FanFest and BlogFest on Sunday 2/8

It’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl takes over the nation’s imagination, followed by baseball, waking from its annual hibernation. That means FanFest, which will be held on Sunday, February 8. Last year’s FanFest was also held on February 8, which was a Saturday. The Giants chose to hold their FanFest on February 7 this year, so this avoids a date conflict.

BlogFest will also be held again, starting at 10 AM. Like last year, bloggers will be taken to a suite on the East Side, where we will be interviewing:

  • David Forst
  • Jesse Chavez
  • Ike Davis

Oh, the questions for Forst will come aplenty. The blogger interviews are usually held after the regular media session. And of course, there will be the regular player interviews and introductions held inside Oracle Arena. Tickets are still available online. Since the event was restarted in 2011 it has sold out. The Coliseum will also be used again, which will give everyone an opportunity to check out the state of the scoreboard project – though the system is not expected to be fully built or operational by Sunday.

A fairly heavy storm is forecast for the weekend in the Bay Area, so the soggy FanFest day tradition should continue. Check the weather reports and plan accordingly.

If anyone wants to meet up inside the Coliseum (not the arena which will be cramped) to talk stadia and Coliseum City, let me know.

CBS Sunday Morning profile of Daktronics

Runaway success scoreboard manufacturer Daktronics was profiled today on CBS Sunday Morning. The segment covered Daktronics’ humble beginnings as a company started by two engineering professors who simply wanted to keep students from South Dakota State from fleeing the region. It’s a classic tale of American innovation and ingenuity.

Daktronics makes all three new scoreboards going up for the Earthquakes and A’s, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, and O.co Coliseum in Oakland. The 49ers had a graphic created comparing the sizes of other NFL scoreboards to theirs. While the displays at Levi’s Stadium are labeled “Sony,” they are in fact Daktronics products. The Coliseum scoreboards should ultimately bump the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium out of the top 10. It doesn’t make up for the Tuck Rule game, but it’s something.

scoreboards

Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone.

McKibben to become next JPA Executive Director, Raiders want ENA canceled?

BANG’s Matthew Artz reports that Scott McKibben will be the next Coliseum Authority Executive Director, filling a position that had been vacant for over six years. JPA counsel Deena McClain has been the JPA’s interim executive director since 2008, when Ann Haley left. Zennie Abraham notes that the vote was unanimous.

McKibben says his goal is to “keep the A’s and Raiders in Oakland.” Having someone with sports experience not limited to negotiating leases is important for the Coliseum’s future.

Andy Dolich endorsed the hire, and McKibben apparently had several recommendations, far above and beyond the previous candidate, the controversial former Assemblyman Guy Houston.

Having McKibben in place will allow the JPA to move forward in concert with the City of Oakland and Alameda County, the partners in the JPA which have been at cross purposes throughout the Coliseum City process for the last three years. If McKibben can lead a team including McClain and the City and County working on the deal terms, they’ll have a much better chance at success. It’s a much better situation than a year ago.

More interesting is a tidbit from Steven Tavares at East Bay Citizen, referring to AlCo Supervisor Scott Haggerty:

However, Haggerty made it clear Raiders ownership does not favor an extension of the ENA. Over a lengthy lunch recently with Raiders owner Mark Davis, Haggerty said, the team lobbied for the county to vote against the extension with New City. Progress is being made, though, added Haggerty.

Why would the Raiders want to kill the ENA? They wanted to provide a competing bid at the last minute, which may indicate that they already have a developer on board for whatever they’re planning. If the Raiders (like the A’s) now want little to do with Coliseum City and New City Development, it would make sense to cut the middleman out altogether, though that would open up a lot of questions about how to steer redevelopment of the Coliseum. The EIR and Specific Plan are moving forward, and the latter piece is valuable to Oakland for planning purposes. But the feasibility studies that have been done on Coliseum City to date would be lost. New applicants like the A’s and Raiders would commission their own supporting work. It’s almost moot at this point since the ENA is set to be extended again, yet from now on it’s worth questioning the value of New City’s place in all of this if both teams would rather go it alone.

If the teams would prefer to not work with the Coliseum City team, it’ll be up to McKibben and the JPA to figure out a way to bring the teams together. In all likelihood, both teams will provide competing visions with little-to-no room for each other. How the two visions can be merged to both sides’ satisfaction along as the City/County – well, that’s not like scaling Mt. Davis. It’s more like trying to climb Mt. Everest.

—-

P.S. – Remember those shady looking campaign contributions from Lew Wolff to Rebecca Kaplan during last year’s mayoral campaign? Turns out they were legal. Oh well.

