A’s to add more premium seating options

Over at NBC Sports California, Ben Ross interviewed A’s COO Chris Giles about many of the changes planned for next season at the Coliseum. Like the 2017 re-opening of the upper deck and the unveiling of the Treehouse last year, the team is introducing new and improved seat offerings throughout the lower bowl. Let’s go over what’s new.

The biggest changes will be in the seating sections inside fair territory near the foul poles. Oak Landing will be a group standing area in left field, while the Hero Deck will adorn the opposite sections in right field.

Oak Landing (LF)

Hero Deck (RF)

The A’s will be able to pitch both areas as being in home run territory, which they used to do with the BBQ Terrace sections that are being replaced. The BBQ Terrace sections encompassed only four rows above the outfield fence. Above that is the familiar walkway and the soon-to-be-converted sections. This will be a welcome addition, as the old seats didn’t sell all that well except when heavily discounted or made available in trade-ins for season ticket holders. Considering the general availability of other locations in the now-47,000 capacity Coli, these aren’t the most fetching locations. But they could prove inviting to large groups or companies that want to bring a bunch of people to a game while on a budget.

For those whose budgets are higher, the A’s are converting other lower bowl sections to more luxurious seat opportunities, with greater amenities to boot. First up is the Coppola Theater Box, a field box or mini-suite with catering and translucent privacy panels.

Coppola Theater Box

Some number of rows will be removed to accommodate these boxes, and as you can see from the rendering above, they will be located next to the stairs leading to the Plaza Level.Some sections, such as 117 and 301 or 330, probably won’t undergo the conversion. It’s safe to believe that the conversion will occur through much of the field level. Here’s what a similar field box looks like at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ:

Behind the road dugout, the A’s are installing what they call  Lounge Seats. Big and cushy and replete with refrigerators and televisions, this offering is meant to mimic the creature comforts of a fan’s living room while being at the ballpark. The A’s would be smart to offer blankets for those chilly April and May night games.

Lounge Seats

The Terrace has small group tables above the home dugout, also with in-game monitors.

Terrace

Dugout Seats will also be offered. How can the A’s do this when the dugouts themselves aren’t large enough to hold the teams? The actual location of those seats will be the walkways between the dugouts and the Diamond Level seats, which until now were mostly an overflow area for players, coaches, and front office staff.

One big takeaway from these images is that the new seats and tables will take up a lot of space. From the looks of things each of the new premium rows will cover the equivalent of three rows in the regular sections nearby. Certainly there will be a price to pay for that kind of leg room. The exception to this is Oak Landing, whose standing rows will take up two regular seating rows.

The A’s are scattering these sections throughout the Coli, which promises to break up the monotonous ocean of empty seats often seen throughout the season. Still, there’s only so much the A’s can do to a place as large as the Coliseum. The upper deck closure failed, and the Treehouse converted part of the Plaza Outfield area, so that level isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s funny that a decade ago when we talked about new ballparks, it was generally agreed by many fans that the A’s should aim for 40,000 seats. Nowadays 40k is practically too big. The new premium and group offerings are yet another experiment in scarcity. We’ll see by the end of the season how successful that experiment is.

A’s schedule additional community meetings

The A’s continue their series of community outreach meetings, starting with this Saturday.

Two weeks from Sunday another meeting will be held at Oakland City Hall. While Saturday’s meeting will be focused on development at the Coliseum, the meeting on the 28th will continue the discussion about Howard Terminal. Questions about Howard Terminal are likely to be raised at the Coliseum meeting and vice-versa, so I hope that the A’s and the City are prepared. They appear to have learned some lessons from the Peralta debacle.

For now both sites are being handled separately. That may change, though not without some consternation.

The thing that concerns me is that the City should have a web page dedicated to the effort on their website. So should the A’s. Perhaps this is technically too early in the process because there is no project submitted yet, but eventually both parties will need their own information repositories for their respective efforts. Perhaps that’s why the City listed a new job posting for a project manager.

Before you ask, no, I’m not that kind of project manager as I have no relevant governmental experience. Besides, my therapeutic program doesn’t end until early next year and I imagine both the City and the Team want this work started ASAP. Nevertheless, I’m glad that steps are being made to not repeat the mistakes of the recent (and not-so-recent) past.

Community Meeting on Howard Terminal to be held Sunday 10/7

A notice from the A’s and the City of Oakland:

NEW BALLPARK COMMUNITY MEETING

Councilmember Lynette McElhanney and the Oakland Athletics invite you to attend a meeting with representative from the A’s to discuss the proposed new ballpark site at Howard Terminal in West Oakland.
Sunday, October 7, 2018

1 PM to 3 PM

7th West Restaurant  1255 7th St. Oakland, CA 94706

Complimentary food and refreshments will be served.

