And it’s not even close. 360 Architecture released two visions for the stadium that will eventually replace the still-young Georgia Dome. As Jason Kirk wrote in SB Nation, the whole thing is insane. Two concepts are being considered. The first is a fairly common stadium design called the Solarium. The catch is that instead of have the roof move on tracks to open a small sunroof, the roof and exterior walls are on hinges (with supporting tracks on the ends) that pull back to open a much larger area to the elements. The stadium also has a trick seating bowl where some of the corner sections collapse, allowing the end zones to be pulled in for a “tighter” basketball bowl.
The second concept, named Pantheon, is much bolder in terms of design, with numerous triangles that, when put together, resemble a very ominous spaceship. Key to the mindblowing nature of what 360′s done is that the roof opens like an iris. It’s beautiful to watch and at the same time very scary. Who’s coming in through the open iris, God or our new alien overlords (who I, for one, welcome)?
Either roof design presents some new practical challenges. Can the hinged roof reliably provide a weatherproof seal? That might be tough. And the iris design is completely new, novel, and unproven. It’s composed of eight separate triangular roof elements that overlap and appear to have their own motors and tracks. That’s an engineering challenge to put it lightly. 360 explains that this roof has smaller, lighter elements that move shorter distances, which should in theory make it cheaper to build and operate. Who knows, maybe it’ll work well? Then again, maybe it’ll work like the The Big Owe or the initially problem-plagued system at Miller Park.
Other innovations are being considered, such as movable walls that can allow suites to be resized on demand, and a club concept called “The 100 Yard Bar” with a display (and bar) that runs the full length of the field. (Check out the Georgia World Congress Center’s site devoted to stadium development for presentations by the GWCC and 360.)
No, this doesn’t change my mind that the Georgia Dome doesn’t need to be replaced. It’s still a perfectly good football and basketball venue. Of course, if either the Solarium or Pantheon get built, I’ll definitely hop on a Delta flight to Atlanta to bathe in the new ambience.
Just in: the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to reject a relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. This preliminary vote is meant to be a recommendation to the greater Board of Governors. Given that it was a 12-0 vote, the decision effectively kills any chance of the sale and relocation being approved. It’s possible that Seattle’s Hansen-Ballmer group could launch a lawsuit against the NBA, but that would interfere with any future consideration for either an expansion franchise or another potentially relocated franchise such as the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now it’s up to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the “local” ownership group headed by Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov to pull through with the money parts of the deal. KJ and the City Council have to get an EIR passed, put up $250 million in arena bonds, and work out the financial details, which aren’t yet finalized. As for the “whales”, they have to put up their half of the arena through realized pledges from the community. After years of Maloof-caused turmoil, Kings fans can for once breathe easily. The Capitol will keep its team. I can practically hear the cowbells from 90 miles away.
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.
The City of San Jose and the A’s received another legal setback this week, as their Motion to Disqualify Counsel, namely Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, was denied by Judge Joseph Huber.
I’m out of town right now, so I don’t have the ability to view the judge’s order. When I get back I’ll take a look at it, but honestly, it was easy to read the way the judge was leaning with this ruling and the one from September. Now the City/A’s and Stand for San Jose can move forward with the trial. Lawyers for both sides are in the process of preparing briefs. We’ll be following this one closely. I expect that MLB will too.
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.
The middle game of a three-night set at Dodger Stadium had thousands of discounted tickets available on StubHub, a reminder that even for teams with $200 million payrolls and season attendance totals surpassing 3 million almost regularly, it’s still possible to find a deal. Or in Tuesday night’s case, an empty house.
I came because I happened to be in town for a week and I wanted to catch a game at either Chavez Ravine or Anaheim. I also wanted to take the Dodger Stadium Express, the bus that runs directly from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. This year there was also the added benefit of a bus-only lane going up Elysian Park Drive to help speed up the trip. I calculated that it took 15 minutes to get from Union Station to the intersection of Sunset and Elysian Park, then less than 5 minutes to get to the final destination behind centerfield. As you can see from the picture below, the buses get packed. It’s a good option for those who want to take Metro or a Metrolink train in. The $1.50 fare is waived if you show a ticket on the way in. The driver doesn’t bother to check for anything on the way back.
The Tuesday night game had no giveaway and was billed as Taiwan night. Pre-game festivities included a traditional band from Taiwan who played a mournful version of The Star Spangled Banner. Since this is Hollywood, there was also a purely commercial wrinkle as the American band Fall Out Boy was on hand to promote their new record. Pete Wentz threw the ceremonial first pitch. I entered the stadium greeted by this view.
