Why Oakland May Prefer a Football Stadium

First thing first, I believe it requires several false assumptions to think that Oakland has to choose either the A’s or the Raiders/49ers. For one thing, any Redevelopment funds used to purchase a site near Jack London Square would come from a separate source than funds used around the Coliseum because they are in different redevelopment areas. From a different angle, the 49ers are already focused on a different plan so it is hard to count on them being involved as of yet. So let’s all calm down about what the 19 acre purchase really means.

But if these assumptions ultimately prove true, or the eventual result is that the A’s leave and the Raiders/49ers move into a renovated or new stadium at the Coliseum site, is it necessarily a horribly bad decision for Oaktown? As with anything, the answer is murky and depends on who is doing the answering. Here is my stab at the important things to consider when trying to answer this question.

We will take a new stadium, some fries, a shake… oh and can you throw in a Super Bowl with that?

It seems in baseball, when a City is trying to pitch a new stadium to tax payers they always play the “All Star Game Card.” The equal and opposite reaction in the world of the NFL is the Super Bowl. It is hard to imagine a Super Bowl coming to the Bay Area in either of the current stadiums. It is less hard to imagine a new Bay Area stadium competing favorably with cities like Indianapolis. But is the Super Bowl worth it?

A recent Ball State study on the economic impact of the NFL’s championship game provides some answers. You should read that study, it is short and it calls out all of the shortcomings with the various methods used to predict/report the economic impact of a huge sporting event. From that study, here is a table showing the economic impact of Super Bowls past (using the regional impact economic modeling approach).

superbowl

So the argument in favor of a football stadium, in the place of a baseball stadium, hinges in part on the ability of the City to land a Super Bowl. The study I cited above found that the 2012 Super Bowl will be worth about $200 Million to Indianapolis (in 2006 dollars). So, not only does the City have to land the Super Bowl, but the economic impact of that Super Bowl has to be greater than the economic impact of the displaced baseball team, which is sort of apples and oranges with a baseball team playing throughout the year while the Super Bowl is a one week party. It would surely help for Oakland to have the Super Bowl on a Miami like schedule, though I am not sure that is likely.

Another thing to consider about a Super Bowl in Oakland… the most likely spot for tourists to stay for a Super Bowl week in Oakland, is in San Francisco. A city that is already one of the tourism leaders in our country. So, while the Super Bowl may bring different tourists, it is not a safe assumption that it will bring more tourists to the region.

Soccer: The Global Game

Another thing to consider, a newish venue in Oakland could serve as a venue for World Cup games, international friendlies and a larger venue for the high profile Earthquakes games.

Much like the Super Bowl, the economic benefit of the World Cup is debatable. And, there really is no hope of having a Miami like schedule when it comes to hosting the World Cup. But if we combine World Cup games for a few weeks (every 20 years) with international friendlies and high profile Earthquakes games… this could bring out a few fans and their wallets.

As a point of reference, last season the Quakes played 2 games in Oakland and 1 in Candlestick Park. S0 really, the amount of Quakes games in Oakland would be limited. All in all the global game would not have a big impact, but when combined with 20 NFL games and the Super Bowl it isn’t hard to see the logic.

Everything Dies Baby, That’s a Fact…

The last thing I would be thinking about is concerts. The above subheading is from Bruce Springsteen’s seminal masterpiece “Atlantic City.” We could probably expect the Boss to come and rock a stadium show. U2, Dave Matthews Band, and various other large concert draws would too.

Another thing to consider is an argument could be made that from a concert perspective, a new stadium in Oakland would be more about “protecting” the City’s current dominant position in the Bay Area stadium sized concert market.  Or, in other words, most acts that can fill a stadium play in Oakland now.

One last thing to consider here, this is a list of the top acts in 2009, one thing to take note of is that most of these acts actually play arenas more than stadiums. Or, in short, there ain’t too many folks who can draw big enough crowds to justify playing in a stadium. On a personal note, that is fine by me because I prefer to catch my concerts at places like Wente Vineyards in Livermore or Freight and Salvage in Berkeley (and in a former life at the 924 Gilman).

