San Jose Sonics?

A small blurb in Mitch Lawrence’s NY Daily News column suggests that the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics are seriously interested in relocating to San Jose. I’ve always thought that this was just part of a ploy to get the Sonics out of their terrible lease and have some improvements for Key Arena to boot. Until Sonics owner Howard Schultz actually makes an announcement in which he’s going to move Green Team West to Silicon Valley, I’ll remain skeptical.

San Jose EIR Observations

I’ve now had a chance to give the EIR a pretty good run-through and I’ve compiled a laundry list of comments to submit to the City. I won’t publish those yet since I want to give it another pass. For now, I’ll list highlight items I felt were important in the document and its presentation.
First of all, it should be kept in mind at all times when reading this type of document that it is an environmental impact report, not a feasibility study and planning guide. Therefore, the authors are not making any judgments on its feasibility or cost, nor are they taking political implications into consideration.

Key assumptions are made early on:

  • The HOK-derived ballpark concept has a seating capacity of 45,000. That’s a full 10,000 more than the Wolff concept. This will become very important later on in the discussion.
  • The ballpark is built at grade, with no submerged field. This is similar to AT&T/SBC Park.
  • Traffic and noise studies are confined to the area immediately surrounding the ballpark to within roughly 1 mile of the ballpark. There is no study of the impact on southbound I-880 due to East Bay fans driving down for a game during rush hour.
  • Development alternatives consist of sites and options discussed as of early last year. The soccer stadium option, which was discussed in December 2005, is not in this document.
  • One alternative is called Existing Plan, which is based on the development strategy outlined in the Diridon/Arena strategic planning document. There is no alternative for a combination of a ballpark and elements of the planning document. While the ballpark is cited as fitting within the the scope of the Diridon/Arena plan, there is no inherent link between the two since it is not known how the ancillary development would proceed.
  • The fire training site is to be used as a combination parking structure and area for the relocated PG&E substation. Any plans for a public park would have to be moved elsewhere.

Now onto the juicy stuff.

The most impactful issue is obviously the noise factor, which has been picked by all local media. However, the noise estimates are inflated because of assumptions made on the size of the project. As noted before, the ballpark’s capacity is set at 45,000. The baseline statistical sample was data gathered by measuring noise outside Qualcomm Stadium for a Padres game where 40,000 fans were in attendance. Since the conceptual ballpark is 5,000 seats bigger, a peak noise gain of 5 dB is estimated from the Qualcomm measurements. Should the 35,000-seat ballpark be built instead of this concept, it can be assumed that peak noise could be at least 5 dB less than the figures cited in the EIR.

Delmas Park is in a bad situation when it comes to noise. It has a freeway and a light rail train immediately to the east. LRT also runs to the north. Another freeway is a mile south. Several major bus lines populate the corridors to the north and south. Jets fly in low on their final approach to the airport 1/2 mile east of the neighborhood. Freight and commuter trains rumble 1/2 mile to the west. HP Pavilion sends hundreds of cars through the neighborhood after events are completed. Finally, San Jose Water Company just received entitlements allowing it to build a planned 1,000,000 square feet of office space along with 325 homes and 3,000 parking spaces, so bring on the piledrivers.

Add a ballpark sending noise directly into the neighborhood, and the result is that the residents of Delmas Park will soon be living in cacophony if they aren’t already. Delmas Park is in a zone where a limit has been established on ambient noise – 65 dBA. Having a ballpark won’t make the neighborhood consistently louder. Instead, it will increases instances of loud noise. For instance, say a crowd at the ballpark cheers really loud 18 times per game, or twice an inning. Over a three hour game, that translates to 6 peak noise events per hour, equivalent to 6 additional jets flying overhead or 6 additional buses’ squealing brakes stopping nearby per hour. I honestly wouldn’t blame residents for being angry, especially because San Jose telegraphed this a while back when they for planning purposes expanded Downtown to include the Diridon/Arena area, yet not enough mitigation measures were taken to protect Delmas Park.

A few ideas were pitched to reduce noise and congestion:
  • Provide sound insulation for 40 affected homewoners inside the 60 dBA contour. Frankly, this should be extended to all homeowners in the neighborhood out of consideration for the impact of other development. Should the Diridon/Arena area become a true mixed-use transit hub, the noise is only going to get ratcheted up. It’s the very least they can do.
  • Utilize a distributed sound/PA system. That would probably mean that venue audio kings Meyer Sound would be out of the running, with a PA system provided by other companies like Panasonic, EV, or JBL. It’s a relatively minor issue, but Meyer Sound is a big reason why Jon Miller calls Coliseum PA announcer Roy Steele “the voice of God.”
  • Widen Delmas Ave to 2 through lanes south of W San Fernando St. This should help traffic pass through the area more quickly and has been identified as a mitigation measure for development at the SJWC site.

