Category Archives: Oakland
You can feel the fortitude and resolve pulsing with each mushy keystroke that was pressed to create MLB’s mealy-mouthed, non-committal statement on #SewerGate:
“As we have stated many times, the Oakland A’s need a new ballpark. Sunday’s unfortunate incident is a stark illustration that they need a long-term solution. This industry has a long record of navigating challenging circumstances and finding solutions. The situation in Oakland is particularly complicated, evident through the years of work it has required, yet we remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached so that the A’s can secure the 21st Century venue that the franchise and its fans deserve.”
That, folks, is leadership at its finest. We can look forward to something happening… sometime in the 21st Century.
There’s fifty feet of crap. And then there’s us. – Billy Beane, Moneyball
Figurative turned literal on Sunday, as the A’s and Mariners (and umpires) were forced to vacate their respective clubhouses after the game because of a sewage backup. The backup caused sewage to seep out of the shower drains as players were trying to clean up. Both teams were forced to use the Raiders’ locker room showers, which are located a level up in the old Exhibit Hall.
As part of the 1995 Mt. Davis renovations, the Exhibit Hall was transformed into new football locker rooms, while the A’s clubhouse and visiting facilities remained mostly untouched. As a result, the plumbing in the clubhouses continues to deteriorate and requires constant repairs, which the A’s usually end up paying for during the season. Per the team’s lease, they can deduct the cost of the repairs against their annual rent payment. During the NFL offseason, the Raiders locker room often gets used as an extra staging area for VIPs. As a part of the stadium that was constructed less than 20 years ago, it’s in much better shape than the old baseball clubhouses.
In 2011, I asked Lew Wolff about the state of affairs at the Coliseum. Here’s an excerpt of our discussion:
Wolff: We’re constantly making repairs that are not our obligation.
ML: Really? Like what?
Wolff: Leaks and things. The scoreboard. There are two of them because of football. I think they’re finally going to replace them, but if they don’t there are no more parts. If a light goes out we borrow it from another one. It’s aggravating. But they basically say they don’t have any money. They still have bonds to pay off. The place is old and this is not the time for cities to write a check for sports.
Two years later the leaks have gotten worse and the scoreboard still needs replacement, with funds to make that happen siphoned away to study Coliseum City. It’s easy to make scoreboards a low priority at a decrepit place like the Coliseum since they don’t affect players or revenues. Functional clubhouses, however, are a different matter entirely. It’s one thing if the clubhouse flooding and contamination was confined solely to the A’s clubhouse. This time it affected both teams and the umpires. Now there’s the prospect of complaints being filed by the A’s, Mariners, and the players’ and umpires’ unions. (Susan Slusser noted that the Angels complained about a similar incident in 2001, citing a possible E. Coli threat.) Ultimately the responsibility falls on the Coliseum Authority, the body acting as the landlord for the three Coliseum tenant teams. A Herculean effort by an industrial cleanup company like ServPro should get the place up and running. The structural deficiencies will continue to linger.
I know next to nothing about engineering sewer systems, but I do know that having facilities below sea level (such as the clubhouses) can make it difficult to get a proper gravity-based flow going. The funny thing is that one of EBMUD’s huge sewer interceptors runs right through the Coliseum complex, so it should be easy to get wastewater and sewage out of the complex assuming that the sewer lines and pumps are working properly. Evidently at least one part of the stadium’s sewage infrastructure wasn’t working at all. Think about that. There is a river of shit running right through the Coliseum and somehow it couldn’t be utilized on Sunday.
Some are pointing to the possibility that the sewer system was taxed by large crowds. The A’s drew 171,756 total fans during this recent six-game homestand. Let’s put that in perspective. That’s 28,626 per game, or roughly half the originally designed 1966 capacity of the Coliseum. Even the Sunday sellout was only 57% of the 2012 football capacity. The system as a whole should not have been stressed in the slightest.
As the investigation into the cause of the incident continues, it will occur against the backdrop of ongoing lease negotiations. Previously it was assumed that the Authority would have a good deal of leverage because the A’s have nowhere else to play in the Bay Area post-2013. Now the tables have turned, as it can be argued by many parties that the Coliseum is unfit to host MLB games until the clubhouse sewage problem and other deficiencies are addressed. MLB could even step in to make preconditions on the JPA prior to further lease talks. That would put the JPA in quite the pickle. How can the JPA recover more money from the A’s towards Coliseum debt service if it has to fund additional, costly improvements at the Coliseum? If the JPA wants to lock the A’s into a deal longer than 5 years, how much money is the JPA willing to put up to make it worth the A’s and MLB’s while? And how does that coincide with any requests the Raiders are making for their lease extension?