In summary, it is hard to imagine the answers to these questions pencil out an economic impact that is a net positive when compared to having the A’s in a Downtown ballpark. Luckily, the Coliseum redevelopment plan, in and of itself,  doesn’t erase the possibility of an A’s stadium near JLS. Does it impact the plausibility or the probability? Who knows?

Coliseum Authority approves Raiders stadium study

Just in case the Santa Clara stadium concept gets voted down, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority gave the green light to a feasibility study for a new NFL stadium on Coliseum grounds. The study will cost $125,000, the entirety of which will by paid for by the Authority. Conventions, Sports & Leisure International will be doing the work, as they did for the 49ers’ and A’s economic impact reports. (Seems like they’ve got this market cornered, no?)

Zennie Abraham is upset about the apparent lack of minority involvement. My guess is that since CSLI worked with the Niners on the single and dual-team concept, whatever they learned from that experience could be leveraged for a new Coliseum stadium. One interesting note: CSLI is also doing a post mortem economic impact report on Petco Park. Of course, I painted the 49ers’ study as overly rosy and the A’s as a mixed bag, so it’s hard to know what to expect from CSLI. Cam Inman thinks the study is a waste of money since we can easily predict the results.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is the apparent disconnect between the Raiders and the Authority. From Amy Trask (via Chris Metinko’s Tribune article):

“We have expended resources in evaluating and furthering the concept of an urban redevelopment project, anchored by a stadium. In that regard, we have already engaged (at our expense) professionals to assist with this analysis. We have not heard from the Joint Powers Authority about the funding of a study, so it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

I thought that these two parties were in some hush-hush negotiations over the past year. Man, oh man. I, myself, am coordinating a move of my employer’s 12-person office to a bigger space in a different building within the complex. There’s no feasibility study needed, but that seems like one of those major items on a project plan, like “finalize budget” or “send out communications to employees.” What does it say about the state of affairs that Trask said she wasn’t contacted, and that the team has been doing its own studies? Sounds like they aren’t on the same page at the very least. Are the Raiders that interested in staying at the Coliseum? The only public rumblings we’ve heard so far were the Raiders talking to Dublin about Camp Parks.

All this gets a big shrug out of me.

Update: Matier & Ross report that Oakland has bought 19 acres of land near the Coliseum as part of this effort. My guess is that it’s the old HomeBase site (PDF) on Hegenberger. Some observations:

  • The land cost is $19 million for 19 acres. Wolff was willing to buy Coliseum North land for $1 million an acre.
  • The HomeBase site is rectangular, making it perfectly sized and shaped for a football stadium.
  • If the stadium is placed correctly, it should avoid EBMUD’s massive sewer interceptor, which runs right through the Coliseum and Malibu lots and can’t have any structures on top of it.

Yes Virginia, Transportation is a Challenge

Last November, upon hearing much whining from my fellow East Bay residents, I did a little sleuthing on transportation options to get to a potential new stadium in San Jose. I found out that most of the whining was fairly justified. Getting to an imagined park in San Jose would not be as convenient as getting to the current home of the A’s for large portions of the fan base.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the SEIR in San Jose and its transportation assumptions.  I figure it is time to update the transportation discussion.

First, let’s revisit the original findings:

  • The East Bay is a big area, so…
  • It is probably better to break it down by Inner East Bay and Tri Valley/Diablo Valley
  • Inner East Bay (as measured from Berkeley) faces a 1 hr 30 min drive
  • Tri Valley (as measured from Pleasanton) faces a 30-45 minute drive
  • No actual train service exists on a  schedule to serve these folks, realistically
  • Transportation plans (BART/HSR) for the region will not make an impact on East Bay travel times before 2020 (and that is an optimistic estimate)

So now that reality has smacked us in the face and yelled “You have to drive!!!!” What are the solutions a team might kick around to get the East Bay folks some transportation? Fear not, fellow citizens of Eastbaylovakia… I have some ideas.

