Keeping the A’s in Oakland

Judging by the many comments on the open thread, and the many e-mails I’ve been getting about it, it’s clear that people want to talk about the A’s. So here’s a space for you to do just that.

So, in case you live in a cave or something, here’s some background. The Oakland Athletics are a professional baseball team who have been playing in Oakland since 1968, when they moved here from Kansas City, where they had previously moved from Philadelphia. They play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which is just about one of the most unpleasant places to see a game I’ve ever visited. The neighborhood sucks, it’s ugly, the circulation is unbelievably bad. It deserves an award for being so inefficient. Also, the lines at the concession stands are insane and it is not unusual at all that you have to wait like forty-five minutes for a beer, and I have no idea if that’s a function of inept workers at the Coliseum or somehow related to design, but in any case, it is ridiculous.

Anyway, the team’s ownership has been wanting an alternate location for some time now, and to that end, the City of Oakland commissioned a report back in 2000 on possible sites for a new stadium from HOK Sport, who ended up identifying four possible sites in Alameda County: Uptown Oakland, between 18th and 20th and MLK and Telegraph, the Howard Street terminal, between Linden and Jefferson just north of Jack London Square, the Coliseum parking lot, and Fremont, north of the New United Motor plant.

Former City Manager Robert Bobb was hell-bent on the Uptown site, but that location never panned out because the City was busy negotiating with Forest City to build apartments at the site. The City Council and then-Mayor Jerry Brown have taken a lot of heat for pursuing the Uptown Apartments instead of a ballpark at Uptown, but the criticisms are somewhat unfair, since A’s owner Steve Schott made it clear repeatedly that he wasn’t interested in an Uptown ballpark, at least not if he was going to have to pay for it, and really preferred Santa Clara County anyway. So I’m not really sure what people think the City should have done. Bobb wanted to use redevelopment funds to finance the stadium, but it’s hard for me to see Oakland residents being particularly eager to pony up hundreds of millions of dollars of public money for the purpose.

Then in March 2005, the team was sold to a new group. Billionare John Fisher provided most of the cash, but named developer Lew Wolff managing partner. A few months later, Wolff unveiled a proposal for a potential new site just north of the Coliseum. The proposal was pretty neat – a 35,000 seat ballpark with a hotel overlooking the field. The stadium would have been an anchor for a larger retail and residential development which would have financed park, and all told, Wolff wanted 90 acres in the area.

The plan never progressed beyond a largely conceptual stage, due to problems with land acquisition, and with Oakland officials citing Wolff’s disinterest in working with the City as the problem. A talk Wolff gave to the San Jose Chamber of Commerce in August 2006 seemed to back this up, as he told them that he had been trying to broker deals for territorial rights in Santa Clara County, but had failed. This wasn’t a particularly surprising revelation, but confirmation that Wolff had in fact trying to get rights for San Jose since even before he bought the team and at the same time as he had been talking about the Coliseum north spot gave further weight to suspicions that he had never been serious about staying in Oakland in the first place.

A few months later, Wolff announced that he had reached an agreement with Cisco to buy 143 acres to build a ballpark in Fremont. I’ll skip the details on that, since this is an Oakland blog, and all you really need to know is that now, two plus years later, Fremont plans have officially been abandoned (PDF).

So where does that leave us? I said last week in the open thread that I’m convinced the A’s will end up in San Jose, and I remain so. San Jose has a lot to offer, including but not limited to an eager group of politicians, ample potential for corporate sponsorship, and a mostly acquired ballpark site adjacent to a multi-modal transit hub with an already certified EIR. The obstacle to a San Jose move is that the City lies within the Giants’s territory, and the Giants are more than reluctant to cede those rights to the A’s. Fortunately for San Jose advocates, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has implied recently that he’s willing to consider transferring the territory rights to the A’s over the objections of the Giants, a decision that would require a vote of 3/4 of MLB team owners. Most observers believe that Selig would not have indicated the rights change was a possibility if he was not already confident he had those votes.

Marine Layer has written a better overview of the current situation than I possibly could, so I encourage interested readers to head over to the New A’s Ballpark blog to get all the background. With respect to potential sites in Oakland, the Coliseum parking lot is by far the best, but people are welcome to use the comments in this thread to toss out their own ideas. Potential locations that I’ve heard mentioned lately include Broadway Auto Row (which is, frankly, delusional), Laney College athletic fields, Oak to Ninth, the Oakland Army Base, the Central Waterfront, and Mandela Grand. Aside from the problems of cost and land acquisition, any new ballpark would need to have excellent access both from freeways and public transit. Potential locations not currently served by high capacity transit would need enough excess capacity on nearby roads that some kind of BART-stadium connection could be built, whether that’s light rail (unlikely) or a BRT-like solution (more likely).

Certain local politicians are now claiming that the cancellation of Fremont plans mean a new stadium in Oakland is an option. I see this as insane, and frankly, I’m forced to question the priorities of any City Councilmember who would choose to devote any energy whatsoever to pursuing a freaking ballpark in the face of the enormous fiscal crisis facing the City, as well as their judgment. During his 2006 Mayoral campaign, Ron Dellums called the notion of keeping the A’s in Oakland a “flight into fantasy,” and he was right. The bottom line is that the team’s ownership isn’t interested in Oakland, and while that may suck, there’s really nothing we can do about it.

The A’s will end up in San Jose, but if you want to dream, feel free to share your thoughts about possible Oakland locations in the comments. In my fantasy, they’d go to Sacramento and we’d get the River Cats.

107 thoughts on “Keeping the A’s in Oakland

  1. Coolhand Luke

    Wow! I have been working on a post of the exact same title. The angle is much different though, and definitely a tad more hopeful, if not realistic. It will be done tomorrow.

  2. Navigator

    This is so sad. To be giving up on an Oakland institution so easily. This will only lessen Oakland as a city. It’s no different than if the Oakland Ballet or Oakland Symphony left town. The idea that retaining a franchise which places Oakland into the National spotlight in a positive manner for 162 days a year, is “insane,” doesn’t make sense to me.

    Also, I can’t understand why this is a good thing for San Jose but not for Oakland. Oakland should just step aside, lick its wounds, and hope to get Sacramento’s minor league team. I for one don’t think that Oakland is a minor league town.

    Oakland has many advantages over San Jose. Oakland is in the exact geographic center of the Bay Area linked to the 7 million residents of the region via BART. The Oakland Metro Area has a population of 2.4 million residents along the rich history and tradition of being identified with championship professional sports. Oakland has won seven world titles in the three major sports. Oakland has four championships for the A’s, two for the Raiders, and one for the Warriors. Not bad for a mid sized city of 400,000 residents.

    Another thing that Oakland has going for it, is the existing Coliseum. The Coliseum is a decent place to watch a ballgame. The place was remodeled with 40,000 new seats when the Raiders came back from LA. Also, two new clubs and many luxury suites were built. The West Side club has a restaurant with a view of the playing field. To say that the neighborhood “sucks” does a great disservice to all the new hotels and restaurants on Hegenberger. How exactly does the neighborhood “suck?” Is it the open marshes of Martin Luther King Shoreline? Is it In-N out burger? Walmart? The new Holiday Inn? Maybe Zone Technologies and the Auto Dealerships at the Oakland Airport Business Park.

    The Oakland A’s will be playing in Oakland for the foreseeable future because there is no place better with a serviceable ballpark to go to. Does anyone really think that San Jose is really going to be able to provide smooth sailing for a ballpark in these tough economic times? San Jose has a 60 million dollar budget shortfall. The citizens of San Jose will not stand by while their inferiority complexed politicians throw money and tax breaks at Lew Wolff just so that San Jose can emerge from the shadows of San Francisco and Oakland.

    San Jose is the kid sitting in the corner of the Bay Area always waving its arms trying to get attention. Their biggest claim to fame is that they have a zillion people living within the city limits. I’ve been to their downtown many times. I’ve been to the San Jose Repertory Theater along with the restored California Theater. I’ve walked along the empty Paseo Del Rio, and I’ve seen Lew Wolff’s albatross hotel. I’m referring to the underutilized Fairmont San Jose which is subsidized by the City. San Jose, while a clean and modern city, just doesn’t have the big city charm of Oakland. The California Theater in Downtown San Jose is very nice but it has very limited seating. The San Jose Rep is even smaller. I’ve never seen a city which likes to taut itself as a great place with such tiny performing arts centers. Also, San Jose is a landlocked city while Oakland offers two waterfronts which could be incorporated into a new ballpark.

    The point is that Oakland and the A’s complement each other. The A’s could use Oakland’s unique assets to create a truly great charming urban ballpark. The Uptown site around 27th & Broadway, is not, “delusional.” Even the pro Fremont and pro San Jose ballpark site had a rendering of how the ballpark would fit in that space. We could even move it back a bit, and start the footprint closer to the former Biff’s Restaurant which is now a rotting blighted mess. We could reconfigure the traffic islands around 26th & Broadway to create additional space. A small park would fit there with all its amenities with very little disruption to existing businesses. There are plenty of surface parking lots along with old auto related business to make it work.

