The Miner and the Bomb

I have had the opportunity to talk to a few folks from Oakland over the past week about ballpark related items. It all started when I got a message to my facebook account that said something like, “There is a site in Oakland that no one is talking about.”

I made a few phone calls, spoke with a few folks (very excellent, forthcoming people who shall remain nameless as I have promised) with varying degrees of information and I came away with one conclusion. Oakland is playing Stratego while Oakland Boosters think they are playing chess.

Oakland’s strategy has three main points:

  1. Wait out MLB. Obstruct and keep from having a decision on TR’s made in San Jose’s favor.
  2. When Lew Wolff grows tired of waiting/TR’s are reaffirmed, recruit Larry Ellison to buy the team.
  3. Pledge public funds for a ballpark at Victory Court.

I know, I know. I teased you all with a “plan,” implying specific tactics, and came back with a high level “strategy.” Let’s delve into each of the points above a bit, shall we?

Territorial Rights Affirmation

To a man, everyone with knowledge I talked to said, “There is no way MLB will let the A’s into San Jose.” Almost that direct quote, almost like it was being read off a card.

“Why?”

The answer? Various versions of, “because the Giants owners told us so.” The main argument is that San Francisco floated bonds to fund 5% of AT&T Park based on the Giants existing territory (As Dennis Herrera said when threatening a law suit). They claimed there was a contract between MLB and San Francisco. I can only assume they are referring to the letter from former National League President, Leonard Coleman, sent in 1997. That is what Herrera referred to in his shot across the bow (PDF).

Recruit Ellison

I’ll be honest, this one baffles me. From what I can tell… the idea hasn’t been broached with Larry Ellison. It is an assumption that has been made by those who want a new owner. Larry Ellison wanted to buy the Warriors and lost out. The Warriors are in Oakland. Therefore, Larry Ellison wants a professional sports team based in Oakland.

It sounds crazy. The thing is, multiple people told me that Ellison is the guy that Oakland will try to persuade to buy the team. They didn’t say, “We will find a new local owner.” They said, “We will try to get Larry Ellison to buy the team.”

I am not sure if they realize Ellison also tried to buy the Seattle Sonics and move them to San Jose, before he tried to buy the Warriors. I am not sure if that is important.

As you can probably tell, this part seems really unrealistic to me. But what do I know?

Victory Court

We have all assumed this already, right? Victory Court is the site that Oakland refuses to confirm as the site. There are some challenges though, and I wonder if avoiding a spotlight on said challenges is the real reason for all the subterfuge.

Newballpark.org has obtained a series of letters from nearby neighborhood associations, most notably the Jack London District Association, urging the City of Oakland to consider an alternative to the alternatives presented to MLB. Here are the reasons as stated in the letter:

It is far too soon to actually endorse this plan vs. any other option, but the preliminary assessment is that it would create far less disruption to existing businesses and residents and create an environmentally preferable commute for many of the workers at the facility, who could walk from their West Oakland and downtown homes. In addition, there would be far fewer environmental mitigation issues, compared to the frequently toxic environmental conditions in much of the Port and Jack London District Areas. This new site proposal also has the advantage of requiring far less land acquisition, reducing cost and potential litigation, when compared to other suggested sites.

Those near Victory Court are concerned with a one thing in particular, in addition to those called out in the paragraph above. Traffic.

Even with BART about a quarter of a mile away, most folks will come to baseball games via automobile. Should only half of all spectators come by car there will be thousands of cars that aren’t normally there. The freeway infrastructure around Victory Court, and the surface streets in the area are not set up to handle a great deal of cars. There are basically two approaches, one coming West on Oak Street, which requires use of an off ramp with a sharp 90 degree turn. Or, coming up from the South on Embarcadero, which requires crossing train tracks. The combination of an inadequate off ramp and trains, that frequently pass through the area, have the potential to create a huge traffic nightmare. How huge? We won’t know until someone way smarter than me does a real traffic study for an EIR.

If my sources are correct, and I believe them, MLB has told Oakland that it will come up with a loan of about $150M for a ballpark in the city, if it is in the right place. That would leave Oakland CEDA on the hook for an estimated $150M for property acquisition, business relocation and environmental remediation. There is another $400M to be found somewhere in this calculus.