There are a few mitigation measures I’ve identified that could make things a lot easier for Delmas Park.

  • Shut down W San Fernando St and maybe Park Ave between Autumn St and Delmas Ave/Woz Way two hours before each game through one hour after each game to all traffic except Delmas Park residents and buses. By routing most traffic on the north-south routes in the area, traffic can flow freely around the ballpark while also preventing access for unscrupulous types looking for shortcuts through the neighborhood. This option was discussed during the scoping session, but for whatever reason didn’t make it into the document. There are problems related to shutting down Park Ave because the premium parking garage would be on the corner of Park and Autumn/Montgomery, but this could be managed.
  • Plant more trees. Sounds simple, but trees and other foliage can act as a nice sound barrier when strategically placed. That would means trees with lots of leaves, not low maintenance palms. Since a few dozen trees would need to be removed to make way for construction, why not use the buffer presented by the Autumn St/Los Gatos Creek public space to make a visually pleasing and practical sound barrier?
  • Tighten the seating bowl. The model used in the EIR is based largely off AT&T Park, which has an approximately 80-degree bowl angle that tapers in along the outfield lines. If a tighter infield angle were used (60 degrees based on the models I’m using), the bowl could better attenuate sound while providing fans in the outfield corners with closer views of the action. Examples of a tighter angle exist in Yankee Stadium and Raley Field.
  • Turn the field orientation 15 or more degrees north. Planners want to include the downtown skyline, but tilting the field in a more northerly direction can allow some noise to be directed away from Delmas Park without severely impacting the view.
  • Make a pact with the community. This would be similar to what was negotiated with residents surrounding Chicago’s Wrigley Field in which there are a limited number of night games. It doesn’t have to be that extreme, but there can be limits to the number of night concerts (15-20 estimated per year) and fireworks displays. It should be stated that sound studies don’t typically measure noise that carries due to the inversion layer or other weather factors. It’s that type of noise that caused the rash of complaints when the Rolling Stones came to SF, or when Shoreline Amphitheater opened and drove much of Palo Alto crazy.

Surprisingly, the Cahill Park/St. Leo’s neighborhoods don’t appear to be affected much by ballpark noise (see picture above: blue = ballpark 60 dBA contour, yellow = concert 60 dBA contour). This is mostly due to the field orientation as the grandstand attenuates much of the sound directed to the west and south.

There were a few more interesting nuggets I culled from the EIR:

  • The only building on the site with any significant historical value is the former KNTV Studio, which is reportedly over 50 years old. It won’t be saved should the ballpark get built.
  • At 45,000 seats, the ballpark rises 165 feet from street grade, 200 feet including scoreboards, 235 feet with light standards. It doesn’t need to be nearly that tall. A 35,000-seat ballpark would reduce or eliminate the need for a large upper deck. The models I’ve drawn up have the topmost row only 83 feet above the field. If the field were sunken 15 feet below street grade, that same row would be only 68 feet above the street, the equivalent of a 5-6 story building. The facade that fronts the concourses would be even lower. Add a roof with light standards contained beneath the roof or at the roof’s edge and the height is raised roughly 20 feet. If done in this manner, the ballpark would have less height and visual impact than HP Pavilion, which rises 100 feet from street grade. This lower profile would allow the building to comply with FAA building height requirements and limit light spill into the surrounding neighborhood. There are plenty of other tangible benefits to building lower, such as decreased materials costs, lower seismic risk, and better views for fans.
  • No community benefits are pitched because it’s an EIR. Since a park wouldn’t be possible under this plan, perhaps there’s a way to building a community center and/or gymnasium on top of the parking structure, the same way a banquet hall was placed above the Fourth Street Garage.

  • The Submerged Stadium alternative assumes digging the field 24-28 feet below ground. With a smaller first deck like the one I’ve drawn up (see picture above), it could be submerged 15 feet, which could reduce the amount of excavated dirt that would have to be hauled away and relocated by at least 25%.

All in all, plenty of good stuff in the EIR to chew on.

Wolff family visits Union City; more on Fremont

Meanwhile, Lew Wolff and his daughter Kari visited Pioneer Elementary School in Union City, where they read to 130 first- and second-graders as part of their pro-literacy program.

