Don't block the ballpark - SF Chronicle Editorial
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| By ronc on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 - 09:05 am:|
Don't block the ballpark
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
IF OAKLAND is serious about keeping its prized baseball team, now is the time to make the right moves. Mayor Jerry Brown and the City Council need to show their support for retaining the Athletics.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, Brown and his allies should authorize a short-term stadium lease at the Coliseum to keep the Athletics, who now are year-to-year tenants. Next month, city leaders should put the brakes on a plan for housing on a downtown site that appears to be the most promising location for a new ballpark.
The A's are an enormous plus for the city, bringing excitement, recognition and, if approached judiciously, financial benefit. But Brown and many Alameda County politicians are wary of the sports business because of the financial bath taken in the 1995 deal that brought back the Raiders from Los Angeles.
A fresh deal with the A's doesn't have to be a rerun, Mr. Mayor. It's time to think of the positives in keeping the A's in Oakland.
The Coliseum, which sits on the fringe of the city, is worth replacing with a baseball-only, updated stadium near the city's center. There are commonsense advantages to a new home for the baseball team at a site adjacent to downtown on largely unused land between 18th and 20th streets and San Pablo and Telegraph avenues.
Brown favors an 800-unit apartment complex for the spot as part of his plan to create 10,000 units in Oakland's downtown. Last week, a majority of the council voted to renew negotiating rights with the Forest City Dillon development firm for the site.
But if the land becomes housing, the best spot for a stadium will vanish. The location has two nearby BART stations fed by several lines, ample freeway connections and views of the hills, skyline and bay. Nightlife could blossom with the busy streets and bustling sidewalks a stadium would bring.
According to councilman Dick Spees, a new stadium could be built for $400 million with roughly a third of the money coming from the A's. The rest could be raised via naming rights, redevelopment financing, and, yes, possibly public support through bonds or other sources.
The money is a significant issue and needs a thorough airing so that both Oakland and the A's understand their obligations -- and the public contribution must be kept to an absolute minimum.
The experience of other cities, from Baltimore to San Francisco, shows that new ballparks make economic sense for communities only when their location and design are selected in an imaginative way to promote compatible redevelopment.
Oakland should heed that lesson.
Words of reason from the left side of the Bay. I'm surprised the Chronicle's editors even care.
Yeah, but check out the timing of this other article. What a coincidence for it to come out at such a crucial day for the A's lease extension.