Prior to this incident, Lew Wolff offered to continue on at the Coliseum for five years with the current use terms, rent TBD. He could and should demand infrastructure improvements, but he and Michael Crowley could be enticed to stand pat and maintain the status quo since it would be less complicated. It would be hard for the A’s to make any leasehold improvements without prior approval of the JPA, and since they’re not bound by the lease beyond December there’s no immediate incentive to do so. All they’ll probably do at the moment is make necessary repairs, clean and disinfect the place, lay down some new carpet in the affected areas, and hope for the best. While that should be enough to get through the rest of the season, imagine another sewage incident occurring during the postseason. What kind of PR disaster would that be for Oakland? And I can’t image naming rights sponsor O.co is thrilled to be associated with this debacle. It’s bad enough that from afar the stadium resembles a toilet.
Three weeks ago Jon Heyman incurred the wrath of A’s fans over his snide tweet comparing AT&T Park to the Coliseum. He mostly stayed away from any remarks this time around, except for a retweet of Slusser getting a David Rinetti (A’s VP of stadium operations) quote:
Vice president of stadium operations David Rinetti said the Coliseum has problems with sewage on a regular basis but this is worst ever.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 17, 2013
Smart move by Heyman to stay away from this mess, though I wouldn’t blame him if he gloated in private. Trololol.
The A’s, of course, have tried to bolt town for the last five years. The San Francisco Giants won’t share their territory and permit the Athletics to move to San Jose. Major League Baseball, which hoped the A’s and Giants would somehow reach an agreement on their own, finally got a resolution from their blue ribbon committee. The committee submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the requirements, a move could soon be underway.
Wolff won’t talk about the guidelines. Neither will the Giants. Or even Major League Baseball.
Well, since the NSA isn’t sharing any of Wolff’s telephone conversations with Commissioner Bud Selig, it’s fair to say that if Wolff agreed to the parameters, he’d have a shovel in his hand today digging into the San Jose soil.
Wolff denied the February report in last week’s radio interview. Clearly something isn’t meshing here. The two short-term decisions at the moment are the lease and the S4SJ lawsuit. It would make sense to wait to announce something until both of those issues are resolved.
Update 2:30 PM – Amazingly, Lew Wolff is pulling his punches, at least according to a new Carl Steward article.
“What it says basically is that it’s a deteriorating facility,” he said. “I think everybody is aware of that, even the people who run it. We’re sort of all in this together, so it isn’t something I would use … we just have to solve it right now.”
Wolff downplayed that this might be the kind of incident that would give him extra ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A’s situation, which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess the team’s options.
“Even if they said tomorrow, `OK, you can have a new stadium,’ we can’t do it in one day,” Wolff said. “We’re still going to have a plumbing issue.’”
Of course, Wolff isn’t going to stop the M’s, other teams, MLBPA, or WUA (umpires) from filing their own complaints. Those may have more bite. On the other hand, Billy Beane’s comments were a little more pointed.
“Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time,” Beane said. “Our employees are impacted by this. I was the first to see the manager’s office (Sunday), but we see it all the time, and this is not unusual. I don’t blame them (the Mariners) for reacting, but we have to live with it on a semi-regular basis.
“If we say anything, we’re told we’re being opportunist,” Beane added. “I wish these were working conditions we didn’t have to work with. When it affects somebody other than us, it becomes a story. I’m used to it. I deal with it.”
Doesn’t get more Oakland than that.
Well, not you, Gentle Reader. Lew Wolff and Larry Baer, to be specific. Both respective team head honchos were interviewed on The Game as part of the Newsmakers week of sitdowns with owners. Baer talked mostly about the Giants’ franchise, but was also asked (by Bucher & Towny) about their apparent cockblocking of venue efforts by both the A’s (San Jose) and the Warriors (Piers 30/32). Baer indicated vague support for both teams’ efforts, but would not comment further on what that meant.
Then on Tuesday, Lew Wolff had an absolute disaster of an interview, one where he hesitated, fumbled, and dodged. By the end, everyone including the interviewers were clearly frustrated, Wolff even half-jokingly saying that he wanted the A’s PR department to get him out of the interview.
