OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Poll article/CocoTimes
Posted on Sun, Jun. 16, 2002
Poll: Narrow OK for A's stadium
Packaging the ballpark with affordable housing, Fox Theater renovation makes it more palatable to Oakland voters
By Guy Ashley
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
OAKLAND - A recent poll of registered Oakland voters showed a slim majority would support building a downtown Oakland A's ballpark if it was part of a project that included housing and renovation of the historic Fox Theater.
The poll taken last month found 51 percent of voters would support a downtown revitalization plan that includes 2,000 new housing units, the renovation of the 75-year-old theater on Telegraph Avenue and a baseball-only stadium for the A's.
Supporters of a ballpark say the results show surprisingly strong backing for a ballpark project, even if it requires the use of public funds.
But skeptics of the ballpark initiative say it is the housing and theater renovation components that boost project appeal, while the stadium fails to pass muster on its own.
Taken separately, the housing and theater renovation projects each earned support topping 70 percent in the poll. Support for the stadium alone sunk to 40 percent.
"What the poll really shows, to me, is that the priority is for housing at the site," said Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel, whose district includes a potential ballpark site near Telegraph Avenue and 20th Street.
The push for a downtown ballpark is the centerpiece of Oakland's efforts to keep the A's amid persistent rumors that the team may leave town.
The initiative received a blow last month when the Oakland City Council, at the urging of Mayor Jerry Brown, voted 5-3 to enter into exclusive negotiations with a developer who proposes housing on the 13-acre Telegraph site.
But ballpark proponents say they believe the stadium plan could stage a late-inning rally, buoyed in part by surprisingly strong support revealed in the poll commissioned by the office of City Manager Robert Bobb.
Supporters were most enthusiastic to hear that 45 percent of respondents would support using $180 million in public funds for the ballpark. The poll supposed that the money would be raised entirely from tax-increment revenue and other sources and would not involve raising property taxes. It said the team would pitch in 30 percent of ballpark costs.
Though 48 percent said they would vote against the ballpark under these terms, supporters believe the results are remarkably close, given Oakland's notoriously bad business history with its sports teams and that a concrete financing plan for the project has not been presented.
"Contrary to what we've been hearing, this shows that Oakland citizens do support the A's and are willing to spend some money to do it," said Chris De Benedetti, a board member with the Oakland A's Fan Coalition.
Asked about their support for each component of the plan, 74 percent of the 400 polled gave their support to the housing segment, which the survey said would include 600 affordable units.
Support soared to 82 percent for renovating the Fox Theater, a 3,500-seat art deco behemoth that has been closed for 37 years and has been the subject of numerous community revival efforts.
Absent the financial details, 54 percent of respondents said they would not support construction of a stadium by itself, compared to the 40 percent who said they would.
The A's have refused to comment on the stadium project in recent weeks, saying the team must first ink a lease extension for its current home at Network Associates Coliseum.
Reach Guy Ashley at 510-763-8045 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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