The Coliseum that never was

What’s the pic? It’s a ramp leading to an underground service tunnel for the abandoned stadium next to ARCO Arena/Power Balance Pavilion. Overgrown with grass and trees, the foundation is practically invisible except for unfinished rebar columns sticking up from the concrete foundation.

Exposed rebar from the stadium's foundation is camouflaged by the environment. View from north, arena in background.

The arena and its stillborn brother would never have come to fruition without the vision of Gregg Lukenbill, a developer who lured the NBA’s Kansas City Kings from the Midwest in 1985 with promises of a new arena and a growing community. The Kings played in a converted office building (ARCO Arena I) for three seasons before moving to their “permanent” home in the largely undeveloped Natomas area north of downtown along I-5. Even as the money game of owning a franchise passed Lukenbill by, he remained a cheerleader of the city, as well as a critic of both Sacramento politics and the Maloofs.

View north from ramp outside arena's northwest entrance. More of the foundation is visible.

Lukenbill almost managed to lure teams from elsewhere in California as well. He lobbied hard to pull the Raiders from Los Angeles, as Al Davis entertained offers from numerous cities and played all of them off each other. The Sacramento Raiders plan would be based on a $120 million, 53,000-seat stadium next to ARCO Arena. Though it would’ve looked a lot like Anaheim Stadium in its football era, the stadium would’ve been different from either The Big A or Candlestick Park in that it would’ve been built first for football, and later baseball (43,000 capacity) if everything came together. The rising costs of competing in the major sports space eventually caught up with Lukenbill, who was not nearly as rich as many others entering the game, and tried to construct venues on the cheap – a practice that would become unsuitable once Camden Yards opened.

Model of a finished multipurpose stadium north of ARCO Arena

The big coup, though, would’ve been if Lukenbill had brought the Giants up I-80 to the Capitol. Bob Lurie’s ongoing dissatisfaction with The ‘Stick was well known, and Lukenbill was well poised to pounce on the opportunity. Just as the Giants are politically involved in the A’s stadium situation now, Lukenbill thrust himself into what the Giants were doing then by funding a mailer against Proposition P, the original China Basin ballpark plan championed by then-SF Mayor Art Agnos. Proposition P was defeated in 1989 in the wake of Loma Prieta, causing serious turmoil for the Giants over the next few years, while allowing San Jose and Santa Clara to enter the picture. Lukenbill was subpoenaed after the election, but nothing came of it.

Plans to bring the Giants (or any other baseball team) never gained much traction, and Davis turned his attention back to LA in short order. Still, it’s interesting to think about Sacramento having three major sports franchises in its midst: Kings, Raiders, Giants. Would Lurie or Davis have been satisfied with the stadium in the long run? Probably not. As the Kings, Giants, and others chose not to go to Sacramento, Lukenbill ran out of money and sold the arena to one of his co-owners and the Kings to Jim Thomas.

The greatest legacy of the failed stadium is a closed-off tunnel which leads north from the arena and connects the two. It’s only accessible from the bowels of the arena and has gotten some interesting uses over the years. It doesn’t quite have the flexibility of the Exhibit Hall setup at the Coliseum, yet it’s emblematic of Lukenbill’s vision: bold, big, and ultimately, unfinished.

Tomorrow: A (probably) final visit to ARCO.

90 thoughts on “The Coliseum that never was

  1. I knew nothing about this stadium and the history of stadium development in Sac. Great post, very informative.

  2. I personally have an interest/liking for freeways that were never completed: 380 under 280, the former bridges to nowhere north of Auto Mall Pkwy on 680 (238 Mission Freeway), 680 bridges over nothing in Fremont (ramps to Westbound 237), so this was kinda cool. Bummer that it had nothing to do with the Guadalupe River, but oh well, mabe soon..

  3. Interesting that the stadium was designed to look a lot like Anaheim Stadium during its multipurpose days.

  4. It’s amazing how drastically the sporting landscape could have been changed based on a few decisions here and there.

  5. Though it does have some more modern touches. Still in the end Sac dodged a bullet not building it seeing that multipurpose stadiums had already gone out of style by that point and were completely obsoleted not 2 years later thanks to Camden Yards. And in the end Sac ended up with one of the premier minor league stadiums and long term an arena that they might not have ended up with had this large boondoggle have been built.

  6. There was such a big issue made of where to build the new arena in Sac, right? Why didn’t they just build over this?

  7. Because it’s a crappy location. Very bad freeway access, NIMBYs that don’t like having the arena there, and Natomas isn’t the best part of town far from downtown.