    Secondly, the Oakland Fire Department Training Center between the Lake Merritt Channel and Fallon Street would be another possible location for a ballpark in Oakland. The Lake Merritt BART station is less than a 1/4 of a mile away, the Amtrak station is close by, and the Ferry Terminal on Clay Street is a pleasant walk away from the site. This site also has surface parking lots along with some old warehouses which would probably have to be torn down to make additional room. But the location would be a perfect fit to the current expansion of Jack London Square. You could even have the refurbished Lake Merritt Channel for Oakland’s own “splash hits” if we want to be that tacky.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that Oakland has to retain this asset. It’s the most affordable sport, provides good wholesome family entertainment and it shows Oakland in a positive light to the rest of the Country. The Oakland A’s are great ambassadors for our city. The City of Oakland needs to be proactive and have the vision to make this happen.

  3. Chris Kidd

    San Jose’s compensation complex strikes again. What WON’T they derail, cajole, redirect or outright buy in order to make themselves feel like a *real* big city? A horribly planned and worse run light rail system? Do it! Using political muscle to move HSR from the more sensible route through the tri-valley to the Pacecho alignment so they won’t have to suffer the indignity of being a spur on the HSR line? Why not? Write a bunch of pie-in-the-sky reports predicting BART traffic as heavy as downtown SF for their planned semi-suburban stations in order to justify extending BART to Diridion station? Well Sure! Who cares if it’ll have terrible future financial repurcussions for years to come? “We need to prove we’re a real city. Now gimme the A’s! Want!”

  4. Navigator

    Chris,

    You’re absolutely right. That High Speed Rail should have been run through the Altamount Pass all the way to Oakland and eventually up to Seattle. Instead, San Jose and San Francisco got together and ran that thing right up the Peninsula and right into a congested dead end called San Francisco even though most of the population lives in the East Bay.. That line should have ran above ground all the way to Jack London Square with a link to BART and Ferry to San Francisco. But no, San Jose has to feel like a big city. Now, they want to steal Oakland’s baseball team to make themselves feel even more important.

  5. LeAndre

    Navigator,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! I know this post probably want get a lot of comments because this isn’t necessarily a sports blog, but I thank V Smoothe for showing this some attention because it most certainly deserves it…like Navigator said the A’s and all our other sprots teams give Oakland a national spotlight, it gives the city interest as well as something to do. Currently, Oakland is the only city on the entire pacific coast that host all three major sports teams, and out of all three the A’s play the most games.

    This may not be a sports blog, but this is an Oakland blog, and this is an amazing opportunity for the city. A DT stadium would generate so much attention, media, and business. My preferred site is actually the one Navigator mentioned, and thats the Fire Department Training Center. Its close to Amtrack, Lake Merrit Bart, and Jack London. Jack London would blossom, as it so desperately needs, with business and all the new lofts and condos in that area would have a lot more value.

    I’ve been following the A’s and their new ballpark plans since this started and I am well aware of Lew Wolff’s desire of moving the team to San Jose. But after over 3 years of trying to get there, he keeps hitting the territory rights wall, and every time he hits it, Oakland does nothing to try and obtain the team, while San Jose keeps trying. We have no reason to give up on the A’s, Wolff has not made any official announcement stating San Jose is their focus right now, all we know is that the Fremont plan is dead and the A’s are up for grabs. And right now San Jose is grabbing hard.

    We got to grab back. Come on people I beg you to help keep the A’s in Oakland, if we loose the A’s, the city will be worse off, trust me. The A’s are a great compliment to Oakland. And don’t give me that “Oakland has more important things to worry about” cop out! We are all aware that Oakland, like most cities in this nation have a long list of issues, but there are hundreds of people working for the City of Oakland, each with their own emphasis, and if a few are hired to help get a new stadium this doesn’t mean all of Oakland’s priorities go flying out the window. Dellums, De La Fuente, and all the other leading officials will make their statements of support, but they will leave the work to someone else, while they commit to other Oakland needs. This is the way all cities work…the good news is they already have done this…

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29376953/

    We need to show our support, get more people in the Tribune writing about this, like the Mercury has been doing. We need to keep the A’s!!!!

  6. Ralph

    It is no secret that I would welcome a the A’s to the Uptown District. There is however one huge problem for those who want to use the Broadway Ford land – last I knew Audi was moving into that space.

    But V points to one significant item that SJ can offer that Oakland can not – tons of ready corporate dollars. These guys are not going to buy boxes in an Oakland stadium.

    One issue not discussed, the safety perception. Unless Ron Dolittle Dellums can drive out the corner boys, Oakland will continue to be a 2nd rate city when in fact it should be a first class city.

    Nav, we should be honest. The current Coliseum site is not appropriate for baseball. if you have been to any of the stadiums built in the 90s, you would know this. It was never built for baseball and baseball should never be played there. A good example is Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. That place was never baseball friendly. It was made for football. Eventually the O’s got their own home. Furthermore, there is no reason to be by the Coliseum before a game and no reason stay in the neighborhood after the game. A well thought out plan that can be a hub for activity would be ideal.

    I tell you what is deeply disturbing – lost hotel revenue. 81 baseball games, 41 basketball games, and 8 football games. Where do these teams and media stay when they come to town, San Francisco. Ron, are you reading?

  7. Stax

    A trade of teams with sac is genius!! As for the A’s, I hate to see them go, but they are as good as gone.

  8. Ralph

    Oh folks this about money and when it comes to money, at $30K+ income/capita San Jose’s 1M people have significantely more than the $21K/capita for Oakland’s 440K.

    50% of San Jose’s families have income over $75K, for Oakland this % falls to 25%. I could go on but you guys aren’t recent graduates of an OUSD school.

    oh and bud has the votes, owners like to preserve the right to move but they are less likely to vote in favor of a team moving into their own territory. so one or team owners may vote with SF ownership if Oak were to move to SJ but it is only for appearances.

  9. dbackman

    I recently worked on a design for the Diridon HSR Station Master Plan competition for VBN Architects here in Oakland. While we didn’t win the competition, my experience with the proposed Diridon site for the A’s leads me to believe that the A’s won’t be playing there anytime soon. Just as Wolff wants to use mixed-use development to fund a new stadium, the city wants to do the same to fund a flashy High Speed Rail Station and transit hub. Combining all that with a new stadium would be quite an achievement for San Jose, but I don’t see it happening given the costs, logistics and competing interests.

    Nevertheless, V is right that San Jose deserves a little respect as a real player in the battle for future of the A’s. I’m not here to down SJ as much as to support the A’s remaining here in Oakland. Losing this team would be a huge failure for this city and an affront to Oakland’s great sports legacy. Regardless of all the headaches that these teams have brought lately, they are a vital part of the city’s pride and culture and we should not just give up on them.

    Navigator, I am feeling inspired by your advocacy for investigating other sites in Oakland beyond the Coliseum. While they could be quite difficult and expensive to pull off, I am convinced that a new stadium near central Oakland could be a catalyst for great things. I am getting very curious about what some of these schemes might look like, and maybe if I have some free time in the coming weeks I will whip up a couple of 3D models of the Uptown and Laney sites.

  10. Navigator

    Ralph,

    With all due respect, Detroit, Saint Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington DC, Kansas City etc. all have baseball teams, and all have very serious crime issues. Also, the fact that the teams stay in San Francisco is more a reflection on their attitudes than it is about Oakland having the appropriate hotels. I could go on about why that is, but I’ve been threaten with the death penalty on this site if I do.

    Also, the Coliseum is not a glamorous new ballpark, but it’s serviceable, it’s clean, it has its own BART station, and it exists. Also, many people stay at hotels and eat at restaurants on Hegenberger passed game time.

  11. Mike Linksvayer

    If LA can survive without pro football, Oakland (1/10th the size) can survive with no pro football and no pro baseball. The sooner it happens the better. The only bad thing about teams moving to San Jose is that they’d still be in the Bay Area.

    The Bay Area is too smart and too beautiful to support bread & circuses. Should be anyway.

  12. Tab

    V–

    You see trying to retain the A’s as insane, and question the priorities of any Councilmember trying to do so. The A’s bring 1.5 to 2+ million fans to town every year, generating tax revenue for the City and lease payments to the City-County. No A’s means all that goes away.

    Put the question another way: if another one of Oakland’s major companies (and its undisputed top entertainment draw) were on the verge of leaving town, would a politician trying to keep them also be labeled insane?

