News for 10/19/12 (plus Young trade thoughts)

Update 10/20 3:00 PM – The A’s front office decided to kick off the hot stove league early by trading IF Cliff Pennington and 3B prospect Yordy Cabrera to Arizona for CF Chris Young (not that Chris Young) and $500,000. This has immediately led to speculation regarding the future of current CF Coco Crisp, who is scheduled to earn $7 million in 2013 and has a $7.5 million club option for 2014 ($1 million buyout). Young is due $8.5 million in 2013 and has a $11 million club option for 2014 ($1.5 million buyout). Cabrera was flipped to Miami for reliever Heath Bell. 

Pennington was either going to remain a mediocre shortstop or become an okay second baseman surrounded by many other okay second basemen in Oakland. That makes a trade for Young a steal, even if there’s no obvious place for him at the moment. Young came off a subpar 2012 season, especially compared to his 2010 All-Star campaign. September callup Adam Eaton (not that Adam Eaton) appears to be the CF of the future for the Snakes.

The A’s still have something of a logjam at 2B going forward. Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales, Scott Sizemore, and Eric Sogard are on the 40-man roster. Grant Green waits in the wings. Expect more trades.

….

Much to go over in this edition.

  • The NHLPA rejected the NHL’s most recent CBA proposal, which would have had the owners/players revenue split at 50/50. The union responded with three different proposals which would’ve more gradually brought the split down to 50/50. In response, the NHL has cancelled all games through the end of October. At this point it seems highly unlikely that the proposed 82-game compressed schedule could be pulled off. [NHL | Washington Times/Steven Whyno | NJ.com/Charles Curtis]
  • The Raiders received a 24-hour extension to the weekly TV blackout deadline imposed by the NFL, and were able to reach the goal of 85% of seats sold for the game Sunday vs. the Jags. Next potential blackout date: the next home game against another Florida team: Tampa Bay. (Also – kind of weird that the Raiders are playing all three Florida teams this season.) [CSN Bay Area/Paul Gutierrez]
  • The City of Reno was able to get a ballpark built in the middle of the Great Recession by getting a $55 million short-term loan. That loan will be due before the end of 2014, and the City and Reno Aces are scrambling to refinance the loan. Property taxes used to fund a TIF plan for the ballpark have dropped drastically, forcing the two parties to come up with something else. The Aces, which are owned by Indiana Pacers owner and mall magnate Herb Simon, are willing to pay $1 million in rent per year, with the rest of the $3 million annual obligation split between the City’s general fund, a ticket tax, whatever meager redevelopment money can be scraped up, and other public sources. Simon has threatened to move the team if no deal can be met. The Aces won the 2012 AAA championship and were awarded the AAA All-Star Game for 2013. [Reno Gazette Journal/Brian Duggan]
  • Lew Wolff came out against San Jose’s Measure D, which would raise the city’s minimum wage from the state’s $8/hour to $10/hour. Wolff’s argument is that the hike is unfair to hotels and restaurants in San Jose, which could potentially lose business to Santa Clara and other neighboring cities. The hike would also presumably affect seasonal employees at the two stadia Wolff wants to build, the Earthquakes Stadium and Cisco Field. Wolff played down that issue, saying that there’s less direct competition there to affect the Quakes/A’s. The City Council is split on the measure, while Mayor Chuck Reed has come out against it, along with the Chamber and Restaurants Association. My take? I hope it’s passed in San Jose, because like the plastic bag ban that was passed a couple years ago that spurred similar bans throughout the county, it could lead to a minimum wage hike countywide. As I’ve mentioned before, I have relatives who work low-pay, low-skill hotel/restaurant jobs, and they could certainly use the hike – though they don’t work in San Jose proper. [San Jose Mercury News/John Woolfolk]
  • Speaking of the Earthquakes, their groundbreaking ceremony is Sunday at 11:30 AM at 1125 Coleman Ave, San Jose. At least 5,500 have RSVP’d for the event, which should break a Guinness record. Walkups are welcome if they bring their own shovels.
  • Teams are announcing their ticket prices for the upcoming season. At least in terms of season tickets, the A’s have no change from 2012. The Cubs have announced modest drops in response to a large attendance dropoff, and the crosstown White Sox have announced even bigger cuts. [Chicago Tribune/Paul Sullivan | ChicagoNow, James Fegan]
  • The A’s announced their 2013 promotional schedule, and while it doesn’t have everything yet, there are now six fireworks nights instead of the usual five on the slate. There will now be two in August, on the 3rd and 31st.
  • The Port of Oakland placed its executive director on paid leave pending an investigation into improper spending and expensing by Port employees. This included a $4,500 tab at a Houston strip club, and numerous other suspect charges in the US and abroad by the Port’s maritime director James Kwon. Abuses could be so widespread as to be institutional. Yesterday, port workers scheduled a protest against fiscal mismanagement. The blowback from this investigation could curtail or place a trained eye on certain Port activities, such as (pre) development at Howard Terminal. Knowing the Port’s history, it’ll probably be more of the same. [SFGate/Matier & Ross | KTVU | SF Business Times/Eric Young]
  • Cal may have trouble paying off the $11.6 million annual debt service on Memorial Stadium because of lackluster premium seat sales. This smells a lot like the Mt. Davis deal. [Daily Californian/Justin Abraham]
  • The Warriors further explain their SF arena vision, with the help of Snøhetta architect Craig Dykers. The form will be “soft” and “lozenge-shaped”. The Fiscal Feasibility Report unveiled earlier this week can be viewed here. [Golden State Warriors | SocketSite]