  8. Natomas has bee built up considerably since Arco Arena was originally built. It’s now a sea of tract homes. The Railyards is a way better alternative and fits in with other “adjacent to downtown/open for redevelopment” type sites. Like AT&T Park, Coors Field… Hell even Diridon and Victory Court fit into this type of strategy

  9. From Yahoo!

    “Breaking News: Dodgers announce an agreement to sell team to group that includes Magic Johnson”

    Great, so can MLB really focus on the A’s now!!! Honestly, I thought a decision would have been made by opening day 2012…

  10. OT: TK weighs in why Gnats must sign Cain long term as it pertains to enforcing the notion that the SC TRs are instrumental in retaining star players and also a tidbit why he’s been on the Gnats side of things. Kind of stupid when you figure that if they didn’t do stupid contracts like Zito, Rowand, Huff, etc. then they would have plenty of budget to sign their homegrown marquee players instead.

    “If the Giants are the kind of franchise they always say they are–the kind that has locked up the South Bay (for now) to protect it’s financial well-being, it MUST re-sign a player as elemental as Cain.

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2012/03/26/5-reasons-the-giants-must-get-matt-cain-signed-to-a-long-term-deal/

  11. Now that the Dodgers are being taken care of, let’s see what jumps ahead of the A’s on the MLB agenda now. Increasing worldwide sales of Yankees t shirts, perhaps?

  12. two BILLION for the Dodgers? Wow.

  13. @Tony…no his wife is lol.

  14. Thanks for the history lesson; I had no idea it was supposed to be multi-use. And I really like that clown cave backstory. Fascinating stuff, ML.

  15. “With the $2 billion for the team and stadium, plus $300 million for the surrounding land and parking lots, the selling price is a total of $2.3 billion”
    I’m glad McCourt didn’t get to keep the parking lot. That guy needs to be gone from MLB for good.

  16. Refrain from reading TK articles related to the A’s to SJ drama; it will do your blood pressure well. Arrogant @#$% Giants homer has a picture of TK next to the definition.

  17. I cannot fathom that the Dodgers are worth 2.3 BILLION dollars. This has reached a level of complete insanity. On the plus side it looks like John Moores decision NOT to sell the Padres may pay off some big dividends. If the Dodgers are now worth close to double their expected sale price he’s going to be able to pick up some major cash selling to a runner up.

  18. 2,300,000,000…. holy.rusted.metal.batman….

  19. God help them when this bubble bursts…

  20. @ ML – “The bubble grows.” You are correct. It is a bubble that will eventually burst. John and Jim at a barbecue in 1999 or 2007…… John (after a few drinks): ” Hey Jim, my boss told me about XYZ.com and he bought in at $5 six months ago and it’s trading over $100 now. He thinks it’s going to $1,000.” Jim: “Wow, he made a lot of money. Maybe we should buy some.” John: “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Jim: “Do you know anything about this company, like what they do or any of the financial info like, uh, I think like that, um, EP ratio?” John: “Who cares? Everyone’s getting in and so should we. We’re going to miss out if we don’t get in right now.” Jim: “You’re right, I’m just being dumb. Let’s do it.” This would also apply to the real estate market in many different areas of the US after 2006-2007. Tulips, anyone?

  21. With Wolff not getting San Jose anytime soon now would be the best time to sell.

  22. @D JR – Sure, when the knight in shining armor for Oakland appears.

  23. I thought Matier & Ross said there were two groups interested in buying the A’s and building in Oakland? You mean 2 weeks later, we still don’t know their names or balance sheets and they’ve not come forward publicly? Who’d have thought it?

  24. So much for a MLB decision by Opening Day/Morning.

    .

    The ARCO Stadium is barely a product of its times. Sacramento and which ever team moved in would’ve suffered a massive dang-over once the neo-retro parks starting popping up. For everything that’s bad about the Oakland Coliseum, it really is one of the best multipurpose stadiums I’ve visited. If they would’ve forked out the cash for a rotating lower grandstand, along with the once-open outfield, it’d still be a halfway decent place to take in a ballgame.

  25. re: one of the best multipurpose stadiums.
    …Ever see “Other People’s Money,” where Danny DeVito talked about how when cars were starting to take over in the early 20th century, the last buggy whipmaker to go under made the best buggy whips on the market?

  26. Dino, I was thinking the same thing. If Selig isn’t going to make a decision, or is going to decide in the negative, it would be the best time for Lew to sell. He’ll get top dollar while there is a bunch of groups that wanted an MLB team in California floating around who would probably jump at the chance to get a discounted franchise like the A’s.
    The Padres owner John Moores saw the same thing which is probably a big part of why he’s putting the Padres back on the market as well (serves Jeff Moorad right for buying them on a 5 year layaway plan). Both teams are a steal compared to the Dodgers, even with the A’s stadium woes.

  27. Whoever buys the team will be required to come up with a stadium solution; shifting the stalemate from one owner to another won’t do it. We will need an owner ready to buy the franchise and build a ballpark in Oakland on their own dime. Or, an owner who has a ballpark solution in another part of the country. So far, no one has come forward ready to build in Oakland on their own dime. And we’ve all been waiting for years for this hero to appear.