Wolff’s prior-held opinions on Oakland and San Jose were repeated, but it took only 30 seconds for Wolff to give the first of an endless stream of “No Comment” responses to many of the solid, pointed questions that were aimed his way. “No Comment” has come about because of the gag order imposed by Bud Selig over Wolff and Baer, who had been previously sniping and using the media to their own ends at regular intervals.
Beyond the ongoing rejection of Oakland having any viable sites, Wolff also repeated the mantra that he has been guided to put baseball first, team second. That means no antagonistic PR battles or lawsuits, no waging the territorial rights war. What it also means is that the A’s will continue to be in limbo, at Selig’s and The Lodge’s behest, until Selig or his successor deems the A’s dilemma important enough to resolve in a meaningful way. Lew has always painted himself as a go-along-to-get-along guy, even if the scope of that philosophy is limited to baseball and alienates A’s fans everywhere, along with friends in the South Bay.
Lew is clearly grateful to Bud for bringing him into the Lodge, that much is clear. Thing is, now that he’s in, it’s hard to get him out. Besides the ownership group or individual partners going into bankruptcy (no sign of that happening), there’s little anyone can do in The Lodge or outside it to force anyone out. Lew knows this and has tried to work the process (calling for a vote, etc.) to no avail. It wouldn’t hurt to fight for the franchise instead of always taking one for The Lodge, as is happening now. If the idea is to curry favor with the other owners for something down the road, there’s no indication of such a deal.
I think we’re seeing a repeat of what happened with the 49ers and the Yorks, where Dr. York spent a few years fumbling around as the head before handing the job over to the more media-savvy Jed York. Lew’s son Keith Wolff has had his hands full taking care of the Earthquakes stadium, and may be wary of absorbing the arrows anew with the A’s after having completed an arduous, albeit smaller, task for the soccer franchise. Nevertheless, if Keith is up to it, he’s the guy to smooth things over. Even then, nothing can actually be smoothed over until Selig provides better answers and more information. As the team gets further into the season and off-season without an inked extension for whatever length, this is only going to get weirder and uglier. And as long as the gag order is in place, there will be no point in having additional interviews like Tuesday’s.
After Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Bay Bridge Series, CBS Sports national baseball writer Jon Heyman jostled the hornets nest that is the Oakland faithful with this tweet:
A shame the a’s and giants have to play these games at the coliseum while ATandT sits empty. #shame
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 29, 2013
That brought a furious wave of replies, including some by current A’s players such as reliever Sean Doolittle.
“@jonheymancbs: shame [they] have to play at the coliseum” I can see why you don’t like it. We have a strict No High Horse policy at O.Co…
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) May 29, 2013
@whatwoulddoodo i thought your team has been begging to get out for years. am i wrong?
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) May 29, 2013
@jonheymancbs All I know is (when full) the O.co is one of the best atmospheres in MLB. Outdated? Yes. But fans make up for it & we love
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) May 29, 2013
Of course, numerous fans came to the defense of the Coliseum, citing certain sightlines that are better than at AT&T Park (only a few) and the more raucous crowd. I tried to sum up the general sentiment with this tweet:
— newballpark (@newballpark) May 29, 2013
Now let’s set the table for the discussion to follow. This is Newballpark.org, after all.
- The Coliseum is, in fact, outdated and a replacement is needed for the long-term viability and competitiveness of the franchise.
- The long-time, hardcore fanbase has stayed loyal thanks to not being priced out of attending games, despite ownership’s general indifference towards them.
- Attracting casual fans to games is difficult unless the team is playing extremely well (sometimes) or the opponent is a good draw (Yankees, Giants, Red Sox).
- The experience of attending a game is not luxurious in the slightest, but it can be very energetic and entertaining.
- Fans debating about the future of the Athletics mostly squabble over the site of the next A’s home, whether it’s in Oakland, San Jose, or elsewhere in the Bay Area.
Heyman’s uninformed opinion is sadly reflective of much of the East Coast (Northeast) media, which still holds onto the notion that in the Bay Area, San Francisco is “The City” and everything else is a satellite orbiting around it.
Nevermind that Oakland has undergone significant upheaval over the last several decades, or that San Jose has grown to become larger than SF. San Jose remains sleepy and banal, Oakland dangerous and difficult. It takes more than a generation or two to shake a reputation, especially when there are forces at work to maintain certain aspects of that rep (crime, politics, growth policies).