While I won’t throw out specific plans, here are the methods I think are key to solving the transportation challenges.

Subsidized Bus Lines

I am an East Bay resident. I work in Sunnyvale. Many of my coworkers also live in the East Bay. Our company has an interesting solution to the transportation challenges we face: a free shuttle service. In my case, due to strange work hours on occasion, the bus line is not always helpful. But, on the days I can leave my house by 0620 and leave the office at 1600, there is no better way to get to and from the South Bay than the Bauer’s powered shuttle service.

The service picks me up at the Tassajara Park n’ Ride in Dublin. Drops me off at the office and does the reverse in the afternoon.  There is another stop, further north on 680 for Diablo Valley residents. A similar service used to operate up and down 880 for Oakland/Berkeley residents.

Imagine the Green and Gold Express running up and down 680 and 880. The shuttle could be to and from Fremont BART or they could go the route my company does and hit a few park and rides on the major highways. Either way, it is a solution I expect to be pursued on some level.

Extended Train Schedules

So, there is this Capitol Corridor thing. And this ACE thing. They are comfortable. Come with Wifi. Possibly a bar cart. Not to mention the potential for some baseball history themed train rides from Sacramento, or Stockton on down. The two lines serve a considerable portion of the A’s current territory. Capitol Corridor has from Auburn to Fairfield to Martinez to Oakland to Fremont, etc. ACE covers Stockton, Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton and Fremont.

Here are the two routes with all the stations noted:

ccandaceRoutes courtesy of capitolcorridor.org and acerail.com

Only problem? The schedules they keep don’t exactly mesh so well with night games.  The last ACE train rumbles toward San Jose at around the time any random rooster might crow. It last departs from San Jose, heading out on a northeasterly tact, sometime around when batting practice starts. The Capitol Corridor doesn’t do much better. The simple solution is to introduce a new time slot for each route on night games (similar to what Caltrain does for Sharks games). I’d love to come in on a train from Pleasanton, on a “Turn Back the Clock Day,” with a bunch of other A’s fans, all of dressed in period garb. I can hear the ticket taker barking, “1929 priced beer in the bar cart boys and girls!”

Maybe this is pure fantasy, but it is fun to think about.

Another potential challenge here is the cost/time. A round trip ticket from Berkeley to San Jose on Capitol Corridor is $16 and requires a 1hr and 30 minute train ride. A round trip ticket from the Tri Valley is $12.25 and requires a 1hr train ride from the the Pleasanton station. Obviously, the further away you go, the higher the cost/time commitment.

Based on these numbers, it is probably safe to say that the train schedules would probably need more frequent weekend service. That will be when most folks from extended distances would come to town for a game and , probably, when most fans in the East Bay would come. I know I could get a lot more excited about a 2 hr round trip train ride on a Saturday then I would on a Wednesday.

Express Light Rail Trains

I have absolutely no idea if this is even possible. I love VTA Light Rail, for the simple fact that I think of King Friday every time I pass a “Trolley Crossing” sign. Also, because I have a free pass and anytime I need to get to Downtown San Jose I just jump on the next train and there I am.

Maybe the train only stops at sites with a parking lot and then at the Convention Center, the station at  San Fernando and Delmas and at Diridon. I am not sure if you could have a few express trains running on all routes. I imagine it would cause some congestion in the system.

This would be my preferred method on week nights. I could drive into work, catch an express train out at Moffett Park and be at the game well before the first pitch. The downside being I’d have to catch a train back out to Moffett Park before driving home, but that is doable every once in a while.

All of this conjecture points to the one non MLB controlled challenge at Diridon: Transportation for East Bay fans. Should San Jose get the nod and the park is built, success will depend (in part) on how well the available transportation options are utilized. Perhaps the A’s will bring together VTA, ACE, Capitol Corridor, and Bauer’s and together this group will agree to some unified strategy of people moving.  Stranger things have happened, right?

