A San Jose Manifesto

Since the Earthquakes stadium renderings were released, many on this blog and elsewhere have asked how the fates of the Quakes and A’s are intertwined. They’ve asked if juggling two teams and two potential stadium deals – in the same city no less – makes things needlessly complicated. They’ve also asked if focusing on soccer even on a peripheral basis takes the focus off baseball. Such questions about motivation will persist for some time to come, and won’t cease until shovels hit dirt.

That brings me back to Mayor Reed’s ending quote from last week’s press conference:

“I’d like to thank Lew Wolff and the A’s. It’s Lew’s vision that makes it possible for us to build a ballpark in San Jose.”

I was then, and remain now, thoroughly shocked. Not shocked about the quote, as I figured it was coming sooner or later. I am shocked that it elicited zero response in the comments. The past six months, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth about what Wolff has been doing in San Jose, about what the nature of discussions are. I’ve heard outright denial that Wolff wants to move the A’s to San Jose, that the MLB panel will somehow ride to Oakland’s rescue, which given recent history is myopic to the extreme.

That quote above tells you everything you need to know. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. It’s Lew’s vision that brought the Quakes back, that tantalizes Quakes fans in that he may finally cure their scarred, oft-broken, oft-ignored hearts (they’re not fully healed yet). It’s Lew’s vision that may finally quell all of the talk of uncertainty regarding the A’s and their future. It’s Lew’s vision that may cement his legacy in San Jose, in the Bay Area, in California.

However, this is California after all. We don’t impress easily. One way or another, we force our sports teams to earn our praise and patronage (except for the Warriors I suppose). When it comes to stadium building, everyone here is a full-on bandwagoner. We’re skeptical to the nth degree, and rightfully so. As a result, we collectively aren’t easily swayed by nice sketches and renderings. Pols know better than to propose any publicly-financed facilities, no matter how nice they look in ads or how well they’re pitched in interviews. We innovate here. We propel the world. We want results because expect no less of ourselves. It’s how we survive. It’s how we thrive.

It’s with that mindset that I have to concur with Center Line Soccer’s Jay Hipps, who argues that despite the crappy economy and limp sponsorship numbers, the Quakes should plow ahead and build their stadium. I’ll take it a step further though. Not only do I think that it’s necessary for the Quakes, I also think it’s imperative for the A’s.

We talk here endlessly about attendance, population densities, and transit availability. All that stuff makes for nice presentation slides and lengthy reports, but it’s mostly academic. The thing that really matters is, as always, political will. Political will and political capital go hand-in-hand. Wolff can reach out to non-profits to get little boosts here and there, as he did in Fremont. All of those efforts combined don’t hold a candle to the value of getting the Quakes stadium built. Just as with San Jose Arena (publicly built), the actual building and opening of a new facility creates a veritable supernova of political capital.

With political capital comes momentum, which will come in handy during an election cycle. Momentum doesn’t just come from great ideas. Momentum comes from the execution of great ideas. An inexpensive soccer-specific stadium is a great idea, even if it’s value engineered to death. It’s the responsible way to move forward, and can show the citizens of San Jose that someone around here can get things done responsibly. That’s important because so many aren’t familiar with Wolff’s development history from 30 years ago. Half the people that live in the Valley are transplants. Some are from the Midwest and East Coast, others are from across a border or an ocean. They may be completely on board with a ballpark, but they want to want to see that train moving. They may need to feel that it will leave the station without them.

Wolff talks a lot about the pain that comes with the process, about how it’s an industry unto itself. The process isn’t as much the killer as the inertia the process creates. If ownership thinks the numbers can work given time, then inertia is the real enemy here. That’s not to discount the steady, methodical groundwork that’s been laid over the last several years. It’s simply no longer the time to be methodical. It’s time to be decisive. It’s time to break that inertia. It’s time to build. In fact, to paraphrase Ernie Banks, “Let’s build two.”

78 Responses to A San Jose Manifesto

  1. LeAndre says:

    ML,
    Can you PLEASE explain to me why Wolff asked for money from Oakland for the Coliseum South site? After all he never asked for money from Fremont and isn't planning on asking SJ for any if that pans out…

    If all he really wanted was a site, it makes absolutely no sense why he would ask for money for the Coliseum South site and not for that extremely far fetched Coliseum North site, Fremont site, or Diridon…

  2. Marine Layer says:

    Wolff was working on behalf of Schott/Hofmann at the time. He knew that Schott wouldn't be willing to foot the entire bill for the study, so he suggested that ownership and the Coliseum Authority split it 50/50. Schott agreed after much convincing, the Authority did not.

