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Kansas City Era

October – Descendants of Connie Mack sell Athletics to Chicago businessman
Arnold Johnson, who owned both Yankee Stadium and the Yankees’ AAA
stadium, Blues Stadium in Kansas City. Yankee Stadium was sold back to the
Yankees, while the A’s were moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Blues
Stadium became Municipal Stadium, the new home of the A’s. Amidst rumors
that the A’s were set up as an extra farm team for the Yankees, the A’s never
finished above .500 under Johnson.

March – Johnson dies of a cerebral hemorrhage.

December – Chicago-Indiana insurance mogul Charlie Finley buys 52% of A’s
from Johnson’s estate. Finley swears to never move the A’s out of Kansas City.
Franchise valuation: $4 million.

February – Finley buys out all minority partners in exchange for waiving an
escape clause that would trigger if A’s attendance dropped below 850,000 in a
single season. During a press conference Finley “burns” the lease, or rather a fake
version of it. The attendance clause remains in effect.

August – News reports emerge of Finley’s interest in relocating the A’s to Dallas

March – Finley applies to MLB for relocation to Dallas twice, is rebuffed.

September – Finley starts discussions with KC officials about a new ballpark
and/or additions to Municipal Stadium.

February – Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans (AFL) are allowed to move to Kansas
City and Municipal Stadium, accelerating Finley’s desire to leave KC.

Regular season – Finley visits Dallas (again), Atlanta, Louisville, and Oakland
in search of a stadium deal.

January – Finley signs 2-year stadium lease in Louisville which is rejected by
the American League. League forces him to sign a new 4-year lease in KC while
fielding relocation offers from Denver and San Diego

Regular season – A’s sign Blue Moon Odom and Catfish Hunter, two
cornerstones of future World Series winning teams

Offseason – Finley invests in upgrades to Muni

September – State leaders and Hunt commence discussions to build separate
baseball and football stadia on the outskirts of KC. Finley originally suggested
having separate stadia.

May – A’s are reportedly interested in moving to Oakland. Finley is disinterested
in the Jackson County Sports Complex proposal.
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July – Voters approve the twin-stadium proposal, 69% in favor. Finley gets a
proposal from Jackson County while talking with Milwaukee officials about team
relocation. Both Seattle and New Orleans make offers but do not possess a major
league-quality stadium.
September – KC officials make 11th hour efforts to keep A’s in town. Finley
quickly announces that A’s are moving to Oakland.
October – Finley presents relocation options to AL owners, including Oakland,
Seattle, and Kansas City. Oakland is approved starting with the 1968 season.
Missouri Senator Stuart Symington threatens legislation to break baseball’s
antitrust exemption, is promised an expansion franchise for the 1969 season.
That team becomes the Royals, owned by local KC businessman Ewing Kauffman.
Upon arriving in Oakland, Finley makes similar promises he made in KC – team
will stay, he will build a winner, he will move his family to the city. Finley hires
East Bay native Joe DiMaggio as a team executive.

Oakland/Finley era

March – Finley signs 20-year lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

October – The A’s finish the season 82-80, the first of nine straight seasons over
.500 in Oakland.

October – Finley buys the California Golden Seals NHL franchise

October – A’s win West division

June – Finley buys the Memphis Tams of the ABA

October – A’s win their first World Series in Oakland over the Cincinnati Reds

October – A’s win second straight World Series over the New York Mets

January – Finley sells the Golden Seals

June – Finley sells the Memphis Tams

October – A’s win third straight World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During WS Finley says that Oakland can’t support a championship team.

Spring – Rumors circulate about Finley’s interest in selling the A’s. Finley plays
down such talks.

July – MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Finley’s longtime nemesis, is up for
reelection. Finley fails to find enough votes within the AL owners to oust Kuhn.
Kuhn announces that the Bay Area is not a two-team market, and that either the
A’s or Giants will have to leave by the end of his term.

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January – Giants owner Horace Stoneham reaches agreement to sell the team
to Canadian brewery Labatt’s, who would move the team to Toronto. Bob Lurie
and Bud Herseth later step in to keep team in SF.


December – Finley decides to sell A’s to oil billionaire Marvin Davis, who would
move team to Denver. In order to allow the Giants to be the remaining team in
the Bay, they would have to play up to half their games at the Coliseum for 10
years. A buyout of the Coliseum lease could not be worked out, killing the sale.

Regular season – As Finley sells players to other teams to cover debts and his
ongoing divorce proceedings, A’s players start asking for the league to intervene
and rescue the team.

January – Eddie DeBartolo, Sr. makes an offer to Finley to buy the A’s and
move them to New Orleans. The sale is thwarted again by the Coliseum lease,
along with Kuhn’s disinterest in bringing in an owner associated with gambling
(casinos and horse tracks). In 1977 DeBartolo bought the 49ers and turned them
over to his son, Eddie Jr. In 1980 Eddie Sr. tried to buy the Chicago White Sox
and was turned away again by Kuhn. The White Sox were purchased by Jerry

Regular season – Multiple groups assemble to attempt to purchase the A’s
from Finley in order to keep them in Oakland. The subsequent deal to have the
Giants play a set number of games at the Coliseum could not be worked out.

November – Finley reaches another deal with Marvin Davis, sale price $12
million. Coliseum officials face another relocation threat when Al Davis looks to
move the Raiders to LA. The rationale for allowing the A’s to leave was that
money from the Coliseum lease buyout would fund improvements for the
Raiders, plus it would get rid of Finley once and for all. The Oakland City Council
votes unanimously to keep the lease, wrecking the sale attempt again.

January – Raiders owner Al Davis announces his intention to move the football
team to LA. After a lengthy legal battle, the team moved prior to the 1982 season.

August – Frustrated with Oakland and MLB, Finley gives up on selling to out-ofstate interests and focuses locally. A group headed by former Levi Strauss CEO
Walter Haas, Jr. buys the team for $12.7 million.

Oakland/Haas era

October – A’s win West division in strike-shortened season, “Billyball” is fully
established and marketed as the A’s brand.

February – The Raiders leave for Los Angeles.

December – Billy Martin is fired, starting the A’s rebuilding efforts.
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Spring – Sandy Alderson, who was originally hired in 1981, becomes the A’s
general manager.


December – Al Davis signs lease extension at LA Memorial Coliseum through
1991, with extensions up to 2006.

September – Haas and the Oakland Coliseum Commission work out loan terms
for improvements to the stadium that would include skyboxes, a seating
reconfiguration, and scoreboard improvements.

October – Bob Lurie threatens to move the Giants to Denver, touts the Coliseum
as a short-term home for his team without consulting the A’s and Haas. The idea
goes nowhere.

November – Lurie drops plans for a downtown ballpark.

Spring – Coliseum improvements project completed with replacement
scoreboards and new DiamondVision video screen in centerfield

July – Coliseum hosts the All-Star Game

October – A’s return to the World Series for the first time since 1974, lose to the

October – A’s beat the Giants in the “Battle of the Bay” World Series, which was
interrupted by the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake.

November – In the earthquake’s aftermath, a ballot proposition to fund another
Giants downtown ballpark is voted down (one was previously voted down in

March – Davis accepts a $660 million offer to move the Raiders back to
Oakland. Included in the proposal are $53 million in Coliseum improvements, a
$54 million franchise fee, revenue from guaranteed sellouts for five years. The
deal falls apart after a voter referendum threat in Oakland.

July – Citing the A’s ongoing financial burden, Haas threatens to take the A’s out
of Oakland after the 1995 season if the Raiders return.

October – A’s lose to the Reds in the World Series.

June – MLB owners approve Denver and Miami for new expansion teams in the
National League for 1993, effectively taking those cities off the “stalking horse”
relocation threat list.

August – Lurie reaches agreement to sell the Giants to Tampa Bay interests for
$115 million.

September – Haas grants the Giants’ territorial rights to Santa Clara County
(including San Jose) upon request from MLB and Lurie. Prior to the request,
Santa Clara County was not assigned to either team. The Giants planned to build
a ballpark in either north San Jose or Santa Clara. Both proposals failed at the
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ballot box. The Giants carry the T-rights forward into the next ownership tenure
even though they never moved to the South Bay, considering the T-rights part of
the team’s value.
November – The owners scuttle Lurie’s sale to Tampa with the help of new
acting commissioner (and Brewers owner) Bud Selig. SF interests scramble to put
together a new ownership group. That group, at first led by SF mega-developer
Walter Shorenstein and later led by Safeway CEO Peter Magowan, buys the
Giants for $100 million.


Offseason – As a goodwill gesture to Giants fans, new ownership signs Barry
Bonds before the ink is dry on the franchise sale.

May – Haas announces he will put the A’s up for sale for $85 million, provided
local ownership is found. The price reflects a 15% “hometown” discount.

Oakland/Schott-Hofmann era

July – Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann officially buy the A’s from Haas. The deal
takes several months to complete because of extended negotiations over
outstanding debt and a promise to keep the team in Oakland amidst football
construction at the Coliseum. After debt, the sales price is somewhere in the $72
million range. New ownership signs 9-year lease extension.

September – Haas dies after battling prostate cancer.

November – Schott hires longtime friend Ed Alvarez to run the business side of
the A’s. Alvarez is also tasked with looking for ballpark sites away from the
Coliseum, including the South Bay. A dispute over a promised ownership stake
for Alvarez led to arbitration and later a lawsuit. Friendship dissolved, the two
men ultimately settled.

February – Charlie Finley dies.

July – Mark McGwire, the last remaining star from the Bash Brothers era, is
traded to St. Louis for prospects.

November – Giants finally win a ballpark referendum, thanks to minimal public
investment (infrastructure). The ballpark in China Basin opens in 2000.

January – Schott sues Coliseum Authority (JPA) for $48 million over lost
revenue caused by the Coliseum’s football renovations (“Mt. Davis”).

March – Schott commissions study on potential move to Las Vegas… Developer
Lew Wolff, who is not involved with the team in any way at this point, says about
San Jose, “If I was going to pursue a ballpark, I would certainly do it in San Jose,
not depend on a vote outside of San Jose, and I would work through the mayor
and the Redevelopment Agency.”

September – Schott hires Michael Crowley as President of the A’s, effectively
replacing Alvarez.
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October – A group fronted by former A’s executive Andy Dolich, Joe Morgan,
Men’s Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer, and Bob Piccinini, CEO of Save Mart
supermarkets, offers to buy A’s. Schott triggers year-to-year clause in lease.


September – Selig tables a vote to approve a sale of the A’s to the DolichPiccinini. The vote never happens as the window to negotiate expires. Rumblings
from the league office indicated that baseball was concerned about the financial
wherewithal of the group. Oakland backers cry foul on Selig’s part.

October – A’s post their first winning record in 5 years, ushering in the
“Moneyball” era.

October – A’s win AL West.

March – Schott initiates talks with Santa Clara (his hometown) for a ballpark
near Great America by getting SC to delay construction of a parking garage. Talks
break off several months later when another rumor of a sale to Vegas group

December – JPA presents a study from HOK (architects) on the feasibility of
ballpark sites throughout the East Bay. The Uptown site north of City Hall/City
Center is proclaimed the leader based on various factors including cost and
transportation access. The Coliseum is a distant second, while the Fremont
(Warm Springs/NUMMI) site runs third. Howard Terminal places fourth.
Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb leads the charge for the Uptown ballpark
plan, which Mayor Jerry Brown dislikes in favor of new housing to support his
10K initiative.

July – The City of Oakland goes with Brown’s choice, Forest City, to be the
developer of the Uptown parcels, shutting out the possibility of a ballpark there.
Prior to the action, Schott neglected to attend a meeting detailing the proposal,
demurring throughout the summer. Brown fired Bobb in 2003 over Bobb’s
insistence in continuing with the ballpark proposal. Bobb later became the City
Administrator of the District of Columbia, negotiating a publicly-financed
ballpark for the Nationals.

September – Reports name the A’s as one of four potential franchise
contraction candidates. The others were the Expos, Twins, and Angels. The
owners later table contraction for a year, then indefinitely as future CBA
negotiations turn out to be less contentious than expected.

November – Lew Wolff becomes the A’s Executive Vice President of Venue
Development. With the title he also has an option to buy the team later.

Spring – Wolff offers to split the cost of a study with the JPA for a new ballpark
proposal next to the Coliseum complex. The plan calls for the JPA to buy the
HomeBase lot along Hegenberger, south of the Coliseum. A ballpark could be
built either on that lot or the “Malibu” triangular lot adjacent to the Coliseum.
The JPA declines to partner with the A’s on this.
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December – Schott continues to want a new ballpark, offering up to $100
million for a stadium in the north lot at the Coliseum. Talk of Wolff taking over
for Schott heats up.

Oakland/Wolff-Fisher era

January – Wolff says that he’s focused on Oakland and will respect established

March – Wolff exercises option to buy team for $165 million. He becomes the
managing partner or control person in the new ownership group. Most of the
money comes from John Fisher, the manager of the GAP family fortune. Fisher’s
father, Don Fisher, started GAP and once had a stake in the Giants.

August – Wolff presents a plan to build a ballpark and mixed-use development
on dozens of privately-owned parcels north of the Coliseum. The 66th/High/
Coliseum Drive-In plan (Coliseum North) would encompass 140 acres. Wolff
offers up to $1 million per acre and asks for the City to help facilitate the land
transactions. Wolff also asked for a BART station, which at the time would have
cost $75 million to build. The proposal gains little traction as resistance builds
among the potentially affected industrial land owners.

December – A’s close off upper deck to improve ticket scarcity and stadium
intimacy, to the displeasure of many fans. New Coliseum capacity is less than
35,000… A lawsuit filed by the Raiders against the JPA over advertising revenue
is settled, along with a lease extension for the team through 2010. The A’s also
wanted an extension through 2013 but were denied.

January – Wolff offers a completely different, scaled down plan on two different
site in which the JPA or City buys land north of the Coliseum and turns it over to
Wolff to develop with a ballpark.

February – San Jose releases its Ballpark Draft EIR for the Diridon site next to
the downtown train station. City also purchases various properties in order to
assemble part of the site.

March – Oakland and Wolff admit that they don’t hold each other as major

April – JPA and Wolff restart lease extension talks with annual options for
2011-13 seasons.

May – A’s ownership buys expansion San Jose Earthquakes franchise, six
months after AEG took the original MLS team to Houston. The expansion team
began play in 2008.

June – Former House Rep. Ron Dellums is elected Oakland mayor. During the
campaign, Wolff tells Dellums “don’t break your pick” on a ballpark plan in
Oakland. In hindsight, apparently Dellums took that to mean anything in
Oakland, based on his mayoral record.

October – A’s reach the ALCS, only to lose to the Tigers.

November – Wolff unveils plan to build on the undeveloped Pacific Commons
land in south Fremont, along I-880. The plan is called Cisco Field, replete with
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naming rights from the Fortune 100 networking giant. The 240-acre “ballpark
village” would be surrounded by housing, retail, and some office buildings. The
ballpark would seat 30-34,000. Cisco Systems controlled an option to build on
the land as part of their expansion outside San Jose, but chose not to develop
there in the end. Talks with originated with Cisco executives and Wolff’s son,
Keith Wolff, in April 2006.
December – Wolff and partners start buying up property surrounding Pacific


Spring – EIR study commences for Pacific Commons. The process is expected to
take at least 2 years to complete.

May – A’s Pacific Commons sign land deal with Cisco and ProLogis.

January – A’s announce that part of the Coliseum’s upper deck will reopen as an
All-You-Can-Eat concessions section.

April – San Jose approves stadium development plan for Earthquakes west of
Mineta SJC Airport.

May – Incoming Giants managing partner Bill Neukom reaffirms the team’s
territorial rights to the South Bay.

July – Wolff considers the Pacific Commons project “in flux” due to EIR

August – Big box retailers near the ballpark site express concerns about parking
availability and traffic, threaten to hold up project with a previously
unknown veto power via lease clauses.

October – With the recession hitting the Bay Area hard, questions arise about
the viability of the Fremont plan.

December – A last-minute shift produces the Warm Springs proposal, a
ballpark on or near the NUMMI plant on the east side of I-880 and near a future
BART station. Residents on the other side of I-680 are surprised and shocked by
this change, and vehemently protest the proposal. Regardless of how serious the
plan was, the optics from community meetings were not good… News reports
heat up about the new focus being on San Jose.

February – Wolff officially ends Fremont efforts, citing process (EIR) issues.
Behind the scenes, the sunken economy was just as responsible, considering that
real estate was meant to provide a sizable piece of the financing mix… A’s move
from CSN Bay Area to CSN California.

March – Selig creates “Blue Ribbon” committee to study potential A’s ballpark
sites in the Bay Area… Wolff says that San Jose “deserves” MLB team… Dellums
and Senator Barbara Boxer write letters to Selig urging him to keep the A’s in

April – SF Giants buy stake in SJ Giants… Dellums meets with MLB committee.

May – A’s minority partner Guy Saperstein responds to Oakland City Attorney
John Russo’s letter.

June – Santa Clara City Council approves $1 billion 49ers stadium plan… Rickey
Henderson speaks out.
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July – City of Oakland levies new parking tax at Coliseum, creating conflict with
the JPA and A’s… 49ers/Santa Clara release stadium draft EIR.
August – Construction of the BART Warm Springs extension begins, to be
completed and operating by 2015.
September – San Jose makes drastic cuts at its Redevelopment Agency as it
winds down activities, awaits state action on future redevelopment.
November – New Oakland ballpark sites are revealed.
December – Attention in Oakland moves to a site near Jack London Square,
later named Victory Court… Cisco CEO John Chambers affirms support for a
South Bay ballpark… SF’s City Attorney and a Giants-backed Astroturf group
threaten lawsuits against SJ.


January – Fremont pushes NUMMI site as Toyota closes factory.

February – Upper Deck AYCE sections are repurposed as Value Deck (316-318)
… San Jose releases Supplemental EIR (follow on to 2006 EIR).

March – Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorses SJ ballpark plan… Quakes
stadium plan and rezoning approved.

April – MLB COO Bob DuPuy visits SJ… Let’s Go Oakland releases Economic
Impact Report.

May – San Jose ballpark EIR certified (again).

June – A’s exercise lease option for 2011-13 years… Sharks, SJ reach deal to stop
challenge to ballpark EIR.

July – Selig says that he’ll make a decision on the A’s at some point… then asks
SJ to pull a ballpark measure from the November ballot, which it does.

August – Renderings of Cisco Field become available. I provide an analysis.

September – SJ City Council approves resolutions regarding potential A’s
move… SVLG sends letter to Selig… SF Giants buy controlling stake in SJ Giants.

October – Wolff gives $25,000 to Don Perata’s campaign for Oakland mayor.

November – Perata loses the mayoral election to Council Member Jean Quan.
Wolff’s support may have cost Perata.

December – Reports indicate that MLB’s panel has visited and favors the
Victory Court site, presentation is made… Peerless Coffee has no interest in
relocating for VC ballpark… Oakland approves EIR funding for VC… SJ & AT&T
strike a land deal near Santana Row that could have future effects on the ballpark
site (quid pro quo).

January – As state and local governments continue to feel the effects of the
recession, Governor Jerry Brown signals death knell for redevelopment.

March – A’s sign 4-year radio deal with Entercom FM station 95.7 (KGMZ)… A’s
SJ creates new post-RDA agency to keep and hold ballpark land, strikes deal with
County in the process.

April – Overstock.com becomes naming rights sponsor at the Coliseum for 6

May – A’s official Twitter handle changes from @OaklandAs to @Athletics.

June – Governor Brown signs two bills to kill redevelopment.

July – Selig takes franchise contraction off the table for future CBA talks.
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August – My 5-part interview with Wolff (Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part
September – Neukom ousted as Giants CEO… Oakland City Administrator
Deanna Santana hires 2 new assistant City Admins, Scott Johnson and Fred
Blackwell. All three would be gone within 3 years, not before Blackwell heads up
Coliseum City project… A plan to convert some of the general admission Bleacher
seats to reserved seats is not well received, and is quickly taken back by the A’s…
“Moneyball” the film is released.
October – San Jose gives A’s huge discount on ballpark land.
November – Planned capacity for Cisco Field rises from 32,000 to 35-36,000…
MLB realignment forces Houston into the AL West, causing year-round
interleague play starting in 2013.
December – Oakland unveils Coliseum City project… Funding for part of the
BART extension to the South Bay materializes.


January – Victory Court plan dies. Oakland looks to EB-5 visa program to
provide funding for some large projects including Brooklyn Basin and Coliseum

February – 49ers get $200 million G-4 loan for Levi’s Stadium.

April – 49ers break ground on stadium… Coliseum gets fresh paint, signage, and
food items for 2013 season.

May – Clorox and other East Bay businesses pledge support for a new ballpark in
downtown Oakland… the site is revealed as Howard Terminal.

June – JPA names AEG operator of the Coliseum complex, including the
stadium and arena… I attend a Save Oakland Sports meeting.

August – MLB committee visits Howard Terminal (in-depth: Howard Terminal
Revisited, Challenges facing Howard Terminal)… City of Oakland has “Oakland
Loves Its Sports Teams” week.

September – New national TV deals provide new revenue through 2021… Cal
Memorial Stadium reopens after a $321 million renovation and retrofit.

October – Warriors release renderings of new arena at SF’s Piers 30/32.

December – Wolff requests 5-year lease extension at Coliseum, hints at playing
at a “temporary” venue if agreement can’t be reached.

January – JPA raids scoreboard improvement fund to pay for Raiders study…
A’s and City of Mesa, AZ reach agreement to renovate Hohokam Stadium and
Fitch Park for the 2015 Cactus League… Maloofs reach agreement to sell Kings to
Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.

February – Raiders tarp Mt. Davis for 2013 season, new capacity 53,250…

March – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson pulls together NorCal-based
ownership group to save the Kings… SJ files unsuccessful motion to disqualify in
Stand For San Jose lawsuit.

April – SJ Mayor Chuck Reed writes letter to Selig… Oakland Fan Pledge
launches… NBA Board of Governors votes against Sacramento Kings’ sale and

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move to Seattle… Giants to refinance AT&T Park debt and finance new
development across McCovey Cove.
May – A’s-Coliseum lease negotiations stall over unpaid parking taxes… Levi’s
secures naming rights deal for 49ers stadium, stadium is awarded Super Bowl 50.
June – Coliseum Sewagegate… Port of Oakland settles lawsuit with one of its
port operators, SSA Marine, over fees paid to the Port. The settlement paves the
way for SSA to leave Howard Terminal and consolidate operations elsewhere in
the Harbor… Don Knauss promotes Howard Terminal on the radio… SJ City
Council approves antitrust lawsuit against MLB.
July – JPA distributes Coliseum City Football Revenue Study, assuming a
50,000-seat, $700 million stadium… MLB retains John Keker of Keker Van Nest
for antitrust lawsuit to face Joe Cotchett of Cotchett Pitre.
September – Sewagegate continues.
October – Investor group comes aboard for Coliseum City… Port points out
issues at Howard Terminal.
November – MLB gets involved in stalled A’s-Coliseum lease talks… JPA
approves 2-year lease.
December – “The Adult Conversation, At Last“… MLB says A’s-to-SJ proposal
was rejected before SJ lawsuit was filed… Federal judge strikes down most SJ
claims, allows antitrust portion to go to appeals court… Howard Terminal
renderings released.


January – Ovations replaces Aramark as the Coliseum’s concessions
vendor… Howard Terminal ballpark group OWB asks Port for site lease/ENA…
SJ files appeal of antitrust lawsuit in 9th Circuit, expedited appeal granted.

February – A’s official website now includes athletics.com as well as
oaklandathletics.com domains.

March – Port approves Howard Terminal ENA… Raiders owner Mark Davis
talks about sharing the Coliseum complex with the A’s.

April – Fred Blackwell quits Oakland City Administrator job shortly after he
takes it, stays on as consultant to Coliseum City… Coliseum City infrastructure
estimates range $344-425 million depending on buildout… Coliseum City “Letter
of Interest” deadline passes with no commitment from any team… Long term
lease talks begin again, JPA makes 10-year lease counteroffer to A’s, which is
subsequently rejected… JPA reveals that it is in talks with Wolff about developing
the Coliseum in an alternative to Coliseum City… Warriors buy Salesforce site in
Mission Bay for arena, drop Piers 30/32 plan.

May – MLB owners appoint succession committee for Selig replacement, Selig is
set to retire in early 2015… Rumors begin about Sacramento River Cats changing
affiliation from A’s to Giants.

June – Davis indicates he wants A’s gone and Coliseum demolished after 2015
season… Oakland City Council no-shows vote on lease extension.

July – JPA & A’s agree on extension… Selig pulls move threat card… Report has
A’s switching AAA affiliate to Nashville after losing Sacramento… City Council
approves amended lease, which goes back to JPA/A’s and is approved.

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August – Wolff gives $1,000 to CM Rebecca Kaplan’s mayoral campaign fund,
money is later returned… Levi’s Stadium has its first event, a Quakes game…
Owners elect Rob Manfred next MLB commissioner… Coliseum City Draft EIR
released… Wolff announces 360 Architecture (now part of HOK) as lead architect
on A’s Coliseum City alternative.
September – Quan announces “basics” of Coliseum City deal with BayIG &
Raiders, though Raiders haven’t signed on… A’s officially switch AAA affiliate to
Nashville, Giants change from Fresno to Sacramento… Renderings of W’s arena
look like a toilet.
October – Coliseum City ENA extended 90 days, new financier brought in to
negotiate deal… A’s, Mesa show off progress at Hohokam… A’s renew land option
in San Jose for 7 years… Kephart talks difficulties with Coliseum City.
November – Libby Schaaf elected mayor of Oakland, Sam Liccardo elected
mayor of San Jose… A’s let go of PR man Bob Rose, look to hire someone who can
engage with public sector – possibly for stadium development… Quakes ink
Avaya as naming rights sponsor before 2015 opening… OWB terminates Howard
Terminal ENA.
December – NFL declares no team moves to LA for 2015.


January – Rams owner proposes new, privately financed stadium at
Inglewood’s Hollywood Park… Bay Area reworks 2024 Olympic bid by including
Oakland stadium… Olympic bid loses to Boston… Ninth Circuit upholds MLB’s
antitrust exemption… Schaaf proposes allowing Raiders and A’s to make their
own bids at Coliseum City… Oakland approves ENA extension with competing
bids, County next to approve… Sharks move top affiliate to SJ, which would also
play games at SAP Center… Rob Manfred officially takes over as MLB
commissioner… Info about Coliseum scoreboard project comes out… Former
Rose Bowl exec Scott McKibben slated to become JPA Executive Director.

February – SJ City Council approves Supreme Court appeal… Coliseum City
Specific Plan Final Draft released… Raiders revealed to be withholding 2014 rent
from JPA… County still not on board with Coliseum City… Coliseum City EIR
Final Draft released… Hohokam Stadium open house and preview… Manfred
talks Coliseum ballpark… Wolff wants surface parking over garages at planned
Coliseum ballpark.

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March 14, 2005
Welcome to the new A’s Ballpark blog. My name is Rhamesis Muncada, and along with
being a lifelong A’s fan, I have always been a fan of the architecture of stadiums, arenas,
theaters, or any venue where people gather to watch entertainment. For as long as there
is an effort, I will keep this blog updated with news and links to articles about efforts to
build the A’s a new ballpark. First, I’ll post a couple of statements about myself.
1. I am not a season ticket holder, but I go to 30-40 games a year. The A’s attendance
patterns make it easy for me to go to games as a spur-of-the-moment thing. If a new
ballpark is built for the A’s, I would most likely become a season ticket holder. I also
attend roughly a dozen Giants games per year as well.
2. It is my belief that low revenues directly related to pricing and attendance at the
Network Associates Coliseum have led to the team’s inability to keep major free
agents. I am astonished that General Manager Billy Beane and his staff have been
able to keep the team competitive for six years straight even with the problems that a
low-revenue team faces every season. That said, a new stadium with more
attendance and revenue streams could very well help make the A’s more
competitive, though I acknowledge that a new ballpark is not a guaranteed panacea.
3. My focus is entirely on a new ballpark. While I understand the “Moneyball”
approach to building a team and have faith in Beane’s methods, there are other blogs
and fansites that do a comprehensive job covering topics such as OPS, WHIP, and
Range Factor. There are links for those sites on this page.
4. I do not support new general taxes such as sales or utility taxes to fund ballparks. I
believe that ballparks should be able to fund themselves in large part, with minimal
public investment in the form of limited infrastructural improvements. I would
support a bond measure to fund ballpark construction if debt service on those bonds
is met by revenues obtained through activities at or related to the ballpark. (Why the
Tax Reform Act of 1986 largely prohibits this.)
5. I prefer to see the A’s stay in Oakland, and have hope in new owner Lewis Wolff’s
efforts to get a new ballpark built. However, I hope that if a new ballpark can’t be
built in Oakland, it can be built elsewhere in the Bay Area so that I can continue to
support the team. This includes San Jose, which is not currently available due to the
Giants’ territorial rights over Santa Clara County.
6. Yes I am named after a pharoah.
7. I live in San Jose. At A’s games, I usually sit in the bleachers.

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Group resurfaces for A’s ballpark bid
In fact, little has been done since Wolff, who had been investigating the possibility of a
new park as a minority owner, designated the Coliseum area as the best available site
last summer. The park would be built on the south side but Dean doubted it actually
would be in the existing parking lot, as was once thought.
“You’d have to have a parking alternative with all those spaces gone,” he said, “and the
idea of building a parking structure doesn’t work. First, it would be prohibitively
expensive and then, it would be a nightmare with everybody trying to leave at the
same time after a big game.”

This is the first specific mention of the idea that the ballpark will not be built on the
existing Coliseum grounds. In the 2001 study done by HOK for the A’s and Oakland, the
Coliseum option had the ballpark built on the north (66th Avenue) side of the park.
Below is an aerial photo I modified to highlight the new site. The old Coliseum option
would have placed the ballpark directly north of the arena (in the dark parking strip).
Hegenberger Road runs along the right (east) side of the picture. BART is in the upperright corner. 880 (Nimitz Freeway) is west of the arena.

The site is around 25-26 acres in size. Most of it has been fenced off to prevent vehicle
access due to frequent use as a site for sideshows and before that, raves. The only active
tenants on the combined site are the Denny’s at the NW corner of Coliseum and
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Hegenberger, and the EDD/office building at the NE corner of the lot. I’m not clear on
who exactly owns the properties in question, but I should have that info soon enough.

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Most of these articles are about the sale of the A’s from Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman
to the group led by Lewis Wolff and John Fisher.

Wolff: A’s ballpark already in works 3/14
A’s sale clears next-to-last hurdle 3/12
Wolff: Athletics’ ‘focus’ is in Oakland 3/12
New A’s owner says he will control planning of ballpark 3/11
A’s suitor requests reins for new park 3/11
Group resurfaces for A’s ballpark bid 3/8
From the latest (top) article:
“Here’s a major quid pro quo,” Wolff said. “I promise you, we will not write a check to
the Giants. I can tell you that we are not planning to buy out the Giants’ rights.”
This is important because it is one of the main arguments for San Jose baseball
proponents. Since Peter Magowan of the Giants is not willing to name a price for
territorial rights and Lew Wolff isn’t willing to pay for them regardless, it would appear
that a move to San Jose is a non-starter at this point. Still, the Baseball San Jose group
continues its efforts just in case the Oakland efforts fail to produce a mutually agreeable
ballpark plan.

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It looks like this season the A’s will be the recipients of a handsome revenue sharing
Unlike the NFL, baseball might not share all of its revenue. But the 300 million bucks a
year it does share now are having a major effect….The A’s, according to sources, will
get about $19 million.
Now before anyone starts jumping up and down screaming “We won the lottery!” it’s
important to understand what that revenue sharing figure means in the grand scheme of
things. According to the Major League Agreement, all thirty teams have to share a third
of their locally-generated revenues (tickets, ads, local TV/radio). The money is then
pooled and split 30 ways. So if the A’s paid in $15 million (1/3 of a rough estimate of $45
million in local revenue) and got back $34 million, their revenue sharing rebate is $19
million. If Jayson Stark is right about the following:
And that doesn’t even include the $20 million or so each team collects in national TV
money. Or the $4 million they’re about to get from the new XM radio deal. Or the $6
million to $8 million each team gets from the swelling central fund.
… then the A’s should have gotten well over $100 million in revenue for 2004 when
merchandise sales and other national streams are included. That makes sense
considering the A’s pulled $110 million in 2003 according to Forbes. Remove about $40
million in infrastructure costs such as player development, front office costs, rent on the
stadium and spring training facilities, and the team’s left with $60-70. Most of that will
go to players. Some of it may end up becoming a small profit for the ownership group.
Chances are that the payroll and revenue will remain the same or dip slightly for 2005,
and the cycle will continue.

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March 15, 2005
Lewis Wolff made his money (estimated family holdings of $1.5 billion) as a real estate
developer, dealing primarily in hotel construction. In fact, his first venture into the hotel
market was the Holiday Inn in San Jose, which eventually became a part of a much
larger development in downtown San Jose called Park Center Plaza. Though he will have
responsibilities that come with his new title as managing partner of the A’s, it is
expected that he’ll continue to keep his day job.
Wolff is currently working on a large hotel project in downtown L.A. near Staples Center
and the L.A. Convention Center, where the City is pouring tons of money into
redevelopment. Wolff’s hotel deal is one to watch, because at $350 million its price tag
runs close to the what a new ballpark would cost. The project is also being funded in
part by a large tax subsidy, which could cover over half the cost. Wolff and partner
Richard Ackerman are concerned that the tax revenue, which would be generated by an
incremental raise in hotel occupancy tax, may not fully cover its share:
But hotelier Lew Wolff and financial partner Richard Ackerman, a principal at Apollo
Real Estate Advisors, said last week that more revenue must be generated in order to
cover its future loan payments on the $350 million project.
“We are scraping every possible revenue source so that if something goes wrong in the
next couple of years we’ll be able to ride out any storm,” Ackerman said. “We’re trying
to hedge our risk on an immense project by being very cautious.”
To that end, the developers have retained Anschutz Entertainment Group, majority
owners of the Staples Center, to help fill the 55-story hotel with lucrative corporate
I’m not sure how commonplace corporate sponsorships of things as trivial as meeting
rooms or sheets are, but such arrangements are very much at home in the world of
sports venue construction. The best example of successful corporate sponsorships in
America is SBC Park, though every new stadium and arena shows evidence of this type
of activity. If you are one of those “purists” who disliked SBC Park for its
commercialization, you’re not going to like the new A’s ballpark, especially if it ends up
being largely funded by private sources. Don’t be surprised if the place ends up being the
illegitimate child of Times Square and Kauffman Stadium. Someone has to pay the bills.