  13. LeAndre

    In my opinion, Hegenburger is great for the Raiders because they only play there 8 times a year, but the A’s play 81. Hegenburger does have great public transportation but the surroundings aren’t as up to par for a baseball park like most other cities have, an In and Out Burger just doesn’t cut it. Oakland’s Down town or somewhere more central would serve much better. I’ll make the same argument against SJ like I’ve done at Marine Layer’s blog…

    San Jose supporters claim the A’s would benefit more moving there because they have a better economy, have more millionaires per capita, and they have success with their current and only pro sports team the Sharks…this does not mean they will bring more attendance. San Diego, a city who has more millionaires per capita than San Jose and isn’t sharing a region has very average MLB attendance, some years below. Where as cities like St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Detroit, who don’t have nearly as many millionaires per capita, plus a lot of crime, are consistently in the top 10 at least…

    San Jose supporters claim the Sharks have great success and the A’s will have the same if they were to move there, but if you look at the attendance from the past few years, even further, you will find the Sharks get very average attendance despite there teams success. Even this year, being number one in the West currently, their attendance is dead average compared to others…
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/attendance?year=2009
    Not to mention the Sharks are the only hockey team in Northern California and isn’t competing with close teams…

    Oakland has to compete with San Francisco in the MLB and NFL, so to compare is kind of difficult, even though when both teams do well their attendance is around average at least, much like San Diego. What we can compare are the Warriors sense they are the only team in the Bay like the Sharks in that sport…The Warriors don’t have great team success, but when they do there attendance is well above average. After that playoff run, the Warriors were 6th in attendance in 07-08 and even this year, with no real chance of making the playoffs, they are still 10th. Not to mention Oakland supports 2 more pro sports franchises…So you can easily argue that if the Warriors were a consistently good team, like the Sharks who make the playoffs every year, they would have similar if not better attendance the San Jose…

    Good attendance comes from a good geographical location and passionate fans. Oakland and San Jose have both, but to say San Jose would do better is strictly false. If the A’s get a new stadium they will sell out for years regardless, but in my opinion they will sell more in Oakland just from the location alone. San Jose has the advantage of having more corporate support, but Oakland, just like SF, benefit from the same corporations. Would those corporations rather see the A’s in SJ? Of coarse, but if the T-Rights hold up like they have been, and the A’s look at Oakland as an option, those corporations would still help Lew Wolff…In fact after Fremont was officially denied, Cisco was asked if they would continue to sponsor the park and they said they would where ever they park is built in the Bay Area…

  14. dbackman

    How would the A’s leaving this city make “A Better Oakland?” While I see a lot of strong reasons why San Jose makes sense for the A’s, but I don’t see many reasons why the departure of the A’s makes sense for Oakland.

  15. V Smoothe Post author

    LeAndre –

    The City of Oakland is facing a budget deficit in the tens of millions of dollars. We are going to have to lay off probably hundreds of workers, many of them in vital positions. We certainly aren’t in any position to hire anyone, let alone multiple people, to work on building a stadium.

    Also, the A’s attendance is not average, it’s low. Last year, Oakland ranked 27th out of 30 for attendance at home games.

    Tab –

    I don’t think the economic benefit Oakland receives from the A’s is anywhere near as great as you suggest. Their license fee for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is less than a million dollars a year, we get no fees based on attendance, and we don’t get any revenue from food and beverage sales at their games. As others have noted above, ancillary economic benefits mostly go to other cities, for a variety of reasons.

  16. Max Allstadt

    I just want to know who’s going to pay for it. Council is on record saying they’re $42 mil in the hole. I’ve heard a few of them say that it’s more like $70 mil. A ball park is an investment, sure, but we don’t have capital to invest. Are our bonds worth a damn right now? Would anyone support a ballpark bond?

    We can fantasize all day about where we want the park, and what is would look like, and why it should be here, and who’d come from far and wide to fill it up. But there’s a reason “how” always comes at the end of “who what where when why”. It’s for emphasis. I haven’t heard a decent “how” yet.

    How will it be paid for? How does the process even start? How do you get a commitment out of Lew Wolf? How do you settle on a viable site and take it over? And how do all of these milestones line up on a calendar.

    Tell me how to build a ballpark, and I might get on the bandwagon. Until then, this thread doesn’t do much except show that there are a dozen people in this town who like to riff about baseball as much as they like to riff about politics.

  17. V Smoothe Post author

    dbackman –

    I never said that the A’s moving would create “A Better Oakland,” but this blog is about reality, not fantasy, and I think it’s more than obvious that the A’s remaining here for the long term is simply not realistic for a variety of reasons, chief among them the fact that the team’s ownership does not want to stay in Oakland. And as long as that barrier remains, which, short of a change in ownership, it will, sitting around fantasizing about keeping the team here is just a big waste of time.

  18. dbackman

    I fully understand and appreciate that you are being realistic about the situation. But I also object to the idea that believing that the A’s would remain here is fantasy. While the Uptown scheme certainly seems like a lost cause, numerous viable scenarios have been envisioned to not only keep the A’s in Oakland but to do so in way that could really benefit the city. Obviously ownership represents a big road block but does a change of ownership seem that far fetched for the A’s or the Raiders for that matter.

  19. Ralph

    Nav,
    With all due respect, the crime problems you refer to in Baltimore and DC exist light years away from the stadium. I can not speak to the other cities as I have no personal experience with them.

    That said, if we are to get a stadium in Uptown and believe you me I do want one, we need a city and ownership who is committed to the idea much much like Detroit was committed to Comerica

    Groundbreaking for the $300 million project took place on October 29, 1997. More than 60 percent of the financing is private, with the rest contributed from public sources. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch played a direct role in designing the facility and brought years of family entertainment experience to the process.

    Comerica Park appears rooted at the center of an urban village, a village that includes shops, restaurants, offices, and other attractions. Eight, two- and three-story buildings of varying sizes and heights make up this village of outbuildings which houses many of the service facilities surrounding the park. Roughly 70,000 square feet of retail space is included and another 36,000 square feet is dedicated to Tigers offices. The result is a landscape that blends into the surrounding street life of Foxtown.

    Still I think SJ money may carry the day.

  20. dbackman

    Staying at the Coliseum site in one form or another or the Laney/Oak to Ninth/Jack London area. I would much prefer the latter but the former seems more likely.

  21. V Smoothe Post author

    But so long as the ownership doesn’t want to be in Oakland, those aren’t viable. I really see this as an insurmountable obstacle.

    I swear, all the keep the A’s in Oakland advocates need to go out and pick up a copy of this book. Somebody should send one to Ignacio, too.

  22. Ralph

    I am going to pull a Chip here and admit Ron was right on something – ownership does not want the A’s in Oakland, to think otherwise is to live in a fantasy world. Given that half of the equation to make it work is ownership we should listen to V and move-on.

  23. dbackman

    You are probably right, V. But what is the point of giving up?
    I like to think that sports is all about the fans. And if the fans give up on their team, then a team doesn’t stand a chance. But when the fans believe, then really great things can happen.

  24. dbackman

    Also. On the pragmatic side, whether they decide to move to San Jose tomorrow or three years from now, the A’s are here for the time being without a definite plan for their next destination. While they are here, we can either continue to support them and work with them, or we can turn our backs and show them the door. But I can’t see how it will help Oakland to alienate the A’s and the MLB. I am a Red Sox fan at heart, not an A’s fan. More importantly though, I am a baseball fan, and I have always felt that baseball is an integral part of the urban experience. The Oakland A’s have a great history and there are still a lot of folks out there who don’t want to let that slip away.

  25. Tab

    Say Clorox announced that it wanted to leave Oakland, because they felt they’d be more profitable elsewhere. But they hadn’t pledged to a new town, it would take five years for their suitor to build their new office building, which no one knew how to pay for, and there were industry covenants in place which deemed their preferred destination exclusive property of Johnson&Johnson.

    Wouldn’t you want Oakland to work really hard to get Clorox to stay? And if your local politician threw up his hands and said “oh well,” wouldn’t you think him a doomsaying fool?

  26. V Smoothe Post author

    dbackman –

    You ask what’s the point of giving up, I ask what’s the point of trying to keep a team that obviously has no intention of staying here. It’s a complete waste of time. You can believe and wish all you want, but wishing doesn’t make things so.

    I’m coming at this from a different perspective than you. Like I said in the post, in the best of all possible worlds for me, the A’s would not stay in Oakland. They’d move to Sacramento and the River Cats would come here. I know there’s lots of reasons that probably won’t happen, so I’m not going to sit around writing blogs about how it will, but as long as I’m dreaming, that’s the scenario I dream about.

  27. dbackman

    There is available office space for Clorox in any city you want right now. But there is no Major League ballpark in San Jose or Portland or Sacramento. Major construction projects like stadiums take a long time, especially when they are at the epicenter of major transit projects that will take a decade or more to complete. The HSR station will take precedence over the stadium and ultimately will doom it. This is as complicated a proposal as anything suggested for Oakland. While there might be a lot of money and high level support for it that won’t make it an easy proposition. When faced with these obstacles I would not be surprised to see A’s ownership change their mind on Oakland or give up and sell the team.

  28. len raphael

    oakland govt is minor league. even if a’s owners were receptive, and we weren’t in a near depression credit collapse, oakland govt just doesn’t have the political will and real estate muni financial brainpower tho pull off something this complex.

    the best the politco’s could do was the raiders fiasco and it’s downhill from there.

  29. PinoyOaklander

    It really does not hurt to think that possibilities of the Oakland A’s staying would be good. I’m glad that De La Fuente, and other city politicians want the A’s in Oakland as well as other folks. The A’s has so much history, and without the A’s Oakland wouldn’t get as much publicity. As what the city office workers have stated on an article about Wolff speaking to the city officials later on in April. I am really convinced that Lew Wolff does not completely want to leave Oakland. San Jose has it going for it self, and sure it might seem much more reasonable about moving their, but Oakland has a lot of things to offer, and hasn’t yet shown it. Until than, I am not completely giving up on Oakland in retaining the A’s. Though, all these negatives towards keeping Oakland worries me…

  30. Ralph

    Tab,
    Notwithstanding the fact that J&J and Clorox are in two different industries, businesses pack up and leave on a regular basis.

    I am curious – from those who want the A’s to stay how many actually attend baseball games at the Coliseum and how many of you actually go to support the A’s. Generally on gameday, my informal survey of BART ridership would lead me to believe that there are more fans rooting for the visiting team.

