M&R: 30 days or bust for Raiders in Oakland

It’s a short article and a rather incendiary headline from Matier & Ross, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming.

‘If we don’t have significant progress within the next 30 days, I’d say one party or the other will call an end to it.’ That’s how one source close to the Raiders stadium negotiations in Oakland characterizes the on-again, off-again talks.

Okay, I guess. This doesn’t mean that Coliseum City is dead. There’s a lot of context we don’t have here. Is the anonymous source only talking about the new stadium, or does the lease extension also have something to do with it? Remember that as of now, the Raiders have nowhere to play for the 2015 season. If the only issue is the stadium discussion, that’s an awful way for the Raiders to go about things. Besides not having a place to play and no approval from the NFL to make a move, there’s little concrete evidence that the framework of a deal can be reached in 300 days, let alone 30. Maybe, as Larry Reid said, the work is 90% done. So what’s keeping the rest of the 10% from being done? The Raiders? Maybe. New City? Floyd Kephart said that the ENA runs through April. The ever-balking Alameda County? Who knows?

To me it sounds like yet another bluff. Last week’s reveal that the Raiders and Chargers are working on their own plan was characterized as a bluff by many. Scratch the surface and you’ll see that the Carson site is nearly ready to go after a great deal of cleanup, according to the State. Again, there are so many moving parts here with all the different players and deliverables that it’s hard to know what progress really is. Frankly, if this is coming from the Raiders, I’d like to see what happens if they leave the table. It’s always been up to the Raiders to make the first move. Mark Davis may actually have the courage to push that first domino. And if that happens, expect everyone else – the public sector, the A’s, the NFL and MLB – to start moving in kind. Eventually.

A Day at the Diamond, Hohokam Stadium Preview

The parking lots filled up fast, so that by the time I arrived at Hohokam Stadium around 11 I was directed to park in the grass soccer fields south of the ballpark. With the construction debris gone and systems in working order, it was time to show off the renovated ballpark to the community.

Fans walking in front of the clubhouse mural

Fans walking in front of the clubhouse mural down the 1B line

There were no surprises for me. I’ve checked out the place throughout various stages of construction over the last two years. What I wasn’t quite ready for was how it looked with a bunch of people in it, sitting in seats, traversing concourses, hoping for home run balls. For me that’s when it became more than a bunch of features and improvements upon Phoenix Muni or even the Coliseum. That’s when it became real.

Back row behind the plate

Back row behind the plate

From the top of the stadium you’re afforded views of the McDowell Mountains to left, Four Peaks and Red Mountain to right. Down low it’s all baseball. While the A’s have sold ads in the outfield, don’t expect the same kind of ad explosion you typically see in minor league parks and other spring training parks. The big scoreboard in left will probably be used for getting those messages across.

Exterior outside 3B

Exterior outside 3B

If you had visited Hohokam at any time since its 1998 renovation, you know about the edifice’s underwhelming blandness. A 90’s  ode to beige stucco, there were only the most minimal nods to the Southwest. Under the A’s, the Gensler-designed makeover is all green and gold. The exterior walls are the forest green we as A’s fans are very familiar with, perhaps darker than you might expect at first glance. Gold painted aluminum panels line the gates and box office. Originally the gates were to have famous player numbers, like 24 for Rickey Henderson. This was scrapped sometime in the last year, probably because having gates named in a “random” manner would look confusing to non-A’s fans. Not that the gate naming system matters, it’s unlikely anyone will get lost here. One bit of technology not available in the 90’s was large format, photorealistic vinyl, which was put to good use depicting major events in A’s history on the outside of the stadium (above) and throughout the concourse.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The inner concourse felt somewhat cluttered with numerous memorabilia sales tables on both sides. Only a few concession stands were open, so the space was made available. Most of the concourse is white, with gold accents to highlight fan amenities, from tunnels to the grandstand to restrooms and concession stands.