I am told, that some portion of this money is expected to come from City issued Bonds. Raiders, anyone?

In Summary

When I used to love to play Stratego, my favorite part was figuring out where to set my bombs and using my miners to defuse my opponents bombs. It was a slow, and painful progression at times. Sometimes, it worked and I captured the opponents flag. Sometimes it didn’t and before I defused enough bombs they had my flag. It seems to me that the City of Oakland is doing something similar. Lying in wait, watching the progress of San Jose from afar and banking on too many bombs blowing up in their path. Leaving Oakland with the only clear path to the flag. Is it a good strategy? I guess time will tell, but I can think of a better one.

This started with someone reaching out to me about a different potential site in Oakland, didn’t it? And didn’t the letter from JLDA above mention an alternative to consider?

Those are one in the same. Stay tuned….

50 Responses to The Miner and the Bomb

  1. Pacifico says:

    This just confirms Oakland’s MO: Sit on the porch and watch the parade go by. Maybe someone will drop something of value. Seems they’re waiting for San Jose to fumble, and then Prince Charming to ride in and save the day. Oh, Oakland….

  2. Zonis says:

    Wait, wouldn’t Ellison just try to get the team to SJ too?

  3. Nic says:

    Hmm… At the last neighborhood meeting I attended, somebody mentioned a chunk of Federal land in West Oakland near the 980 (?) that could be acquired for a new ballpark.

  4. jk-usa says:

    @Zonis–Hmm, not sure Ellison would go south, but his company’s name is on the Oracle Arena, so I don’t think he hates Oakland like Wolff does. I think this SB guy may commit to the eastbay more than the previous 2 owners. Oracle bought out People Soft in Pleasanton. At this point, I’ll take pretty much anybody but Wolff/Fisher as an owner.

  5. Jeffrey says:

    I am not sure Ellison even wants to buy a baseball team…

  6. letsgoas says:

    is ellison really close to the sfg owners? now fisher was part of their ownership group and he bought the a’s but i think i read that he didn’t leave on the best of terms with them.

    i doubt ellison would buy the a’s. there has been a clamoring for ellison to buy the w’s for probably close to 4-5 years now and it hit a fever pitch when during a q&a he was asked by a local employee a few years ago where he said he had interests.

    no mention of him and the a’s being ever associated with each other. if anything, i could see ellison buy either the kings or grizzles and moving them down south to sj.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    Jk-usa, Ellison didn’t buy PeoplSift because it was in Pleasanton. He bought PeopleSoft because they were a threat to Oracle. He didn’t put Oracle’s name on the arena because it was in Oakland. He put it there because the only NBA team in the Bay Area plays there and in every market around the country they now introduce at least 2 games a year by saying, “live from the Oracle Arena in Oakland”

  8. A's Fan says:

    If that’s the plan, then Oakland’s city government is more screwed up than I thought.

  9. jk-usa says:

    @Jeffrey–I know, but there is an eastbay presence by Oracle more than other SV companies.
    You know LE loves sports and wants a piece of the action. When you’re a billionaire, what’s more prestigious than buying a sports team? There’s only so many around to buy.

  10. Marine Layer says:

    Imagine that, likely NIMBY opposition to a ballpark? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

    During A’s Talk tonight, Chris Townsend wondered aloud what would happen if T-rights were upheld, and Oakland became the only option locally. What would happen then? Would Oakland truly be able to put up, or were they blowing smoke the whole time? Judging from Jeff’s info, it’s most certainly the latter. What has been described is not only a lacking, incoherent strategy, it’s worse for the public than I had feared.

  11. LoneStranger says:

    While listening to that caller on the show, I thought it would be a great idea if CT interviewed you regarding how the stadium search has been progressing. Too many people only know what they read in the news or hear on the radio or from other fans in the park. Not enough of them analyze the info or even bother dig deeper to hear both sides. I think you’d do a great job with your analysis.

    I know we aren’t sure what the plans are for the offseason, but the show would probably be best done after the disappointment of the current season has subsided, assuming that the Rangers manage to hold on to their lead.

  12. Marine Layer says:

    @LS – Only if CT interviews both me and Jeff. CT and I are both in San Jose, so it could be worked out. Still – Hot Stove Ballpark Talk? Not very sexy, I have to admit.