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April 1, 2005
On the late NBC11 newscast, it was reported that the Del Monte Cannery site in San Jose
is no longer available, due to San Jose pulling out of negotiations with KB Home on a
land swap. Early next week, San Jose’s planning commission is due to make a
recommendation on KB Home’s planned residential community at the cannery, based
on a completed environmental impact report. The decision was deferred in early March
because the commission felt the need to review new financial documents submitted by
KB Home.
That would leave the Diridon South station as the only truly viable ballpark site in San
Jose (and the best in my opinion). Much of the other alternative, the FMC site, is already
being acquired by the San Jose Airport so it’s almost out of the picture.
During the same news report, the Coliseum site was mentioned, but only the old parking
lot option, which may not be in play. Oakland City Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente was
interviewed, and while he repeated his stance that Oakland and Alameda County don’t
have $400 million to spend, he did mention that there may be a couple of other sites in
Oakland that could be under consideration. A smile curled up from his lips as he
finished his statement. The reporter, Christie Smith, said that the Uptown site was not
available (I tend to agree with this).
That would leave the Coliseum South site as option #1, and the Estuary as option #2,
since Howard Terminal is being used in its entirety by Matson (more on that in a future

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April 3, 2005
In addition to the quotes from Friday’s post, it looks as exploration is full steam ahead,
according to an article in the Contra Costa Times. The focus is mostly on the Coliseum
parking lot, though there’s no distinction between the existing lot and the 8.65 acre
gravel auxiliary lot adjacent to the south lots.
“Now, we have to look at what’s under the site,” Wolff said. “Tenants (the Raiders and
Warriors) share this site and we have to talk to them. We have to address the parking
“There are difficulties with any venue of this nature,” he added. “You will find that to
be the case in any place. Elsewhere in the country, you will run into issues such as
these, too.”
In addition, the city got some news on how far the plan is progressing:
Last week, De La Fuente received an indication — via a letter from Wolff — that some
advancement already has been made.
“It was official notice to the (Coliseum Authority) that he has engaged an architectural
firm in Los Angeles to start exploring the possibility of building a stadium in Oakland,”
De La Fuente said. “They’re taking the lead on it, and I see that as a reason to be
If they focus on the existing south lot, a ballpark could remove 4,000 spaces. Someone
would have to build a lot of garage parking to make up for the loss. Those parking
garages could cost $6-8 million to build, plus there’s the fact that garages don’t make for
quality tailgating.

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April 4, 2005
Chip Johnson of the Chronicle writes in his column that building on…
the Coliseum parking lot — would be the most expedient, but perhaps not the most
desirable, choice of sites.
He notes that the Uptown site is due for groundbreaking later this month. The best site
would be along the waterfront, anywhere from the Oakland Army Base to the Estuary.
The Army Base does have some potential because it is city owned, but despite the
waterfront feature, it’s far from downtown and would require a BART station to be built
there. All waterfront sites would also require environmental cleanup, which would cost
in the tens of millions per site, and there’s the issue that the City and Port may actually
want to get some amount of money for these sites, since they have some value.

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April 6, 2005
Small details have emerged. Tidbits from the interview:
Q (Newhouse). Are you encouraged that a ballpark can be built in Oakland?
A (Wolff). I always feel that way, but the biggest issue is pinning down a site, and
we’re working on that right now.
Q. You mentioned last week that you would be looking at alternative sites: Would that
include something along the estuary?
A. First of all, we don’t know how many alternatives there are. What we can’t do is
look at a site we can’t use because it might take 10 years to get there. The answer is I’m
going to do everything I can to find a site.
Q. The Coliseum parking lot, which you’re focused on, offers BART and highway
access, but no aesthetic qualities. Would you agree?
A. You haven’t seen what we plan to build there yet.
Q. What has been your relationship with Alameda County’s Joint Powers Authority
(JPA) to date?
A. They have been very supportive, and I would like to thank both the county and the
city of Oakland. A lot has gone on since our (Friday) press conference, and they’re just
terrific. When I call, they’ve responded right away. I see no problem dealing with
Newhouse did his best to pry some steak from Wolff, but all he got was sizzle. That’s
what makes Wolff the consummate professional he is. He’s good.
Q. With the close proximity of sports teams to one another in this country, would
“territorial rights” stand up in court?
A. I’ll never know because I’ll never test it.

It’s nice to see that Newhouse didn’t lob the typical San Jose or Vegas/Portland question
that would’ve gotten the typical response. Wolff’s response, as expected, leaves the
territorial rights battle squarely within the San Jose civic and booster groups, making it
a real uphill climb for them.

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April 8, 2005
In the CoCo Times interview, Hurd inquires about Wolff’s relationship with Selig:
CCT (Hurd): You mentioned at Friday’s press conference that Mr. Selig approached
you about buying into the A’s. Would you have been as enthusiastic about it were it not
for your friendship with him?
Wolff: Well, he helped me get involved because he knew me, and he knew Steve and
Ken and what their situation was. What you have to remember is you can’t really get
involved in baseball unless the commissioner lets you. My friendship with him was not
the big issue. The big issue was that with this particular team, the downside risk isn’t
that huge, but the upside potential is.
CCT: But it seems like without a ballpark solution, this franchise is stuck. Mr. Selig has
expressed doubts in the past about whether this is a viable two-team market, and he’s
made his stance that the Giants own the territorial rights to Santa Clara County clear
on numerous occasions. So how do you respond to those who might say your
friendship with him and your choice to buy into the A’s is a sign the franchise may be
headed out of the Bay Area?
Wolff: Well, I’ve never heard him discuss the market, and the issue I think I made
pretty clear at the press conference. We’re going to focus on Oakland. We’re not going
to do what-ifs. If people want to focus on that, fine. There’s 30 owners in this league,
and I’m sure Bud is closer to a lot of them than he is to me. So I think that’s a lot of
hogwash really.
Then Hurd went further into the ballpark issue:
CCT: Clearly, finding a ballpark is the franchise’s No. 1 issue. You’ve said you won’t
give daily updates, but for the record, can you tell us where you are in that process
right now, and where you’d like to be a year from now?
Wolff: No. I want to be consistent on that statement, and I just don’t think I need to do
that. The real estate industry is the one area where I really know how to operate, and I
just don’t feel that’s what I want to do. Otherwise, every real estate broker in the world
will be lighting up my phone. I’m not trying to hide anything. It just wouldn’t serve
any purpose to comment on it at this time. That’s not to say we won’t have things to
say as this process continues.
CCT: The ballpark aside, you talked Friday about “thinking outside the box” with
regard to operating this team. What other ways are there to grow revenue given the
franchise’s current state?

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Wolff: We’re exploring those things. I’m going to have a series of discussions with
(Crowley). We think that there are, but we’re not sure. We’re only into this three days.

CCT: In 1992, when Peter Magowan headed an ownership group that bought the
Giants and kept them in San Francisco, his group faced many of the same problems the
A’s do now. How similar do you think your current situation is with their old one?
Wolff: I love the ballpark. I think times are different, and a lot of different things have
changed since then. But they’ve been able to prove that a great ballpark in a
downtown area does a lot for a community. At the same time, they tried to do it with
100 percent private money. That’s very difficult, and I’m not sure you could get
anything built today entirely on private money. But I was at that park on Opening
Day a few years ago, and it was just wonderful. I think if we were able to do
something like that in Oakland, it would have a very high impact.
CCT: What has changed?
Wolff: That’s an entire discussion in itself. But the economic and political landscape
are always changing.
Wolff’s responses are carefully constructed as to not give the appearance of a
commitment to any one idea (site, funding sources, timeline). The proposal(s) will come
along soon enough. One refreshing thing I can see from Wolff’s press conference and
interviews is that he doesn’t seem to be the type who will negotiate through the media.
He’s doing his necessary rounds with the media, then he’ll go right back into silent
mode. The quote confirming the lodge mentality of the commish and owners is
unexpected, though not surprising.

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As they have since 1998, Forbes has just published its yearly franchise values list. Not
surprisingly, the Yanks and Red Sox are at the top of the list. An exploratory article
accompanies the rankings.
The A’s slipped in value $1 million to be worth an estimated $185 million, which is
slightly higher than the Wolff/Fisher group’s $180 million purchase price. Was this a
hometown discount? We may never know.
The A’s reportedly received $116 million in revenue in 2004, which when factoring in
the $19 million revenue sharing payment they received, is probably correct. With
revenue sharing, they pulled in a nearly $6 million profit. Without it, they’d run more
than $13 million in the red, though it’d be more likely that they’d slash payroll enough to
stay more-or-less in the black. It does make one wonder where the rest of the money
goes. Every team claims $40 million or more every year in player development and
other non-payroll operations-related costs, but it’s not as if the A’s draft players that
demand huge signing bonuses. They don’t have any stadium debt, and rarely do they
venture into the expensive non-draftee foreign markets (Japan, Cuba). Perhaps there’s a
directive from the commish that teams who get large revenue sharing payments cannot
extend their payroll as a result. That would make sense, but then what would the owners
do with the extra cash? Well, it certainly does not suck to be them.
Then again, they may want to pocket that change, since KFRC will no longer broadcast
A’s games after this season. That makes one less high-power AM station available,
thereby driving down the price of broadcast rights. On a related note, It’s about time the
A’s and KNBR started getting along again. On and off for a few years, KNBR wouldn’t
broadcast A’s highlights on radio because of a competitive situation between KNBR’s
parent, Susquehanna, and CBS/Infinity, which owned KFRC.

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April 12, 2005
Wolff was on Mornings on 2 Monday morning, interviewed by Ross McGowan. The
archived video can be found here.
Here’s a snippet from the interview:
McGowan: Considering that Oakland has no money, is this going to be privately
Wolff: It (public funding) may not be in the traditional way in terms of issuing a bond
issue or by guaranteeing seats and things like that, but there will be public
participation. Just in the fact of getting entitlements and zoning, so there’s value that
cities can add without going broke.
I get the feeling that Wolff is going back to his old redevelopment roots, and the A’s are
the anchor of an ambitious development plan. Public financing for a ballpark without
bonding or seat licenses? Pardon me for being skeptical, but I’m having a hard time
seeing it. Then again, he may have something up his sleeve. That’s why he’s a billionaire
and I’m just an observer.
Note: A small clip of the interview was shown during the 10 p.m. KTVU newcast as
part of business editor Brian Banmiller’s featured story. Banmiller also interview
Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente, who reiterated his stance that Oakland doesn’t have
any public money to put up for a ballpark. He must be referring to Wolff’s “traditional”
methods as well.

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April 14, 2015
Barry Witt of the Merc writes that on Tuesday, San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales and the
City Council held a closed-door session to approve the Redevelopment Agency’s pursuit
of the 13.9-acre Diridon South site, which has 10 separate property owners. This has
leaders in other San Jose neighborhoods worried that funds used to purchase the
properties, valued at $20-40 million, will be diverted from their projects.
Where does this money come from, you ask? SJRA has a large pool of money available
to them tax increment funds, loans, and other sources. Most of this is reserved for other
projects, but there’s always some unreserved portion remaining. The unreserved portion
usually gets allocated as well, but sometimes it’s left to accrue interest.
The kicker is that analysts projected a $25 million operating surplus for SJRA in its fiveyear plan (2004-05 to 2008-09). A proposal had that surplus go into a Priority Future
Projects list, on which such projects could be acted upon in the first two years of a
revised budget, but it could just as easily be used for a ballpark site, since SJRA doesn’t
require any major discussions or hearings to change how unreserved funds are spent.
The mayor and city council argue that SJRA’s budget will be big enough to handle all
consituents’ concerns, but if the price tag on Diridon South escalates to near the $40
million mark, SJRA might have a tough time figuring out where the rest of the money
comes from. It’s not expected that any funds would be diverted or extra loans taken out
to secure the site, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
The other question to ask is “Why doesn’t SJRA send this money back into the general
fund to offset the budget shortfall?” A good question that has a very simple answer –
they don’t have to.

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April 26, 2005
A small bit of news that flew under the radar last weekend was the announcement that
Susquehanna, the parent company of KNBR (680 and 1050 AM), is putting their radio
business up for sale. In the salad days of the late 90’s KNBR and KTCT (1050, which
later became co-branded as KNBR) were cash cows for Susquehanna. Lately they’ve
become more of a liability to the parent company, as the 49ers’ and Raiders’ fortunes
suffered, pulling away listeners and ratings. Susquehanna, based in York, PA, also owns
the venerable KFOG and KSAN-The Bone rock stations in the Bay Area, and 20 more
stations in 7 other markets.
It is unclear whether the stations will be sold as a group or as individual entities. Some,
like KNBR-680, are the crown jewels and will fetch a pretty high price. 680 is one a
handful of clear channel (not the company) stations throughout the country whose
signal can be heard at night for hundreds of miles, in states as far as Utah and up and
down the Pacific Coast. KNBR has had difficulty finding a good programming mix over
the last few years for its lesser property (1050), sometimes going with edgier
personalities such as Jim Rome and “J.T. The Brick.” On the other hand, it would also
simulcast some of its other shows, such as “The Razor and Mr. T.” The morning drivetime slot has also been somewhat tricky, especially when KNBR brought a decidedly
“morning-show” vibe to 680 in the “Not Just Sports Show,” which was killed only last
fall. The Raiders had been on 1050 for several years, but were not renewed last season
and subsequently moved to KSFO-560. Most recently, KNBR announced a four-year
deal with the San Francisco 49ers, who had seemingly been on KGO-810 forever, but
were let go after KGO saw a ratings slide.
If 680 and 1050 were sold together, the buyer would be given a virtual monopoly on
sportstalk radio in the Bay Area, but would also be saddled with having to program for
two 50,000-watt stations, which can be expensive. Signing the 49ers when they did
probably helped boost the asking price of KNBR, but it remains unclear how the sale
would be handled. KNBR already has Giants baseball exclusively on 680 and Warriors
basketball (which switches between the two stations). It’s not unprecedented for a single
station to carry three different teams, but that means that schedule conflicts could
become a common occurrence.
This gives Lewis Wolff a potentially huge opportunity. As mentioned previously, the A’s
will be off KFRC-610 at the end of the 2005 season and their next radio home has not
yet been determined. If Wolff were to buy KTCT-1050, he’d have a built-in sportstalk
audience on a 50,000-watt station, along with immediate programming in the A’s, who
currently are relegated to vagabond replacement player status in local radio. Not only
would the A’s get more immediate exposure; they would also be able to do many of the
same revenue-hiding tricks that only the big boys are able to get away with.

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That’s not to say that acquiring a station will be easy. Once any station goes on sale,
literally hundreds of suitors line up for a shot. Existing behemoths such as Clear
Channel and CBS/Infinity/Viacom have tons of cash to throw at any acquisitions. An
open auction process could drive the price up for either or both stations. KNBR also has
a 2% minority stake in the Giants, which further complicates things. Breaking the two
stations apart and allowing them to compete would be good for the listening public and
potentially reduce any conflict-of-interest issues. Buying KTCT would cost the Wolff/
Fisher group millions of dollars, but it would guarantee the A’s a stable home on local
radio for years, if not decades to come. That can’t help but raise the value of the

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May 10, 2005
For those that want a non-propagandistic view of the economic impact of sports venues,
take a look at Robin Pogrebin’s May 7th article from the Arts & Design section of the NY
Times. Several individuals from both sides of the divide were interviewed, including Jay
Cross, who headed the Air Canada Centre and American Airlines Arena projects. He is
currently working on the mammoth Jets stadium project on the West Side of
Manhattan. Some interesting (and relatively refreshing) quotes from Cross:
Cross… cautioned that a stadium could not shoulder the entire burden of reviving a
neighborhood. “One building can’t do it on its own,” he said.
-andThe stadium’s impact, he added, would take time to determine.
“You’ve got to give it 20 years,” he said. “You’ve got to be patient. They can help
neighborhoods,” he said of stadiums, “but they’re not instant panaceas. They will
neither repel housing or attract it. There still needs to be a bona fide reason to build
housing or commercial space as part of a well-thought-through package, because it’s
largely market driven.”
“Times Square had all the good will to clean it up,” he continued. “But it needed
developers to make commitments.”
Keep in mind that the Jets stadium is a multi-use facility which will also function as an
extension of the Javits Convention Center, as well as a centerpiece should New York win
the 2012 Olympics. Without those, the stadium would have only 8-10 automatically
scheduled dates per year in the form of football games. A ballpark would schedule over
10 times that number – 81 games or more. However, even that expanded schedule has
holes: 3 months of games spread out over a 6 month span, and what happens during the
offseason? Without some guarantee of traffic during that down period in the fall and
winter, developers will be hesitant to make commitments.

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May 18, 2005
The important stuff from John Shea’s Chronicle article:
The owner has formed a venue development committee involving two team executives —
President Mike Crowley and Wolff’s son, Keith — and three outside firms, including 360
Architects, Gensler Architects and International Facilities Group.
Committee members have toured several newer ballparks, plus Boston’s Fenway Park,
and plan to check out other pro sports facilities, including basketball arenas. The
mission is to gather information to be better prepared to design a new home, if it gets
that far.
“They’ll come up with a prototype, and they’re thinking outside the box,” Wolff said.
“With venues, you want the next new one to be better than the last new one.”
Wolff isn’t as interested in building a park on the Coliseum parking lot and said a
downtown site is “probably not in the cards,” but he did say he’s more open than ever to
locations in and around Oakland, preferably with BART access. Public help, he added, is
Let’s pick apart the statements made here.
Touring existing facilities comes with the territory. Part of the process is
evaluating the designs and architects associated with them, and crib some of the best
ideas. Fenway is an unusual example of a refurbishment that is ongoing.
Looking at basketball arenas is a good move. Philips Arena has a unique design

with the suites stacked on one side of the building and the seating bowl cantilevered
around them, making for better, lower sight lines. 360 designed Miami’s American
Airlines Arena, which is notable for a special innovation: floor suites. Jacobs Field in
Cleveland has a version of this in their Dugout Suites, covered front-row seats between
the dugouts at the same elevation as the dugouts. Behind the seating area are the
individual suites, below the lower seating bowl. This type of seating would most
certainly demand a premium.
Gensler has a wide ranging portfolio, but little sports venue experience. My guess

is that they’ll work on concourses, public spaces, and fan-oriented areas. In an effort to
escape the drab gray that dominates the Coliseum, a new ballpark would be bright and
full of color.
“With venues, you want the next new one to be better than the last new one.” –

The standard-bearer currently is Petco Park, though it’s likely that the new DC and
Minneapolis ballparks will be completed in the next 3+ years. Better also often means
more expensive, which could drive up the price of the project. I can see Wolff trying to
limit the amount of concrete that’s poured, while maximizing revenue within the space
as much as possible.

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The Coliseum’s out based on the power lines issue and conflicts with the Raiders
and Warriors. It may also be because he saw the limited development potential and
balked, thinking the cost wasn’t worth the return. Saying Downtown is not in the cards
really means the Uptown site is not feasible. That’s probably because it’s too far along
the development timeline to scrap it.
What does that leave? The Estuary site for starters. Then perhaps the OUSD and
Laney College sites. All 3 have been profiled here, and all 3 have development issues to
overcome. The Kaiser Convention Center just closed down so it may become available,
but the site’s too small to house a ballpark unless other land is acquired. Howard
Terminal is locked into a long-term lease agreement.
The old Army Base in west Oakland is a possibility, but it would require a new
BART station, site cleanup, and a buyer for the required property. Based on the
activity that occured after the closures of Treasure Island, Alameda NAS, and the
Presidio, it’s not the most expeditious process.
There are also sites that may be available that are currently active or in use, such
as some of the light industrial area that lines I-880 between Downtown and Jack
London Square. Acquisition costs for such properties would be the big issue there.
I don’t know what to make of the “public help is necessary” comment. I’ll ask the
reporter myself about that.

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May 19, 2005
Fleshing out last night’s news a little more is an article from today’s Oakland Tribune.
Along with talk of design and the architectural players involved, is more information
about potential sites: the Estuary site and the now shutdown Oakland Army Base. At
some point I’ll try to take pictures of the base and the surrounding area. In the
meantime, here’s a snippet from the article including quotes from Michael Ghielmetti
(the president of Signature Properties who met with Wolff over a month ago), regarding
the Estuary site and Oakland in general:
Oak-to-Ninth has been discussed as a possible site because of its waterfront location.
And Wolff met with Michael Ghielmetti, president of Signature Properties, the firm
that owns Oak-to-Ninth.
“Oak-to-Ninth has challenges because it is not very close to transit, and the access to
and from the site is very difficult, but I am not going to be the one that says absolutely
not,” Ghielmetti said Wednesday. “When we met with Lew and his son, we were
talking in broad concepts about a variety of locations in Oakland and reasons to stay
in Oakland.”
Signature has a unique perspective because they’ve done or are completing 5 separate
housing developments in Oakland of varying sizes. Since they were picked to develop the
Estuary site, it isn’t clear whether they are more interested in building their housing
plan (which still has yet to be fully approved) or sharing the site with the A’s (which
hasn’t formally been brought up as an option yet). The key may be Oakland city
mandates regarding affordable housing. Debate surrounding minimum amounts of lowincome housing are stalling the Uptown deal, and it looks like they might stall
Signature’s plans as well. For more on the Estuary including a mockup, check out my
mockup plan and photo overview.

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June 20, 2005
CoCo Times columnist Neil Hayes spent some time recently with Lew Wolff and his
family at A’s games, and from all appearances, Wolff is getting more and more attached
to the team with each passing day. There was little new on the ballpark front, except for
a small nugget towards the end of the article:
(Wolff) envisions a new ballpark divided into “neighborhoods.”
What exactly are “neighborhoods” in a ballpark? Generally they are distinct seating
areas within the stadium that give them a separate, though not necessarily segregated,
feel from other areas of the park. This can be accomplished by breaking up the
grandstand in the multiple structures with varying heights, as was done at Petco (San
Diego), Comerica (Detroit), Citizens Bank (Philadelphia), and Great American
(Cincinnati). At field level, it’s a little easier to foster neighborhood environments with
the tiered pricing structure. The Coliseum, for instance, has always had distinct
neighborhoods in the MVP sections which hold season ticket holders, and the left and
right field bleachers, which are a younger demographic and unique unto themselves.
SBC also has neighborhoods in the bleachers in straightaway left (Bonds Squad), center
(family bleachers), and the arcade (party atmosphere).
The Coliseum and SBC’s development of neighborhoods was more an organic,
evolutionary process than Petco, where it’s intentional. The Western Metal Supply
building in the left field corner not only holds party suites, but it serves as an anchor for
a party atmosphere. The Beachers section in center is the family-friendly spot with the
big sandbox, while the seats that jut out into right field act as a soapbox for hecklers.
Even the mezzanine club level is broken up into three sections: first base, home plate,
and third base.
Whether or not the creation of neighborhoods will ultimately be successful is dependent
on how fans take to the concept. A major goal is to get fans circulating around the
ballpark to explore each of the different neighborhoods, sample concessions, and foster
the larger ballpark community. Another goal is to get fans to find a place they can call
home within the ballpark, get season tickets, commune with others in their
neighborhood, and over time become fixtures or institutions as they pass the experience
on to their children, grandchildren, etc. The potential upside is that those season ticket
rolls may rise as a result. The downside is that the ballpark itself will have a natural
sense of discontuity which might make it hard to foster an overall crowd energy,
especially if fans are more likely to mill around than sit and stay focused on a game. In
the end, it’s seat pricing that’s going to be the determining factor. It’s not uncommon for
fans to be priced out of being full season ticket holders, which then leads to becoming
partial season ticket holders, then occasional patrons, and finally to not being able to
afford a game at all. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and there are plenty of examples of

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teams going the price-hike route (Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Giants) while few others have
managed to keep prices reasonable despite having a new or renovated park (Angels).

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June 24, 2005
From the Fremont Argus: With the number of ideal Oakland sites disappearing quickly,
Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty have
stepped in to start a dialogue with the A’s regarding a ballpark in South Fremont. Here’s
a snippet:
“I’m not convinced Santa Clara County or San Jose is finished trying to attract the A’s,”
said Haggerty, whose district includes most of Fremont, as well as Pleasanton and
Livermore. “Knowing there are vultures out there, I want to do what I can to keep the
A’s in Alameda County.”
Wolff was traveling Thursday and did not return phone calls, but he did indicate he was
interested in sitting down with the supervisor, Haggerty said.
That certainly gets the ball rolling. The article notes that not only Warm Springs
ballpark site is possible, but there may be opportunities at Pacific Commons, a new
shopping center that opened last year. Pacific Commons is 2 miles west of the planned
BART station, on the other side of I-880. I’ll post pictures of both later today and post a
Fremont photo overview.
The news is somewhat serendipitous, because I had no knowledge of the officials’ efforts
when I fired off an e-mail to Fremont’s planning department yesterday. I asked about
NUMMI, which owns much of the Warm Springs site. NUMMI’s current plans are to
build a warehousing and distribution facility to facilitate “just in time” delivery of auto
components, though that certainly could change if the aforementioned officials got
Updating my previous post on Warm Springs, NUMMI (as per the Warm Springs
Specific Plan) has expressed its desire for Fremont to limit the types of development in
allows in the area surrounding the plant. This could actually prove beneficial for
ballpark supporters, as they also suggested to the City of Fremont that development
plans shouldn’t have housing built immediately north of the NUMMI plant, as residents
may not enjoy living next to a 24/7-operating heavy industrial site with hundreds of
trucks entering and leaving on a regular basis.
Pacific Commons is another matter. While there land there is vast and ripe for
development, it’s not within walking distance of the planned BART station, which is
scheduled for completion sometime in 2010.
Update (8:30 AM): I called NUMMI this morning for more on the warehousing/
distribution center. No official comment as of yet, perhaps none until late in the day or

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July 21, 2005
During the A’s superb 3-0 victory over the The O.C., A’s managing partner Lew Wolff sat
down with A’s TV broadcasters Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse to discuss the team’s
resurgence and the recent front office moves. The highlight of the discussion was a new
set of details about the new ballpark plans. As usual, Wolff didn’t get too specific, but he
at least gave viewers some nice details to chew on.
“We’re very close to sitting down with the city and sharing some ideas. I hope there’s
some leadership there that can help us. We can’t do it alone.”
“We need some vision in the community and some vision in ownership.”
“As you know, I’m no fan of the Coliseum.”
New details:
• Compact stadium, 32 – 35,000-seat capacity
• Each area in the ballpark will be a neighborhood
• 40 four-person boxes (minisuites) at the 12th row
• Trying to make everything in the ballpark lower (suites, seats) for a better fan
• Trying to avoid having to build a third deck (the PNC Park model)
• Condominiums overlooking the outfield, around 20 units (sample outside Wrigley
• There is a focus on both enhancing the fan experience and keeping it affordable
• The team is about a month away from meeting with the city to discuss plans
• Comments:
• The condo talk was surprising. If that doesn’t get people talking about a ballpark
village concept, I don’t know what will. That’s why it’s important for Wolff that the
eventual site is not just any site. It needs to be one that is attractive not just to the
team, but to other developers to invest in the ballpark village or neighborhood.
• By not having to build a third deck, construction and materials costs could be cut by
$50 million or more.
• So far, I like what I’m hearing. I look forward to interviewing some of the design
principals when the time comes.

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August 12, 2015
NBC-11’s website front page has a slightly larger than thumbnail sketch of a ballpark

There’s also a new press release from the team:
“On behalf of the Oakland Athletics ownership group, I have proposed a concept and a
site to the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and the City of Oakland that we believe has
tremendous potential for the development of a baseball-only facility for the A’s in
Oakland. It is our hope to create more than just a ballpark, but one of the next major
urban centers in the Bay Area that will greatly add to the economic base and the
community image of the city we have called home for the last 38 years.
“A visionary leadership from all parties associated with this project who believe the A’s
are a community asset is required to help us reach our objective in creating one of the
most exciting venues in all of sports, one that will have a positive and lasting impact
on the City of Oakland for years to come.
“Our ownership group is willing to incur the vast majority of costs associated with this
project; however, to create the major urban development we envision is virtually

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impossible without some sort of public and governmental support. If public and
private forces can be channeled to see this project to fruition, it is our belief the
economic benefits to the City of Oakland will far outweigh the public assistance sought.
“We look forward to closely working with the JPA and the City of Oakland in a diligent
and expedient manner to further examine the feasibility of this proposal.”
Some observations:
• The site appears to be much more expansive than just the Drive-In/Swap Meet.
• The ballpark itself is situated just north of 66th Ave, on the southeast section of the
• The field is oriented northeast, similar to the current Coliseum, with the outfield
running near the Union Pacific/Amtrak railroad tracks.
• Parking is on the other side of the tracks, with a series of bridges (pedestrian only?)
providing access over the tracks.
• High-rise structures (probably the condos) are located in left and left-center.
• Small retail buildings line 66th Ave.
• Either a shopping center or big-box retailers have been placed to the west, along
Coliseum Way.
• The street grid is completely changed north of 66th Ave.
• What looks to be a new street runs east-west through the complex. It may be an
extension of the existing Seminary Ave., which currently ends at San Leandro St. That
would make sense, because it would provide a direct route from I-580.

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September 8, 2005
Bud Selig’s speech and subsequent Q&A session was about an hour long total. The
speech was a brief history of Selig’s time as an owner, then as the commissioner. Not
naturally the most charismatic of speakers, Selig’s sporadic eye contact with the
audience made the delivery fairly dull, and the speech an exercise in selfaggrandizement. As expected, Selig didn’t say anything to encourage San Jose
supporters. In fact, his statements should provide some hope for Oakland supporters,
though no one should be proclaiming Selig as the savior of baseball in Oakland just yet.
Notes: The audio stream of the event will be played on KQED-FM on Friday night at 8
p.m. An AP article focused largely on steroids is now available on the Chronicle’s SF
Gate site. Daniel Brown from the Merc also wrote an article more geared towards
territorial rights. Channels 5, 7, and 11 were present getting video.
Selig was initially flanked by former Commonwealth Club president Joe Epstein and
somewhat surprisingly, County Assessor Larry Stone, better known as an irritant for
East Bay supporters. Stone emceed the event, and before he finished his introduction of
Selig, he plugged the MLB-to-San Jose effort, almost on cue.
Notes from the speech portion:
• MLB will surpass last season’s league attendance record by the end of the current
• He talked up the significant rise in the value of the Dodgers franchise when it changed
hands from the O’Malleys to Fox and finally to Frank McCourt. He did not let slip an
estimate of the Expos’ eventual selling price.
• Moneyball was mentioned as a subject that is “theological in nature.”
• Revenue sharing, payroll taxing (luxury taxes), and the debt service rule are the base
of the current financial structure. He sees little need to change the structure in the
near future.
• The speech was littered with quotes from Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, and Doris
Kearns Goodwin.
• Steroids is cheating. The only other substance mentioned was andro, and only as a
historical reference. No mention of HGH.
• He noted that in the midst of all of the media’s criticism of how MLB handled steroids
during the 90’s, he looked up articles written during the era and saw only “11 articles
that mentioned steroids.”
The Q&A was done via responses to selected questions the audience submitted on
comment cards. Only 10 questions were answered, one of which was a throwaway
question about the commish’s relationship with George Steinbrenner. Here’s the skinny
on the question segment:
1. What happened to the Reggie Jackson group’s bid to buy the A’s?

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Selig claims it was Schott/Hofmann that decided to not entertain Jackson. He
acknowledged that this contradicts Schott’s initial statements on the matter, but
insisted that it was the ownership group that made the decision, noting that the
commissioner’s office doesn’t have to time interfere with these things. MLB will only
step in when it’s time to evaluate a group’s financial worthiness.
2. Any thoughts on the idea of limits to the number intentional walks a batter can
receive (Bonds rule)?
Not happening. No way baseball will change rules for a single individual.
3. Is a salary cap in the future?
“I’m comfortable where we are,” Selig said.
4. What’s being done about tight-fisted owners who pocket revenue sharing money
instead of spending it on players?
“That phenomenon is a myth that somehow keeps getting perpetuated,” said Selig.
According to Selig, the league shares the books with the owners, and the payers (big
market “have” teams) wouldn’t stand for any prolonged effort by other owners to
stash the money. Again, he reinforced the notion that the baseball’s economic model is
5. What about the influence of international players?
This gave Selig the chance to tout the World Baseball Classic. He did this during the
speech as well.
6. Is the DH rule going to change anytime soon?
The DH was one of the few things on which he agreed with former A’s owner Charlie
Finley (Yes for the AL). He’s happy with the way it stands since the teams in the two
leagues are happy with the existing rules. (A good follow-up would’ve been to ask for his
take on using the DH in NL-hosted games and the hitting pitcher in AL-hosted games,
but there was no opportunity for follow-ups.)
The only change he might see happening is a geographical redistribution of teams, but
he didn’t get specific.
7. What is the league doing about steroids and its impact on records?
Without outright saying it, Selig indicated that he’s leaving the records alone and will
keep them asterisk-free. We’ll see if that holds up if any other high-profile sluggers are
shown to have used.

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8. What about the exclusivity of territorial rights?
• Repeating a statement he made weeks ago, Selig said, “You couldn’t run the sport
without internal rules and you can’t make exceptions.”
• The Giants’ territorial rights were affirmed when they made the huge private
investment in SBC Park.
• His feelings on relocation are heavily shaped by the Braves’ move to Atlanta. Besides
the territorial rights issue, he appears to be stridently anti-move, though his previous
statements about the situation in Miami raise questions about that.
• Regarding San Jose, he said that “San Jose is a great location, but that’s not the issue.
We have to protect the status quo. We’re clearly not going to expand.”
9. Epstein posed a follow-up: “Is there a process by which a vote could be taken by the
owners to overturn these rights?”
“No. It’s not a question of overturning rights,” replied Selig. I’m not certain if the
response meant that he would not allow it to come to vote, or whether he was rendering
his opinion on the outcome of a vote. Surely the owners would not vote for anything that
could potentially threaten their own financial well-being.
He trumpeted the party line about “staying focused on Oakland.” The question of what
would happen if the Oakland deal didn’t succeed was not asked.

