One Horse Town

Say goodbye to the bad guy.

Over at NBC Sports Bay Area, Scott Bair reported yesterday that the Raiders, who had an option to play at the Coliseum in 2020 just in case Allegiant Stadium didn’t get completed in time, recently declined the option. They had until April 1 to renew.

With the Raiders leaving Oakland behind, we can officially leave behind silly concepts like this:

Or this:

And especially this:

It was never going to end well. At least one team had to leave which grew to two. There are lessons to be learned. Memories to savor. Once we get through the current crisis, Oakland can get back to what it was like when baseball ruled the town.

October 3, 2012

When the dust settles, the A’s and A’s fans will have to pick up the pieces. What world will we live in? What restrictions will be placed on our movement, or on limits to assembled crowds? It’s more than a little ironic that the cavernous Coliseum could work in an era of social distancing – at least if the crowds are limited to 20,000 or less.

MLB is saying for now that the start of the season is postponed until mid-May at the earliest. Until then confusion reigns, as teams are deciding where to set up camp for the season. A’s staff and players have it relatively easy, since they can easily shuttle between Oakland and Mesa. Players often have offseason homes in Arizona. Other teams have more complicated logistics. Take always-an-Athletic Sean Doolittle and Eireann Dolan, who described their living arrangements, which included the specter of dual concurrent leases.

Whenever the season starts, it will be truncated and condensed. You might see many more doubleheaders (hooray!) and expanded rosters, perhaps six-man rotations. Gotta get the games in somehow. Fortunately, there won’t be anymore $250k baseball-to-football-to-baseball Coliseum conversations to plan this year, maybe forever. There is also the matter of the Raiders locker rooms. The A’s will have about two months between now and the start of the season. Should the team choose to keep all their training in Mesa, they can continue to use the old cramped clubhouses with few complaints. If they choose to move more of the team to Oakland before the official start of 2020 season, they’ll need the extra space. And while a scant two months is a tough timeline to hit, that should be enough to make sure the plumbing works, install new carpeting, and slap a new green-and-gold paint job on the joint.

Modern NFL locker rooms are vast, perhaps overkill for the A’s (photo: Flickr user rocor)

The benefits would be enormous. It’s a larger space to house the entire 40-man roster and camp invitees if needed. The facilities on that level are newer and more functional than the old baseball clubhouses (insert plumbing joke here). The team will still run the shuttle between Oakland and Mesa as needed. Parts of each football locker room could be cordoned off for press use or other functions. And outside on the field, Clay Wood and his stalwart crew can focus on keeping the turf and infield as pristine as possible without much worry about divots, dealing with the gridiron, or 300-lb. dudes trampling everything.

It’s no vaccine for the coronavirus. It could help the team be more competitive with the rest of the American League, and if the theme this year is to strike while the iron is hot, I can’t think of a better way to prepare for this season.

Howard Terminal neighbors challenge CEQA streamlining effort

I was wondering when the Port private interests (PMSA, trucking and transport companies) would file their first lawsuit. They laid down the gauntlet yesterday, suing the City of Oakland to stop the CEQA streamlining process for Howard Terminal.

I expected the first lawsuit to be filed after the draft EIR was released, not before. What made the Port group fire the first shot? A technicality, of course. Governor Gavin Newsom didn’t certify the project for streamlining by the end of 2019, which opponents are seizing on as something that should disqualify the project from streamlining altogether. Absent the streamlining, the project would have to undergo the exemption-free CEQA process, dragging on potentially for years.

The A’s applied for CEQA streamlining through AB 900, which was passed nearly a decade ago. If you look at the list of projects that were certified for streamlining, you’ll see a number of high profile examples such as the Apple Campus (certified 2012) and the planned Clippers arena (certified 2019). You’ll also see a listing for Oakland Sports and Mixed-Use Project at Howard Terminal, which to date is not yet certified for streamlining. This is despite the fact that AB 734 was passed separately to help assist with the process.

A draft version of the EIR was expected to be released at the end of 2019 in February sometime this month. (We’re past the Ides of March, as you know.) At issue were a number of environmental issues such as the project’s carbon footprint and the difficulty in getting 20% improvement over the Coliseum, a requirement that was going to be difficult to hit given the lack of transportation options at the site.

Mayor Schaaf’s office also had some feedback:

A judge will have to determine if HT qualifies regardless of the missed deadline. Maybe after that we’ll get to read the EIR. Maybe not. It can be hard to grasp how difficult a puzzle this is, and perhaps I haven’t done a good enough job spelling it out. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out. Perhaps if this drags all the way out and there is a groundbreaking, everyone will be able to appreciate the effort. Until then, as usual, never mistake activity for achievement.

P.S. – The Clippers and A’s were in roughly the same place process wise as the main legislative session was winding up in Sacramento last summer. Both teams got their respective bills passed. The Clips doubled down on their plans by offering to buy out their chief legal opposition, MSG, taking the Forum off MSG’s hands and building a bunch of affordable housing in the process. So far, the A’s say they want to build affordable housing too! As far as buying out opponents, we’ll see about that. Unlike Inglewood, the two sides aren’t natural competitors.

There’s a reason I consistently talk about whether or not Howard Terminal is prohibitively expensive. Getting rid of opposition is a huge factor, and the A’s have proven time and time again that they’re unwilling to pay to get rid of opponents. We may be getting to the tipping point for Howard Terminal.