  3. Marine Layer says:

    Also, Wolff was willing to foot the bill for the Coliseum North study. He wasn't asking Oakland to pay for it.

  4. FC says:

    Anon 2:01

    "Have patience; we are about to see a whole lot of movement and information in the next few weeks starting with the World Series…."

    Is that a statement or prediction?

    I have to say, I'm not up to speed on what happen between Baer and Fisher, although I know Fisher has it in for the Giants. Can you fill me in?

  5. LeAndre says:

    ML,
    Correct me if I'm wrong but Wolff isn't working for Schott/Hofmann anymore…so why not just do it again? Just like he planned on with the North site, Fremont, etc…

    This is what has always confused me, if he really wanted to build there…whats in his way now?

    The coliseum site isn't my personal favorite option by far…but if he wanted to really build south of the coliseum, I really don't see what's in his way if he wants to pay like he claims…

  6. Marine Layer says:

    By the time he took over, Coliseum North emerged as a better plan. And no, Coliseum South isn't as easy as it might seem. It would've required some amount of public funding. Not all sites are created equal.

  7. Anonymous says:

    LeAndre–answer it this way–would you be willing to invest $500-$600M of YOUR money in the Colisieum South site—when you can have downtown San Jose with the same investment? It is a no-brainer–

  8. Anonymous says:

    Or how about Jack London Square versus Diridon? I say JLS…yeah it's a no brainer. There's so much new things happening in the area right now it's an awesome location for a new ballpark with easy access to just about everything! Bars, restaurants, movie theater, clubs and mass public transportation. Need I say more??

  9. Anonymous says:

    So where is the unbelieveable proposal that Oakland was supposed to present to the blue ribbon committee at the end of September…remember–heard it from a friend who has a friend who knows of a friend….is anything going to be put out by Oakland…or is game over?

  10. Cornelius McGillicuddy says:

    Or how about Jack London Square versus Diridon? I say JLS…yeah it's a no brainer. There's so much new things happening in the area right now it's an awesome location for a new ballpark with easy access to just about everything! Bars, restaurants, movie theater, clubs and mass public transportation. Need I say more??

    Yes, I think you need to say more, since the locational advantages on your list apply pretty much to both JLS and Diridon, but the JLS area has significant development constraints that have been discussed here more than once.

    If you had said downtown Oakland, you would have had a much stronger case.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Mayor Reeds quote; Wolff wants San Jose; MLB will soon allow Wolff to have San Jose…end of discussion.

  12. Anonymous says:

    FC at 3:20P

    It's a statement….Be patient.

    Fisher v. Baer will be a bigger story once the SJ deal gets done. I'm not surprised the SF media (who loves the Giants management) hasn't written this story. Maybe it's something that Purdy or Kawakami can dig into after SJ election.

    BTW – Don't be surprised if the election comes sooner than November. Apparently Mayor Reed's staff wants November (for political reasons), but the A's want it sooner (March or June). There is a new piece of legislation on Gov. Arnie's desk which would possibly allow the cost of special elections to be reduced by as much as 75%.

    Keep your eye on the ball and your ear, nose, and throat to the ground.

  13. Anonymous says:

    These arguments are pointless, The A's can't survive in Oakland and I am partial to Oakland, they need the ballpark so they don't have to keep trading off their players.They are not moving to Mexico they are moving down the road a few miles, the Bay Area cities are all jumbled together anyway except for Oakland and SF. Do you want championships or a name's sake. How many of you live in the north bay and root for the Sharks, by the way they are SJ good grief be practicle, by the way Giants fans– how many world series have you won in SF, sorry the 4 the A's have in Oakland got in the way of the answer.

  14. Paul says:

    …yes, the league must address a situation in which the Giants hog the Bay Area's two largest cities and its most affluent counties while the A's are left with Oakland and a few surrounding cities. Neukom's junk about how the A's got the counties they wanted 15 years ago is as relevant as pointing out that Alaska used to be part of Russia. All irrelevant ancient history at this point.

    The owners can't be happy about having to pony up $32 mill a year to subsidize the A's. San Jose presents a solution. Tough luck for the Giants.

  15. Tony D. says:

    Paul,

    While I agree with you, there won't be much "tough luck" for the Giants, considering they should get a nice compen$ation package from the A's/MLB and most Silicon Valley company's don't do any business with them anyway. Add to this that Giants fans on the Peninsula and SCCo. will remain Giants fans and, well, they won't be hurting to much when the A's find SJ. I think Neukom and Baer know this to. Again, it's always been about "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

  16. LeAndre says:

    "By the time he took over, Coliseum North emerged as a better plan. And no, Coliseum South isn't as easy as it might seem. It would've required some amount of public funding. Not all sites are created equal."

