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).
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?