MLB Pushes Opening Day Another 8 Weeks

My only question is: Does this mean that the A’s can skip over the usual horrid start to the season?

 

Life Comes At You Fast: Global Pandemic Edition

Fangs are the scary part

After March 11, 2020, inserted itself into the “Day That Will Live In Infamy” annals, let’s take stock.

You can find a more comprehensive list of cancellations and postponements at “is it canceled yet?

Giants cancel 3/23 Bay Bridge Series game due to coronavirus, A’s decisions loom

UPDATE 6:43 PM– Oakland is also suspending 1k+ events.

UPDATE 2:20 PM – Alameda County is going the same way as SF.

A recent San Francisco directive to ban assemblies of 1,000 or more persons pushed the Giants to cancel the planned Bay Bridge Series game featuring the Giants and A’s on Monday, March 23. As the game is technically an exhibition, it won’t have any effect on standings, unlike the Warriors decision to play tomorrow’s home game vs. the Brooklyn Nets in a Chase Center devoid of fans. The A’s, who also have a planned Bay Bridge Series game and a weeklong opening homestead starting March 26, produced their own wait-and-see statement:

Those familiar with the normal Spring Training operations schedule know that there’s a big media meet-and-greet in the Bay Area prior to the start of the Cactus League schedule, followed by pitchers and catchers reporting in mid-February. After that is the start of games, then the split into major and minor league camps. Throughout the month of play fans of all stripes travel to Arizona to watch their teams and soak in the sun (not so much this week, unfortunately). Cactus League play ends a week before the regular season starts. That week usually includes one or two tune-up games like the Bay Bridge Series. At the same time, rehabbing players start extended spring training back in Arizona, while the major league players and staff moves to their regular season homes. It’s a fairly well-orchestrated set of logistics that, thanks to a growing pandemic, has been thrown into chaos.

As Opening Day rapidly approaches, the A’s will have to make key decisions on how to operate. Do they play their Bay Bridge Series game in Oakland? In front of a crowd? If Oakland adopts similar assembly restrictions as SF, there’s no telling what will happen. As the Bay Bridge provides that tune-up function, it’s worth asking if the A’s should host one or both games in Oakland sans a crowd.

In trying to figure this out I put together a quick poll with a focus on Opening Week, which the A’s traditionally play at the Coliseum:

It gets complicated, even more for visiting teams. The Twins were supposed to open the season in Oakland, the fly up to Seattle for a series. But the State of Washington is restricting events as well, which puts the Twins in a pickle. The Twins spring in Florida’s Grapefruit League. They don’t have a West Coast base on which to fall back. And they can’t realistically plan to play games in Minneapolis for the first week due to weather. So the A’s and Mariners have to adjust their plans to accommodate the Twins as well. Same goes for other California teams.

Here in Arizona, there are nine reported cases of coronavirus, including three this week. There isn’t the same widespread work-from-home strategy deployed in AZ as elsewhere, although there are exceptions. The coronavirus outbreak is relatively mild here compared to California or Washington. Normal seasonal warming here and in Florida may help limit cases of COVID-19. It may also come back with a vengeance after summer ends, who knows? For now, people here are still attending Cactus League games. As the virus spreads and more cases are reported, everyone from teams and players to fans and families have to plan and prepare for the worst. This is so much more than a game.

The Future of Domes Is Not In Texas

The Rangers posted a quick look of Globe Life Field. Honestly, it looks like most other retractable roof ballparks built in the last 20 years.

Unlike the ballparks in Seattle and Houston and like Marlins Park, the new one in Arlington has its roof designed to retract out of the way behind first base. T-Mobile Park and Minute Maid Park retract their roofs beyond the right field wall.The sheer size of the structure kills views of half the skyline.

Besides Seattle, all of this is in the name of climate control. Like Phoenix’s Chase Field, Globe Life Field will also use artificial turf.

There exist visions for more forward thinking retractable roof ballparks. The best and newest is planned for 2023 in Hokkaido, Japan, for the Nippon Ham Fighters:

Or try this concept for Portland (if they get a team):

In both cases, the domes retract behind home plate. That runs counter to the old notions of grand entrances with special architectural features like rotundas, instead giving way to a more open outfield. Air conditioning, if included, could be more expensive and harder to accomplish in such designs with the roof closed. Thankfully for Hokkaido and Portland, they are located in more northern latitudes with milder climates. Still, it’s disappointing that the Rangers are going with what could be termed the new cookie cutter design. At least the fans will be comfortable in there.

EIR will come out eventually (advanced thumb twiddling)

UPDATE 11:30 AM – The A’s are trying to respond to all the questions.

Can you imagine what this will be like if March comes and goes without delivery of the EIR?

The problem with this step of the process is that it’s opaque and inscrutable. So we wait.

ORIGINAL POST

Any day now.

I hope you readers understand why over the past several months I haven’t devoted many posts to the EIR process. Having read the completed reports for Levi’s Stadium, Earthquakes Stadium, and Chase Center, I wanted to wait until there was a finished (draft) work product for the Howard Terminal ballpark. And so we wait for that product.

Good thing we have spring training to pass the time. Until the report arrives, enjoy the spring. There’s plenty of other things to read. Or other diversions.