Interesting Dave Newhouse Article
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Don't rule out A's Oakland ballpark yet
HOW MANY TIMES must it be stated about the Oakland A's? Apparently not enough times for the message finally to register. But they're not moving, they're not being eliminated by Bud Selig, and their new ballpark may yet be built.
Every defeat the A's suffer off the field is reported with more graveness than their unexpected May collapse on the diamond. It's as if everyone knows what will happen to the A's. Everyone's suddenly a sage predictor. Everyone's an expert.
Will all the self-anointed know-it-alls lighten up for a moment? Put down your red flags, and turn off your alarms of fear that portent inherent doom for the A's. Good. Now listen to reason.
Getting rid of the A's in one form or another has been common practice since the late 1970s, when owner Charles O. Finley had a deal to sell the team to billionaire Marvin Davis and move the team to Denver.
That move was blocked, but the A's have relocated ever since without actually leaving Network Associates Coliseum. Somehow, some way, they've remained in Oakland.
Certainly, what occurred last week -- the Oakland City Council approving a housing project where the ballpark was supposed to go -- wasn't good news. But as the only media voice in the Bay Area over the last two decades to predict continually that the A's aren't going anywhere, I'm telling you again: They're not leaving.
There's always a way, and although it isn't apparent at this particular moment, that doesn't mean it won't occur. But to say the A's -- one of baseball's storied and most successful franchises -- are going to be contracted simply doesn't make any sense.
Selig made it clear that Montreal and Minnesota were about to be contracted. Well, Minnesota politicians stopped that foolish talk in court. And Gov. Jesse Ventura just signed the papers leading to a new ballpark for the Twins.
Montreal, baseball's longest-running joke, doesn't care a lick about the Expos, who likely will move to Washington, D.C., which already has lost two big-league franchises.
So do you really believe Selig knows what he is doing? If he tries to contract the A's, there will be movement locally to block him legally. Does a continued ballpark effort in Oakland guarantee that the A's are here to stay? Yes, but who said the current ballpark effort is garbage scraps?
The first issue at hand is the A's lease extension, not the ballpark.
"We have a process problem," Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb said. "The A's were only having discussions with (Alameda County Board of Supervisors president) Scott Haggerty. They struck a deal with Haggerty, and he couldn't deliver the deal, without (his) involving the partners."
Those partners are other Oakland politicos, namely City Council members, who are annoyed at Haggerty for creating policy on his own. This power move smacks of 20 years ago when the Raiders worked out a financial package with Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson to keep the team here. When other local politicians got wind of what had happened, the deal fell apart, and the Raiders moved.
The Raiders are back, but the A's aren't leaving. Haggerty must join the political team, as ragged as it may appear, and work together toward extending that A's lease. The A's must be agreeable working partners, too. The city and county have done back flips to accommodate the A's, with all kinds of perks, including their having paid no rent since 1997.
A's ownership was willing to contribute $120 million to a ballpark in Santa Clara. Given a similar offer in Oakland, perhaps jacked up $30 million more, a ballpark in Oakland could be constructed yet.
"Like Yogi Berra said, 'It's not over until it's over,'" Bobb said. "We've just got to stand up and fight."
So where is the ballpark to be built? Who knows, maybe the same uptown site where the new housing is projected.
"It's stick housing," council member Dick Spees pointed out. "Everyone who has looked at this (project) has said it will look like hell in 10 years. It was done in closed session. It's not final."
Oddly, but fortuitously, the housing project and the ballpark issue come up before the City Council on June 11. This Tuesday, there will be a council meeting on the A's lease extension.
Things could get angrier Tuesday, which will bring even more negative coverage. But A's fans shouldn't give up. Or wait. They must flood disinterested Mayor Jerry Brown and City Council members, especially confrontational Ignacio De La Fuente, with phone calls, letters and e-mails reaffirming their support of the A's and the ballpark.
Neither is a dead issue in Oakland. It only looks that way. It always does.
The answer is right around the corner. We just can't see it yet.
Dave Newhouse can be reached at 510-208-6466 or by e-mail at email@example.com
| By tekgraf on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 01:26 pm:|
I believe Dave. His predictions are pretty accurate. He did predict that the Raiders would return and they did. He predicted the A's would remain, when everyone else was saying good bye to the A's when Finlay was unloading them to some guy out in Denver. And he also predicted that S.J., S.C. would not put up the money or the land improvements to accomandate Shott and Hoffman. I still believe that the A's will build a park and NOT in Fremont. And it will be built in the uptown area or the waterfront.