Ferguson Jenkins was even on hand, as he used to be when Hohokam was the Cubs’ home. Jenkins usually makes the rounds at every Cactus League park, so if you want to meet the Hall-of-Famer you’ll have your chance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unlike Phoenix Muni, at Hohokam fans will now be able to walk completely around the park. As a 90’s-era Cactus League park, there’s no 360-degree concourse like the kind you’d see at the newest parks: Salt River Fields, Camelback Park, Sloan Park. Even so, you can get your full stroll on, and the upper tier is elevated enough above the walkway that you won’t have to worry about obstructing views.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When Hohokam was redesigned, the Cubs made sure to get a large canopy placed over much of the seating area, as the old Hohokam had no shade whatsoever. That feature was carried over to Cubs/Sloan Park, and while the shade isn’t truly necessary for March in Arizona (75-80 degrees, dry heat) it’s welcome. If you want shade from the start, sit in the upper sections on the 1B side or behind home plate. The A’s also removed large bleacher sections down each line and replaced them with shaded patios, one a family and kids area, the other a beer garden. Along with the downsizing, all of the seats and bleachers. The plastic fixed seats are 19 or 20 inches wide, provided by Hussey Seating. Bleachers are contoured and have backs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A's training facility at Fitch Park

A’s training facility at Fitch Park

Hohokam is 0.6 miles north of Fitch Park, home of the Lew Wolff Training Facility. The facility was not named LWTF in the initial drawings presented by Gensler nearly a year ago. Whether Wolff decided to do this at the last minute or was pushed to do so because of the drawn out Coliseum lease negotiations or other factors, the Wolff name is unmistakably on the A’s building in Fitch Park and on way finding signs outside Fitch. Wolff’s name is nowhere to be found at Hohokam, and both Hohokam and Fitch have retained their original names. Wolff turns 80 this year, so I can’t blame the guy for celebrating an achievement, no matter how distasteful it may look to many Oakland fans.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The outfield berm areas at Hohokam are arguably the largest in the Cactus League. In right, the berm is so large that it’s split into a good-sized lower part and a large upper hill, descending to a second walkway next to the warmup fields. The A’s have plans to rework these areas to include a food truck alley and a grotto in left, but for now they’re being left alone. In any case, you’ll have plenty of area to stretch, and maybe the team will add more kid-friendly attractions with all the space, as is seen at Peoria.

It's huge

It’s huge!

Last but not least, there’s the new scoreboard, which I’ve talked about previously. The A’s are experimenting with different graphics and sound packages, and from what I hear they’re not final, so you if you have suggestions chime in. One dilemma I heard about was whether to bring the “A*Team” theme and graphics over from Oakland or trying something different for Hohokam. I have a bunch of lawn tickets for games in March, and I made sure to plant myself in front of the display to see if I could stand the up-close pixelation. It looked fine to me, so I’ll make LF semi-permanent instead of RF, where I thought I’d be sitting prior to today.

The final price tag on Hohokam Stadium was $27 million, $17 million from the City of Mesa and $10 million from the A’s. The original budget was $20 million. Some of the extra $7 million went towards technological improvements, such as proper wiring for broadcast video throughout the park. While the A’s and Comcast don’t broadcast a ton of games during the spring, it’s good to know that the capability is there. Visiting teams will be able to take advantage as well.

A spring training ballpark is only used for a month every year. Games held there don’t count in the standings. It is more intimate than regular season baseball, more accessible. Every fan should take the opportunity to visit his/her team’s spring training home at least once. It’s warmer in more ways than one.

Coliseum City EIR Final Draft now available, JPA postpones lease extension vote, Saperstein comments

The Coliseum City EIR Final Draft was made available around lunchtime today. It’s 17 MB in size and worth looking through. As I run through it I’ll post my observations on Twitter with the hashtag #ColiseumCityEIR.

(Update: As pointed out by Floyd Kephart, the vote was over the lease. The JPA isn’t a party to the ENA, only the City and County can be among public entities.)

Over at the East Bay Express, Steven Tavares reports that the Coliseum JPA postponed a vote (again) to approve the Raiders’ lease extension. Tavares got comments from various JPA Board members, including outgoing and incoming Board Presidents Nate Miley and Larry Reid. While neither said why the postponement occurred, both indicated that certain aspects of the deal don’t look favorable to the county. Miley went on to talk about some of the Coliseum City issues we have talked about on this blog many times: hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs, the Coliseum’s outstanding debt, and the value of the land. Miley even indicated that some public contribution may be required for a Raiders stadium, which should raise some eyebrows in the East Bay.