    I love the game, but to be honest I only went when the O’s are in town. But now I don’t go at all because Pac Bell is just a much better place to see a game.

  31. Coolhand Luke

    I am an advocate of the A’s staying and I grew up watching the A’s. Some of my best memories took place at the Coliseum, and if you check out images of it b4 Mount Davis scarred the atmosphere, it was actually a great place for baseball. I know it doesnt seem plausible and all that jazz, but those of you looking at solely the economics of it are missing what the A’s mean to Oakland for those who have lived with them for generations.

    I think it is sad that folks have turned their back on the A’s. I hate Lew Wolff too, but never the A’s. In my book he doesnt own the A’s, we do. If we apply enough pressure to preserve that I think we may be able to keep them here.

    It may be a long shot, or retarded financially, but the relationship between the A’s and Oakland is deeper than economics. I’ll explain more later. Work beckons. Check out HBO’s documentary Rebels of Oakland: The A’s, The Raiders, The 70s for a taste of what Im talking about though.

    Happy weekend all!

  32. Navigator

    V, Why do you want the A’s to go to Sacramento and the Rivercats to come to Oakland? I’m trying to understand that logic.

    If the ownership doesn’t want to stay in Oakland, then there isn’t much we can do. As a matter of fact, I think that Oakland has played this scenario brilliantly. Right now, Wolff thinks that he’s bigger than Oakland. He’s not. Oakland holds all the cards. Oakland HAS a ballpark. Oakland officials have done the right thing up to this point by not getting into a bidding war with Fremont and now with San Jose.

    The same thing will happen in San Jose that happened in Fremont. The politicians want this desperately so that they can shed their huge inferiority complex. However, once the details of the plan come out, and in light of a 60 million budget shortfall in San Jose, the natives will begin to get restless.

    Oakland needs to tell Wolff, we have a centrally located serviceable ballpark linked to the 7 million residents of the Bay Area via its own BART station. If you want to stay here for now, with the understanding that we will eventually work with you to find a suitable location in Oakland when the economy improves, a location which will both be an asset to the Oakland A’s, as well as an economic benefit to the city of Oakland, we will allow you to play in our ballpark at a reasonable cost. If however,you want to once again use Oakland as a stepping stone to negotiate and build a ballpark in San Jose, we will no longer be interested in subsidizing you in Oakland with a below market rent . We will also reserve the right to lease our stadium to you considering your disingenuous machinations in regards to building a ballpark in Oakland.

    If Wolff refuses to work with Oakland in search of a long-term ballpark solution, then the Joint Powers Authority which runs the Coliseum needs to show him the door. No more sweetheart leases while Oakland is used as the doorman for Lew Wolff’s ballpark whims.

    I agree with Coolhand Luke regarding the emotional aspect for those of us who grew up with the Oakland A’s. The A’s are a part of the fabric of this city. We can’t allow a carpetbagger from LA to treat that tradition like it doesn’t matter. Lew Wolff has been completely dismissive of our city as a viable location for baseball.

  33. dbackman

    Luke,
    Where can check out Rebels of Oakland? From a quick search does not come up on Netflix or Amazon. Anywhere local where it can be procured? Sounds like a really great doc.

  34. dbackman

    Thanks for the link. Will check it out. This seems like the type of flick that should be screened on the “Great Wall of Oakland” during Art Murmur

  35. Ralph

    this movie never aired on reg tv? i thought i saw it on reg tv. guuess i did not. probably not a good fit for Art Murmur but would be good for Hands Over Bay Area discussion film or Oakland Speaker Series – not sure what it would cost to air but probably not cheap.

  36. Coolhand Luke

    If you have the dvd, just show it. No point in paying anyone for the rights to do so. HBO will monetarily rape u if you do. The doc is great because it places the rebellious Raiders and the “FIghting A’s” in the context of a blue-collar underdog city immersed in progressive politics (free speech, panthers, anti-war, etc) They interview Tom Hanks, John Madden, Hells Angels, Panthers, Bay Area sportswriters and several players. Its a dope well-rounded effort

  37. Steve Lowe

    I was on the review committee to check over the HOK report commissioned by the City to ascertain the best possible location for any new ballpark that might be built in Alameda County. HOK included a matrix that showed off the advantages and disadvantages of the various proposed locations: Uptown, our beloved Coli, Howard Terminal at the Port (just west of the Port building in JLS), the 9th Avenue Terminal area (known today variously as Oak to 9th or 029), the Army Base and, as I recall, Warm Springs as well.

    We went over the list extensively and found that the Coliseum was listed second only by a single point, and that very much debatable due to the City Manager’s well-known advocacy for Uptown. However, the personalities and preferences of Bobb and Brown worked to damn the entire proposal altogether,
    Jerry refusing to meet with Lew Wolff (even though his friendship with the Fisher family, 80% owners of the A’s, is well known) and Bobb seemingly disgusted with Jerry’s retail-challenged vision for Uptown. So everything went sideways and we got a suburban housing project that we had to pay $60M for, we lost the A’s and the Coli today is still in need of big bucks to become worthy of major league sports again.

    But take a look at the Coli without a City Manager around to pop arms out of their sockets, There’s the access, best in almost all of sports; the weather, best in baseball, maybe football, too; the opportunity, unparalleled! Think not? No other stadium to my knowledge has all three major league venues as anchors for a retail complex that, if built right, would ensure greater profitability for any and all Coli events and, at the same time, provide a level of amiability that would enhance any visit, even for those who didn’t want to spend a dime at any of the great shops and stores that could be there – would be there in fact if the JPA members were to start acting like real stewards of their charge and not totally intimidated by the thought of restructuring the bonds and having to bear up under the criticism of the same voters who hate bond financing for anything.

    Right now, we’re losing some $10M a year in payments to the Raiders for all the legal battles we’ve lost. Turning the Coliseum around by turning it into one of the real specialty retail magnets of the Bay Area is the key, and we just have to commit to it, do it right or face the future with the same old Oakland-as-usual mindset that has kept this City from coming into its own for almost a half century…

    One of the other people on the review committee was Frank Dobson, baseball fan, visionary and architect extraordinaire. His drawings for the Coli include a new baseball-only stadium, a vertical “smart garage” to replace the loss of parking spaces that the new stadium will cause, the “Red Zone,” a new sports-themed retail area to fill in between the four structures (two new and two existing), and, most exciting to me, blowing up the miserable bridge between BART and the Coli and replacing it with a wide concourse that will give everyone the impression that they are right in the coliseum complex the minute they step off the train instead of out in the middle of nowhere and facing the prospect of crossing the creepiest bridge in Christendom.

    This is just part of the vast brilliance of Frank’s vision and illustrative of only half of what we can do as a community if we want to get serious and make a real proposal to the A’s instead of the half vast approach we’ve used to date.

    Play ball.

  38. len raphael

    SL, could you explain the 10mill number for the subsidy given to the raiders by Oakland. http://www.sportsbusinesssims.com/raiders.psl.ticket.problem.htm

    Is Oakland’s share 10Mill or is that split w the county (which in turn has less money for oakland and rest of the the cnty).

    Is it an out of pocket expenditure or does it come out of revenues generated by raiders and other events at the Col’sium which otherwise would go to Oakland?

    When does the arrangement terminate?

    -len

  39. Max Allstadt

    Steve:

    Thanks for your comment. Good to see some inside background after everybody else posting hypothetical this and that.

  40. Ralph

    Steve, thanks for the insight, but how is this retail going to work. I just don’t get the sense of build it and they will come. Now you move the stadium to Uptown, I get it.

  41. Navigator

    There’s a lot which could be done with the Coliseum area and the acreage surrounding it. This is probably the best way for all the teams in the Bay area who are looking for new venues to get it done. A partnership between the Raiders, Forty Niners, A’s and Warriors is what’s needed to get a sports and entertainment/retail project built on the site. The idea of a great ground level plaza surrounded by various businesses as you step out of the Coliseum BART station is a great idea.

    The only question is who is going to support the Uptown or Jack London Square retail projects if the A’s build their new ballpark on the existing Coliseum parking lot? This may be the way to build new venues for our sports teams, but it’s not necessarily the best bang for your buck in investing in revitalizing Uptown or Jack London Square.

    Also, how did Jerry Brown refuse to meet with Lew Wolff when Lew Wolff didn’t own the team at the time the Uptown site was up for contention? The fact of the matter is, that Steve “Our future is not in Oakland,” Schott who owned the A’s at the time, showed absolutely zero interest in that site. I know, because I was one of the hundreds of Oakland A’s supporters who filled City Hall to the rafters in support of the Uptown site. The A’s left us out to dry without even sending a low level representative to that meeting. The blame for the uptown site never coming to fruition despite much support from Oakland A’s fans, goes directly to Steve Schott and a disinterested Oakland A”s organization.

  42. rossrich66

    A couple of things…

    I agree with dbackman, this is more to do with keeping the A’s in Oakland than it is about bashing San Jose. Navigator…as a former Oaklander (living and growing up there for 30 years+), I totally understand your “Oakland Trumpet”. But your cries of a San Jose inferiority complex and going on a bashing rant on its own civic and cultural offerings is just as bad as those who continually denigrate Oakland. Your constant approach is to elevate Oakland at the expense of other cities…San Francisco and now San Jose. Yes I love Oakland, as much as anyone who gets it, including yourself. But I love San Francisco also. Its a special place in the world, and the historical, cultural and political center of the region. You can’t deny it. I can’t say I’m in love with San Jose, but I appreciate it, its history and its importance on the world stage as heart of Silicon Valley. And yes, its inferiority complex stems from the same place that Oakland’s does (i.e. in the shadow of the City by the Bay), so you should perhaps have a little more empathy towards it. Enough said here.