The San Jose boosters I overheard upon leaving didn’t appear discouraged, least of all
Larry Stone. While Selig dismissed the idea of overturning the Giants’ territorial rights,
that’s the weakest option because it’s the least realistic. Maury Brown of Business of
Baseball and the Oregon Stadium Campaign and I have had this discussion in the past,
and I agree with him that for the A’s to move anywhere, whether it’s San Jose, Portland,
Vegas, or Sacramento, the bidding group needs to make an extremely compelling case –
not just to a single affected owner, but to all 30 owners and MLB. Oakland, with its
location and access, is hard to argue against. Any bids to move the team will have to be
comprehensive, probably including packaged TV and radio deals and lists of precommitted corporate sponsors (because those are Oakland’s weak points currently).
Without those requirements, I doubt any bid would be entertained.
Remember that in Wolff’s press conference last month, he talked about the ability of the
East Bay business market to fill the 40 luxury suites and 40 minisuites (plus club seats)
that he wants to build in the new ballpark. It stands to reason that he’ll compare that to
other market studies, determine the costs and risk factors, and then decide – if it even
gets to that point.

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October 7, 2005
Ronn Owens had Lew Wolff and Billy Beane in the last hour of Owens’s show on KGO
yesterday. In between Owens’s efforts to get Beane to admit that he dislikes Ken Macha
(which didn’t work) and goodnatured barbs about Billy’s “8-track”-like monochrome
Blackberry (I have one, it’s from work so it’s free and it works so I can’t complain), Wolff
answered all manner of ballpark-related questions.
Caller: What’s wrong with the Coliseum?
Wolff: We have 140 deficiencies relative to our baseball operation alone in
that facility. But more important, MLB wants all the teams to have a
baseball-only facility, and we’re one of the last ones around that needs to
fit to that criteria.
I hadn’t heard of the “140 deficiencies” before. I’d like to see that list. I can think of a
dozen, but those mainly deal with the fan experience, not baseball itself.
Owens: Can the market (East Bay-San Francisco) really support two teams?

Wolff: The answer to that with some clarification is “No it can’t,” in the
sense that if there were only no team in Oakland or no team in San
Francisco, MLB would only allow one team in the area. So we have to sort
of force feed a ballpark to work in Oakland or Alameda County which
we’re trying to do by finding a site, first of all, and also trying to measure
(which we’ll do in the next couple of months) the depth of interest in our
special suites and boxes.
It’s very important to not take this answer out of context, or to not exclude the qualifier.
What Wolff is saying is probably true from the sense that if one team were in place and
MLB were looking for an expansion or relocation franchise, the East Bay market would
not immediately be a candidate for a second team. And if MLB were to start over from
scratch, it probably wouldn’t automatically place two teams in the area. Now since a
second team is already present, they’ll do what they can to support the second team.
One could glean from the response that it’s a sort of veiled threat – that if the A’s were to
move out, no one should expect a second team to replace it anytime soon. Sounds like a
shot across the bows of Oakland, Alameda County, San Jose, etc.
The second part of the answer, gauging the interest in the suites/boxes, should not be
disregarded. It’s almost as important as getting a site, because it’s a measure of whether
the market can economically support the team. Wolff is not about to get himself into a
situation where he has a bunch of unsold suites, as many teams are starting to find out
with their new ballparks. It’s a challenge to what I wrote a couple of days ago about
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Oakland not being a small market team. If the sales of these suites don’t pass this litmus
test, the Oakland is a small – and thereby incapable – market, at least by Wolff’s and
baseball’s standards. There is probably some amount of grey area with this issue, at
Owens: What if it isn’t up to what you’ll expect?

Wolff: Our next choice would be to find a location somewhere in Alameda
County. After that, I really don’t know what to do.

Owens: But the odds are that you guys will stay at least in Alameda County?

Wolff: We’re trying to.

Owens (turns to Beane): Try to drive a truck through that answer too, huh Billy?
Owens: How about going to San Jose? Do you know the way there?
Wolff: I know the way there. I’m very active in San Jose, it’s a great city.
First of all, baseball does have a formal area – districts as they call them
or territories, and the Giants have that territory. So the only way that
would be changed is if there was an agreement with the Giants or with
MLB. It’s not a legal issue that some people would like to pursue. And the
other thing is San Jose – and I was party to it, I think – has a requirement
of having a vote, a public vote, for any expenditure for sports – I think it’s
over $20,000 or some de minimis amount – and that vote would require
some team to say “We’ll come subject to a vote,” whether it’s baseball,
football, whatever it is. And that’s a big inhibitor even if the territorial
thing was available.
The important thing here is that Wolff hasn’t changed his stance since the last time he
spoke about San Jose. Back then, he said wouldn’t challenge territorial rights, and he
has remained consistent. He did bring up the concept of MLB changing rights, but Selig
was in San Jose only a few weeks ago and said that that to do so would create anarchy –
though he did not dismiss the idea altogether.
It’s interesting that Wolff brought up the San Jose’s vote-expenditure law. He’s right,
but it appears that San Jose may have effectively evaded the law by acquiring the
Diridon South properties and claiming that they are for housing or mixed-use without
actually specifying a particular purpose. Sneaky – yes. The revealing thing is that he’s
following the recent trend of proponents trying to get a ballpark through without a
public vote – a tactic which has worked in DC and is being tried in Minneapolis – as
though any kind of vote were a non-starter. There may be some wiggle room, since SF
and SJ voted down publicly-funded parks while SF approved the Pac Bell Park deal, but
getting an owner to commit to announcing anything as significant as a move would be

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like pulling teeth, since the owner would lose some negotiating leverage and encounter
Owens: How’s the project (Coliseum North) going?

Wolff: The progress is basically getting our ducks in a row to see if we can
privately convince the property owners – and there’s quite a few of them –
that this might be to their advantage to be bought out, perhaps relocate in
other places in Oakland. So it’s a challenge but our problem is that no one
has offered or presented us any other sites, and there’s a logic to being in
that location because it’s adjacent to the Coliseum, it has BART, which is
critical to us, and the freeway system. So it’s quite a challenge. Some
people think we’ve teed up something that can’t happen. That’s possible to
think that way, but we’re gonna give it a real shot before we look at other
This may be the most troubling part of the interview to me. Wolff hasn’t dismissed the
idea of other sites which may be more or less feasible, but the fact that no one has
formally presented any is disturbing. It’s as if all of the ballpark eggs are being put in
this one basket. Wolff has acknowledged from the beginning that the Coliseum North
project is going to be difficult. It would be nice to know that there was a reasonable
detailed concept of a Plan B floating around the Oakland Civic Center somewhere.
The whole interview is subject to some broad interpretation, but unless someone wants
to spend a lot of time reading between the lines, the substance of what was being said is
pretty much the status quo: Coliseum is inadequate, project is challenging but is moving
along, San Jose isn’t in our territory, etc.

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October 12, 2005
The preliminary feasibility study was unanimously approved (5-0) tonight in what could
be viewed as a formality. City Manager Fred Diaz plans to spend $30-50,000 on the
study, which will cover land use, transportation, and costs for future services for the
planned development. The study will take 90 days or more to complete, and there is no
hurry since it should dovetail with Wolff’s announcement prior to or at the beginning of
the 2006 season.
There were some interesting comments from the mayor and council members:
• Mayor Bob Wasserman said that he was first contacted by Alameda County Supervisor
Scott Haggerty. Wasserman isn’t operating under any delusions regarding the concept.
There is huge potential, but there are also downsides. The effort is rooted in the idea of
keeping the team in Alameda County. Whatever plan comes out of it will be a joint
effort between the city and county.
• Council member Dominick Dutra asked what kinds of communications the city has
had with Wolff. The answer was that they were basically “outreach”-type discussions,
but nothing of any real substance since the A’s are still negotiating with Oakland.
• The study isn’t just for a ballpark. Another idea is a regional sports facility, which
could mean any number of things: sports complex, soccer stadium and fields, almost
anything. The facility could be built alongside or instead of the ballpark.
• There was no mention of public or private financing. It’s too early in the process to
start discussing such specifics.
Probably the most interesting thing about the session was what happened before the
council approved the study. The council acknowledged several police officers who had
reached 20-25 years of service with the Fremont Police Department. Most of them had
either been born in Fremont or spent the majority of their lives there. It was rather
refreshing to see that in an area that is known for its large transplant and transient
population, that these officers had been home for so long. It also speaks to the
“smallness” of Fremont, that this city of 200,000 has a sense of community and security
that belies its physical size: 93 square miles, the second largest in terms of area in the
Bay Area. Council member Anu Natarajan mentioned that local writer Jaime Richards
felt that Fremont was “on the verge of greatness,” and Fremont’s suburban nature will
always keep it in a struggle between its near-small town character and its cosmopolitan
desires. It’s the same issue that has dogged San Jose for much of the last 25 years,
though San Jose’s sheer population size makes it far too big for anyone to feel that sense
of intimacy there.

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One more thing – council member Bob Wieckowski donned an A’s cap while calling for
the motion to approve the study. Natarajan seconded the motion, and the vote was
taken. The session was adjourned shortly thereafter.
p.s. (10:03 pm) – Where do people get the idea that “Oakland” will remain with the
team name if it moves to Fremont? Fremont also wants to get on the map with this
move. It’s not entirely altruistic. If Fremont’s going to make the large investment
(land, money), they should get the team name. It was part of the two Santa Clara
deals. I hate to bring it up, but there’s no glamour in the name “Oakland.” There’s a
better chance of the team being named “The San Francisco Athletics of Fremont” than
the retention of the name “Oakland Athletics.” Leave your emotional attachments at
the door, folks. To the victors go the spoils.

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October 26, 2005
Update (10/26, 3:05 PM): Today I pitched the idea to Ignacio De La Fuente and Nancy
Nadel. Councilwoman Nadel, in whose district the site resides, has been receptive so far.
She’s passing the idea along to Redevelopment. We’ll see what happens from there.
According to an article in Sunday’s Trib, some of the dealerships on Broadway Auto Row
have expressed interest in relocating to a new “auto mall” concept at the old Oakland
Army Base. Reasons given are the location’s proximity and visibility from I-880, the fact
that it’s a little closer to San Francisco, and lower land costs/leases.
There are already plans to build various types of housing in the area based on available
zoning and planning resources, but even with those plans, there exists at least one site
where a ballpark could be built. The site is at the intersection of 27th Street and
Broadway. It’s roughly the shape of a triangle, and is just about the perfect site to
shoehorn a ballpark in. Broadway Ford, a used car lot, and some other auto-related
businesses currently occupy the area. I counted 2-3 houses and small apartment
buildings as well.

These residents and businesses would obviously have to be relocated, and other land in
the area would have to be acquired to fulfill Wolff’s concept of surrounding development
paying for the ballpark costs, but the site has several advantages, including its ideal
downtown/uptown location and access to BART. There would also be neat views of the
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Oakland skyline and Lake Merritt (presumably from the upper deck). It even has a slight
downward slope that’s conducive to building a ballpark. Keep in mind that the idea of a
building a ballpark on the site isn’t mentioned in the article, but if Wolff’s looking for an
appropriate site, this one may just work.
What would it look like? Compare the image above – the land as it currently exists –
with the image below, which has a conceptual design on it. (Please note that the images
were created with the wonderful Google Earth application.)

That’s Lake Merritt and Adams Point in the upper left hand corner. The nearest BART
station is the 19th Street Station, about 5 blocks away from the right field corner. The
entry to the BART station is actually at 20th and Broadway. It wouldn’t be possible to
build a closer station because BART’s tunnel makes a westerly (left) turn just past 20th
Street before it aligns with I-980/CA-24.

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November 8, 2005
Update: The A’s ticket office has told me that there are no plans to sell any season
tickets in the View level, because they say it is difficult to provide the same level of
service there as they do in the lower two levels. No decision has been made on
whether single-game seats will be sold in the View level. It’s possible they
might open the View level for select games (Yankees, Giants, fireworks). They might
leave it open all season as the “walk up deck.” They might leave it closed for the entire
season. I can say that as a season ticket fence-sitter, the likelihood of me going for
season tickets has increased. It appears that this move is meant partly to motivate fans
like me. We’ll find out if they get people like me in enough numbers to counter any
backlash they may get in the coming months.
Posters on Athletics Nation are reporting that the View level (euphemism for upper deck)
will not be sold next season. I’ve confirmed that as of now, this only affects season ticket
sales. There is no set policy with regard to regular single-game tickets, but if the A’s
choose not to sell the View level at all, there are serious ramifications:
• The upper deck held around 12,000. That should knock capacity down to 34-35,000
• No more View level promotions like “BART Double Play Wednesdays” or “Pepsi can
• No need to staff the upper-upper concourse behind sections 310-325.
• Far fewer walkup seats for every date
Consider this a trial balloon for Lew Wolff’s ballpark plan. If the ticket supply can be
constrained enough to force fans to buy season tickets, then a good business model will
be in place for the new ballpark with the demand far less elastic than before. There are
definite risks with this new pricing plan. Depending on what promotions are planned for
2006, there will be no tickets priced below $10, and the only tickets at $10 will be the
bleachers and plaza bleachers.
There is the risk of backlash. Fans may not respond well to the disappearance of cheap
walkup seats in the View level. The walkup situation has become something of an
institution, and if A’s marketing doesn’t properly inform fans of this change, they may
find fans either confused by the new ticket offerings or even turned away for certain
games. The task for the A’s is to handle this with as much diplomacy as possible. There
are plenty of fans that think the seats in sections 315-320 are perfectly fine (including
me). How do the A’s convince them that those seats aren’t good?
The upshot of all of this is to find out if the season ticket base can expand. If it does, the
A’s will have a good subscription base from which they can start marketing a new
ballpark. If not, it becomes a reason to leave Oakland, since the lack of season ticket
sales will “prove” that Oakland is not a ripe market. It’s not fair to Oakland, since the
Coliseum is not the same as a new ballpark, but Wolff needs some data upon which he
can create a business case for a new ballpark, and that makes us guinea pigs.

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December 22, 2005
That’s the new capacity of the Network Associates Coliseum now that the A’s have
announced that the upper deck won’t be sold at all in 2006. Since the initial news came
out that View season tickets weren’t for sale a few weeks ago, it wasn’t certain if the seats
would be sold at all, or only for certain high-demand games. The former is definitely the
case. In the accompanying press release, A’s President Michael Crowley even confirmed
that it’s part of the trial balloon to understand and transform demand for A’s season,
advance, and walk-up tickets:
“Our goal is to create a more intimate ballpark atmosphere and bring our seating
capacity in line to what we have proposed for our new venue.”
The team also makes a claim that the decrease in capacity is being done to improve the
fan experience, citing a survey that indicated views from the ironically named View level
seats were among the worst in baseball. One observation I have to make is that the A’s
failed to explain exactly how they were going to improve the fan experience on than the
closing of the upper deck. They should have explained how access to concessions and
restrooms should or will be improved, which it almost certainly will be. Otherwise it
won’t appear as more than an experiment.
One thing should be explained about this move: the A’s probably won’t get higher
revenues this season as a result. Say the A’s sold 10,000 View level seats per game
against the Yanks/Red Sox/Giants and account for $10 per person in concessions
revenue, the gross revenue for those 12 games would be $2.4 million. That’s not that
much in the grand scheme of things. Lost revenue from View tickets sold at other games
would be made up by selling tickets for Plaza level seats. While it appears from the
outside that the A’s are just interested in selling a bunch of higher-priced seats, it’s more
about getting that predictable demand curve in place with season tickets and advance
sales. Diminished walk-up sales should no doubt contribute to a flatter curve.

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January 3, 2006
Not surprisingly, the City of Oakland and Coliseum Authority officials have admitted
that efforts to get the land deal for Wolff’s 100-acre Coliseum North development are
going nowhere. And for the first time, Wolff has become upset over the process.
So what’s Plan B? Building on the existing Coliseum parking lot, of course. As indicated
in Trib reporter Paul Rosynsky’s article, there are several issues with that arrangement,
starting with the elimination of parking for the other tenants (Raiders, Warriors). The
kind of aggressive development strategy that Wolff is considering to finance the stadium
may not be feasible with a Coliseum-based ballpark. Coliseum South appears to be
available, if anyone’s interested, though it’s not nearly as large as Wolff’s plan.
Wolff has made comments to the effect that he is willing to consider other sites. If it
comes down to the Coliseum parking lot being the only alternative, someone’s going to
have to get extremely creative about the financing plan. Since the Raiders are able to
leave cleanly after 2010, Oakland/Alameda County may find themselves in the
extremely uncomfortable position of being forced to choose between the Raiders and
As for Wolff’s request for a three-year extension to the existing Coliseum lease? Don’t be
surprised if it comes with a price tag – perhaps a MOU or letter of intent, something
that indicates that “everyone’s on the same page.” Same goes for the Raiders.
The Fremont Argus is also backing a Fremont site should efforts in Oakland fail.
Fremont has started up a stadium task force, of which I am a member.

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January 6, 2006
From the Chronicle: Chip Johnson’s Friday column substantiates the rumor from a
couple of weeks ago in which Wolff scrapped his original vision for something smaller.
That’s the good news. The bad news? He’s not funding the project entirely himself.
The City of Oakland came up with the two site alternatives, both of which amount to 30
acres each.
The sites:
• Coliseum North Jr.: Between 50th and 66th Avenues along I-880/San Leandro St.
I am coining it Coliseum North II because it essentially is a smaller version of Wolff’s
original site. It may be pieced together from land in which the City found willing
sellers. What’s not known is how the site is situated along that industrial stretch. Its
proximity to Coliseum BART will be key. The site is in the lower right quadrant of the
picture below.
• Tidewater/Oakport/High St. Estuary: This is essentially across the Nimitz
(I-880) from Coliseum North. It’s an industrial area with one intriguing fact: 11 acres
of it is owned by the East Bay Regional Parks District. PG&E has a 15-acre facility
across the street. The site is obviously not very close to BART. The site is in the upper
left quadrant of the picture below.


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The financing:
Here’s where it gets tricky. These two sites’ size makes the idea of private development
being used to completely foot the bill for stadium construction not feasible. Wolff has
proposed that the City/County/Coliseum Authority acquire the land, while the A’s would
put at least $25 per square foot towards the cost. That equates to $1 million per acre,
which is below market value for industrial land in the Bay Area. The hope is that
surrounding development could help pay for land acquisition and construction, but
there’s no illusion that it will provide all of the necessary funds.
Wolff’s new plan sounds reminiscent of the DC ballpark plan, in which the District
acquired the site, designated a portion of it for the ballpark and the rest for developers.
In its haste the District controversially went the eminent domain route, which I wouldn’t
expect for this effort, especially during an election year. The hard part is figuring out
how much public money has to be raised for it, which someone at the City Center will
have to figure out. Having local pols back the plan is another issue altogether.
Of the two sites, the Tidewater site looks the most intriguing. It’s waterfront, there are
fewer property owners, and one large piece is already owned by a public agency. The
EBParks land won’t be free – Oakland/Alameda County/Coliseum Authority would have
to buy it – but if a deal could be worked out that provides open space or parkland, it
could be beneficial to all parties. The PG&E site’s a different story. It’s not a substation
like the situation in San Jose. It’s a local operations center, complete with a vehicle yard,
dispatch, and customer service. If the City can find a large, suitable piece of land on
which PG&E can relocate, it could work, but the costs associated with that land
acquisition/swap and relocation costs have to be factored into the total cost of the plan.
One last interesting factoid: Coliseum North is in Larry Reid’s district, while Tidewater
is in Ignacio De La Fuente’s district.

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February 5, 2006
As 2010 approaches, Oakland, the A’s, and the Raiders will have some very difficult
decisions to make. Oakland is severely cash-strapped and still stings from the 1995
Coliseum renovation, which brought back the Raiders but has put the JPA in deep for
the next two decades.
The Raiders have settled most of their issues with Oakland, but their lease ends after the
end of the 2010 season. That would appear to pave the way for the Raiders to leave, but
there aren’t that many cities capable of building a NFL-sized stadium, and NFL
commissioner Paul Tagliabue holds the keys to the Los Angeles market, where Al Davis
is most interested in relocating.
The A’s, who had felt neglected because of the way the Coliseum was renovated, aren’t
getting too warm fuzzies from Oakland in their desire to build a ballpark village. Their
final year in Oakland, if they don’t leave early or extend the lease, will be 2010.
Today an article in the Trib discusses how the Bay Area could attract a Super Bowl. The
49ers have an ambitious multi-use development plan in the works with housing giant
Lennar and the city of San Francisco. Despite the strained relationship between the
Raiders and Oakland/Alameda County, the Raiders came up with a way to keep the
2003 Super Bowl in the Bay Area (where it was originally meant for a revamped
Candlestick Park): add 7,500 seats to the Coliseum. That idea fizzled and the 2003
Super Bowl ended up in a more familiar locale, San Diego. The article notes that a Bay
Area Super Bowl would be bolstered by a joint 49ers-Raiders effort, but doesn’t
elaborate on how the competing interests (49ers vs. Raiders, SF vs. Oakland) could
make it work.
The Raiders haven’t released any plans for a another Coliseum redo, but it stands to
reason that with the newly friendly relationship they have with Oakland, along with the
team’s inability to relocate as easily as they did eleven years ago, they could try to work a
deal to “complete” the renovation in Oakland. The Raiders could take advantage of the
NFL’s G3 loan program, which provides $150 million for new construction or expansion.
Myriad problems await, including financing the rest of it ($150 million won’t cover it all)
and getting pols to sign off on the deal. The sales pitch would involve getting the Super
Bowl in Oakland (and its oft-overstated positive economic impact) sometime in the next
20 years, a carrot that has been the main selling point in getting new stadia built or
upgraded (San Diego, Dallas, Kansas City).
Should the Raiders and Oakland venture down this path, the A’s would once again be on
the outside looking in. For how would Oakland and Alameda County be able to invest in
multiple new facilities again? Therein lies the rub. Oakland’s going to be forced to
decide who it wants to support. And I doubt that anyone’s looking forward to making
that decision.

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February 24, 2006
I’ve now had a chance to give the EIR a pretty good run-through and I’ve compiled a
laundry list of comments to submit to the City. I won’t publish those yet since I want to
give it another pass. For now, I’ll list highlight items I felt were important in the
document and its presentation.

First of all, it should be kept in mind at all times when reading this type of document
that it is an environmental impact report, not a feasibility study and planning guide.
Therefore, the authors are not making any judgments on its feasibility or cost, nor are
they taking political implications into consideration.
Key assumptions are made early on:
• The HOK-derived ballpark concept has a seating capacity of 45,000. That’s a full
10,000 more than the Wolff concept. This will become very important later on in the
• The ballpark is built at grade, with no submerged field. This is similar to AT&T/SBC
• Traffic and noise studies are confined to the area immediately surrounding the
ballpark to within roughly 1 mile of the ballpark. There is no study of the impact on
southbound I-880 due to East Bay fans driving down for a game during rush hour.
• Development alternatives consist of sites and options discussed as of early last year.
The soccer stadium option, which was discussed in December 2005, is not in this
• One alternative is called Existing Plan, which is based on the development strategy
outlined in the Diridon/Arena strategic planning document. There is no alternative for
a combination of a ballpark and elements of the planning document. While the
ballpark is cited as fitting within the the scope of the Diridon/Arena plan, there is no
inherent link between the two since it is not known how the ancillary development
would proceed.
• The fire training site is to be used as a combination parking structure and area for the
relocated PG&E substation. Any plans for a public park would have to be moved
Now onto the juicy stuff.
The most impactful issue is obviously the noise factor, which has been picked by all local
media. However, the noise estimates are inflated because of assumptions made on the
size of the project. As noted before, the ballpark’s capacity is set at 45,000. The baseline
statistical sample was data gathered by measuring noise outside Qualcomm Stadium for
a Padres game where 40,000 fans were in attendance. Since the conceptual ballpark is
5,000 seats bigger, a peak noise gain of 5 dB is estimated from the Qualcomm
measurements. Should the 35,000-seat ballpark be built instead of this concept, it can
be assumed that peak noise could be at least 5 dB less than the figures cited in the EIR.
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Delmas Park is in a bad situation when it comes to noise. It has a freeway and a light rail
train immediately to the east. LRT also runs to the north. Another freeway is a mile
south. Several major bus lines populate the corridors to the north and south. Jets fly in
low on their final approach to the airport 1/2 mile east of the neighborhood. Freight and
commuter trains rumble 1/2 mile to the west. HP Pavilion sends hundreds of cars
through the neighborhood after events are completed. Finally, San Jose Water Company
just received entitlements allowing it to build a planned 1,000,000 square feet of office
space along with 325 homes and 3,000 parking spaces, so bring on the piledrivers.
Add a ballpark sending noise directly into the neighborhood, and the result is that the
residents of Delmas Park will soon be living in cacophony if they aren’t already. Delmas
Park is in a zone where a limit has been established on ambient noise – 65 dBA. Having
a ballpark won’t make the neighborhood consistently louder. Instead, it will increases
instances of loud noise. For instance, say a crowd at the ballpark cheers really loud 18
times per game, or twice an inning. Over a three hour game, that translates to 6 peak
noise events per hour, equivalent to 6 additional jets flying overhead or 6 additional
buses’ squealing brakes stopping nearby per hour. I honestly wouldn’t blame residents
for being angry, especially because San Jose telegraphed this a while back when they for
planning purposes expanded Downtown to include the Diridon/Arena area, yet not
enough mitigation measures were taken to protect Delmas Park.
A few ideas were pitched to reduce noise and congestion:
• Provide sound insulation for 40 affected homewoners inside the 60 dBA
contour. Frankly, this should be extended to all homeowners in the neighborhood
out of consideration for the impact of other development. Should the Diridon/Arena
area become a true mixed-use transit hub, the noise is only going to get ratcheted up.
It’s the very least they can do.
• Utilize a distributed sound/PA system. That would probably mean that venue
audio kings Meyer Sound would be out of the running, with a PA system provided by
other companies like Panasonic, EV, or JBL. It’s a relatively minor issue, but Meyer
Sound is a big reason why Jon Miller calls Coliseum PA announcer Roy Steele “the
voice of God.”
• Widen Delmas Ave to 2 through lanes south of W San Fernando St. This
should help traffic pass through the area more quickly and has been identified as a
mitigation measure for development at the SJWC site.
There are a few mitigation measures I’ve identified that could make things a lot easier
for Delmas Park.
• Shut down W San Fernando St and maybe Park Ave between Autumn St and
Delmas Ave/Woz Way two hours before each game through one hour after each game
to all traffic except Delmas Park residents and buses. By routing most traffic on the
north-south routes in the area, traffic can flow freely around the ballpark while also
preventing access for unscrupulous types looking for shortcuts through the
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neighborhood. This option was discussed during the scoping session, but for whatever
reason didn’t make it into the document. There are problems related to shutting down
Park Ave because the premium parking garage would be on the corner of Park and
Autumn/Montgomery, but this could be managed.
Plant more trees. Sounds simple, but trees and other foliage can act as a nice sound
barrier when strategically placed. That would means trees with lots of leaves, not low
maintenance palms. Since a few dozen trees would need to be removed to make way
for construction, why not use the buffer presented by the Autumn St/Los Gatos Creek
public space to make a visually pleasing and practical sound barrier?
Tighten the seating bowl. The model used in the EIR is based largely off AT&T
Park, which has an approximately 80-degree bowl angle that tapers in along the
outfield lines. If a tighter infield angle were used (60 degrees based on the models I’m
using), the bowl could better attenuate sound while providing fans in the outfield
corners with closer views of the action. Examples of a tighter angle exist in Yankee
Stadium and Raley Field.
Turn the field orientation 15 or more degrees north. Planners want to include
the downtown skyline, but tilting the field in a more northerly direction can allow
some noise to be directed away from Delmas Park without severely impacting the
Make a pact with the community. This would be similar to what was negotiated
with residents surrounding Chicago’s Wrigley Field in which there are a limited
number of night games. It doesn’t have to be that extreme, but there can be limits to
the number of night concerts (15-20 estimated per year) and fireworks displays. It
should be stated that sound studies don’t typically measure noise that carries due to
the inversion layer or other weather factors. It’s that type of noise that caused the rash
of complaints when the Rolling Stones came to SF, or when Shoreline Amphitheater
opened and drove much of Palo Alto crazy.

Surprisingly, the Cahill Park/St. Leo’s neighborhoods don’t appear to be affected much
by ballpark noise. This is mostly due to the field orientation as the grandstand
attenuates much of the sound directed to the west and south.
There were a few more interesting nuggets I culled from the EIR:
• The only building on the site with any significant historical value is the former KNTV
Studio, which is reportedly over 50 years old. It won’t be saved should the ballpark get
• At 45,000 seats, the ballpark rises 165 feet from street grade, 200 feet including
scoreboards, 235 feet with light standards. It doesn’t need to be nearly that tall. A
35,000-seat ballpark would reduce or eliminate the need for a large upper deck. The
models I’ve drawn up have the topmost row only 83 feet above the field. If the field
were sunken 15 feet below street grade, that same row would be only 68 feet above the
street, the equivalent of a 5-6 story building. The facade that fronts the concourses
would be even lower. Add a roof with light standards contained beneath the roof or at
the roof’s edge and the height is raised roughly 20 feet. If done in this manner, the
ballpark would have less height and visual impact than HP Pavilion, which rises 100
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feet from street grade. This lower profile would allow the building to comply with FAA
building height requirements and limit light spill into the surrounding neighborhood.
There are plenty of other tangible benefits to building lower, such as decreased
materials costs, lower seismic risk, and better views for fans.
• No community benefits are pitched because it’s an EIR. Since a park wouldn’t be
possible under this plan, perhaps there’s a way to building a community center and/or
gymnasium on top of the parking structure, the same way a banquet hall was placed
above the Fourth Street Garage.
• The Submerged Stadium alternative assumes digging the field 24-28 feet below
ground. With a smaller first deck like the one I’ve drawn up (see picture above), it
could be submerged 15 feet, which could reduce the amount of excavated dirt that
would have to be hauled away and relocated by at least 25%.
All in all, plenty of good stuff in the EIR to chew on.

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March 20, 2006
UPDATE: Trib columnist Art Spander fired off an angry column this morning in
response to the news.
Out of today’s Tribune comes the following quote from Lew Wolff:
“We’ve spent most of our time focused on Oakland; now the next goal is to stay in
Alameda County,” he said. “We haven’t ruled out any place, but Oakland is difficult
because it has lots of priorities that are very important to the community beyond
Oakland officials were apparently taken by surprise (italics are my emphasis):
“He has not told us anything like that,” said Oakland City Council President Ignacio De
La Fuente. “Until we are told something different, we are going to continue working.
But Mr. Wolff is right, we have many other things on the front plate.”
Among those are a rising crime rate, beleaguered public schools and a hot mayoral race
in which De La Fuente, the city’s lead negotiator in the baseball talks, is a candidate.
“It is very difficult. With all these campaigns going on, our plates are so full,” said
Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, a member of the Oakland-Alameda County
Coliseum Authority.
There had been whispers that the A’s haven’t been a priority for Oakland pols, but this
confirms it. It’s hard to see a set of conditions under which the A’s can stay in Oakland
unless all other local alternatives fall apart, leaving the two parties to start from scratch.
Perhaps it comes from a collective distrust of Wolff, but if it is, no one has said anything
publicly about it.

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April 12, 2006
A second Argus article by Chris De Benedetti has Wolff fielding questions about the
seemingly endless rumor mill (yes, I’m partly responsible for this) regarding the A’s
intentions. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty comes to Wolff’s defense:
“I don’t think in any way are the A’s playing us against another community,” said
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Fremont and grew up
there. “The Wolffs are genuine people. They’re the most sincere people I have ever met.”
Wolff tried to quash the rumors as well:
“We don’t have any hidden agenda,” Wolff told The Daily Review last week. “Anyone
who’s a sports fan thinks everyone has a hidden agenda. Even if I wanted to go, I
couldn’t go.”
Both Wolff and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, a longtime friend and former college
fraternity brother of Wolff’s, also have said they have no intention of challenging the
Giants’ territorial rights in Santa Clara County. But supporters of bringing the A’s to the
South Bay point out that Wolff has several real estate holdings in San Jose.
The Mulcahy-DiNapoli connection was downplayed as well, simply as longtime business
… the day after meeting with Fremont leaders, television cameras showed Wolff at the
A’s-New York Yankees game in Oakland, sitting next to San Jose mayoral candidate
Michael Mulcahy.
Mixed messages?
“There is no intention of that,” Wolff said.
He said there was little significance to their visit during the game, adding that
Mulcahy owns A’s season tickets near Wolff’s seats and the two have known each other
for years. Mulcahy’s cousins are John and Jason DiNapoli, who own a small interest
in the A’s and have partnered with Wolff in some San Jose real estate deals.
“I’ve been a friend and a business partner with Lew Wolff for 30 years,” Mulcahy said.
“He’s a supporter of mine.”
Finally, Wolff issues a “firm” denial:
“We really want to stay in California, in the Bay Area, in the East Bay,” he said.

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“I don’t know how many times I have to say that.”
So are you satisfied with the responses? I know one thing: when this saga has finally
played out and the A’s have a new home, this blog will make for some interesting – and
at times painful – retrospective reading.
Props to De Benedetti for tackling the rumor mill head-on.