Fremont city manager Manny Diaz discussed Fremont’s hopes of getting the A’s. According to Diaz, the A’s have inquired about Pacific Commons, the new development along I-880 and Auto Mall Parkway. Talks are definitely heating up between Fremont and the A’s, though Fremont is still in the preliminary stages.

SJ Ballpark EIR available

As promised, San Jose’s draft environmental impact report is now available. The links lead one to just the table of contents right now, but I’ll have the entire 365-page tome soon for dissection. The Merc’s Barry Witt got a look at it and picked up some points about light and noise, which would affect the Delmas Park and St. Leo’s neighborhoods immediately to the east and west of the ballpark, respectively.

The ballpark’s northeast orientation would make the seating bowl act as a horn, sending noise directly into Delmas Park. The recommended way to mitigate this is to provide noise insulation for affected residents. Light would also be an issue because standards could be well over 250 feet above street level.

There are plenty of issues with the plan, and I’ll go into those in more detail soon. For the time being, I’ve consolidated the bulk of the EIR (sans appendices) into a single, huge (38 MB) file for your consumption.


San Jose’s big vision

A new report from the San Jose Business Journal explains a bold, $1 billion vision of a revamped (again) Downtown San Jose, with new baseball and soccer facilities, museums, a concert hall, and other wide-ranging entertainment. While the proposal has not yet been finalized or presented, it is thought that the changes would be funded by a 1/2-cent sales tax or some combination of use taxes (Mello-Roos business districts or something similar, gross receipts, hotels, car rentals, etc.). Payoff would come over 30 years.

One of the interesting things about this initiative is that it’s not being pitched by the mayor, city council, or other government entities. It’s being pushed (and the study financed) by “Adobe Systems, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among others.” (That means the “H” and “P” in HP if you’re wondering.) Lew Wolff was also asked about the proposal. He called it “a fantastic idea.” It’s no secret locally that Wolff doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the current administration, especially budget head and Mayor Gonzales’ right-hand man Joe Guerra. Wolff also doesn’t believe the transformation of San Jose’s downtown is complete, so bold, innovative thinking is welcome in hopes of making Downtown San Jose more of a destination that it had been previously.

Also notable is the fact that the plan, called “Creative Urban Center” is backed by a new consortium called 1stAct Silicon Valley. Recently announced mayoral candidate and proclaimed outsider Michael Mulcahy is part of this group. It’s quite possible that the plan may become part of his platform as he seeks to contrast himself from the scandal-ridden and slow-moving city government.

The tax part is a big concern. Combine a 1/2-cent sales tax hike with the county’s additional 1/4-cent for the BART extension and San Jose’s sales tax comes to a whopping 9%, the highest in the Bay Area. It’s likely that the powerful Silicon Valley Leadership Group would support both, but one could rob votes of the other if voters had to choose on the same ballot. The article also discusses how the fact that the proposal is so broad may allow it to fund stadia using an endaround past the current sports facilities funding law, which requires a 2/3 or supermajority vote instead of a majority vote.

So if you’re wondering what San Jose’s strategy is, it looks like it’s taking shape, and without the assistance of anyone in City Hall. Something tells me that any ballot initiative wouldn’t occur until June 2007 because of competition with other funding measures, chiefly the $222 billion public works proposal the Governor is currently pitching all over the state.

San Jose updates

I’ve spent the last week in the Rockies and Plains. Compared to the weather I’ve experienced over the last several days, in which the temperature never went over the teens and the wind chill dropped the gauge to -40 in North Dakota, the supposedly chilly weather here is downright balmy. While I’ve been gone, San Jose has made a few headlines:

Two more Diridon South properties are about to be acquired by San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency. Both are on the block between Autumn Street and Montgomery Street, south of San Fernando Street. That brings the tally to three properties and three acres total. The big properties west of Montgomery – the SBC/AT&T site, the old KNTV studio, and the PG&E substation – are still to be acquired. The PG&E substation has extra costs associated with because it will have to be moved to a location nearby. If the ballpark were oriented north, the substation could be moved 200 feet to the north and kept in the same configuration with the same vehicular and service access it had previously.

This orientation makes it similar to Petco Park, which also has its field opened to the north.