  28. Briggs, I’m inclined to agree. The Coliseum has it’s faults (and they are many even pre-Mt. Davis), but it was probably the best of the breed (or tied with Qualcomm Stadium before its own baseball destructive renovations in the 90’s and Busch Stadium after its baseball friendly renovations in the 90’s). Every other multipurpose stadium was too compromised for one sport or the other to be a good venue. A fact I was reminded of when I visited RFK Stadium 2 weeks ago to take in a soccer match. I never thought I’d ever find a pro venue that was used by the Big 4 +MLS that is in worse shape than Candlestick Park, but I did at RFK. I’m honestly shocked it didn’t fall down in that 5.4 earthquake they had back there last year.

  29. pjk, I think you’re being optimistic. Baseball won’t be requiring an incoming owner to have a stadium plan set, in Oakland or elsewhere. All they’ll require is that they have the wherewithal to try and get one done either locally or elsewhere. With how long this has drawn out I’m convinced MLB doesn’t mind the A’s in their crappy situation half as much as we all do. Sure they have to pay them revenue sharing, but it’s really not much in the grand scheme with revenues and team values as high as they are.

  30. Apparently, MLB is set to continue to let the A’s rot in the Coliseum and take $$ from the other teams, in the interests of protecting the Giants. But how much longer does the players union want a team consigned to not competing for free agents because of its poor financial situation, when a solution is 30 miles away?

  31. Pjk, compared to the alternative Selig is bound to threaten, contraction, I’m sure the union is just fine having the A’s where they are. And frankly why wouldn’t they be? It’s not like the A’s have the lowest payroll in baseball.

  32. Like I’ve stated before, IF somehow San Jose falls through and the Giants selfishness wins out, Wolff/A’s will go back to Fremont. He won’t bail on Silicon Valley sponsors, investors and potential suite/club seating leases, season tickets just because MLB (hypothetically) has its head up its a$$.
    Heck, the way I see it now, I see Wolff using Fremont as a pawn in this chess game: “I’ll take my club to Fremont, call them San Jose, and have all of Silicon Valley that I’ll ever need AND you a$$holes will get NOTHING! LET’S DEAL!”

  33. @Tony D
    That would be a beautiful thing to see. Fremont is just up the road from San Jose, and in fact right next to Santa Clara, which has even more of the huge Silicon Valley companies.
    .
    Fremont would in fact be the ideal situation if they can make it work (things change since it last fell through). There wouldn’t be a damn thing the Gnats or Selig other owners could do about it, and it would allow the A’s to tap the Silicon Valley market every bit as well as if they were in downtown San Jose.
    .
    Plus, It would hurt the Giants every bit as much as the Giants claim an A’s move to SJ would.
    .
    It would be a big middle finger to the stupid, horrible, evil, scummy, loser, incompetent, greedy, selfish Gnats. And then the A’s would take over the market, leaving the Gnats behind – not because it would be such a better situation than what the Gnats have, but because it would put them on equal footing, and under those circumstances the Gnats simply can’t compete – they’re too lazy and incompetent.

  34. The only place left in Fremont that might work is the big field next to the former NUMMI plant. It’s right on the highway, nobody lives near it and the new BART station is not that far from it, I think. But wouldn’t the NIMBYs be out in full force anyway?

  35. Problem is Fremont isn’t happening. One site isn’t available anymore at NUMMI, another is political and legal suicide north of NUMMI near the Warm Springs BART, and the third site across the highway is contractually and financially impossible unless the housing market turns around and the big box stores have changed their tune in the last few years.

  36. Wolffisher are in this to make money. They want to go to San Jose because they believe they can make more money there. If they don’t get San Jose it makes more sense to sell now while the sports bubble is hot then waste more time in Fremont.

  37. The Pacific Commons site is ” gone” – the retail ( LW and JF are retail/real estate people after all ) that would have help fund ongoing expenses has been developed by Catellus and anchored by an even bigger big box store : the Target and its ugly vast parking lot looking like any suburban strip mall in the US, which opened two weeks ago.
    They gave up the option on that 26 acres ,-which was supposed to be the site blending right into Cisco Field of a quaint pedestrian friendly Ballpark Village that would attract people to the area as an entertainment mecca like Santana Row in SJ or the Spectrum in Irvine or the entertainment zone around the Staples Ctr in LA. -on the 280 days a yr when there was no ball game there.
    They can’t build another ” Village ” in a different location around any stadium there now as the latter already was sited as far south as allowed by the nearby wetlands abutting the Bay. Only some low rise residential would have been allowed that close to the marshes.

  38. re: it makes more sense to sell now while the sports bubble is hot then waste more time in Fremont.
    …If Wolff sells, the most likely buyer is MLB, which would maintain the team on a year-to-year lease in Oakland until some out-of-town buyer shows up with a ballpark deal, ready to move the team from the Bay Area. It’s only a matter of time until one of these places (San Antonio, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland, Sacramento, etc) has its act together. Oakland’ longstanding apathy about the franchise will be countered by fervor for the team from some other place.

