Fan Fest at JLS a rousing success

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As I arrived at the Jack London Square Amtrak station around 9:30 AM on Saturday, I looked around. No fog. Thin cirrus clouds. The sun was warming the air. This was, for once, going to be a good Fan Fest. Which it was. The A’s had a permit for 7,500, and if it rained as it had over the past several weeks and during most recent Fan Fests, they were expecting a modest 3,000 to show up. They were even considering putting up a tent at the Ferry Lawn, if only to provide more cover for fans. Instead, they got a reported 15,000 fans to show. And according to Sean Doolittle, the crowd actually measured 1.5 million in attendance. Frankly, I’m all for #alternativefacts when it comes to A’s attendance.

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Fans took over Jack London Square: waiting in line for autographs, sampling free food from several food trucks, watching player interviews, or taking in kids’ activities. Some came out because of the great weather, others wanted to check out nearby Howard Terminal. I’ll have an expansive post on that later this week. For now I’ll give you some initial thoughts.

 

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15,000 is an impressive crowd for Fan Fest, and Jack London Square makes for a pretty decent already-built ballpark village, doesn’t it? That’s only half the size of a good new ballpark crowd, and it’s on Saturday morning, not a traditional heavy traffic window as you would see most weeknights. Still, things seemed to go without incident. There could have been plenty, though. Counting the train on which I arrived, there were five trains rumbling through Jack London Square in a roughly 40 minute span coming from both east and west, including a long freight train. I also saw a near accident:

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Pedestrian bridge at Yoshi’s between Washington and Clay

The driver of the black Tesla was confused about where he could turn, thanks to the barricades at the Washington Street entrance to JLS. He stopped on the tracks before making a U-turn. Thankfully there was no train in the area. This is the same intersection where, only two weeks ago, two members of seminal Oakland jazz group Tower of Power were tragically hit by an oncoming Amtrak train. I know I sound like an obsessed worrywart about this train safety aspect. I can’t emphasize it enough, not just because safety is paramount, but also because the whole area needs to be safe for the companies that operate trains in the area.

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At Fan Fest itself, new team president David Kaval reaffirmed the A’s commitment to Oakland. The new marketing slogan is “Rooted in Oakland.” The Shibe Park Tavern rebranding of the West Side Club space at the Coliseum is to make it more baseball-leaning and fan-friendly. Kaval’s chief desire during this planning stage is to have a very intimate ballpark experience with “neighborhoods.” Anyone who has been following this story back through the Wolff years knows that those last items aren’t new. They’re not location-specific. As for those locations, they remain the Coliseum, Howard Terminal, and two “in and around Lake Merritt.” Those two are the Laney College and Peralta CCD sites. Kaval was quick to praise the Howard Terminal locale especially with the perfect weather at the time. He also mentioned that the team will need help from fans in terms of community support and lobbying at the city, county, and even state levels. Citing his experience in bringing Avaya Stadium to completion, Kaval emphasized the need to deal with the special regulations unique to Howard Terminal, including the Tidelands Trust. Kaval’s language has been careful to not favor one site over another, no matter what fans want to read into tweets and news quotes.

The thing Kaval didn’t provide was an announcement regarding the site choice. That’s still in progress, though Kaval promised a timeline along with renderings and the usual things that come with such an announcement. The simple fact is that we don’t know if any of these sites will be available when the time comes, so hedging by studying four sites (down from twelve) is the most prudent move the A’s and Kaval can make for now. So we’ll have to wait for some months to come before that major event. Until then, enjoy the food trucks!