    We’ve discussed doing some podcasting, and I think there could be room for an occasional Ustream event. Is that something people would be interested in?

    Then again, Lew Wolff wasn’t at the season ticket holder fest today, as the caller said. I wonder where he was… *whistling*

  13. Ralph says:

    I think Victory Court could be done, but they would have to do something about the trains. Just imagine a game getting out and a train blocking traffic for 15 minutes, it would be chaos. They would need to dig an underpass or something to completely avoid it. An underpass or overpass would be great anyways for people going to JLS to avoid the trains. Parking in general is another issue I see. I am not sure where the majority of people could park, or what the plan for that would be. It seems like all of these urban ballparks have lots nearby. This is asking a lot, but I can imagine the area next to the Laney College baseball field all parking with a foot bridge across the Lake Merritt channel. More land to acquire, more complications etc. Just thoughts… not very plausible though.

  14. GoA's says:

    @jk—how the heck can you not be pissed off at the city of Oakland leaders that this is the best bs they can put together–this has been going on for 15 years–not 17 months—-absolute bs that you or any other pro-Oakland people can call themselves A’s fans and allow their city of choice to be this inconsiderate of its fans–

  15. jesse says:

    Hey Jeff, What is the other site that no one is talking about? Sorry, I’m slow with this stuff. I don’t get it.

  16. Zonis says:

    @jesse Floating Stadium!

  17. Briggs says:

    Podcasts and/or Ustream sounds good to me.

  18. pjk says:

    If that’s Oakland’s plan, I think my idea of getting Santa Claus or the Wizard of Oz to buy the team and keep it in Oakland is more feasible. The idea that Frisco could launch some by-proxy lawsuit also doesn’t fly – since when can some city attorney decide what MLB can and cannot do?

    The next time I hear of Larry’s Elllison having any interest at all in buying the A’s will be the first time.

    It’s unfortunate Oakland has shown nothing but disdain for the A’s (wrecking the stadium, punting the downtown ballpark plan, etc). Oakland simply does not deserve the team.

    Memo to Bud Selig: Cisco, a vital, vibrant international company, wants to sponsor one of your teams. Do you want them or do you want to send them off to the NFL? You’re on the clock, Bud.

  19. Jeffrey says:

    @jesse… working on that today. I have the info and we will share it. On another note, though no media outlet has covered it, Oakland released an RFQ for an EIR to build a ballpark at Victory Court. Responses were due last week. I do not believe they have awarded the business yet, but they could soon.
    .
    Then the 18 month process begins and traffic/parking will be analyzed. I tend to agree with what the JLDA wrote in their review of Victory Court. Remember Oak to 9th. That thing still is sitting in development hell for the same reasons that Victory Court might one day.

  20. jk-usa says:

    @pjk–well, I’m going back a bit, but in 1980 the city of Oakland actually SAVED the A’s from leaving town. Finley wanted to sell to Denver’s Marvin Davis, then the Raiders announced a move to LA before a deal could be inked. Not wanting to lose both teams and have an empty Coli, Oakland held Finley to his lease and he was forced to sell to a local buyer, Walter Haas Jr. Can they be saved from evil out-of-towners (like Wolff) again? I hope so.

    I’m sure BS is pondering your memo at this very moment. Afterall, it’s a no-brainer, right? My wife and I have sent him 2 e-mails, and I’m sure those are in his junk folder before even opening them.

  21. Marine Layer says:

    @jk-usa – And you just hit on a major problem. There is no lease binding the A’s to Oakland past 2013 at the latest.

  22. pjk says:

    jktusa: Um, 1980 was 30 years ago. Zilch relevance at all. Oakland leaders in the past 15 years have shown nothing but disdain for the A’s but you prefer to point blame at Wolff, instead. OK.

    By the way, have you moved to Oakland yet? You wouldn’t be pushing for a city to spend big $$ on a stadium if you yourself weren’t going to have to pay for it with your tax dollars, no?

  23. Marine Layer says:

    @pjk – I have to point out that your IP puts you somewhere in Pennsylvania. The fact is that lots of people are interested in the subject, and the A’s have fans everywhere. As CT said last night, “We can all agree that we don’t want the team to leave the Bay Area.”

  24. LoneStranger says:

    @ML – Not really sexy, but it’s interesting and hey, there has to be something to talk about in between all the Billy Beane Big Bat signings, right?

