Questions Without Answers

With most recent poll indicating Santa Clara residents are slightly in favor of building a new stadium for the 49ers adjacent to the Great America theme park, my mind is wrought with questions.

Most of them have little to do with Santa Clara. No, I am thinking about the two teams that inhabit the Coliseum and what a stadium in Santa Clara would mean to them. In the Raiders case, the new stadium in Santa Clara could mean a few things.

It could serve as pressure on the City of Oakland to “double down” with a new stadium on the old Homebase site. It could also mean pressure from the NFL to cohabitate with the 49ers and become the Oakland Raiders of Santa Clara. This is all assuming Cedar Fair’s concerns are addressed. But really, this is all secondary in my mind.

The real questions for me have to do with the A’s, my first true love. How will a push, if one is coming, from the NFL to move the Raiders south impact the City of Oakland’s efforts for an A’s stadium? How would the 49ers unavailability to share a new stadium in Oakland impact to financial feasibility of a new Oakland stadium? Likewise, how will a Raiders push to stay in Oakland impact the A’s? Would the City be able to pull together two stadium deals at the same time considering all that is going on economically right now?

When last we checked in with the City of Oakland, there were four potential sites (the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, JLS West and Victory Court). As of now, we have no real answer to the biggest question: how much will a  stadium at any of these sites cost?

But getting more in depth, here are the questions I have about Oakland’s baseball efforts in general. Answers to these questions will go a long way toward proving “viability.” I have posed these questions to people within Oakland’s City Hall and they have yet to be answered (Not that I expect answers at this point):

  1. Howard Terminal is a site that has been around a while, and reportedly rejected by the A’s. In the recent Brunner Report, there is mention of changes in Jack London Square have made it more plausible. What are those changes?
  2. Is there any concern that converting Howard Terminal into a baseball stadium will cause problems with the Port? In an ideal situation would those berths be moved somewhere else or just go away? I understand there is a long term lease for that property as well, does that create a challenge?
  3. Shifting a bit, of all the sites in Oakland, my personal favorite is JLS West. One of the common challenges I encounter when going to Jack London Square is transportation. I can drive and park, but on a busy day that is sometimes hard. I once read a study about the possibility of Light Rail or Street Cars connecting Uptown/Broadway, Downtown and the Waterfront. Is there any movement on this? It seems like that would be a big benefit for JLS and a stadium at the JLS West site.
  4. The Public Market in Jack London Square has been delayed a few times. What is the current status of that project? To your knowledge, does the developer see a nearby baseball stadium as a good thing?
  5. This past week I was downtown for business and I decided to take a stroll from the City Center down to JLS. The empty Barnes and Noble building really made the place feel almost deserted. Is there a plan for that retail space? Potential tenants that you know of?
  6. Victory Court is an intriguing possibility. On our mock up we had the stadium angled so you could see out into the Bay and Alameda, it was quite an enticing idea. The two questions I couldn’t really answer when researching the site was, what challenge does the Union Pacific ROW present for the site? And, I read in an East Bay Express article of a coffee company that estimated a move would cost around $30 Million dollars. Are these sort of expenses already known quantities for the City of Oakland? Do you have a plan for purchasing each of these parcels and moving the businesses, or is that something you get to after the MLB Panel is done with it’s work?
  7. Victory Court is fairly close to the Oak2ninth development site. I remember there was quite a bit of back and forth about open space in the EIR process for Oak2ninth. Is there any concern that a proposed stadium at Victory Court would run into similar questions? If so, do you see them as relatively easy to overcome?
  8. What is the status of Oak2ninth? I look at the renderings online and they are gorgeous, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of activity in the area just yet. Is there a timetable for completing that project?

Answers anyone?

20 Responses to Questions Without Answers

  1. pjk says:

    The Mercury News is hardly an objective observer in the 49ers stadium issue, serving as nothing more than a PR arm of the stadium campaign. Didn’t I read how homeowners are against it while non-homeowners favor it? In other words, the people who would have to pay for it don’t want it while the people who would get a free ride support it. No surprise there.

  2. GoA's says:

    MN reported on a poll done by an independent polling group (same one that has recently polled SJ residents on the A’s)–they are reporting the results of that poll so has nothing to do with cheerleading status-

    the swing voters are the 18-29 year old group and rest assured that every effort is being made to have this group register and vote by mail-in ballot. Remember the most recent BART/SJ ballot initiative–the 18-29 year-old mail in voters ultimately pushed that over the top after it looked like it wasn’t going to get the 2/3rd’s majority–

  3. pjk says:

    …Pretty stupid to build a $1 bill stadium in the Great America parking lot (right in the flight path of SJ Airport) when there is a half-readymade solution at the Coliseum. Put the A’s in a new ballpark, knock down the older half of the existing stadium and put up football stands. A $300 mill solution, with lots of parking and BART and highway access. for both the 49ers and Raiders.