Larry Reid characterized New City as “90% there” in terms of getting a team commitment, that team being the Raiders. Yet the Raiders’ joint announcement with the Chargers about a shared stadium in Carson took everyone by surprise. Reid still believes Mark Davis wants to keep the team in Oakland, and really, what choice does he have? The only shocker at this point would be if the JPA, City, and County kicked the Raiders to the curb after spending so much time, money, and energy on Coliseum City.

About that time, money, and energy:

Meanwhile, local officials met with NFL officials in January, said Reid. Their assessment was the city and county had made no progress in efforts to build a new stadium since a similar discussion between all the parties a year and a half ago. ‘They made it clear that the city and the county wasted the last eighteen months,’ said Reid.

Again, don’t pay attention to what people are telling you about how Coliseum City is progressing. When teams commit, when real actions happen to advance the ball, then you’ll know. As a wizard once said,

johnwooden380232

Last item today comes from a commenter on the blog named “Let’s Go Oakland,” who snipped a piece of a Facebook thread and dropped it in the comments.

wow

Guy Saperstein is a minority partner in the A’s ownership group

Assuming this is the real Guy Saperstein speaking, it sure sounds like the ownership group is still in lockstep in their position on San Jose, despite San Jose being off limits for the foreseeable future. Saperstein has long been based out of Oakland/Piedmont. Regardless, the only group the A’s can actually make a stadium deal with at this point is the Oakland/Alameda County/JPA triumvirate. As the fog enshrouding the Raiders and Mark Davis recedes, maybe they’ll actually make a decision on their future. Hopefully it doesn’t hurt the A’s in the process. If Davis can make a deal with Kephart, there will be a Raiders stadium at the Coliseum and the A’s can slide down to San Jose. If the Raiders can’t work something out, they’ll jet to LA while the A’s work out a new ballpark deal at the Coliseum complex. Those are the two most realistic scenarios that can be sussed out at this point. Anything else is wishful thinking.

 

Raiders, Chargers announce shared stadium plan in Carson – huge leverage/hedge play

The Chargers have expressed real frustration with the City of San Diego over the last several days. So announcing an LA stadium plan seems like the next logical step. But the Raiders? Say it ain’t so, Mark!?!?

It's like the 49ers' digs, only 400 miles south

It’s like the 49ers’ digs, only 400 miles south

The LA Times’ Sam Farmer has the scoop, describing the deal as a Plan B for both teams if they can’t work out “publicly financed” stadium deals in San Diego and Oakland, respectively. The teams quickly followed up with their own joint statement, explaining their plans with a surprising amount of detail – at least at this early stage. The statement:

  • We have both been working in our home markets to find a stadium solution for many years, so far unsuccessfully.
  • We remain committed to continuing to work in our home markets throughout 2015 to try to find publicly acceptable solutions to the long-term stadium issue.
  • We also both understand and respect the NFL’s relocation process, and we intend to adhere strictly to the relocation procedures that the League has set forth for Los Angeles.
  • In particular, we respect the right of the NFL’s owners to decide on all Los Angeles-related relocation issues and understand that any relocation application that is filed for Los Angeles must obtain the approval of three-fourths of the NFL’s owners.
  • Both teams have kept the NFL owners’ committee on Los Angeles, and the Commissioner, fully informed about our joint efforts.
  • We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.
  • In short, for the remainder of 2015, we intend to move down two tracks simultaneously:
    • On track one, we will continue to work in our home markets to find permanent stadium solutions that are publicly acceptable.
    • On track two, we will work in Carson to preserve our options, and the future economic viability of our franchises, in the event that our efforts in our local markets fail.
  • Throughout this process we will respect the rules and procedures set forth by the League and defer completely to the ultimate decision of the NFL’s owners.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start from the top. The first five bullets are meant to curry favor with the true audience for this statement, the NFL and its constituent team owners. It’s Dean Spanos and Mark Davis saying to the owners, Look, if you want someone who’s going to play by the rules, who won’t go rogue *cough*Kroenke*cough, it’s us. Stan Kroenke’s actions have taken much of the leverage over LA away from the NFL despite the league’s protestations, so the play here may be that if Kroenke gets stuck in litigation with the league, Spanos and Davis may benefit by getting the two LA slots. By the time the dust settles, the Chargers and Raiders will already be in LA and the Rams may be stuck in St. Louis. Most importantly, Farmer’s report revealed that the Chargers and Raiders bought the 168-acre plot of land in Carson on which the stadium would sit. That’s more than a mere verbal threat, that’s real action.

