Last minute inclusion of new Oakland stadium boosts SF’s Olympic bid

Word came yesterday that the US Olympic Committee was going to select its choice as the bid city for the 2024 Olympics. A month ago, I considered the bid doomed because of its wasteful temporary stadium in Brisbane. Now it looks as if wiser minds have prevailed, as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf held a conference call today to promote a new wrinkle in the plan: a main stadium for track and field and the opening/closing ceremonies at the Coliseum complex. Phil Matier has the scoop. Though bid presentations were made in mid-December, there was nothing stopping BASOC from amending the proposal to include the new stadium concept.

That concept is eerily similar to what I suggested a month ago. The stadium would be outfitted for the Olympics, but built for the Raiders in the long run. The idea of a “legacy” stadium could significantly boost the Bay Area’s bid, which was hampered by the $350 million, pop-up stadium on the windy stretch of Peninsula south of the ‘Stick. While pop-up stadia are a great idea in principle, in actual practice they haven’t proven to be as versatile or reusable as originally thought, especially in the case of London’s Olympic Stadium. Maybe another decade will bring technology that can make such a concept more efficient, but I wouldn’t pin a bid’s hopes on it. That’s why a stadium that works for both the Olympics and the Raiders makes sense. Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium was transformed into Turner Field, which was perfectly fine for 20 years until the Braves decided they wanted to chase suburban dollars in Cobb County. That shouldn’t be an issue with the Raiders in Oakland.

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The rest of the bid appears to be designed to look as compact as possible given the dearth of major outdoor facilities within SF city limits. It has AT&T Park repurposed for beach volleyball, the W’s SF arena used for gymnastics and basketball (finals, presumably), Aquatic Park for staging many long distance events, and Harding Park for golf. Some of the more debatable choices include Treasure Island for a series of new facilities (BMX, tennis, sailing). While Treasure Island offers a great backdrop for a BMX track, so does the Embarcadero. Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center is arguably the best in Northern California and would only need a temporary stadium expansion to be compliant.

Sites in the East and South Bay are not numerous, especially when compared to the 2012 and 2016 bids. Stanford is only listed for the pentathlon, an outdoor event not dependent on a large stadium. SAP Center is the volleyball venue, while Haas Pavilion is a key basketball venue and Oracle Arena is listed for handball (I think these should be reversed). The Coliseum complex was originally going to have the arena and a new velodrome. Having a velodrome, stadium, and arena there creates a nice hub of activity.

Mercury News map shows locations of venues, does not include new Oakland stadium at Coliseum

Mercury News map shows locations of venues, does not include new Oakland stadium at Coliseum

A hub-based plan is what Los Angeles is going for. Leaning on its previous Olympic experience, LA could be considered the favorite if the chief criteria is efficiency. The compactness of the bid belies LA’s reputation for sprawl, with most of the venues within 10-15 miles of each other. To achieve that compactness even Orange County has been cut out of the bid. Somehow the LA River will be a “feature” of the bid, which could give rise to the least photogenic Olympics ever (Beijing’s smoggy skies providing stiff competition).

Hubs were a feature of Bay Area’s previous bids, but with Stanford 30 miles away from downtown SF, the Bay Area’s hubs were going to be too far flung. Eventually, if the Bay Area bid beats out the others, BASOC and USOC will have to consider better utilizing Stanford and Cal to contain costs. In Matier’s report he suggests that the two West Coast cities lead the pack. Boston has many geographical advantages and is the most compact city, but it lacks many major venues and may be considered too small to make it work. Washington’s bid depends its own Olympic-NFL stadium, replacing RFK Stadium and allowing their NFL team to come back from the Maryland suburbs. Washington has the worst weather, and is dragged down by its perception abroad. SF may be the golden child in terms of image, and is certainly the prettiest locale of the four.

Later today the USOC will meet in a conference room inside Denver International Airport’s terminal. After the decision is made the committee will announce the decision and fly out to the winning city for a press conference. The list of cities on the 2024 Summer Olympics Wikipedia page is not all that impressive despite the name recognition, so 2024 is as good a chance for the US to win as any in the last decade or so. The final selection by the IOC will take place in 2017, so the winner tomorrow will have a lot of time to work with the USOC on fine-tuning its submission.

P.S. – If SF is chosen, and the Raiders sign on to a NFL-Olympics stadium at the Coliseum, chances are that the A’s would be gone. It’d be difficult to have a new stadium, the existing arena, a cycling velodrome, and a new ballpark at the Complex. It’s simply too crowded. Making the parking situation work while supporting several years of construction over multiple phases is a bit much to ask of “permanent” tenants like the pro sports teams.

P.P.S. – There are a number of political and infrastructural issues to tackle should SF get the nod. I’m hesitant to write anything about that stuff until a bid is chosen.

48 thoughts on “Last minute inclusion of new Oakland stadium boosts SF’s Olympic bid

  1. How do Rome, Paris, Berlin, and even Melbourne not qualify as impressive, or at least very competitive? That group is stiffer competition than Chicago had for the 2016 bid and Chicago did not fare well in IOC voting.

