A Streetcar Named Aspire

Today the commissioner said that the A’s need a new stadium… and that’s about it.

In Billy Beane’s weekly slot on The Drive, he mentioned that the team/ownership is at “the end of the process” and that regarding the recent news “there seems to be a lot of smoke, and where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Not exactly revealing, but at least it lines up with Selig trying to broker a deal between the A’s and Giants.

Added 8:50 PM – Joe Stiglich has more on the negotiations that may or may not be happening that no one officially wants to talk about. 

I did find out something revealing about the Coliseum City project. Turns out that as part of the planning for the project, the City is looking at putting in a streetcar or trolley. The streetcar is not part of the Oakland Airport Connector, which is currently under construction. It wouldn’t go downtown or to Jack London Square. Instead it would be a very short trolley, running around one mile in length between the Coliseum BART station and the Edgewater area on the other side of the Nimitz. I’ve racked my brain and haven’t heard of a streetcar or trolley built for what is primarily a sports complex.

I can only assume that the project’s principals and supporters want this streetcar to improve the project’s attractiveness as a potential corporate and commercial hub, since it would provide a direct link to BART and the other parts of the Coliseum City. What’s not clear is why they’d choose a streetcar. A people mover like the Airport Connector would make more sense. An extension to the Airport Connector from the BART terminus through the complex (creating a “U”) would make the most sense, except that station’s design (see pic below) prevents that kind of alignment.

The Airport Connector's alignment runs perpendicular to San Leandro Street and the BART alignment, making it difficult to extend and turn the system.

The crazy thing about this streetcar idea is that it creates a third, disjointed transit option in this relatively small area. Meanwhile, there are far better places to use resources on a streetcar project, such as Broadway (which is getting yet another separate study). Clearly, if the streetcar option gains traction it’ll add a quarter-billion to the project’s $2 billion price tag. Yet it might be considered a necessity if the City wants to lure a big corporate fish.

As Marin County rejected George Lucas’s long-gestating studio expansion project and then ran back to Lucas in desperation only to be rejected by the filmmaker, Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan wrote an open letter to Lucas encouraging him to take a tour of the city. Coliseum City has to be at or near the top of places the City would offer to Lucas. Now, it’s hard to envision any locale in Oakland comparing to the pristine Skywalker Ranch or the wonderfully preserved and adapted Letterman Center at the Presidio. And Oakland’s already tried to push Coliseum City in its bid for the Lawrence Berkeley Lab expansion and lost. But if you’re gonna dream big, you might as well go fully preposterous. I know of at least one reader, native Oaklander, and Lucasfilm employee who would weep tears of joy if Oakland got Lucas’s blessing to build the new studio in Oakland.

I couldn't resist.

56 thoughts on “A Streetcar Named Aspire

  1. Can we get Leonard Nimoy to play Roy Steele for 3 innings?!

  2. Being that Darth Vader is an unofficial mascot of Raider Nation, having Lucasfilm at Coliseum City adjacent to a new Raiders stadium, makes to much sense.

  3. BTW, Seligs comments very, very encouraging. Looks like, as Beane would say, there’s a fire indeed!

  4. I keep wondering how many owners would vote for the A’s move to SJ. They must have enough to get a pass if the Giants seemingly are negotiating.

  5. True story. Last summer when a guy from a corporation back east talked to people at a firm in Oakland about scheduling his trip to Oakland, he floated the idea of including a baseball game. Maybe the A’s, he suggested. Sure, or would the Giants be ok? Oh, the Giants would be fantastic. He would love to see the Giants. Definitely.
    How are those conversations going to go when the firm is in Palo Alto, or Mt. View or, even, San Jose? Why is any real baseball fan going to want to see the A’s instead of the Giants? Was a time, of course. But now? Even if the A’s have a new ballpark in San Jose, they need a scintillating team, a nationally recognized scintillating team. Be objective. Is that what Wolff and Fisher and Beane are building?

  6. @xootsuit – Nice short-term thinking there.