A look back at Frank Deford’s 1968 Sports Illustrated article shows that things haven’t changed that much in terms of perception from the outside. It was during that era that the other Bay Area cities started to puff out their own chests and brandish their own civic pride. That pride led to Bob Nahas getting the Coliseum complex built. It also fomented a backlash against SF, according to late Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli:
“Now, everybody’s thinking is reversed. People feel they must swallow local pride to come to San Francisco. Or they’re indignant. You know, ‘Why the hell should I have to go to San Francisco?’ People come from halfway around the world, breathless, to get to San Francisco, and the people around here are annoyed if they have to go 15 minutes.”
After 45 years, much of the country and the world doesn’t know about this, and more importantly, they don’t care. New York and Chicago have had more than a century to build rivalries among boroughs or along north-south divides, and there’s plenty of documented historical support to back them. Allowing the Warriors and Seals to carry the generic “California” or “Golden State” monikers only steeled Oakland’s collective resolve. Defenders of cities can scream to the high heavens about their town being disrespected. Most casual observers have little empathy when other issues take greater import. Outsiders don’t know that these days, the only true satellites of SF are the Peninsula and Marin County.
Yet the lion’s share of tourist attractions and cultural resources remain in SF. Since the 60′s Silicon Valley become America’s (and the world’s) tech capital, and Napa Valley became the American focal point of the wine industry. Tract homes replaced farms and fields. Ever-growing freeway systems and disorganized public transit systems were built to meet citizens’ needs.
During the decade from 1972 to 1981, Oakland teams won six championships: 3 by the A’s, 2 by the Raiders, and 1 by the Warriors. None really changed much for Oakland as a city, though it did solidify the teams’ fanbases to various degrees. Even when Al Davis took the Raiders to LA, Oakland officials plotted for years to lure him back – and they eventually did.
Oakland has garnered exactly one title since Al left and none since he returned. If the point of having teams winning championships is to build civic pride, the luck hasn’t been on Oakland’s side. Is there anything that can be done to correct long-held misconceptions? Probably not – at least not immediately. Civic leaders can try to build a ballpark or arena downtown, and most have used forms of redevelopment to remake rundown parts of their cities, often with mixed results. Sure, there’s a nice ballpark in Cleveland, but it’s still in Cleveland. The new ballpark in Miami has done little to change the prevailing notion that it isn’t a baseball town. Phoenix has both a ballpark and arena, but outside of events at those venues people would rather go to Scottsdale.
Al Davis, in the 60′s light years ahead of his peers and others in terms of strategizing football, proved sagelike when it came to thinking about cities in the Deford article.
“Haven’t we passed the point of who is Oakland and what is Oakland?” he asks. “Too many people are still living on local color. They can’t see past the Golden Gate. They keep telling me: ‘Hey, we showed those 49ers.’ I have to say, ‘Look, can we show Green Bay? They’re the epitome of football. Green Bay, not San Francisco.’ “
Then again, what happens when the champion IS San Francisco?
P.S. As for the Coliseum, I figure I’ve written about it ceaselessly for 8 years. The issue is really up to MLB at this point. Does the Lodge want to force “progress” via a new ballpark that will inevitably price out many of the fans who currently are a big part of the A’s image? Is the status quo fine for now until whatever form progress takes is fully formed? And who will foot the bill for the Coliseum’s replacement? The bitter truth is that MLB doesn’t care much for the $12 fan, preferring to kick them to the upper deck corners where The Lodge thinks they belong. If someone protests, The Lodge can simply point out that the A’s pull in $30+ million a year in welfare and that Oakland fans should be grateful they still have a team within city limits. Progress, however it comes, will satisfy some and alienate just as many. Unreserved bleachers will become $20 reserved seats. Tailgating opportunities will be reduced. Section 317 will be much higher. At the same time there will be myriad improvements. A beautiful field throughout the whole season. Less foul territory (the most spun thing among A’s fans ever). Facilities that will make marquee players want to stay or sign as free agents. Functional scoreboards. Better food on the concourses. I have seen these things, I have experienced them, and they are good. In the end, it’s as much a choice for fans as it is for MLB. If we’re priced out of the seats that we currently have, how do we react? Do we swallow the higher prices? Go to fewer games? Pick worse sections? There is a price for all cities to be major league. In one way or another, everyone pays for it.
