Fishwrap picks up the I-980 story

That’s right, it may be a bit late, but at least someone, in this case BANG’s Chris Metinko, has picked up the I-980 ballpark site story. That’s not to say that he scooped it – the prize for that goes to this blog’s very own Jeffrey for his article earlier this week. While it’s nice to see that someone paid attention (and reads this blog), Metinko misses the juiciest part of the story.

That, of course, is the question of why all of Oakland’s focus is on three JLS sites, one which shouldn’t be there in the first place (Howard Terminal), and another that City is already sending out a RFQ for an EIR (Victory Court). The answer showed itself a signing ceremony at Oakland’s Estuary Park on Tuesday, which attended by Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, among others. The Oak-to-Ninth project has taken 6 years, legislation pushed by then State Senate leader Don Perata, a near referendum, and litigation to get to this point. And as mentioned in Let’s Go Oakland’s economic impact report, O29 will not see full buildout unless a ballpark is built. Without a ballpark, it’ll be 85%. Given the size of the project, that difference is worth nine figures. Follow the money, folks.

BTW, I’m waiting for an apology, FSU/mb.

17 thoughts on “Fishwrap picks up the I-980 story

  1. ML – is the part that wouldn’t get built without the ballpark the far western end next to Estuary Park? That would be directly across from the stadium. I was looking at the O29 plans the other day after reading about the approval and Jeffrey’s post about including both bars and tailgating areas around the stadium. That area would be excellent for the sort of thing he was describing. And yes, it would definitely make a lot of extra money for Signature.

  2. Hey all–here’s a link to the Oak to 9th project, with an interesting video (left hand middle of page) of similar projects that transformed San Diego’s, Vancouver’s and Portland’s waterfronts. A ballpark at VC close by would be cool, even though the 980 decking park site would be the coolest. Either site will work for me, but probably not for LW.

    @ML–yeah, FSU owes you an apology. He’s the only one who thinks the 980 decking is idiotic. Most pro SJ guys really like it too. My wife also loves the idea, but really likes a waterfront ballpark too.

  3. Victory Court seems doable, but there needs to be a parking solution and a way to avoid train traffic.

  4. @Ralph–yeah, parking could be a little harry down there. They can run shuttle buses from the big downtown lots for people who don’t want to walk a mile. As for the trains, I wonder how many trains go by during game time? And how many Amtrak trains stop at the JLS station and for how long? That will jam it up a bit down there too, but may not be too bad.

  5. @jk, those questions will likely be addressed in the EIR process. One reason that JLS has always been “the next big thing” is because of the frequent trains running through the joint. Frank DeFord mentioned it in his Sports Illustrated article back in 1968. It isn’t just Amtrak. There are a lot of trains that pass through on their way to and from the Port of Oakland.
    It isn’t impossible to get around, it is just hard to envision what a comprehensive solution will look like. For me, anyway.

  6. Just for fun I made a YouTube video of the proposed A’s ballpark site past and present using Google Earth.

  7. @gojohn10—pretty cool!! Good job.

  8. BANG’s Metinko missed the most important part of the story because BANG favors the San Jose site whee they sell the Mercury. The big missing story part is that the I-980 air rights downtown Oakland site (between 14th, 18th, Brush and Castro) would cost the City of Oakland via its Redevelopment Agency $30 Million for site acquisition, relocation, remediation and infrastructure upgrades required by the A’s (A’s to build the ballpark on their own nickel) than $150 Million plus for Victory Court or San Jose’s Downtown Site. Moreover, the I-980 site doesn’t displace any jobs or tax revenue. Spending $150 Million for a baseball park would rob the Oakland and San Jose Redevelopment Agency of most of all its unencumbered tax increment bondable capacity for other projects in their respective downtowns. How can Oakland overlook a site that would cost them one fifth of Victory Court?

    What is more important to the City of Oakland in terms of development stimulation, O29 or the 20 run down blocks of western part of downtown and reconnecting Downtown to West Oakland? The I-980 is a real economic engine for Downtown.

  9. @Bryan Grunwald- MLB already eliminated this site for several reasons. Why are you bringing up old information that provided no relevant solution to the current problem?

    That site is not where anyone would build a ballpark. Whether it is privately or publicly it is not happening ever.

    San Jose is going to buy the land where their site sits anyways because of the High Speed Rail and BART lines that are going to be at Diridon Station in 10 years. Therefore they are not wasting any money out of their Redevelopment funds in any sense.

    Oakland on the other hand has to make a decision on which site they like. They reviewed I-980 with MLB and it was MLB who eliminated this site you speak about for their own reasons.

    Good insight and it is obvious you thought this out but this is not a realistic place to build a lot of things.

  10. ML, I’d be happy to apologize if there were anything in that peg-free article that contradicted anything FSU or I have opined. The only “news” there is that Metinko is ripping off your blog’s scoop w/o credit. (Which also means that the “news” per se is more of an efficacy-in-advocacy/media peg than an actual this-has-support/is-moving-forward peg.)

  11. Sid, What makes you think that the City looked at this site seriously? If so, why didn’t they contact the Director of Caltrans Division 4, they didn’t. The City Staff should have and that is a shame.

  12. @mb – Apology accepted.

    @Bryan Grunwald – Do we have much precedent for air rights sales at a local, regional, or state level? I know that air rights has been considered as a funding mechanism for tunneling high speed rail on the Peninsula, but I’m having a hard time thinking of real test cases here.

  13. @Sid–I respectfully disagree with your last sentence. This 980 site is the next best thing to Uptown. It is very realistic and can be done, but the city has pushed for the other 3 sites instead, mainly VC appears. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. It would certainly be more exciting and interesting that any site so far proposed.
    And speaking of SJ redevelopment agency. They are hurting financially, laying off 12 of the 78 workers, an operating budget of 61.6 mill, it’s lowest ever on record and can possibly jeopardize the ballpark and convention center expansion, even though some big shot said the ballpark was safe.

  14. @jk-usa, I am with you. I think it is good idea, the freeway decking. Not sure if it would ever really come to fruition, but I do know that if a ballpark doesn’t, Oakland should think about something else along these lines.
    On the RDA stuff… Things to remember are that San Jose has already bought about half of the parcels needed at Diridon, and has significant land banked. The operating budget you mention doesn’t take that into account. They have plenty of money/land banked to pay for the remaining Ballpark parcels.
    I am pretty sure Oakland doesn’t follow this strategy, or at a minimum I haven’t seen any evidence that they do. As a result, I believe that Oakland will have a tougher time paying for ballpark parcels, environmental clean up and business relocation than San Jose will. I think they own 4 acres at Victory Court when the entire “ballpark area” is actually 20 Acres. So, they still need to buy 80% of the land.

  15. This is one of the better urban redevelopment ideas in recent history, and should be pursued. The main advantage it has over San Jose’s proposal, in my mind, is just that–it’s a far greater catalyst for urban redevelopment because of where and how it’s located. Hope it doesn’t get swept under the rug.

  16. Jeepers, sad thing is it pretty much has been swept under the rug.

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