A Streetcar Named Aspire

Today the commissioner said that the A’s need a new stadium… and that’s about it.

In Billy Beane’s weekly slot on The Drive, he mentioned that the team/ownership is at “the end of the process” and that regarding the recent news “there seems to be a lot of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Not exactly revealing, but at least it lines up with Selig trying to broker a deal between the A’s and Giants.

Added 8:50 PM – Joe Stiglich has more on the negotiations that may or may not be happening that no one officially wants to talk about. 

I did find out something revealing about the Coliseum City project. Turns out that as part of the planning for the project, the City is looking at putting in a streetcar or trolley. The streetcar is not part of the Oakland Airport Connector, which is currently under construction. It wouldn’t go downtown or to Jack London Square. Instead it would be a very short trolley, running around one mile in length between the Coliseum BART station and the Edgewater area on the other side of the Nimitz. I’ve racked my brain and haven’t heard of a streetcar or trolley built for what is primarily a sports complex.

I can only assume that the project’s principals and supporters want this streetcar to improve the project’s attractiveness as a potential corporate and commercial hub, since it would provide a direct link to BART and the other parts of the Coliseum City. What’s not clear is why they’d choose a streetcar. A people mover like the Airport Connector would make more sense. An extension to the Airport Connector from the BART terminus through the complex (creating a “U”) would make the most sense, except that station’s design (see pic below) prevents that kind of alignment.

The Airport Connector's alignment runs perpendicular to San Leandro Street and the BART alignment, making it difficult to extend and turn the system.

The crazy thing about this streetcar idea is that it creates a third, disjointed transit option in this relatively small area. Meanwhile, there are far better places to use resources on a streetcar project, such as Broadway (which is getting yet another separate study). Clearly, if the streetcar option gains traction it’ll add a quarter-billion to the project’s $2 billion price tag. Yet it might be considered a necessity if the City wants to lure a big corporate fish.

As Marin County rejected George Lucas’s long-gestating studio expansion project and then ran back to Lucas in desperation only to be rejected by the filmmaker, Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wrote an open letter to Lucas encouraging him to take a tour of the city. Coliseum City has to be at or near the top of places the City would offer to Lucas. Now, it’s hard to envision any locale in Oakland comparing to the pristine Skywalker Ranch or the wonderfully preserved and adapted Letterman Center at the Presidio. And Oakland’s already tried to push Coliseum City in its bid for the Lawrence Berkeley Lab expansion and lost. But if you’re gonna dream big, you might as well go fully preposterous. I know of at least one reader, native Oaklander, and Lucasfilm employee who would weep tears of joy if Oakland got Lucas’s blessing to build the new studio in Oakland.

I couldn't resist.

56 Responses to A Streetcar Named Aspire

  1. A's Fan says:

    From Tim Cullen’s wiki page: “‘Cullen serves as the vice president of special projects for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, a SF Giants minor league affiliate team.”

  2. letsgoas says:

    Good article posted at AN a few days ago on this whole situation between the two teams and territorial rights…


  3. David Brown says:

    The reality of the matter is that Selig is looking out for his legacy. He was vilified for years by the media and the Players Association (When Don Fehr was running it). If he can get the A’s & Rays situations straightened out, and gets a new national TV contract signed (The price will only go up if those franchises have a stable future), he can punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
    As far as Oakland is concerned, the future of the Raiders will be determined, when and if the A’s move (Not before). There is a reason why the NFL Commissioner (Paul Godell) is working hard to keep the Vikings in Minnesota (If at all possible), which is to keep the LA option open for the Raiders, Chargers, Rams, Bills or a possible expansion team, instead of having the Vikings move there. Assuming, the Raiders don’t go to Santa Clara, I think they will end up in LA. Why? They did it before (Under Al Davis), and they can do it again. In addition, the City of Oakland is essentially a mess, and the fantasy proposals from Jean Quan will have a “Whatever” reaction from the Raiders and more importantly, the NFL .

  4. RC says:

    @ A’s fan- Why is that relevant? Are you saying he’s on the Giant’s payroll and has to toe the company line? Wouldn’t that mean he would adopt the “anywhere but SJ” stance? It seems Tim Cullen was telling us what he really thought IN SPITE OF his position with the Fresno club, if that was your point.

  5. LoneStranger says:

    @RC I think the point, at least as I saw it, is this: Cullen was supposedly in one of the ownership groups that wanted to buy the A’s. Judging by his comments, he’s not going to be the Knight In Shining Armor for East Bay fans.

  6. bartleby says:

    “I would add that the physical location is not great because it’s just simply far from the center of the bay area.”
    This would be a reasonable argument if there weren’t already a team in the so-called geographic center of the bay area. But there is, so it isn’t.
    “It’s a sprawling suburban city that has a lot of land mass. The density is lower in SJ and SCL Co than the East Bay and SF, which is not a bad thing.”
    This claim has been pretty well debunked by ML on this blog. East Bay density within a 20 mile radius of the Coliseum is not meaningfully denser than South Bay density within a 20 mile radius of Diridon. More meaningfully, however, premium seat customer density is an order of magnitude greater around Diridon, plus you need to divide the Oakland figure by two, as it is shared.

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