    • As cities they’re great. However, Europe has already hosted a Summer Games recently. Paris and Berlin are showing poor public support, and it makes little sense to award the Games to Australia twice in 25 years. And at the moment, SF has by far the best economy of any of these cities to support its bid.

      • Perhaps so. I wouldn’t hold the chronological gap against Europe though. The games were in Montreal in 1976, LA in 1984, and then Atlanta in 1996; Barcelona in 1992 and then Athens in 2004. If a European city were to win, it would be another 12 year gap.

    • Discount Rome. Italy is broke.

  2. Why not build the main Olympic stadium at Howard Terminal? Combined with a new intermodal BART/Amtrak/Intercity bus transit center,It would make a more central hub. The bonus is that it would free up the Coliseum for the A’s.

  3. a’s to sj if this happens as no way will the a’s and maybe even mlb wait until a decade out to start building a park in oakland and even then there pretty much wouldn’t be anywhere to build a park and the viable surrounding projects to help finance it.

    sorry for those oakland only folks, coliseum is pretty much the only location in the city that fits that description, and yes that means places like howard terminal are a non starter.

    still can’t believe why the city of oakland would probably once again choose the raiders over the a’s if this olympic stadium if it were ever which i’d have serious doubt it will ever will be but lets say it does it’d should be retrofitted into a mlb park as atl did with turner field.

  4. You can’t trust politician. The new mayor Ms Schaaf is proven to be a liar already. She supposedly supported baseball becuz of the 81 game schedule. Boom. now she is campaigning for a new stadium for the raiders. Liar will lie and keep lying.

    • Liar? She is supporting a bid to bring a global event to Oakland. I’d argue this move shows why Oakland elected the right person this time.

      • It would be the same as Santa Clara bringing San Francisco’s football team to the town, only to be pushed aside while Frisco continues to get the glory. (“OK, TV production crew, let’s cut right from the aerial view of Levi’s Stadium to a shot of Alcatraz!”) After the San Francisco (not Oakland) Olympics, Oakland would be left with big football stadium used 10 days a year while losing the A’s and their 81 dates a year.

      • If it was only a stadium, sure. But it’s also hotels, an olympic village that can be converted into residential housing, etc. This transcends the A’s and Raiders, it’s a potential way to get Coliseum City without the same outlay.

        In London, for instance, the IOC invested around $1B into the games. Imagine if they did the same in a parking lot in Oakland… It would be transformed into… a mixed use development with a stadium in it without the current financial model malaise of actual Coliseum City.

        Santa Clara could only wish they had such an opportunity.

  5. So, if this Olympic Raiders stadium is going to get built, we will have:
    * Oakland pushing Howard Terminal for the A’s again, the A’s rejecting it.
    * MLB seeing Oakland’s clear selection of the Raiders over the A’s.
    * The A’s again advising a move to downtown San Jose
    * The Giants not moving one inch to let the A’s go to downtown San Jose
    * ???

    • From the A’s perspective I think the worst part of the whole thing is the potential for additional delays. It looked like Feb was going to be the timeframe when everything would come to a head and Oakland would finally have to make a decision on who would prime changes to the Coliseum site. If the USOC picks the Bay Area, this just kicks the can down the road another couple of years until the IOC decides.

      • Which is why part of me hopes the USOC passes the Bay Area over and they can get on with this…

  6. @ML–I am admittedly a novice when it comes to where olympic dollars come from if there is no taxpayer support—where would oakland/SF bid committee come up with money to build this stadium?

    • Sponsors would foot most of it, at least for the temporary venues. Public has to come up with infrastructure. The sticking point is always funding the permanent venues, since those will be used after the Games.

      • Luckily the Bay has most of those. But I can’t imagine they wouldn’t need some public money for an Olympic Stadium. Also of concern is that this is yet more sponsorship dollars that would be sucked up that would otherwise be available to the A’s.

  7. Not much of a supporter of this bid since SJ appears to be left out in the cold again (wow, what a surprise…). That said, if it gets my Raiders a new stadium at the Coli than I’d reluctantly support “SF” winning the bid. Heck, this could also help Wolff/Manfred get the A’s to SJ sooner rather than later…
    Gulp…GO SF!!

  8. Marine Layer,

    Thanks for the great write-up. I agree with you regarding switching Haas Pavilion with Oracle Arena for basketball. Oracle is a great basketball arena with 19,000 seats and many luxury suites. Using that great and still modern venue for hand-ball is almost comical.

    I agree that making the venues more accessible and closer together makes a lot of sense. The East Bay is underutilized in this current plan considering the proximity to San Francisco hotels and considering the great BART accessibility.

    Another Oakland venue which could be incorporated into the bid would be the soon to be renovated Kaiser Convention Center, (or Oakland Auditorium known to us older folks) at the foot of Lake Merritt. Two developers are now working with the City of Oakland to renovate this historic treasure a mere one block from the Lake Merritt BART station. The structure includes a compact 5,000 seat arena which was used for concerts, basketball tournaments, and even roller derby. The place sits in a gorgeous setting and would be a perfect use for events like weightlifting, hand-ball, etc.