  39. The Oakland-only want Wolff to sell…go figure.

  40. PJK, I’ll trust M&R over your repetitiveness

  41. Still holding out hope for the Knight in Shining Armor ballpark financing plan, I guess…

  42. pjk, after this Dodgers absurdity I’m not sure there wouldn’t be a buyer willing to buy from Wolff right now. Whether they’d keep the team in Oakland as is, build a new ballpark in Oakland, or move the team is of course up for debate, but I don’t think Wolff would have to sell to MLB. If there are buyers out there willing to blow 2.3 BILLION on a team, then there will be someone out there willing to drop less than 500 million on the A’s as they stand today.

  43. Dan: Buying the Dodgers – the Kings of the giant SoCal market, with a storied facility that still works after 50 years – is a different story than buying the Bay Area’s redheaded stepchild team, which is stuck in a substandard facility in a depressed market, with no help in sight from the local government as far as building a new facility. If anyone buys the team, I imagine they will pitch the city of Oakland on helping with construction, be rebuffed and eventually bail.

  44. Maybe, but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy the team to begin with. Not when the A’s would go for 1/5th the cost of the Dodgers.

  45. So that would buy us another 7 years at the Coliseum, until the new owners give up rather than accept the deal already offered to Wolff: Build the ballpark on your own dime in the Coliseum parking lot, not our problem if you go broke doing it.

  46. A lot can happen in 7 years. But yeah we know the stadium situation politically and financially in Oakland as it pertains to public money probably wouldn’t change.

  47. And of course, the new owners can get the same relentless bashing that Wolff has been getting, when they come to the same conclusion that a privately funded ballpark in Oakland is not viable, except as an act of flat-out charity. They can open the morning newspaper and read about how awful they are. Wolff can fill them in on that aspect of A’s ownership.

  48. If Wolff/Fisher don’t get what they want… They’d kind of be fools not to sell to whoever wanted to pay them the most.

  49. The BILLIONS paid for the Dodgers will be offset by the BILLIONS in TV /Cable income in the coming decades they will get for being the historically dominant team in the vast SoCal region with it’s 20-25 million people stretching up north to Kern /San Luis Obispo County and out east to southern Nevada

    A’s broadcast revenues ? ballpark peanuts .

  50. Dodgers Advantages: Kings of a vast region with 25 million people; piles of broadcast $$$
    A’s Advantages: $30 million in revenue sharing every year.

  51. I like the name Coliseum and what it evokes. It’s got a grand sense of self-importance that I find kinda classy. I wonder what sort of moniker the ARCO Stadium would’ve chosen. Judging from the picture above, “stadium” feels the most appropriate– that and every new MLB venue between 1973 and 1992 was a “stadium.”

  52. Guys, LA’s market including SLO, Kern and out to Vegas does not have 25 million people. It’s not even 20 million. Lets not blow their “advantages” out of proportion. Remember they have no presence in San Diego or Imperial counties.

  53. @Dan “and the third site across the highway is contractually and financially impossible unless the housing market turns around and the big box stores have changed their tune in the last few years.”
    .
    Pac Commons gives the A’s nearly the same access to Silicon Valley and its revenue streams as San Jose does. The housing market is therefore irrelevant, as they can rely on the same financing mechanisms they would rely on in San Jose. Why is everyone so constrained in thinking that just because that was the original plan it is the only possible plan?.
    .
    The big box stores can be bought out for the right price. The only insurmountable obstacle would be if subsequent development has reduced the footprint of the site to the point it cannot fit a ballpark. It is not my understanding that this is the case.

  54. Not true. The Metrodome, Skydome (now Rogers Centre) and New Comiskey Park (now US Cellular Field) would all beg to differ. In fact since 1973 only 2 venues have been named “Stadium”, Busch Stadium 3.0 and Yankee Stadium 2.0. Everything else is either Park, Field, or Ballpark.

  55. @DJ “Wolffisher are in this to make money. They want to go to San Jose because they believe they can make more money there. If they don’t get San Jose it makes more sense to sell now while the sports bubble is hot then waste more time in Fremont.”
    .
    What evidence do you have of this, other than your own wounded feelings that they aren’t as emotionally invested in Oakland as you are?
    .
    My impression is exactly the opposite. Wolff is at an age where the extra money isn’t all that meaningful; plus, if that were his motivation, there are a lot easier ways for him to make money than putting up with this bullshit. My impression is that he genuinely likes baseball, and is motivated by the creative impulse of getting a showpiece ballpark done and putting the A’s on solid footing for years to come. He’s more of a Mark Cuban hobbyist than a Bill Bidwell opportunist.