    As for the A’s…they NEED to stay in Oakland. They are Oakland. I grew up with them and nothing would make more happy than to see them stay. Heck, I’d be perfectly fine with having them play at the imperfect Coliseum, if it meant them staying. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned, is that it was Bud Selig who denied the sale of the team to the group that wanted to keep them in Oakland (Reggie Jackson, George Zimmer et al). These guys had no visions of grandeur with a new stadium. They truly wanted to buy the team, with the fans and their legacy in Oakland at heart. But “Moneyball” came into play and that is why we are at the current juncture.

    V, sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. The city or other powers that be, really need to step up to the plate now. Oakland has been handed another chance at keeping the A’s. I am a true believe that creativity, innovation and sheer will, can overcome any obstacles (i.e. economy and city’s financial status). The fact that this stadium is to be privately financed ups the ante, considering the right carrot is dangled in front of Wolff. Also V, the attendance issues of late really have to do with the fact that Wolff has alienated them. So if he showed interest and committment to Oakland and its fans…I believe they will return.

    Here’s a creative ideas- Get Phil Tagami on board. That guy’s vision for Oakland and proven track record are just what this effort could use. His plan for the Oakland Army Base, which includes some sort of light rail/peoplemover from West Oakland BART could be modified to incorporate a new stadium. There’s plent of space out there.

    On the downtown site… I think any hope of getting a downtown stadium was lost forever, once Jerry Brown threw that opportunity away with Forest City. I like what Jerry Brown did for the city, but don’t even get me started on this one. I see a lot of talk about a 27th and Broadway site…sorry Navigator, but that site IS delusional. It will never happen, its simply not close enough to BART and trust me the NIMBY’s would have a field day with that one. And believe me there are plenty of “backyards” within blocks of that site.

    In my mind, the current Coliseum site makes the most sense now. I’m not going to go into the details as they are well documented. But the space is there and when compared to Wolff’s other options, including San Jose, there are a lot less obstacles, (the site is pretty much “shovel ready).

    So with the news that Fremont is off the board, I am hopeful. Oakland is being given yet another chance to keep the A’s where they belong. I pray this opportunity is not blown.

    rossrich66 – Los Angeles

  43. dbackman

    “The city or other powers that be, really need to step up to the plate now. Oakland has been handed another chance at keeping the A’s. I am a true believe that creativity, innovation and sheer will, can overcome any obstacles (i.e. economy and city’s financial status).”

    This is a key point. Just because a situation seems inevitable, does not make it so, especially in the sports business. Remember when contraction seemed inevitable for theTwins and Expos? That the Jay-Z would be running the Brooklyn Nets by now? That the Patriots would move to Hartford? Circumstances change, people’s minds change, and for a wide variety plans are canceled, revised, and often contradicted. Because of the economic climate, because of the logistic difficulties of relocating a team, and because Wolff blew $24 million on Fremont it no longer seems unreasonable to believe that he may change his mind about Oakland. And even if he never comes around, he may end up staying here for years anyways. While it has happened quite a bit over the years, moving a team is not an easy thing to do, especially when you consider the difficulty of building a new fan base within existing “territorial rights” in the South Bay while alienating the East Bay.

    The failure of the Fremont proposal has given Oakland a second chance, and we should use it to try to retain the team, or at least get something back from Lew Wolff. Look at what happened in Seattle with the Sonics. OKC businessman Clay Bennett lied about his true intentions for the team in order to win ownership with a lower bid. He tried to extort Seattle for a new stadium, and while he was ultimately able to steal away the team to OKC, the fans and the city fought back and at least won concessions from Bennett, to the tune of $45-75 million and rights to the name and history of the Sonics if and when basketball returns to Seattle. Seattle supported their team until the end and as a result ensured a future for basketball in that city. If we turn our backs on the A’s now we are left with nothing and probably guaranteeing that the MLB won’t return here in the future.

  44. dto510

    I agree with Steve Lowe that the Coliseum area is a good place for a ballpark, and for ancillary development. A hotel/conference center-based development would work well with sports entertainment, but is needed in Oakland with or without a ballpark component. It is already a preeminent transportation hub, and if the state comes to its senses and places the HSR terminus at the Coliseum, it will become the transportation center of the Bay Area.

    The land acquisition problems that helped doom the last Coliseum proposal are quite surmountable in the current environment. Acquiring the Coliseum-adjacent parcels will never be cheaper than it is now, and if the city doesn’t spend its millions in Redevelopment Agency funds now, the state will steal them next year. The city can move forward on building the conference center that Oakland deserves and the hotel rooms the East Bay severely lacks, making room for a ballpark, without wasting resources if the owners don’t change their minds and move the team out of the city.

  45. rossrich66

    I want to add a few more thoughts on the Coliseum site.

    Its apparent to me that creativity and innovation lay in the synergy that could be had by getting the city of Oakland, OCJV, Lew Wolff, Al Davis and the Warriors in a room to start talking. All of these entitities have plans and aspirations that they want realized, but with no easy answers on how to accomplish them.

    Given their obstacles, the Coliseum site is STARING them in the eyes, and a “diamond in the rough” . In my mind its the most obvious and realistic proposition on the table.

    And it could happen “tomorrow” if they wanted it.

    Again, Oakland needs to step up to the plate and facilitate this discussion on what is possible here.

    rossrich66 – Los Angeles

  46. Navigator

    rossrich66,

    I don’t think I said anything about San Jose or San Francisco which was derogatory or inaccurate. San Jose DOES want to take the A’s from Oakland to increase its National profile. I recall reading an article in San Francisco Magazine, called, “It’s Oakland’s Turn,” where the author stated that San Jose had 24 public relations people on their payroll while Oakland had 3. The question asked was, “Who really has the inferiority complex?” Also, the fact that San Jose has nearly one million people living within their city limits doesn’t necessarily give that municipality a “big city” feel. I can’t think of a city of one million residents in the Country with a lower profile than San Jose.

    Even Oakland, with 400,000 residents, has more of a “big city” feel than San Jose. The reason I say this, is that Oakland has three well known sports franchises, a well known major seaport, taller downtown buildings, (San Jose has a height limit imposed because of the flight path of its airport over downtown,) two waterfronts, larger more opulent performing arts centers, better restaurants, a first class zoo, more impressive religious architecture, more interesting topography, etc.

    Another example of San Jose trying to increase its National profile at the expense of what’s best for the interests of the Bay Area region as a whole, is the redirection of the HSR from the Altamount Pass route, to the Pacheco Pass route. San Jose got together with San Francisco business and political leaders and used political clout and pressure to run the HSR route through San Jose and up the Peninsula, and all the way up to the San Francisco culdesac . That’s a decision designed to benefit San Jose businesses and San Francisco tourist interests at the expense of the interests of the majority of residents in the Bay Area. This decision also adds an enormous cost to the project in order to dig tunnels under downtown San Francisco in order to run that train into a dead end. That train should have been run through Jack London Square with options to eventually running it all the way up the West Coast to Seattle. Once again, a major transit project in the United States gets derailed and rerouted for the benefit of politically well connected special interests. I guess this is the HSR version of a “bridge to nowhere.” This is the same mentality used to take the Oakland A’s from the geographic center of the Bay Area and put them in a corner of the Bay Area with inferior public transportation options.

    Also, the 27th & Broadway site is less than 1/2 mile from the 19th Street BART station. Lew Wolff wanted to build a ballpark in Fremont five miles away from the nearest BART station. Now, they’re talking about building a ballpark in downtown San Jose where there in NO BART station within 17 miles. There’s now talk that Downtown San Jose won’t get BART until 2025. How does the uptown site compare to that as far as public transportation.

    Also, I still don’t see how we build a new ballpark in East Oakland, along with a new convention center, without forever hampering downtown’s ability to energize the proposed Upper Broadway Shopping Corridor or the new 400 million expansion of Jack London Square.

  47. Navigator

    Also, I never turned my back on the Oakland A’s. The Oakland A’s and their ownership turned their back on me. They told me that they didn’t want my patronage. They told me that my blind and unequivocal loyalty for many years didn’t matter. They told me that my hometown didn’t matter. They told me that crushing my kids, and taking what they believed was their team away, didn’t matter.

  48. dto510

    Navigator, there is no parcel downtown with enough space for a modern convention center, let alone one close to space for hotel and office development. And a ballpark is NOT part of the Uptown/Mid-Broadway retail strategy and would in fact significantly detract from it. Anyway, it doesn’t matter since there is no space downtown big enough for a ballpark except maybe Laney, and the land in that area is controlled by BART and the Peralta College District, not the city of Oakland.

  49. rossrich66

    Navigator…

    “San Jose is the kid sitting in the corner of the Bay Area always waving its arms trying to get attention.” That’s not derogatory? Or at least not derogatory in tone? And you may not have said anything derogatory about SF in this thread, but trust me, I could Google and find countless offenses by you in this sight or SFGate.