  7. @suit,
    The SVLG wrote a letter to Selig imploring him to move the A’s to San Jose. Cisco Systems has eagerly taken on the naming rights for said SJ ballpark. Trust me; those firms will have employees and clients salivating to see baseball at spanking Cisco Field. Build it and they will come! (I’ll be there for sure!)

  8. Objectively, I’d take Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick over Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan all day, every day.

  9. @xoosuit- I travel extensively and depending on what city I stay in I go and check out the local sports teams when can get free- if I was on business in San Jose there is no way I drive an hour plus to go see a game in sf when I can go to a great ballpark in downtown San Jose- hell- I’m in Charlotte now and I went and saw the bobcats play just so i could checkout the arena- talk aout a team tshat sucks–build it in SJ and there will be a huge following-I will support the local teams thru good and bad-

  10. xootsuit-

    SF > Oakland

    simple. SF is a well known tourist destination. People can’t even locate Oakland.

    SJ would be different because it is in Silicon Valley. People know Silicon Valley.
    Dell recently bought buildings next the 49ers stadium/Great America on 237 and is hiring more people in SJ and SC area. HP also did so recently. Microsoft has a huge presence here. SJ is not as exotic as SF but it is a well known area.

  11. “People can’t even locate Oakland.
    SJ would be different because it is in Silicon Valley. People know Silicon Valley.”
    I feel very safe in guessing more people in this country know where Oakland is than San Jose.

  12. It’s my understanding that Vallejo has offered up Mare Island, or at least much of it to Lucas. Alameda was also in on the bidding for the Lawrence Labs is (finally) getting serious about developing the Naval Air Station. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a pitch to Lucas aswell. This could be as competetive as the bidding for the Lab. Possibly.

  13. Having Lucas films in Oakland would be great! Pixar is already in Emeryville, why not Lucas in the Town? Just as long as he agrees to stop killing the Indiana Jones franchise.

  14. Actually, eb, look up statistics on travel. San Jose is visited much more frequently than Oakland.

  15. @Jeffrey Amount of visitors doesn’t equate to more people throughout the country knowing where one city is over the other. San Jose, I’d assume, gets a lot of business tech related travelers. That demographic doesn’t equal a large part of this county’s population. People have seen the name Oakland through all it’s sports teams, the city is mentioned in history textbooks concerning the Black Panthers (something most if not all high school students see), Tupac/2-Short/Richie Rich/etc., music that’s very popular with the masses mentions/is from Oakland, etc. Heck, part of the reason San Jose wants the A’s so badly is for national name recognition, something they don’t really have right now.

  16. @Jeffrey/eb – You really don’t want to go down this rabbit hole. Leave it alone.

  17. BTW, I’m not trying to get into a pissing match concerning both cities’ popularity, I just don’t think San Jose is somehow a major well known city and Oakland somehow is like Tracy or Pacheco. In reality, both are in the SF shadow.

  18. Haha…I heard this story floating around earlier this week at work and from my understanding Mr. Lucas isn’t the least bit interested, but I guess thats obvious. Not the type of real estate he’s interstated in. He actually was reluctant to move to the presidio in 05′ from what I hear…I’d have to admit though, it would be awesome going to the games after work!

  19. Oh and streetcar??? Just to go over an overpass??? Seems like an awful lot of cash for a city that’s already struggling just to pay for the artists renderings…those streetcars better be able to make the Kessel Run to impress Lucas 😉
    Sorry I need to control my geekdom

  20. “Oh and streetcar??? Just to go over an overpass??? Seems like an awful lot of cash for a city that’s already struggling just to pay for the artists renderings…those streetcars better be able to make the Kessel Run to impress Lucas ;)”
    So, you’re saying that is not the street car he is looking for?

  21. “Why is any real baseball fan going to want to see the A’s instead of the Giants?”
    What you’re missing is, “real baseball fans” are a distant third in terms of demographics that need to be reached to make a ballpark successful. Premium seat customers first, casual fans second, “real baseball fans” last. Frankly, it isn’t even close.

  22. OT – @ ML – No Niners coverage? 😦

  23. Kinda hard for him to cover it when he’s in San Diego.

  24. @Anon – I’m waiting for some pictures to come in.

