Liveblog from Fremont Study Session 1/12

Just got here. Jeffrey and gojohn10 are present. Not quite Packed house, plenty of supporters and opposition on hand. All hands on deck from Council and City Staff.

Mayor Wasserman just mentioned that because this is a study session, there is nothing to vote on tonight.

City Manager Diaz said that a sports consultant, Dan Barrett of Barrett Sports Group, will speak towards the end. He is giving the intro now focused on the NUMMI closure. Diaz makes clear that Council has not approved or endorsed the “conceptual approach” (plausible deniability?).

Presentation now being given on potential at NUMMI. Emphasis on turning the land around more quickly than other large-scale projects such as closed military bases. A catalyst project, such as a ballpark, could help.

5:17 PM – Dan Barrett now speaks on conceptual approach. “MLB’s timing was such that we needed to get this in.” The panel was looking for communities that could provide land and infrastructure, while the ball team (A’s) would pay for the construction of the stadium. The site (northern part of NUMMI) is clean and would require minimal demolition. The A’s would be responsible for construction and cost overruns (explanation later).

Side note: Barrett Sports Group has worked with the Giants, A’s, Padres, and River Cats.

Parking requirements will be reduced once BART to San Jose opens, allowing for further development opportunities on the land initially assigned for parking.

Siting of ballpark at Grimmer/Fremont was felt to be best for fostering ancillary development.

“We discussed deal terms with the A’s (regarding Pacific Commons) but never got to the point of making the deal.” Now discussing lease terms. The City would have the right to host several events per year. All ballpark operations costs and municipal services are the responsibility of the A’s. The City will have no direct investment in the ballpark.

If City wants to move forward, it should approach County to acquire the land. County or JPA would own the land during the lease, County would own land after lease is terminated. Rent, other project sources, and TIF would be used to finance infrastructure. $300 million in infrastructure has already been made in the area. Additional project-specific infrastructure would be funded using TIF, etc.

Back to Fred Diaz. Diaz reemphasizes that this is not a proposal. Nothing has been decided yet. Now Council will have questions.

Natarajan: What is the difference between a “conceptual approach” and a proposal?
Barrett: We (staff/consultants) did not have the authority to make a proposal. It’s not an approved deal and they (MLB) understand that.
Natarajan: And what was proposed by Oakland?
Barrett: Something along the lines of sites, I don’t know if it was a formal proposal.
Natarajan: Why was the committee looking for proposals?
Barrett: Lew Wolff is looking in San Jose, the committee wanted to see what proposals were made, what happened, why didn’t (deals) happen? Then it moved to “what sites are available?” It wasn’t until NUMMI announced that it was closing the plant, and then in November, that work could begin.
Natarajan: When will a decision be made?
Barrett: We think it’ll be at the end of the month, but we don’t know.

Wieckowski: If we find a new user (auto manufacturer), what is the impact?
Lori Taylor: It depends, there may be room to have the site be declared underutilized.
Diaz: We would have to see what the uses are.
Taylor: There is an undeveloped portion at the south end of the plant which could be used for a new user. A new user’s need for space may differ (from NUMMI).

Jill Keimach: Infrastructure is only available on the outskirts of the project area. The 120 acre site is undeveloped and would require new infrastructure (water, sewer, sidewalks).

Wieckowski: What other catalysts have been identified to energize the site?
Diaz: (joke about Dubai’s indoor skiing facility) Nobody really knows. Sometimes they fall out of the sky. Sometimes a collection of leaders pursue it. It’s hypothetical. We wondered, “What if MLB asked us?”
Wieckowski: What would be our timeline if MLB weren’t interested in the site?
Diaz: It’s in the ether somewhere. If you look at Alameda NAS or Hamilton Airfield or Fort Ord, those have been there a long long time.
Taylor: We plan of submitting an RFP/RFQ to the EPA soon. It could take 6 months, so hopefully by the end of the summer.

Chan: 114 of 120 acres are owned by NUMMI. Who owns the other six?
Keimach: There is a single family home and a construction storage area.
Chan: Would Alameda County weigh in on the financing?
Diaz: There has been no official dialogue with AC yet, but some supervisors have expressed interest in keeping the A’s in the Bay Area.
Barrett: Historically AC has not had any votes regarding deals with the A’s or Raiders.
Chan: What is NUMMI’s opinion?
Diaz: They are aware, they have not expressed approval or disapproval so far.
Chan: What about site cleanup?
Keimach: We’ll do a check and any contamination would be the responsibility of the instigator, just like a gas station. We don’t expect to find contamination at the site.
Chan: How can this be done without impacting the general fund?
Barrett: Property taxes or possessory interest taxes would be used along with rent for the needed infrastructure. The team would also pay traffic impact fees for the additional road construction.