Kroenke, who didn’t buy land in Inglewood to sit on it, probably anticipated this, while having talks with Spanos and Davis about partnering up in The Wood. He claims to have a privately financed stadium there. Spanos & Davis claim to have a privately financed stadium in Carson. Let’s be clear, though, TWO privately financed stadia in LA don’t work. Even with a market the size of LA, that’s too many suites to sell, too many sponsorship commitments. Two stadia would compete with each other for Super Bowls, NCAA playoff games and any number of other big events, effectively cutting into each other’s profitability and feasibility. If we want to term this a race to LA, there are at most two teams that can win and one stadium plan that can win.

That’s the hedge part, or so we’re being led to believe. The leverage play from Spanos and Davis is that they’re still working on plans in their hometowns. Spanos has allowed team lawyer Mark Fabiani to be the bulldog, quickly getting into a war of words with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Davis, who appeared to say the right things only a month ago when he said he wanted to pursue his own stadium plan, is now running back to Floyd Kephart and Coliseum City. If Davis wasn’t on board with CC before, what’s going to change now to make him sign on, besides being backed into a corner? Having LA as an option is a hedge against that very possibility. If you look at what’s been happening in both cities, there isn’t much progress. Neither city wants to to provide any public funding. Both cities’ greatest asset is land, which isn’t nearly as good as money. The Chargers are being aggressive, whereas the Raiders are waffling.

The Chargers’ attacks on San Diego can be considered the first blink after Kroenke’s plan was unveiled. This joint-stadium plan is the second blink. Who blinks next? San Diego and/or Oakland, in order to force everyone to the table? Or is it Kroenke, who may want to accelerate his plan in order to keep others from taking his leverage away? Or perhaps it’s Roger Goodell, who is in danger of losing control over the process?

The boldest move would come from either Faulconer or Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. These cities don’t have to be pawns in the stadium extortion game, one that has gotten exponentially more complex because of the number of factors involved. They could call this bluff. The only winning move is not to play, right? It’s one thing for the teams have land. It’s another to actually assemble a shared stadium deal that works for both teams. While MetLife Stadium can be considered a success for the Giants and Jets financially, in use it’s a lifeless gray mess, terribly lacking in home field advantage and absent either team’s character or signature. Do Spanos and Davis really want to go down that path? The LA stadium renderings, done by Warriors’ SF arena firm Manica Architecture, look like Levi’s Stadium 2.0 – similar caste system bowl layout, red seats, and no façade. At least there’s a partial roof.

In the end, the promise of a huge valuation raise may prove too alluring to dismiss for these teams. It’s easy to give lip service in trying to build at home, but it may be the toughest challenge to stay. Even with things moving as fast as they are in 2015, it’s still too early to predict how this is all going to shake out. There are many, many moves left in this game. It’ll be fascinating to watch, that’s certain.

Davis wants Alameda County at the table, but…

This is not unexpected, yet strange.

If memory serves, Davis still hasn’t paid the minuscule 2014 rent at the Coliseum, all while currently making improvements to the Alameda training facility. Seems like there’s a quick way to get everyone on the same page, especially if Davis’s request is just a first step towards completing a Coliseum City deal.

More from BANG’s Matthew Artz:

Looks like Davis’s go-it-alone strategy isn’t going so swimmingly, hence the pivot back to Kephart. Plus now Ron Leuty of the SF Business Times sheds additional light on the County’s resistance to Coliseum City.

‘Currently, (Alameda County) is not at the table,’ said Floyd Kephart, the lead executive of New City Development LLC told an Oakland business group Thursday, though he planned to meet Thursday afternoon with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

The City’s priority is clearly to work out the future of the Coliseum area, beyond the complex. The County’s appears to be fixated on the debt issue, which, while small in the grand scheme of things ($2-3 billion in total development), is plenty large enough to trip up any plan. Few entities can afford to write off $100+ million of debt. Packaging that debt creatively is a monumental task in and of itself. If the County wants to get tough on this, it’s their right and responsibility. Because without the County, there is no deal even if an EIR gets certified. So much for everyone being on the same page.