Less than two weeks ago, Amy Trask came on The Game’s morning show to talk about the Raiders’ ticket donation program. While there she talked up the Coliseum as the best location for a future stadium and defended Raider Nation to the hilt – as she has done frequently. So it came with some surprise that Trask resigned her CEO post over the weekend. She went out honoring the team and its fans. She could easily write a book on her 25-year tenure as a rare female executive in pro sports. Chances are that she’ll write a paean about her experiences with the Raiders instead.
Under the surface it seemed Trask’s days were numbered. With Reggie McKenzie handling the football side and Dennis Allen as his coach, Trask was marginalized to the role of figuring out the Raiders’ future stadium situation. Even then, the team got little momentum on that front as its lease was renegotiated and running towards its end. According to Tim Kawakami, at first Trask pushed for a stadium-sharing model with the 49ers, a move that would’ve been highly practical. As the 49ers pushed forward in Santa Clara, any murmurs about sharing died, replaced by a renewed push for something new in the East Bay. Mark Davis made calls to folks in the Tri-Valley about Camp Parks while Trask emphasized that the Coliseum was the best spot. Davis is working in conjunction with the NFL on the Raiders’ spot within Coliseum City, a less showy vision than what Oakland pols are promoting.
Now that Trask is gone, it’ll be up to Davis and a hired gun to sell the prospects of a new stadium at the Coliseum. Rumors abounded during the offseason that a new team president would be hired. There was even talk that Davis would give the reins to Jon Gruden, which went nowhere. It would seem that Andy Dolich would be a natural fit since he performed that kind of role for the 49ers and he’s perhaps Oakland’s biggest booster outside of the city limits. Yet Dolich took a job with recruiting firm Odgers Berndtson instead. Perhaps Davis wants to go with someone younger or someone not previously associated with the 49ers. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a puzzling non-move.
Successful stadium/arena campaigns are usually the product of a solid public-private partnership. The Giants had Larry Baer, Peter Magowan, and Willie Brown pushing for a ballpark. The 49ers had Jed York go door-to-door and two mayors, Patricia Mahan and Jamie Matthews. The Earthquakes had Lew and Keith Wolff, David Kaval, and Chuck Reed keeping San Jose’s bureaucracy from getting in the way. Miraculously, Kevin Johnson had no help from a team owner, but KJ had a history and reputation as a great NBA player to help himself within the NBA. Let’s assume for the moment that Jean Quan, Larry Reid, and Rebecca Kaplan can capably lead the public side. Mark Davis isn’t going to do the heavy public campaign himself, will he? It’ll be up to the new President/CEO/COO or whatever the proper title is to pound the pavement, rally the sponsors, gather the votes. Without that effort there’s little chance Coliseum City will get the necessary support behind it to be successful.
Coliseum City strikes me as the City of Oakland’s equivalent of playing a big lottery like Mega Millions or Powerball. The chances are infinitesimal at best, yet they can’t win if they don’t play. So they’re putting in a few million dollars to get some studies done in hopes of a lot of circumstances falling very neatly for them to keep the three current tenants at the Coliseum complex.
- 68 – 72,000 seat NFL stadium with 1.8-2.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.6 acres
- 35 – 39,000 seat ballpark with 1.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.3 acres
- 18 – 20,000 seat arena with 850,000 square feet space, covering 5 acres
- 14 million square feet of office, R&D, commercial, and retail space
- 6,370 housing units
- 15,000 parking spaces at Coliseum site (mostly through garages, existing site has 10,000 spaces)
- A new transit hub, including a widened, more pedestrian-friendly bridge from the BART station to the stadium complex
- Two additional bridges that span I-880 to the arena and greater development west of the freeway
- An elevated, landscaped public space that connects everything
- A revitalized Damon Slough
- A new water inlet leading from San Leandro Bay to the arena
- Many new garages
It was bound to happen. As the Coliseum JPA and the A’s got further into lease extension talks, they were sure to hit a snag. KTVU reports that after year of ongoing dialog, talks halted last week over the requirement for the A’s to pay $7 million in parking taxes. (Note: Six weeks ago, Matier & Ross had the number owed at only $3 million.) The issue goes back to when Oakland, looking for a way to boost tax revenues, started to enforce a 18.5% parking levy in 2009. All three tenant teams boosted rates to cover the tax, including the A’s charging $17 instead of the $15 they had charged previously. Unlike the Raiders and Warriors, the A’s pocketed the hike while the City and Alameda County fought it out over how much money the two parties and the JPA should get.