    “Even Oakland, with 400,000 residents, has more of a “big city” feel than San Jose. The reason I say this, is that Oakland has three well known sports franchises, a well known major seaport, taller downtown buildings, (San Jose has a height limit imposed because of the flight path of its airport over downtown,) two waterfronts, larger more opulent performing arts centers, better restaurants, a first class zoo, more impressive religious architecture, more interesting topography, etc.” Your preaching to the choir here…I KNOW ALL OF THIS… its your consistent approach of Oakland vs them, which I don’t agree with.

    “Also, the 27th & Broadway site is less than 1/2 mile from the 19th Street BART station.” Your right 1/2 a mile isn’t far, but it might as well be 10 miles…the chance of a stadium there is zero. My point about keeping the A’s in Oakland is focused on being what I think is realistic.

    “Lew Wolff wanted to build a ballpark in Fremont five miles away from the nearest BART station.” Again, your preaching to the choir.

    Also, where did I ever say you turned your back on the A’s? If your referencing my point about low attendance, you simply didn’t get my argument about why fewer people attend anymore, which is a point against the current ownership.

    Finally, you spout off about the political/business mite of SJ/SF ganging up on Oakland. Well the truth is, this city’s administration can’t even manage its own city, let alone go up against the muscle of those other towns. I would love to see you more vocal about how badly Oakland is run at some point.

  50. Max Allstadt

    Nav,

    About the Broadway site… If you knock down my friend Ryan’s house to build a ballpark, he says he’s moving in with you. He isn’t very tidy. I suggest you consider other places.

  51. Navigator

    Max,

    Tell Ryan that we can work around his house, but in case the noise bothers him too much he’s more than welcome in my house as long as he picks up his socks.

    Seriously, I really think it could be done. I will say however, that the Oakland Fire Department Training Center area between the Lake Merritt Channel and Oak Street would be closer to BART and other forms of transportation, and it would be much easier to develop.

  52. Navigator

    rossrich66,

    Believe me, my intention was, and is not, to be derogatory towards San Jose. I know what Oakland has to go through, so I wouldn’t want to do that to someone else’s hometown. I’ve stated previously that I had been to San Jose many times and that it was a clean and modern city. I’ve stated that the California Theater was very nice just a bit too small. I think San Jose has done a good job with the palm trees and landscaping downtown. I just like Oakland better and I think Oakland would be a better home for the Oakland A’s. That’s just my personal opinion. I don’t think I’ve said anything that isn’t true.

    I’ll stand by what I said regarding the change of route for the HSR project. I think it puts the interests of well connected business people in San Jose and San Francisco ahead of the interests of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, which by the way, have more residents than either the San Jose area, or San Francisco and the Peninsula. The route change puts the interest of San Jose and San Francisco businesses ahead of a future extension of the HSR up the west coast all the way to Seattle. They didn’t just screw Oakland, they screwed all of Norther California and the entire West Coast by running that boondoggle all the way up a culdesac.

    Also, when I said that I hadn’t turned my back on the A’s, I was referring to other posts where people say that we shouldn’t turn our back on the A’s. I was just saying that the A’s are the ones who’ve turned their backs on many fans and on the community. Sorry for the confusion.

  53. Max Allstadt

    I don’t think you get it, Nav. Ryan’s house is basically on your pitcher’s mound. Unless Blevins can throw a curve around a two story victorian, you’ll need to clear out your spare room.

    Now about the JLS site and the Colliseum site…

  54. Navigator

    Max, I think my pitchers mound would be around one of those empty parking lots, but that’s funny, and I like the visual.

  55. some guy

    San Jose wants to gain teams for the same reason Oakland wants to keep them. Talk about SJ’s “profile” all you want, but where does Oakland register in the national consciousness without sports? Ask Tacoma. Oakland and SJ are in the same boat but fighting for limited resources.

  56. rossrich66

    Navigator…

    Thanks for your clarification on some of your points. And trust me, we are on the same team. Believe me, I totally understand your affinity for our maligned city, I get it. I just don’t agree with some of the tactics you use to promote it, is all.

    And yes, its too bad the HSR won’t be arriving in Oakland anytime soon. But to your point about the business interests of the South Bay and SF, they flexed their muscles and they won. Realistically, both of those cities are too important to not have the HSR rolling through. And do we really think that SF would not be part of the HSR vision for California? I think not. Also, the rest of Nor Cal and the West Coast has not been screwed by the decision. If you go to the HSR website, there will be a leg that runs up the Central Valley that terminates in Sacramento, which makes perfect sense. It makes sense that any west coast extension north, would originate in Sacramento regardless of which route the trains took to get there from the south.

    Anyway, our thread has strayed from the topic. The important thing is that we both agree the A’s belong in Oakland, however that happens.

  57. oaklandhappenings

    Interesting posts, folks. I still think it will be very interesting to watch the Raiders’ situation on their lease, and see how that plays out. Whether they are in the Coliseum or not past 2010 will determine alot for the A’s.
    Also, has anyone–on or near the Coliseum BART platform in the last week or so– noticed that the huge Raider banner at the east plaza is (or was) ripped all the way down the middle–perhaps from the stormy winds? If not that, I don’t WHAT from. In the meantime, the A’s one was (and maybe still is) firmly in place. Could this possibly foreshadow what is to come after 2010?

  58. PinoyOaklander

    I hope not, I love the Oakland Raiders. I hope that the Raiders can find a way to stay in Oakland, and build a new stadium or so. Than letting the A’s renovate the old coliseum. Or it can be vice versa.

  59. Steve Lowe

    Hi

    I’m unsure as to the $10M yearly payment due to the Raiders.
    It’s just what I’ve been told over the years, leaving me to assume
    that it’s another nail in Oakland’s budget – or coffin, however you
    wish to define it.

    I’ll ask Zennie to comment though he has his own blog
    and is infinitely more savvy about the whole Coliseum / A’s
    dilemma than I – or, for that matter, anyone at City Hall.

    http://oaklandfocus.blogspot.com/2009/02/mayors-sports-and-entertainment-task.html

    Thanks,

    – S

  60. V Smoothe Post author

    We don’t pay $10 million/year to the Raiders, we pay (roughly)$10/million because of the Raiders. The debt service on the bonds issued to fund the renovation of the Coliseum in the 1990s is around $20 million annually, split between the City and the County.

  61. Doug Boxer

    V, thanks for throwing out the line of communication on this one. It’s great to see a variety of talk about an important issue. Sorry to be late to the discussion but a 20 month at home has seriously cut into my time on the Internet.

    V, I think your pessimism is just way off base. The bottom line is that in the current economic environment, there is only one viable option — the A’s playing at the current Oakland Coliseum. And that is where they will be for at least the next five years.

    As for the future, your words that is keeping the A’s in Oakland is “insane” and that you are “forced to question the priorities of any City Councilmember” who spends any time on this. What? I know you are smarter than this. Yes, we have huge budget problems but it’s not like these folks can’t try to work on more than one problem at a time. If they can’t, we need new representation. Besides, the ballpark is a long term issue that will be solved over time.

    Now back to viability….

    Your premise is that the ownership doesn’t want to stay in Oakland and therefore no option in Oakland is viable. Just curious: have you ever talked directly to Lew Wolff or John Fischer? If you haven’t talked to either person, I don’t know how you can possibly know what either is thinking. And don’t give me quotes in the newspaper. Those are for PR value and don’t hold much significance in my mind. The bottom line is the current home for the A’s is the Coliseum. They don’t have another option. So giving up seems, to use your words, “insane.” And that is what gives us leverage, if we use it the right way.

    I’m not going to win the argument about the economics of keeping the team here. A well-designed, well-located stadium makes economic sense for Oakland. But I think a larger reason to keep them here (assuming the economics break even), is the PR value of the team. Until and unless Oakland develops a descriptive narrative other than “we’re the crime capitol of the Bay Area,” we need professional sports in Oakland. I hate to say it but people away from Oakland know us b/c of our sports franchises. I know a lot of hardworking people are trying to change that narrative and it might work but for now that’s what we’ve got.

    Finally, the argument that Bud Selig wouldn’t have made the statement about “other cities” (he didn’t say San Jose by the way), unless he knew he had 3/4 vote of the owners is folly. Have you watched Bud Selig as the Commissioner. He’s a dolt who doesn’t get it. I doubt he did any homework. He’s a college frat brother of Lew’s and I’m sure it has more to do w/ that than anything else.

    My two or more cents….

    Doug

  62. Coolhand Luke

    I think the economics are definitely tough to work out, but I think many of our points is that the As’ ARE Oakland. Yes it will be tough to swing, but to grow up in Oakland is to have the A’s as a mainstay in your life and the life of the city. They are not an expendable appendage. They need to be a priority. I would really appreciate you guys reading my take here. http://www.38thnotes.com/2009/02/keeping-as-baseball-in-oakland.html

    Where there is a will there is a way

  63. Doug Boxer

    And by the way, I attended my first A’s game, when I was 8 years old, in 1973 to watch the A’s play the New York Mets in the World Series. Willie Mays, 42 years old at the time, was in his last year.

    We’ve had season tickets since the mid 1980s. I hope to raise my son as a baseball fan, going to A’s games in Oakland.

