One Coliseum, Two Teams

As 2010 approaches, Oakland, the A’s, and the Raiders will have some very difficult decisions to make. Oakland is severely cash-strapped and still stings from the 1995 Coliseum renovation, which brought back the Raiders but has put the JPA in deep for the next two decades.

The Raiders have settled most of their issues with Oakland, but their lease ends after the end of the 2010 season. That would appear to pave the way for the Raiders to leave, but there aren’t that many cities capable of building a NFL-sized stadium, and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue holds the keys to the Los Angeles market, where Al Davis is most interested in relocating.

The A’s, who had felt neglected because of the way the Coliseum was renovated, aren’t getting too warm fuzzies from Oakland in their desire to build a ballpark village. Their final year in Oakland, if they don’t leave early or extend the lease, will be 2010.

Today an article in the Trib discusses how the Bay Area could attract a Super Bowl. The 49ers have an ambitious multi-use development plan in the works with housing giant Lennar and the city of San Francisco. Despite the strained relationship between the Raiders and Oakland/Alameda County, the Raiders came up with a way to keep the 2003 Super Bowl in the Bay Area (where it was originally meant for a revamped Candlestick Park): add 7,500 seats to the Coliseum. That idea fizzled and the 2003 Super Bowl ended up in a more familiar locale, San Diego. The article notes that a Bay Area Super Bowl would be bolstered by a joint 49ers-Raiders effort, but doesn’t elaborate on how the competing interests (49ers vs. Raiders, SF vs. Oakland) could make it work.

The Raiders haven’t released any plans for a another Coliseum redo, but it stands to reason that with the newly friendly relationship they have with Oakland, along with the team’s inability to relocate as easily as they did eleven years ago, they could try to work a deal to “complete” the renovation in Oakland. The Raiders could take advantage of the NFL’s G3 loan program, which provides $150 million for new construction or expansion. Myriad problems await, including financing the rest of it ($150 million won’t cover it all) and getting pols to sign off on the deal. The sales pitch would involve getting the Super Bowl in Oakland (and its oft-overstated positive economic impact) sometime in the next 20 years, a carrot that has been the main selling point in getting new stadia built or upgraded (San Diego, Dallas, Kansas City).

Should the Raiders and Oakland venture down this path, the A’s would once again be on the outside looking in. For how would Oakland and Alameda County be able to invest in multiple new facilities again? Therein lies the rub. Oakland’s going to be forced to decide who it wants to support. And I doubt that anyone’s looking forward to making that decision.

San Jose soccer deal dead

San Jose officials nixed an $80 million deal to build a soccer stadium near the Diridon South ballpark site. The controversial deal, which received little public scrutiny before it initially passed last month, involved a commitment from the city to build a SSS (soccer specific stadium) on city-owned land that currently houses a fire training site. Operating subsidies were included for the years in which the new San Jose Earthquakes expansion team were forced to play in Spartan Stadium while the SSS was being built. The plan also called for funds earmarked for public recreation facilities and parks to be rerouted to the stadium. MLS commissioner Don Garber visited San Jose two weeks ago and had meetings with the city.

This could affect the A’s interest in the team, since it is unclear whether there would be any public share for a SSS, and that’s what attracted Lew Wolff to the idea in the first place. After the $80 million plan was announced in December, Wolff expressed his interest and has been in touch ever since. The article states that the city still plans to meet with Wolff in the next 45 days, which could mean any number of things.

Does this mean that all hope of getting the Quakes back is lost? Hardly. I wouldn’t be surprise if a different plan came out of the woodwork. It may even be *gasp* a multi-purpose facility, though it wouldn’t be anything like the multi-purpose stadiums of decades past. Neither MLB nor MLS wants to share stadia with other tenants, but if it is a single ownership entity that owned both franchises, it might make more sense, especially from the construction standpoint. The difficulty lies in building a stadium that can capably handle both sports without compromising size, sightlines, or amenities in either configuration.

KNTS, not KTRB

According to Chron’s Steve Kroner, the new A’s radio station combo will include KYCY-1550 and KNTS-1220, not KTRB-860. There is one particular huge catch. KNTS will not carry weekday day games, and games that start between 4 and 6 will be picked up in progress at 6 PM.

Another downside is the station’s signal. During the day, KNTS broadcasts at 5,000 watts, but at night it ekes out a mere 145 watts. That’s right, folks, your desktop computer and microwave oven are more powerful. The point of having KNTS is supposedly to increase the A’s presence in the South Bay, but as you can see from the maps below, that just isn’t the case right now, at least not at night.