There isn’t much else to say about the experience, other than that the scoreboards by ANC Sports are quite impressive. Circulation between the levels is still impossible, and since I got the $11 ticket near the RF foul pole, I couldn’t go any higher than the club concourse. The final crowd (announced 35,898) was not much better than what you see above. I assume that the events surrounding the Boston Marathon incident may have scared some people off. The Padres dropped a 4-spot on the Dodgers in the first inning off Chris Capuano, so the small crowd that showed up wasn’t tempted to stick around for long. Security didn’t seem heightened to a great degree.
The best way to describe the new scoreboards is to think of them as a set of three. The lower part along the outfield fence is an out-of-town board and a State Farm ad. When a Dodger comes up to bat it usually changes to an animated intro. This is mirrored on the small display underneath the diamond/hexagon large display. The strip is a great addition because it’s the perfect spot for a perpetual in-game line score. Unfortunately, the geniuses at Dodger Stadium don’t keep it perpetual at all, instead choosing to include the strip as part of the ongoing multimedia presentation. The big board is very impressive. Even the funky shape works to the team’s advantage, as there are little nooks for the clock, the on-base situation, even logos for the teams above the lineups. When a Dodger comes up to hit, the LF board shows a big picture (in keeping with the old setup) and on the bottom corner is the player’s Twitter handle. Statistical presentation is clean and modern, though it could use more advanced stats.
I was eventually able to sneak down to the field club seat area down the lines. By the 8th inning everyone wanted to go home. An attempt to sing Sweet Caroline in honor of Boston was met with a big SoCal “meh”. WiFi was supposed to be better, but I couldn’t tell. Who knows what would’ve happened if the game were better? We’ll never know. Maybe the next time I go to Dodger Stadium, someone will give a damn.
Last year I focused much of my baseball-related travel within California, a state full of quality baseball and inexpensive to boot. This year I’m going back to traveling to other major league cities, to see a few new ballparks I haven’t yet seen or ballparks that have undergone changes and upgrades. If you’re in one of these cities and you want to take in a game over a couple of beers, let me know. Here’s the plan for now. It’ll be firmed up in the next few weeks. The theme here is weekends, 2-3 days for the most part, minimal vacation time required.
- June 7-9: Chicago/Milwaukee. I did this section as part of the 2010 Midwest trip. The last experience was marred by a train accident that forced me to miss a White Sox game. The Brewers were also out of town, though I was able to take a tour of Miller Park instead. This time all three MLB teams are in town, including the White Sox hosting the A’s. Unfortunately the A’s Midwest League affiliate, the Beloit Snappers (WI), are not in town. Exact trip details TBD.
- August 22-25: New York/Florida. I could take two separate trips to New York and Miami to cover the three new parks, but I’d just as soon do it all in one trip if I can. It would start with Blue Jays @ Yankees on 8/22, Tiger @ Mets on 8/23, and Rockies @ Marlins on 8/24 or 8/25. I may even throw in a Yankees @ Rays game during the weekend if I can hack it. Alternate dates: June 27-30.
- September 28-29: A’s @ Seattle. It’s a day-after-night set at the end of the season, so I can fly in Saturday afternoon and fly back Sunday evening. Easy, no fuss, $200 roundtrip on Southwest or Alaskan. Hopefully the games will be meaningful. Alternate dates: June 22-23.
There are also plans for one or two trips to Southern California to catch all three MLB teams there. That’s a bit more fluid. There’s also the possibility of an Ohio trip, but I’m not sure I can fit it in.
I have to admit that these short jaunts are inspired in part by Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, which covers the celebrity food writer/TV host’s 24-48 hour stints in numerous world cities. Expect new travelogue entries to go with the trips.
Are you planning any ballpark trips this year? Do you have any comments or suggestions? You know where to go.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s attempt to get an in-person meeting with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was rejected this week. Selig preferred that the City continue to work with and make inquiries through his committee, now in its fourth unproductive year.
Reed expressed frustration at Selig’s rejection, vaguely hinting at a ratcheted up legal threat. It’s definitely a defeat on Reed’s part. If Selig’s decision effectively called Reed’s bluff, it’s to Reed to make good on the bluff. Reed’s termed out in 18 months, so if he wanted to bare some teeth, now would be a good time to do so.
Speaking of lawsuits, the Stand for San Jose suit had its Motion to Disqualify Counsel hearing today. Judge Joseph Huber had difficulty understanding the reasoning for the motion, explaining that the privileged documents that are at the center of the debate were already returned by Pillsbury are not part of the record, and will have no bearing on the case. Judge Huber asked Perkins Coie attorney Geoffrey Robinson if he was supposed to guess if and what privileged details made into the S4SJ’s case. Robinson said that the documents could shape the case even if the documents are not part of the record. (Judge Huber took over the case for Judge Patricia Lucas, who was appointed to the 6th District Court of Appeals by Governor Jerry Brown last fall.)