San Jose also just lost a lawsuit against Santa Clara County in which it sought to block the County from building a concert hall on the Fairgrounds south of downtown. Should the County proceed with building the concert hall, it would be mainly in competition with SJSU’s Event Center, UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, and SF’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. All would have a 5,000+ capacity, but the new concert hall would presumably have better amenities and acoustics than its competitors. Personally I think the Fairgrounds is better suited for a soccer stadium/amphitheater with playing fields surrounding it, while a concert hall should be downtown as most concert halls are. There’s hope that the two parties can set their differences aside, but the city is still looking to appeal and the emboldened county looks like it’s moving forward with its plans.

Check out Athletics Nation

On AthleticsNation Blez just posted a fantastic interview with Lew Wolff. This is the second interview Blez has snagged with Wolff. A couple of points to consider:

  • How many blogs or other fansites get real, non-fluff interviews with team owners? Blez obviously deserves credit for being regarded highly enough to merit the Q&A sessions with Wolff and Beane.
  • Wolff also deserves credit for understanding the educated, oft-hidden hardcore fanbase that prowls the net. Even if you’re a cynic, it’s a fantastic PR move.

That said, there’s something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for the last few weeks. As I’ve learned more about the process and the complexity involved in getting a ballpark deal, it’s become clear that any thoughts of a conspiracy theory are offbase. Especially in the A’s case. There are too many factors and obstacles that can derail a deal for a conspiratorial plan to work. The different cities involved (including those outside the Bay Area) all have significant issues to overcome if they want to talk ballpark with the A’s. If there was some real guarantee of a predetermined outcome it could make sense, but a dealmaker like Wolff knows better than to put his eggs in one basket. Too many things can go out of control as well. Example:

  • Remember the big downtown LA hotel that Wolff’s urban development company was building? Wolff had to pull out last month due to rising costs. The project is now being helmed by a partnership of AEG and KB Home, who plans to build condos in some of the areas where hotel rooms were planned. Wolff is still on as an advisor, but the big bucks will go elsewhere. Think about that. Over the last several months, Wolff signaled to LA pols that costs were rising on the project. Hurricane Katrina may have sent everything through the roof. Instead of killing the deal, all parties got together to work out a plan to get the project built. It meant that Wolff had to step aside, but it looks like it will get done. In the case of an A’s ballpark, Wolff won’t be able to step aside, but we should expect that he’ll be upfront on the costs involved, even as partners or plans change.

I’ve even been guilty of fomenting conspiracy theories at times, but that’s been more to promote discussion of the issues than anything else. The process is not at some advanced stage, far from it. However, things can move quickly, and that should be expected the closer we get to Opening Day.

Two more Bizjournals articles

New articles have appeared on the website. One belongs to the East Bay Business Times, the other to South Florida Business Journal. The first article calls the Bay Area “saturated,” while the LA market definitely has room for more sports franchises.

It also cites the Bay Area’s total personal income as $375.5 billion, a figure much higher than the numbers I listed in the previous post. I don’t know how they arrived at this figure so I’ve lobbed a request for clarification. Even with this higher figure, there’s little room for new franchises. Over the span of three weeks in February, the Bay Area will field four sporting events unrelated to the four major leagues:

  • AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (PGA Tour; Yes it’s outside the Bay Area technically, but it attracts a large number of Bay Area attendees)
  • SAP Open (ATP Tour; the yearly men’s tour stop in the Bay Area)
  • Tour of California (UCI; new cycling event with four Bay Area stages)
  • US vs. Japan (pre World Cup “friendly” at AT&T/SBC Park)

That’s a lot of sports for a month that’s traditionally considered an off-peak period.

Even more interesting is the Florida article, which concludes that the Marlins wouldn’t be automatically be destined for greener pastures if they relocated outside South Florida. The same can be assumed about the A’s and their situation in the Bay Area as well.

More Market-Related Food For Thought

A report in Monday’s Charlotte Business Journal discusses the challenges facing Charlotte in its efforts to lure the Marlins. Chief among them is the a lack of financial support because of the size of the Charlotte market and the fact that two teams – the NBA’s Bobcats and the NFL’s Panthers – already occupy it.

The piece referred to an analysis by the paper’s online sibling, In the analysis “used data on team revenue and ticket prices to estimate how much total personal income a market needs to support a pro sports team.” This was done in 179 markets, which should presumably provide a pretty good data sample. (The parent company runs the East Bay Business Times, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, and San Francisco Business Journal.)

The overall conclusion was that the Charlotte market was $86 billion short of being able to support a baseball team, in terms of the market’s annual otal personal income (TPI). The minimum amount required? $89.2 billion.