More as it comes.

News for 8/30/12

Here we go. We’ll start off with some minor league news.

  • The Santa Cruz Warriors continue to work with the City of Santa Cruz to get their tent arena built in time for the 2012-13 D-League season. Final approval hasn’t happened yet, let alone construction, so the D-League put the Surf W’s on a loooo-o-ng road trip before the team’s first home game around Christmas. That gives the two parties 16 weeks to get the arena approved, built, and buttoned up. No pressure. The Surf W’s could play on the road for additional games until the project is completed, or if there are extensive delays or the project isn’t approved, hopefully there’s a backup plan like the San Jose Civic Auditorium. Cost for the downtown arena have already ballooned from $4 million to $5 million because of foundation issues that were identified. Ticket prices have also been released. [Santa Cruz Warriors; Santa Cruz Sentinel/J.M. Brown]
  • Head north on Highway 1 and you’ll eventually get near the Cow Palace, where the San Francisco Bulls are quietly fixing up the old arena. $2 million of updates will be paid for by the team, including a center-hung scoreboard, a first for the Cow Palace. A schedule and ticket prices have also been announced. I may have to ring up the Bulls to see if I can get a sneak peek of the place. [CSN Bay Area; SF Bulls]
  • The first debate for the at-large seat on the Oakland City Council happened last night, and the two main candidates, incumbent Rebecca Kaplan and challenger (and current D5 council member) Ignacio De La Fuente both had something to say about the tenant teams at the Coliseum complex. [East Bay Citizen; Steven Tavares]

On the issue of the city’s professional sports teams, Kaplan and De La Fuente differed, if not, in terms of their priorities for retaining the A’s, Raiders and Warriors in Oakland, with Kaplan being more optimistic. “Let’s face it, the A’s don’t know the way to San Jose,” said Kaplan, and adding the current Coliseum City proposal will bring shop owners, bars and restaurants to the city along with fans and conventioneers to the area, said Kaplan, while also creating jobs.

De La Fuente was less sanguine saying he would only turn his attention to the Coliseum once crime in Oakland is sufficiently quelled. “I learned from my mistakes,” he said, referring to the botched return of the Raiders in 1995. “They are in the business of making money,” De La Fuente said, believing the public sector should no longer have a role in financing stadiums.

