A Tale of Three Cities
In the world of salesmanship regarding cities and stadia, there are lots of documents. Some are required, such as the environmental impact report. Others, such as economic impact reports, are often little more than glorified press releases. EnvIR’s have well-detailed rules and process, whereas EconIR’s don’t have rules and tend to be written for a particular outcome and audience. They are effectively sales pamphlets, usually forgotten long after their messages served their purpose (or not).
When I started reading Oakland’s EconIR, it occurred to me that instead of dissecting the document, it might be better to compare it to other docs that came before it. San Jose has put out two different reports, though I’ll focus only on the newest report from last September. Fremont had an EconIR for the Pacific Commons, but it also came up with its “conceptual approach” earlier this year as the NUMMI closure approached.
All three cities built their reports on a few basic tenets:
- The ~$500 million in construction cost will be borne by the A’s
- The city will provide land and infrastructure improvements needed to support the ballpark
- Some kind of cheap land lease will be negotiated
- Sell the public on the most positive projections, minimize or leave out everything else
To do the comparison, I had to re-read all three EconIR’s, which believe me, is no way to spend a weekend. In any case, I did it and here are the results:
The numbers in the table were given to bolster some kind of development case. For Fremont, it was a “ballpark village” with higher-end retail and new residential units adjacent to the ballpark. In Oakland, it’s thought that the ballpark fills a “hole in the donut” in the downtown/waterfront area, making the ballpark a catalyst for broader redevelopment plans and goals. While these seem similar, there is a major distinction to make: in Oakland the A’s would not be the beneficiaries of projected economic growth, whereas in Fremont they would be. San Jose’s report describes potential for ancillary development, but never makes claims nor targets any specific areas for growth. It’s unclear if MLB is more or less impressed by any of these approaches.
In the community meeting yesterday, Eric Angstadt mentioned a large “matrix” of information that MLB was looking for so that they could sift through the various options. In looking at that, certain options such as a Coliseum ballpark or a ballpark built over I-980 between 14th and 18th Streets were dismissed. That left Oakland with three sites it considers essentially the same, acquisition cost and difficulty notwithstanding. As far as I know, Fremont’s only option is the northern end of NUMMI, and Pacific Commons is not in the discussion. Diridon is San Jose’s only site, since it’s the only one going through the CEQA/EIR process.
I’ll end this post by asking you to read the table again, then post some questions or responses as to how certain numbers were derived in the comments. I intentionally left that analysis out, preferring instead to let the table start the discussion on its own.