I’m trying to figure out how derived this figure, but for now let’s for the sake of discussion accept it based on their due diligence. Values were given to other leagues’ franchises as well. Here’s the breakdown:

  • MLB – $89.2 billion
  • NBA – $38.4 billion
  • NHL – $35.7 billion
  • NFL – $33 billion
  • MLS – $16.1 billion

Step back and look at that for a second. According to it takes over twice as much total personal income to successfully back a major league baseball team as it does any other sport. That makes some sense because of baseball has twice as many games as the NBA and NHL. Then again, the winter sports’ average ticket prices are usually higher. The NFL only has 10 or so home games per season and its tickets are the most expensive, but its national TV contracts are so lucrative that local support is far less necessary than with MLB (this also justifies the blackout rule).

Taking this a little further, I went over to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and pulled the latest (2003) MSA-based economic data. Since the Bay Area is split into five different statistical areas, one has to do a little hunting to compile the information correctly. Here’s how the Bay Area looks:
While the Bay Area is high in per capita income (and the associated high costs of living), we don’t have a particularly high population at less than seven million people. Pool the required income for all six major teams, and the deficit appears above. There are obviously other factors to consider like the state of facilities, transportation, and location, but the figures point to the idea that we are somewhat oversaturated with sports. Add the various event-oriented sports like golf and tennis tournaments and motor sports, plus minor league teams and college sports, and it is clear that we have more than enough sports in the Bay Area to go around. Which is why we should get down on our knees every morning and thank whoever’s in charge that we have this luxury. Not to sound like a homer, but combine these amenities with our fabulous weather, and it’s easy to see why the Bay Area consistently ranks at the top of annual “Best Places to Live” lists.

What’s more interesting is how the Bay Area compares to other regions. Other than the three largest markets in the country (NY, LA, CHI), few regions have a substantial surplus. In fact, many operate at a sizable deficit. That doesn’t mean those cities can’t field teams, it just highlights how competitive those markets are and can help explain why some teams struggle with sagging attendance, low TV ratings, etc.
The Washington-Baltimore market provides the best comparison to the Bay Area. It has six teams (the Nats’ stadium problems not withstanding), a fair amount of geographic spread, and differing TV markets, just like the Bay Area. Though it has one million more people than the Bay Area, it pulls in only slightly more TPI, just enough to put it “in the black” relative to having six teams. Add the region’s MLS team, and suddenly the market is in the red. Philly appears to be in good shape even though it is stuck between two larger markets. Boston has the pull of the entire New England market to compensate for its slight deficit. San Diego has its hands full with two teams. Portland has a $27 billion surplus, but that’s not nearly enough to handle the burden of a MLB team added to its portfolio. Sacramento faces a similar situation. Even Las Vegas, which has no teams currently, falls over $40 billion short when trying to accommodate a MLB team. Again, this concept of TPI is only one of many factors that determine a market’s fitness. Markets like Green Bay, WI, are anomalies due to the sheer size of their rabid regional fanbase and intangibles like legacy and tradition.

Now go back to the first table. In an ideal situation where income levels are equal throughout the Bay Area, it may serve the individual teams best if they were distributed throughout the region instead of concentrated in primarily two places: San Francisco and Oakland. For instance, San Jose has a single major league team, but in the Sharks’ wake numerous minor league teams (baseball, arena football, lacrosse) have stepped in to claim some of the South Bay’s surplus ($44 million). It might make more sense to move a NFL franchise south to even things out. Or it might make sense to move the Sharks to the North Bay and the A’s or Giants to the South Bay. Obviously, this is not realistic of the venue situation and the fact that Bay Area residents by in large have little trouble driving wherever they need to go, including sporting events. Nor does it take into account preferences, since the individual sports don’t substitute for each other equally among hardcore fans. It does show a more mechanical way the teams could service the market based on each micropolitan area’s individual wealth, similar to the way Starbucks places its stores by using census-based income information.

However, these figures highlight one issue in particular: there is little room for failure. There is so much entertainment variety that it’s easy for the casual fan to substitute other entertainment for a game. Many outsiders and the Bay Area’s own media blame the market’s fickle, fair-weather fans for attendance woes. In the end, does this have more to do with simple market dynamics? It’s true that when teams do poorly on the field/court/ice, their marketing departments have to do quite a bit of “circle the wagons” strategizing to hold onto their season ticket holders and suite lessees. They are, after all, competing with each other for the same limited fanbase. Just as it’s easy to find a Giants fan in Danville or an A’s fan in Novato, a corporation can switch allegiances once their lease is up.