  56. bart, the big box stores can’t be “bought out”. If they could be, the A’s would have done so last time they tried building there. They didn’t because the stores made it very clear they weren’t letting the ballpark be built there per their land contracts. It does nothing to benefit them and that hasn’t changed. As for building in Fremont being possible with the same funding sources as San Jose, then why didn’t Wolff do so when the housing plan (which was the Fremont funding model) fell through?
    As for the subsequent development, it has to some extent harmed how the ballpark was previously envisioned. Could it be modified, sure, but the old plan would still be dead. The biggest obstacle however is that Wolff has said if SJ fails he’s done. He’s not going to be the one who would have to pursue Fremont. That would be the work of a new ownership group.

  57. @ob “The Pacific Commons site is ” gone” – the retail ( LW and JF are retail/real estate people after all ) that would have help fund ongoing expenses has been developed by Catellus and anchored by an even bigger big box store : the Target and its ugly vast parking lot looking like any suburban strip mall in the US, which opened two weeks ago.
    They gave up the option on that 26 acres ,-which was supposed to be the site blending right into Cisco Field of a quaint pedestrian friendly Ballpark Village that would attract people to the area as an entertainment mecca like Santana Row in SJ or the Spectrum in Irvine or the entertainment zone around the Staples Ctr in LA. -on the 280 days a yr when there was no ball game there.
    They can’t build another ” Village ” in a different location around any stadium there now as the latter already was sited as far south as allowed by the nearby wetlands abutting the Bay. Only some low rise residential would have been allowed that close to the marshes.”
    .
    Again, they don’t need the “Village.” Just because it was the initial plan doesn’t mean it’s the only plan; they could easily finance a stand-alone ballpark on that site. The big box stores can be had for the right price (and I’m betting it’s a lot less than the cost of buying an entire theme park, as the Niners were prepared to do when they faced similar problems). The only issue is whether the site would still fit a ballpark or not.

  58. @Dan “bart, the big box stores can’t be “bought out”. If they could be, the A’s would have done so last time they tried building there.”
    .
    Not true. As I’ve said a number of times before, I think the A’s saw the supposed failure of Fremont as a means to make their case for getting San Jose. If San Jose fails and they then truly have no other options, they might well be willing to pay a higher price to make Fremont work. Everything changes with the passage of time; it’s also possible that management of the big box stores has changed, or that their priorities have changed.
    .
    “They didn’t because the stores made it very clear they weren’t letting the ballpark be built there per their land contracts. It does nothing to benefit them and that hasn’t changed.”
    .
    Their management at the time may not have seen it as benefiting them, but that could have changed. One view is that the crowds a ballpark brings would drive away other customers, another is that it might drive traffic to the stores. It’s somewhat subjective which factor matters more.
    .
    Anyway, as I recall, the stores did not say “no under any circumstances,” they demanded certain specific concessions on siting that the A’s were unwilling to make at that time. With the further passage of time and other options diminished, the A’s might reconsider those concessions.
    .
    Or, they could just buy the whole development outright, as the Niners were prepared to do with Great America.
    .
    “As for building in Fremont being possible with the same funding sources as San Jose, then why didn’t Wolff do so when the housing plan (which was the Fremont funding model) fell through?”
    .
    He’s going to go with his best perceived option. As I said, at the time Warm Springs or a run at San Jose may have seemed better options. If those options are eliminated, Pac Commons may look better again.
    .
    “As for the subsequent development, it has to some extent harmed how the ballpark was previously envisioned. Could it be modified, sure, but the old plan would still be dead.”
    .
    Maybe, but so what?
    .
    “The biggest obstacle however is that Wolff has said if SJ fails he’s done.”
    .
    When did he say that? I saw him say “there’s no plan B,” but that of course is what you’re going to say if you’re trying to get SJ approved. I haven’t seen any quotes from him suggesting he will sell the team if SJ is rejected; in fact, I believe he has said the opposite.
    .
    “He’s not going to be the one who would have to pursue Fremont. That would be the work of a new ownership group.”
    .
    And if that were the case, so be it. I’m not saying I think Fremont is still in play because it is without challenges; I’m saying it’s still in play because it’s the ONLY economically viable site within the A’s current territory, and that fact trumps everything else. New owners would face the same economic realities that Wolff does.

  59. Is this the same “Dan” who usually posts? Sure doesn’t sound like it.
    It is rare, but for once I respectfully disagree with Jeffrey. Wolff/A’s don’t get what they want in SJ, its back to the future in Fremont.
    Just my theory: Wolff wanted SJ proper the whole time he pursues Fremont. His old pal Bud has gave him an opening for SJ, which he’s had up to the present. If somehow SJ proper doesn’t work out for whatever reason, he has Fremont as a backup plan, using all the financing mechanisms now in place for Cisco Diridon.
    Lastly, leave it to Bartleby to bring sense to the discussion. In summary, no SJ, no selling, yes Tri-City!

  60. By the way, Wolff may be done if SJ falls through…that doesn’t mean Keith is however 😉

  61. @Dan re: stadium name. You are right. I regret never checking out Jack Murphy in person; another odd multipurpose in the cookie cutter era.

