I called it!

Forgive me for having a Stephen Colbert moment. Robert Gammon cleared up much of the site confusion that started with last week’s Matier & Ross report. The sites, according to Gammon’s sources, are (drum roll please):

  • Oak St & 3rd St (west of the OFD Training site)
  • Howard Terminal
  • Area north of Jack London Square and Howard Terminal
  • Coliseum parking lot

Why am I patting myself on the back? Well, I did write about a possible alternative just north of Howard Terminal three months ago (not in depth, but at least it wasn’t one of the “recycled” ideas often put forth). Gammon mentioned that the site currently contains the offices of the East Bay Express, which would have to be moved if the A’s moved in.

Since Wolff has already dismissed the Coliseum and Howard Terminal, the choices really boil down to OFDT (Oak/3rd) and MLK/3rd (for lack of a better term). For anyone that wants to keep the A’s in Oakland, this is a good thing. Why? Because it can allow the community to coalesce around one or at worst two sites, instead of debating three or four sites and creating factions. Really, what the City and boosters need to do at this point is to pick one and run with it. The future of the A’s in Oakland depends on this choice. Knowing this, there is an obvious, crystal clear choice based on some simple facts: MLK/3rd. I’ll explain after the chart.

taleofthetape

Transit – BART is closer to Oak/3rd than MLK/3rd because of the proximity of the Lake Merritt station compared to the 12th Street station. Either site would require a transfer for some group of fans, though that isn’t any different than the current situation at the Coliseum. The ferry terminal, which admittedly would get far less use than BART, is only two short blocks from MLK/3rd. Proximity to Amtrak is roughly the same as with BART, except that the JLS station is on this side of 880/980. No one talks about buses, but they shouldn’t be ignored. MLK/3rd is almost adjacent to Broadway, which is the spine of Oakland’s AC Transit routes. Oak/3rd’s closest existing bus stop is at JLS Amtrak, making it a bit out-of-the-way.

Downtown access – MLK/3rd isn’t tucked into a corner, making it easy for fans to walk from Downtown and even Uptown to the site. Oak/3rd is tucked into a corner, sandwiched between 880 and the active UPRR line. There are far more restaurants and bars between the 12th Street station and MLK/3rd, creating a natural synergy.

Available parking – I put TBD here because there are several variables. It’s not known how many public and private spaces would be available for MLK/3rd, but the potential could be greater. At Oak/3rd, the wildcard is Laney College, which could make lots of parking available for weekend games but not necessarily for night games (due to night classes). Both sites would have access to parking located underneath the 880 viaduct.

Freeway access – On/off-ramp capacity limitations that affect the OFDT site also affect Oak/3rd. MLK/3rd’s more central location makes for a better distribution of traffic among current on/off-ramps. MLK/3rd is also closer to the 5th St exit from 880-South, which means less surface street driving for fans.

Integration with JLS – MLK/3rd is two blocks away. If one of the City’s concerns is properly filling the space between Downtown and JLS, a ballpark is a pretty good way to do it. Oak/3rd is, again, out of the way.

Aesthetics – Neither site is going to beat the old Coliseum’s view of the hills, especially with 880 in the foreground. At least MLK/3rd won’t have an unadorned overpass going over Lake Merritt Channel in the view. For those who might like it, there will probably be a way to design a MLK/3rd ballpark so that fans can see BART trains pass by as they enter/exit the subway portion.

Construction difficulty – Oak/3rd is just above the designated tide line, but much of it may also be landfill, just like China Basin. If so, needed foundation work could prove more expensive than at MLK/3rd.

Political/Legal difficulty – Oak/3rd has a complicated ownership situation, as Caltrans, Union Pacific, and the CPUC all have interests in the area which may not be easily negotiated. Both sites have some number of private owners, so they should be on equal footing in terms of acquisition costs.

I’d say it’s pretty clear which site makes the most sense, although I’m sure some of you will debate this. However, the key to getting anything like this done is political will. As the rest of Gammon’s column notes, Mayor Dellums has challenges he has to deal with before turning much attention to a ballpark. Unfortunately for Oakland, it’s a matter of timing. If Dellums decides not to run for re-election, his lame duck status will render him unable to see a big project like this through since it’ll take over a year to approve. If he does run and wins, he might spend too much time in the interim on other more pressing matters or his campaign to wage a development battle like this. If he runs and loses, his replacement (perhaps Don Perata) might choose to scrap existing plans and move forward with his own. The question is, will that be too late?


