In a session with the print/broadcast media yesterday (before the blogger session), Lew Wolff suggested that 2016 would be a more realistic date for Cisco Field to open due to the permitting process. To understand why this might be the case, it’s best to look at what’s happening with the Earthquakes stadium project, only two miles northwest of downtown San Jose.
Nearly a year ago the Quakes got a demolition permit for the Airport West/FMC plant site. A large industrial building had to be torn down and the ground had to be graded for the eventual construction. A soft groundbreaking ceremony was held, after which the demo took three months. Now it’s the end of a January 2012 and the actual building permit has yet to be granted, thanks in large part to objections by a neighborhood group near the stadium site. San Jose’s Planning Commission will have a hearing on February 22, at which point all grievances and objections should be aired in public. If you read this list of items to discuss regarding the project, you’ll see that it is on par with what has been (and would continue to be) discussed for Cisco Field.
If slipping to 2016 is real it brings up one critical issue for the franchise in that the “2014 situation” stretches out to 2014-15. Either a two year lease (maybe with an option year just in case) would have to be negotiated with the Coliseum Authority or a two-year temporary home would have to be found, the latter seeming less likely. There may also be an inside baseball reason to slip a year: if MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig (thanks for waiting) has a compensation plan worked out that is too costly for the A’s and/or the other owners to swallow, allowing one less overlap year between the remaining mortgage on AT&T Park and the opening of Cisco Field may be more palatable. To me this is one of the more frustrating aspects of making such a deal. As I was pointing out to Lone Stranger yesterday, high eight figures or more in compensation is a big deal for anyone, including a billionaire who owns a franchise. I get that. Big picture, $75 million is only 1% of MLB’s annual revenue. Stretched out over three years, it becomes 0.3%. That amount shouldn’t cause extended bellyaching. It should be manageable.