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April 13, 2006
In what can be construed as the only positive news to come out City Hall re: the A’s in
some time, Oakland officials and the Coliseum Authority agreed to a three-year
extension for the A’s. The extension could potentially keep the A’s in the Coliseum
through 2013. The structure of the deal is such that the pre-existing deal, which was
guaranteed through 2007 and had one-year options through 2010, now guarantees the
A’s stay through 2010 and push the options out to 2011-2013. Some of the finer points:
• The lease allows the team to leave with 120 days notice without penalty if it moves to a
40,000-or-more capacity stadium in Alameda County.
• Should the team leave the area, it would have to pay the remainder of its lease and a
$250,000 penalty.
• Whether the 2011-2013 years are optional or guaranteed has not yet been finalized.
• The payments will be higher than in the pre-existing lease, totalling $4.7 million over
the last five years. The A’s payment for 2006 is only $500K.
On the surface this sounds like a nice reciprocal goodwill gesture, but as I wrote earlier
on this matter, simply pushing the options out three more years mostly benefits the A’s
since they get a nice safety in case a new ballpark is beset with delays. I suppose it makes
City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente look better during an election year, and he
certainly needs the help.
Taking off my cynical cap, it’s possible that once the election’s over, Oakland pols can
get to work on a good Oakland site. Council member/mayoral candidate Nancy Nadel
nixed my Broadway Auto Row idea. I think it deserves a second look.

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April 16, 2006
Furthering the effort to dispel any notion of a hidden agenda, Lew Wolff spoke with
Merc scribe Mark Emmons and gave a little more insight into the business operations
side of the A’s. Apparently Wolff owns 12% of the team, a partnership (which I assume
includes members of the DiNapoli family) owns 13%, and John Fisher controls the rest.
After the warm-fuzzy stuff in the article, they get down to the ballpark issue, which
doesn’t reveal anything new on the dealmaking front. However, there appears to be
clarification on a number of subjects.
On looking outside the Bay Area:
He will look elsewhere “only if we bomb out here.”
Regarding Oakland:
Wolff said he has not closed the door to Oakland, although there has been no sign of
meaningful talks in months. He has been in discussions with Fremont and calls the site
adjacent to Interstate 880, currently leased by Cisco Systems, “an excellent location.”
Then onto San Jose (emphasis mine):
Then there’s the question of San Jose, which has twin hurdles: A ballpark presumably
would need voter approval, and baseball gave the Giants territorial control of the
market. Wolff, who also has been talking with Major League Soccer about bringing a
new franchise to the city to replace the Earthquakes, insists he won’t “tilt at windmills”
and fight the Giants’ claim.
Added Selig: “San Jose is a dead issue. The thing that holds the sport together is its
own internal rules. If you start to break them, you’re going to have anarchy.”
But look at this from earlier in the article::
Yet ask Wolff, a prominent figure in San Jose redevelopment for almost four decades,
what would be a good next step in the revitalization of the city’s core, and he says: “If
they could get the A’s, that would help.”
After reading the article I had to re-read it again twice. Frankly, I don’t know what to
think. Some of the OAFC-ers seem to believe that Wolff and Selig are playing good cop/
bad cop on this, though Selig hasn’t been nearly as visible as Wolff and Selig’s given
more soundbites to the Marlins’ cause than the A’s (which is likely a vote of confidence
in Wolff, not in Loria/Samson). I find it interesting that those who have dealt directly
with Wolff have given a near-universal appraisal of the man as a “straight shooter” or
any number of words that are synonyms for “honest.” Those who haven’t dealt with
Wolff tend to have a more cynical or negative view. I’ve never met Wolff myself, so I can
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only temper things I’ve heard as a San Jose local (also positive) with the various bits of
circumstantial evidence that exist.
Shrugging my shoulders as always…
One more thing – I’ve added “Attendance Watch” to the sidebar. In my previous
attendance analyses there has usually been a mention of standard deviation. I haven’t
done that yet with the figures because as the statheads usually say: Two weeks into the
season is too small a sample size.

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May 10, 2006
The Trib’s Dave Newhouse presents the City of Oakland with a challenge in today’s
column: Show us the site. And by “us” he doesn’t just mean the A’s or the media – he
means all of A’s fandom. Unlike his colleague Art Spander, Newhouse finds Wolff
relatively trustworthy:
Lew Wolff’s at the plate, and he wants your best pitch, Oakland. Or any pitch. Perhaps
a mystery pitch, because he’s plenty mystified. Anyway, it’s up to you, Oakland. Wolff
hasn’t changed his stance.
Newhouse then starts to turn the screws:
Oakland talks, but like Loaiza so far, it doesn’t deliver consistently or accurately. And
Wolff, unlike his predecessor in the owners’ box, is willing to foot the entire bill for a
new park, which is a $450 million check minus the tip. He just wants some help with,
say, environmental issues. And a good price on the land would help, too.

But if it can be done in Fremont, why can’t it be done in Oakland? It can if Oakland
would stop hurling junk and come in with a high heater that would not only brush back
Fremont but also drive it out of the box.
Funny how Loaiza keeps coming up (my fault there). Credit goes to Newhouse for asking
the question. There’s an air of resignation in the East Bay, yet there are Oakland
proponents that insist that there’s a solution out there that for whatever reason isn’t
being publicized (Wolff’s supposed reluctance to deal with Oakland is often cited).
Rumors are floating around about two or three sites being considered at City Hall. And
Ron Dellums may know of others that are working on their own plan. It’s time to
publicize. You can’t get the public to rally behind something they know nothing about. If
Wolff is challenging the city, then the city should challenge him right back.

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May 24, 2006
A late work-related appointment forced me to arrive late to the “Choose or Lose” event
earlier tonight. Organizer Robert Limon assured me that I didn’t miss anything. Two
mayoral candidates were present: Nancy Nadel and Arnie Fields. Also on hand was
OUSD board candidate Chris Dobbins, a teacher who started the Green Stampede
Homework Club tutoring program. I counted 40-50 attendees, not bad for a nearly
impromptu event.
Nadel had the most time at the dais, repeatedly fielding questions about City Hall’s
perceived inaction in keeping the A’s. One-by-one, A’s supporters pointed to the team’s
legacy and how the A’s are woven into the fabric of the community. Nadel painted
herself as “realistic,” replying that the council was looking for either a site that could
accomodate both a ballpark and ballpark village housing, or separate sites for each. She
also warned finding a site was not easy because of the city’s “built up” nature and the
reluctance to use eminent domain. Near the end of her time on stage, she gave a rather
ominous statement (paraphrased) to the keep-the-A’s-in-Oakland crowd, “If you polled
Oakland residents, you’d find that you’d be in the minority.” This caused a bit a
grumbling in the gallery, which gets me wondering – what if Oakland residents were
polled? What would the results be?
Arnie Fields was next, proudly wearing an A’s cap. He supported keeping the A’s at the
current Coliseum, with development around it spurred by a shuttle that operated
between the BART station and the plaza between the stadium and arena. The shuttle
would have its own guideway that would run parallel to the existing BART pedestrian
bridge. Golf carts or similar vehicles would operate on this guideway, and it would be
run by a community group, ideally including local youths. Fields would also support a
waterfront (JLS) ballpark plan.
Two videotaped statements were made by Ron Dellums and Ignacio De La Fuente.
Dellums repeated the “Don’t break your pick” quote attributed to Lew Wolff in a
previous conversation. He felt that the door an opportunity to keep the A’s was “open,
but not wide open.” IDLF slyly said he’s optimistic that the A’s and Oakland can get a
deal done “if the A’s are sincere.” Now that’s a qualifier if I’ve ever heard one.
The best ideas seemed to come after the event officially ended, when Limon, several of
the bleacher drummers, and other attendees had a little pow-wow to discuss future
actions. Another rally-type event is tentatively scheduled for sometime in late June.
Ways to raise the movement’s media profile were discussed. The group piled on Nadel. I
mentioned the ill-fated Broadway Auto Row proposal. The group’s sense of frustration
with local government was palpable. The good thing about all of this is that there is a
movement afoot, and that it doesn’t merely consist of putting up banners. It looks like
pressure will be applied to pols and local media, though it will take some
resourcefulness to come up with concrete plans and proposals. The bittersweet irony of
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the rally’s location came to me as I left for the BART station. Across Telegraph Avenue
sits the old Uptown site, once considered the great hope for an urban ballpark in
Oakland. May 25, 2006

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Barry Witt’s writeup of the A’s-Quakes announcement has much more detail than the
press release sent out by MLS on Wednesday. I’ve been looking for something more
descriptive to indicate what Wolff and Co. were really aiming for, and the piece provides
A quote from the conference call, which was only open to the media:
“We think we have a concept of financing that’s a little bit hybrid between public
financing and private financing,” Wolff said in a conference call.
“If a community or a jurisdiction or a joint-powers group could provide us with a path
to a site, with whatever infrastructure and approvals are necessary, that’s probably
the most contribution we think we need in order to get the soccer venue done.”
If that sounds familiar, that’s because Wolff has used similar verbiage to explain what
the A’s want for a ballpark site. That means a site with space for a stadium and ancillary
development opportunities, preferably at a discounted rate. In Fremont, that means
getting light industrial land and turning it around for a profit by virtue of building
housing there. That’s not a given in San Jose, so “land” might have a more traditional
definition than what’s happening in Fremont. A deal could have a cheap ground lease
for city-owned stadium land, along with the A’s having rights to develop surrounding
land for residential and commercial uses. And you know what that means:

Soccer Village
A soccer stadium could cost only one-fourth as much as a ballpark, so conceivably, fewer
housing units would need to sold and less land would have to be acquired. Keep in mind
that privately-funded stadia aren’t set up to pay for themselves, so some other revenue
stream would have to be secured to take care of the mortgage. The good news is that this
kind of plan could be accomplished at just about any of the previously discussed San
Jose sites, though other factors may come into play. These factors include parking
requirements, mass transit availability, and NIMBY issues.
Wolff seemed to dismiss the idea of Fremont having both a ballpark and a SSS. While
co-location has its advantages in terms of cost consolidation, there may not be enough
land at Pacific Commons to accommodate all of the pieces needed to put the ballpark
village plan in motion. For instance, Fremont has a residential zone type R-3-70, which
allows for up to 70 residential units per acre. Typically, high-rise residential towers are
required to achieve that density. Fremont residents may not protest much to 3-4 story
buildings like the ones going up in the middle of town, but in a place mostly bereft of
high-rises, such a development plan could face significant opposition due to it straying
from the scope of existing development. The most glaring example of this is Oracle’s HQ
complex in Redwood Shores. If zoning restricts the density of housing development, the
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plan would be expected to have the residential component take up a much larger share
than high-rises would.
I look forward to the concepts 360 architecture is drawing up for the soccer stadium.
Will they be somewhat generic and not site-specific like the August concept, or will they
already have a site in mind and base the concept on that site’s constraints?

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June 9, 2006
While the A’s ballpark future was not resolved coming out of Tuesday’s primary,
changes occurred that surely will affect future efforts by cities to attract the A’s. At the
end of the day, the lesson to be repeated ad nauseum was: Don’t pin your hopes on an
• As expected, Ron Dellums was elected mayor of Oakland with a majority, thereby
avoiding a runoff. While he won’t take office until January, don’t be surprised to hear
rumblings about his well-heeled supporters and associates working on big-ticket
projects. Dellums has friends in both city and county government. What’s not known
is how nice Dellums will play with State Senator Don Perata’s minions. Current mayor
Jerry Brown always had an uneasy alliance of convenience with Perata that at times
strained under both pols’ visible agendas. That, and the reality of dealing with dirty,
day-to-day business as a mayor in Oakland, will prove whether Dellums’ vision for
Oakland can translate into real action. As an outsider, I’d like to believe Dellums could
really foster the city’s growth, but he’s going to have to make some very tough
decisions about issues like police staffing and presence, affordable housing, big box
retail, redevelopment of industrial areas, and the changing demographics of the city.
In other words, I’m glad I don’t have that job.
• In San Jose, the ballpark effort was dealt an enormous blow with county voters’
rejection of the overly broad Measure A. That’s not to say that BART-to-San Jose
would have been some great problem solver (the difference between opening day at a
ballpark and the BART launch would have been several years), but it would have at
least provided some relief along the 880 corridor. BART proponents now have to
seriously think about either pulling back the cost of the $4.7 billion project or even
scrapping it completely. There’s talk of limiting BART to only Milpitas or Santa Clara,
which could cut the extension’s cost in half or more. However, that would limit the
project’s scope, reduce ridership projections, and force VTA to come up with a
completely new justification for the extension. I’d be more optimistic about SJ’s
chances if the High Speed Rail initiative had any momentum behind it, but it’s headed
for a November election with scant support while competing with the governor’s and
legislature’s other bond initiatives.
• Fremont will be affected if BART-to-San Jose is either dropped or delayed. A note on
the WSX extension page has the service starting to run in 2012 or 2013, which could
be within a year or two of a ballpark opening. If the WSX extension doesn’t happen
and the ballpark does, there will be a real infrastructural issue for Fremont’s
government and citizens to consider. There is no direct, one-road route between the
Pacific Commons site and Fremont BART, and the main arteries running in the area
(Stevenson Blvd, Mowry Ave, Fremont Blvd, Paseo Padre Pkwy) could be severely
impacted by increased bus traffic – that is, if fans choose to transfer between the
BART station and Pacific Commons using a bus. For now, let’s dismiss a rail or trolleybased option due to cost. How much will infrastructure such as transportation and

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increased police cost in the end? How big of a price is Fremont willing to pay to get on
the map?
Think of how all of that comes into play in the A’s ownership’s decision making process.
So many variables and dependencies make it difficult to valuate a potential site. The
natural tendency is to move in the direction with the least resistance. That appears to be
Fremont at this point, but as the Fremont plan gets fleshed out and citizens are better
educated about the issues, it could become contentious. Then again, maybe not. No
matter where I am (this week I’m overseas), expect comprehensive coverage here. And
thanks to all of you who have written in with your support.

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July 18, 2006
I just got a look at HNTB’s concept for the new 49ers stadium: 

How uninspiring. It doesn’t help that the gold seats appear beige in the picture. Gone
are the sweeping lines of the HOK design. So is the Mills mall, and with it, probably the
$100 million that was promised for the project by the city (because of the jobs that come
with the mall). The boxy layout is eerily reminiscent of work done by HNTB across the
bay, otherwise known as Mount Davis. In fact, take the entire sideline section in
shadow. Does it not look just a little like the Coliseum outfield?
It should be pointed out that like the A’s ballpark concept by 360, there’s no exterior
treatment on this stadium, so it can’t be judged by a face that doesn’t exist. Still, while
stacking the suites and boxes on one side of the field is commendable for cost-cutting
and better sightlines for fans, the whole package can’t help but look a bit like a bloated
SEC college football stadium. The concept works well for Ford Field, where it’s wrapped
in a neat gimmick – the use of an office building in the stadium bowl covered by a dome
– but it doesn’t look right in this case. That big structure behind the suites looks like a
retaining wall to prevent the nearby hill from collapsing onto it.
Supposedly the design is flexible enough to work as an Olympic stadium should the time
come in 2016. I can see where the use of large numbers of portable seats (also like Mt.
Davis) could make such a concept work. The open north end should facilitate this as
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well. But does anyone remember what Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium looked like prior to its
conversion to Turner Field? Thought so. This design just deadpans “bland.”

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September 24, 2006
The old adage, “Good, Fast, and Cheap – Pick Two!” applies to nearly everything from
soup to software. In no way is stadium building spared. Design, materials, labor – all of
these things cost time and money, and to get a distinctive, quality product usually
requires a couple of years and a few hundred million dollars for starters. Which makes
the Stanford Stadium renovation particularly interesting. Done in only nine months and
for $100 million dollars, Stanford now has a first-class facility that it can proudly use to
showcase to recruits and alumni alike. So did John Arrillaga’s baby somehow escape the
old maxim? Well…. sort of.

Built in 1921, the old Stanford Stadium was the oldest large venue in the Bay Area. It’s
had a good history, hosting a Super Bowl and filling in nicely as an understudy for
Candlestick Park when the latter was damaged in Loma Prieta. Despite this, the
structure itself was very simply built, with bleachers anchored to a man-made ovalshaped hill. The listed capacity of 86,000 made Stanford Stadium appear much larger
than it was in person – even though the LA Coliseum held only 20,000 more people, it
seemed twice as immense. Stanford Stadium’s large stated capacity ended up being a
curse. As a small school (in terms of enrollment and alumni) compared to its Pac-10
rivals, the football program had a difficult time selling tickets for a football program
whose rollercoaster fortunes made it difficult to sustain a following among the picky Bay
Area sports consumer. For years, alumni and the athletics department wanted to redo
the stadium to become more like the Oregon’s Autzen Stadium: a 54,000-seat venue
whose intimacy made it one of the toughest places to play in the country.
In 2005, construction finally began following Stanford’s last game versus Notre Dame
on November 26, 2005. The project was originally slated to be complete by the team’s
scheduled first home game against San Jose State this past September 9. Delays forced
the opening date to be pushed back one week until the next home game against Navy.
Other than that, there were no considerable delays. Crews worked 16 hours a day, every
day to get the job done. A design-build approach was used to reduce development time
and make decision-making quick. Longtime Stanford booster and alum John Arrillaga,
who also seemingly built half the Silicon Valley, took the reins of the project.
So what does $100 million and nine months get you? Let’s take a look.

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The Upper Deck

As the cheap seats, the upper deck is usually considered a design afterthought, or a
method to squeeze in the required number of seats after you’ve taken care of the rich
folks with the suites in club seats. In this case, it’s a testament to cost-cutting. Over half
of Stanford Stadium’s seats (29,000) are in the upper deck, and unlike the previous
version, the seats aren’t anchored to a hill. Instead, they’re supported using steel beams
and concrete columns. The secret is in the aluminum risers that hold the seats.
Lightweight and quick to fabricate, the risers were undoubtedly the best choice to keep
costs down, especially with the rising cost of concrete. Nearly every large stadium in the
Bay Area has aluminum risers in use somewhere, including the Coliseum, where the
portable field level Mt. Davis seats are moved in and out of the stadium depending on
the A’s and Raiders’ schedules. It’s unusual to see aluminum used so broadly, but here it
makes sense. Such a technique could be difficult to duplicate at a ballpark due to the
irregular shape of a baseball grandstand. I could see all of the outfield seats treated in
this manner, which has one particular benefit: stomping on aluminum is a lot noisier
than stomping on concrete.
Not only are the risers aluminum, they are the same size throughout the upper deck. A
typical baseball or football stadium will have a combination of bleachers and regular
seats, and this one is no different. However, in this case the row treads (row depths) are
the same regardless of the type of seating. At 30 inches, the treads are better than your
garden variety bleachers (24″) but not as good as typical chairback seat treads (33″). If
you happen to be taller than average height, you’ll feel the lack of leg room immediately.
The universal nature of the row tread allowed the design to include a maximum number
of seats while eliminating quirks that can come up when dealing with different tread
widths, such as different aisles for each seating type. 3 inches may not sound that
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significant, but in this case it means an extra 4 rows in the east grandstand, translating
to 1,000 seats.

In the picture above, you see a short lower deck, the lower concourse immediately above
it, then the upper deck and press box. Surprisingly, this is not a common configuration
for football. Unlike baseball, where current design trends dictate open concourses that
have views of the field, football stadia architects are not bound by such an aesthetic.
Instead, they’re told to use all available space for seats and suites. The open concourse
shown here isn’t just for a pretty view, it has a practical purpose as well. New ADA
requirements demand that 1% of all seating be wheelchair accessible, with at least the
same amount of companion seats. Upper deck seating is inaccessible for wheelchairs
from the tunnels/vomitories because they all use stairs or have no landings for
wheelchairs. To allocate enough wheelchair seating for both the upper and lower levels,
the lower concourse was created. There’s also some accessible seating at the top of the
upper deck along each corner and end zone. Sidebar: as part of the Coliseum’s
renovation to bring the Raiders back, the formerly open lower concourse had concrete
walls or slatted fences placed in back of many of the seating sections. Nowadays, the
only places where you can get a good view behind a seating section are – that’s right –
in some places where there is wheelchair seating.

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The press box is also a place where money was saved. They started by incorporating a
pre-existing elevator for the old press box (nice reuse!). The three level structure
appears fancy enough, with two separate stadium club areas: one enclosed on the first
floor and one on the roof. In between are the “print media” level and the TV/radio level.
The building only has seven luxury suites, which is a low number that reflects how
college football is sold. While the big program schools have lots of suites (though not
nearly as many as NFL stadia), the real money is in those enclosed club areas, where
high powered alumni and boosters can mingle and network. By placing all of these
facilities in a single structure, assuredly much money was saved as opposed to the usual
alternative: spreading thousands of square feet of luxury suites around the ring of the

Cutting corners
A few other little touches show signs of cost-cutting while not appearing cheap:
• The beams and railings weren’t painted, giving them an “industrial chic” look.
• An entire scoreboard/video board from the old stadium was saved and reused.
• The set of arches in the north end aren’t adorned with engravings of latin phrases or
marble gargoyles. They’re clean and simple.
• I went into one of the men’s restrooms on the lower concourse and noticed that it
didn’t have a ceiling. No big deal there, it was well lit. If you’re worried about a stench
wafting into the concourse, it shouldn’t be a problem. The stadium will get used
perhaps a couple dozen times a year (at most?).
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• The landscaped hill that forms the outer façade appears relatively unchanged, except
for some new bushes here and there. The stairs that take you up to the upper
concourse (much like the Coliseum) are still there.
Spending money where it counts
There are two places where there was no evidence of skimping. First is the fantastic
distributed sound system, made of numerous clusters of JBL Pro speakers. It had, to my
somewhat trained ear, a nice flat response that was clear from everywhere in the
stadium. Best of all, there was little leakage outside the stadium that I could detect – an
all-important aspect for a stadium that is close to some well-heeled residential
neighborhoods. The reduced footprint of the seating bowl contributes to this effect as it
takes less power to provide the PA to everyone in the stadium.
“Hi-Def Football” has been a recent tagline in selling the new Stanford Stadium. The
video screens spread throughout don’t disappoint. The video/matrix boards
(Daktronics, I believe) in both end zones are excellent, even though they aren’t needed
to broadcast the game since the sightlines are so good from anywhere in the seating
bowl. I can’t leave out the numerous HD LCD screens throughout the lower concourse
(HP provided, of course), though at first glance it looks like they weren’t set up properly.
The colors appeared a bit washed out, as if they were using simple analog coax when
they should’ve been using some kind of digital or composite connection.
Grading the experience
While just about any change would’ve been a vast improvement over the old Stanford
Stadium, this renovation went beyond what I had expected. The new stadium is not only
modern with this millenium’s creature comforts, it has legs. If they needed to expand it
by 10,000 seats it could be done fairly easily. They preserved the character of the old
structure while improving it seismically, giving fans the best views of any Bay Area
football stadium to boot. It’s possible that the package could start to look dated in a
decade or two, but college football is a far less demanding market than the pro sports.
That said, I’m not certain that many of the lessons here can be applied to a new A’s
ballpark. There are too many different and segmented markets that have to be catered to
at a MLB facility. MLB is not simply about the game anymore. It’s about having as many
avenues as possible to take a fan’s hard-earned cash. Stanford Stadium doesn’t speak to
that, at least not with $3 hot dogs and one-size-fits-all treads. Now if the Cardinal can
only field a decent team…

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October 8, 2006
Not much new in Sunday’s Matier and Ross column other than a few quotes from
Alameda County Supe Scott Haggerty, who exudes confidence if not actual details. One
sad note: the A’s and the incoming Dellums administration have not spoken since the
I’ve stumbled upon a few things that may shed a tiny bit of light on the situation:
• In recent interviews, Lew Wolff hinted that at the end of the ballpark lease, it would be
owned by the City of Fremont, not the A’s. That indicates that the land on which the
ballpark would site would also be owned by the city – if not immediately, then later.
Does this mean that part of the deal is the A’s giving the ballpark to the city? Or that
the A’s would buy the land, give it to the city, then have the city arrange a cheap/free
ground lease for the A’s? Obviously, after 30-40 years the ballpark will have
depreciated significantly. It may not sound like it makes a huge difference whatever
way it’s structured, but for the A’s there could be sizable tax implications.
• For those of you wondering how the existing Pacific Commons land deal works, here it
is: ProLogis (formerly Catellus) owns the land. Cisco paid for a 34-year ground lease in
advance, with the notion that they’d build a large campus there. The networking giant
paid $105 million in prepaid rent as a result. If you’re looking for a baseline for
negotiations between the A’s and Cisco, there you have it. There may be some
inflation-related adjustment, but the figure itself is interesting. Consider this: Lucas
Oil is paying $120 million over 20 years for naming rights to the new stadium for the
Indianapolis Colts, while the University of Phoenix is paying $154 million over 20
years for naming rights for the Arizona Cardinals’ new digs. If you’re the A’s, you can
either swap the naming rights for ground lease transfer, or you can buy Cisco’s lease
rights and then get (some of/all of) the money back in the naming rights deal. Which
sounds simpler? There are some complications in that the land on which housing
would be built would have to be purchased instead of leased.
Right about now, I’m eager to see a plan.

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October 11, 2006
Quotes abound in Paul T. Rosynsky’s Trib article. While Ignacio De La Fuente continues
his bravado filled whistling-in-the-dark routine, fellow councilperson Jane Brunner has
more pointed comments about Wolff:

“We all got this feeling, everybody who met with him, we all walked away thinking he
was just not interested,” said Councilmember Jane Brunner (North Oakland). “When
you negotiate with someone, you need a nibble. … There was just no nibble.”
Brunner said the city had put together plans for three potential sites for a new ballpark,
including one that would have incorporated it into the Oak to Ninth housing
development along the waterfront.
Each time a proposal went to Wolff it was rejected, she said.
Start off with Brunner’s quote about Wolff’s willingness to work in Oakland. Now this
makes sense. Cynics point to Wolff’s single concept (Coliseum North) and its small
chance of success as a “token” proposal. There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that
makes it appear that Wolff hasn’t tried very hard to make it work in Oakland. At the
same time, Wolff has in the past said that the city hadn’t suggested any other sites.
Brunner’s comment contradicts this, and while I’ve heard rumblings about three site
proposals being floated, this is the first time I’ve really seen this sentiment in public.
Let’s go back to the summer, when the final development plan for Oak-to-Ninth/O29/
Estuary was up for city council review (it passed). A coalition of citizens groups worked
in August to get the plan on the November ballot, and while they appeared to get enough
signatures, the petition was blocked by Oakland’s city attorney. Why was this coalition
against the project? The reasons:
• Housing goes against the scope of the Estuary Policy Plan. This would not
have changed if a ballpark village with housing were under consideration.
• A lack of open space. With 60 acres available to develop and 18-20 used up by a
ballpark village, that leaves 40 acres to split between parkland/open space and
housing. And that’s if it were done from the ground up. If, as I’ve heard, the proposal
was to shoehorn the ballpark into the open space set aside for Signature’s project, that
would’ve been a complete nonstarter.
• Height concerns. When I spoke to a community group about the possibility of a
ballpark, they asked me how tall the ballpark would be. When I said that it would be at
least 100 feet tall not including light towers, there was a unanimous disapproval of the
idea. Part of that comes from people in the hills not wanting anything blocking their
view, not even a ballpark. And going back to the previous point, the housing would
have to be in tall towers, which would make for even more obstructions.
• Preservation. The Ninth Avenue Terminal has historic value and should be
preserved regardless of what goes up at O29 (It would make a nice location for a
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farmers market, a la SF’s Ferry Terminal). However, it takes up too much space for it
to be saved in any development plan.
Now, honestly, do you think that a ballpark village would not have experienced the same
kind of resistance, if not moreso? And that’s even without the consideration of
additional subsidies, or the legislation/quid pro quo situation that made the O29 land
deal possible.
Finger pointing has commenced.

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November 9, 2006
Update 11:27 p.m. – Trib reports that the Alameda County Board of
Supervisors has approved the Coliseum lease extension, finalizing the A’s stay
in Oakland through at least 2010.
Also, according to Chron the 49ers have given up on staying in San Francisco.
Santa Clara may be next. I hope that the Yorks aren’t trying to game the city into giving
them a big handout, because it’s not happening.
Update 10:07 p.m. – Chron’s Patrick Hoge has more details:
Unlike many stadiums surrounded by parking, this one would be swathed in shopping,
Wasserman said. Ballpark patrons would park elsewhere and be shuttled in, he said.
Now that’s an unusual idea. If people coming on transit have to take a shuttle, why not
have everyone? It’s baseball with the inconvenience of waiting for a bus to an airport
long term parking lot.
Barry Witt has the scoop again: Cisco and the A’s have sealed their part of the
deal. Among the highlights:
Wolff, who declined to speak to reporters today, told council members the development
would be something like San Jose’s Santana Row — featuring condominiums stacked
above street-level retail — with the major addition of a high-tech ballpark filled with
Cisco-produced infrastructure.
The Santana Row comparison is a bit ironic since Wolff was a known critic of the plan
when it was initially proposed in San Jose several years ago. A downtown advocate, he
felt that Santana Row would effectively sink any chance for retail in downtown San Jose
(which it did – restaurants and clubs are only half of the retail picture). Once Santana
Row showed remarkable success, Wolff acknowledged it. Now it’s Wolff who will
attempt to create something along that scale in Fremont.
In a previous comment thread, Bleacher Dave posed the idea that Fremont officials
might be upset by having the initial press conference/presentation at Cisco’s San Jose
headquarters than in Fremont. I don’t think this is a big deal at all. How else are Wolff
and John Chambers going to dazzle the media if not in front of gigantic video screens at

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November 14, 2006
OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics owner and managing partner Lew Wolff
announced today the A’s have reached an agreement to purchase a 143-acre parcel
from Cisco Systems with the intent of constructing a baseball park in the City of
The state-of-the-art baseball-only stadium will be named Cisco Field as part of a 30year naming rights agreement, which is valued at $4,000,000 million annually, with
the potential for annual increases based on inflation. This naming rights agreement is
transferable at any time. As part of the naming rights deal, Cisco will be granted an
undisclosed amount of guaranteed print, radio and television exposure.
360 Architecture, with offices in Kansas City, Mo., Columbus, OH and San Francisco,
and Gensler, with offices worldwide, will serve as the primary design companies for
the ballpark.
Cisco Field will be located in Fremont, which is approximately 20 miles to the south of
McAfee Coliseum, five miles north of the Santa Clara County line and 12 miles from
downtown San Jose. With a population of over 210,000 people and an area of 92square miles, Fremont is the fourth most populous city in the Bay Area and
California’s fifth largest city in area. The ballpark site is proposed to be located on the
west side of Interstate 880 off the Auto Mall Parkway.
The partnership with Cisco also includes a broad marketing and business agreement
which will underscore the A’s commitment to create a unique fan experience by
leveraging state-of-the-art network technology throughout the ballpark and franchise
operation. As a result, Cisco Field will be one of the most technologically advanced
stadiums in the world and will demonstrate the positive role technology can play in
sport, entertainment and connecting communities. Cisco’s technology will be used to
enhance every facet of the stadium, from ticketing and concessions to management of
game day operations.
The partnership allows Cisco to utilize the facility for corporate and community events
and to create a Cisco Customer Solutions Center at the ballpark in an effort to
showcase the use of networking technology in a stadium. Cisco becomes the “Official
Technology Partner of the A’s and Cisco Field” and the A’s will deploy Cisco technology
to serve the needs of Cisco Field and the baseball village.
Groundbreaking on the project will commence once the A’s gain approval from the
City of Fremont, Alameda County and other government agencies.
The estimated cost of the ballpark is between $400-500 million (excluding land) with
construction time taking between 24-36 months.
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The anticipated funding for the ballpark will be a combination of private equity and
the application of the value of land use entitlements that will be generated by the
activities of the ballpark and the adjacent ballpark village developments. The public
assistance sought will be in the form of processing the development activity in the most
efficient manner possible, the agreement that benefits generated solely by the
development will in part or in total be used to facilitate the development program in a
manner that will not impose on general fund or bonding issues on local government
and other aspects of public-private cooperation that will stand the test of public
“Today marks the beginning of a new era in A’s baseball in the Bay Area,” said Wolff.
“Cisco Field will become a destination attraction that will be enjoyed by baseball fans
throughout the Bay Area and beyond for generations to come. The location of the
ballpark will able us to significantly expand our market place while giving our fans a
unique experience at what promises to be one of the most exciting venues in the
country. We thank Cisco Systems for the will and ability to make this new standard in
fan and sponsor experience a reality. We have a number of rivers to cross, but once the
value of what Cisco and the A’s are committed to accomplish is clear to the citizens of
Fremont and Alameda County, we are confident our plans will add to the economic,
social and community base of the region we serve.”
“The A’s are more than just a great baseball team, they are a symbol of the Bay Area,
and Cisco is proud to play a role in ensuring they continue to call it home,” said Cisco
President and CEO John Chambers. “Technology is changing every aspect of our life
experiences and for Cisco, this is an opportunity to harness the power of our own
innovative technologies to create a truly unique experience that transcends sports,
connects communities and takes the fan experience to a whole new level.
“Cisco intends to be aggressive in ensuring the entire Bay Area community,
particularly younger fans, have the opportunity to enjoy the A’s experience. We have a
vision for how to make Cisco Field the model for all sports franchises,” he concluded.
“This announcement of a new ball park for the Oakland Athletics ensures the longterm stability of the club in the Bay Area,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner
Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “I congratulate Lew Wolff of the Athletics and John Chambers of
Cisco for developing a partnership that will benefit the community as well as the A’s
and Cisco.
“As the landscape of baseball economics has changed dramatically in recent years, the
importance of new ballparks that maximize the fan experience and expand club
revenues, enabling the home team to remain competitive, can not be understated.”
Up to date information on the progress of Cisco Field can be obtained on the team’s
official website Oaklandathletics.com. The Cisco Field link will include an overview of
the project, artist renderings, videos, a virtual tour and ballpark facts and figures.
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Fans may also offer their suggestions regarding any aspect of Cisco Field through a
special feedback section. Fans suggestions will be compiled on a weekly basis and
forwarded to A’s management.
The A’s will continue to operate under its current lease agreement at McAfee Coliseum
through the 2010 season, with the addition of three one-year club options through the
2013 season. Opened in 1966 and home of the A’s since 1968, the Coliseum is the eighth
oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues behind Fenway Park (1912), Wrigley Field (1916),
Yankee Stadium (1923), RFK Stadium (1961), Dodger Stadium (1962), Shea Stadium
(1964) and Angel Stadium (1966), although both Yankee Stadium and Angel Stadium
have undergone significant renovations over the years. The Coliseum is one of only
four multi-purpose stadiums in the Major Leagues, including Dolphin Stadium in
Miami, The Metrodome in Minneapolis and Rogers Centre in Toronto.
One of the American League’s original franchises, the Athletics have won nine World
Series championships and have captured 15 American League pennants. Only the New
York Yankees (26) and St. Louis Cardinals (10) have won more World Series
championships than the A’s. Since 1968, the A’s have captured four World Series titles,
six American League pennants, 14 AL West Division titles and one AL Wild Card. The
A’s are one of the most community-minded teams in all of sports as the organization
continues to support numerous charitable organizations in an effort to improve the
quality of life of people throughout the Bay Area.
Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the
worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Information about Cisco can be
found at http://www.cisco.com/. For ongoing news, please go to newsroom.cisco.com.