  62. Trust me on this , as I made a very nice profit being a Pac Cmns land/property owner during the 2007 land rush being in the right place at the right time and the reason I post here to begin with ( since I’m lifelong Giants fan since the days of my hero, Willie Mays ).
    Nevertheless, I am saddened by what became of Pac Cmmns when it could have been like Wrigleyville with apartments across the street with rooftop benches like I fondly recall experiencing when I lived in Chicago for a few yrs ) , the surrounding townhomes, the centerfield that opened right out the the wide green of the Ballpark Village ( that is now and forever will instead be the Target parking lot ) .
    Putting a ballpark there now, facing what would instead be the BACKS /loading docks of Target, and the Century Theater will be as ugly as being at the Coliseum- why bother .

  63. It’s me Tony. Same Dan, I’m just not going to delude myself into thinking Fremont is going to happen if SJ falls through. Fremont was always a marginal site at best and is an even worse option today than it was 5 years ago. No amount of puffing up will change that most of the same players are still involved, with the exception of a now stadium unfriendly leadership running Fremont. And circumstances at the Pacific Commons site have changed for the worse as it pertains to a ballpark with the addition of the Target.
    As for Keith staying on, how much money does Keith really have w/o his pop’s backing? Because Lew will be out w/o SJ. I forget the exact interview, I believe it was with athleticsnation. I’ll see if I can find it.

  64. Briggs, I’d check Jack Murphy out during a Chargers preseason game this summer. Ticket prices are always ridiculously cheap on StubHub (particularly after a bad season like last year). While it is in football config pretty much permanently now, you can still see much of the old baseball infrastructure still there and get a feel for how a game would have been even with their own right field monstrosity that was put in (though at least it matched the existing stadium better than Mt Davis does). Also I’d suggest everyone take a trip to RFK to see a DC United game. RFK will give you a greater appreciation for just how good A’s fans still have it. RFK is so dilapidated that it makes the Coliseum look like the Coliseum makes a park like Pac Bell look. It’s proof things could REALLY get a lot worse for A’s fans at the Coliseum.

  65. Dan is 100% correct and bartleby is wrong about Fremont…..why he keeps persisting its possible boggles my mind.

    Lew Wolff, if Fremont was possible would have built there and why? He sunk 24M non-recoverable into the place for what reason? To fake out MLB and get to San Jose? It is 100% lunacy to think that is the case.

    He knew full well San Jose was off limits and had to get creative to get something done in the East Bay and he almost pulled it off.

    24M is a boat load of money even for Wolff and Fisher. They made a significant investment but a # of obstacles occurred.

    1. The recession killed his idea of using residential entitlements to pay for the ballpark itself. The financing mechanism in Fremont is not the same as San Jose.

    2. The revenue streams in Fremont would NOT be the same as in San Jose therefore affect financing. San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley while Fremont is the East Bay. Big difference when attracting sponsors, fans, and possible loans like the 49ers attained. A downtown SJ site is far superior and would get sponsors and loans far easier than a Fremont site.

    3. Dan is correct in the interview Wolff stated those big box retailers in their leases had unlimited liability clauses for anyone who developed the adjacent land. Those big box retailers were not willing to negotiate as Wolff tried in vain to get them to do so.

    4. Who in their right mind would build a stadium knowing year in and year out you could get sued by the same people who claim they lost $$ and then you would have to reimburse them the difference? Straight up bad business all around.

    In the end it is San Jose or bust, the East Bay is dead. If Fremont or Oakland or Pleasanton were in the mix then the BRC would have turned around to Wolff and told him “you missed something”.

    1109 days later you would think that would have happened already if something in the East Bay was viable.

    The 1109 day delay is because MLB knows the East Bay is dead and there is no other city to move the A’s to and know full well they have to get to San Jose.

    If anything else was “plausible” it would have been explored….

  66. Good posts by bartleby and Tony D. Just because Fremont fell through right at the real estate collapse, doesn’t mean it can’t still be done. A lot of things have changed (including the economy and real estate market).
    .
    I’m so fed up with this TR crap. I just want it over with, and if it’s negative, then for Wolff/Fisher to go 110% on Fremont and get it done. Then they could market the hell out of Silicon Valley, grab a bunch of SV companies, including stealing some from the Gnats themselves (should be doable, because Fremont is a lot closer than China Basin), open several A’s dugout stores throughout Silicon Valley (and the East Bay/ Walnut Creek/Concord, as well as Sac and Stockton), put up a billboard entering the Bay Bridge heading east out of SF advertising the A’s World Series superiority over the Gnats (4 to 1 baby!!), and just give the huge MIDDLE FINGER to the Gnats, saying “Take this SUCKERS!!!”

  67. Heck, regardless of what happens, I want the A’s to open stores in the Gnats territory, and do the billboard I was talking about.