  25. GoA's says:

    Looks like Neukom/gints are elevating their obstruction tactics–purchasing controlling interests of the sj gints (increasing from 25% to 55%) and going as far as suggesting that SJ is so good for the gints that they are considering investing in upgrades to muni—

  26. jk-usa says:

    @pjk–Uh, it’s of great relevance what happened in 1980. They’d be the Denver A’s right now, and this site wouldn’t exist!! But of course, according to the 95%ers on here, San Jose would of gotten an expansion team by now, being the richest big city in the US without a big 3 team, and the fans would spend at least $15 on stuff at the park.

    Wolff’s disdain for A’s fans and the city trumps anything the city has done to the A’s. His constant one foot out the door from day one is disgusting and does nothing to help fan loyalty.Throw in tarping the 3rd deck; higher tix prices than half the teams; trading fans favorite players; charity events held anywhere south of Oakland; FanFest cancelled; radio station musical chairs. Schottmann was no better. What’s up with these SB guys? Also, the classes of U of Wisconsin 1956/7 turned out some real snakes those years. BS gets a statue at Miller Park? …lmao. Well, the fans don’t care for him or his daughter’s ownership and have come back big time since the sale to better owners in 2005.
    If SJ gets the A’s, I’m sure a statue of LW will be in the final blueprints.

  27. pjk says:

    Impressive, ML. You’re correct. But only for the next 3 days. I’ll be back in San Jose later this week.

  28. Jeffrey says:

    @jk-usa, seriously. You say some of the most ridiculous things with zero evidence. Have you ever met Lew Wolff? I have, walking around the Coliseum and he had zero contempt for anyone. Did you notice the Brewers attendance spike coincided with a playoff season? Just like in Oakland, the only thing that really coincides with attendance peaks and valleys is winning.

  29. 58edsil says:

    @jk-usa, I never had a problem with tarping the upper deck. All of this is my opinion, just as you have yours. Most fans bought cheap tickets and then just sat down lower. Quite often, bothering me by having to get up and down as they make their trips too and from and move from seat to seat as they get bumped out. On top of that, it made the stadium look very empty, even if the lower levels had a good amount of people. It is called supply and demand. A concept that hasn’t worked out too well for this ownership group. I actually like the tarps, nice even color around the stadium. The place is drab and colorless, think mausoleum. The place has been drab since the addition of the outfield structure and I blame the politicians for that. I long for an open outfield with iceplant above the seating bleacher areas.

    As for the tickets prices, the A’s lowered their FCI (Fan Cost Index) by 4% this year. You can access this at http://www.teammarketing.com/blog/index.html?article_id=104. Also, their average ticket price dropped over 9%, placing them in the upper half of the bottom 16 teams of MLB. 2010 ticket prices are $4.70 less than the MLB average ticket price. It’s a bargain!

    As for trading away players, radio stations and PR events, I can’t argue that. I think the A’s are woefully poor in creating fan excitement outside the ballpark. I would even add the poor concessions, cleanliness of the stadium and friendliness of staff as a factor, too. Some of it is their own making and some not.

    The bottom line is that Oakland is playing a very dangerous game if they have any thoughts of keeping the A’s.

  30. jk-usa says:

    Hey All: We all know the A’s attendance has been lower than the other teams for most of their 43 years Here’s the attendances averages (along with winning % and playoff appearances) under each A’s ownership compared to the rest of the league:

    Finley Era: 1968-1980:
    .522, 10 winning seasons, 3 losing ones; 5 playoffs,3 ws
    849k per season attendance Vs. 1.203 mill league avg; down 29.5%
    *******
    Haas Era: 1981-1994
    .520, 6 winning years, 8 losing ones; 5 playoffs, 3 ws
    1.969 mill Vs.2.062 mill league avg. (strike seasons 81′ and 94′ attendance pro-rated); down 4.5%
    *******
    Schottman Era: 1995-2004
    .533, 5 winning years, 5 losing; 4 playoffs
    1.690 mill Vs. 2.287 mill league avg. (strike season 95′ pro-rated); down 26.2%
    *******
    Wolff/Fisher Era: 2005-2010
    .504, 3 winning years, 3 losing years; 1 playoff
    1.739 mill Vs. 2.403 mill league avg. (2010 pro-rated; A’s and AL about even from last year);down 27.6%

    Schottman (-26.2%) and Wolff/Fisher’s (-27.6%) attendance fall in line with the Finley’s average(-29.5%) against the league’s. Interesting?