More comments from Kephart and reaction from Haggerty via Artz:

‘Just come to the bloody table and make a reasonable and fair attempt to see if we can keep the Raiders, build a stadium and do this development,’ said Floyd Kephart, a San Diego-based businessman who is trying to finance the city’s multibillion Coliseum City project, which envisions new stadiums for both teams at the Coliseum site.

Kephart’s remarks before a meeting of the West Oakland Commerce Association, didn’t sit well with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty who said the county was doing its due diligence. “I don’t know why people are insinuating that we are not at the table,” he said in a phone interview before a scheduled meeting with Kephart. ‘Just because you are asking questions doesn’t mean you are not at the table.’

So many moving parts. Davis wants to try his own bid, then gets back together with Kephart (how willingly is unclear). Haggerty, who is now the President of the Board of Supervisors, is taking on the role of chief inquisitor. Hey, nobody said it would be easy.

Raiders withhold Coliseum rent as leverage play vs. Oakland

Mark Davis doesn’t have a ton of cards to play against Oakland, other than the usual “I’ll take my team elsewhere” card, which has half-played by entertaining talks with LA and San Antonio. He pulled one out this week, refusing to play the $400,000 rent bill on the Coliseum for the 2014 season. We covered the lease terms in November 2013, when the last Raiders lease deal was made.

According to Matthew Artz, the Raiders are paying rent on their Alameda training facility, which makes withholding rent a rather petty move. What kinds of concessions could get from Oakland/Alameda County at this point? They’re certainly not going to sign over development rights to the Coliseum over a measly $400k. Though somehow Davis has been depicted as a “more willing partner” for Oakland than Lew Wolff, his actions say differently: meetings in LA/SA, repeatedly talking about how he’s doing his best while not creating his own plan until very recently.

It would be one thing if Davis were angling to move to LA for the 2015 season. The NFL has put the kibosh on such a move for 2015, so what reason would Davis hold out? The answer probably lies in the current lease. Besides the rent for the Coliseum and training facility, there’s also the matter of the parking revenue split between the JPA and the Raiders. At the moment that’s a 50/50 deal, with regular parking prices capped at $35 per car, per game. The opening of Levi’s Stadium has bumped the going rate to $50, so Davis may be eager to up the charge, a move that’s accounted for in the current lease. Even if that were the case, it can’t make much of a difference:

  • $15 hike * 10,000 parking spaces * 10 games = $1.5 million, split 50/50

The Raiders would net less than $750,000 after the City collects its parking tax. It’s truly a piddly amount of money for a pro football team.

If it’s something else, like a cut of concessions revenue, Davis should’ve acted before allowing Wolff to take it off the table for upcoming years. He’ll get a chance to sell ads on the new scoreboards without having to spend a dime on the project. It’s a head scratcher why Davis would do this.

Then again, maybe this is all a bluff to see how the reciprocal and related parties act. Would Oakland and Alameda County start getting ugly with Davis the same way they did with Wolff last year? Would Davis try to see what the NFL might do to back him (or not)? Davis has already said he doesn’t want to have the Raiders play in Santa Clara, and that’s the obvious local Plan B for Roger Goodell if negotiations got tense. He won’t be able to use this issue to force an LA move because that doesn’t fit into the league’s plans. If Davis is trying to score points in order to get a premier spot in LA, it’s an odd way of doing it.

I doubt that this discord will turn into anything protracted. The A’s-Oakland parking dispute turned into a $3 million issue because Wolff preferred to let it fester until the next lease negotiations, three years down the road. Davis doesn’t have time to let anything fester. The Raiders have to play somewhere in 2015, and preferably beyond. There are no indications that public officials want to to stick Davis with a locked-in multiyear lease, as they’ve been perfectly willing to go year-to-year for the time being as the larger Coliseum City deal is worked out.

Oakland, and especially the Coliseum, is a sort of economic paradox for both the Raiders and the A’s at the moment. Deals there are potentially the most frictionless, yet it can most realistically happen if one of them steps aside. Yet each team has its eye on more lucrative markets that they might consider worth the friction. If one of them “wins” Oakland, the other will get to go to the more lucrative alternative. The “winner” will have the challenge of remaking the Coliseum to benefit not only themselves, but also the City and nearby communities. Oakland as both prize and booby prize? Somehow it makes sense.