Switching to the other side, Judge Huber quite severely admonished Pillsbury for its previous behavior in the case, Pillsbury’s Ronald Van Buskirk argued that the firm was merely doing its job to make the best case for its client, and that the attorneys were only “exposed” to the documents and shouldn’t be disqualified just for exposure. Of course, they previously made a motion to augment the case using those documents, so that argument may fall on deaf ears.
The big takeaway is that both sides recently agreed upon a schedule for briefs, which means that a trial date is coming soon. The attorneys will have a few weeks to prepare their briefs. A trial date should be set shortly. Van Buskirk indicated that the plaintiff’s case would be solid thanks to questions about airport impacts, which to me sounds flimsy based on what I’ve read and the fact that taller or similar height structures already exist closer to the flight path, such as HP Pavilion.
Judge Huber will make his decision on the motion to disqualify early next week. If Pillsbury is thrown off the case so close to trial, it would be huge blow and force a delay to bring in new counsel and get them up to speed. If Huber throws out the motion, at least we’ll finally get to see this trial move forward, which would clear up at least one major issue that’s probably causing MLB to delay any decision regarding San Jose and territorial rights. I’ve been of the opinion for some time that MLB will not grant San Jose anything until the land deal is locked in and secured. The Giants know this, which explains why they’ve aggressively gone after San Jose in the courts and through the State Controller’s redevelopment clawback efforts. It’s the new Moneyball.
When Oakland Mayor Jean Quan revealed plans to take advantage of the federal government’s EB-5 visa/foreign investment program, I called it creative and a good potential source of funds to replace redevelopment. What was missing prior to this year was a healthy, rebounding real estate market to encourage investment. That moment has come, culminating with Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement in Beijing of the Brooklyn Basin development, formerly Oak-to-Ninth (or “O29″). I don’t know for certain that Chinese firm Zarsion Holdings Group Ltd. is a pool of EB-5 investors, but considering the lack of information about the company and the City’s push to get EB-5 investment in China, it seems quite likely. The first phase of the project will include 1,300 of the planned 3,100 housing units.
Brooklyn Basin, comprised of two small peninsulas jutting into the Estuary to the east of Jack London Square, has undergone a painful and grueling process to get to this point. Formally initiated in 2006, the mixed-use development plan went through multiple lawsuits, EIR challenges, and even required legislation to make the land transaction work. When the recession hit, any hope of the project breaking ground before the end of the decade was dashed. Former councilman Ignacio De La Fuente occasionally spoke out for a ballpark as a favor to his developer friends at Signature Properties, to no avail. The land was included in the 2001 HOK study, coming up short compared to Uptown and other sites. I visited community meetings in 2006 to gauge sentiment on a ballpark there, and it was not met with much support due to the infrastructure problems that exist along the Embarcadero. In addition, not all of the land was available, as Oakland landowner J.W. Silveira fired off lawsuits against Oakland to send a message that their slice was not up for sale or eminent domain.
So no, Brooklyn Basin has never been considered a serious ballpark site contender. Could it be a catalyst to complement a ballpark at Howard Terminal? Perhaps. The question at Howard Terminal, as ever, is how will any of it get paid for. The East Bay Express reported yesterday that the Port of Oakland, which controls Howard Terminal, is in debt up to its eyeballs. This is a problem, because the loss of funds from redevelopment could be backfilled by additional debt on the Port. If the Port is strapped for cash, it’ll be hard to build the proper infrastructure that would be required to support a ballpark. Even AT&T Park got help from San Francisco on the infrastructure front. Victory Court died partly because costs to prep the site far surpassed the $85 million that was originally budgeted for the site. The loss of redevelopment money was the final nail in the coffin. At this point there is no true cost estimate for Howard Terminal, and there won’t be unless an EIR is done there to ascertain the cost of cleaning up the site in advance of a ballpark’s foundation work.
Mayor Quan has talked about Coliseum City as a candidate for EB-5 funding, which I can see happening. While that’s promising, it’s important to keep EB-5′s impact in perspective. For the first phase of Brooklyn Basin, Zarsion is only putting in $28 million, or less than 2% of the entire project’s cost. With Coliseum City’s much larger price tag, developers and the City will have to either get foreign investors to bump up their share (which may be limited by how EB-5 works) or find other sources which don’t include redevelopment, state, and perhaps even sales tax money. In the end it all has to pencil out. It’s unclear how either site pencils out with the limitations set on the City and County.