    • Heck, regardless of what happens, I want the A’s to open stores in the Gnats territory, and do the billboard I was talking about.

      The A’s are currently free to opening up A’s stores anywhere in the Bay Area, they just choose not to. Similarly, fans from anywhere can buy A’s tickets but choose not to.

  68. @Sid:
    “In the end it is San Jose or bust, the East Bay is dead. If Fremont or Oakland or Pleasanton were in the mix then the BRC would have turned around to Wolff and told him “you missed something”.

    1109 days later you would think that would have happened already if something in the East Bay was viable.

    The 1109 day delay is because MLB knows the East Bay is dead and there is no other city to move the A’s to and know full well they have to get to San Jose.

    If anything else was “plausible” it would have been explored….”
    .
    .
    Very logical, tough to argue with. When you look at it this way, one has to come to the conclusion that Selig, and most of the rest of the owners, undoubtedly want to make the A’s in SJ work.

  69. @ob “Putting a ballpark there now, facing what would instead be the BACKS /loading docks of Target, and the Century Theater will be as ugly as being at the Coliseum- why bother”
    .
    Simply because that site is located in the only city in the A’s current territory which is economically viable for a privately financed ballpark.
    .
    Premium seat customers are what pays the bills for a modern MLB venue. Proximity is the single most important factor for drawing those customers.
    .
    I don’t necessarily disagree that Pac Commons is a mediocre site considered just as a site, or that it’s gotten worse since the A’s first looked at it. But it’s well-located, and if SJ gets turned down the A’s will have limited options.

  70. Have to point out that Wolff/Fisher own other land in the area. They don’t have to build at Pacific Commons if they don’t want to. They could build at the demolished cement plant or in the office park adjacent to PacCom. They’re still subject to an EIR, but it could be easier if it isn’t subject to a very broad planning initiative as PacCom originally was.

  71. @Sid “Dan is 100% correct and bartleby is wrong about Fremont…..why he keeps persisting its possible boggles my mind.”
    .
    It’s very simple: If there’s only one place in your territory which is economically viable and you can’t get your territory changed, that one place is where you will eventually build. End of story.
    .
    “Lew Wolff, if Fremont was possible would have built there and why? He sunk 24M non-recoverable into the place for what reason?”
    .
    First of all, you are far too trusting taking this “non-recoverable” statement at face value. If all 24 million were just the price of an option on the land, maybe, but it’s not my understanding that that was the case. If you have details regarding the structure of the land deal that go beyond a flat assertion that costs were “non-recoverable,” please share.
    .
    “To fake out MLB and get to San Jose? It is 100% lunacy to think that is the case.”
    .
    Of course not, that’s not what I said. I am entirely convinced that Wolff’s efforts on Fremont were sincere. But Fremont looked like his best option when he thought it was the path of least resistance. I’m convinced the big box stores were not an unsolvable problem, but one that was making the path more problematic and probably the financials of the deal look worse. So why not take a run at San Jose, knowing if that fails nothing stops you from going back to Fremont?
    .
    “24M is a boat load of money even for Wolff and Fisher. They made a significant investment but a # of obstacles occurred.”
    .
    Again, I have no doubt their effort was sincere, but as circumstances evolve your business decisions evolve. I’m also not convinced, without a better understanding of the land deal, that all of that money is truly “non-recoverable.”
    .
    “1. The recession killed his idea of using residential entitlements to pay for the ballpark itself. The financing mechanism in Fremont is not the same as San Jose.”
    .
    Of course it could be. The financing mechanism in San Jose is loans, paid off with revenue largely derived from premium seat customers. Same works in Fremont.
    .
    “2. The revenue streams in Fremont would NOT be the same as in San Jose therefore affect financing. San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley while Fremont is the East Bay. Big difference when attracting sponsors, fans, and possible loans like the 49ers attained. A downtown SJ site is far superior and would get sponsors and loans far easier than a Fremont site.”
    .
    Not exactly the same, but similar. Close enough to make the thing pencil out. The main thing is, Fremont is far closer and easier to get to from Silicon Valley than Oakland. Perhaps more importantly, it is closer and easier to get to from most of the South Bay than AT&T Park. Downtown SJ is superior, but the difference is far less than the difference between San Jose and Oakland. Fremont also has an advantage in terms of access to both the South Bay and East Bay.
    .
    “3. Dan is correct in the interview Wolff stated those big box retailers in their leases had unlimited liability clauses for anyone who developed the adjacent land. ”
    .
    Sid, I think you’re really not understanding what “unlimited liability” actually means. Those stores could not recover more than the value of the stores themselves, end of story. You can’t recover more for damage to your property than the property is worth. Those stores have an actuarial value, and I am fairly certain it’s less than the Great America theme park. If buying out GA made sense for the Niners, I have to think some kind of financial settlement could have been made which would have made sense for the A’s.
    .
    “Those big box retailers were not willing to negotiate as Wolff tried in vain to get them to do so.”
    .
    I don’t think that’s an accurate characterization of what happened. The big box stores did negotiate, and as I understand the points they couldn’t reach agreement on were not financial demands but logistical ones. The Mercury News stated:
    .
    “Three of the larger Pacific Commons retailers have expressed concerns with the A’s parking plan, co-owner Keith Wolff said. Although the retailers can’t block the project, the team wants to make sure they’re satisfied. They want clarification and mitigation, Wolff said. One possible solution, he added, is a pedestrian bridge over Auto Mall Parkway that would link the ballpark to the largest parking lot.”
    http://www.mercurynews.com/oakland-as-move/ci_10065278
    .
    At the time, it was not obvious to me why these issues would be dealbreakers for the A’s. This is part of why I believe they just saw an opportunity for San Jose. If that opportunity is eliminated, maybe you concede more to the big box stores on the site issues.
    .
    “4. Who in their right mind would build a stadium knowing year in and year out you could get sued by the same people who claim they lost $$ and then you would have to reimburse them the difference? Straight up bad business all around.”
    .
    That’s just not how it works. There would have been a settlement up front or the ballpark wouldn’t go forward. Even if the A’s did somehow manage to just go forward, it would be one lawsuit, not a series of annual lawsuits.
    .