Note: While doing some quick research on Oakland recently, I noticed that on the relevant page on everybody’s most trustworthy information source, Wikipedia, someone posted that Oakland’s 2009 population is 645,345. I was absolutely perplexed by this. There are multiple “citations” for this figure, but none of them report that figure or anything remotely close. The census 2006-08 estimate is 362,342, a 9% drop in population from 2000. I don’t know who put that up there, but I’m hoping someone – a reader who edits Wikipedia articles – could look into that and correct it if necessary. There’s no need to fudge something like that. Oakland’s population is now listed as 404,155.

71 Responses to I called it!

  1. GoA's says:

    Chris—assuming that the redevelopment agency has any money left—Sacto is taking most of the money to close budget gaps and has no plans to re-imburse city’s—-SJ has already purchased most of the property—Oakland will need to figure out where to get the $40-$50M for site acquisition but I wouldn’t plan on a RDA over the next several years—

  2. Jeffrey says:

    i guess we will see later today

  3. Reality check! says:

    Excellent question GoA’s! 15 years and all of a sudden they have a site? Today’s big revelations should have happened years ago. And will today’s news all of a sudden cause Wolff, Fisher, and even MLB to change their minds re: San Jose?
    This is all sounds like a bad relationship, in which a girl has been abused/neglected by her “loved one” for 15 years. Well, she’s had it and found someone who will really care for and treat her right. All of a sudden, as she’s ready to bolt, the “loved one” comes from out of the blue and tell’s her “I’ll be good to you, I promise, and here’s a picture of 4 wedding rings that might look good on your ring finger.” By the way, he has no idea how he’s going to pay for the rings.

  4. navigator says:

    Reality Check, Do you understand that the Oakland A’s last two ownerships have been from the South Bay? Do you understand that Lew Wolff, and Steve Schott before him, showed no interest at all in building a ballpark in Oakland? Do you understand that a pro Oakland ownership group involving Andy Dolich was rejected by MLB in favor of the South Bay carpetbaggers? Do you understand that even as Lew Wolff was claiming to be working on building a ballpark in Oakland, he was actually trying to secure rights to the South Bay? It’s clear that the fans want this ballpark in Oakland and it’s clear that Oakland has viable sites. The problem here is that Oakland was set up from the beginning with a trojan horse ownership from the South Bay. I still remember Wolff claiming he needed assistance from Oakland to get this ballpark built. As soon as Oakland established a committee of business and civic leaders headed by Dick Spees, Wolff told them he was no longer interested and he would handle the situation himself. Wolff dragged things out in Oakland. I spoke to Dick Spees about sites for a ballpark for the A’s. He mentioned, Fremont. I meant, IN OAKLAND. After all, this is what Wolff was suppose to have been working on at the time. Later, I see Spees sitting behind the A’s dugout as a guest of Lew Wolff. Another time Ron Delumns was the guest sitting behind the A’s dugout. Wolff didn’t have them there because he was interested in Oakland. Wolff had them there to influence their silence. Larry Reid the Council member from the Coliseum area was also resigned to the fact that the A’s were leaving. Wolff bought the silence of the Oakland contingent. They sat quietly as Wolff played nice until he got his sweetheart lease in Oakland. The “searching for a ballpark in Oakland” sham was used as a ploy to secure a favorable lease in Oakland. San Jose may steal the A’s from Oakland, just like they re routed HSR away from Oakland and the Altamont Pass, for political reasons. However, It won’t be based on merit but on back room dealings and influence peddling. It won’t be what Oakland Athletic fans want but instead what Lew Wolff, Larry Stone and the Mayor of San Jose want. Oakland will have been set up from the beginning with South Bay interests in place to take the team. It’s no great coupe on San Jose’s part. You held all the cards from the beginning. Somehow San Jose has a since of entitlement because their residents supposedly are wealthier than the residents in the more populous East Bay. It’s never about whats best for the region, but what’s best for the rich and powerful. It’s a sad commentary on life in this region and a sad commentary on a city which attempts to attain a higher National profile by pilfering from its neighbors.

  5. GoA's says:

    Nav–you really are so clueless…even if what you said was half true MLB set up the BRC in order to make sure that the “evil” Mr. Wolff was not ruling out Oakland. the team was Oaklands to lose—-A kick-ass site, with property acquired, a completed EIR, community forums etc etc—-would have made it impossible for MLB/BRC to look towards SJ—another year later and we have a news conference of potential sites but nothing else—-how can you not be pissed at your city leaders for being as weak as they are—-you can’t expect a team to be held hostage by a city that has no idea how to get things done–

  6. navigator says:

    This will eventually all end up in litigation and then we’ll see the chronology of events and who is telling the truth.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    What litigation are you referring too?

  8. GoA's says:

    So Nav am I correct to assume by your comments that you are less than impressed with Oakland’s news conference today?