  25. @ Jeffrey and eb – Just for the record, as a student at San Jose State, my political science teacher, who is retiring after 42 years at SJSU, said just yesterday that many people in America are unaware of where SJ is and don’t think of it as a major metropolitan. He then compared SJ to SF and Oakland and said that SJ pales in notoriety. Take it for what you will.

  26. major metropolitan area*

  27. It’s true. Many people don’t. But I think that’s common for many cities over the US.
    I don’t think it matters at all. The only people who have to know are the 29 other owners, and I’m sure that’s Exhibit A during the “A’s to SJ” presentation.
    The people who would be going to games and the companies who would be buying suites and seats and advertising certainly know where it is, and they would know that it’s where all the tech companies are located.
    As far as SF goes, sure. It’s one of the most well-known cities in America. Oakland, however? Probably wouldn’t be well known if it didn’t have the Raiders or the A’s.

  28. @Booster–travel extensively here and when asked where home base is and I say San Jose I have yet to come across anyone who says “where is that?”—not sure when the last time your professor traveled in the US or what data he uses for his conclusion but sure isn’t consistent with my experience–no doubt SF has the notriety–but SJ seems to be doing just fine…

  29. Not to get off-topic, but does the AEG contract take effect immediately? Will they be now running the complex?

  30. Who cares if some Americans don’t know where San Jose is! Trust me: once the A’s are firmly planted in San Jose, ALL of America will know the way! Imagine: ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball from beautiful Cisco Field with the A’s taking on the Yankees or Red Sox. Warm, beautiful downtown San Jose for all of America to beholden…it’s gonna be awesome!

  31. KTVU segment this week mentioned that Oakland leads the way in housing recovery – the strongest housing market resurgence in the U.S.

    So I guess some people know where Oakland is.

    A’s observer.

  32. If only Oakland were leading the way in corporations who would be buying suites…..

  33. These debates really drag down this blog sometimes.

  34. Amen. East versus South bay is kinda old, and talk about a non issue! Who cares if someone out in BFE knows where SJ or Oak is? We are all A’s fans here, and we will be lucky to get a new stadium anywhere in the Bay Area in this decade considering what we are up against.

  35. That monorail epsiode of the Simpsons is one of my personal favorites. It was also written by Conan O’Brien before he became a talk show host.

  36. Sorry folks. I have a bunch of posts that can’t be finished yet due to various pre-wedding (my brother’s) activities down here. More tomorrow.

  37. Wow, does this mean the Raisers stay put in NorCal?!

    “For one, AEG agreed to add a clause in their contract that they would not talk to the teams about moving.”

  38. I think AEG is going to possibly be big investors in the Coliseum City and they will try and force their way into owning a portion of the Raiders with the Davis family while keeping the team in Oakland.

  39. Anon, it wasn’t going to be AEG that steals the Raiders away. AEG have never shown any interest in the Raiders and their demented fan base. It’s always been Roski that was working with the Raiders ownership. AEG is interested more in a team they can purchase a portion of (preferably a controlling portion at a discount).

    But even if they put that clause in there, they can also make staying more uncomfortable for the Raiders should they later decide to pursue the Raiders. Plus a clause like that wouldn’t stop intermediaries like the city of LA or some other AEG partner from talking to the team. So it does nothing to secure them here.

  40. @Dan,
    Demented fan base? Thanks a lot brother!

  41. FWIW, I’m all for AEG owning a piece of Da Raiders and building a spanking football stadium at the current site.

  42. thanks for the info guys.

  43. @Daniel, if San Jose is the self proclaimed capital of Silicon Valley, then why is it that Apple and Oracle will not claim it? When Apple announces a new product, its announced in San Francisco–not San Jose. When Oracle holds it Oracle World conventions, they’re held in San Francisco–not San Jose. The reason? Because there is no there there. That’s why San Jose needs professional sports so bad. It wants and needs to be recognized and the San Jose crowd is hoping that having the A’s will put them on the map. My office is located in San Jose and I live on the Peninsula. And I will say—San Jose is a nice city, the people are generally friendly,,,,but it is a really dull city. I would take Oakland over San Jose any day.