  4. GoA's says:

    and who in their right mind would ever partner with Al Davis on anything–or for that matter the city of Oakland….how many times has Al sued the NFL, Oakland etc—-pretty stupid in my mind to think that Al would be a willing partner to anything involving a competing franchise-

    Personally I like the SC site—and of course from a ’9ers perspective you’ll be closer to the Silicon Valley dollars that they need to more effectively tap into–

  5. LoneStranger says:

    The lack of answers only supports the idea that naming sites was a ‘see, we tried’ by Oakland.

  6. pjk says:

    Would be funny to have the Goodyear blimp flying over Santa Clara during 49ers games with nothing much to look at but a bunch of rollercoasters and maybe the Milpitas WalMart. No more aerial shots of downtown Frisco or the GG Bridge. Will drive ESPN nuts. It’s not like the Meadowlands where midtown Manhattan is only 5 miles away.

    FWIW, if Santa Clara wants to back this boondoggle, all the power to them. They ought to look at the crushing financial blows football stadiums have wreaked on Indianapolis, Cinncinati and uh, Oakland.

  7. GoA's says:

    pjk–so how will the Oakland site be saved from “crushing financial blows football stadiums have wreaked on Indianapolis, Cinncinati and uh, Oakland”? Note that the most skeptical folks (Noll) have indicated that as far as these deals go this one is light-years ahead of where the others are that you cite in terms of protecting the city and public-

  8. pjk says:

    Easy. Get the NFL or 49ers and Raiders to pay for the $300-$400 mill it would cost to “complete” the football renovation of the Coliseum, half of which was done in 1995. The NFL has billions and can easily pay for its own stadiums if it wants to.

    The Santa Clara deal calls for massive public subsidies from a town with only about 110,000 people. Santa Clara has turned away a potential employer who wanted about a $2 mill subsidy but is embracing the 49ers and the $100 mill plus they want? Huh?

    Go to http://www.santaclaraplaysfair.com for the facts.

  9. Oakland 1st says:

    First and foremost: any building of a football stadium in the Bay Area should be built for both football teams. It makes the most sense, whether the 9ers have to play their games in Oakland or the Raiders having to play in S’Clara.
    Personally, as both a Raider and A’s fan, I would like to see the Raiders and 9ers share a stadium in S’Clara. This would then free up the A’s to explore a new baseball stadium at the current Coliseum site, that is, if Lew Wolff is still open to this option.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    @pjk… Can’t speak to the merits of spending that much money on a football stadium. If a similar deal was offered to my town, I would vote no every which way but loose. That said, I don’t think the end game for Oakland is for the NFL is to pay for it themselves, not because they shouldn’t, because they won’t.

  11. Briggs says:

    It still boggles my mind as to how the Giants and Jets are moving into the new Meadowlands Stadium this coming season. If anyone has any articles on why Giants Stadium was an insufficient facility, I’d like to read them. Aside from some more luxury boxes and ancillary facility improvements, the enw stadiums looks pretty much identical to Giants Stadium. $1.6 billion is a hefty price tag for 81 home games, let alone 16.

  12. pjk says:

    re:If anyone has any articles on why Giants Stadium was an insufficient facility,

    ‘I feel the same way. Giants Stadium was a fine facility, certainly 10X better than Candlestick. I guess it didn’t have enough club seats, luxury boxes or not enough seats in general to satisfy waiting lists for season tickets.

    Food for thought for 49er stadium boosters: One of the sources of revenue to pay for the Santa Clara stadium is naming rights $. But the Cowboys have had no takers for their naming rights and the Giants/Jets haven’t either. Who picks up the tab if this funding doesnt come in? Santa Clara taxpayers, perhaps?

  13. Brian says:

    I don’t understand why Giants Stadium couldn’t have turned the second deck into club seats and added some luxury boxes in somewhere (you’d think they could have probably added some rows to the upper deck to compensate for any lost seats). However, with the PSL’s they have torched the 60k wait list that they had for tickets at the old place, so once the new stadium smell wears off, a price reduction will be in order if they want to keep filling the joint.

    Here’s an article about how somehow they managed to put seats behind poles (which the old stadium DIDN’T have):

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/jersey_field_of_oabCIiTLOJ1QzPFltXiniO

  14. pjk says:

    Absolutely amazing re: new Giants stadium. They can fix the problem when they build another stadium in 2060.