  64. V Smoothe Post author

    Doug –

    I would never suggest that Councilmembers can’t work on more than one problem at a time – there are dozens of issues to deal with, and the pointless pursuit of a team that just doesn’t want to be here shouldn’t be on the list.

    My firm belief that the A’s will not remain in Oakland for the long-term no matter what the City offers is based on Wolff’s history of behavior with respect to the possibility as well as multiple public statements to that effect. Here’s one example. A year and a half ago, I attended a talk he gave at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. In reference to what the back-up plan was if Fremont didn’t work out, Wolff said “We don’t want to start pitting cities against each other, but it’s out of the question we’ll stay in Oakland.” It isn’t exactly a subtle message.

    As far as the PR value of having the team – honestly, I think Bay Area natives are seriously overestimating it, if not fabricating it wholesale. As someone who grew up far from Oakland, I can tell you that virtually nobody, even devoted baseball fans, gives a hoot about Oakland the city because of the A’s, nor do they think that Oakland isn’t a crime-ridden cesspool just because we have a baseball team. I’ll put it another way. What comes to mind when someone mentions Detroit?

  65. Coolhand Luke

    The Tigers! lol.
    I feel you on that point, and don’t disagree V. I know that Lew Wolff doesn’t want to stay, but neither did Charlie Finley. There are ways that the city, MLB and we the people can make it happen anyway though. I know it seems unrealistic and maybe seems like a wild goose chase, but those of us who have grown up with them have to try.

    PR smeeR as far as Im concerned. Its not about that for me.

  66. Doug Boxer

    V,

    If you want to believe what Lew Wolff says in public, be my guest but do it at your own peril. He’s a very smart and shrewd businessman who will say what serves his best interest. I can assure you that no one knows what he is thinking now and he would tell us now even if he knew. So to conclude the ownership doesn’t want to be here now doesn’t make sense…at least not to me.

    That fact remains that they are in Oakland and will be for some time. As we have all seen, moving a franchise to another city just isn’t that easy, especially when you want to move to a city without the needed venue.

    Point taken on the PR value.

    db

  67. Navigator

    The quote from Lew Wolf in San Francisco can’t be taken literally. When Wolff stated that ” but it’s out of the question we’ll stay in Oakland,” he was most likely referring to staying at the current ballpark. “Oakland” was most likely a reference to the Coliseum.

    Also, I disagree about everyone thinking that Oakland is a “crime ridden cesspool.” Many people Nationally don’t know much about Oakland other than the Oakland Raiders or the Oakland A’s. Also, when that blimp covering the ballgames goes over Lake Merritt and sends out those beautiful shots of downtown or Jack London Square, it puts Oakland in a positive light to the rest of the Country. When the Raiders are playing in a sun soaked field in November, I’m sure people freezing their rears in the East Coast don’t think Oakland California is such a bad place.

    Also, another thing to look for if Wolff doesn’t get a ballpark, is contraction. Selig has never liked having the A’s in Oakland giving San Francisco competition. He killed the sale to the Piccinni/Dolich group years ago precisely because this group was committed to try to make it in Oakland.

  68. Frankie D

    V

    Whenever I travel and Oakland’s name comes up I generally get two reactions and it depends on where in the country I am. If I’m in suburban California north or south the reaction is closer to what you said in your earlier post, crime etc. But if I’m in the midwest, south or back east they usually think cool, great weather, California, Bay Area, or the Raiders and their psycho fan base. From my limited experience I’ve noticed that people back east have never been intimidated by crime and urban decay in a west coast city, I guess we have scenic ghettos.

    I also was at Lew Wolff’s address to the commonwealth club over on Market Street. It was hilarious, at first every question he was getting from the audience were all related to why are you moving the team from Oakland. Wolff made his Oakland statement and then they started screening the question cards better and ran out of other questions real fast and the forum just abruptly ended.

  69. len raphael

    V, did the stadium improvement debt give any present or future benefit to oakland or the county other than keeping raiders here?

    what is the principal and the interest rate on the balance owed on the bonds?

    -len

  70. Tab

    V, re Wolff:

    He owns less than 10% of the A’s franchise. He’s the public face, not the bankroll. As far as actually making a deal, in Oakland, or SJ, or Vegas, or Guam, John Fisher will have much more to say that matters than will Lew Wolff.

    In fact, Wolff will most likely lose his public role and be bought out within the year. Maybe two.

  71. oaklandhappenings

    When the hell is Fisher going to stop pulling a Ken Hoffman and start to speak up?? If he is the main owner percentage-wise and the money-man, can we at least hear what he has to say? Does he have any more or less interest in the A’s (future) home than Wolff? I am tired of these A’s ownerships where only one talks, and one handles the other doings. The A’s need another Haas-like group, and Navigator reminded us once again that Selig is the biggest enemy to A’s fans in this case, with his “hatred” towards the A’s compared to his “love” of the Giants; I’m only using those quoted words as emphasis, by the way.
    In the meantime, in relation to my last post, the Raider east-side banner is still torn down all the way, and the A’s still up. I guess no one wants to fix it, or it has taken over 2 weeks to make a new one.

  72. Ralph

    Nav, I hate to break it to you but Oakland’s rep as crime ridden is national. I discuss absolutely nothing about Oakland with my mom, but the 1st question she asked me when I recommended she stay at the downtown Marriott was, “Is it in a safe neighborhood.?”

    Weeks later when I mentioned the illegal activity occuring in the shadow of City Hall, she said,”What did you expect, you moved to Oakland?” My mother lives in MD.

    Not a cesspool, but there is a crime problem that Dellums, or should I call him Mahoney, has not addressed, and NN ignores because she knows corner boys don’t vote and the everyone drinks the kool-aid – a modern day Jim Jones.

  73. oaklandhappenings

    Thanks, Ralph, regarding what Wolff is. As for that last quote you stated regarding the reaction to the illegal activity in the shadow of City Hall, it is a horrible one, and seems very naïve. Oakland is not the only city where very negative things occur. If people I know–regardless of how close they are to me emotionally at first–talk in that manner about Oakland, all emotionally-close ties with them would end.

  74. Ralph

    Oak-H, the saying is not a naive saying; I mention it as refutation that Oakland’s reputation as having a problem with crime has not as some have suggested registered on a national level. Granted it is a sample of one, but I am guessing my mother is not the only one who has some knowledge of Oakland’s rep. (My mom would have said the same thing if i moved to East Baltimore or SE DC. )

    Not saying Oakland is the only city, but Oakland’s rep precedes it.

  75. Kevin Cook

    I often feel that I spend too much time in general following this blog, and this thread in particular is doing nothing to alleviate that feeling. However, then I come across quotes like the following:

    “If people I know–regardless of how close they are to me emotionally at first–talk in that manner about Oakland, all emotionally-close ties with them would end.”

    Dude–fer real? You would literally sever all emotional intimacy with your own mother if she bagged on Oakland? I know it’s the interweb and all, so we sometimes give in to hyperbole, but if you’re serious then thank you. That stance is so crazy hilarious it justifies my wading through all the fantasies about an Uptown ballpark just to read it.

  76. Coolhand Luke

    Oakland all day. The good, the bad, the ugly. I drink it all in- savor some, spit some, but taste it all. And if my moms tried to geese on Oakland, we would not be on speaking terms. Thankfully she and pops are both East Oakland born and raised and know better. lol

  77. Sean B

    There is no way the A’s would be able to move to SJ. The owners would take away the Giants’ territorial rights.

    And Sacramento can barely support a NBA team; the Kings are currently in poor financial shape. I seriously doubt it could support a MLB franchise.

    So where else are the A’s going to move? There aren’t really any cities dying to get a baseball team these days.

  78. dbackman

    I bet Portland would still love to get their hands on a team. But that’s the only city besides San Jose where I could realistically see the A’s moving to. No matter how much a city or a group of investors want a baseball team as a feather in their cap, it really comes down the fans. Do the A’s potential host cities have a fan base to sustain the team? Will the A’s be embraced in by San Jose fans? I don’t know too much about South Bay sports, but I assume that if the Giants own the territorial rights to the region, then the majority of baseball fans there will be Giants fans. If that’s the case, will the A’s win them over because of new found proximity? Somehow I doubt it. Did all the Oriole fans in DC instantly switch over to the Nats? Probably not. We are not working with a blank slate expansion team here. Moving into another team’s market has consequences. Oakland’s fan base may have been weakened by the games of the last few years, but the East Bay still remains the stronghold of A’s fans. Can the ownership afford to alienate this group based on the risk that San Jose fans will switch allegiances?

  79. oaklandhappenings

    Gotcha, Ralph. People have their opinions, but I would still find wording in that manner disturbing. Getting back to the A’s, the way they are signing players now, an Oakland fan should be happy that they are still here. That’s a pretty experienced offense, with Nomar about to be in the mix.

  80. Felix

    The Mayor needs to appoint a committee of business people who understand the process of negotiating, to negotiate with the A’s, Raiders and the Warrior’s all agreements, its clear the elected officials and city staff are not negotiators.

  81. Steve Lowe

    Last time the Chamber got involved with Wolff, Dick Spees was acclaimed Ambassador / Negotiator, and though he certainly had plenty of business moxie and savoir faire statesmanship, he just couldn’t get close enough to Wolff to get back a reasonable reply. The Mayor-Elect then called and sat with Lew for maybe two hours or more trying to find an opening, but to no avail. So maybe it’s not a matter of businessmen or policymakers at the table, it’s something else to do with having more money than anyone else and no real care for what’s best for baseball, business or the Bay Area.