  44. “Anon, it wasn’t going to be AEG that steals the Raiders away. AEG have never shown any interest in the Raiders and their demented fan base.” Wow, from a Patriot’s fan, no less. 😉

  45. @Dennis H,
    You’re more than entitled to your opinion. FWIW, Oracle is closer to SF than SJ (see Redwood Shores) and Apple will begin making their product announcements at their new headquarter when it’s complete. Yes, SF (like Vegas) is a big convention city due to attractions and overall vibe. SJ, and for that matter Oak, will never be SF in that sense. And guess what…who cares! (Just give me the A’s and I’ll be happy)

  46. @ Dennis H – I would add that the physical location is not great because it’s just simply far from the center of the bay area. It’s a sprawling suburban city that has a lot of land mass. The density is lower in SJ and SCL Co than the East Bay and SF, which is not a bad thing. I think Pleasanton or Walnut Creek look like a much smaller version of the Silicon Valley. I know quite a few people who commute there for work. From clients I have who live there they tell me it’s a nice place to raise a family, like Pleasanton is. I have a client who lives in Morgan Hill, which is beyond SJ, and I recently went to his wife’s funeral and it took me nearly 90 minutes to get there from my office. Perhaps Bart and other things will help in many ways in the coming years.

  47. I know this will probably piss off some East Bay fans (don’t shoot the messenger), but I found this on the A’s website:

    Cullen, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Napa, retired after the 1972 season, at the age of 30.

    “Finley had the same problem in the Coliseum that they are having now,” Cullen said. “It’s a small market and the facility is the worst. Frankly, I’m pulling for them to get something in San Jose. It would be good for baseball.”

  48. From Tim Cullen’s wiki page: “‘Cullen serves as the vice president of special projects for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, a SF Giants minor league affiliate team.”

  49. The reality of the matter is that Selig is looking out for his legacy. He was vilified for years by the media and the Players Association (When Don Fehr was running it). If he can get the A’s & Rays situations straightened out, and gets a new national TV contract signed (The price will only go up if those franchises have a stable future), he can punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
    As far as Oakland is concerned, the future of the Raiders will be determined, when and if the A’s move (Not before). There is a reason why the NFL Commissioner (Paul Godell) is working hard to keep the Vikings in Minnesota (If at all possible), which is to keep the LA option open for the Raiders, Chargers, Rams, Bills or a possible expansion team, instead of having the Vikings move there. Assuming, the Raiders don’t go to Santa Clara, I think they will end up in LA. Why? They did it before (Under Al Davis), and they can do it again. In addition, the City of Oakland is essentially a mess, and the fantasy proposals from Jean Quan will have a “Whatever” reaction from the Raiders and more importantly, the NFL .

  50. @ A’s fan- Why is that relevant? Are you saying he’s on the Giant’s payroll and has to toe the company line? Wouldn’t that mean he would adopt the “anywhere but SJ” stance? It seems Tim Cullen was telling us what he really thought IN SPITE OF his position with the Fresno club, if that was your point.

  51. @RC I think the point, at least as I saw it, is this: Cullen was supposedly in one of the ownership groups that wanted to buy the A’s. Judging by his comments, he’s not going to be the Knight In Shining Armor for East Bay fans.

  52. “I would add that the physical location is not great because it’s just simply far from the center of the bay area.”
    This would be a reasonable argument if there weren’t already a team in the so-called geographic center of the bay area. But there is, so it isn’t.
    “It’s a sprawling suburban city that has a lot of land mass. The density is lower in SJ and SCL Co than the East Bay and SF, which is not a bad thing.”
    This claim has been pretty well debunked by ML on this blog. East Bay density within a 20 mile radius of the Coliseum is not meaningfully denser than South Bay density within a 20 mile radius of Diridon. More meaningfully, however, premium seat customer density is an order of magnitude greater around Diridon, plus you need to divide the Oakland figure by two, as it is shared.

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