Day Coverage

Night Coverage

There is hope in the future should KNTS and A’s decide to pursue a long-term deal (and drop the join-in-progress-at-6 policy). KNTS has a construction permit to build a 50,000-watt, 24/7 transmitter in Hayward. The transmitter would be just south of the San Mateo Bridge, close to the KTCT/KNBR-1050 transmitter. There are interference issues that need to be worked out, but should the A’s be able to broadcast on the new KNTS, they’ll be able to cover virtually all of the Bay Area with a single 50 kW station.

Day Coverage (Future)

Night Coverage (Future)

In the short term, this is cold comfort. The KNTS construction permit expires in 2008, so they don’t have to be in any real hurry to get it built, as is the case with KTRB.

Giants ballpark renamed again

As expected, that ballpark in China Basin, SBC Park, which was formerly named Pacific Bell Park or Pac Bell Park, is switching names once again to “AT&T Park”. Last year’s SBC-AT&T merger resulted in the new conglomerate taking on the older, more familiar moniker. The change has also been accompanied by a relentless marketing and ad campaign launched at the beginning of the year. (Speaking of which – Oasis? Puh-leeze. Damon Albarn of Blur/Gorillaz has more talent in his right pinky than Liam “The Rawk Stah” and Noel “One Scale” Gallagher combined. I know Oasis is Billy Beane’s fave band, but it’s the truth.)

“AT&T Park” doesn’t really roll off the tongue and is probably worse than “SBC Park”, but “Pac Bell Park” didn’t elicit a velvety, dulcet pronunciation either and was given far too much credit for not being a set of initials.

There was the ill-fated attempt by SF Supervisors Chris Daly and Matt Gonzalez to force the edifice to be named after Willie Mays. There’s still a petition effort, but contracts are contracts, so don’t expect the place to be renamed out of kindness. Fans could force “Mays Field” to stick by consciously incorporating it into their vernacular, nevermind what the tickets and signage says. No offense to the Sey Hey Kid, I’m going to call it what it should be, reflective of another era when baseball wasn’t the sole notable monopoly in the States:

  • Ma Bell

On the other side, supposedly Lew Wolff already has a naming rights partner in mind, and it’s not a company that makes consumer products. A bank or financial services company? B2B? Whatever it is, it’s probably not going to roll off the tongue easily either.

Fremont Stadium Task Force Meeting + Announcement

Tonight’s Fremont Stadium Task Force Meeting was quite illuminating. So much so, that I can’t really share much of it with you. I can tell you that the process for Fremont is going forward, though it needs to accelerate so that if Fremont and the Tri-City area get the opportunity, they can strike while the iron is hot.

All who were present introduced themselves, including me. I mentioned that I run this site on the side, while my day job is in Fremont. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who was seated across the table from me, was taken aback and when it was his turn to speak, prefaced his comments accordingly. I consciously made the decision not to post anything I considered inside information or hearsay. He spoke at length and conjectured about Fremont’s standing in the pursuit of the A’s.

Later, I offered my services to run the Fremont campaign website. It will probably have a blog-style format with comments, though unlike this news-oriented site, the Fremont site will be advocacy-based. In concert with the decision I made at the meeting, any information I receive from here on out regarding the Fremont campaign will not be published on this blog unless it has been approved for public consumption. I don’t have much inside information on the San Jose or Oakland efforts either, so I expect to be treating all three on equal terms. When the Fremont campaign site is up, I’ll make a single post on it and place a link on the sidebar, but that’s it. I realize there’s an obvious conflict-of-interest that could easily be exploited, so I’m exercising editorial restraint to make sure that thin line isn’t crossed. This blog will remain dedicated to tracking and compiling news about the A’s ballpark plans, and that will not change as long as I run it. I don’t expect to ask for help running this site – posts are infrequent enough that I should be able to handle it.

Now, onto the actually newsworthy items…

  • The ballpark village concept continues to be key to the A’s plans. The difficulty, as Lew Wolff noted, is in finding available land to make it happen.
  • People may be focusing on the third deck closure, but corporate support may be the most important thing for a new ballpark wherever it’s built. That means suites and signage, two things that are not selling terribly well currently.
  • As for the third deck closure, the intended effect has been felt. Season ticket sales are up 150% over last season, and opening night is virtually sold out. Sales are so good that going forward, potentially new season ticket plan purchasers (including yours truly) may not be able to include opening night in their plans, even though it’s supposed to be included in all packages.
  • The A’s are still working primarily with Oakland and the Coliseum JPA at least through opening day. After that, it could be fair game.
  • Fremont has some work to do, including rallying local civic groups and neighbors Newark and Union City. Expect some news about events designed to raise publicity for the Fremont campaign shortly. (No, the team will not be called the “Tri-City A’s”.)

You know where the comments link is.