  72. @ML It was my understanding that the A’s actually purchased a lot of the land for the Pac Commons site. Sid seems to be assuming, based solely on the assertion that $24 million was “non-recoverable,” that that was some kind of option price. That seems awfully steep to me for just an option on that land, especially compared to the market value of the Diridon site. Can you shed some light on the current ownership status of the Pac Commons site?

  73. @bartleby – The non-recoverable investment was the study work that was paid for and non completed, and the additional land that was paid for – not Pacific Commons. They paid a premium for those properties based on future control and speculation.

  74. @ML Any idea how much the studies cost, roughly? Do the A’s currently own the Pac Commons site? If they only had an option to buy the site, when did/does that option expire?
    .

  75. @bartleby – Pretty sure that the A’s paid $1 million or more for the work. Full terms of the PacCom deal were never disclosed, though I understand that the option expired either last year or in 2010.

  76. Glenn Dickey article on this stale situation http://www.sfexaminer.com/sports/teams/as/2012/03/new-season-same-issues-oakland
    Why not reinvest into Fremont at this point? It really looks like the Giants will not budge on SJ. I’m not a huge fan of a park in Fremont, but you avoid T-rights, have access to the South Bay corporations, give South Bay fans an easier commute time, and you keep East Bay/Oakland fans happy by keeping the team the “Oakland A’s.” Everyone seemingly gets a piece of the pie.

  77. Way OT.
    BTW, I know very few people on here will care, but I was watching a news segment on the huge Lotto sum up for grabs and they were interviewing people in line at a liquor store in San Leandro, basically asking what they’d do if they won. One very old woman in an A’s jacket said she’d buy the A’s a new stadium because it would crush her if they left the area. I know old ladies don’t buy corporate suites, but damn, that really twisted at my heart.

  78. They would no longer be the “Oakland” A’s if Cisco Field somehow rises up in south Fremont. Sorry Dickey (Yeah, Oakland hasn’t done crap while San Jose has basically laid out the red carpet for the A’s, and they would still be referred to as “Oakland”? Yeah right!) “San Jose” A’s either at Diridon or PacCommons/Warm Springs is a no brainer.

  79. Glenn Dickey will not ever under any circumstances support the A’s going to San Jose. And he also refuses to recognize the A’s could leave the Bay Area. He also refuses to acknowledge that Oakland can’t compete with San Jose economically.

  80. The Dickey article is interesting. The way he says things went down seems quite different than the idea that Haas gave the Giants SCCTR under the condition that the Giants would build a stadium in SCC.

    “I learned that MLB would require the new owners to get a new park built. In return, the Giants would get territorial rights to the Peninsula and San Jose-Santa Clara. The Giants fulfilled their part of that bargain. Now, they’re holding MLB to their commitment.”

  81. Ted giving Dickey credibility…I’m in complete shock (sarcasm).

  82. Tony D, what makes you think Dickey is lying?

  83. Could someone else explain Glenn Dickey to Ted? Not up to circular debating tonight.
    (by the way, didn’t you also ask what made me think Bill Madden was lying? Enough said)

  84. Tony, you could have just typed “because what he says doesn’t jive with what I want”.
    Why would anyone take Wolff’s vague reference to some alleged minutes from a meeting that he wasn’t a part of as evidence that there was some stipulation on the TR changes?
    Why would Dickey and Madden lie? And what about Mattier and Ross, two weeks ago some here were convinced that they were pawns of the Giants disinformation machine yet this week they seem to be hurting Oakland’s chances of keeping the team.

  85. Ted may have you there. Dickey does have a rep as a good A’s historian.

  86. Pingback: On Subsidies and Votes | Newballpark

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