SEIR notes and liveblog

I’m at tonight’s Good Neighbor Session. City is just about finished with a presentation, we’ll be getting into the committee’s Q&A shortly. One major observation: Unlike the previous HSR-focused sessions, tonight’s Ballpark EIR-focused session is anything but packed. Plenty of empty seats, and I recognize a few supporters and opponents. Notes to follow.

Clipped from the SEIR:

6. Project Construction and Schedule
If a City-sponsored ballot initiative were to be approved in November 2010, site preparation, infrastructure development, road abandonment and relocation would begin in the spring of 2011. Opening day would be in April 2014 or later.
To date 8 of 16 properties are owned by, and the remaining properties are in discussions with, the San José Redevelopment Agency.
A recent economic analysis estimated that the modified project would generate 980 full- or part-time and seasonal jobs in a
stabilized year of operations as compared to the previously estimated 1,500 to 1,800 jobs that would be generated by the 2006 Stadium Proposal.
Relocation of the substation south to the existing Fire Training Center site has subsequently been determined by PG&E to be infeasible due to cost and flooding issues. Under the modified project the PG&E substation may be reconfigured as previously described in the 2006 Stadium Proposal.

6. Project Construction and Schedule

If a City-sponsored ballot initiative were to be approved in November 2010, site preparation, infrastructure development, road abandonment and relocation would begin in the spring of 2011. Opening day would be in April 2014 or later.

To date 8 of 16 properties are owned by, and the remaining properties are in discussions with, the San José Redevelopment Agency.

A recent economic analysis estimated that the modified project would generate 980 full- or part-time and seasonal jobs in a stabilized year of operations as compared to the previously estimated 1,500 to 1,800 jobs that would be generated by the 2006 Stadium Proposal.

Relocation of the substation south to the existing Fire Training Center site has subsequently been determined by PG&E to be infeasible due to cost and flooding issues. Under the modified project the PG&E substation may be reconfigured as previously described in the 2006 Stadium Proposal.

- There is some reduction of impact in changing the size from 45,000 to 32-36,000, but not a significant reduction.

- Noise and freeway traffic would be higher than in the 2007 study, though that’s because of the changes in data gathering.

- The study cites the Submerged Stadium alternative as the least environmentally impactful option:

As noted in the certified EIR and the preceding section, the Submerged Stadium alternative would generally represent the next-best alternative in terms of the fewest impacts and it would meet the City’s objectives to the same extent as the 2006 Stadium Proposal and the modified project. The Existing Plan alternative would come close to the Submerged Stadium alternative in terms of the fewer impacts but it would not meet the City’s objectives for the proposed project, which is to develop a Major League Baseball stadium and associated facilities.

The Submerged Stadium alternative would involve the excavation of the site by 24 to 28 feet to submerge the stadium and achieve a consequent reduction in overall height by the same 24 to 28 feet. The (150 space on-site) parking garage, as proposed in 2006, would also be submerged to a similar level. Pedestrian access to the interior of the stadium facilities would vary from the proposed (atgrade) concept, but this alternative assumes that the remainder of the project’s characteristics would not change.

Regarding urban decay:

The study concludes that the relocation of the A’s from Oakland to San Jose and the cessation of use of the Oakland Coliseum as a major league baseball venue would not cause urban decay in the City of Oakland. Specifically, no businesses are likely to close; therefore consideration of the consequences of extended vacancy and of potentials for recycling space are moot.

Back to the session, the committee is discussion public transit and parking. In the SEIR, there is a mention of having parking facilities that are meant for HP Pavilion events when there are simultaneous events, in conjunction with ballpark-specific facilities for A’s fans. I’m interested to see how this would work. Also, there’s a difference between what City estimates for parking and MLB’s estimates. City is going with the Sharks’ pattern of 2.3 persons per vehicle at each event, while MLB typically sees 2.8 persons per vehicle. This may be due to more of the new ballparks being on the East Coast, where public transit is more readily available and parking tends to be more expensive.

