident.. so don't have as much at stake as what most of you do, BUT I would be more than willing to donate a few hundred bucks to the cause.
Hell even if not everyone is willing to donate 300 bucks or so... every dollar helps.
| By washfan on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 12:26 pm:|
Balco Park did something like that where they placed an engraved brick for initial season ticket holders outside the stadium. I know because my deceased boss & mentor was a huge Gnats fan. If I am not mistaken those bricks are at the foot level to be walked upon. If the A's did something like this I sure as hell would want to be part of a wall and not the pavement. Let's submit this idea to Wolffy. Heck if two former Presidents of the USA can get up on national TV and schill for tsunami releif then Wollf can get on local TV to get fans behind the ballpark cause!
| By deajay on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 02:43 pm:|
I think it's a great idea. Heck I'd give $300 even if my name doesn't go on something. But that would be a nice incentive for some who might not otherwise give ... or especially for out of the area fans ... who should definitely get some kind of return since they can't readily attend games.
Great idea, Adam. Probably lil knows where this kind of idea should be directed.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 03:35 pm:|
Hey, as soon as we have our first meeting, I will submit that idea along with a few others...
I think they are waiting for the official change in ownership, mainly because the A's will have somebody from the front office as part of the Community group headed by Dick Spees.
| By asch on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 06:18 pm:|
Okay - please pass this idea along. I think it's doable because it allows anyone to participate. I know it's a lot of people, but to break it down, it's easy to look at:
666,666 fans donate $300 - we raise 200Mil - with the 100Mil that the team said they put up, I am thinking they would have to kick in more after that much support is show. The impasse would be "only" 100million.
And remember, think of how many businesses (local and maybe not local) that will be able to kick in MORE than $300.
Making the wall showing ALL contributors, or bricks or whatever, is an EASY way to show a "Thanks" to all people who help. I think also giving something in return that is not too costly (a photo of the team, signed "The Oakland A's thank you for your help" or something like that) or time - which doesn't cost anything.
HELL, maybe we could get some of the past Oakland players to donate. It's really a great thought - You set a minimum like $300 and give something in return.
I think this is the best way to go. Get that 200 mill raised and force either the owner or the city, or a combo of the 2, to raise that last 100 million.
AND maybe we could have a "donators" section of the park - like in LF or something, make it a really cool area of seats where only "donators" can buy tix - kind of like a "student section" they have behind the hoops at college basketball games or endzones at football stadiums. Have it have some perks or something.
The trick is for the team to offer something of value back that doesn't cost them anything (providing certain seats etc). Again, many people won't care, they will just want to help. BUT, guys like me who make it out to a game in oakland once every 3 years if that, it would be nice to visit that stadium and see that I helped.
Lil, please let me know if you want any other ideas with this. Let people at that meeting know that there are A's fans all over the country who know that the A's BELONG in Oakland. We want them there and will help. And I am sure there are just pure baseball fans who would be willing to help out too for an engraved brick or something.
A great slogan could be:
Oakland Yards (or whatever)
"A place the people built"
"A place the fans built"
"Built by Oakland fans for Oakland fans"
yada yada yada
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 07:56 pm:|
Adam, I made a word document and saved your post to my desktop. If you or anybody else has any ideas, please don't hesitate to post them.
I'll print them out and present them at our first meeting... and I'll be sure to pass it along to the other board members before I leave and they can pass the ideas along to Dick Spees and Co.
| By deajay on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 09:58 pm:|
washfan, didn't they have different levels of notable contributions from fans for Balco Park and different types of notoriety? Or am I dreaming?
| By asch on Tuesday, February 08, 2005 - 11:27 pm:|
when is that meeting again?
I think the different levels is cool - and they can do that and it would help. But by making the 'minimum' donation like $300 or so, for what I am talking about (a mural with names, or bricks or whatever) it almost forces people to give more. Recognition is the key - MORE than a newsletter thanking people - something special that shows that this thing got done because the A's fans wanted to keep the team IN oakland. More than $300 is great - for the companies and rich people. But to have a poor guy like myself donate $300 to see the team stay in oakland, it would be well worth the dough and to know that my name would be there for something I helped build, it would just be awesome.
Doing the Season tix only bricks is a typical SF BS thing to do - I can't afford season tix! I can't afford $300. BUT it's doable! Hell, we could even set up certain A's fans in certain cities outside of Oakland to set up escrow bank accounts or something to store the money for each cities contributions...
ie> I work hard to contact anyone I can in Cincy to dontate their $300 to keep the A's in oakland. That may be just A's fans, that may be baseball fans that want to help. I think a lot of fans of any team would feel for us; knowing our team is in danger of being pulled away after all the shady crap Selig and company has done in the past like block sales etc. More people than you think may be willing to help. And maybe there is an A's fan in DC who could run the DC "office". We could set up a website that people can go to - either one for everything or city (or state) specific.
| By raiderjohn on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 12:02 pm:|
Good idea, actually its for fans who can't afford season tix to get involved some how. Maybe the A's can set up collection booths/kiosks in selected areas during weekend games. When the Raiders came back, I wanted to get in on season tix then, but that was dulled as the prices were way out of my price range. I know the A's will not be cheap on tickets either, possibly PSL's would somehow get into the equation too. So it's a good way for fans not willing to get season tix to get involved. The thing I fear, is that people will drag their feet because of the Raider fiasco.
| By gregorymark on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 12:33 pm:|
Oakland has year to find funding for new ballpark
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 12:43 pm:|
The Giants had a very good system going when they promoted selling tickets for the new ballpark.
They sold groups of tickets to be shared by 4 or more people (there was a limit of names the Giants recognized as being season ticket holders) with one person as the agent liason to the team responsible and in charge of dividing the tickets and paying for the group.