A team can turn its fortunes around, making itself more attractive to the casual fan. This should be viewed as a virtue since competitive drive should keep all teams active to make their respective products as attractive to Bay Area denizens as possible (the 49ers are about to find this out the hard way, the Raiders have been suffering the last few seasons). With the market as limited and competitive as it is, teams have to place incentives for fans to go. The best incentive is a championship of some sort. A sparkling new venue with new amenities is another. When Lew Wolff talks about the A’s being competitive, he’s not just talking about the American League. He’s talking about the Bay Area as well. So far with the increased season ticket subscriptions that are being reported, the Bay Area is responding to the A’s offseason changes on and off the field. Isn’t that the way things should be?

The final radio picture

Greetings from Odessa, TX, where I am on an unusual business trip. No meetings, no appointments, just a lot of driving around for testing purposes. Believe it or not, I encountered a tumbleweed 30 seconds after I exited the parking lot this morning. West Texas really is like that.

The rental was already tuned to a local ESPN radio affiliate, which was a relief. As my route took me further and further away from the bustling Midland-Odessa market, the station became more difficult to receive. I had my iPod with me just in case, but I decided to flip through the dial first to see what was out there.

I hit the SCAN button on the radio, and to my dismay, every single time the radio stopped the same thing came out of the speakers:

  • Rush Limbaugh

This happened six times, on six different frequencies. Since I tend to avoid any kind of talk radio outside of sports (regardless of political bent or content), I plugged in the iPod and kept driving until I found an area with more variety. That didn’t happen until I got back to Odessa a few hours ago.

The lesson, besides the fact that no one should get stuck in Eunice, NM? Talk radio rules. Especially the conservative flavor. Christian radio is gaining a stronger foothold in the Bay Area with each passing year. That’s what the A’s are up against, even on the stations they currently inhabit. Let’s take a look at the three stations that will carry A’s games in the Bay Area for the next three years:

  • KYCY-1550 (San Francisco/Belmont) – I would say that CBS/Infinity should be lauded for taking a chance with the podcast format on “KYouRadio”, but I have to temper that with the thought that the format could change overnight to more talk, or some other overplayed concoction. To me, the curious thing about KYCY is that they had an application to relocate to San Jose and become a 50,000-watt station. That application was rescinded in November without a peep. It’s not realistic to think the A’s will push any of its affiliates in one direction or another because of the historically low ratings. But if you’re looking for a Exodus-to-San Jose angle in the radio dealings, Infinity’s retraction doesn’t help the case.
  • KNTS-1220 (Menlo Park) – The station’s parent company, Salem Communications, has until now had a mixture of conservative talk and college sports. Salem has apparently taken a stance that gives their talk programming a priority over the A’s. Since their weekday/weeknight schedule does repeats after 6, it’s quite convenient for them to shoehorn the A’s into repeat time. It’s possible that if the A’s do spectacularly well on KNTS, they could add full Eastern Time Zone broadcasts to the schedule, though the producers of Dennis Prager’s daily show wouldn’t be too pleased with their show being preempted on a semi-regular basis. The problem with the KNTS situation is that the current nighttime signal is so weak, many listeners will be turned off by the static and tune in to KYCY, XM, or the streaming feed instead. Ratings won’t look impressive on KNTS as a result, which means the A’s wouldn’t be able to truly prove themselves on weeknights on KNTS. I asked A’s VP of Broadcasting and Communications Ken Pries if Salem had told him when KNTS plans to build that 50 kW facility in Hayward. He said they didn’t.
  • KVON-1440 (Napa) – One of few independently-run stations in the market, KVON has a somewhat center-left talk lineup rounded out by more eclectic programming. KVON has been carrying the A’s for some time, but their role becomes significant because KYCY doesn’t reach the North Bay.

Obviously, there’s room for growth. Pries indicated that the team is working to add more affiliates. Hopefully, the targets will be Sacramento and the Central Coast, the two remaining (and gaping) holes for the A’s to cover. With radio dominated by certain types of programming, it’s a tough sell. Maybe there’s a station willing to do an equity exchange the way KNBR and the Giants work with each other, but even then, there have to be ratings to back the A’s placement on any station. The new setup is problematic in that the three stations could cannibalize each other to a degree.

P.S. The new affiliate list is now up.

P.P.S. I’m going to take a peek at Midland’s quaint Citibank Park while I’m here. The Midland Rockhounds are the A’s AA affiliate.