  15. Brandon says:

    Answers to Jeffrey’s Questions on an Oakland baseball stadium:
    1) changes alluded to most likely are $3 billion in private/public development at JLS and port
    2) Port entered into a 25 year lease with SSA/Matson at Howard Terminal. Presumably they could be moved elsewhere along the port’s 575 acres at the waterfront.
    3) Streetcar to uptown is planned. A free Broadway shuttle is commencing this May to connect uptown to JLS
    4) JLS Market is still finalizing tenants. Planned opening is 2010 but depends on getting occupants
    5) Old Barnes & Nobles (98 Broadway, Pavilion) is now a gallery/independent film venue
    6) Redevelopment funds could be offered to move George Vukasin/Peerless coffee (former A’s partner)
    7) Additional open space has recently been added to Oak to 9th plan in exchange for Oakland army base property (to the developer)
    8) Oak to 9th is likely to commence in 2011 as a result of the environmental review challenge
    The above info has appeared in Port/city/JLS partners notices and local newspapers

  16. GoJohn10 says:

    Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler weighs in on Oakland fans boycotting A’s games.

    Do people really think that boycotting baseball games in Arizona is going to eventually lead to removal of the new immigration law? All it’s going to do is hurt the D-backs. It’s not much fun to play in front of an empty stadium in your home park. We’re going through that when A’s fans boycott our games bc ownership has threatened to move the team. The lack of fans gives them all the more reason to seek other alternatives for a new home city. And the players get punished, having to play in an empty stadium for something that we have nothing to do with. You an make your opinions known in lots of ways, but ultimately, boycotting games affects the players more than the owners. Just remember, to most owners, having a baseball team is a hobby on the side. They all made their money elsewhere before buying the team.  Sorry for the political rant. Just wish true fans would seek alternative ways of protesting other than boycotting games. Don’t punish US…

  17. Marine Layer says:

    @GoJohn10 – Well said, Ziggy. That deserves its own post.

  18. Jeffrey says:

    @Brandon… thanks, but I wasn’t looking for “presumably.” I can presume too, I want to know what are the specific changes and how they make Howard Terminal more attractive (assuming the stuff i have heard through rumor and what not isn’t true and it isn’t Victory Court or bust at this point). We want to know the same things about Fremont and San Jose, and in those cases the process has been much more public and the information about the City Governments plans (to the extent that they exist) are accessible.

    I guess I would feel more comfortable in believing there was a plan if detailed questions that relate to that plan could be answered directly from someone in Oakland. Like, Matson has a 25 year lease, where can you move them? Seems pretty straightforward, no? Peerless coffee is on record saying it will cost $30Million to move them, is that accurate (I understand this one is probably not a question the City would want to answer)?

    I get emails all the time from people who claim to be on the inside in regards to Oakland/ballpark. I take them with a grain of salt, for the most part. But the thing that annoys me the most about these emails is that they all have the same tone…”details are not as important as opinions and everyone I have talked to thinks (insert site name here) is a great idea.” Of course no one comes out and says this in those specific words, but just read the most recent posts on baseballoakland.com and you can see the same general pattern. Unscientific poll in the Tribune shows people want the A’s to stay and My friend talked about Victory Court after a meeting for the Lake Merritt Area that didn’t include anything specific about a baseball stadium. If Oakland supporters really want the A’s to stay, it is all about the details.

    Like for instance… The JLS Market has been “opening in ‘x year/month’ based on finding tenants” for quite some time now. Is that not a concern? The current linchpin of the future growth explosion that has been predicted in JLS (at various points and for longer than I have been alive) is having trouble finding tenants. Why is that? Would those same challenges be something that might cause issues for a ballpark in the vicinity? If so, how do you propose to mitigate them?

    Or how about the ROW’s that run through VIctory Court? The multiple land owners at JLS West that the East Bay Express surveyed?

    Presuming through rose colored glasses and sweeping real challenges under the rug doesn’t get it done. Posturing is for models. Where is the real meat and why won’t anybody talk about it?

    I see these questions more as a positive for the likelihood of a new stadium in Oakland. It’s odd that Oakland Only types see them as a negative.

  19. Brandon says:

    Jeffrey,
    I cannot predict the future. That’s why I had to preface the answer with presumably. Maybe “reasonable” would be another adjective, because every project has unanswered questions and if the owner of Peerless coffee Mr. Vukasin predicts it costs $30 to relocate the plant it is “reasonable” to believe that. But I don’t believe you can expect guarantees on any of these outcomes Jeffrey, that’s why MLB is analyzing the potential impacts. It is dubious whether the oakland politicos you talk to are going to be more forthcoming with ironclad answers to your inquiries, unless you are a leggy blonde with a killer personality ,I’ll be impressed that you can elicit any information from port of oakland types with their ivory tower/landlord mentalities. Good luck. Personally I believe the city that Bud Selig is trying to find a legitimate way to uproot the team while pacifying the giants and MLB but that Oakland will enact a few political maneuvers to try to block a move.

  20. Jeffrey says:

    @Brandon… Cool.

    Sorry for the diatribe.

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