    Both Wolff and Fisher have demonstrated that they’ve reached that most wonderful plateau in American life where they simply are above the cares and concerns of ordinary mortals, as witness the dad’s weirdo attempts to impose a truly ugly museum in one of the most sensitive spots in the country; so, business acuity be damned, it’s really all about ego and one-upmanship, isn’t it? Otherwise there’d be a real display of concern for the club, for the fans, for the environment. And, oddly enough, it’s precisely those elements that were the most difficult in the Fremont fiasco: the lack of fan support for both Fremont sites presaged economic hard times for the club; and erecting a BART-challenged techno-fortress that was the very antithesis of smart growth carried with it the stench of failure from day one.

    All we have to do now is demonstrate that work on the Coli can begin almost at once and that taxpayers will support the new ballpark. The new numbers generated by proper Coli rehab will show Lew, John and everyone else that what’s been missing is a decent retail environment for families and groups who want to enjoy the experience of a new atmosphere where today there’s pretty much only bleakness and parking lot putrescence. Convincing the public that such an investment is a good deal is the hump we’ve got to get over, for who else is there to make the investment?

    ????

    – S

  82. Michael Siegel

    A couple of points I haven’t seen mentioned:

    (1) On Ownership: Why not look at the Green Bay Packer model? That is, why don’t we look at citizens of the East Bay buying this team collectively? Given the economic downturn, we may be looking at a situation in a few years where the Fisher family is feeling like the whole sports team ownership thing hasn’t worked out. In the Bay, even if our governments (i.e., Oakland) are bankrupt, we sure have a lot of private equity. There are many, many people (on this blog included) who would think seriously about buying stock in an Oakland sports team, especially if that right of ownership included other perks (i.e., participating in elections of the team CEO; maybe parking privileges; etc.) As many people have mentioned already, keeping the team in Oakland benefits countless business and government interests. If a restaurant-investor could buy a permanent concession, that might be one source of income. If Babe Ruth baseball (from which countless Oakland baseball legends emerged) could have some sort of permanent, beautiful presence, they might get involved. We have the resources, locally, to make this happen. There is also a sort of semi-socialist tradition that is also prevalent around here. Of all of the urban centers that might consider community ownership of a franchise, Oakland may be the most receptive, and most likely, to make it happen.

    Of course, the missing ingredient thus far is leadership.

    (2) On Leadership: Yes, our Oakland civic leaders have failed us to date. But, the next generation is around the corner. We have young Mr. Boxer who has been commenting here; we have Van Jones (who just left for D.C.); there are countless others who have yet to emerge, who may have grown up, like I did, with much love for the Green & Gold. We can make this happen, where Jerry and Ron and Don have failed. Just because Ignacio and Perata gave away the farm for the Raiders does not mean that we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Lew Wolff’s dreams of a major housing development may be obsolete given the economic reality. If we join forces in the years to come and build a community consensus on this issue, I have no doubt we can keep the A’s in Oakland (and make Oakland a truly great city).

  83. Chris Kidd

    Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and every owner in baseball would reject a public ownership model out of hand. The NFL would reject a public ownership bid in today’s world. Green Bay was only able to slip by in their public ownership bid back in the day because the NFL wasn’t the enormous money-making juggernaut it is today. Pursuing a public ownership bid is not time well spent when considering how to keep the A’s in Oakland. It’s the vestige of a by-gone era.

    What’s more, public ownership in the NFL is succesful because revenue sharing is at a much higher level than in MLB and salary caps keep contract figures down. At MLB levels of revenue sharing, Green Bay would lag behind every NFL team year after year because they wouldn’t be able to match funds with other teams.

  84. Michael Siegel

    @Chris Kidd thanks for the direct response. A couple of follow-up questions, then:
    * Why would public ownership necessarily be less lucrative for MLB than other forms of ownership? As far as I understand it, whether it is Lew Wolff and Fisher on top or 200,000 East Bay shareholders, you still have the same aspects of a stadium, tickets, concessions and so forth. Instead of having a handful of rich folks who control the team, you have a corporate form, composed of shareholders and led by various corporate officials.
    * And, why would public ownership make the A’s any worse off than they already are? Aren’t we already unable to match funds with other teams?

  85. livegreen

    One thing Portland has going for it is they are really well organized. The City & Business & Labor have a whole system of planning and cooperation. If they actually get involved in the process, and the A’s owners are truly interested, watch out.

    Of course public-private cooperation in San Jose is also well organized compared to Oakland.

    If Lew Wolff, aka. Noah Cross, owns 10% of the A’s he’s “managing partner” (whatever that means) for a reason. Now your guess is as good as mine, but my bet is that besides being the public face he has an incentive based on performance.

    An incentive might be, for example, a larger chunk of ownership. Performance might be, for example, making a move to San Jose happen (esp. given his contacts there).

    If Noah, I mean Lew, can’t make this happen then the ultimatum might be either he’s out totally (as Tab suggests) or he makes a backup happen on better terms and in a better space than they have now for a reduced incentive (in Oakland, Portland, wherever).

    Noah’s, I mean Lew’s, performance makes more sense in this light. He’s simply negotiating as best he can while keeping all options open and pulling as many strings as possible. There’s no way to be sure but there’s a reason that a 10% owner is “Managing Partner” and that the owners are putting up with his clown act (and making us put up with it).

    One things for sure: There’s a chess match going on here, the owners have thought through all their options, and they have their bases covered.

  86. livegreen

    @Ralph, It has every thing to do with each other. You think the 90% owners made him managing partner for free, without any quid-pro-quo? Of course not. They both get something for it, and that’s what my previous post was about.

    Lew might have control as Managing Partner over day-to-day operations, but it’s to further common objectives agreed to with the 90% owners (undoubtedly with a contract), who undoubtedly cooperate with him on (and have veto power over) longer term objectives. Whatever those objectives are if Lew is able to achieve them there’s got to be an upside for him, while conversely if he isn’t able to achieve them, there’s got to be a downside.

    But then I already talked about all this in my last post…

  87. Ralph

    @livegreen, i disagreed with your interpretation in your first post and i continue to disagree with you in your second post. to the best of my knowledge there are no side contracts in the partnership agreement

  88. livegreen

    Ralph, It’s ok by me if you disagree. But could you impart why you disagree?
    Then I can learn something…

    BTW, since business partners don’t usually release their contracts or partnership agreements to the public, and you say “to the best of my knowledge…in the partnership agreement”, was some information released to the public or do you have some other direct knowledge of their agreement?
    Again, so I can learn something if you do…

  89. Ralph

    @livegreen, oddly enough i did not want to leave you in the dark as to why i disagree but i could not find some authoritative language on managing partner. typically there is a partnership agreement, managing partner has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the p-ship. there is no consultation just do, no upside, each partner benefits in relationship to their individual ownership interest. but it has been eons since i have been in any sort of law class, so the best defn would come from someone knowledgeable about partnership law

  90. livegreen

    You might be right that there’s no quid-pro-quo. But, if the % of ownership that was previously mentioned is accurate, I doubt it. (When you own 90% of something and give somebody else control of your investment, there simply has to be an upside).

    And whether there is or not, the negotiation strategy and odd behavior of Mr. Wolff (aka. Noah Cross) towards Oakland makes more sense if San Jose is seen as their priority, while letting Oakland know that they need more, a lot more, if Oakland even wants to be considered.

    The additional advantage for the majority owners of having a disposable Lew (or at least an arrangement with Lew based on results) is, if all his antics fail and the team stays in Oakland, there’s a better chance for the Fischer’s to kiss and make up with Oakland. But all this discussion is just conjecture…

    Again, whatever happens the owners have all their bases covered.

  91. FreeSeatUpgrade

    Live Green: Two things:

    1. I’d be surprised if the Oakland Athletics partnership agreement didn’t give John Fisher the right to buy out his minority partners on demand. That’s the sort of thing his ~70% ownership share should get him.

    2. Noah Cross, eh? Have you read Oaklandtown?

  92. livegreen

    I hadn’t seen that. You’re a lot more creative than I am. I originally drew the parallel a couple years ago. But I stopped at first base. You took it home :)

    Why settle for only the water? Now if they could get Al Davis to think reaallly big (L.A. big) then they could get the whole coliseum. And with that parking lot, think of the possibilities…

    –How much are you worth Mr. Wolff? $50 mill, $100 mill?
    –Oh much much more!
    –I don’t get it. What can you possibly buy with all that money?

    Lew’s apparently thinking of a lot of things…

  93. OAKLANDathletics

    Let’s Go Oakland! is a group of A’s fans, business people, labor leaders, and government officials who are committed to keeping the A’s in Oakland.

    But it’s about much more than just building a ballpark. As part of a larger plan to build new hotels, restaurants, and cafes, a new destination stadium will attract visitors from all over the region. Like AT&T Park in Mission Bay did for San Francisco, our ballpark will be a catalyst to bring new investment and jobs to Oakland, kick-starting the next phase of our community’s successful economic development.

    If you support Oakland — if you support the A’s — we hope you’ll stand with us. Sign our petition, and urge Major League Baseball and team ownership to keep the A’s in Oakland!

    http://www.letsgooakland.com/