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November 15, 2006
I’ll start with the nitpicks just to get them out of the way.
• There’s no batter’s eye in centerfield. The ability to see through from the park
into the playing field is nice, but it’s not going to work during games. I could see them
putting in a curtain or screen that retracts during off days or in between innings.
• I can’t say for sure which way the ballpark is oriented, but from the flythrus the field
appears to be facing northeast. If that’s true that’s a shame, because if they
positioned 45 degrees south they’d have Mission Peak as the backdrop. Note: the field
may actually be facing north.
• The brick exteriors. I really hope the brick is only there to provide texture for the
renderings and sketches. We’ve seen enough of it. Try something else.
• I don’t see the bullpens anywhere in the sketches or renderings. Do you?
They might be beyond the 410′ markers. If so, they’re hidden underneath the
scoreboard and have two rows of seats between the pens and the field. Now that’s odd.
• 320′ down the lines and the cut-ins. I understand the neighborhood concept, but
the short porches down the lines could mean a few extra cheap home runs. The
extremely deep gaps (410′) are a good counterpoint. The dimensions look a little
similar to Petco’s but the fog and marine layer won’t be as much of a factor. I’ll do
some temperature surveys next spring to show the difference between the Coliseum
and Cisco.
• I’m still concerned that the club level (field) will prevent regular fans from being able
to walk down to the front row for autographs. It’s a tradition worth keeping.
• It would be nice if the grandstand down the first base line used the same angles and
the grandstand down the third base line. It’s cleaner and sharper.
• What the heck is Big Mutt?
That said, there’s a lot to love about this concept. Let’s start with the grandstand, since
that’s where most everyone will be sitting. 

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It appears like four decks, but it’s more like two large decks. Take a good look at this
cross-section, taken from the animations page:
This will be, by far, the most intimate new ballpark in baseball. The upper deck
cantilever is really aggressive. It’s even better than I could have hoped for, better than
I’ve drawn up. All of the decks are closer and lower than their SBC or McAfee
counterparts. Techies (like me) better be on the lookout, because if they’re busy staring
down at a smart phone, they’re liable to get a screaming liner right in the grill.
The upper deck is actually split in two. The lower section has 13 rows, while the upper
section has 7. That makes the combination one row deeper than the Coliseum’s upper
deck. Why are they separated? Three reasons:
• Wolff said that he wanted all concourses to have a view of the game. The separation
allows that to happen.
• Wheelchair seating positions are easier to come by. I wrote about this in my review of
Stanford Stadium. This arrangement has also in use at New Busch Stadium and Great
American Ball Park.
• It’s easier to define different pricing within the upper deck. The A’s might decide to
have a handful of cheap seats in the upper deck corners. Even those will be good seats.
The leftfield bleachers rise above a small street and connect to a building across the
street. Now that’s integration. I hope the risers are made of steel or aluminum so that
they can get really noisy. It wouldn’t be hard to bring the “A” or triangle shape used in
last year’s model.
The full street concourse is an evolution of what’s been done in Baltimore and San
Diego. Rightfield looks a lot like Eutaw Street, and the centerfield park is a lot more
cohesive than the park-within-the-park area at Petco. The double-sided video board
isn’t new, but its sheer size will make it compelling. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to show all
road games on the exterior board. And once a week during the summer, the board
would be a natural place to have outdoor movies and concerts. One of the neat things
about Petco is that they have a $5 Park Pass admission, which acts as a cover charge of
sorts that allows for standing room admissions. Since the street and park would be part
of the ballpark when during games, it’s conceivable that several thousand of these Park
Passes could be sold without violating fire code. It’s a cheap ticket to get in, a bump in
revenue, and a way to bring fans into all of those restaurants in the ballpark village. Yes,
standing room sometimes sucks, but…

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December 13, 2006
The Argus’s Chris De Benedetti has a story summarizing a letter dated November 21,
from Lew Wolff to Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz. It’s only two pages, so obviously it’s
not a proposal, yet there are little bits here and there worthy of further analysis. The
letter is PDF (Page 1/Page 2). My comments are in italics.
Project Goals (quoted in its entirety):
It is our desire to create a new home for the Athletics that significantly enhances the
quality of life in the surrounding local community as well as the fan experience at the
ballpark. Additionally, we seek to have a significant portion of the project funded
through the development of the remaining vacant areas surrounding the ballpark. It is
our intent to have the majority of this support funded by revenues and resources
generated directly from the Ballpark Village development as opposed to receiving
substantial direct subsidies outside of the project area (i.e. taxes) typically associated
with new ballpark development projects.
Nothing new here.
Ballpark Village will contain:
• 32,000-35,000 seat ballpark
• a lifestyle center retail project within a mixed-used development at a level of quality
equal to that of the award winning Santana Row project in San Jose
• a residential community with a majority of multi-family units in a pedestrian-friendly
village in proximity to the ballpark
This is the first official acknowledgment of the Village’s resemblance to Santana Row.
The idea that the remaining (majority) housing will be separated from the Ballpark
Village is good. If well conceived, it’ll provide the convenience that comes with living
near an entertainment center, while providing a quiet and safe environment for raising
children. That’s a pretty tall order.
• Up to $500 million
• In return for successfully completing the Ballpark Village entitlement approach…
along with other real estate related financing tools… the Athletics would agree to enter
into a long term arrangement (40 years including extensions) for the team to remain
in Fremont for the distant future.
• The A’s would be responsible for building and running the ballpark, as well as cost
• No City or County support required beyond the initial project support

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• If desired by all parties, the City or its designated public agency designee (think of a
JPA like the Coliseum authority) could potentially own the land and the completed
ballpark under our proposal.
Remember that if the city owns the land and/or part of the stadium, the A’s won’t have
to pay property taxes on the city-owned piece.
40-Acre City Parcel (quoted in its entirety):
“In order to create the pedestrian-oriented Ballpark Village community and avoid
having a typical “sea” of surface parking around the proposed ballpark, we would
propose to enter into a lease or other arrangement for a portion of the 40-acre City
parcel to the west of the Pacific Commons development. The term of this arrangement
for the parcel would be equivalent to that of the Athletics’ commitment at the ballpark.
This parcel and other areas would be included in an integrated transit, traffic, and
parking program for the new planned Ballpark Village community.”
If you’re wondering where this parcel is, take a look at the map below:

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The map is based off the original Cisco development plans. Notice how office buildings
are concentrated along a street and parking is on the outside towards the wetlands. The
parking lots act as a buffer, and as murf mentioned in an earlier comment, a large buffer
may be required. It could become a sticking point. The map also shows the planned
Capitol Corridor/ACE station to the west of (below) the city parcel.
To make this work, the A’s will have to designate some of their project land as parkland.
That’s going to happen as part of the residential development requirement, so it’s
potentially a fair trade. The land is not a great place for a park anyway. Why? The
landfill is only a few hundred feet away, across the tracks (I’ll have pictures tomorrow).
40 acres equals 5,000 parking spaces. Couple that with the parking I’ve targeted close to
880 and you’ve got 9,000-10,000 spaces. What will that integrated transit, traffic, and
parking program contain?

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February 26, 2007
Lew Wolff will be on San Jose AM station KLIV Tuesday night @ 7 p.m. (repeat at 10
p.m.). From the KLIV website:

Please tune in this Tuesday night (February 27) for an engaging and interactive
conversation with Lew Wolff and Dave Holland.
Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolfe (sic) and Cisco Systems Executive Dave Holland will
join The CEO Show, on 1590 KLIV.
Lew and Dave will discuss the plans to bring the Oakland A’s to the City of Fremont,
and the high-tech, state-of-the-art ballpark they envision for their fans.
The weekly talk show (starting at 7pm with a 10 pm repeat) features prominent CEOs
and Senior Officers who impact our Valley, State, Nation and World, for an
unrehearsed discussion on the key issues facing our Valley’s economy and quality of
life. It is a show about Silicon Valley for Silicon Valley.
The show includes a call-in portion for interested listeners who would like to
participate in the conversation. The call-in number is 408/575-1600.
I hope you can join us this Tuesday, February 27 at 7pm, or the repeat broadcast at
10pm for an engaging conversation with Lew Wolff and Dave Holland.
KLIV is a low-power station that can’t be picked up anywhere outside the valley, and as
far as I know they don’t webcast.

The San Jose Business Journal reports (subscription required to read full article) that
Comcast is closing in on buying Rainbow Media’s 60% share of FSN Bay Area. The longdiscussed deal would give Comcast control over both Northern California regional
sports networks, its own Comcast Sportsnet and FSNBA (40% owned by Fox). What are
the ramifications of this arrangement?
It would be double-edged sword. FSNBA and Comcast have long had a good working
relationship as content provider and cable operator, respectively. The entry of CSN to
the Bay Area a while back made CSN a potential competitor, but FSN smartly locked up
all of the Bay Area teams to long-term deals that shut out CSN. Without good local
content, CSN had little reason to heavily market in the Bay, choosing instead to wait
until FSN’s agreements expired. Since CSN would own part or all of either channel, it
could choose to be more aggressive since it would win either way. Here are some
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• CSN could remake itself as an Expanded Basic channel, not a Digital Only channel
(400). Such a move would make CSN available to almost as many subscribers as FSN,
though arrangements would have to be worked with independent cable providers. It
would be the costliest move for Comcast since they might have to deal with the
displacement of an existing Expanded Basic channel.
• CSN could stay Digital Only, which would limit exposure but reign in costs. I could see
this happening CSN were to be established as a lower profile network compared to
FSN, with lower cost/ratings programming. It’s possible that the scenario could be
flipped with CSN getting the prime spot while FSN is pushed aside.
• CSN and FSN could have a programming sharing agreement with lots of cross
promotion. The two networks could be peers, or one could be the “backup” for the
other. That would probably mean the end for FSN+.
• CSN could withdraw from the Bay Area completely, leaving FSN/FSN+ as the sole
regional sports provider.
Whatever happens, it will make for a definite landscape change among the Bay Area
teams. Wolff has expressed interest in creating a regional sports network, which I
dismissed previously due to Comcast’s 800-lb. gorilla status. The time might be ripe for
a new alternative RSN, but there are startup costs and programming questions to be
answered. A new RSN would only work if there’s enough programming (not just
baseball) to warrant it. That means pairing with a winter sport and having other deals in
place. I could definitely see an A’s-Sharks-Quakes relationship happening on either CSN
or Wolff’s channel.
One other thing: there will certainly be questions about HD content. Right now
delivering HD has a premium associated with it, about $30,000 per game in production
costs. That should go down over time, but right now it’s pretty hefty.

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March 1, 2007
I was surprised to find out that in Lew Wolff’s KLIV appearance with Dave Holland on
Carl Guardino’s CEO show, this very site was mentioned. Specifically, Lew talked about
how I and many others are eager for the details, perhaps before they’re ready to present.
Given the recent articles about the Scott Specialty Gases situation, perhaps more
patience should be exercised. It doesn’t help that I have high-res renderings of Cisco
Field rotating every 30 minutes on my computer’s desktop background/wallpaper.
No transcription, but I picked up a few good points from the Q&A:
• Wolff cited an economic study for a stadium in Arlington (TX), and said that the
impact of Cisco Field would be greater. Not sure if the comparison is with the Ballpark
in Arlington (now Ameriquest Field) or the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. If it’s the
ballpark, the comparison is easy because the ballpark woefully failed to deliver on
development promises made when it was initially pitched. The new football stadium
has a more recent glowing economic study, but around here we tend to view such
reports with a suspicious eye.
• The soon-to-be-released A’s economic study will claim that through direct and indirect
means, the project will bring 7,000 new jobs to Fremont.
• For the first time, Wolff mentioned a bus system serving as the shuttle to BART. No
• Wolff inferred that the buildings outside the ballpark that have a view of the field
would be leased or owned by third parties, but the A’s would have control over the
• Ads would be largely digital and targeted. For instance, alcohol ads would stop
showing when beer sales stopped in the 7th inning.
• Cisco VP/Treasurer Dave Holland talked about how baseball is moving from a
broadcasting model to a more user-driven experience.
On a side note, Carl Guardino was named to the California Transportation Commission,
the state body charged with doling out $4.5 billion in Prop 1B funds. Guardino is a
major proponent of BART-to-Silicon Valley. It’s a very big deal.

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March 18, 2007
Lew Wolff sat down with long-time A’s beat man Mychael Urban to talk shop. There are
a few quips here and there about the state of the baseball side of the team, soccer, and
the talked-to-death tarp matter. There’s also a little insight into planning for the
ballpark, though you shouldn’t expect me to get too much out of these tea leaves:
MLB.com: Obviously, the stadium issue is front and center with most A’s fans. Where
does everything stand with the proposed park in Fremont?
Wolff: It’s the most complicated transaction that I’ve ever seen. It’s a win-win-win for
everybody involved, but one of the problems we have in baseball is that everyone thinks
the baseball teams should underwrite everything. I’m not talking about the public. I’m
talking about various constituencies we deal with. So I’m confident that we have a great
program, but there’s a lot of constituencies we have to satisfy, and we’re trying to do
that. So it’s hard to set a date for when it’s going to happen. If everything went great, it
could be 36 months before we open it. But that’s if everybody was cooperating exactly
the way I want them to, which I’m not expecting. On a fast-track basis, we could open in
36 months, but it’s probably going to be closer to 60 months. Right now we have a
certain number of issues that we need to agree to, and we’re getting close. We’re trying
to stay in Alameda County, because that’s our district, and we don’t have any leverage.
We can’t say, “If you don’t do this, we’re moving to Omaha.” Every other team I know of
[that’s tried to get a new stadium] has had an alternate site. We’re trying to do this
without that. We just want to get it done here.
That’s about as pragmatic an approach as one could expect. Wolff’s feelings about the
“leverage” situation are reflective of the realities of the East Bay market, and by
extension, the South Bay as well. Honestly, what other owner have you heard or read
recently that has said that he doesn’t have any leverage? Leverage is the name of the
usual stadium-building game, folks, and it’s clear that a different game is being played
The window of 36 to 60 months is nothing new. Let’s establish these timeline scenarios,
remembering that in general it takes 12-18 months to complete and approve an
environmental impact report and 24-30 months to build a stadium. Even though the
ballpark village and surrounding residential development are integral to the plan, for
now we’ll focus solely on the ballpark itself. We’ll use a hypothetical date of April 1, 2007
for the development application submission.
First, Lew’s worst case:
• There’s a clear line between the two major phases, but in a worst case scenario the line
can turn into a messy gap. Delays could come in terms of getting financing (San
Diego), legal problems such as court injunctions (Cal’s Memorial Stadium retrofit), or
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last-minute concessions that have to be made by the developer or city (Forest City
Uptown in Oakland).
• Even in this case, the A’s have some wiggle room since their last option year at the
Coliseum is 2013. They would still be eager to get everything in place ASAP because by
that point they’ll have invested their $500 million on the ballpark with nothing to
show for it.
Next, Lew’s best case:
• In previous posts I had more-or-less ruled out 2010 because the schedule would be too
compressed. It’s not impossible as you can see from the timeline above, but far too
many things would have to fall perfectly into place to make it happen. For instance:
• Unless the EIR and planning pieces went through without significant review, one year
is too short. An EIR for the Cisco campus project is already on the books, but it was
heavily dependent on the land’s planned use. The ballpark village is a night-and-day
contrast from an office park. Plus there’s no telling what concessions will have to be
made regarding the 2900 townhomes, some of which could run really close to the
wetlands preserve.
• 24 months to build the ballpark may well be doable, since Cisco Field will be a smaller
and less complex building it can’t be ruled out.
Finally, the likely scenario:
• This scenario includes a full 18-month study period and 30-month construction
window. There are 3 months or so of padding in the middle to accommodate any
changes that may occur in the schedule. What’s important is that there’d be no need to
rush – and rushing costs a lot of money.

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May 21, 2007
(See? I can create completely distorted headlines, too.)
Argus scribe Chris De Benedetti got Stanford sports economist Roger Noll’s take on the
ERA economic impact report. The assessment:
The A’s economic report on the proposed ballpark village in Fremont is “far better”
than the 49ers’ report presented to Santa Clara, said Roger Noll, an esteemed Bay
Area sports economist.
However, Noll gives the report mixed reviews overall, knocking the study because its
“analysis of fiscal impacts is about revenues only, and excludes costs.”
The costs issue hinges on two important details:

What additional infrastructure (schools, transit) will be required?
What are the mechanisms to pay for it?

When a developer puts up a new neighborhood somewhere, a deal is often made where
the developer donates some amount of land for a school, and the new residents pay for
the school’s construction over time through school bonds or other public means. In
Fremont’s case, there’s a large gray area in that the construction of a school is not
mandated in the city’s municipal code. Yet there will be such a large influx of students
that not building a school could, over time, severely strain FUSD’s current school
infrastructure. Last week, I covered some creative ways to make this work, even within
the framework of the existing redevelopment plan. But they’ll still need the land
somewhere either within or right next to the village, and that’ll take some additional
planning – and give-and-take. The report projects $10.7 million coming to the district in
the form of development fees. $10.7 million alone won’t build a school, but it’s a good
As for ongoing services such as police and fire, I’ve given my two cents. I’m of the belief
that the project tax revenues will pay for itself. I don’t believe that the city will be flush
with cash – at least it won’t be if the TIF district continues indefinitely. The best way to
make this work is to use TIF (if it has to be used at all) only for the school and transit
hub. When both of those projects are completed – and the redevelopment agency has
reached its tax increment cap – the mechanism should cease to exist. As a result, money
would flow back to the city’s and county’s general funds, and FUSD as well. Only when
the tax increment district expires will those groups really start to see serious money roll

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July 6, 2007
Earlier this week former Fremont mayor Gus Morrison submitted a letter to Fremont’s
City Council (posted in the Tri City Voice) urging caution in their dealing with the A’s.
Morrison wrote, “I have long thought this project was one where the cart seemed to be
getting far ahead of the horse.” He went on to suggest that “a Fatal Flaw Analysis ought
to be performed to find out if there are things in this project which could kill it.” Among
those, parking and ingress/egress were considered paramount.
Morrison is absolutely right. It took a while for the Council to get the report and it’s
taking longer for them to get the plan, which appears to be getting out to different
stakeholders on a piecemeal basis. I don’t know what goes on in the twice-a-month
sessions, but I hope that it’s not the same kind of situation.
To the Council’s credit, they’ve expressed their interest in being part of the planning
process. Paraphrasing council member Anu Natarajan, she cautioned the A’s that she
didn’t want to receive an already packaged plan without going through proper planning
While Morrison’s concerns are well placed, he may be jumping the gun a bit. The key
indicator of this is the reported number of condos and townhomes in the project, which
seems to vary with each newly released piece of information. It shows that the plan is
still undergoing major gestation. What isn’t clear is how much the city is helping to
scope it out. If anything, the only part with real detail is the core village area. Everything
else lacks detail. It is that “everything else” that will be heavily debated over the next few
If the plan were submitted today based on the graphic released for FUSD, it probably
wouldn’t pass. Vice-Mayor Bob Wieckowski, who Morrison endorsed previously, clearly
said that placing the school on the public parcel outside the neighborhood was a nonstarter. And there’s no way the plan would work with only Auto Mall Parkway as the
single major freeway access point, especially if the Fremont Boulevard/Cushing
Parkway interchange can be utilized. Thankfully, there are ways to address these
concerns. They’ll require compromise from both the A’s and Fremont. As I noted in my
review of the economic impact report, there are creative ways to make everything work.
Of course, the cart-horse analogy should be studied further. It would appear that in this
case, the A’s are both cart and horse. I suppose that makes the City of Fremont the

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July 18, 2007
Quakes fans can now consider the last two years to be a poorly-timed hiatus. A press
conference in Denver today should make it official. Earthquakes 4.0 is expected to start
play again in the 2008 season, with a new stadium targeted for the old FMC site in San
Jose by (hopefully) 2010. MLS commissioner Don Garber and Quakes principals Lew
Wolff and David Alioto are expected to be in attendance. Articles:
• SF Chronicle
• Mercury News
• Soccer America
They must be open for business, since they’re taking deposits for season tickets.
What isn’t clear is what the Quakes will use for interim venue(s) until the new SSS
(soccer specific stadium) opens. Apparently they’ve ruled out venerable but decrepit
Spartan Stadium, going with a two-pronged approach. Games (er, matches) that require
higher capacity may be played at the McAfee Coliseum, where 47,000+ attended a
Mexico-Guatemala tilt a few weeks ago. Stanford Stadium may also be a possibility,
since it has pretty much perfect sizing for soccer events and admirably hosted last
weekend’s match (also 47,000+) between Chelsea FC and Club America.
For other games, it’s a bit of a dilemma. There are a few venues that are generally too
small for MLS games, such as SCU’s Buck Shaw Stadium (cap. = 6,800), PAL stadium in
SJ (5,000), and Kezar Stadium in SF (9,000). Buck Shaw would seem to be the most
logical choice since it’s a stone’s throw away from the future stadium site and it’s
undergoing renovations that will benefit the school’s excellent soccer programs. A
rumor is floating around that the Quakes may even do some kind of barnstorming in an
effort to introduce themselves to more of the Bay Area. There’s little chance of the
Quakes and A’s sharing new stadia since both would have their venues under
construction at the same time, with the Quakes opening a year earlier.

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October 18, 2007
We’ve discussed at great length the where and how of the ballpark project. I’ve also
covered “why” from the perspective of deficiencies at the Coliseum. The main point,
which I haven’t covered in significant depth, is money. Ownership stands to make a
boatloads of cash from this deal while taking on a good deal of risk in the process. The
purpose of this post is to provide a basic understanding how much more money they
could make over the current situation. Take a look at the tables and when you’re ready
drop a comment.
Disclaimer: Most of the numbers discussed here are based on various media-reported
estimates of revenues and costs. They should not be considered anything resembling a
thorough accounting of the A’s operations. Estimates take into account rules described
in the current CBA.
In an effort to further this discussion, I’ve taken the time to dissect the revenue sharing
model, A’s-style. But first some explanations:
• Concessions numbers don’t match ticket sales because concessions sales are based on
turnstile count, which runs at about 80% of ticket sales (you can’t sell concessions to
• Parking sales numbers are based on 8,000 spaces sold per game over 82 games. This
may be generous given actual parking lot usage at the Coliseum.
• Non-game events include tours and other activities outside of game days.
• In-stadium advertising, sponsorships, and broadcast revenues are placeholders for the
purpose of fleshing out the model. So are the items listed in “Actual Stadium
• It is not assumed that the new stadium will immediately benefit the A’s in terms of
more lucrative local broadcasting deals.
• Revenue sharing contribution is defined as 31% of Net Local Revenue. All teams pay in
this percentage, plus luxury tax if applicable.
• “Recovered debt service from dev rights sales” is the “refund” the A’s will get from
selling development rights to ~310 housing units per year. It’s this amount that is
intended to finance the ballpark debt. That boils down to a $300 million loan,
financed at $31 million per year over 15 years. The final loan structure is likely to vary
greatly from this.
• “Revenue Sharing Receipt” is the share of the revenue sharing pool the A’s get.
• “Central Revenue” is national and international revenue taken in by MLB. This
includes national broadcast contracts from FOX, ESPN, and TBS, plus merchandising
And now for the details. Below is the A’s current revenue/expense model:

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A combination of low operations costs and revenue sharing make the A’s a reasonably
profitable franchise. That $140 million figure looks tantalizingly large, but don’t be
mislead. Lew Wolff has held close to a “guideline” that dictates teams should spend no
more than 55% of revenue on payroll, as is done throughout pro sports. Using the 55%
rule the A’s payroll should be around $83 million, which is pretty close to this season’s
actual payroll. Before we move on, remember the amount of the “Revenue sharing

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(estimates not adjusted for inflation)
In this model, A’s revenue has risen $25 million. Yet the “Revenue sharing contribution”
is almost the same as in the current model. How can this be? The “Actual Stadium
Expenses” table totals a whopping $52 million, thanks to stadium debt service and
operating costs, which are all deductible from the amount used to determine the
contribution. Consider it similar to your annual 1040 form’s “Adjusted Gross Income.”
The A’s would service the stadium debt with sales of housing development rights, not
stadium income. That would allow the A’s to reclaim all of that debt service and put it
towards the team – or ownership partners. Notice that even in this instance the A’s
would be receiving some form of revenue sharing receipt. This is because the A’s new
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revenue streams from the stadium would still place them slightly below the league-wide
revenue average, squarely in mid-market territory. This number is smaller because it’s
expected that most if not all teams that still are developing ballparks will have theirs
open around the same time Cisco Field opens. New stadia for the Yanks, Mets, and
ongoing improvements to Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park allow the big market teams
to take the same deductions, limiting the amounts they pay into revenue sharing.
Apply the 55% rule to the future revenue model and the payroll grows to $97 million. Is
that enough to remain competitive? In spurts. A fantastic diary posted by Taj Adib at
Athletics Nation goes in depth on future iterations of the A’s. $97 million isn’t enough
for anyone to turn into Brian Cashman. It is enough to invest in more than one
franchise-type player while maintaining a young, cheap core of players. The franchiseplayer investments have inherently high risk, and if those players come through with
career years while your young core stays healthy and produces, you might end up like
this year’s Rockies or Indians. Gamble and lose, and you get this year’s Orioles or
Rangers. 6 or 7-year deals are not easy to trade if a player seriously underperforms, so
GM’s won’t have frequent chances to roll the dice. What we could see in the future might
be shorter and more frequent rebuilding cycles for the mid-market teams. What we
don’t want to see is a situation like the NBA, where GM’s are forced to trade bad
contracts instead of trading players based on exchanges of talent. (It’s an ugly system,
though for a number-cruncher like me it’s strangely fascinating.) Thanks to the number
of roster spots per team, MLB’s salary/trade model is somewhere between the dog-eatdog tendencies of the NFL and the egregious excesses of the NBA. And that’s a good

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October 23, 2007
Well, at least Lew Wolff isn’t entertaining the concept of a local bidding war. In what has
the most definitive statement to date, Wolff reaffirmed the idea that Fremont is Plan A,
there is no Plan B, and Oakland is out of the picture. Wolff’s quote from Carolyn Jones’
Chronicle article:
“We don’t want to move. We don’t want to start pitting cities against each other, but it’s
out of the question we’ll stay in Oakland,” he said after a speech at the Commonwealth
Club in San Francisco.
Those who have been following this for a while know that this is no fundamental change
in Wolff’s stance since the Cisco Field plan was unveiled. Fremont was really the only
plan in place. This time, Wolff added what amounts to a complete dismissal of Oakland
as a possibility.
As the A’s close their 40th year at the Coliseum, it seems a certainty that the team will
not see their 50th year there. I suppose there’s some strategic value in Wolff sending the
message so bluntly, but I have to question it. What’s to be gained by going this route? It
won’t make Fremont officials move faster. It won’t move the needle on regional support.
And it definitely won’t win over any die-hard Oakland-firsters.
As I write this, an old USFL game between the Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey
Generals is playing on ESPN Classic. Like the USFL and the Oakland Invaders, the
“Oakland Athletics” will soon become a thing of the past.

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November 8, 2007
The A’s have a new press release trumpeting the submission of the development
application to the city of Fremont. In the release are several interesting nuggets:
• On May 10, Wolff announced the completion of a land transaction agreement with
Cisco Systems and ProLogis, giving the A’s ownership group control of 226 acres of
land in the City of Fremont and enabling the project to move forward.
• A total of approximately 540,000 square feet of high-quality retail/residential mixed
use is also planned for the project, with a significant portion of the retail area serving
as a regional lifestyle center and neighborhood retail in a “Main Street USA”
environment adjacent to the ballpark.
• The estimated cost of the village project is approximately $1.8 billion. The project will
be primarily financed by a combination of private equity and real estate development
proceeds generated by the ballpark and the surrounding village.
I’ll be cozying up with the Community Specific Plan (warning! large – 30 MB –
download) this evening.
To answer a question from a commenter: No, this is not a done deal. This is only the
first official step. 12-18 months will be required to vet the proposal. Groundbreaking
would occur sometime after approval and certification of the plan.

Some quick observations:
• The Scott Specialty Gas parcel is not included in the site plan. Is this merely a
preliminary vision that will change when the site is acquired, or is it that the two
parties can’t come to an agreement?
• The interim plan shows over 11,000 parking spaces. The final, depending on buildout,
is slightly less than 11,000 spaces.
• As expected, shuttle buses are prevalent. Not expected – the possible use of open-air
trams (6.32).
• The appendices have diagrams showing traffic flow for games based on initial and
final buildout as well as shuttle routes.
More to come.

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August 8, 2008
The Merc’s Lisa Fernandez got some clarity from Lew Wolff today.
Wolff is troubled about the length of time it’s taking to satisfy major property owners
near the proposed 32,000-seat Cisco Field and to complete an environmental review.
“I still think it’s going to happen,” Wolff, a major South Bay developer, said today from
his office in Los Angeles. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Still on the EIR. Okay…
Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman said Wolff asked him at Tuesday’s A’s game to talk to
nearby property owners ProLogis and Pacific Commons to appease them about various
concerns. Wasserman wasn’t clear on the details. But he thought the obstacles
concerned ownership of some land and parking. Pacific Commons operates a large retail
shopping center next to the proposed A’s ballpark site.
Three of the larger Pacific Commons retailers have expressed concerns with the A’s
parking plan, team co-owner Keith Wolff said. Although the retailers can’t block the
project, the team wants to make sure they’re satisfied. They want clarification and
mitigation, Wolff said. One possible solution, he added, is a pedestrian bridge over Auto
Mall Parkway that would link the ballpark to the largest parking lot.
The first big retailers are an easy guess: Costco and Lowe’s. The third is probably Kohl’s.
They are the closest big box stores to the village site and have vast parking lots that
could be easily poached by stadium goers (*cough* Coliseum BART *cough*) if an
effective parking plan were not implemented.

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ProLogis, the owners of the Pacific Commons site (and sellers of the village site) have
been trying to broker a deal that protects the stores’ parking during games and other
events. Apparently, these talks haven’t been going that well. A big box store’s business
model is heavily dependent on free, abundant, adjacent parking. That allows shoppers
to stay in the stores for lengthy periods without worrying about inconveniences such as
validation or time limits. IKEA, for instance, has taken this to the extreme by purchasing
their own sites and in many cases, building parking garages.
If you’re a big box store, your stance is simple: Don’t make me have to change anything.
That probably rules out validation. Time limits probably couldn’t be imposed because
they have to be enforced, which costs money. Either solution may be a deterrent to
shoppers, and that won’t wash with the retailers. You’re also not likely to run into a
situation in which ballpark goers combine a game with a trip to Costco on gamedays. It’s
simply incompatible.
On the other hand, there are plenty of smaller businesses, such as area restaurants, that
are positively interested in their proximity to the ballpark. The big box retailers,
however, have the big sway. They are major sales tax providers to the city, and as such
deserve to be accommodated.

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What would be the best way to allay the retailers’ fears? The A’s may have to consider
not charging for parking at all. The way the parking plan is coming together, the nonpreferred lots are further away from the ballpark than the big box stores. If the A’s force
fans to pay to walk a greater distance, it will invite parking poachers to Pacific
Commons. There still may be poachers because of those lots’ proximity, but at least
there won’t be a monetary reason to do it. This would hurt the A’s because they wouldn’t
be able to rake in some $12-16 million in annual parking revenues. That loss could be
offset somewhat by a potentially larger number of visitors to the area. Of course, that
policy could be a double-edged sword. If the place becomes too popular (Valley Fair/
Santana Row), patrons could – that’s right – poach Pacific Commons parking if the
village parking isn’t plentiful enough. That’s not a likely scenario since ballpark parking
at other times could serve as overflow, but you never know. Even implementing
completely free parking requires patrons to be on the honor system to prevent poaching.
Free parking would also not go over so well with environmentalists, as they might see it
as tacit approval of driving over transit. 

Moreover, the fact is that some of the ballpark parking is somewhat remote and will
create pedestrian traffic. That’s an intended effect, as the A’s want people milling around
the area before and after the game. However, there is one major intersection in the area
that, if not planned properly, will cause ingress/egress delays due to massive amounts of
pedestrian traffic going through there. I wrote about this last year:
Second, since Joe Fan won’t get to park that close to the park, he may be forced to use
the lot across Auto Mall from Pacific Commons (the uppermost “P” above). It would
behoove the A’s to build a pedestrian overpass over Auto Mall Parkway. A full lot there
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would equate to over 5,000 fans walking from the lot. Not putting in an overpass
would be borderline irresponsible, as Auto Mall Parkway is 9 lanes wide in this area
and only one side has a usable crosswalk. The best thing to do would be to build the
overpass and stick some flexible electronic signage on it. The signage can direct traffic
on event days. It can also show advertising on other days/hours.
Is this deal complex? You bet it is.