    • It’s good to hear that the Kaiser is going to, hopefully, be restored/refurbished. I hope the final plan doesn’t create a cannibalization effect of concerts at the Fox.

  9. This should be called the “Bay Area Olympics” because San Francisco really only has its name and hotel rooms to offer the event. Most of the great venues are outside of San Francisco.

    Oakland has two more great venues mere steps from the 19th Street BART station. Oakland has the 3,000 seat Paramount Theater, along with the 2400 seat Fox Theater. These venues would be great for sports like fencing, table tennis, and even weightlifting.

    Someone on the board brought up the idea of Howard Terminal being used for the Olympic Stadium and leaving the Coliseum for the A’s. The setting would be spectacular by the waterfront and if Oakland could get a new Jack London Square station for BART the venue would be ideal.

    • Yes they should be called the “Bay Area Olympics” but we know exactly how it will be cast. It would be Frisco’s Olympics. The other cities involved will barely be mentioned. Glory and $$ for Frisco, traffic and expenses for the other anonymous cities.

    • It won’t be called that. Get over it guys, San Francisco is a world renowned city and the rest of the area doesn’t get the same recognition.

  10. @Jeffrey :

    global event ? Please. It is a stupid event. She already is lying by campaigning for the new stadium for the raiders. She must know if it is built. the A’s can’t co-exist in Oakland. So by doing it, she has picked the raiders and doing so means she lied.

  11. If SF wins the bid to represent the USA in the final 2024 Olympics bidding process(to be awarded summer 2017), it will serve to automatically delay any future stadium decisions for both the Raiders and A’s for at least another two years. The Raiders will likely now extend their lease at the Coliseum to at least thru 2017.

    • And Wolff should sit back and keep collecting revenue-sharing checks while the A’s continue to rot in a 50-year-old football stadium. Wolff has proposed a workable solution – downtown San Jose – and MLB has not only rejected it but is fighting San Jose in court. So keep writing those checks, MLB, and enjoy more ESPN tales of embarrassment related to the falling-part, sewage-leaking Coliseum for years to come. And when construction starts on the Olympic stadium, the A’s will be an orphan franchise, maybe playing all their games on the road like the Prince Rupert Mundys in “The Great America Novel.” All to keep the Giants happy.

      • Doesn’t look like we’ll be on national TV until at least 2017 with this offseason’s roster moves, so it’s not really going to be all that embarassing on a national level.

  12. ESPN will be happy to report on whatever is falling apart at the Coliseum on any given day.

  13. Me, thinking only of what happens after the Olympics: “Bring on the velodrome!”

  14. btw, if Ms Schaaf wants to help Frisco, she better demands the effort is called Frisco-Oakland Olympics bid. Hey Quan BFF Larry Baer is getting the credit

    • Even if Baer gets the credit and it helps San Francisco, Oakland gets a stadium, a professional sports team, additional development in the form of housing, hotels, restaurants, etc to help revitalize East Oakland, plus some (albeit not as much as SF) additional international exposure.

      While I’d be much happier if Schaaf started discussions with Wolff, Schaaf’s approach makes sense.

  15. True odds: 16-1 shot

  16. If SF gets the Olympics and a stadium is built in Oakland (that’ll be used for the Raiders), what are the chances of MLB lifting the territorial rights to San Jose for the A’s?

    • Who knows? Certainly better than they are now. That’s what I don’t understand about Baer’s support for the Oakland olympic stadium idea. It would essentially force one of the teams out. Maybe his thinking is that it would force the Raiders out and become an A’s stadium. But then you have Schaaf saying it would more likely be used as a Raiders stadium (which is more reasonable just from a physical standpoint), which would force the A’s out. And to me, building a “legacy venue” that screws over an existing sports franchise doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the concept of building legacy venues in the first place.

      • And another thing to consider: The primary olympic stadium for the summer games has never once been outside the city limits of the listed host city. I wonder what effect, if any, that has on the USOC’s decision.

      • Or maybe Baer thinks that this will force the A’s out of the Bay Area entirely. In either case it puts the A’s in limbo for longer which helps the Giants.

  17. I just heard live on KCBS that the USOC chose Boston.

  18. Normally I’d say that San Francisco would get all the glory if Oakland was holding just a lesser known smaller sport, but holding the opening ceremonies, the track and field events and the closing ceremonies, would be huge for Oakland. There is no way Oakland wouldn’t get a huge amount of exposure holding those events.

    I remember watching the World Cup from Rio and the matches were held all over the country, some more than a thousand miles from Rio and every city where the stadiums were located was mentioned in the broadcast.

    The Olympics in the opening ceremony stadium would be huge for Oakland on an international stage. Oakland is already a well known city for sports and there is no way San Francisco would be able to completely smother Oakland if this stadium comes to fruition.

    • That post is concrete proof that you don’t understand the difference between the structure of the World Cup and the Olympics.

  19. Oh forget it. Boston got it.

  20. Does Boston have a stadium within city limits able to hold the opening ceremonies?

  21. 2028…True odds: 64-1

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