Nothing new on the A’s front, whether it’s the Merc’s Internal Affairs folks reading something into the oft-linked column by the NY Daily News’ Bill Madden, or a throwaway, unattributable line by Gary Radnich. When IA reached out to Lew Wolff, he told them he has not gotten any approval to move the franchise to San Jose, definitive or tacit.
Over in Santa Clara, the City Council is set to approve $10 million for what it terms pre-construction work: site clearing, movement of utilities, etc. Since there is nothing but pavement at the site this shouldn’t be a big deal. Whatever controversy was stirred up about the stadium site’s proximity to a branch of the Hetch Hetchy pipeline has rightly disappeared. A PG&E gas transmission pipeline also runs through the Great America theme park proper, not the stadium site, so there should be no problem there. While the $10 million is a decent amount of money, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of the new stadium, which has not yet been fully financed and still has many questions about the Stadium Authority’s ability to get that funding (as long as the stadium remains a one-horse town). The detail in the article seems to belie the 49ers’ suggestions that they could open the stadium by the 2014 season. To understand what it would take, let’s plot how everything would have to work:
- The article notes that the pre-construction phase will take five months starting in January.
- Sometime in that five months, funding sources for at least the initial major phases of construction would have to be lined up.
- Groundbreaking (not the “soft” form discussed in the article) would have to occur no later than May-July to make a September 2014 opening. This allows for minimal slack in the schedule.
- Unlike the A’s plan for Cisco Field having limited finished or air-conditioned space, the 49ers stadium is expected to have a large amount of finished space because of its role as an extension of the Santa Clara Convention Center. That should make the project take a little longer to complete, though it shouldn’t affect the ability of the 49ers to host games there.
That said, the project continues to advertise a 2015 opening.
Speaking of gas pipelines, the issue of pipeline safety has gotten much greater attention since the San Bruno disaster over a year ago. For my own edification, I took a look at where the gas pipelines run relative to current and proposed stadium sites.
- Oakland Coliseum Complex: A small pipeline spur runs across the Nimitz to Oracle Arena. It’s likely that this was done specifically to service the complex’s gas needs.
- Victory Court: Pipeline adjacent to land running along UPRR tracks. Another pipeline branch runs along Fallon Street and Victory Court. This makes sense for a company that extensively uses gas in its business like Peerless Coffee, not sure how it benefits other area businesses.
- Candlestick Park: No pipeline in the immediate area.
- AT&T Park: No pipeline in the immediate area.
- HP Pavilion: No pipeline in the immediate area.
- Diridon South: No pipeline in the immediate area.
It may seem like a minor detail, but the cost and time required to relocate a transmission pipeline is a big deal. As we have seen in the aftermath of the San Bruno tragedy, there’s no excuse for cutting corners.