Program Director Jason Barrett to leave 95.7 The Game in June

I travel a lot. I’ve been to 49 states, nearly all of them on business. I’ve rented cars in all of these markets, which has given me a chance to sample sports radio everywhere: California and the Northeast, the South and the Midwest. Thanks to the internet you can do the same now via streaming. Most people aren’t going to go out of their way to do that, except to follow distant team coverage. Having listened to so many different sports talk stations, I can give you one complete immutable fact about them.

THEY ALL SUCK.

The programming is disposable and predictable. The talent is largely marginal. It’s the low hanging fruit of media. There really isn’t much difference from one station to the next. Listeners may latch onto one or two hosts because of their style, or listen to a particular station mostly because it’s a team’s flagship. 95.7 The Game launched with the idea that it was the A’s flagship, but would give thorough coverage to all of the Bay Area’s teams.

Jason Barrett came in as the program director shortly after the station’s launch in 2011. Not surprisingly, the New Yorker brought in a New York host, Brandon Tierney. That didn’t go over so well – with A’s fans especially. Some worked well for a small but loyal audience, like The Rise Guys until they were unceremoniously canned, or Damon Bruce most recently. Chris Townsend has been the one constant on the station, taking numerous time slot changes like a pro that he is. If the maxim of radio is know your audience, Barrett didn’t. He brought an East Coast sensitivity to the Bay Area under orders from an East Coast corporate parent, and it showed.

I don’t think it’s possible to make truly good sports talk. It is possible to make sports talk that sucks less. One way to reach that not-so-lofty goal is to hire hosts that really know the local teams. When a guy doesn’t know much about a team’s history or players it’s glaring. It gives one more reason for a listener to change the station. For whatever reason Barrett wasn’t terribly concerned about that, figuring that outside talent had a natural learning curve and would adapt quickly. That brought at best mixed results. Even bringing in guys with a clear specialty and without broad sports knowledge can be dangerous, as we saw with Ric Bucher (basketball) and now John Middlekauff, whose discomfort level rises when venturing outside football.

Whether it was Barrett or the higher-ups at Entercom, the push to get Giants fans has proven highly divisive to A’s fans, though it has probably led to The Game’s firm 2nd place among the three Bay Area sports radio stations. A’s fans are willing to stomach some amount of Giants talk, but not the beyond-equal-time treatment frequently on display. Though I’ve heard a lot of things about what Barrett did to meter topic time, I don’t have any interest in doing any measurements or protesting loudly. Mostly because of the aforementioned reasons, I simply don’t care that much. Fans can choose to be inundated by coverage in many forms, from traditional beat writers and columnists to bloggers and fan sites to podcasts and live streams. I watch all four major pro sports, multiple college and individual sports, pretty much anything competitive. I don’t worry too much about how well-executed sports radio is, I’m only concerned that the A’s have a proper station. So if the station’s execution improves by having better hosts or a better program director, great. It probably won’t affect might listening much, it might affect yours.

If anything, my criticism is reserved for Entercom’s disinterest in boosting the station’s signal. As a Class B station with less than 7,000 watts of power, the coverage footprint was limited. East Bay coverage could be sparse at times, North Bay coverage a big fade. Maybe Entercom wanted to wait until the station stabilized. Whatever the reason, the signal has left many unsatisfied, though game broadcast availability through MLB apps has helped. There’s no way The Game will ever come close to challenging KNBR-680 without a boost to cover more of the Bay Area.

Then again, maybe second place is good enough. I have a sneaking suspicion that it is. They could go totally cheap by turning automatic and simulcasting ESPN Radio’s shows from Bristol, then supplementing games with pre/post-game coverage. They could boost the signal, get into a real bidding war with 680, and get into a real war with The Leader. Or they could go in generally the same manner as they’ve been going, but with a better PD and more hyperlocal focus. I don’t know that such a move will seriously improve ratings. It would at least reduce the bad PR associated with Barrett.

Other articles:

Barrett’s blog, citing his desire to spend time with family as his reason for leaving

Bay Area’s Sports Guy’s anecdote about meeting with Barrett