7 thoughts on “Fan Fest at JLS a rousing success

  1. sounds like fan fest was a huge success with even more than expected coming to the event. 15k is pretty good as i think that’s more than what we’ve seen in recent years when fan fest was held at oracle arena.

    could only imagine how impactful a waterfront park would be to that part of the city where you’d have 25k-30k converging into that area and the amount of business that would take place there. not to mention the other possible public events that could be held at a waterfront park like concerts and such that could bring even more tens of thousands of people not only to the waterfront businesses near jls but to other areas close to downtown oakland which could also see a huge benefit if the a’s were to build a park at howard terminal.

    it’d definitely help rebrand not only the image of the a’s org but the city of oakland itself which i think still gets a bad rep by both the national and local media. if you had a waterfront park showcasing the better parts of the city then could do wonders for the city of oakland.

    course howard terminal has some serious issues that have been discussed to death for the past 15 years ever since hok had it as one of the sites they presented back in 2002 at a city hall meeting. no doubt it’d be by far the most expensive and hardest site to build a baseball park but the potential positive impact it could create again for both the city and franchise could be enormous compared to what a ballpark and ballpark village would create at the coliseum for example which is where i still think the a’s will eventually build the park if i had to make a realistic guess.

    wouldn’t say a waterfront or even a park located at laney would be a complete game changer like many felt at&t became back in 2000 and we’re still feeling the effects of that right now both in terms of the good and bad for fans here locally on both sides of the bay. even if the a’s did build a park at howard terminal it wouldn’t change the fact that the a’s still would likely be seen as a middle of the pack franchise at best financially and who knows what the short and long term effects it’ll have on the org considering the massive cost it’d take to build such a project at that location.

    at the very least the a’s wouldn’t need to build a entertainment village as would be the case at the coliseum. ratto in a recent interview with stiglich did say the village was wolff’s idea all along whether it was at the fremont location or if the a’s were to ever build at the coliseum. not so sure fisher and now kaval would be all that keen in the amount of work it’d take to build such a massive entertainment village surrounding any new park.

    maybe that’s why the kaval is seriously looking at howard terminal or either spot around the laney college site as you potentially already have those facilities waiting in the wings already built.

    sure the a’s could help the already established businesses in the jls district be part of a village next to the park which would be a few blocks away if they were to build at howard terminal. but i would also envision the a’s wanting to build a few restaurants and fan facilities themselves adjacent to the park itself like what we seen at at&t park with the public house or whatever name they have for that as it’s gone thru a ton of changes over the years.

    but it does seems as kaval has gone out of his way to promote the site more so than any other sites which includes the coliseum and the laney locations so that is definitely raising the hopes for those a’s fans who want to see the team build at that location near the water.

    i’d guess if you’d poll all a’s fans 90% would rather have the a’s build at howard terminal or laney over the coliseum. maybe that 10% who would prefer the coliseum is because of the relative ease it’d have to get in and out of the park with freeway and bart access basically next door to that site especially when you compare it to the potential issues the “downtown” or “waterfront” sites have right now.

    big question is whether the a’s ownership, mainly fisher, want to not only not only wait maybe an extra year or two and also spend the extra money it’ll take to potentially have that “special” and “unique” type of baseball park which i think most would feel howard terminal could provide.

    or would they rather go the safer and financially smarter route and build at the coliseum where sure it could eventually end up being a nice project when it’s all said and done but certainly wouldn’t create the massive excitement that a waterfront park at howard terminal would create.

    we’ll likely find out sometime this year as that’s what being being reported by those who cover the a’s that an announcement of the site will take place sometime in 2017.

  2. Its nice to know somebody (apparently),wants to build in Oakland

    • a’s have no choice though. if there was no restrictions they probably would’ve built in san jose years ago.

      but the w’s under this current ownership ever since they gained control of the team always wanted to move across the bay and there wasn’t some lame ass territorial rights to block them.

      raiders don’t have the money to build a billion dollar stadium by themselves.

      keeping the a’s was always the best decision for the city business wise and they’re lucky it’ll likely end up that way when it’s all said and done.

      • Of course, but at least they are saying, and hopefully doing the right things.

        Wolff was under the same restrictions, and made no secret about how he felt about it.

  3. very interesting. maybe the a’s brass is more serious about howard terminal then we think, or at least i’ve thought over the last few months and really years that it’d take a miracle for howard terminal to happen.

    it still maybe but at least it looks a lot more likely than it did just a few days ago especially with all the critic tweets by kaval recently.

    but i’ll believe it when i see it and even then i won’t believe it until i see some actual shovels hitting some dirt at a ground breaking of a new park at howard terminal.

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