Transportation splits:

36,000-Seat Alternative (35,400 actual with no-shows)
Auto			90.5%	32,037
Public Transit		4.5%	1,593
Walk/Bicycle		3.3%	1,168
Charter Bus/Taxi & Limo	1.1%	389
Drop Off/Pick-Up	0.6%	212
Parking Demand 		13,929 (2.3 persons/vehicle, MLB anticipates 2.8/veh)

Marc Morris notes that there’s no mention of weekday day games (businessperson specials). Is it because it’s bad news or because it’s out of the question? Parking availability would be significantly less for those games.

Q: Who’s paying for the new parking structure near the ballpark/HP Pavilion?
A (Dennis Korabiak): There will be major revenue from the facility. Knowing that there are options including bonds, partnerships with the Sharks, others.

Noll gives a number for T-rights

The Trib’s Kelly Rayburn sets the table for what should be the forthcoming report to the commish this week.

The commissioner’s committee is expected to discuss the ballpark sites, the cities’ abilities to make infrastructure improvements, market and corporate vitality, and the politics surrounding a possible move, numerous sources said.

Nearly lost among the posturing among all of the cities and booster groups is noted Stanford sports economist Roger Noll’s opinion:

Roger Noll, an authority on the business of professional sports, does not see the territorial rights issue as a death knell for the A’s designs on San Jose. He believes the matter can be settled for the right price: $20 million or $30 million.

“My expectation is eventually they will move. How long it will take to move, I don’t know,” Noll said. “Among all the options the most likely is San Jose.”

I’m not sure where Noll gets the number from, and I think that whatever compensation is made won’t be a simple $25 million lump sum payment. However, it’s a more realistic number than what many have been calling for: $100-300 million.

San Jose SEIR out

It’s 137 pages and will take much of my weekend. The rest will be either sleep or SF Beer Week events.

If you’re wondering what happens next, here it is:

E. CEQA PROCESS

The SEIR is being circulated for public review and comment for 45 days. During this review period, all interested parties are encouraged to read the document to inform their understanding of the project and its anticipated environmental effects, and to submit written comments regarding the environmental issues and analysis presented in the SEIR.

Every comment letter received on the SEIR during the 45-day comment period will be reviewed by City staff and the environmental consultant team, and the City will provide a written response for every substantive comment received addressing environmental issues associated with the baseball stadium. The SEIR will be revised as appropriate in response to comments received, and the City will prepare a Final SEIR, consisting of the SEIR, the public comments received, the City’s responses to substantive environmental issues raised in the public comments, and any text revisions resulting from the responses to comments. The Final SEIR will act as a supplement to the previously certified EIR.

The Final SEIR will be released, and a copy provided to all commentors, a minimum 10 days prior to the public hearing before the Planning Commission of the City of San José to consider certification of the Final EIR. If the Planning Commission certifies the Final EIR as complete and in compliance with CEQA, the Commission may then hold a public hearing regarding any recommendations related to the proposed baseball stadium. The decision of the Planning Commission to certify the Final EIR may be appealed to the City Council. Instructions on filing an EIR Appeal can be obtained by calling (408) 535-3555 or at http://www.sanjoseca.gov/planning/applications/.

The City Council will hold a public hearing to consider certification of the SEIR, in the event of an appeal. If the Council upholds the Planning Commission decision and certifies the SEIR as complete and in compliance with CEQA, the Council can then consider approval of actions for a stadium project as described in the Baseball Stadium in the Diridon/Arena Area EIR, as revised by this SEIR. It is anticipated that the City Council will place a ballot measure before the San José electorate regarding the use of public funds for construction of a stadium. Pursuant to provisions of the San José Municipal Code, the City may utilize tax dollars to participate in the building of the stadium only after obtaining a majority vote of the electorate approving that expenditure.