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December 4, 2008
Amidst talks between BART and the A’s is a new article by Merc scribe Denis C.
Theriault (CBS 5 also picks up the trail). The focus is on a 36-acre parcel near the
planned Warm Springs BART station. Being familiar with the area, I wondered which
parcel they were talking about. After going through my archives, I found a few things
you might want to check out.
First, my old Fremont site album from three years ago. The album has both Warm
Springs and Pacific Commons in there for reference. Trust me, the area hasn’t changed
much. From the album is this overhead shot: 

Next up is a document from Fremont called the Warm Springs Existing Conditions
Report, explaining existing and potential land use for the area surrounding the Warm
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Springs BART station. From that is an important map showing who’s who among area
landholders (this was from 2004 and may be somewhat outdated, but I doubt it):
A tiny piece of 880 is at the bottom left corner of the map above.
The last bit comes from the good folks at OAFC, who kept parts of the old Oakland HOK
study, from which came the original Fremont site study – yes it was Warm Springs.

Now about those 36 acres under consideration. Based on the information in the Existing
Conditions Report, two parcels are that size: the BART station facility and the
“Westwood” site, which is east of the station next to 680. The A’s couldn’t be asking for
BART to give up some of its land for the cause, could they? Nah, it’s gotta be the
Westwood parcel. Then again, two years ago I projected that losing the A’s fanbase
would drop total BART ridership 1% per year, or $3 million. They may have some
incentive to work out a deal.

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December 9, 2008
KTVU sent veteran reporter Lloyd LaCuesta to the proceedings tonight and he got the
scoop du jour, a letter from Bud Selig urging Lew Wolff to take care of business in
Fremont. And if he can’t?
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty interpreted that as meaning Selig is
encouraging discussions with San Jose. Haggerty, who had a large part in putting the
Fremont deal together, is as much in tune with East Bay politics as anyone.
Moving over to San Jose, Mayor Chuck Reed was asked for his reaction:
Basic pol-speak there. He went on to mention that San Jose has an already completed
EIR as well as the Diridon South site at fair market value. Fair market value? Previous
estimates for the 14-acre site were around $74 million, though that may have dropped
somewhat with the flagging real estate market.
To keep things in order, this post will be the territorial rights and San Jose thread. The
previous post and tomorrow’s post will cover Fremont. Any comments straying from the
subject matter in any thread will be deleted, you have been warned.
I’ll say good night posing this question: Why did Selig allow Steve Schott to start
discussions with Santa Clara?

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May 16, 2008
Today I was looking through my 539 blog posts for something offered a proper
treatment of the territorial rights issue. Alas, there was no real explanation. So I’ll try to
put it in fairly simple terms.
A team’s territory can also be considered its sales region. Most national companies that
have local branches or a remote sales staff follow a similar construct: they sell and
advertise to customers within a defined area or region.
Two types of territorial rights exist, those for siting a stadium and those for
broadcasting. The dynamics couldn’t be more different. Site placement tends to be
determined by placing a stadium in the center of a large, dense population base.
Historical matters come into play, as do peripheral factors such as transportation and
civic redevelopment plans.
Attendance of a team’s games is active, as opposed to broadcasts, which are passive.
Regular attendance is primarily limited to those within a fairly tight radius, 18-20 miles
from the stadium. However, a team’s territory isn’t defined by this radius. Instead, it’s
often defined by specific counties within a team’s market.
A team’s broadcast territory is usually much larger due to the nature of over-the-air
broadcasting. A VHF TV signal can cover at least a 50-mile radius around it. High
power, clear channel AM stations (like KNBR) can reach numerous states and hundreds
of miles at night. The definition has evolved to include coverage of regional sports
networks, which are carried by local cable franchises and direct broadcast satellite.
Most large cities are well separated from other large cities, allowing teams to set up
virtual monopolies within their markets. The notable exceptions to this are the two team
markets: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington-Baltimore, and the Bay
Area. Check out the circa-1999 rules noted by the late Doug Pappas:
• The Orioles’ territory includes Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll and Harford Counties
in Maryland
• The Marlins’ major league territory includes Palm Beach County
• The Dodgers’ and Angels’ territory includes Orange, Ventura and Los Angeles
• The Yankees’ and Mets’ territory includes New York City, plus Nassau, Suffolk,
Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York; Fairfield County south of I-84 and
west of SR 58 in Connecticut; and Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Union Counties in New
• The Athletics’ territory includes Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
• The Phillies’ territory includes Gloucester, Camden and Burlington Counties in New
• The Giants’ territory includes San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and
Marin Counties, plus Santa Clara County with respect to another major league team
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The rules have changed to reflect the Expos’ move to DC. Other than that, they haven’t
changed at all. Yet one oddity remains in that the A’s and Giants have the only market
that is split, not shared.
So by that count that gives the Giants seven counties (4.5 million population), while the
A’s have two (2.5 million population). The most widely circulated explanation for this is
the Giants, when they pursued a stadium in Santa Clara or San Jose in the late 80’s/
early 90’s, had no outright claim to Santa Clara County, which was effectively up for
grabs. Then owner Bob Lurie asked A’s owner Wally Haas for the rights to Santa Clara
County. The change was granted by Haas, the commish, and the other owners.
Subsequently, both stadium initiatives in the South Bay failed. Lurie held onto Santa
Clara County’s territorial rights even as he moved his attention to St. Petersburg. The A’s
were in the midst of a great run of on-field success and record attendance. Santa Clara
County’s rights couldn’t have been further from Wally Haas’s mind. The rest is wellchronicled history.
The A’s, always the scruffy, overlooked team, have a decidedly adverse stadium and
financial situation compared to many of their brethren. Who knew the Silicon Valley,
fresh off recession and the closure of numerous defense contractors, would explode the
way it did during the dot-com boom? That even after the bust, its economy would stay
robust due to the continuing strength of tech stalwarts and the culling of the internet
company herd? That it would become this desirable?
Territorial rights typically aren’t challenged, well, because there’s no need. Since most of
the teams are already resident within exclusive markets, there’s no competition. Only
NYC has the capability to hold another team, and while some teams have considered
moving there, such a move has never been a serious threat. When it comes to television,
it’s been more of a struggle. Potential moves to Portland, San Antonio, and the Carolinas
all face challenges due to pre-existing broadcast territories. The explanation for why
territorial rights haven’t been challenged is quite simple. Challenges haven’t been
needed. That’s the rub. Since they haven’t been challenged whether on an individual
team basis or on principle, owners haven’t wanted to set that precedent. Neither has any
commissioner. It strikes at one of the core tenets of baseball’s antitrust exemption. It’s
that kind of thinking that has MLB backing the largest set of lobbyists in pro sports.
In the next post, I’ll propose a clean, simple way for the Giants to give Santa Clara
County to the A’s. Clean and simple? Really? Yes.
Then I’ll explain why it probably won’t happen.

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December 11, 2008

What you see above is what San Jose Economic Development honcho Paul Krutko might
call a “baseball city.” Therein lies the promise of San Jose’s Diridon South site. It’s at the
future nexus of Caltrain, BART, High Speed Rail, Light Rail, and bus service. It’s in a
downtown locale. And perhaps most important of all, the ballpark planned for the site
already has its EIR certified.
Most of the buildings in the foreground are just an artist’s concept, and that’s the point.
The area between HP Pavilion and the ballpark site is a relatively blank slate. BART will

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tunnel underground, leaving plenty of space to develop. It’s just a matter of what type of
development the area will see.
The irony in the whole Fremont/San Jose saga is that what may eventually kill the
Fremont concept could make the San Jose concept work. To quote former President
Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
It’s entirely likely that had the housing market not collapsed, we would be moving
forward with the Fremont baseball village plan without a Warm Springs alternative, and
without most of the hubbub seen Tuesday night at Fremont City Hall. The financing
model would be solid and the only remaining issues would be the ones identified well
ahead of time: traffic, satisfaction of the Pacific Commons businesses and
environmental mitigation. Compared to the messy situation in Fremont now with the
differing opinions and multiple conflicts, it would’ve been a cakewalk.
Dual-use infrastructure
The Diridon/Arena area, on the other hand, is destined to get a major infusion of cash. A
major overhaul and expansion of the train station will be necessary to support HSR.
Mayor Chuck Reed is already on the hunt for funds to improve the area. Presidentelect Obama’s rising-by-the-week stimulus package will be largely focused on major
infrastructure projects. HSR is going to be near the top of the list because much of it is
ready to go. I wouldn’t be surprised if movement of PG&E substation on the site was
somehow magically appropriated. It certainly wouldn’t be wrong for the substation to be
expanded upon its move to accommodate growing demand from BART and HSR.
Parking is the main infrastructure to be built. Additional parking will be needed to
handle Caltrain, BART, and HSR users. It’s not known exactly how many spaces we’re
talking about, but it will be more than the roughly 800 spaces there now. The beauty of
it is that the parking would automatically be dual-use, for transit users and arena/
ballpark patrons.
The problem there is that a lot of parking has to be built. San Jose is required to keep
6,650 spaces within a ½-mile radius of the arena. The ballpark has a 1,200-space garage
planned to its south. That will help replace some of the spaces that will be lost to future
development. Even more has to be built to handle the demand when both a baseball
game and an arena event (only 25% are Sharks games) are occurring simultaneously.
The good thing is that any new parking in the area can serve both events and transit at
different times. Then again, it’s a double-edged sword. Having more parking available
invites more drivers. What is currently a manageable system for the arena could turn
into gridlock quickly.
The key, then, is to strike a balance. The secret to the traffic success around the arena is
that there really isn’t that much parking immediately around it. Most of the area parking

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is east of Highway 87 in the downtown proper. That parking will continue to be
leveraged and may need to be expanded.
In San Jose, the sights are set lower than in Fremont. The dream of serious retail
downtown died with the opening of Santana Row. For the moment, housing is a
nonstarter. So that basically leaves the ballpark. Chances are that the financing model
hinted at by the Wolffs (private funding, additional naming rights and sponsorships –
the Giants’ model) will be the one to use for at least the next five years. As much as Selig
doesn’t want any team to go down that path, the times dictate alternate methods. It’s no
coincidence that the two of the last three major sports venues built in this state within
the last decade were privately financed (Staples Center, AT&T Park).
Territorial rights
The unique way the Bay Area is gerrymandered for the two teams is unlike any other
two-team market. In May, I advocated for a simple payment of the A’s annual revenue
sharing receipt (~$15 million) to the Giants every year until the ballpark opens. That
could be $75-105 million depending on the opening date. Beyond that, the A’s could
continue to pay some amount until the AT&T Park debt is paid off. Some will argue that
this opens a Pandora’s Box regarding T-rights for other times, especially in NYC.
However, that view is not the least bit pragmatic. The biggest barrier to entry now is not
T-rights. It’s money. To get a team going in, for example, Northern New Jersey, a team
will have to pony up close to $1 billion for an adequate ballpark. Where would they
build? Can’t be the Meadowlands. Definitely not Newark. Plus if you haven’t noticed,
most of the financial institutions that made loans to area MLB and NFL teams are
struggling mightily if not belly up. NYC, for all its considerable population and wealth, is
tapped out thanks to four (possibly five) new venues along with an on-the-table
revamped Madison Square Garden. Teams also had to undergo huge lobbying efforts to
get favorable legislation through. Territorial rights as a tool have become obsolete.
That’s not to say that MLB will get rid of T-rights tomorrow. As long as they have an
antitrust exemption they’re going to use it. This time however, there’s little milk left in
that cow.
Think about it this way. What if T-rights ended tomorrow? What would happen? The A’s
could try to get a ballpark deal done in San Francisco. What land could they conceivably
build upon? How much would it cost? How would they know they could siphon enough
of the Giants’ fanbase away to make it worthwhile? In reality, they couldn’t. It’s bad
leveraging of the market. Politically, it’s not doable due to a populace and pols who
won’t bend for the 49ers, let alone some new baseball team.
Let’s not forget that T-rights are entirely wrapped up in the Major League Constitution,
which bars teams from suing either the league or each other. Any disagreements have to
be wrapped up within The Lodge (though Bill Neukom didn’t earn his reputation as
being soft).

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Political will
Nothing gets built without a champion. Reed may be a fiscally conservative Democrat
from Kansas, but he’s got former Mayor Tom McEnery in his ear. McEnery’s Siliicon
Valley Sports & Entertainment owns the Sharks and just signed a deal to operate the
Earthquakes’ new stadium. McEnery, Sharks president Greg Jamison, and Lew Wolff
are good friends from way back. McEnery has long advocated bringing a baseball team
to San Jose. If there’s a power behind the throne to get this done, it’s him. Even in City
Hall there are able and willing participants. Dave Cortese, the current Vice Mayor, is
about to step into a new County Supervisor role. He also is a major proponent of MLBto-San Jose, HSR, and BART, and may look at all three with the same vision. Krutko
plays the role of Robert Bobb in San Jose. From this Merc article, they’re both quite
excited about the prospects. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no telling how
many other high-powered proponents, such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, will
come out of the woodwork should a real proposal become public.
It’s amazing how the landscape has changed in such a short time. The economic collapse
has hit many of us or our friends and family, yet the A’s and San Jose may benefit in an
odd way. I didn’t see the Warm Springs alternative coming, and while I understand why
it’s out there I could also see the opposition coming from a mile away. I don’t think San
Jose would’ve opened up as a possibility if Santa Clara County Measure B had not
passed. Proposition 1A had some pull as well, as it opens up the floodgates to federal
transportation funds and private investment. It has taken a rather unusual, unforeseen
set of circumstances to make San Jose a possibility, and I think we’re on the cusp of that

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January 17, 2009
Matthew Artz at the Argus/Tri-City Beat blog confirmed something I had heard last
week: Warm Springs is now the preferred Fremont option. Pacific Commons is now the
“alternative.” This has to be due to the continued lack of progress on the Catellus/big
box front.
Update: New article here.
Let’s be clear about what Warm Springs brings to the table. Its only real advantage over
Pacific Commons is its proximity to the future BART extension. That’s it. Pacific
Commons is better as an integrated project. It’s less expensive because it doesn’t require
additional land acquisitions. We can debate all day whether who’s the more difficult
party to win over, the big box stores or Warm Springs residents. It’s not an enviable
position for the A’s to be in, which is why the commish is giving the green light for Wolff
to explore elsewhere.
For those who believe Sacramento is that elsewhere, here’s a preemptive no.

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January 21, 2009
Over the past few weeks, I had been working on a lot of San Jose-related material, after
sensing a tidal shift. While I’m not counting out Fremont, I’m also not nearly as
optimistic about it as I had been at this time last year. The real estate market and the
retail economy make prospects difficult at Pacific Commons, and Warm Springs has
myriad issues of its own. So I started going into my San Jose archives, as there was so
much detail there that I needed a refresher. This is the first of many posts to explain
what the San Jose option is and what it represents. Keep in mind that while San Jose is
considered by many in the media to be one of the commish’s “other communities,” no
official outreach has been made by the A’s to San Jose.
Fortunately, Katherine Conrad at the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal has
already taken care of some of the background work that I had scheduled for myself. In
her piece on San Jose’s readiness should the A’s attentions move south, she pointed out
that only a few acres remain of the Diridon South ballpark site to be purchased. SJ
Redevelopment project manager Bill Ekern noted that the city “assembled about 12
acres of the 14-acre site needed for a ballpark.”
I sent requests to both Conrad and Ekern to find out which parcels remained to be
purchased. Conrad responded, saying that she had a map and would furnish it
tomorrow. I’ll update the maps below accordingly once I get the info. In the meantime,
here’s an overhead view to get you (re)acquainted with the area.

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Diridon Station (Caltrain) is one of only two real, multi-modal transit hubs in the South
Bay (the other is Mountain View). While BART will brings additional hubs, Diridon is
set to become one of the most heavily used transit hubs in the nation with the promise
of BART, increased Caltrain service post-electrification, and high speed rail. That’s in
addition to Amtrak, Capitol Corridor, ACE, plus VTA light rail and bus service.
The parcels are laid out in a sort of jigsaw puzzle look. I’ll add another map identifying
the parcels that have been acquired and remain to be acquired. The grey areas are
Autumn and Montgomery Streets, important one-way thoroughfares through the area.
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The city already has plans to convert Autumn into two-way, four-lane Autumn Parkway,
which will eventually connect north up to Coleman Ave. Currently, Autumn Street deadends at the Union Pacific tracks north of HP Pavilion. The project has already been
identified by SJ Mayor Chuck Reed as one his leading long-term stimulus construction

Conrad’s article also clarifies an important point regarding the EIR. Minor
modifications would require an affirmation of traffic and noise impacts. This would
incur a comment period, which would subsequently bring out of the woodwork many of
the initial critics of the ballpark plan and EIR. In 2006, the EIR was certified with little
fanfare or complaint because the Fremont plan was in its initial, positive stages. Many
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down here felt the EIR was a lost cause, albeit smart for the city to keep it in its back
pocket. Should the A’s officially focus on San Jose, those same parties who felt
threatened in a vague way will be spurred on since they’ll probably feel threatened in a
real, specific way. That’s not to say that the outcry back then (or in the future) is
anything like what Warm Springs residents are unleashing upon Fremont. Sometime in
the next several weeks I’ll rehash the EIR and my observations about the process.

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February 11, 2009
The Merc’s Denis C. Theriault has an article today on where San Jose stands with
respect to site and process. As has happened on this blog, there’s a debate as to how
aggressive San Jose should be in pursuing the A’s while the team is still focused on
Fremont. Downtown area councilman Sam Liccardo appears poised to pounce on the
chance, saying, “If we have an opportunity for a stadium in San Jose,” Liccardo said, “I
will clear my desk.” We’ll see if that’s the quote of a champion for the cause, or Larry
As noted previously, San Jose has most (but not all) of the likely targeted Diridon South
site acquired. An environmental impact report has already been certified. MLB’s
territorial rights to Santa Clara County, which are owned by the Giants, would have to be
acquired by hook or crook. Theriault also brings up the possibility of a referendum, to
which as we all know by now Lew Wolff is allergic.
So then, leaving aside the T-rights for a moment (no one on the outside knows if/how it
can be resolved, including me), how could the A’s and San Jose ensure that a vote would
not be required? I’ll go back to the handy snippet of the city’s municipal code that
addresses stadium construction:
4.95.010 Prohibition of the use of tax dollars to build a sports facility
The city of San José may participate in the building of a sports facility using tax
dollars only after obtaining a majority vote of the voters of the city of San José
approving such expenditure.
A “sports facility” for the purpose of this chapter is to be any structure designed to seat
more than five thousand people at any one time for the purpose of viewing a sporting
or recreational event.
“Tax dollars” for the purposes of this chapter include, without limitation, any
commitment to fund wholly or in part said facility with general fund monies,
redevelopment fund monies, bonds, loans, special assessments or any other
indebtedness guaranteed by city property, taxing authority or revenues.
Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the city from allowing the construction of a
sports facility funded by private investment.
If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or
circumstance is held invalid, then the remainder of this chapter and application to
other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
To add to that, City Attorney John Doyle put out a legal opinion about how the City
should proceed with its land acquisitions and other ballpark-related work. This has to
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do with the code above, as the words “participate in the building of a sports facility”
could mean many different things depending on interpretation. He laid out three rules:
• The City can pay for enviromental impact reports without needing a referendum.
• The City can acquire land from willing sellers without needing a referendum, as long it
could be used for purposes other than a ballpark.
• Any eminent domain actions would require a referendum.
The second rule goes out the window when it comes time for the City to deal with the A’s
in business terms. The City won’t be able to give the land away to the team, and it can’t
give them a $1/year lease or something similarly sweetheart. The term “fair market
value” gets tossed around and while real estate values may have dropped by as much as
20% from the initial acquisition, any larger discounts could also be considered a
giveaway, triggering a referendum. Effectively, the A’s should count out any help other
than the process-related work that has already been completed.
Theriault also mentions the height of the stadium. The SJ ballpark EIR was for a
45,000-seat ballpark with three decks and tall light standards. Cisco Field is only two
decks and 32-35,000 seats. It can be 150 feet tall with light standards, or significantly
less if the lights are incorporated into a roof structure.

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February 12, 2009
The A’s have managed to extricate themselves from the messy scheduling predicament
that is Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with their move to Comcast SportsNet California.
145 games will be included on the expanded CSNCA schedule, with 75 in HD. It’s not yet
known on what channel the HD broadcasts will be aired, but there is an empty Comcast
721 slot which can serve as CSNCA’s HD feed. On satellite services, the distinction
between SD and HD feeds is not so clear-cut, so we’ll have to see how that shakes out.
On Comcast-serviced cities in the Bay Area, CSNCA will be on channel 89 starting
March 11. This may coincide with other channel transitions, many of them related to
Comcast’s analog-to-digital switch.
The team will share the channel with the Kings, which should work well since there is
little overlap between the NBA and MLB seasons. In cases of overlap, the CSN+ channel
will still be available for occasional use. For the three games to be broadcast on CSN+ in
2009, this will only be the case in the Sacramento area. Bay Area viewers will see the
game on the main CSNCA channel.
CSNCA and CSNBA will revamp their local programming offerings, including:
Among the new additions coming in April are SportsNet Central, a daily locally-focused
sports show that will cover hometown teams, breaking local and national stories and
updated scores. A separate show, Chronicle Live, will be produced in conjunction with
the San Francisco newspaper’s sports department. The show will be an hour-long daily
sports talk show.
Few things are more appealing than Ray Ratto’s mug on my TV screen. I also wonder if
this means the end for the simulcast of Gary Radnich’s KNBR show (I’m sure in the
minority on this – I love Radnich all the way back to the BayTV days).

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The thing about liveblogging an event is that when the writer looks back at what he
wrote, horror is often plainly etched on his face. It’s great for an Apple keynote address
by Steve Jobs, not so great for something that requires greater analysis. For those who
read the whole thing, bless your heart. For those who gave up partway down the post,
here’s an attempt to make amends.
To start off, the A’s have officially made Warm Springs their preferred site, relegating
Pacific Commons to retail/housing-only status. That will only galvanize opposition from
the Warm Springs and Weibel neighborhoods, who intend to show up at the February
24 city council session pitchforks and torches polite signs in hand. A while back, I
mentioned that while attending another council session over a year ago, I watched the
council approve a controversial shopping center over the numerous objections of the
very same Weibel neighborhood denizens. It was heated then, it will only become
moreso in two weeks. Hopefully, the mayor and council have cleared the agenda for the
comments session to follow. [Note: Notice of Preparation for Warm Springs here.]
Of course, the council session isn’t just a Festivus-like airing of grievances. There’s
actual business to discuss, chiefly the council’s upcoming decision to accept Warm
Springs as the official site. Should the council move forward with WS, they’ll authorize
some amount of money to be spent to fully study the site and amend the EIR in the
process. The A’s, in a manner consistent with prior history, would likely underwrite the
Then again, maybe that won’t happen. In yesterday’s session, Lew Wolff had a couple of
interesting quotes. One of them came early on in his rant about process:
We think issues should be fully aired, but not forever. A “No” answer is as good as a
“Yes” answer for those of us who want to move forward.
He later went on to describe a similar situation in San Jose, when he tried to build a
small hotel on a vacant lot he owned downtown. Since that particular project failed, he
hadn’t done any significant work in San Jose. Incidentally, the city changed mayors
during that period from one he had a frosty relationship with (Ron Gonzales) to one
who’s practically a chum (Chuck Reed). Wolff also assumed ownership of the A’s around
that time as well.
Going back to the quote – it’s a real eyecatcher. Is Lew hinting at Fremont giving up the
ghost? Or does he want to keep slogging through along with the city? Do the mayor and
council want to continue with this? One has to wonder what the limits of their political
will are.
If Fremont approves the plan despite intense political pressure, another 3-6 months will
be required to complete the EIR. The traffic study and management plan, which still
haven’t been released for the old Pacific Commons project, will continue to raise
considerable ire due to its absence. The opposition, who had been the proverbial

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“sleeping dogs,” will only get angrier, more organized, and most importantly, bigger.
Fringe voices who have called for recalls and lawsuits will grow in number.
If Lew’s nudging Fremont to say no, the city can exit this situation while saving face in
the process. They can look like “heroes” by putting a stop to the “big bad developer.” The
council members who are looking to run for mayor next time (Wasserman’s termed out)
won’t be overly tainted by the experience. Lew, in turn, can officially turn his attentions
I need to make an important distinction about this. I don’t expect Lew to back out on his
own. The San Jose issue I cited earlier showed Lew’s frustration with bureaucracy. In
this case, the city’s not the problem. Instead, he saved his arrows for non-governmental
parties. Wolff/Fisher still have $45 million of real estate at Pacific Commons and the
option to buy $100 million more, so it’s not like the developer wants to alienate the city.
Something else might get built there in the future when the economy recovers. Friends
in Fremont’s high places will still be needed.
What we have, then, is like a romance in which outside circumstances can cause a
breakup. Maybe the woman needs to take care of sick parents. Perhaps the man has
found a new job far away. They’re not married yet so they don’t have to make the really
tough decisions together. Instead, they can make the easiest decision to move on
separately and become friends. Without benefits.

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February 19, 2009
Matt Artz again has the scoop on the Fremont process. Take a look at the comments
below the blog blurb, especially the last one by FCN founder Deepak Alur. It appears
that post the Warm Springs NOP, work can’t move forward because the A’s haven’t
dropped off a check to underwrite the work (which they’ve done on all other occasions).
Money talks, right? The in-progress EIR has been rendered useless, and any new work
requires the A’s willingness to spend the money and time required to see the new NOP
through. I would suggest that if the A’s aren’t going to foot the bill, that’s their message
to Fremont to “let me down easy.”
Noticed one other thing while rummaging through some stuff in the attic.
The word “Fremont” is nowhere on the ball.

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February 24, 2009
Notice of Cancelation [sic]
The A’s Ballpark project agenda item including the Notice of Preparation (NOP) has
been canceled from the February 24, 2009 Council Meeting.
The Oakland A’s have requested that both the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and
Notice of Preparation (NOP) processes be stopped while they take time to evaluate the
options. The City has also directed our environmental consultant to stop work on the
The February 24, 2009 City Council public meeting regarding the A’s proposal has
also been canceled.
Should the A’s wish to resume the project a new NOP will be issued and new comment
period will be established.
Office of the City Clerk
(510) 284-4060
(510) 284-4061 Fax

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February 23, 2009
The best take I’ve seen on the demise of the Fremont plan comes not from the sports
page, but from the Examiner’s Architecture and Design writer George Calys. His
insightful piece de-emphasizes the hot-button issues that seemed to dominate the media
of late and gets to the true bottom of the situation: money. Here’s a sample:
The residential market is suffering a shut out. What’s that got to do with a
ballpark? The proposed ballpark village (like others already constructed or underway)
relies on a mix of residential properties to make the project “pencil out”. Without the
condos, homes, and apartments that are a part of the development, you don’t have a
project. Anyone noticed how the residential market is practically scoreless?
The entire model for delivering Cisco Field and the baseball village completely blew up
in a 6-month span. It’s bad enough if you’re the A’s and you’ve already put up millions to
pay for additional real estate, EIR studies, and such. The collapse of virtually every part
of private enterprise spelled doom for the plan. Any thoughts of planning anything
similar in fashion or scope should be reined in. Some of you have asked whether Site A
or Site B can support X amount of ancillary development to support a ballpark. For the
time being, it’s not even worth projecting because of the economy. If the A’s are focused
on building a ballpark anytime soon, wherever it is, it will just be that. Nothing more.

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February 27, 2009
A group of San Jose City Council members wants to get moving on talks with the A’s by
proposing the A’s be an agenda item for the March 24 session. Among the tasks
associated with the item: commissioning a poll to gauge public support for an A’s move,
and a request to set rules for any formal business discussions with the A’s.
What’s interesting about this is that the three members involved – Nora Campos, Nancy
Pyle, and Rose Herrera – aren’t really considered part of the “gung ho” pro-A’s faction
within City Hall. That group, led by Mayor Chuck Reed and Council members Sam
Liccardo, Pete Constant, and Pierluigi Oliverio, have apparently been talking informally
with the A’s and among themselves on how to tackle the situation.
The ever reliable SJ cheerleader, Mark Purdy, fired up the bandwagon as soon as he
could. He even added a twist to his plea to MLB, requesting an economic study to
determine what measurable adverse effects for the Giants would come out of an A’s
move to San Jose. A fair request, IMHO. And speaking of polls, a very unscientific Merc
web poll shows that 72% of the over 1,000 respondents approved of the A’s pursuit of
San Jose. Another 9% conditionally approved the move based on the resolution of
territorial rights.
Silly me, thinking we were entering another quiet period. Well, it’ll be quiet for a couple
of weeks at least.

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February 28, 2009
In an effort to contain communications, Lew Wolff asked San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to
keep city officials from contacting Major League Baseball about the city potentially
getting the A’s. This may be to avoid the spectacle caused by former Mayor Ron
Gonzales, when in 2005, he staged a press conference complete with unconvincing
signage in front of Phoenix Muni in an effort to convince MLB that San Jose was a
worthy city. The event didn’t hold a candle to Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman’s use of
showgirls a few months earlier at the 2004 winter meetings. Goodman repeated the
performance in a misdirected manner last December, in front of a bunch of minor
league moguls.
Back in 2005, both the mayor and the now-defunct Baseball San Jose group lobbied
hard on San Jose’s behalf. There was talk of liberation for San Jose. Some suggested
legal means to loosen the Giants’ grip on Santa Clara County’s territorial rights. Wolff
had not yet assumed control of the A’s, and the city’s efforts were confusingly, yet
transparently non-specific.
This time, it’s clear who’s going to talk and how it’s going to progress. If there’s anything
we’ve learned about the last few years, it’s that MLB doesn’t like to be shown up. Even
Bud Selig’s continued stubborn defense of his tenure during the steroid era shows the
need to control the message, no matter how absurd it sounds.
As the San Jose saga begins in earnest, expect the communications to be tight. No room
for overeager types looking to earn political points, no need to stray from whatever
blueprint is/will be in place. If San Jose is, as Roger Noll says, the last chance to keep
the A’s in the Bay Area – and more importantly Wolff believes it – Lew’s not taking

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April 1, 2009
For the 4th and hopefully final post today, we have several opinion pieces. Let’s start off
with Monte Poole’s feeling that Oakland fans have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led
Selig, then, is here to take some of the heat off his buddy. With Uncle Lew playing “bad
cop,” Bud sees an opportunity to pose as “good cop.” He is piecing together the
shredded letter and handing it back to Wolff for further consideration.
“Selig’s office called us (Monday) to inform us about the committee,” Dellums chief of
staff David Chai said Tuesday via e-mail. “In addition, Lew reached out to us and
would like to set up a meeting.”
In other words, what three weeks ago was perceived by Wolff as pointless has, just like
that, become a priority. Wow. Is anything in sports more impressive than mighty Bud
Selig swinging into action?
The problem, of course, is that this sounds better than it really is. We know where Bud
stands. In general, he stands wherever he must to avoid the bright light of
accountability. In regards to baseball in Oakland, he has made clear he stands against
the Coliseum and against the A’s moving to San Jose.
Next, we have something from the Merc’s editorial page:
And while the city has a great site in mind — 14 acres near downtown’s Diridon
Station — the details need more work. An environmental study for a 32,000-seat
stadium was done several years ago, but it did not get close public scrutiny because
there was no immediate prospect of landing a team. Nor did it take into account the
new plans for high-speed rail stopping at Diridon, which will add to the complexity of
the area — but also to its appeal for baseball.
Finally, Mark Purdy’s a bit tardy in chiming in:
But why would Selig go to all that trouble and ruffle so many feathers if, in the end, no
ballpark is built in San Jose? Answer: He wouldn’t.
Of course, the flip side is that the movers and shakers of San Jose and the South Bay —
not just the politicos, but also business people and corporate sponsors who will pay for
luxury boxes and scoreboard ads — are never going to give maximum effort and
dollars toward a ballpark unless they are certain that the territorial-rights issue is

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In other words, a classic Catch-22. Wolff always has sought a way to unlock that catch
and thread the needle — to create a negotiating window where he could promise San
Jose that if voters approve a ballpark proposal, the territorial-rights issue wouldn’t
All this activity almost has me thinking that next week’s media coverage and events will
strike an anticlimactic tone in light of what’s happened the last two weeks. Fool me
Sleep well, children.

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The gloves are out. The line in the sand has been drawn. Honestly, I’m hoping for a
Hamilton-Burr duel. Then again, maybe not. Andrew Baggarly reported today that the
San Francisco Giants have just purchased a 25% stake in their high-A little brothers, the
San Jose Giants.
The Giants will claim one of four seats on the San Jose club’s board; if they agree to
purchase a controlling interest, they would occupy three of five board seats.
Industry sources pegged the value of San Jose’s franchise at $7-10 million, making the
Giants’ investment worth an estimated $2-3 million.
San Jose officials are not amused with the Johnny-come-lately appearance of the
mothership’s “investment.”
Reaction from San Jose city leaders was not warm. Mayor Chuck Reed will not
participate in Thursday’s event at Municipal Stadium, according to an aide.
Councilman Sam Liccardo, a big-league-ballpark booster who has been meeting with
community leaders to draft a pitch for the A’s, was blunt about the Giants’ move, calling
the timing “notable.”
“The only time I see pitchers from the Giants in San Jose is when they’re on a rehab
assignment,” he said. “And this pitch looks like an attempt to rehabilitate a San
Francisco ballclub’s image in San Jose.
“Everyone’s assumption is that this is a plea to the commissioner, and I don’t think it
changes anyone’s mind in the end.”
San Jose is a bit upset because the Muni renovations, which the City and the SJ Giants
have been arguing about for years, could’ve been made more complete had the
mothership lended a hand.
This move is not about reinforcing the Giants’ major league territorial rights. It is about
C-A-S-H. It looks like the baseball equivalent of flipping a house. Look at it this way.
When a public company, like recent example Genentech, faces a takeover, the interested
buyer (Roche) has to pay a premium over the prevailing market share price. In
Genentech’s case, the premium was 16%.
I’ve mentioned this in passing, but I’ll say it again: Both the SF and SJ Giants
would need to be compensated if the A’s moved to San Jose. Obviously the
terms would be different for each team. The parent team’s $2-3 million investment
could yield $1 million or more if they played their cards right, not including the costs
associated with moving the team to a smaller market – say the North Bay, for instance.
Should they raise their stake to the 55% controlling interest, they’d get even more.
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Who’d figure out the compensation? I’m guessing the blue ribbon committee that’s
sorting out the East Bay situation. Smart move, Neukom. Smart move.