  9. navigator says:

    No, I’m very impressed with the options in Oakland. I just think that this Blue Ribbon Commission is a sham and the fix is in. Wolff and Fisher are always taking the, “well, we’ll just have to wait and see what the BRC recommends.” This sham will eventually end up in the courts. And, if it’s proven that collusion existed between Wolff, Fisher, Selig and South Bay interests, to harm Oakland economically by misrepresenting positions and facts, in order to unfiarly relocate this franchise to San Jose, the parties responsible, including MLB and the City of San Jose, will be held civilly responsible. You know what happened to Oakland last time MLB convened a Blue Ribbon Commission, don’t you? This eventually will all be tied together. We have quotes from Selig on record as well as various statements from other officials.

  10. plrraz says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, Nav, lol…

    The antitrust exemption in place will prevent any litigation. So sorry.

  11. thisplanetsux says:

    Not that I’m expecting any litigation, but there’s no exemption from being sued. MLB has been sued many times.

  12. GoA's says:

    Well if the Seatlte Supersonics move to OK is any indication of how the courts receive these types of suits you can expect it to be dismissed rather quickly–they even had flaming emails from the new OK ownership group indicating they had no intention of keeping the team in Seattle–what did the court do–yawn–and throw out the case—and that was about a cross country move–not a 40 mile move down the freeway–just what Oakland needs to be doing–wasting any of its time or money on lawsuits when they should be embarassed by their lack of leadership

  13. Jeffrey says:

    It can be sued. Oakland can sue them, but for what reason?

    It cannot be sued by the Giants, and neither can the A’s per the MLB constitution.

  14. plrraz says:

    Right, Jeffrey – I was thinking of the Giants, not the City of Oakland.

    The City of Oakland will never sue; they will have no legal basis by which to sue, and they were burned when they tried to sue and take the Raiders by Eminent Domain when they left for Los Angeles in the early eighties.

    Bottom line…Nav’s contention that there will be lawsuits and that they will somehow prevent a move is wrong, wrong, wrong….

  15. Marine Layer says:

    Yeah, people keep bringing this up and it doesn’t hold water. The only things keeping the A’s in Oakland are T-rights and the Coliseum lease. The lease has an early buyout clause plus an extra fee should the A’s relocate outside Alameda County. That’s it. Whether or not there is collusion, Wolff has spent years at least making it appear like there’s been due diligence. That’s pretty hard to disprove.

  16. navigator says:

    We’re talking about economic harm done to the city by a disingenuous owner misrepresenting his position in order to get a favorable lease from the city. We’re talking about collusion between Selig, Schott, and Wolff to receive the team at a discount despite offers from qualified pro Oakland buyers. We can also establish that Selig made statements confirming his anti-Oakland bias. We can verify that the Blue Ribbon Commission established by Selig was used as a delay tactic to keep Schott from selling the team to a pro Oakland buyer. We can also verify that Wolff was attempting to secure territorial rights to the South Bay even as he maintained that he was working on building a ballpark in Oakland.

    We’ve just scratched the surface here on justifiable cause for a lawsuit.

    Also, it seems like Wolff, Fisher and the Mayor of San Jose are all reciting the same line. It goes something like this, “We’ll just have to wait and see what MLB recommends.” I saw Reed on the news yesterday. He looked like he just swallowed a canary after he made that statement. San Jose is going to find themselves knee deep in this muck. The thing that I would love to see the most is Wolff, Selig and Reed testifying before Congress. I would love to see Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein , and Congresswoman Barbara Lee interviewing these gentlemen and asking some embarrassing questions.

  17. GoA's says:

    go get ‘em Nav—odds are greater that Oakland would actually do something tangible and acquire some land, do an EIR….build a ballpark than any lawsuit with merit moving ahead—As I get to vote also I would doubt that either Boxer or Fenstein would forget who their constituents are—-and where they get their support from—

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Wow.

  19. plrraz says:

    Nav,

    It has been proven that the “pro Oakland” buyers were less than Qualified, and would have run a shoe string operation. ML has a great post on them. The Piccini (sp) group was woefully underfunded.

  20. plrraz says:

    Nav,

    Clay Bennett, the scumbag who bought and moved the Seattle Supersonics to OKC was caught with his pants down in several emails, saying among other things that he was (and I paraphrase, because I cant remember the exact quote) that he was a MAN POSSESSED in his efforts to get the team moved to OKC.

    Uhhh, Nav?
    Where are the Sonics playing these days? Oh, thats right, they arent playing anywhere – about the only thing Seattle won, was the rights to the team name and history, and the Basketball Team Formerly Known as the Sonics, now plays in OKC as the Thunder.

  21. navigator says:

    I’ll try to remain optimistic about the Victory Court site. I’d much rather focus on that great opportunity. I hope it doesn’t come to litigation.

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