CEQA may not be completed by …?
Keimach: Action would have to be taken by August 1 to get it onto the ballot.

Harrison: What is NUMMI using the 120 acres for now?
Taylor: Much of it is unused and leased for agricultural uses. A large section is used for “vehicle marshaling” (er, parking)
Harrison: There was an HOK study done years ago. Are we back to that spot?
Barrett: Yes we are.
Harrison: Except for BART.
Barrett: Yes, BART is more “real.”

6:13 PM – Mayor points out that the next step will only happen if MLB wants it to happen. If it doesn’t, this will be the beginning and the end. Tonight, there is limited time for public comments until the regular session, so the bulk of public comments will be reserved until the regular session.

20 thoughts on “Liveblog from Fremont Study Session 1/12

  1. So, it WAS MLB who solicited the proposal from Fremont. It seems like Oakland and Fremont are being set-up by these guys. They’re using the Fremont location as a threat to the Giants while making it look like they’re being very thorough looking at all possible sites in Oakland along with Fremont. This is the same disingenuous behavior we’ve seen in the past by MLB with the delay tactics of the Andy Dolich proposed sale, and Lew Wolff’s stall tactics in Oakland. MLB can’t be trusted. They are setting themselves up for a huge lawsuit. They keep digging deeper and deeper until they get ankle deep in muck . After awhile it becomes counterproductive. These shenanigans will come back to bite them in the rear.

    • Yes–and they also solicited a proposal from Oakland–and after 8+ months all Oakland could deliver was 3 potential sites—without any of the due diligence that Fremont was able to put together or what SJ has put together–understand you being pissed off Nav–I would be too–but not at MLB or LW or Fremont or SJ—but at your useless city leaders in Oakland–15 years and counting and when the chips are down….3 potential sites–

      • Again with the baseless “15 year” claim. Again Oakland has bee dealing with two carpetbagger ownerships with South Bay interest who did NOTHING to make a ballpark in Oakland happen. They showed absolutely no interest in ANY site in Oakland including the much talked about uptown location. The City of Oakland spent 250,000 dollars for the HOK study. Lew Wolff spent 250.00 on Cartoon drawings for his proposed 66th Ave to High Street farce. Lew even wanted a new BART station to make the project would never come to fruition. Also, Lew failed to follow up on the plan by talking to business owners in the area. Lew actually bought land in Fremont, went to city council meetings, talked to opposition groups, etc. In Oakland, Lew set a deadline, and then proceeded to stall while dismissing a group of Oakland civic and business leaders headed by former City Councilman Dick Spees, which he had originally asked for. So, there goes your “15 years.” It’s impossible to negotiate with someone who isn’t interested. Unfortunately Oakland has been plagued by South Bay business interests who wanted to relocate the franchise to the South Bay from the very beginning. Oakland’s team has been hijacked by South Bay business interests for their personal gain at the expense of Oakland Athletic fans. Sure Wolff will get a higher occupancy rate at his Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose with a ballpark at Diridon. Wolff gets to enrich himself at the expense of a storied ML franchise. The Oakland Athletics will cease to exist. They will relocate away from their fanbase in the very center of the Bay Area. Gone will be the history and the legacy of the Oakland Athletics. No, the blame goes squarely on the shoulders of the carpetbaggers.

      • Yawn.

      • The truth hurts I guess. Nav nailed it again as usual.

      • The truth is, while playing in Oakland, the A’s have failed to receive the support they deserve, whether it be from their fans or the City of Oakland. That is why we’re having this discussion.

      • The truth is that this franchise has been carrying on with a one-foot-out-the-door mentality since Steve Schott bought the team at a discount from Walter Haas. There are still plenty of Oakland Athletic fans in the Bay Area and Northern California.. Those 2.9 million fans who showed up for Walter Haas didn’t just disappear from the face of the Earth. And the East Bay has gained 700,000 residents since Walter Haas owned the team. Some of the fans have had it with the negative vibe consistently emanating from the carpetbagger ownerships. You have 31,000 people on face book who value the Oakland Athletics. Many of these people have lost touch with the franchise because of the policies of this ownership. I strongly believe that the idea was to decimate the franchise to the point where no one showed up and no one cared in order to facilitate relocating out of Oakland. As an example of how and why attendance was purposely lowered, Wolff decided to close off the third deck because he had to pay the City of Oakland a surcharge for higher percentage of ticket prices for any revenue for attendance over two million fans. That was the real reason why he closed off the third deck. Wolff wanted to show lower attendance, while charging more per fan for the under two million attendance threshold. Wolff’s policies of tarping the third deck, openly talking of relocating out of Oakland, denigrating the Coliseum, and trading away fan favorites, resulted in many long-time fans losing interest in the team. Those fans are still there waiting for a reason to once again fall in love with their Oakland Athletics. The recipe to rekindle that love affair is a committed ownership who values its community and listens to its customers, a new landmark waterfront ballpark near Jack London Square close to restaurants, theaters, pubs and public transportation, and a front office committed to putting a consistent and entertaining product on the field. With a committed ownership, this can all come to fruition on Victory Court near Jack London Square. Let’s Go Oakland!