  • The Earthquakes announced their general seat pricing and posted a seating chart. The big ticket item is the establishment of a 1,400-person supporters section in the closed end, which will have its own bar and storage area for the flags and banners they use during the game. Interestingly, the language is “1,400-person”, not “1,400-seat”, which leads me to believe that this area will be a standing terrace. That’s fine since fans in the supporters sections are expected to stand anyway. I’m pretty sure it’s the only to fit 1,400 people in what looks like a pretty small space between the elevated seating bowl and the pitch. [SJ Earthquakes]
  • The Quakes also announced today that they are negotiating with three Fortune 100 companies on naming rights for their 18,000-seat stadium. Fortune 100, eh? Club president said that some of these companies are tech or Silicon Valley firms. Recently, new MLS stadia have netted $2-3 million per year in naming rights, which if matched by the Quakes would go a long way towards paying off the stadium. FWIW, I don’t think any local tech company should be ruled out, including Cisco (and no, that doesn’t mean Cisco is dumping the A’s). [SJ Mercury News/Elliott Almond]
  • On Saturday I’ll be in Berkeley for the first Cal football game at the rebuilt Memorial Stadium. I’ll be sure to get there early to take lots of pictures and document the experience. Somehow I was able to buy one of the last available $19.32 tickets for the opening game. I’ll be in the south end zone, a mere 5 rows up. As an aside, I was somewhat surprised at how many tickets remained for the game. I expected a sell out long ago. One thing to consider is that we’re the only market with three FBS (D-I) college football teams. Combine that with small or not-terribly-fervent fanbases and two NFL teams, and it’s easy to see why our general reaction to college ball is a collective “Meh.” [UC Berkeley]
  • On a related note, the Pac-12 Network launched two weeks ago and is still negotiating carriage deals. Comcast is not an issue since the cable provider is a partner. The issue is working out a deal with DirecTV, which is not only the provider with the most regional sports and college networks, but also the provider of choice in most bars throughout the country thanks to NFL Sunday Ticket. DirecTV purportedly rejected a deal of $0.80 per subscriber/month, leaving many fans up and down the left coast without many opening week games. Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, and AT&T U-Verse customers are also affected. [SF Business Times/Eric Young]
  • The State Controller reversed a slew of land transfers between the cities of Milpitas, Morgan Hill, and their respective (and now defunct) redevelopment agencies. That doesn’t bode well for the Diridon ballpark land transfer, though it has to be pointed out that the Controller has already ruled once in San Jose’s favor, saying that Santa Clara County went to far in holding tax increment funds that were due to the City. [Merc /Tracy Seipel]

Finally, I have to thank a reader out there for giving me four prime tickets behind the A’s dugout for Wednesday’s day game against the Angels. I’m only going to use one, so if anyone’s interested in joining me and talking baseball and ballparks or economics, reply with a comment or send me a tweet.

More tomorrow.

Earthquakes Stadium Groundbreaking on 10/21

Prior to tonight’s Quakes-Rapids game at Buck Shaw, the Earthquakes announced that the long-awaited, oft-delayed groundbreaking will finally occur on October 21, before the home finale against the LA Galaxy.

20120825-182147.jpg

Quakes President David Kaval makes the big stadium announcement. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (in blue) was also there in support.

Knowing how long the fanbase has suffered waiting for the Quakes’ permanent home to be built, the team is making the groundbreaking a big public event. They’re inviting every fan to come to the ceremony and participate, in hopes of breaking the Guinness record of 4,532 simultaneous “groundbreakers” at a similar ceremony in India. Sounds like fun. Will the Quakes have enough hard hats on hand?

Update 7:00 PM – The San Jose Earthquakes have put up a press release for the event, which will be at noon on October 21. Fans can RSVP for the ceremony here.

News for 6/21/12

Good stuff in this edition.