The Authority has been asking the A’s for the money for a few years, with Lew Wolff focused chiefly on plans to move to San Jose, only in the last year or so turning towards an extension at the Coliseum. Both sides indicated that discussions were going well, but it’s probably difficult to come to an agreement over $7 million when that’s more than the A’s have paid in rent the past five years. The A’s say that they don’t owe money but will pay the tax moving forward, which sounds thoroughly disingenuous considering they raised the parking rate in response to the imposition of the tax.
The County wants a bigger cut of concessions revenue, which was practically signed away to the A’s when the team and the JPA settled their post-Mount Davis lawsuit. The A’s were also burned by the JPA when they chose to take money meant to replace scoreboards and rerouted it towards the Coliseum City study.
For their part, the A’s will only say that “The disputed items are subject to arbitration or possibly incorporated in a new five-year lease extension.” Arbitration could easily put the A’s on the losing end, paying the full $7 million, but if they’re aware of that and they could somehow get less through negotiation or arbitration, holding out is not a bad tactic. They know that the City’s and County’s stance is to go ofter them hard as the A’s have really nowhere to go while a move to San Jose sits in limbo.
The A’s abruptly cut off talks for now, which itself may be a negotiation tactic of sorts. Is Wolff willing this to go straight to arbitration, or does he want to wait until after the baseball ends to pick up talks again? If they, it’s not likely that everyone at the table will suddenly become nicer.
P.S. – I did some quick and dirty math on this. The City imposed the tax start in July 2009. That left 3.5 years of tax accrual before the start of the 2013 season. 5000 spaces * 3.5 years * 82 games * 18.5% = $4.5 million. Not $3 million, not $7 million. Free Parking Tuesdays and last year’s playoff parking revenue are not accounted for.
The Raiders and A’s share a stadium. Now they’ll also share a radio station. It took a couple years, but the Silver and Black will finally start having their games broadcast on 95.7 The Game starting with the upcoming 2013 NFL season. It’s a move that has been speculated since the station launched as the A’s flagship.
While the Raiders’ coverage will decrease in comparison to former home KSFO on the AM side, the sports radio station’s programming is far and away more compatible, especially because play-by-play man Greg Papa is already a fixture in The Wheelhouse’s noon timeslot. Non-game coverage will expand, with the Raiders displacing the 49ers in the Monday themed day, good for armchair QB-ing and GM-ing. Previously the Raiders’ day was Friday.
In the event of a conflict with the A’s, Raiders broadcasts will be on 102.1/98.5 KFOX, home of the Sharks and Entercom stablemate. KFOX has a better coverage footprint than KGMZ (The Game), which leads me to think that the Raiders actually negotiated this provision knowing that it was available via Entercom.
Potential for some conflict is high, though not so much in head-to-head timeslot situations. Mostly it’s a case of an A’s game finishing just before the start of a Raiders game during preseason or early during the regular season.
Since the Raiders are expected to have full pre and postgame coverage for each game, it’s likely that all of the weeks above will be on KFOX, with the exception of the 8/29 game against the Seahawks.
Eventually, fans may clamor for more games on KFOX due to the better distributed signal. Of course, that will run into further conflicts with the Sharks, whose season starts in October as the baseball season ends. The 2013-14 NHL schedule, which will be the first under the new realignment scheme, has not yet been released.
Conflicts or not, it’s good that the Raiders are back on a sports station, which they haven’t been since they left 1050 years ago. Whether this will turn The Game into a proper East Bay-focused station is up to Entercom, whose station management has been careful to cater to all Bay Area fans much to the dismay of A’s and Raiders fans. In turn, the Raiders may have to beef up their affiliate network to compensate for The Game’s less signal.
To kick off the new relationship, Raiders draft day coverage is being held today on The Game.
A pair of Oakland A’s fans and longtime readers of this site have started a site called Oakland Fan Pledge. The purpose is to gauge interest in tickets and different seating options at a hypothetical Oakland ballpark, either at the Coliseum complex or Howard Terminal. Results of this survey may be shared with MLB, public officials, and the A’s if the team ever decides to stay in Oakland.