      • “Andy Dolich left the 49ers this week and that’s too bad — for the 49ers. Dolich is a Bay Area sports legend. He was a huge, underrated part of the A’s glory days of the ’80s and early ’90s, when the marketing guru turned the Oakland Coliseum into a fan-friendly, fun place to watch A’s baseball. Backed by his excellent bosses — Walter Haas Sr. and son Wally Haas — Dolich was an innovator. For instance, he quickly used Tribune sportswriter Ralph Wiley’s term, “BillyBall,” as a marketing tool to sell Billy Martin’s swashbuckling image and daring style of play to the East Bay ticket buyer. And it worked. Dolich also had innovations at the ballpark, allowing fans to sit in a booth at the Coliseum to “broadcast” a single inning of play. The “broadcast” wasn’t actually heard by anyone, but the fans could tape their inning at the microphone so that they could replay the inning whenever they wanted. Dolich and the A’s also started a Kids’ Zone, a county fair kind of area where fans could test their arm speed at the Coliseum during the game. This was before nearly any other stadium offered these kinds of attractions. Any parent with an antsy child knows how important these kinds of features can be – and they made the A’s game experience for kids and parents during the Haas era that much more enjoyable. Dolich also was a master at getting the local media to do stories on A’s players that focused on their off-field interests, allowing readers (and future A’s fans) to get to know and like A’s players. Along with the winning A’s teams, these kinds of innovations increased A’s attendance in Oakland, peaking with 2.9 million in 1990 – then a Bay Area baseball attendance record. ”

      • Maybe if Wally Haas wasn’t a quitter I guess.

  2. …Supporters? That’s great to hear. Don’t let the NIMBY’s monopolize the discourse.

  3. snooooZZZZe what a MLB soap opera. Can’t anyone of the MLB stuffed shirts make a f-king decision about the A’s? Fremont wont happen if goes to vote-…. to many non-fans. If Fremont does get a thumbs up years of LAWSUITES will tie up any stadium plans.

  4. The name Navigator is certainly ironic — it is difficult to navigate effectively when the only destination you allows your captain to choose is Oakland. The closure of NUMMI changed the entire landscape– the MLB committee was intelligent in asking them to take another go at it.

  5. No comments yet?

    OK, a suggestion then.
    Please run through the text here, and provide full names with titles/affiliations for everyone who is mentioned or quoted.

    • CM,

      I was there through the comments. There were several small business owners in favor, folks from Weibel Neighborhood opposed.

      If I had to say who was noteworthy, Vinnie Bacon of the opposition came off as pretty angry and defiant while managing to speak coherently. I was somewhat impressed with his passion. Another noteworthy opposition speaker was a fellow from the Fremont Citizens Network (I didn’t write down his name, ugh) was there and he said he was a member of the steering committee for the FCN. He was pretty succinct and made good points (especially by ending with a come to our website and get involved in how your City operates plea). There were a few veiled threats of replacing Council members if they approve from the opposition.

      The pro stadium effort included the Fremont Auto Mall, Chamber of Commerce and a few regular citizens. The person of note, from my perspective, was a business owner at Pacific Commons who seemed to be mournful for her fellow business owners that had gone under. I think she was trying to say that if the A’s stadium project at Pac Commons had happened then her fellow business people would still have their shops open.

      • Jeffrey–so what was the outcome–was the conceptual plan endorsed by the Council and Mayor—or was it an information only session–if the latter any sense if broad support of the council or are there some council members that oppose it?

      • From the beginning of the liveblog:

        “Mayor Wasserman just mentioned that because this is a study session, there is nothing to vote on tonight.”

        True to form, there was no motion taken on the conceptual approach.

  6. Thank you for the update. This is a very good report. I’d like the A’s in Oakland, Fremont, or San Jose. The Fremont NIMBYs need to take a hike.

    • What if this whole country had been run by nimbies from the beginning? You would see just one giant ugly suburb. These Fremonters go to SF and Oakland to wine and dine, yet did they ever ask the city folks who have been displaced by gentrification how they feel about Fremont tourists? Now the nimbies cry and moan when what they believe to be their own personal gated community shows any hint of an effort at civic pride. I hope as the inner cities continue to gentrify all those displaced end up in Fremont and ruin all the nimbies’ precious property value.

  7. Pingback: Bay Area Tax Payers Fighting Two Stadiums at Once | Sports Fans Coalition, Inc.

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