I think the group Dick Spees put together will be very informed from what we all learned when Dick Spees and Robert Bobb toured many of the new ballparks to find out how they financed and promoted their ticket sales etc...
Btw, the private citizens part of the group who toured the ballparks didn't get any freebies and we all paid our way. Several of those people will be part of the community group again, so many of these are very committed to making things happen with no personal interest other than to keep the A's and make the project a success.
I have a hard time donating $300 to a guy worth $1.5 billion. We will get our pockets picked royally with new ticket prices, parking, and PSLs at any new ballpark. The decision to build it in Oakland or to go elsewhere will not be influenced by fan donations. In, fact the decision might already have been made.
| By cal_90 on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 09:00 am:|
My two cents--if I'm donating money for this ballpark, a way has to be found to make this a donation to a qualified charitable organization so that I at least get a tax deduction for the amount I pony up. Sorry, but if I have to choose between a tax deductible contribution to the remodel of Memorial Stadium or a non-deductible contribution to a rich guy, well, the True Blue will win out over the Bleed Green and Gold.
| By diamond_lil on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:01 am:|
Nobody here is talking about giving money to purchase the team or to give to the owners. Although indirectly it will be for their place of business. We're talking about securing a ballpark in Oakland for the Oakland A's, regardless of who owns the team.
We were discussing of ways to fund the ballpark without taxing the residents of Oakland like they have been taxed with the return of the Oakland Raiders and remodeling of the stadim.
If this ballpark will not be funded by the residents of Oakland the money will have to come from the corporate community and private donations, like the Giants did to build their park.
So, in short...those who want to support keeping the A's in Oakland, should also realize that if the private and corporate sector is not willing to put their money where their mouth is, should realize they will be watching baseball long distance on tv or on their computers. Then they will really save on their season tickets and pay for their package of MLB.com and Direct TV satelite.
And please save me the grief of reading the A's won't move because there is no place to go.
| By eyleenn on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 06:15 pm:|
I wonder if the A's would go the PSL route, since it was such an abysmal failure for the Raiders.
I believe PSLs are now taken for granted as a means to fleece season ticketholders to help pay for a new ballpark.
The Raiders deal was not your typical PSL. The licenses were not perpetual and in fact expire this year. Old Al figured he could shake down the fans every ten years and put the cash in his pocket...NOT! At first, the Raiders were deluged with applications, but many of them were useless as the credit card numbers used on the applications did not have a sufficient line of credit to handle the cost. It went downhill from there.
| By diamond_lil on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 10:24 am:|
All the new ballparks that were built got away from PSL's.
They have other systems which can be transfered and traded and sold back to the team which are much more reasonable.
But regardless... if anybody thinks it will come cheap to attend games as season ticket holders in a new ballpark, then think again...it becomes prohibitive for sure and only the corporate and very rich can afford. Enjoy it while you can and then wait ten years for the corporate honeymoon to end.
Why do you think Selig awarded the AS game to essef...the Giants are beginning to feel the effects of the end of the honeymoon and needed an infusion, especially with the Balco Boy decline bound to happen soon.
| By bfriend on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 12:25 pm:|
I live in San Jose and you'd think I'd be in favor of the San Jose A's but in fact I'm not. Primarily for the reason Lil mentioned. My seats I have behind home plate would easily triple the price per game and even though being a season ticket holder for nearly 20 years, it's a PARTIAL ticket plan and I suspect that even though I have "seniority" based on years, I might be relegated to lower prioity status unless of course I went the Full Season plan. With the new bandwagon fans and corporations in the Southbay ponying up the Full Season tickets, I might not be offered any priority status.
If they build a new park in Oakland, I think the A's would need to rely on the core group of season ticket holders to build on since though it's a new stadium, the fan base is still the same.
I'd still like the Downtown location even though it's further north for me (but closer to a Bart Station than even the Coliseum Bart station is now). Otherwise building one in the existing parking lot would work for me...
| By diamond_lil on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 12:52 pm:|
I don't know how things are now. But when the Giants promoted the initial sale of their Charter seats and season tickets, they offered no partial season plans.
What they did was sell groups of 4 full season tickets to one person who would be responsible for the division of the tickets (if they so wished), and the Giants recognized the names of the people who purchased the partial plans from the head of the group. They considered them as season ticket holders (sending letters and special promos) only up to 4 plans per group.
The initial group also split the price of the Charter seats and it was their names were also placed as charter shares (always up to 4).
One good thing they did was assign agents who would contact people that wanted to buy partial plans and matched them with other people, also only up to four, to form a group of full season tickes.
They did have sale of single game tickets only in certain areas but no partial plans.
Why do I know that?
Because when the Giants promoted their ballpark and needed to build their season ticket base in order to fund their ballpark, yours trully joined a group in support of the Giants ballpark, simply because I didn't want the team to leave esseff...
once the park became a reality, I sold my tickets back to the group of giants fans (my friends) and
continued to 'hate' the Giants right there where they should be.
On the All Star game...Lil is right on. Bud even broke with the traditional alternating betweeen AL and NL parks (it's in Pittsburgh in 2006). Why? Because Barroids contract is up in 2006 and the ASG is a carrot to keep season ticketholder subscriptions (gotta pay the mortgage, ya know). Most SBC attendees are not Giants fans, they are Bonds fans with the rest of the team merely a supporting cast. The ASG will appeal to these type folks.
As for Lil referring to a group of Giants fans as her friends, that is an oxymoron if I ever heard one!
| By diamond_lil on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 03:23 pm:|
lol, now Frank, I have a reputation of a grouch but I'm really very nice and mellow.
and I do take my friends with all their weaknesses and defects...being a giants fan is a huge one but I still manage... sorta...