E. CEQA PROCESS
The SEIR is being circulated for public review and comment for 45 days. During this review period,
all interested parties are encouraged to read the document to inform their understanding of the project
and its anticipated environmental effects, and to submit written comments regarding the environmental
issues and analysis presented in the SEIR.
Every comment letter received on the SEIR during the 45-day comment period will be reviewed by
City staff and the environmental consultant team, and the City will provide a written response for
every substantive comment received addressing environmental issues associated with the baseball
stadium. The SEIR will be revised as appropriate in response to comments received, and the City will
prepare a Final SEIR, consisting of the SEIR, the public comments received, the City’s responses to
substantive environmental issues raised in the public comments, and any text revisions resulting from
the responses to comments. The Final SEIR will act as a supplement to the previously certified EIR.
The Final SEIR will be released, and a copy provided to all commentors, a minimum 10 days prior to
the public hearing before the Planning Commission of the City of San José to consider certification of
the Final EIR. If the Planning Commission certifies the Final EIR as complete and in compliance with
CEQA, the Commission may then hold a public hearing regarding any recommendations related to
the proposed baseball stadium. The decision of the Planning Commission to certify the Final EIR may
be appealed to the City Council. Instructions on filing an EIR Appeal can be obtained by calling (408)
The City Council will hold a public hearing to consider certification of the SEIR, in the event of an
appeal. If the Council upholds the Planning Commission decision and certifies the SEIR as complete

See you on the other side. Of the weekend, that is.

The Upper Deck: Once More With Feeling

While we’re waiting for some reports to be distributed, I’ll let you in on an exchange I had with A’s Senior Director of Ticket Operations, Steve Fanelli. gojohn10 had noticed that the All You Can Eat View Level Upper Reserved sections (316-318) are now being called the “Value Deck.” Tickets for these seats are called “Jumbo Tickets” and cost $12 for regular games, $15 for premium dates (Giants, Yankees, etc.).

Each Value Deck ticket will come with $6 of food or merchandise credit baked into the ticket’s barcode. If you have one of those tickets you can have your ticket scanned at one of the concession stands behind 316-318 or at a participating stand on the Plaza or Field concourse. Fanelli said that they’re working on a Value menu, containing items that cost less than $5. You’ll be able to use multiple ticket credits for a single purchase. I didn’t ask, but I assume that the value isn’t good for beer.

I wish this was offered in 2006, instead of tarping off the entire third deck. It combines a cheap ticket ($6) with guaranteed concessions revenue -or rather, a justification for keeping the concession stands on the upper concourse open. As it grows in popularity, more sections can be untarped so that more people can take advantage. Even though I bought a fielder’s choice plan in the bleachers for this year, I would seriously consider changing that seat to a value deck seat. Unfortunately, the A’s don’t offer a value deck season ticket plan (doh!).

I’ve never seen a proper breakdown of the A’s revenues per attendee, but they have to be among the lowest in the majors. It’s not just the ticket discounts like Double Play Wednesday. I don’t have any hard evidence of this, but I’ll put it out anyway: We hardcore fans don’t spend our money in the Coliseum. Who does? Casual fans. Not only are the concession stands much more full on the weekends when casual fans come out, they buy food and merchandise in greater quantities than we do. Given the A’s revenue woes, they should be exploring every avenue to bring more casual fans in – and this sounds like a good start since it works for both fan and team.

That’s not to say that hardcore fans should feel ashamed. I don’t. I’m much more likely to bring in a burrito and a 20-oz. soda in than I am to get a Big Dog and a souvenir cup. The team allows it, so I’m going to take advantage. I go with a large group about twice a year and we always do a nice tailgate and bring stuff in. Hardcore fans go often, so they don’t feel compelled to buy something everytime they enter the gates. We’ve tasted everything there already.

The Value Deck, as it stands with Sections 316-318, is only around 1200 seats. So even if it is incredibly successful, it’s not going to move the needle that much. Still, I like the concept as it takes some of the packaging done with ticket packs and makes it an everyday, individual seat purchase. As a marketing experiment, it’s not exclusionary as tarping and the AYCE tickets were. In fact, I believe in it enough that I’d like to buy 4 tickets for myself and 3 blog friends. I’d like to document the whole experience, from buying the tickets to entering the Coli to cashing in the $6 credit for the first time. Anyone interested? Drop me an e-mail and we can work out the details.