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April 2, 2009
I’m paraphrasing here, but here’s a common refrain I’ve read lately:
Why can’t we have owners like the Haas family, who respect the tradition of the
Oakland A’s and are willing to spend money?
Why not indeed? These damned money grubbing owners, all they want to do is (insert
conspiracy theory here – apparently the theorists can’t even come to a consensus this),
they don’t care about baseball! We need to exhume Wally Haas, reanimate him, sue
MLB and the A’s to invalidate the last two ownership groups, and put the soon-to-be
canonized man back where he belongs, as owner of the A’s.
Nostalgia’s great, isn’t it? We can choose to ignore certain facts that we feel are
inconvenient. We can bask in the glory of the great triumphs while whistling in the dark
about the more unsavory aspects.
When Rickey Henderson came back to the A’s during the ’89 season, it was a signal to
fans from Haas and Sandy Alderson that the team was serious, that it was going to make
its run. We all know about the great payoff for that season, but what happened the
following years? As you can see from the chart below (data from the old Business of
Baseball website), it was a tremendous struggle to stay competitive in the wake of
baseball’s economic upheaval. Some call it charity on Haas’s part, I see it more as a very
shrewd strategy. Haas saw that the Giants were struggling to get a new stadium in San
Francisco, and there was a distinct opportunity for the A’s to have the Bay Area all to
themselves if the Giants left for Tampa Bay, or most of the Bay Area if they moved to
San Jose.

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The light blue line is the leading indicator. 1990, the team’s last World Series
appearance, was the last profitable season during the Haas era. From then on, the team
lost a combined $30 million in 5 seasons. That’s the equivalent of an entire season’s
payroll back then. Currently, the average payroll is around $90 million. Can you imagine
the A’s losing $90 million during a 5-year span? Fortunately, revenue sharing is around
to help the bottom line, though even with the annual revenue sharing receipt, the A’s
would still lose money since their receipt would drop proportionally as their revenues
It’s good to remember the on field successes and the work done to get them. Throughout
my childhood, I listened to Bill and Lon on my parents’ 70’s-era Sears console stereo in
the living room while I did my homework. I still remember KSFO often using Madonna’s
“Borderline” as bumper music between innings. As great as these memories are, the
successes did not occur in a vacuum. Incredible amounts of money were spent, from the
core of the team to the annual rent-a-slugger and solid veteran 4th starter to having
both legends King and Simmons in the booth. It’s not only impractical to expect that of
Lew Wolff, it’s patently unfair.
Every owner does what he can with the cards he’s dealt. Wolff signed off on a $79
million payroll in 2007, only to have the team beset with injuries. Hope springs eternal
this season, but already we’re seeing the injury bug decimate the pitching staff. (Side
note: let’s not get too excited about Anderson or Cahill yet. For every Big Three, there’s
also a Generation K – knock on wood.) If the team manages to stay competitive during
the first half, it’s likely that we’ll see a big arm rental along with Matt Holliday stay
through the end of the season. If not, guys will be sold off and we’ll go back solely to
grooming young guys who can hopefully stay healthy. We know that Billy’s going to try
to get value whenever and wherever he can. The cycle will repeat itself continually until
a new stadium is built. It’s sobering, but those are the Wolff/Fisher group’s – and our –

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April 4, 2009
CBS Sports baseball scribe Scott Miller writes from a national perspective, so you can’t
expect a lot of breaking local news from him. Still, he dug up some interesting quotes
from players about the Coliseum, especially snakebit franchise cornerstone Eric Chavez.
“A couple of years ago, a new ballpark was of huge interest to me,” said Chavez, 31.
“Now, I don’t see myself being around whenever we get a new stadium. So I don’t pay
much attention anymore.
“It’s literally a Coliseum, where we play now. As a fan, it makes sense to go to a
beautiful park like Pac Bell (in San Francisco), or whatever they call it now.”
Now that is the sound of a beaten man. Why do I sense that Chavy will end his career as
a Giant if he can’t go to his childhood home San Diego? I’m going off on a tangent.
Anyway, fan fave A.J. Pierzynski will no doubt endear himself even more to the
Coliseum faithful with this gem:
“The dugouts aren’t really dugouts. They’re just benches they stuck in front of the fans.”
Hey A-hole Jerkoff Pierzyzewkyszerbiak, most benches I’ve seen don’t have a restroom
at the end. Or bat racks for that matter.
Prodigal son Jason Giambi chimed in with his observations on the House that Boss
Tweed George Steinbrenner built.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Giambi, who toured the new Yankee Stadium toward the end
of last season when he still played for the Yankees. “It’s a billion dollars. You can’t even
fathom that type of money. It has every amenity you could possibly want from a
players’ perspective and from a fans’ perspective.”
Each Yankee’s locker will be equipped with a computer. There is a large video room just
behind the Yankees’ dugout, in which the players can watch videos of their at-bats — or
study the opposing pitcher — just before heading to the batter’s box.
I like the idea of all 25 players running into the clubhouse between at bats on April 13
just to send tweets via their locker-mounted computers.

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April 13, 2009
In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten several requests to add a particular Oakland site for
review on the blog. The site in question is a veritable wedge formed by the mouth of
Lake Merritt channel to the east, 880 to the north, Fallon Street to the west, and the
combination of Union Pacific railroad tracks and The Embarcadero to the south.

The site is often referred to as the OFD training site, and while that’s correct, the city
only owns 6 acres in the area, 4 of which are actually usable for the ballpark (the rest is
either underneath the elevated freeway or a buffer for the channel). Another key section
is owned by Peralta Community College District, though it by all appearances is cleared
out. The area was once home to a sizable homeless encampment, which was cleared out
about 2 years ago.
In between the two parcels is the remains of an old rail right-of-way. A bridge spanning
the channel still exists, AFAIK. According to OaklandExplorer, the ROW is not on any

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parcel maps, so it is also probably owned by the city. As you’ll see from the next image,
the combination of these parcels is not enough to contain the ballpark.

The ballpark encroaches upon a few industrial properties in the area. At least one of
these is either vacant or available for lease, which means it could be ripe for purchase.
However, as V Smoothe pointed out in the previous thread, this is where it gets
complicated. The entire site is split between Central City (Downtown) and Central City
East (Fruitvale/San Antonio/O29). I don’t have specifics about how this makes the
situation more difficult, but I can imagine that either some kind of RDA annexation
would have to occur or bonds may have to be raised separately to acquire parcels in
either section. Each district has its own distinct RDA budget and bonding cap. Here’s a
breakdown of the district separation:
• Central City East – OFD, Peralta/Laney, East Bay Restaurant Supply and adjacent
• Central City – Self Storage facility, residential triplex, additional warehouse

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The other industrial properties in the area wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for an
additional requirement – 1,200 parking spaces near the ballpark. Yes, there are parking
garages being built near JLS, but a new, 1,200-space garage will be the minimum for
team employees, VIP’s, and premium seat holders.
As I mentioned in the previous post comments thread, freeway infrastructure in the area
is severely lacking. The Oak St offramp from 880 north is less than 1/4 mile long, and it
will need to be lengthened and widened to handle new traffic. The 5th Ave overpass and
exit project is currently out for bid, and was not designed to handle traffic from
something like a ballpark. The Embarcadero is slated for widening and new traffic
signals as part of the O29 project. The recently certified EIR for O29 shows that traffic at
Embarcadero/5th Ave will reach unacceptable levels by 2025. A ballpark will not
enhance the situation, and if something gets built there a major revamp of on/offramps
will be needed to make things livable for all who live and work in the area, not just the

Fortunately, the site is only 1/4 mile from the Lake Merritt BART station. It’s also 1/4
mile from the JLS Amtrak station. A shuttle is planned to take new O29 residents

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around Downtown. There was talk earlier in the decade about a trolley, but there’s no
chance of that happening in anytime soon.

If the outfield view doesn’t look too terribly impressive, that’s because the distance to
the Oakland Hills through center field is twice as far as the distance from the Coliseum
to Leona Quarry.
Now’s the time for some back-of-the-envelope numbers.
Ballpark: $500 million (assuming 2014 or later opening)
Land acquisition for ballpark: $30 million
Relocation costs for OFD training site: $5 million plus land acquisition
1,200 space garage: $30 million including land
Freeway access improvements: $50 million or more depending on how extensive
already planned 880 project is going to be
• Surface street traffic improvements: Unknown

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That’s $115 million in infrastructure improvements with additional mitigation work on
the horizon.
Keep in mind that a ballpark project would have to undergo its own EIR/CEQA process.
Judging by the difficulty encountered in the O29 project, a ballpark EIR could be just as
lengthy. The same environmentalists who decried O29 would only have to shift their
vision slightly to the west. Why? The key piece of land, the fire training site, has already
been designated as open space. When I asked this same group a few years back about
whether or not a ballpark could be used on open space, I got two reactions: quizzical
stares and chuckles.
There’s also the question of whether or not area landowners are willing to sell.
Thankfully, there aren’t that many here. Should one or two balk, it would be difficult to
get a ballpark deal done. The one I’m curious about is East Bay Restaurant Supply,
which just celebrated its 75th anniversary in Oakland. Eminent domain has to be out of
the picture, unless one lives in Fantasyland.
Economically, the site would be better for the A’s than the downtrodden Coliseum area.
Still, there’s probably a sizable gap in available corporate dollars between this site and
San Jose, given that the ballpark is moving further away from Silicon Valley. The cost of
needed infrastructure has to give one pause. The City of Oakland has requested $2.6
billion in stimulus funds. I’m not going to present a false dichotomy here, but if the City
really felt it had to request more in stimulus funds than the rest of the Bay Area cities
combined, it’s pretty difficult to justify adding another project whose value outside its
limited purpose is questionable at best.
Gotta admit, though, it looks pretty good in the screenshots.

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April 15, 2009
The first of what promises to be several meetings between the City of Oakland and
MLB’s “Blue Ribbon” committee took place earlier today. On hand for the City were
Mayor Ron Dellums and City Council members Ignacio De La Fuente and Larry Reid.
Their counterparts were Bob Starkey, Corey Busch and Irwin Raij.
“It was an excellent meeting,” Dellums said afterward. “We’ve begun an excellent
dialogue. We’ve agreed to meet on a regular basis and our hope is that we will come to
some fruition at some point down the line. … Obviously, on our side, we want to keep
the Oakland A’s.”
Obviously, it’s premature to expect anything truly substantive to come out of an opening
session. Recriminations have to happen first, I suppose. What struck me was this:
Dellums has not yet finalized the local A’s stadium committee, said Paul Rose, the
mayor’s spokesman.
I’m not sure how to react to this.

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April 30, 2009
And so the recriminations begin.
A letter from Oakland City Attorney John Russo gave a Rajon Rondo-on-Brad Miller
style slap to Lew Wolff. Zennie Abraham quickly jumped on it, as did Robert Gammon.
I’m sure the comments section will be full of people going back and forth yet again on
the subject, so I won’t bother rehashing history for the umpteenth time.
Abraham somehow managed to bury the lead in his blog post by not acknowledging in
text what he said in his vlog – discussions with the A’s and the Blue Ribbon Committee
are not going well. That development is anything but surprising, given the committee’s
makeup. Matier and Ross reported on yesterday’s meeting between Wolff and Dellums.
Fittingly, the meeting was derailed by a planned fire drill, forcing the parties to move the
proceedings elsewhere.
Russo isn’t going to pen a legal brief on his own, he has orders. He may have done it at
the behest of the Mayor or City Council. Abraham speculates that it’s a step towards
pitting Oakland and the Giants against the A’s and MLB. He even trots out old Rule 52,
which as I’ll explain later, is not applicable these days.
Let’s take the confrontation angle first. As noted previously, the Giants don’t have a legal
option to exercise regarding territorial rights. It’s in the ML Agreement, and Maury
Brown spelled this out in his reading of the ML Constitution in a 2005 Hardball Times
If there are any disputes or controversies between the clubs, or between club(s) and any
of MLB’s entities, and if the resolution isn’t expressed elsewhere in the Constitution, the
Major League Rules, the Basic Agreement with the MLBPA, or the collective bargaining
agreement with the Major League Umpires, the Commissioner serves as the sole
arbitrator. (Article VI Sec.1)
What recourse do the Giants have, then? They can try to go to bat for Oakland, even
though they have no history of doing that previously. Even though, in moving to China
Basin, they’ve actively siphoned East Bay fans away from the A’s. Even though they’ve
held a regional hegemony for decades. It wouldn’t be hard to posture themselves as
saviors of baseball in Oakland – no matter how strange that sounds – as it wouldn’t
require much effort and could be done in a sort of stealth mode. It wouldn’t be difficult
to get a few letters from prominent pols in order, so no problem there either. The best
part is for the Giants is that it works. It paints Wolff as a villain and Oakland as a victim,
despite the backstory’s greater complexity.
Problem is, behind all of the sizzle there isn’t much, if any, steak. For Oakland to be
successful, there still needs to be an actual ballpark deal in place. The Giants know
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firsthand what it means to fail to get a stadium built, they’ve understood it many times
over. All of this posturing is fantastic if you’re trying to win a war in the media, it’s not
good for getting anything done. Could the Giants be brazen enough to goad Oakland
into a lawsuit against the A’s and MLB? The A’s and Oakland are only tied together via a
lease deal at the Coliseum. As valued as history and tradition are, they are largely
intangible. Collusion? R-i-i-i-ght. Does Oakland really want to go down the path of
trying to prove that? They’re not the only ones with documents.
Would the Giants try to bring Bob Piccinini out of the woodwork to do the same?
Ironically, Vincent Piazza sued MLB over the Giants’ aborted move to Tampa-St. Pete,
and eventually got $6 million to go away. Unlike Piazza’s almost immediate action, a
move to sue now would likely be beyond any statute of limitations. The fact is that suing
to keep a team in town, even if you have a good case, isn’t much of a winner. It certainly
didn’t work for Seattle.
Make no mistake, the Giants aren’t taking the T-rights matter lying down. It isn’t simply
a matter of them being quickly and/or cheaply paid off. They want to defend their
territory as vigorously as possible, and I don’t blame them. It’s really a matter of
whether or not their whining will get more than a token acknowledgment as MLB looks
towards further stabilizing the league as a whole.
As for Rule 52, even if it were in place (which isn’t verifiable at this point), it isn’t
applicable to an A’s move to San Jose. It applies to moves near an established territory,
not an invasion of a territory. It would’ve been applicable to an A’s move to Fremont,
since either ballpark site was only 5 miles from the Santa Clara County line. Yet, did
Peter Magowan raise a big fuss about it? Nope. Contrary to popular belief, it would’ve
been applicable to the Expos’ move because portions of DC are within the 15-mile O’s
territory buffer. Yet while Peter Angelos objected in the end, Rule 52 was nowhere to be

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How bizarre would a lawsuit look? Oakland, backed by the Giants, would allege
collusion between the A’s ownership and MLB. The A’s would probably counter that the
antitrust exemption is keeping them from moving to San Jose. San Jose/Santa Clara
County, not the A’s, would sue MLB and the Giants, thereby threatening the antitrust
exemption. I’m sure that Bud Selig’s stockpiled a ton of antacid just in case.

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May 3, 2009
Years ago, when the High Speed Rail project was only slightly more than a pipe dream, I
had a dream of my own. It involved a few friends and me going on a quick weekend trip
on HSR. We’d pack light, walk from my house, and board an HSR train on a Friday
afternoon. Three hours later, we’d be in Anaheim, just in time to catch the first game of
a division rivalry weekend series at Angel Stadium. We’d bunk with some other friends
in the O.C. We’d reciprocate the hospitality when they wanted to come up here, of
This was before the final alignment was decided. Since then, the East Bay has been shut
out of the initial phases of HSR, making such a trip from the East Bay less convenient
than what I just described (a transfer from BART in SF remains possible). From San
Jose, the dream is not only alive, it’s within grasp. And according to comments by SJ
city planners and HSR planners, it can work for them too.
“Engineering hasn’t been done, and decisions haven’t been made,” said Hans Larsen,
San Jose’s deputy director of transportation, “but there’s nothing to indicate — that
we’ve seen — any chance of a conflict between the two projects.”
Added Mehdi Morshed, the rail authority’s executive director: “The more activity, the
more development, the more things that are located in and around the station, the
better it is for our riders. We would go out of our way to work with them, to do
everything we can to match our station design to fit the city’s priority.”
Now that sounds like the spirit of cooperation to me! Each independent working group
knows what the others are doing, they appreciate what the other could bring to the table.
Hopefully, they’re also thinking about sharing infrastructure along the lines of what I
suggested last month.
Eventually, HSR could be a boon for all sports teams situated near it. An A’s or Giants
fan in Fresno could conceivably get to SF or SJ about 90 minutes. A Padres fan who
wants to attend a Pads-Dodgers game in LA but doesn’t want to deal with LA traffic
would have a solution that gets him end-to-end in just over an hour. Baseball fans from
all over could join cool train-based ballpark tours, visiting all 5 major league parks as
well as several minor league parks along the route if they wanted. The potential is

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May 5, 2009
While I would just as soon prefer the A’s saga not get played out so publicly in the
media, it makes sense for members of the ownership group to circle the wagons when
they get attacked. And so minority partner Guy Saperstein wrote into the Trib with a
strongly worded rebuttal of City Attorney John Russo’s letter last week. Saperstein, a
retired Oakland lawyer who contributes to several left-leaning websites, doesn’t quite fit
the profile of collusive carpetbagger many have bestowed upon Lew Wolff. I will be
curious to see if, oh, Zennie Abraham and Rich Lieberman devote as much blog space to
Saperstein’s letter as to Russo’s.
Saperstein ends with a sentiment echoed by this blogger and many others (though not
all) throughout A’s fandom:
What is most noteworthy about Russo’s commentary is what it fails to identify: A
single viable stadium site in Oakland. Russo writes a long commentary claiming that
“feasible options for a new ballpark” exist, and that it only takes “imagination” to find
it, then fails to identify a single feasible option, or indeed, any stadium option.
The time is long past for platitudes and empty rhetoric from grandstanding politicians
who aspire to be the next mayor. If you have a secret stadium site and plan that no one
else has yet seen, Mr. Russo, let’s see it.
The key word there, of course, is viable. I guess we’ll find out if it exists in a week. Can’t
On a related note – how many more lawyers are we going to hear from? I’ll put the overunder at 3.

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May 7, 2009
Zennie Abraham just posted a second letter from A’s minority partner Guy Saperstein.
This time, the message was addressed to Senator Barbara Boxer. He posted it in its
entirety, and so will I. The tone is markedly different from the public rebuttal to John
April 2, 2009
Senator Barbara Boxer
1700 Montgomery St. Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dear Barbara:
As you know, Jeanine and I have long supported you and we plan to continue doing so.
However, we were very disappointed about the letter you sent to Commissioner Selig. I
realize you have a lot on your plate in the United States Senate, but if you are going to
weigh in with such resolute conclusions about the A’s, I wish you had made a greater
effort to determine the facts. You made no inquiries to the Oakland Athletics about
efforts they have made to find a stadium site in Oakland and your letter cites almost
no relevant facts. Doug has known for a long time that I am part of the Wolff
ownership group, so if you didn’t want to call the A’s directly, you easily could have
called me with your concerns. Perhaps after hearing more of the facts, you would have
offered a more balanced assessment to the Commissioner.
Your letter cites some of the past history of the A’s in Oakland, but it glosses over and
ignores many important facts. It is true the A’s had great baseball teams in the 1970s—
experts say some of the best teams in baseball history—but you neglect to mention how
Oakland fans responded to these great teams. Not very well. These teams drew less
than a million fans per year and that number dwindled to 306,000 in 1979. The A’s
couldn’t even sell out the World Series! I remember this because I could walk up on the
day of each game and buy a ticket. I’m willing to bet this never has happened before or
since in MLB history in any other city. The second thing that should be noted about
1970s is that it preceded free agency. Thus, the A’s owner, Charles Finley, didn’t have
to compete with other teams for players by paying them competitive salaries; they
were bound to the team by the so-called “reserve clause.” Because of this form of
indentured servitude, even small-market teams like Oakland could remain competitive
for years. Today, with free agency, the economics of baseball are fundamentally
different and small-market teams have fundamentally different challenges.
Your letter also cites the Haas Family era, another period of excellent teams, and even
good attendance. But you neglect to note that the Haas’ were losing $10-$15 million
per year with those teams in an effort to pay competitive salaries. They were a
winning, attractive team which paid big salaries to big stars, but that was because the
Haas family was willing to lose millions every year. While we can all thank the Haas
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family for their beneficence, their model of ownership was and is unsustainable and
you cannot expect the Wolff ownership, or any ownership, to operate as a community
sports charity.
Not only do the A’s draw far fewer fans than the Giants, but the A’s average ticket price
paid is one of the lowest in MLB—approximately half of what Giants fans pay for
tickets. The A’s have 8,000 full and partial season ticket holders, compared to the
Giants’ 24,000 full season ticket-holders. This is even worse than it appears, because
when you rely mainly on game-day walk-up sales, you never know how fans are going
to show up that day and, consequently, you don’t know how many vendors to hire,
ticket takers, food workers, etc. So you overstaff and overpay, due to uncertainty. By
contrast, if you are the Giants and know that 35,000 fans are going to attend every
game, you staff properly. Added to these major economic disadvantages, the A’s
income from the sale of luxury boxes is one of the lowest in MLB and just a small
fraction of what Giants fans pay. This is largely the product of the unpleasant but
inescapable fact that Oakland lacks a vibrant business community. When you add all
this up, it would be hard to find any MLB owner who would characterize this as strong
fan support.
Let me present a few more relevant facts—facts that any ownership must contend
with. When Charles Finley brought the A’s to Oakland from Kansas City, Oakland had
a population of 367,000 [1960 census] and San Jose a population of 204,000. Fortyone years later, San Jose’s population is 989,000—now the 10th largest city in
America—and Oakland’s is 401,000. Which is the more vibrant, growing city? And,
while you are promoting Oakland as the only possible site of a new stadium, please
note that only 19% of A’s fans come from Oakland.
As currently situated, the San Francisco Giants control 2/3 of the Bay Area market
and are located just 12 miles away from the A’s. If the new baseball stadium were to be
built in Oakland, it would replicate this imbalance; if it were built in San Jose, 50 miles
away from the Giants stadium, the market imbalance would be adjusted and the A’s
could be more competitive.
While it is easy to scapegoat the A’s for the ills of Oakland, a fairer assessment of what
ails Oakland would start with its inept political leadership—some of whom you
prominently endorsed, supported and rarely criticize. Without naming names, let me
recall just a few more salient facts.
The long-range planning and leadership of the Oakland Coliseum Authority has been
almost non-existent. This group made mistakes of judgment which would be almost
beyond imagination except for the fact that they actually happened. They spent $140
million to build Mount Davis at the Oakland Coliseum, then entered into a contract
which not only costs the taxpayers of Oakland nearly $20 million per year, but which
term is only ten years. So, ten years later, Al Davis and the Raiders are whining about
a new stadium—which, predictably, they want the taxpayers to pay for. And what do
the taxpayers of Oakland get for this almost unbelievable beneficence? Eight home
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games a year! Then the Coliseum Authority dropped $100+ million into the laps of the
Golden State Warriors, who also play far fewer games than the A’s and have far less
economic impacts on the city. Along came the Oakland A’s in 2005, under its new
ownership, and in recognition that the A’s were playing in what is basically a football
stadium, and now a decrepit one at that, and requested that the Coliseum Authority
split the cost for a $500,000 feasibility study for a new stadium. The Coliseum
Authority couldn’t even scrape together $250,000 to try to keep its biggest asset! The
Authority has allowed the Raiders and Warriors to bankrupt it and there is nothing
left for the A’s, despite the fact that the A’s, unlike the Raiders, Warriors and 49’ers,
always have been willing to pay for building their own stadium. To put it another
way, the A’s may be the only sports franchise left in the Bay Area, and perhaps
America, willing to pay for their own stadium, but the Coliseum Authority hasn’t lifted
a finger to help the A’s and now politicians like you and Doug [and there probably will
be others] are quick to pillory the A’s for even thinking of moving.
Nor has the Oakland political structure helped. Despite the many business reasons to
move to San Jose, the A’s explored all options to stay in Oakland. Lew and the A’s can
give you the full picture if and when you want to hear it, but I can tell you I have been
involved since Day One and when Lew first asked me to become part of the ownership,
I said I would love to do it, but I didn’t want to be part of an ownership which just
bought and moved the team. Lew assured me that he would make a full effort to stay in
Oakland and I don’t think he and his son, Keith, have left a single stone unturned in
their efforts to make Oakland work for the A’s. I recall specifically Lew proposing to
build a 3,000+ unit housing project and several hundred thousand feet of retail space
near the Coliseum and taking the profits from this development to finance a stadium at
little or no cost to the taxpayers of Oakland. This would have been the biggest
economic development in Oakland since Liberty ships were built during World War II,
but the only Oakland City Council Member who showed any enthusiasm was Larry
Reid. Give Larry a call and ask him why no one else got behind this plan. And in case
anyone might suggest forward thinking and planning was not possible, while Oakland
was doing nothing, San Jose bought land in downtown and put together a 50-acre
parcel, zoned it for a sports stadium and completed an Environmental Impact Report
for the stadium. If they want a baseball team, they are ready for it. You were elected to
represent all the cities and citizens of California, not act as surrogate Mayor of
Oakland. You have a responsibility to try to determine what is best for the state, for the
Bay Area, and, yes, for Oakland AND San Jose. Your letter to the Commissioner plays
into the hands of the San Francisco Giants, who have long contended the Bay Area is a
one-team region and whose game plan is nothing less than driving the A’s out of the
Bay Area. I think you need to rethink your strategy and begin by making sure the A’s
are able to stay in the Bay Area.
Like you and Doug, I find it convenient to have a team located 20 minutes from my
house and, like you, I will be inconvenienced if the A’s move to San Jose. But should an
investment of half a billion dollars for a new stadium to meet the needs of present and
future Bay Area baseball fans be based on your, my and/or Doug’s convenience or on
a sound economic foundation? I think the answer is obvious and I hope you will begin
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to review the facts and evidence before making more pronouncements which operate
to undermine the A’s opportunities to build a sustainable future.
Lastly, despite serious reservations about the ability of Oakland to provide help in the
quest for a new stadium, Lew and I will be meeting with Mayor Dellums in two weeks
in an effort to make certain that we have not overlooked any viable site. And, of
course, Lew, Keith and I remain available at any time to provide you with additional
information about all options.
Best Regards,
Guy T. Saperstein GTS/ht
The immediate observation to be made is that this is the first time anyone from the
ownership group has come close to “connecting the dots” regarding the A’s and San
Jose. Maybe that was intentional, maybe not. I’m surprised to be reading it. I thought
San Jose was like Fight Club. For those who still don’t think San Jose’s the next step I
have to ask, Really? Come on, now.
Next up is the issue of the feasibility study the A’s asked for when Wolff took over.
According to Saperstein, the $500k cost was to be split between the two parties, but the
Coliseum Authority was too tapped out to help. All the while the Authority was finalizing
the deal to get rid of Raider PSL’s forever and hiring multiple consultants to get a
naming rights deal for the Arena. If this feasibility study assertion is true, you can be
sure that it will end up in the Blue Ribbon report.
What I don’t get is Zennie’s response. He rants about Saperstein’s pointing out the 70’s
attendance woes. It’s no secret that the A’s weren’t a big draw then, just as they aren’t
now. The facts are these:

The A’s averaged 764,660 per season during the decade
The A’s were as high as 5th in AL attendance once (1972)
The A’s topped 1 million twice during the era
The A’s were last in AL attendance twice and second-to-last twice
Average annual attendance for all AL teams during the 70’s was 1,194,395

When your biggest argument is semantic, you don’t have much of an argument.
I’m also not sure what Saperstein has to apologize to the Haas family about. Nothing he
wrote denigrated Wally Haas. He held up Haas as a paragon to which no future
ownership group can be favorably compared. At the same time, yes, Haas was losing
money. That can’t be disputed. Why so sensitive then?
Now, there are things to quibble about. Russo mentioned in his letter that the Coliseum
North proposal would’ve required eminent domain, which is right. Wolff was willing to
pay no more than $1 million an acre, a ludicrous amount at the time. When the plan
collapsed, Wolff then resubmitted Schott’s old Coliseum parking lot plan, in which the
A’s would contribute $100 million. Does anyone remember that?
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One of the big keys for any political campaign, even the kind we’re witnessing here, is
message discipline. It doesn’t matter if you’re Karl Rove or David Axelrod, Doug Boxer
or Lew Wolff. I sense a serious lack of message discipline on both fronts, and it isn’t very
becoming for either side.

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May 11, 2009
Tuesday night will mark yet another procedural step in San Jose’s effort to lure the A’s,
as they will push forward again with rules for working with MLB, the A’s, and affected
communities. More interesting is what the Mayor and City Council are saying, which is
what Denis C. Theriault picks up in his article today.
The council Tuesday also will take up its most comprehensive plans yet for ensuring that
business owners and other residents remain part of the city’s evolving ballpark
conversation. The mayor’s previously announced “Diridon Station Area Good Neighbor
Committee,” citywide town hall meetings and frank chats with neighborhood leaders are
part of the prescription.
The Diridon committee would include 27 members, including transit officials,
neighborhood leaders and representatives from the group that runs HP Pavilion and
from nearby businesses such as Adobe Systems. Its work could start as soon as June,
Reed said, with a review of the 2007 report clearing use of the Diridon area for a
I’m a little wary of having 27 members in this committee, but at least no one will be able
to say they are being underrepresented. Perhaps it takes a village to build a ballpark.
Mayor Reed also indicates that he wants the project to make money for San Jose, but
doesn’t indicate how. The model I drew up in the last post indicates that San Jose
wouldn’t make money. They could through a more expensive lease. More likely is some
kind of revenue sharing agreement, especially if it involves the redevelopment zone just
created out of the Diridon/Arena area.
Credit goes to the Mayor/Council for being steadfast on looking for a public vote. Even if
it is only advisory, at least it goes to the point of directly asking citizens if it’s a good
deal. I’m not for ballot box planning, especially if no public money is going towards the
ballpark itself. However, with the Mayor’s promises of open government, this is an
appropriate step.

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May 12, 2009
A few hours ago I met with Lew Wolff at one of the restaurants inside the Fairmont San
Jose. It was a fairly casual meeting, and I didn’t take notes. For the purpose of focusing
on a single post, I’ll only discuss a certain topic that came to my attention.
Guy Saperstein’s letter to Barbara Boxer mentioned a feasibility study at the Coliseum,
which I had not heard of until that point. The cost of the study was around $500k,
which the A’s wanted to split with the Coliseum Authority. The JPA claimed they didn’t
have the budget to take care of their half, and the idea died right there.
But what was the feasibility study for?
It turns out that Wolff was interested in the Coliseum South site, which I had discussed
here several years ago. The site includes the “Malibu” gravel parking lot and the now
demolished HomeBase site. Lew mentioned that Schott didn’t initially want to pay the
$250k for the study but was convinced it was necessary.

Lew showed me something similar to the above picture, only it had the Coliseum
superimposed and no ancillary buildings. The proposal was that the JPA would acquire
the additional land (HomeBase), and the A’s would contribute 50% towards the cost of
the land. The Coliseum South concept was the proverbial A’s hitter looking at a called
third strike.

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There’s plenty more that we discussed during our nearly 90 minutes. We talked about
on field stuff, the Quakes (it looks like you’re getting a roof), and of course, the process
of building anything in California. I thanked him for getting the CSNCA deal done and
mentioned how I’ve gone to fewer games because of expanded HD (he replied “you’re
not alone”). On a side note, I was recently laid off, so I have to be more budget
conscious. I gave Lew a good line he’ll use in his discussions going forward, and I found
out how much the A’s received in revenue sharing recently: $32 million.
One more thing: Lew addressed the whole “firing the managing partner” rumor by
saying, “I have my annual review due tomorrow. I’m writing it myself.”

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June 24, 2009
CoCoTimes columnist Cam Inman had a lengthy interview with Rickey Henderson prior
to last night’s game and the 1989 team reunion. I found this excerpt interesting:
It’s hard. I’m a native. You think about the Bay Area. This is where I grew up. This is
where I played. This is where I accomplished stuff. So to me, it’s heartbreaking. What I
would say is do like the Yankees did, do like the Mets did. You’ve got a big parking lot.
Build it in the parking lot and tear the other one down later. You don’t have to go
anywhere. Build it like it was. That’s what I see. We say they’re trying to find a place,
that they have to go way out there. We want a product here. You want a new field?
Build it. But we still need a product here. Let’s have a product here. They go on with
‘small market’ and fans can’t come. I played here. We packed the house all the time. We
had fun here. Bring em out if they’re promoting it right. The Haas family was the best
because of all of them, because they got out into the community. So the community
respected us and they’d come out to see us play and he put a product there. Instead of
saying, ‘we’re in this situation.’ Let’s look to see how we can build it. If it had never
happened before, then I can understand. But it has happened before. So I would say
parking lot.
Keep the debate clean, everyone. You’ve been warned.

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May 7, 2009
In a textbook case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, the City of Oakland has chosen to
enforce a long dormant 18.5% parking tax for all Coliseum events. Starting with the next
A’s homestand, parking will go up $2. Prepaid parking will not be affected.
East Bay Express scribe Robert Gammon points out that per the lease terms, the A’s can
deduct the tax from the team’s lease payment. The payment gets split between the City
and County evenly, which means that the County takes the hit. That has caused Alameda
County to sue Oakland to prevent the tax collection.
In the grand scheme of things, this is really pushing pennies around. The A’s only pay
$750k this year and next, and around $1 million the following two years. $2 isn’t exactly
18.5% percent, so the A’s will be “covering” the remainder. Oakland’s budget deficit had
been estimated to be around $60 million for this fiscal year until massive cuts were
made last week. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

42 games x 5,000 parking spaces x $2 = $420,000
$750,000 lease payment – $420,000 tax deduction = $330,000 new lease payment
Normal terms are $750,000 / 2 = $375,000 to City, $375,000 to County
$330,000 / 2 = $165,000 to City, $165,000 to County
City’s final take is $420,000 + $165,000 = $585,000 (additional $210,000 revenue)
County’s final take = $165,000 (loss of $210,000 in revenue)

Depending on how long the legal battle is, accrued fees could total $100,000 or more,
cutting into revenue even further. And keep in mind that this money doesn’t go directly
into public services, it’s there to service the combined $22 million in debt service and
operating costs on the stadium. Since the tax is a perfectly legal part of the agreement,
the City is perfectly within its rights to levy it. It can’t make for a better working
relationship among the three parties, however.
As far as the A’s are concerned, it’s roughly the same money going out. The tax will
probably push some percentage of fans to either the BART lot or to use BART instead.
Happy times, people!