    ML, you never usually fail me when it comes to answers, but you have this time…and I mean that respectfully

    This economy has proven that the Coliseum North was not a better site, and as we all now know all Wolff only wants is enough space for the ballpark now…why would the south site require any public money? it has plenty of space for a ballpark and has the least amount of clean up over any site.

    Please explain why Coliseum North would require public funding and not Diridon…

    Anon 9:13,
    thats not the argument Im trying to make…Im just trying to figure out why Wolff cant do what he already tried to do…and like I said, the Coliseum S. site is not one of my favorite sites by far

  17. Marine Layer says:

    LeAndre – The answer lies in your own words, "The coliseum site isn't my personal favorite option by far."

    It isn't anyone else's either. If you're going to spend $500 million, wouldn't you like to spend it in the best place for your team's economic future? By that measure, any site beats the Coliseum – whether it's in Oakland, Fremont, or San Jose.

  18. FC says:

    Tony D,

    It would be interesting to see what would happen in the unlikely event that MLB decides that the entire Bay Area should be a shared market. Isn't that the arrangement in Chicago, NY and LA? One would have to then ask whether the Giants would be entitled to any compensation, since they would then have access to Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

  19. Tony D. says:

    FC,

    Interesting thought. I for one would love for the Bay Area to become a shared-market just like the other two-team markets. For the record, I personally don't think the Giants deserve any compen$ation for giving up/loosing their "rights" to SCCo./SJ. As has been stated before, the Giants didn't pay a dime for the TRights back in 92 and don't play ball in SCCo./SJ.

    My thinking regarding possible compen$ation has to do with what occurred in the Expos/Nationals/Orioles/DC saga and the idea that currently (like it or not) SCCo./SJ legally belongs to the Giants.

    Who knows, maybe Lew Wolff is trying to get SJ WITHOUT giving the Giants crap…that would be nice.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The absurdity of the territorial rights. Don't the Giants already have access to Alameda and Co Co County's through advertisements, ticket sales, TV/Radio broadcasts, sponsorships, etc.? And for that matter, don't the A's have access in a similar fashion to all the county's under the Giants "control?"

    Just make the Bay Area a shared-territory already damnit!!

  21. FC says:

    I think the Orioles/Nationals situation is very much different from what we have here. There, the Nationals relocated from outside of the region. Heck they came from another country. Here, it's a situation where the A's are already in the Bay Area market. In fact they are moving farther away from the Giants. One could argue that in a way the move would be beneficial to the Giants.

    As pointed out by Anon 10:05, both teams already seem to have open access each others territories.

  22. Twombs says:

    Anon 10:05 pointed out the exact reason the territorial rights issue is absurd. The two teams already share the "territories." The A's have ticket offices in San Jose, the Giants sell tickets and advertise in the East Bay. They are both on TV in each others territories. The whole concept of "territories" is laughable. Particularly considering the Giants paid less for their territorial "rights" than I did for my free breakfast this morning.

  23. Anonymous says:

    ML, you're banging your head against a wall. LeAndre has decided that Wolff was out to screw Oakland and never gave them a fair chance. No amount of logic or facts will ever convince her or any of the other "Woe-is Oakland" types.

  24. LeAndre says:

    7:33,
    if your gonna falsely accuse me, at least get my gender right…I'm a he not a "her"…I don't see any harm in wanting to know why Wolff won't revisit a site when things are on different terms…he's not working for the same people, and he's not asking for public funding anymore

  25. Anonymous says:

    How about we discuss something real? Like where and when is this team going to find some hitters who can drive in some runs?

    We can salivate all we want about moving to San Jose, but there's another pressing matter… such as the fact that beyond a catcher, 2B, CF, and maybe RF (Sweeney), there are too many positions up for grabs.

    Or is Wolff's strategy to wait for San Jose? Is he channeling Dionne Warwick?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, meant to put him or her. As to the other accusation, it's been your pattern. You can play all innocent and curious, but your questions are always leading and their conclusion is as I stated.

  27. Jeffrey says:

    "Sometimes a no is as good as a yes."

    "I don't want to open the door that never closes."

    These are quotes from Lew Wolff… quotes I personally agree with and they say everything about reviewing old sites and trying to redo things that have been ruled out.

    From my perspective, proposing building at the Coliseum site is a great example of the second quote.

    The players involved in Oakland City politics have not changed since the last time any of this was proposed with the exception of Jerry Brown replaced by Dellums. IDLF, Larry Reid, etc. They are still there and it seems to me, as an outside impartial observer that they are more interested in saying they are working on it, then actually making something viable happen.

    I'd be happy to be wrong on that.

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