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?

24 thoughts on “Why Oakland May Prefer a Football Stadium

  1. R.M.,
    Do each of Oaklands redevelopment districts have their own agency and budget? How is it that funds used for the Coliseum land purchase aren’t the same as funds coming from JLS? Just curious. Also, it was probably a lot easier to purchase the 19-acre Home Base site than a hypothetical JLS plot, as it was probably owned by one owner and doesn’t require relocations or negotiations with multiple owners.

    • Hey Tony,
      In Oakland there is the Community and Economic Development Agency. That is the City of Oakland’s equivalent to a Redevelopment Agency.

      The link is their website. That is a good place to read up on the districts and how projects get funded etc.

      The Home Base site is clearly much less complex than Victory Court or JLS West. For one thing, Victory Court is in two different redevelopment zones. For another, there are 33 property owners at JLS West.

  2. I think if they designed a stadium that could fit a 105 metres (115 yards) long and 68 metres (75 yards) wide field (the IFAB mandated size for international matches), and without having to do the huge changes required to switch from the baseball to football setup since most friendlies and the MLS season are during baseball season (didn’t RM say how much that cost in a previous post a while back?), you would see more soccer games at a bay area stadium. I don’t think either stadium currently can fit the 68m wide field.

  3. Freight & Salvage FTW

  4. According to the Oakland Tribune and Matthew Artz the city manager of Fremont is going to be meeting with MLB officials in the next two weeks to discuss stadium discuss infrastructure and land acquisition. No city has been eliminated yet.

    • I don’t think we should expect elimination. In reality, the only city that is technically excluded is San Jose. It doesn’t behoove MLB to exclude anyone. If anything, MLB might announce a negotiation window for San Jose.

      • “It is important that we get to some resolution in the near future,” Selig wrote in a Dec. 3 letter to Oakland managing partner Lewis Wolff. “As a result, I have decided that in the event you are not able to promptly assure the implementation of the desired ballpark in Fremont, you may begin to discuss a ballpark with other communities…”

        I’m just about ready to raise the white flag on this whole ballpark issue. I guess Selig’s definition of “near future” and “promptly” different from mine. I realize a lot has changed over the last year, which has probably added to the complexity of evaluating the various sites, but it’s looking more and more like we won’t hear anything from the Comish’s office before the start of the season. I’m guessing any delays beyond June would jeopardize a November vote, should SJ get the nod.

        ML, Jeffrey, please someone throw me a bone!

      • I’m starting to think MLB has their own drip, drip process in which the end result is too allow the A’s to move to SJ no sooner than 2018 after the Giant’s have paid off their stadium debt.

      • unless they can do something in Fremont or Oakland sooner.

  5. Even if the redevelopment funds needed to build a ballpark is unaffected by a new football stadium, the two are politically linked. After the Coliseum remodel disaster, I’m skeptical Oakland can muster enough public support for one new stadium. I’m guessing two stadiums will be extremely difficult to sell to the city residents.
    Not only that, but everything Oakland is doing right now is under the microscope of MLB. The fact is that Oakland has begun moving forward on a football stadium, while nothing has happened with the ballpark site(s), will not be viewed favorably.

    • “Willing Partners: Both the Raiders and the 49ers have expressed interest in pursuing a shared stadium in Oakland at the Coliseum site. Raiders executive Amy Trask has enthusiastically praised the Coliseum and the city of Oakland as the best stadium spot in the Bay Area because of its easy auto and public transit access and its central location in the region. In fact, Jed York of the 49ers has shown far more public interest in Oakland than Wolff.
      .
      Wolff’s stubborness regarding “being done with Oakland” has been well-documented. Why would Oakland start buying up land when Wolff refuses to do more than meet Mayor Dellums for coffee and tell the mayor “don’t break your pick on this one?”
      .
      While Oakland has the RDA resources and other locations available for these business to relocate, it makes no sense to start that process until some dialogue begins with the A’s. Hence, the need to wait for Bud Selig’s decision once MLB’s committee submits their report.”
      .
      http://baseballoakland.blogspot.com/2010/02/on-football.html

      • The 49ers “interest” is conditional. If Santa Clara votes for the stadium project it will evaporate

      • At least they are showing some interest with Oakland as a definite plan B if the vote does not pass in Santa Clara. Wolff has shown absolutely no interest at all in Oakland, even after the city has come up with what could be a couple of exciting new ballpark sites in downtown.

      • The Niners have never had to deal with the City of Oakland. The A’s have had to suffered through be better part of 32 years in Oakland. Can’t say I blame Wolff for looking elsewhere.

      • Not only that, but lack of certainty about a ballpark happening hasn’t stopped Fremont and San Jose from moving forward. Oakland will have to find a better excuse than the uncertainty that the team would be interested.

      • 42 years, but who’s counting?

      • While this strategy may make the most sense for Oakland going forward, it just goes to show how behind the eight ball the city is with the ballpark issue. Oakland ‘s ballpark timeline is already years behind that of San Jose and the wait-and-see strategy just isn’t going to cut it . The cost benefit of getting into a new ballpark a few extra years early will easily cover territorial rights the A’s will need to pay to regain the rights to SC county. To keep the A’s Oakland needs to show MLB that baseball is a priority in Oakland. Once the A’s leave Oakland, who gives a fuck about who did or did not do what to lead to that outcome (posted as I pass the coliseum on BART).

      • I guess I can see the logic in waiting. The question I have: “Does the City of Oakland believe that JLS needs an anchor stronger than what is already planned?” My answer would be “yes, an anchor is required beyond the open air market.”

        If their answer is yes, then they should be planning for improvements and buying land with or without a ballpark.

  6. From Tri City Beat blog:

    MLB officials spoke with Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz this week. They told him that no city had been eliminated and wanted to know more about land aquisition as well as on-site and off-site infrstructure improvements.
    Diaz expects the city to meet with MLB officials within the next two weeks

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_14479463

  7. I find it interesting and frustrating that the findings from the MLB Taskforce haven’t been leaked yet.

    • A whole year has passed since the panel was formed. In real terms, we’re really not any farther along than we were this time last year. SJ has received its draft EIR, but that means nothing if MLB doesn’t grant the A’s access to SCC. Oakland is not moving forward until they hear from BS, and Fremont is still trying to figure out what they want to do with the NUMMI site.

      As frustrated as I am, I can’t image what Wolff must be feeling.

      • EIR will be certified first week of April—I would expect some sort of announcement around that time—in the mean time support is growing in San Jose for the A’s move-

        New polls show growing support for A’s to San Jose, but Santa Clarans split on 49ers stadium

        “San Jose voters polled approve the A’s move by 53 to 35 percent — a significant jump from two previous polls done by the same firm in October and June of last year.
        http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14494424?source=rss

  8. Has anybody seen the new Target Field yet?

    The outfield seating looks oddly like the proposed configuration for Cisco Field. I do really like one thing: the Ash backing on the seats; that’s one feature I would gladly copy.

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