    You cant dispute that the Haas Era was simply a phenomenal turnaround from the Finley days. They saved the team from going to Denver; made going to the park fun again, sprucing it up, better food, activities for kids, etc. They cared deeply about the players, fans and the community and were the envy of all of MLB during their tenure.

  31. Jeffrey says:

    jk-usa… The Hass family didn’t sell the team until November 1995. Nice that you would throw that season into Schott and Hoffman’s tally, it does look pretty bad on the resume. Also nice that you use average, as opposed to median. That is incorrect… you should be using median as the yardstick and you should be showing on a season by season basis how wins and losses impact each years attendance total. What you have done is use average to hide the fact that during the Haas years, the A’s had several bad attendance years, it also happens to be that the those were the years, under Haas, when the A’s had the worst on the field performance.
    .
    Haas had better years than the other owners, no doubt. I wouldn’t dispute that. But during his 15 years of ownership, the A’s were below median more often that they were above, and the years when they were above are also the years in which they were playoff teams.
    .
    Fun fact, since moving to Oakland, the A’s have been the very least attended team, more than they have even been above the median attendance of MLB.

  32. GoA's says:

    @Jeffrey- you deserve a medal of honor for responding in a professional manner to jk’s twisting of the attendance numbers once again–how many more times can he go at the attendance facts?

    Question for you—any idea where the “new” proposed site in Oakland is—

  33. jk-usa says:

    @Jeffrey–my bad on 1995. The Haas family caught all the strike years of 1981 and 1994/5 then.
    Okay, so their winning % under Haas a tad lower, Schottman’s up. Their attendance a tad lower on avg, Schottman’s up. Schottmann’s era was pretty good baseball wise, but just failed in the playoffs miserably. Keeping Chavez over Tejada was the biggest mistake the A’s made. Tejada, Hendu, Rickey, Eck, Campy and Vida Blue are my all-time Favorite players. Seeing Vida Blue pitch a 4 hitter my first game in 1971, I was hooked ever since on him and the A’s.
    Did you know that the Yankees didn’t draw that well in the early 70′s, just like the A’s and most of MLB, often getting 1-1.2 mill a year? They took off when Yankee Stadium was re-built, free agency, Reggie and all. But from 89-92, the A’s outdrew the Yanks by 3 mill. Since 1998 they’ve really filled the stands, and the tix prices are obscene.

  34. jk-usa says:

    @GoA’s–EXCUSE ME, but I didn’t “twist” the attendance figures at all. They are what they are, and I gave you the A’s averages compared to the league average. Jeffrey likes median attendance figs, like house sales, and that’s cool, but I’ll go on all I want on the averages, okay?
    And why would you care about another Oakland site? You’ll just bash it on it not being viable, too little too late, San Jose is a no-brainer, etc..

  35. GoA's says:

    @jk–how many times has Jeffrey posted on why median is a more accurate reflection of attendance trends than average is–yet you once again post on league averages—it gets really OLD after awhile–why do I care about another Oakland site–because it shows that the vc site that you tout as being so incredible isn’t really viable which means they are looking elsewhere–and stalling—and obstructing—and helping to drive the A’s out of the Bay Area—-thats why I care–

  36. Tony D. says:

    Sounds like the “Mystery Spot” is somewhere between West Oakland and 980/Downtown Oakland; based on the NIMBY letter out of Victory Court. Seems like those NIMBY’s also want to rule out Jack London as a place for a ballpark. Imagine the alternative to the alternative…even closer to AT&T Park! MLB will love that one!

  37. jk-usa says:

    @GoA’s–just curious, where do you leave?
    @TonyD–VC is the best of the sites proposed. NIMBY’s don’t realize how it can increase their property values, but traffic and parking will be a minor pain. West Oakland, on the comeback, but not the best area for a park IMO.