  • Save Oakland Sports is having one of its regular meetings next Monday, June 25 @ 6 PM, at the Red Lion Hotel, 150 Hegenberger, Oakland.
  • CBS Radio and Cumulus (parent of KNBR) announced a new sports radio network that will launch in January. The network is expected to feature talent currently on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. A key talent on the latter is Jim Rome, whose daily TV show launched in April. Rome’s radio show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks (a News Corp. subsidiary), so there’s some natural friction there. I have to think that Rome came to CBS-SN with the idea that he might jump to this new radio network too at some point, though at some $30 million per year, his radio persona doesn’t come cheap. Both of the KNBR stations were identified as future network affiliates for the CBS Sports Radio, which creates a bit of a juggling situation for Cumulus. Will Cumulus continue to pay decent money to be an ESPN Radio affiliate and carry some Fox Sports Radio programming on the side? If not, does that free up ESPN Radio to move to The Game? And how does an ESPN Radio relationship conform with The Game’s cozy relationship with Comcast Sportsnet? Fantasy radio operators, start your typewriters.
  • Oakland’s City Council approved a $1 billion plan to finally remake the Oakland Army Base. Unlike some of the more glamorous or controversial plans that have been proposed (movie studio, casino, big box retail, auto row), this one will stay true to the base’s largest neighbor: the Port of Oakland. The plan will include new infrastructure, warehousing by ProLogis, and a logistics center. Every so often the base has come up in discussion here as a potential stadium site, but it’s an idea that’s never had legs within City Hall.
  • Greg Jamison’s quest to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes has hit a big roadblock in the form of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute. Now there are questions as to whether Jamison, who is not a billionaire, can pull off the acquisition without the sweetheart deal approved by the City of Glendale that would subsidize the team’s continued operation at Jobing.com Arena. The franchise, which is owned by the NHL at the moment, is being forced to lawyer up to complete the sale. If that can’t happen…
  • The City of Seattle and Chris Hansen are getting ready to finalize their new SoDo arena plan. Hansen would pay around 60%, with the remaining 40% coming from public sources. The political minefield is being negotiated right now, as the City Council doesn’t want the plan to come to a public vote, and the Port of Seattle is objecting because it fears that the arena will adversely impact port operations. Any team (NHL, NBA) that relocates to Seattle would play temporarily at Key Arena while the new arena is being built.
  • This week’s cautionary tale about public stadium financing comes from Chester, PA, where not only has a MLS stadium not been a development catalyst, the stadium tenant Philadelphia Union missed a $500k PILOT payment in 2010.
  • The BCS will have a four-team playoff starting in 2014. Semifinal games would rotate among the four current BCS sites, with the championship game going to the highest bidder among them.
  • Jim Caple has another one of his ballpark column series, this time an elimination tournament of all 30 MLB parks. In the tournament, fans can vote online for their favorite ballpark in each matchup. We’re at the semifinal stage, with Fenway Park (seeded #2) facing off against AT&T Park (#3) and Camden Yards (#4) vs. tourney Cinderella Miller Park (#24). The Coliseum was seeded #28 and lost in the first round to Target Field (#5) by a whopping 91% to 9% with over 60,000 votes, which is about right. Don’t feel bad though. New Yankee Stadium also lost in a landslide. The Coli’s Mt. Davis was also awarded Worst View. Finally, Caple gets a shoutout to Shibe Park, which ended up #8 in his list of places he wishes were still around.

Happy reading.

Notes on 6/19/12 SJ City Council Session

I got to the session just as public comments were ending. YES!!!

Four artificial turf soccer fields would be built on land previously reserved for a BART maintenance yard.

Council has their questions, though they seem to be on the verge of approving the deal with few reservations. Observations:

  • One of the key issues is financing. The $10 million shortfall in funding would be covered by the sale of commercial paper (with either HUD approval or from city reserves) and a Parks Trust Fund loan of up to $8 million, or both.
  • The loan or other funding would be paid back by a projected $500,000 in annual revenue from renting out the fields. The Quakes would be paid at least $333,000 every year to manage the stadium.
  • It should be noted that the land that the Quakes stadium and the new soccer fields would sit on would remain City-owned in the end. The Quakes paid a $2 million option at the end of 2010 for the land, and would pay another $5 million. Under the previous agreement, the land would be deeded back to the City.
  • The picture from the previous post had shown three soccer fields. There will be four, and they would be artificial turf.
  • The Earthquakes would partner in the facility.
  • The Quakes would move their youth development soccer academy from Danville to the facility.
  • Team would also give away $78,000 in Quakes tickets annually to the community.
  • Councilman Don Rocha would prefer one of the fields be grass, citing his 8-year-old daughter’s tearing of her ACL on an artificial turf field elsewhere in the county. Staff indicates that if a single grass field were instituted they’d have to do a new revenue pro-forma and re-bid the project, temporary delaying the project. The facility’s business model is based on rapid turnover, which is impossible with grass fields. Note: the Quakes second team isn’t allowed to use the Quakes’ training field.
  • Councilman Xavier Campos would like some anti-gang nonprofits to have access to the fields, perhaps via a new scholarship program being put together by the City and the Quakes. Mayor Chuck Reed counters that the facility will be revenue driven, which could make an equal-access facility impossible. (*tension*)
  • Hunter Storm, the Quakes, and the City have had an ongoing dialogue regarding the development.
  • Each of the districts would provide $100,000 towards the construction of the facility.

Update 4:16 PM – Item approved unanimously, with an amendment regarding the availability of an extra suite for low-income or underprivileged residents also approved. Interestingly, Mayor Reed “rallied” staff to get both the stadium and public fields built by 2014, not 2013.