This new effort follows similar campaigns in Sacramento and Seattle to build interest in a new arenas in those cities. Sacramento’s Here We Buy has received more than 11,000 season ticket pledges so far. A similar drive in Seattle claimed more than 44,000 season ticket pledges and 268 suites. Obviously a pledge is not the same as a binding contract to purchase tickets, but as long as people are being honest about their levels of commitment, the information gathered from these kinds of campaigns can be useful. Interestingly, because Seattle and Sacramento were so public about their efforts, it’s likely that Oakland Fan Pledge may be compared to the cities fighting over the Kings/Sonics, however unfair that may seem. Here’s the press release from the group.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2013
Oakland Baseball Fans Launch Campaign for New Stadium
April 22, 2013
Oakland, CA – Baseball fans who want the A’s to stay in the East Bay have a new way to show their support: pledging to buy ticket plans at a potential new baseball-only stadium in Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge (www.OaklandFanPledge.com) is a new independent website created by A’s fans to show Major League Baseball, A’s ownership, and Oakland city officials that local fans will support a new ballpark in Oakland by pledging their dollars to buy tickets.
On the website fans can choose from various ticket plans and pricing levels at a hypothetical ballpark. While no monetary transaction takes place, those who pledge are asked to be realistic about what they could afford if a new stadium were to be built. Ticket prices are based on averages of other recently-opened stadiums throughout Major League Baseball (MLB). Premium seats include a separate fee for ‘seat rights,’ similar to what was done for the Giants’ opening of Pacific Bell Park in 2000, a standard for a privately-financed stadium. The full list of tickets and money pledged will be continuously updated on the site and shared with MLB, city officials in Oakland, and the A’s. If the time comes that the current, or future, A’s owners commit to a stadium in Oakland, the site’s owners plan to share their list of pledges.
Oakland city officials have identified two possible sites for a new baseball stadium within city limits: one at the existing Coliseum complex and another on port-owned land near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge provides a clear way for A’s supporters in the region to weigh in. By committing to buy ticket plans at a new Oakland baseball stadium, fans can rally around keeping their team in town by sending a clear message. “The A’s owners have told the team’s fans for years that the A’s are as good as gone from Oakland, and it’s frustrating,” says John Jackson, a lifelong fan who is helping to organize Oakland Fan Pledge. “There are tens of thousands of fans that would open their wallets and buy ticket plans if a long term commitment to Oakland was made and a new stadium was built.”
Oakland Fan Pledge began as a grassroots response to frustration around the team’s uncertain future in Oakland and lack of progress in building a new stadium for the team. Major League Baseball has spent over four years reviewing potential Bay Area stadium sites without making a decision. Meanwhile, the A’s ownership has alienated much of the team’s local fan base by repeatedly expressing their desire to abandon the East Bay for Santa Clara County, which is currently under the control of the San Francisco Giants through MLB territorial rights.
“Oakland Fan Pledge is more than a way for A’s fans to show a financial commitment to their team and to Oakland,” says John Hansen, another organizer of the site. “It gives fans a way to move beyond being told their team is done in Oakland, and visualize a new hometown stadium the team’s current owners have tried to convince them isn’t possible. We believe not only is a new stadium in Oakland possible, but that local fans are ready by the thousands to fill it up. Through Oakland Fan Pledge, we look forward to sending this message loud and clear to Major League Baseball and the team’s owners, and dispelling the myth that Oakland is anything but an extremely viable home for the A’s for decades to come.”
I’ll be sure to fill out my survey ASAP.
The Chronicle’s John Shea confirmed something I had heard about the reasoning for the Giants’ AT&T Park debt refinancing.
The Giants’ plan to pay off their stadium debt by 2017? No longer in the works, we hear. There have been steps to refinance the $170 million loan to help fund their proposed development on parking lot A across from McCovey Cove. There was a time the Giants said they had to limit their payroll because of the $20 million annual mortgage.
Remember how, in 2009, SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera threatened to sue baseball over the perceived financial threat posed to the City if the A’s were granted territorial rights to the South Bay? Well, I’m glad for everyone’s sake that the Giants feel it’s safe enough to take on even greater debt to grow their empire. I was so worried for a while there.
Meanwhile, a group of East Bay mayors including Oakland’s Jean Quan and Berkeley’s Tom Bates are trying to upend legislation introduced by SF assemblyman Phil Ting that would help smooth (or bypass) some of the environmental review and approval process for the Warriors’ arena. It’s not strange that they would pursue this route, since it is local politics at work. The irony is that whatever new law helps the W’s arena could provide a blueprint and pave the way for an A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal, which makes sense because both are on waterfront sites and face the same restrictions.
Of course, if Howard Terminal never gets past the talking points stage no one ever has to find out how expensive it’ll be to build there.