For more information contact:

externalaffairs@athletics.com

7th West happens to be only a few blocks east of the West Oakland BART station, and about nine blocks northwest of Howard Terminal. You’ll notice some railroad tracks running right past 7th West, as the Amtrak maintenance facility and a major Union Pacific rail yard are on the other side of 880.

If you’re planning to go, take notes and report back. Thanks.

AB 734 signed by Governor Brown

I figured that with the sheer number of bills waiting to be passed or vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown, he might take the entire month to sign AB 734 (D-Bonta) into law.

On that count I was right. There was not much worry about a veto for this and similar bills, because the issues are so local that they weren’t likely to encounter broad opposition. It is somewhat interesting, however, that the Clippers’ CEQA streamlining bill, AB 987, had former US Senator Barbara Boxer lobbying against it. At the end, both AB 734 (A’s, Howard Terminal) and AB 987 (Clippers, Inglewood) were both signed before tonight’s midnight deadline. AB 987 happens to have a signing statement from Brown, which should equally apply to AB 734 and Howard Terminal. From Gov. Brown:

While most fans and HT proponents have focused on issues such as the distance from BART and the dearth of parking and other traffic infrastructure immediately available at HT, it should be made clear that a ballpark project will have to pass certain (CEQA) standards to be approved and certified – before a shovel hits in the ground. Although the Warriors and Kings had the benefit of their own CEQA streamlining bills, legal challenges still delayed the eventual groundbreaking for Chase Center for at least a year. On the other hand, the ballpark is projected to have a much smaller capacity than the current Coliseum at 30-35,000 seats. That and smart design should help the project meet some environmental standards. As for the usual arguments about gentrification and displacement (mostly of industry) that will likely come up, I’ll just say that I’m glad this discussion is finally taking place.

Tidelands Trust map of Howard Terminal and Jack London Square area

20+ years later, the process remains the same

I was going through some reading material as any good stadium geek does occasionally, when I came upon one of my favorite chapters in Sports, Jobs & Taxes, the Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist book that set the tone for future stadium discussions along with Neil deMause’s Field of Schemes. I then remembered that I wrote a post about this years ago. And then I noticed something else while I was rereading the chapter: a flowchart.

Well then, how does one go about making it work as the Giants did in China Basin? Thankfully, some very smart economists – John M. QuigleyEugene Smolensky, and Stephen J. Agostini – have gone to the trouble of diagramming the process.  The flowchart below comes from a paper titled Stickball in San Francisco. It’s better known as the San Francisco Giants’ case study in the book Sports, Jobs, and Taxes by noted sports economists Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Ready? Here’s the secret recipe:

stickball

Step-by-step instructions on how to follow the Giants’ plan. (click for larger version)

Back in 2012, I made parallels between the process China Basin went through and Victory Court, one of the last great ballpark concepts that went nowhere. I was amazed at how, 20+ years after the Giants navigated the political process and broke ground, how similar the process looks for Howard Terminal. While AB 734 sits on the governor’s desk waiting for his signature, the only procedural change it makes for the A’s is limiting the length of CEQA-related lawsuits to 270 days. So I’m presenting the flowchart again, to show you the path Howard Terminal must take to breaking ground. There are some differences, mainly the lack of Caltrans involvement in the land deal and the fact that Oakland doesn’t have a Board of Supervisors like the City and County of San Francisco (Oakland has a City Council instead), but most everything else is quite similar.

The A’s and their architects apparently have a trip planned to visit several urban ballparks towards the end of the regular season. I wonder if the junket will also include a visit to the next BCDC Commission meeting.

Dolich thinks A’s have secret plan

Now that the A’s have the not-heavy-lifting passage of AB 734 completed, we can focus on next steps.

That means the financial part of the deal. Besides picking the site (Howard Terminal or the Coliseum), the A’s have to arrange a deal to either lease or purchase the land. Andy Dolich thinks that the A’s will make a play for both, using one to offset the cost of the other.

When the green and gold can’t access enough infrastructure gold from the city, county and Port of Oakland, they might introduce their Hidden Ball Trick.

It goes something like this: You (public entities) pay for Howard’s infrastructure with this ball over here, and we (the A’s) and a DTBNL (Developer to Be Named Later) will pick up your debt load of $137 million on the Coliseum. Of course, you’ll have to make us the exclusive owner of that site.

Any guesses as to whether or not that’s an even trade? When the community activists start to speak out, we’ll soon find out the answer.

Oakland to proceed with lawsuit against Raiders

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Matier and Ross have the details.