One other Cisco Field-related item – The City Council/Diridon Development Authority unanimously approved a resolution which allows for an extension of the Property Based Improvement District, defined as essentially Cisco Field, HP Pavilion, everything in-between, and properties north to Julian Street. In addition, properties within the district would be assessed $4,000 per year. Previously, a vote was taken among property owners. 91.4% were in favor.

Another Airport West land deal + Muni budget item approved

Well, there goes a potential backup plan.

San Jose is getting ready to restructure the land deal (also see rendering) at the Airport West (FMC) property. In February, the City approved the Earthquakes Stadium project, which is to be located on the southern end of the property. Originally, the Wolff-Fisher group planned to build offices and perhaps a hotel on the remainder of the land. Now that remainder will be developed by South Bay developer Hunter Storm, with the section closest to the train tracks set aside for new soccer fields adjacent to the Earthquakes training pitch.

Overlay showing how Airport West property will be subdivided. Earthquakes practice field is the green block on the furthest right.

That last part is especially new, because that land was initially destined to be part of a BART maintenance facility. With BART for now terminating at Berryessa while full funding for the rest of the Silicon Valley extension is to be determined, the land would sit idle if not for this change. Plans currently call for an expansion of the Hayward BART maintenance facility to accommodate the extension, and there may be an option along the extension line for another yard if called for.

The controversial part is that in executing this land deal, the total proceeds to the City will go down $10 million. While the City has an equivalent surplus, in the previous agreement Wolff wasn’t expected to complete the land purchase until 2015. In the new proposal, Hunter Storm would pay for its share of the land by the end of the month. Revenues from the Quakes Stadium and the soccer fields would begin in 2013.

As for the Earthquakes Stadium itself, the article mentions that it’s under FAA review/audit. Apparently this is because the FAA wants to check out light spillage from the stadium light design to ensure that it doesn’t create any difficulties for air traffic. Problems don’t seem likely, but this is a bureaucratic government organization we’re talking about. Already the FAA has determined that both the 49ers stadium and Cisco Field would require temporary flight restrictions due to the way they are sited within the SJC flight path. The FAA review is the only issue remaining that delays stadium construction.

I’ll be at the City Council session later today to cover this issue.

Just across the wire – City Council voted 8-3 to approve $85,000 in improvements to Municipal Stadium. Noted is the fact that the City Council can reopen discussions later over how the Giants’ subsidies are spent – especially if they’re used to fund a lawsuit against the City. Later is probably 2013, when the lease is due for renegotiation. Will there still be a lawsuit in play at that point? We’ll see over the next year or so. One thing to keep in mind – as long as the uncertainty regarding the lease and lawsuit hang over the club, it would be hard for ownership to sell the franchise to new San Jose-based interests. Outside San Jose, that’s a different story. The City Council was careful to say that there’s room for both teams within city limits, a posture that has really only come to the forefront in the last couple of years.

Quakes sell out luxury suites, start selling club seats

Even though the official groundbreaking has yet to occur, the San Jose Earthquakes announced today that they have sold out their entire allotment of luxury suites – 12 in all. In addition, the club announced that they are now selling club seats to the public. A total of 576 club seats will be made available, all at field level, just like the suites.

Club interior

There always was room for premium facilities to be built, so it makes sense that they’d wait to introduce club seats until other premium options such as suites were sold out. The key thing I noticed when looking at the renderings is the lack of walls. In last year’s big Lew Wolff interview, he mentioned how expensive it is to fully build out a space with air conditioning. The sold-out luxury suites are the only premium option that is fully built out. The club here won’t be behind walls of any kind and doesn’t appear to be air conditioned, which should reduce operating costs a good amount. The amenities don’t look any less plush than at other venues, and patrons will have in-seat service.

Four separate club areas consisting of four three-row sections apiece will be spread throughout. Two will be located near midfield, two towards the ends. Priced by the row, tickets will range from $90 to $125 per seat in season ticket packages, 20% more for single game purchases.

Patio suite exterior and interior

The Quakes are also selling patio suites, which are like the luxury suites except with no walls (or A/C). This option effectively splits the difference between the club seats and the luxury suites.

View from Patio Suite

I have a feeling that Lew and Keith Wolff are using Earthquakes Stadium as a testbed for future offerings at Cisco Field. If they can get the mix of hardcore Quakes fans, general soccer fans, and casual fans right, there are numerous lessons that are applicable to the construction and deployment of similar amenities at Cisco Field. For now, the stated capacity remains 18,000, though as we can see in this case, market conditions can change quickly.