P.P.S. – The Orange County Register reports that Mark Davis teamed up with an investment firm last September in order to buy the Hollywood Park site. That attempt failed. 

P.P.P.S. – Mark Purdy has a different telling of the ENA situation.

Did Haggerty interpret the talks wrong, or is someone from the Raiders covering something up?

Lalalala

This picture, posted to the Dodgers Photogblog on January 7, depicts new shortstop and Alameda native Jimmy Rollins yukking it up with GM (former A’s exec) Farhan Zaidi. There’s something else odd about this photo, which, when combined with those other two pieces of information, makes the photo look like an unintentionally epic piece of trolling. Unintentional, right? Yeah, completely unintentional.

091

Thanks, @LionDarrin for the heads up.

Update 1/30 11:00 AM – The picture has been removed from the original post.

Kephart responds

New City’s Floyd Kephart hung out in the comments briefly today. He was gracious enough to take the time to respond to the previous post and some of the comments. I’m posting his entire comment here:

I will try an answer some of the questions and respond to some of the comments from this morning.  Yes, this is the “real” Floyd Kephart.  Who would want to be me anyway:-)There  cannot be a “deal” discussion until the City and County agree on a process that can result in a proposal being submitted to the City and County legislative bodies for approval.  We (including the Mayor Schaaff and President of the Board of Supervisors, Haggerty) are working to put that process in place but it is not there yet.

The Master Plan and the DEIR covers 800 acres and that has not changed.  The 3 sports teams and most of the publicly owned land are contained in the approximate 200 acres that comprises Phase 1 of the development plan being considered.  This has not changed nor has the land shrunk even though it is occasionally engulfed in water.

The Transit Hub is a major reason the Coliseum district is a potentially viable project,  The expansion and full utilization of BART is necessary for any investment to be made….by anyone.

The documents submitted by us to date that are final are available and those that are being created or reviewed and still purely analytical to establish actual facts are not.  We are trying to establish real facts instead of those continuing to be made up or have become anecdotal and not real so the City, County and yes, New City can make a rational decision on what can be done and under what circumstances.

No one has submitted any proposal that details a development plan and probably won’t until there is a negotiating group on the public side with whom to submit such a plan for consideration.

I am not sharing our considerations or decision making factors during the discussion stage with anyone that is not a principal in the transaction and that leaves you out of that distribution Marine Layer.  Once we have something that can be considered by the public, it will be presented for you to analysis and report accordingly.  Until then………I will continue to attempt and correct misstatements of fact although my time to review the various press reports and blogs are limited.  This morning I just happened to be on line when the post went up.

As for my PR or lack thereof, my intent is to not embarrass myself or the City of Oakland.

Hope this helps clarify some of the situation.

The EIR and Specific Plan were presented as an 800-acre plan at the outset. That parameter is effectively locked in, thanks to language in the document that limits the number and types of alternatives. As noted previously, even the “Reduced Development” alternative doesn’t reduce the amount of land used, instead limiting building heights to reduce density. All of this was done in the name of the economic feasibility of the project.

Yet Kephart’s own action in December alludes to a different type of reduced development, only 200 acres. And Mayor Schaaf herself referenced 120 acres, not 200 or 800. The process may be talking 800, but the real talk is about much, much less. Anyone who follows urban planning knows full well how projects get down scaled once they hit reality. That reality, as you might guess, is the market.

Again, thanks to Floyd Kephart for his contribution today. With that I can say, job done. ;-)

Shrinkage

When Coliseum City was originally conceived it was supposed to look something like this when fully completed, 800 acres in all.

cc-800acres

800 acre concept

 

Last last year we heard from Floyd Kephart and others that the project would be scaled back to around 200 acres.

cc-200acres

Coliseum City at 200 acres

 

Now we hear that it’s down to 120 acres, which is basically the original Coliseum complex plus the Malibu and HomeBase lots leading out to Hegenberger.

cc-120acres

120 acres

 

With the Raiders and A’s signed up to offer competing bids, the team working on Coliseum City now plays the role of facilitator and competitor, all at once. A single stadium’s footprint will be 14-20 acres. Two stadia would cover 35 acres. When you add the necessary streets and easements for other infrastructure, that should leave 60-70 acres to develop. I was not terribly optimistic from the get-go about the financing coming through, so I wasn’t surprised when one financier after another bailed out on the project. Now that the project’s size has shrunk a whopping 85%, the questions about its viability are even more pointed, especially when trying to pitch it as a way to keep both the A’s and Raiders in town. Just as we saw over the last year, we’re going to let the numbers (or lack thereof) prove these concepts out. If the Raiders can make it work with whatever developer they’re trying to get onboard, bully for them. If the A’s plans prove most feasible, then they get the spoils of developing one of the last large infill developments in the Bay Area. And if Kephart’s New City group somehow gets capital and the teams on board, they will have truly worked a miracle.