  38. GoA's says:

    @jk–I live in the South Bay—and yes I am a season ticket holder of the A’s and plan on continuing to be regardless of where they build their new ballpark—however, I will stop being a season ticket holder if there is not solid movement towards a new ballpark in the next year—bottom line the Coli is a dump and its not because of what LW did—its what the city of Oakland did to it–

  39. jk-usa says:

    @GoA’s–thank you. We will here a decision in the off season for sure (maybe?) . It should be very interesting how this soap opera plays out. I’ve cut down on my A’s games the last few years due to poor ownership, not because of Mt. Davis. It doesn’t bother me that much, but I do miss the old bleachers and ice plants. It’s not a dump–the Westside Club is nice–but a new park in a new locale is needed.

  40. Bill says:

    ML…it would be great to get a reminder of population distribution and not just city limits. This whole discussion of San Jose being the 10th largest city in the US is really getting quite tiresome. Everyone really does need to get past this “my city” or “your city” and focus on what location affects the most people and is the most accessible. Frankly, I’m from the Central Valley, and will continue to support the team wherever in the Bay Area they end up, but the frequency that I attend will very much be affected by how accessible the team is when the park opens, not when a theoretical rail line is built or to reach the park.

    In reality, San Jose is so much larger than Oakland because the land that used to surround the city was all open fields and annexed by the city to make one megalopolis. On the other hand, Oakland is built up and surrounded by other cities, so of course it will inevitably be smaller. The focus is not as much as how many people live in one city; rather how many people surround the immediate area.

  41. Sid says:

    @Bill- You are correct that Oakland is the center of the East Bay which is almost 3.0 million people. While San Jose is the center of the South Bay and only 2.0 million people.

    # of people do not matter as you only need a small fraction of the population to attend the games. You can do the math on what 35k is percentage wise out of 2 or 3 million. The difference is negligible.

    In reality what San Jose offers is the corporate support to allow them to sell high end luxury boxes and suites to make $$.

    Baseball Oakland stated $5 dollars a game of spending in a JLS stadium outside of tickets sales per fan.

    The San Jose EIR projects $15 dollars a game of spending in a Downtown San Jose ballpark outside of ticket sales per fan.

    So there # of people in the general area does not really matter and it is all about which are has more disposable income and corporate support.

    The South Bay trumps the East Bay in these categories big time. The East Bay being larger population wise is of no consequence.

    Good old Zennie Abraham doesn’t understand this in his economic model and keep stating the 3.0 million person # in the East Bay being the most important factor when it is not.

  42. Marine Layer says:

    @Bill – I did a post called Size Matters in March comparing the two cities and the populations of the surrounding areas. What it comes down to is that when you lump in the rest of Northern Alameda County with Oakland, the population is slightly less and the density is slightly more than San Jose. However, San Jose is a more simplified political structure to accomplish things. Oakland might need county help to pull a big stadium deal off – they haven’t done it alone in the past.

  43. jeffrey says:

    @jk-usa, on the left hand side of the screen there is a section called “Jeffrey’s Greener Grass Series on AN.” Read the one titled “Attendance Fact and Fiction.”
    .
    I absolutely know that the Yankees had some down years, but what you keep doing is pointign to brief bursts if attendance success as if ti is the more relevant number. 43 years. 7 years at or above league median. 14 years with a division crown. Seriously, the A’s have won their division twie as many times as they have been able to draw the league median. That is dreadful.
    .
    Oakland supporters minimize this by saying “During the Haas years the A’s drew great.” Which is complete bull. During the Haas years the A’s drew below the league median more than they were at or above the league median.
    .
    In the time that the A’s have been in Oakland, no team has been in the bottom half of attendance more than the A’s. None. Not one.
    .
    I am not saying the A’s need to leave Oakland. I am saying “Be honest about the facts and deal with their implications.” Oakland Only guys try to rationalize away the truth. By saying things like “AT&T Park worked great for the Giants so if we do the exact same thing, 1 miles away, we will have the exact same result.”
    .
    That is called group think. It worked out well for the Japanese in WWII. It worked out well for us in Iraq. That si to say… It is a bad, bad thing. Challenge assumptions, push for better. Instead of being Ghelmetti’s lap dogs.