However, ask yourself this: If capital wasn’t biting at 800 acres and two stadia, why would they bite at 120 acres and two stadia? 

P.S. – The infrastructure price tag on the whole 800 acre project was supposed to be $344-425 million. Now that it’s 85% smaller, did that cost also proportionately decrease? Nope. The cost of infrastructure for the 120 acres, including the new transit hub and utility relocations, is $170 million. Factor that into your thinking. Some of that figure will be offset by grants, though really only for the transit hub. It’s still a nine figure infrastructure price tag.

 

New info about Coliseum scoreboard project

People have been asking me everyday about the state of the new Coliseum scoreboard project. Until this week, all I could say was that most of the work would be happening in February and March. That’s partly because the Coliseum’s two scheduled major events: AMA Supercross last weekend, and Monster Jam on February 21.

Jane Lee’s column on Monday answered a question about the scoreboards.

Any update on if the A’s will have new scoreboards this year?
— Mike S., Alameda, Calif.

According to David Rinetti, the A’s vice president of stadium operations, the process for implementing the new HD video boards began Dec. 22, the day after the Raiders’ final home game, and is on track to be completed by the time gates open for an April 4 exhibition game against the Giants. Along with new scoreboards, new ribbon boards will also be on display by this time.

The new scoreboards will each measure approximately 36 feet tall and 145 feet wide.

Today a new Clubhouse Confidential blog post shed more light on the project. Renderings were also provided.

Rendering of new display package

 

To put things in perspective, each new board, which will take up the entire scoreboard frame in LF and RF, is almost 50 yards wide and 3 stories tall. There will be no permanent ad signs, though you can be sure that ads will be fixtures in the new video presentation. Still, there’s plenty of room on the boards themselves. Daktronics’ 13HD LED tech is being installed, just like the recent installations at Levi’s Stadium, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. If you’ve been to Levi’s, the new Coli’s boards compare with Levi’s south end zone board, which is 48′ x 142′.

Behind north end zone

Behind north end zone at Levi’s Stadium (view of south scoreboard)

Each pixel is 13 mm in size, or roughly a half-inch for those of you stubbornly stuck on Imperial measurements. That plots the pixel count at 854 x 3400, a very long panel though not so tall it can do Full HD (1080p). That’s the literal constraint the scoreboard frames provide. Considering that most people will be at least 150 feet away from a clear view of either scoreboard, I doubt anyone could tell the difference.

Ribbon boards are also being installed along the front of the plaza level seats. Those will be 5 feet high (Update: 3’6″ high) by 415 wide. 5 feet high is a bit curious, because it’s taller than the 3-4 feet high ribbon boards often seen elsewhere. I wonder if the boards will obstruct views from the lower concourse more than the already low-hanging second deck does. They only go from the end of the deck (Sections 200, 234) to the edge of the infield (211, 223) so at least the prime viewing areas won’t be affected. For those of you wondering about how ads and other information will be presented, consider that with few permanent signs remaining, ad space on both the ribbon boards and main scoreboards will be done on a sort of time-share basis. Sponsored promotions will appear far more prominently than before, which should lead to higher advertising rates by the A’s and the JPA/Raiders, who split revenue during Raiders games.

According to the Chicago Tribune’s 2014 visual comparison, each of the two new main scoreboards would place in the middle of the pack among MLB ballparks, though having two is something no ballpark can boast (nor should it). Recently there’s been a sort of Jumbotron arms race, with many displays less than a decade old being replaced by larger, crisper versions.

SB Nation comparison from May 2014

Chicago Tribune scoreboard comparison from May 2014

Yes, for once a key feature at the Coliseum will be superior to that at China Basin. However, the Giants have the scoreboard front and center, a much better placement than at the Coli. We all know what sits beyond CF in Oakland.

So say goodbye to this old relic, and hello to new technology at the Coliseum, which is always welcome.

The old scoreboard and DiamondVision combo

The old scoreboard and DiamondVision combo

One thing to keep in mind about all this scoreboard hubbub is that the A’s and Earthquakes (same ownership group) have been working on three different scoreboard projects in the last year: at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, and now the Coliseum. If there’s anything they’ll have a lot of experience with going into a new ballpark in Oakland, this is it.

P.S. (2:45 PM) - I checked with David Rinetti. He confirmed that the ribbon boards are 3’6″ high, so there shouldn’t be any obstruction issues. He also told me that the old scoreboards parts are being recycled, so they won’t be donated or auctioned off. Much of the original equipment has already been hauled away.