  44. jk-usa says:

    @Jeffrey–I’m well aware of the A’s attendance probs over the years. I’ve been to games with crowds of under 2000 back in the late 70′s. Based on your median averages, how did the Giants rank in the NL from 1968-1999, before Pacbell? I know they weren’t as successful on the field, but I’m sure it was way below average at the turnstiles. A new ballpark anywhere will help the A’s like the Giants for the first few years for sure.Over the long haul, during some lousy years, who knows? Cleveland, and Baltimore have really dropped off after all those big years in the mid 90s, but they suck now’ on the field and the gate. Pitt has the best park in MLB (IMHO) , and they’re just ahead of the A’s. And look at ATL, SD, and Cincy. First place all year in great ballparks, but ranked 7th, 9th and 10th in the NL in attendance. Outside of the always strong baseball areas of NY, Chic, LA and St.Louis, it’s been a struggle for the rest. The economy has a lot to do with it too I believe.

  45. jk-usa says:

    ….I forgot to mention Philly and Boston as strong areas too. And the Twins new park and first place reminds me of the Cleveland buzz back in the mid 90′s, which has all fizzled out now. The Giants still drawing good for this long shows me that the A’s can do it too if they stay somewhat competitive. Bonds/Steroids carried them over during those few not so winning years.

  46. jeffrey says:

    jk-usa, respectfully… A new ballpark, that is a copy of AT&T Park right across the bay from AT&T Park, will not draw well in the long run. It would be a huge mistake. As much as “Oakland” is a good brand for you and I, it is not for most folks in the Bay Area. It has a neutral, at best, negative, at worst, connotation. Right, wrong or indifferent. If you don’t think so, I can’t help you.
    .
    What Let’s Go Oakland is saying is “Hey, we can copy AT&T Park, 10 miles away and we will get the same result!” You just said it, too, in effect. Everything we know from the science of business screams that this is absurd.
    .
    If you have a world class city, with a water front park and a second class city with a waterfront park right next to it, the second class city option will (most years) play second fiddle. Comparing pre AT&T Park Candlestick era numbers to today is not really useful. It is now a completely different game… Candlestick was not well connected, was basically in Daly City and a dump. Now they have what everyone, but the most spiteful Oakland fan, considers to be one of the top 3 or 4 venues in all of MLB. In a world class city.
    .
    And spare me the Baltimore and Cleveland stuff… Both of those cities had over a decade of outstanding attendance at their new parks. Camden Yards has been around for almost 2 decades. Of course they have a “newness” drop off. What I fear, and I don’t think this is unreasonable, is Pittsburgh West. The A’s build a top tier stadium, but due to direct competition in the vicinity (in a better location) games are still not well attended.
    .
    This is why, other challenges aside, Victory Court is not a great option. It may provide a 3-5 year hiatus from “geez no one shows up” but it can’t compete favorably with AT&T Park in the long run. The “Jack London Square is the next big thing” meme has been going on since the 1960′s. There is a reason why it still serves, on most weekends, as a place people pass through on their way to a ferry ride into San Francisco and the Embarcadero.
    .
    If Oakland really wants to make this happen, They need to find something that provides differentiation. Something that can actually be paid for. Something that the neighbors support, or can be convinced to support.
    .
    I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

  47. jeffrey says:

    Giants attendance… you can stop making justifications… they have gone through roster turnover just like everyone else. 11 years in they have built a new fan base on top of the old one that contains many of the people that the A’s need to attract if they stay in Oakland.

  48. jk-usa says:

    @Jeffrey–you know what, I’ll stop writing for awhile. I’m always wrong, you guys are always right. This site is no fun when you get beat up everyday, and I’m trying to be nice.

  49. jeffrey says:

    Sorry. Wasn’t trying to beat you up… Just attempting to educate. I am all for the A’s staying in Oakland. I just don’t want them to stay if it is only a temporary respite.

  50. cuppingmaster says:

    ML and Jeffrey, I know I would love a podcast. Count me in for that. If you can’t get on CTs show sometime, though, Tafoya just started “Athletics After Dark” as a podcast and has been having regular episodes. That would also be good.

    @Jeff. I, too, am VERY worried about Pittsburgh West. It’s not a crazy comparison either; Pittsburgh was once a manufacturing hub like Oakland. Both cities are more into football (and in Pittsburgh’s case hockey) over baseball. Both cities have major problems with urban blight. Both cities are relatively small (less than 500K people) but sit in a larger working-to-middle class metro area. If I’m an MLB owner, I know I see Pittsburgh written all over Oakland

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