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July 10, 2009
Giants managing partner Bill Neukom headed down to a Los Altos Rotary Club event
today, where he attempted to clear up some supposed misconceptions about territorial
rights. From the Merc’s Mike Swift:
Neukom said “there is a misunderstanding about the facts” relating to baseball’s
territorial rights, adding that the Giants established their formal claim of rights to the
five counties from Marin to Monterey, with Santa Clara County at the center of that
territory, as long ago as 1994.
“We asked for those counties because those are the natural counties for our fan base,”
Neukom said. “And those are the counties that we intend to continue to engage as
Giants fans. Nobody else asked for any of those counties. Oakland asked for Alameda
and Contra Costa counties, and got them.”
That’s news. Silly me, I thought Santa Clara County was granted so that the Giants could
move there.
What‘s missing from the story? No threats. No mention of reprisals. It wouldn’t sound
so strange if it wasn’t the same guy who legally reorganized the Giants ownership group
as “San Francisco Baseball Associates L.P.” Good lord, how much more legalese can it
get than that?
Historically, the head Giant owner has deigned to grace the South Bay with his presence
once or twice a year, but usually in a place like Los Altos or Palo Alto. Not that I expect
Neukom and his bowtie to show up at the intersection of Tully and King, but why not
hang out in San Jose for a lunch and talk to interested parties here? Nah, I suspect that
as long as this continues Santa Clara County as a whole will be treated like a satellite,
worthy of token outreach at best. Don’t let the recent investment in the SJ Giants fool
you. That’s the baseball equivalent of setting up Vichy France. Vive le résistance!

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July 15, 2009
The Chronicle’s John Shea has some “news” from the commish courtesy of the All Star
Break BBWA meeting.
“Territorial rights are always sacred,” Selig said at a Baseball Writers Association of
America meeting.
Selig refused to comment on whether baseball would approve an A’s move to San Jose,
a city that’s in the Giants’ territory but is luring A’s owner Lew Wolff. The A’s, whose
attendance has fallen five straight years, claim a move from the Coliseum to a new
venue would ensure higher revenue and a greater chance to be competitive.
Selig warned, “We’re living in an economy where it’s tough to talk about new
Yes, I did say that the panel’s report should have been out by now. What’s the hold up?
Who knows? It could be that, knowing the state of the economy, there’s simply no rush.
No one’s breaking ground anytime soon. It could be that additional possibilities are
being explored by the panel to ensure that every avenue has been exhausted. That’s
probably not what Lew Wolff wants, but at this point there’s no harm in being thorough.
Update: Jesse, a regular participant in the comments section, had a question for Selig
during yesterday’s online town hall at MLB.com. Here’s the Q&A:
Vince Micucci: The next question from Jessie in Oakland: The A’s are my lifelong
passion, but I am afraid they are going to move. When will the stadium committee that
MLB sent to Oakland be ready to deliver a review?
Commissioner Selig: They are close. Mr. Dupuy will meet with them shortly. It’s a
difficult situation and I understand his concerns. But the Oakland A’s need a new
ballpark — there’s no question about that — to be competitive.
The Giants have built themselves a wonderful, wonderful ballpark, and the A’s need to
do the same thing. So this committee has been very thorough, has examined all of the
different possibilities, which they should do, all of the different places that they may be
able to go and everything else.
So I’m confident in the end that we will make a very meaningful and rational decision.
Great work, Jesse. Before you readers start parsing the response, I’ll advise you –
don’t. You’ll be taking gigantic leaps if you do.

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August 9, 2009
Matier and Ross report that telecom giant Verizon may be in talks with the Coliseum
Authority to do a short term naming rights deal at the stadium. It would be a “five-year,
multimillion-dollar deal.” Yes, we had just gotten used to one season as the rightfully
named Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, but the City of Oakland and Alameda
County both need the cash badly, so I’m not against it one bit.
Color me surprised that a deal is being done, considering the states of the tenant
franchises. It is a short deal which may point to positive talks between the Authority and
the Raiders, whose lease ends after the 2010 season.
Ready for yet another corporate name that won’t stick? As fans, we complain about
abrupt name changes and the concept of naming rights in general. However, the
corporate entities don’t really care that much about whether or not we use the names.
They care about media exposure, and that’s what naming rights provide. It’ll be
interesting to see what Verizon does strategically. It already has a major high profile
venue in Verizon Center arena in DC, plus a strong regional presence in the Northeast
with Verizon Wireless Arena, a smaller venue in New Hampshire.
It’s not a bad idea as Verizon may want to counter AT&T, which was rumored as the
naming rights partner for the new Cowboys Stadium before the economy went into the
tank. Verizon’s only major presence in the Bay Area is as a wireless carrier, as AT&T is
the predominant carrier for land-based services. Verizon may also work in an early
termination clause (as McAfee did), which they could employ if one or more of the
Coliseum tenants leave before the end of the deal.

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August 20, 2009
This was the second walking tour put on by the City. Leading the way was SJRA’s Kip
Harkness, along with several others from the City. The walk started out inside the
station depot, where we were informed that the tour would take an hour. Bottled water
was graciously provided (your tax dollars at work).

We quickly moved outside in front of the station, where Harkness explained the
expanded station vision. The “Grand Central” concept was brought up, though any
expansion would be done within the context of preserving the existing depot. As shown
in previous materials, the expansion will provide connections to future HSR and BART,
along with additional space for other uses. BART will run underground, while HSR
could run either underground or above ground. One attendee asked if HSR could run
under the ballpark. Harkness replied that it might be possible, but dealing with the area
water table could prove difficult, especially if the ballpark were sunken – as it is in some
conceptual drawings. He cited an example in The 88, a recently opened high-rise
residential tower located downtown. Three floors of underground parking were in the
plans, but construction crews struck water only 1.5 stories down, forcing a major
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pumping/rework effort. 20 million riders are expected to go through the expanded
Diridon Station per year. Like most, I’m skeptical of the figures.
Next topic was the area plan. The various agencies whose projects will impact the area
have been in contact and are contributing towards the plan. There is a window in which
the area will be torn to shreds in order to accommodate the BART cut-and-cover
operation, new foundation work for midrise (up to 130′ tall) buildings, and the Autumn
Parkway construction project. Guidelines will be part of the updated Diridon Area
Specific Plan, from building heights to setbacks to streetscapes. Parking is the big
unknown, since it’s going to take some time to properly formulate the right mix of short
and long-term parking.
Then we walked past some of the property recently bought by SJRA along W. San
Fernando St. The only building not empty was Patty’s Inn, which has a lease through
2011 (hint-hint?). A rep from Parks talked about the Los Gatos Creek Trail. It looks like
the City is getting ready to buy the land on the western bank to build the trail. The fire
training site south of the ballpark will not be used for a parking garage, as was drawn up
in the original EIR. Housing has designs on the land, but that use is not politically
feasible given the amount of neighborhood uproar it would cause.
In order to make the new Autumn Parkway streetscape the way it’s being envisioned, the
City may ask the state to relinquish the State Highway designation (CA-82) for Autumn
and Montgomery Streets. Since those streets are state highways, they are subject to state
design and maintenance rules, which would either have to be eased or modified to
accommodate the changes the City wants to enact. The same goes for The Alameda,
which area residents have long wanted to transform into a pedestrian-friendly, treelined boulevard.
Next up were the old KNTV studios (acquired) and the AT&T site (not acquired). There
was talk of preservation of some kind. There could be some reuse of materials or façades
if possible. I would at least expect some monuments to commemorate the historic value
of the sites.
The PG&E substation situation proved interesting. The City and PG&E acknowledge that
the existing layout is not exactly space efficient, so they are looking at ways to
reconfigure the site in a more compact manner. It seems more likely that
reconfiguration will occur than a substation move, partly due to lower cost, partly
because a 32,000-seat ballpark may not require a substation move.
We then hoofed it back to Diridon Station, under the tracks and out to Cahill Park,
which is west of the station. Mostly this was to show how good, community-driven TOD
can be built. Keep in mind that there’s a good chance that zero housing will be built in
the planned area. Finally, we congregated on the Alameda, across the street from the
site of the always six months away Whole Foods site. Not much to say about that. I
asked about the state of the revised ballpark EIR. Harkness said that it’s still in process
and that no date has been set for its release, though 60 days is a pretty good guess.
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Those who want to be notified should head over to SJRA’s ballpark page to get on the
mailing list.
Questions? Fire away, and try to keep it on topic.

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August 24, 2009
After securing a bid 45% lower than originally estimated, the tunnel portion of Warm
Springs extension has been given the go-ahead by BART. The tunnel will extend
southeast from the existing Fremont BART station, underneath man-made Lake
Elizabeth, before turning south to occupy the former Western Pacific rail right-of-way.
The only station to be built is Warm Springs, which will also be the future southern
terminus until construction on the extension to San Jose/Silicon Valley begins. Another
station in the Irvington district is currently unfunded. The complete estimated cost for
the 5.4-mile extension is $890 million.
It’s odd that one of the reasons for building the Warm Springs station at the planned
location, NUMMI, will probably not be around for the opening in 2014. It’s also likely
that nothing will have replaced the auto plant by the time the station opens. Lew Wolff
has rejected any idea of revisiting Fremont for the time being.

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September 5, 2009
That’s Phoenix, as in Municipal Stadium, not Oakland. In January I wrote about the A’s
discussing renovations to Muni with City officials. Apparently the officials couldn’t wrap
their brains around the radical concept – team pays for it up front, gets reimbursed or
compensated later – so that went nowhere.
Hopefully this time Phoenix and Mayor Phil Gordon are more open to the idea now that
local developers want to lure the A’s from Muni/Papago Park to a newly built complex
on the Salt River Reservation. The reservation is only a few miles to the east,
sandwiched between Scottsdale and Mesa. It’s a well-integrated part of the community
despite its sovereign status, as Scottsdale Community College sits on reservation land.
The two Tucson-based teams, the Diamondbacks and Rockies, are already set to move to
the reservation following the 2011 season.
“The Oakland A’s aren’t moving,” Gordon said. “Mr. Wolff is a man of his word, and he
isn’t going to be playing city against city or nation against city.”
Mayor Gordon touts his good relationship with Lew Wolff, and I have no reason to
doubt that. Still, interest from a private party may have been just the ticket to get
Phoenix to the table. Not only would it be a shame if the A’s left Phoenix, it would suck if
there were no spring training games played at Muni, which remains a venerable yet
casual baseball-only institution in the Valley of the Sun.

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September 10, 2009
The Merc’s Tracy Seipel has a new article featuring quotes from economists questioning
some of the projections in the San Jose Economic Impact Report. Here’s one of the
better takeaways from the article:

But experts who study the economics of ballparks reviewed the numbers for the
Mercury News and raised plenty of concerns. Chief among them: The cost for the city
land the ballpark would be built upon is significant, they said. With three more parcels
to buy, acquiring the land for the stadium over the years could amount to at least $42
million, according to a Mercury News analysis.
“You can’t come out saying that this doesn’t have a cost if all we’re supplying them (the
A’s) is the land,” said Victor Matheson, associate professor of economics at the College
of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “The land is very valuable real estate.”
Rather than be redundant, I’m reposting the “Cutting through the B.S.” entry from last
week, which covers much of the same ground.
First, I’ll start off with some context on the report. The media has published several
figures that sound good, but further understanding is in order.
• $130 million per year in direct spending in San Jose. This is based on what’s
called a “stabilized” year, which for the purposes of the report is 2018. This
acknowledges that much of the newness of the ballpark will wear off over time,
allowing attendance to settle just under 2 million/year (24,300/game). This breaks
down to $82.8 million of spending in the ballpark, $40.5 million outside the ballpark,
$1.8 million by the various visiting teams, and $5.2 million for non-MLB events. There
are some odd ratios used to get to these totals. For instance, the study assumes that
10% of players will live in San Jose, and that 10% will spend 50% of their income in
the city. What? The other 90% will live outside San Jose and will spend only 5% of
their income in the city. All-in-all, some 5.1 million (7%) will be spent within the city.
Another $50 million would come from spending directly related to ballpark and team
operations. Compare the $130 million figure to projections for the 49ers stadium,
which were $72 million and $160 million for the City and County, respectively. I’m
skeptical about these numbers, but CSLI claims they’re based on information from
MLB teams, other sports franchises, and surveys. There must be some correlation, but
the numbers described within the text don’t always match up with what’s in the tables.
• Nearly 1000 jobs will be created outside of construction. Granted, moving
team operations from Oakland to San Jose will net dozens, if not hundreds of new
jobs. From a greater regional standpoint, it’s really just displacement. Moreover, there
will be displacement of the low-paying jobs. Many of the Aramark-sourced vendors in
Oakland will lose a seasonal baseball gig, while Aramark-sourced vendors in San Jose
will gain one. For years many of these vendors have worked multiple venues to help
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make ends meet, which makes sense since we have the luxury of having six local pro
sports teams combining to cover the entire calendar year. And if the 49ers and/or
Raiders move to Santa Clara, there will be even more displacement. Many vendors
won’t be willing to travel 40 miles to work food or janitorial service. So it’s great for
South Bay workers, terrible for East Bay workers. Not that I needed to explain that in
great detail.
• Per capita spending. The study separates fans into different groups in order to
properly establish their spending patterns. For A’s games, in-ballpark spending is
projected to be $49 per person per game. That sounds high until you break it down
into its components: $30 for a ticket, $15 for food and beverage ($6 nachos + $7 beer
+ $3 dessert = $16), $3 merchandise (part of more expensive item spread out over
multiple visits), $1 parking (3 people per car, 30% of fans using available parking).
The Coliseum’s 2009 Fan Cost Index is $46.81 per person per game, and that
includes a child discount on tickets. Many fans (including myself) go quite cheap by
finding free parking, or by bringing in outside food. Still, I pay $13 for a bleacher seat,
$7.20 roundtrip from Fremont BART to the Coliseum, $3 in gas, plus $7 for a large
sandwich and drink from somewhere else. It adds up.
• That hint. In the afternoon post, I mentioned there was a hint at the deal. In the
general fund revenue section is this sentence, “Under the Ballpark Development
Scenario, the hard construction costs of the stadium are used as a proxy for the
assessed value.” Assuming there are no appraisal shenanigans like the kind the Giants
pulled in SF, the figure points to an assessment of the ballpark only, which means that
the land will remain City property while the A’s will lease it for the stadium. In other
words, it’s a repeat of the Giants’ land deal.
What you, gentle reader, want to know is: Are these realistic numbers? The strange
breakdown of player spending and the projections of property tax pass throughs to
school districts are specious. Other numbers appear to be realistic, in some cases
conservative. The study projects $1.5 million in tax revenue. It’s not high, and there’s a
good reference point in HP Pavilion. Sharks games produce between $1.2 and $2 million
per year in taxes with fewer games and less overall attendance (though greater ticket
prices). That said, $1.5 million is a drop in the bucket for a city of 1 million people.
Claims of making money from the deal are key for Mayor Chuck Reed, as he wants to
uphold his fiscal conservative credentials. Given the litany of bad stadium deals listed in
the last appendix in the report, it would be a great victory if the project were simply
revenue neutral. Not sexy, but a little more realistic.
Media coverage of the economic impact report and reactions:
The money: Wolff connects the dots @ Bloomberg, talks T-rights @ Forbes
The lede @ the Merc and SFGate
The tube: KTVU and KGO stories

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September 20, 2009
At the Soccer Silicon Valley Foundation’s second annual dinner, Lew Wolff and the
Quakes revealed new conceptual images and a fly-in video of the future stadium. If you
haven’t been following this, here’s a quick refresher:

Location: Airport West property between SJC and SCU, near Lowe’s
Size: 15,000 plus berm and plaza space to approach 20,000 total
Design: Horseshoe soccer-specific stadium, oriented northeast-to-southwest
Architect: 360 Architecture
Roof: Covers roughly half of seating area, with lights tucked underneath
Video board: Two-sided, like Cisco Field concept
Transit availability: Caltrain, future BART station
Projected opening: ~2012
Cost: $40-60 million

The design is distinctly European in flavor, as it trades in a top-mounted deck of luxury
suites for three rows of premium (club) seats along the pitch/field. By all accounts, the
field itself will be slightly sunken from ground level. A single concourse under the main
seating serves all. The U-shape is meant to contain noise and if anything direct noise out
towards the airport, which is a good idea. 

It’s possible that the main seating bowl will be all steel, which takes a page from
Stanford Stadium. That should make the stadium less expensive to build and noisier to
boot. Next up is the fly-in video.
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Don’t get used to having “Earthquakes” on the roof. Once a naming rights sponsor is
secured, you’ll see the sponsor’s name there.  

The big takeaway from this is that the Quakes finally have something tangible in the
stadium realm to sell to fans and potential sponsors. It’s been a long time coming, and
hopefully getting the necessary funding won’t be such an uphill battle anymore.
I’ll end this post with video of Wolff at the event last night. He pretty much covered
everything in this post.

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September 24, 2009
Long awaited but expected cuts hit San Jose as it decided to lay off 24 people of its 109person Redevelopment Agency staff. The cuts are part of the state’s raid on
redevelopment funds, San Jose’s take was $88 million ($62 million this year, $13
million next year, $13 million from last year).
However, there is some good news:
The state raid will not derail some of the agency’s highest-profile efforts, Mavrogenes
said. Land acquisitions for a proposed ballpark near the Diridon train station to lure
Major League Baseball’s A’s is to come from land sale proceeds, a separate money pot
that Mavrogenes said will not be affected by the state’s move.
And the agency is contractually obligated to follow through on other pending projects,
including the downtown “urban market” at San Pedro Square.
But projects still in development are likely to be delayed indefinitely, most notably the
$350 million expansion of the aging McEnery Convention Center.
City has been using the practice of “land banking” for decades now, making its
Redevelopment Agency one of the largest in the country. Land banking is used for
development opportunities, many of them controversial. Results have been mixed at
best. For every Adobe headquarters or San Jose Arena, there’s the failed Tropicana
Shopping Center project or the Pavilion downtown shopping mall (not related to the
arena). As the Diridon area transforms, SJRA is getting ready to buy up most if not all of
the land in the area for the transformation.

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September 25, 2009
Since the Earthquakes stadium renderings were released, many on this blog and
elsewhere have asked how the fates of the Quakes and A’s are intertwined. They’ve asked
if juggling two teams and two potential stadium deals – in the same city no less – makes
things needlessly complicated. They’ve also asked if focusing on soccer even on a
peripheral basis takes the focus off baseball. Such questions about motivation will
persist for some time to come, and won’t cease until shovels hit dirt.
That brings me back to Mayor Reed’s ending quote from last week’s press conference:
“I’d like to thank Lew Wolff and the A’s. It’s Lew’s vision that makes it possible for us to
build a ballpark in San Jose.”
I was then, and remain now, thoroughly shocked. Not shocked about the quote, as I
figured it was coming sooner or later. I am shocked that it elicited zero response in the
comments. The past six months, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth about what Wolff
has been doing in San Jose, about what the nature of discussions are. I’ve heard outright
denial that Wolff wants to move the A’s to San Jose, that the MLB panel will somehow
ride to Oakland’s rescue, which given recent history is myopic to the extreme.
That quote above tells you everything you need to know. I shouldn’t have to spell it out.
It’s Lew’s vision that brought the Quakes back, that tantalizes Quakes fans in that he
may finally cure their scarred, oft-broken, oft-ignored hearts (they’re not fully healed
yet). It’s Lew’s vision that may finally quell all of the talk of uncertainty regarding the A’s
and their future. It’s Lew’s vision that may cement his legacy in San Jose, in the Bay
Area, in California.
However, this is California after all. We don’t impress easily. One way or another, we
force our sports teams to earn our praise and patronage (except for the Warriors I
suppose). When it comes to stadium building, everyone here is a full-on bandwagoner.
We’re skeptical to the nth degree, and rightfully so. As a result, we collectively aren’t
easily swayed by nice sketches and renderings. Pols know better than to propose any
publicly-financed facilities, no matter how nice they look in ads or how well they’re
pitched in interviews. We innovate here. We propel the world. We want results because
expect no less of ourselves. It’s how we survive. It’s how we thrive.
It’s with that mindset that I have to concur with Center Line Soccer’s Jay Hipps, who
argues that despite the crappy economy and limp sponsorship numbers, the Quakes
should plow ahead and build their stadium. I’ll take it a step further though. Not only do
I think that it’s necessary for the Quakes, I also think it’s imperative for the A’s.
We talk here endlessly about attendance, population densities, and transit availability.
All that stuff makes for nice presentation slides and lengthy reports, but it’s mostly
academic. The thing that really matters is, as always, political will. Political will and
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political capital go hand-in-hand. Wolff can reach out to non-profits to get little boosts
here and there, as he did in Fremont. All of those efforts combined don’t hold a candle
to the value of getting the Quakes stadium built. Just as with San Jose Arena (publicly
built), the actual building and opening of a new facility creates a veritable supernova of
political capital.
With political capital comes momentum, which will come in handy during an election
cycle. Momentum doesn’t just come from great ideas. Momentum comes from the
execution of great ideas. An inexpensive soccer-specific stadium is a great idea, even if
it’s value engineered to death. It’s the responsible way to move forward, and can show
the citizens of San Jose that someone around here can get things done responsibly.
That’s important because so many aren’t familiar with Wolff’s development history from
30 years ago. Half the people that live in the Valley are transplants. Some are from the
Midwest and East Coast, others are from across a border or an ocean. They may be
completely on board with a ballpark, but they want to want to see that train moving.
They may need to feel that it will leave the station without them.
Wolff talks a lot about the pain that comes with the process, about how it’s an industry
unto itself. The process isn’t as much the killer as the inertia the process creates. If
ownership thinks the numbers can work given time, then inertia is the real enemy here.
That’s not to discount the steady, methodical groundwork that’s been laid over the last
several years. It’s simply no longer the time to be methodical. It’s time to be decisive. It’s
time to break that inertia. It’s time to build. In fact, to paraphrase Ernie Banks, “Let’s
build two.”

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November 18, 2009
December’s Forbes magazine has a feature piece on the Sharks and Silicon Valley Sports
& Entertainment, the umbrella organization that owns the team and runs HP Pavilion.
The magazine praises SVSE for keeping debt manageable while expanding its holdings,
making the company not beholden to a single income source.

Of SVSE’s revenue of $155 million, NHL hockey brings in $84 million. The rest comes from
things like a chain of ice rinks, three professional tennis tournaments, a mixed martial arts
circuit and an apparel company. Last year the team’s hockey operations lost $5 million, but
the profits from the other businesses cut that loss to an estimated $2 million. Gregory Jamison,
a Sharks co-owner who’s in charge of day-to-day operations, sees the combined businesses
turning a profit in two to three years.

Much has been made over the NHL’s floundering expansion ventures in the Sun Belt,
especially the efforts in Phoenix, Atlanta, and the state of Florida. The Sharks/SVSE
have defied the Sun Belt pattern of attendance and cash flow problems, partly by
controlling its own venue. It has also stayed out of the scandal-ridden front pages,
something that can’t be said for ownership in Anaheim, Phoenix, and Nashville.

The article also touches briefly on SVSE’s other major sports dealings:

The Sharks’ owners have been pursuing a National Basketball Association franchise for years,
too. San Jose Mayor Chuck R. Reed tells FORBES that the arena lease will be amended this
month to outline contingencies in case their efforts are successful. The group is also in
discussions with the owners of baseball’s Oakland A’s to find common ground on a proposed
ballpark in the area and to possibly buy into their Major League Soccer team, the San Jose
Earthquakes. Even without these acquisitions SVSE officials expect the nonhockey side of the
business to surpass the hockey side next year.

In the past I described the “common ground” as a deal to run an A’s ballpark, creating a
monopoly position for SVSE with regards to large venues in the South Bay. Considering
how tight many of the SVSE players and members of A’s ownership have been
historically, the next logical step may be for the A’s to sell a minority position to SVSE,
say 10-20%. Such a deal could be consummated fairly easily and would make sense in
the long run, since there’s a precedent given that venue monster AEG operates in a
similar fashion. For now, the discussions are probably more about how to figure out
parking and develop the six blocks between the ballpark site and the arena, but it’s not a
stretch to think that the talks may be even deeper. It’s a far cry from when the original
ballpark EIR came out in 2006. At the time, the Sharks expressed disapproval over the
concept due to parking concerns. Now that the team is no longer “hypothetical” and
includes political and business friends, SVSE is looking for ways to take advantage of the
All of this can be summed up in three simple words: Follow the money.

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November 19, 2009
The Raiders’ quarterback situation may be in flux, but their home for the next three
seasons isn’t. Officials from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority and the
team jointly announced an extension of the Raiders’ lease through 2013, which puts the
team in line to leave for newer digs at the same time as the A’s, wherever those digs are.
Most interesting about the announcement is the unified front being displayed by the
Authority. County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who was front-and-center in the public
effort to bring the A’s to Fremont. Haggerty rejoined the Authority’s board recently after
a few years off it. It’ll take all of Alameda County’s political will to put together a good,
responsible deal for the Raiders, and that means having power brokers from the
northern and southern ends of the county. With Oakland officials perhaps focused
elsewhere in their efforts to retain the A’s (OFD Training site, anyone?), it’s a baby step
forward – albeit a major baby step.

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November 24, 2009
Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee reported that River Cats owner Art Savage, who
successfully brought pro baseball back to Sactown after a long absence, suddenly died
over the weekend. Savage, who was a non-smoker who had successfully fought off lung
cancer, was consistently hailed throughout the Central Valley and the baseball world for
running the River Cats so well and for providing an excellent product year-in, year-out.
The comments to the article bear this out, as there is nary a bad word in Savage’s
memory. The article traces his life, from college at Texas Tech to tax accountant to CEO
of the Sharks and then the move to get the River Cats started.
In his stint in San Jose, Savage befriended many of the political players who are now
aiming to bring the A’s to San Jose, including Lew Wolff. Savage, who was 58, will
apparently leave the team to this sons.

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November 30, 2009
We’ve been told Oakland’s going to release some information this week in conjunction
with a renewed show of support from the City of Oakland, business leaders, and fans.
Matier & Ross have the sites, two of which are completely new.
• The current Oakland Coliseum site.
• Oak and Third streets, just south of Jack London Square. [OFD Training]
• The old Howard Street terminal on the waterfront, a bit north of the Coliseum and on
the other side of the Nimitz Freeway.
• Howard Street on the northeast side of the Embarcadero.
The fascinating thing is that while many – including myself – thought Howard Terminal
would be one of the sites, the group is focusing instead on two sites along Howard
Street, near High Street and 880. The area is in the vicinity of the site pitched by Chris
Kidd, called Jingletown.

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December 3, 2009
There’s a small amount of buzz surrounding Red Sox owner John Henry’s e-mail to the
Boston Globe, published yesterday. In the letter, Henry takes certain unnamed small
market teams to task for riding the revenue sharing gravy train.
“Change is needed and that is reflected by the fact that over a billion dollars have been
paid to seven chronically uncompetitive teams, five of whom have had baseball’s
highest operating profits,” Henry responded in an e-mail. “Who, except these teams,
can think this is a good idea?”
The Chronicle’s John Shea thinks Henry’s referring to the A’s among those teams, which
stands to reason since they received $32 million in revenue sharing and made $26
million in operating profit in 2008. Off the top of my head, the other gravy trainers are
the Pirates, Nationals, Twins, Rays, Royals, and ironically, Henry’s former team, the
Marlins. The A’s don’t fit into the “chronically uncompetitive” milieu, so perhaps the
Orioles or Reds are being lumped in instead. I doubt that Henry reviewed a leaguewide
ledger before making the comment, so it’s not worth picking it apart.
ESPN’s Rob Neyer chose not to take Henry at face value, pointing out a few factual
inconsistencies. Among them are Henry’s assertions that Boston is merely the 16th
biggest market and the MLB is itself a pure bastion of free market capitalism. However,
Neyer was intrigued with Henry’s concept of abolishing revenue sharing and replacing
with entirely with payroll taxes, distributed directly to low revenue teams. The purpose
is to bring the have-nots up to a new salary floor. Of course, this isn’t exactly an
altruistic move as it would allow the Red Sox and other have’s to retain even more of
their local revenue.
“It’s a very simple approach in which payroll tax dollars replace revenue sharing
dollars and go directly to the clubs that need revenues in order to meet minimum
payrolls that should be imposed on each club receiving revenue. Further, players
would have to be protected with a guaranteed minimum percentage of overall
revenues. This would be a very simple and effective method in reducing top payrolls
and increasing bottom payrolls with no tax on revenues,” Henry wrote. Henry added
that “The World Series should be determined by fully competitive teams on the field –
not by how much particular clubs can afford to spend. A better solution is to address
competition directly so that clubs can generate revenue more equally as teams become
competitive across baseball.”
I find the idea interesting too. According to Plunkett, MLB brought in $6.2 billion in
revenue for the 2009 season. Henry doesn’t specify how much the “guaranteed
minimum percentage of overall revenues” is, but it certainly won’t be 1/30th of the
whole pie. My guess is that it’ll be around 1%, or $62 million per team. That’s slightly
more than an even split of national revenue. Beyond that, teams would be left to their
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own devices, or rather their own local revenue. I haven’t had a chance to run the
numbers, but it’s no stretch to think that the A’s would be worse off until they got into a
new stadium (keep in mind that the current CBA runs through 2011). I’d venture a guess
of $15-20 million less than what the A’s are currently getting with revenue sharing,
though at least they’d get most of the money upfront instead of waiting until the end of
the season for the revenue sharing receipt as they do now.
Whether or not Henry is speaking out of school, I have every reason to believe that
revenue sharing will move more in his preferred direction, especially as the remaining
teams without new stadia get their situations resolved. With Bud Selig reaffirming his
intention to retire by 2012, it’s likely that the commish feels that things are lining up
properly to cement his legacy and he feels that his work is just about done.

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December 3, 2009
Lew Wolff was interviewed by Greg Papa in a lengthy segment on Chronicle Live today,
and for once just about everyone can find a little bit of hope in what he had to say.
Wolff’s folksy demeanor shows up most when he sheepishly admits something, such as
when he talked about his “silly tarping” idea (that won’t go over well) or when he didn’t
realize that the A’s had the worst attendance in the league in 2009.
Papa did the right thing in progressing the questions from Oakland to San Jose. He
asked why Oakland didn’t work and Wolff mentioned his notes, which would take an
hour and 45 minutes to go over. I have gotten a look at these notes, and while there
wasn’t time to go over everything, it was quite thorough and helps Wolff make his case
rather clearly. That said, on two occasions Wolff mentioned that while he felt he was
exhaustive in his search, the MLB panel could make another recommendation within
Oakland or the East Bay. Whether or not the panel actually does that is another story.
Still, it’s a glimmer of hope that the process will give Oakland another shot at getting
everything together for a ballpark. (Cue the Oakland preso anytime now…)
When the subject switched to San Jose, Wolff played down San Jose in terms of
economic virtues. Instead he framed his argument entirely within the confines of
running the club: It’s the only place a ballpark can work now due to infrastructure there,
and the concepts in Fremont and Oakland (Coliseum North) can’t work now because of
the economy. Keep in mind that in the San Francisco Magazine article, Wolff said that
he wasn’t pursuing additional land in the Diridon area, so building a mall or some other
fancy development wouldn’t be in the cards.
On territorial rights, Wolff felt that the decision had to be made “in a measured
manner,” with neither owner likely lobbying other owners on his behalf.
Among the other tasty tidbits from the interview
• Wolff corrected Papa on the A’s 2008 revenue: not $160 million as Forbes reported,
but rather $130 million. That includes the revenue sharing receipt ($32 million).
• A ballpark in San Jose, if all the hurdles are cleared, would take 9-12 months to finish
planning and 2 years to build. Wolff did not rule out a 2012 opening, but that’s not
likely given that the public vote would likely be taken next November. Even if they
break ground a day after the election, they’d still have only 16 months from that point
until Opening Day 2012. So dont get too excited about 2012. The Mayans caused
enough trouble there.
• Wolff hinted that MLB may have some say in the eventual size of the ballpark – which
may be where the 36,000 figure is coming from.
There’s another thing I’ve picked up from these public statements and others from other
teams – there’s a palpable sense of kinship between the A’s, Raiders, and 49ers. The A’s,
while they’ve criticized the Coliseum for not being baseball friendly, have not directly
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blamed the Raiders. They’ve said that a shared facility isn’t ideal long term and that’s
that. It’s an important distinction, as all three teams know they’re in the same boat and
it wouldn’t make sense to attack each other when it’s hard enough to get a deal done.
Fans have the latitude to throw blame. Owners, not so much.
Want more? Watch the interview, which is almost 15 minutes long has been broken up
into several segments on the CSNCA video section.

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December 8, 2009
Forgive me for having a Stephen Colbert moment. Robert Gammon cleared up much of
the site confusion that started with last week’s Matier & Ross report. The sites,
according to Gammon’s sources, are (drum roll please):
• Oak St & 3rd St (west of the OFD Training site)
• Howard Terminal
• Area north of Jack London Square and Howard TerminalColiseum parking lot

Why am I patting myself on the back? Well, I did write about a possible alternative just
north of Howard Terminal three months ago (not in depth, but at least it wasn’t one of
the “recycled” ideas often put forth). Gammon mentioned that the site currently
contains the offices of the East Bay Express, which would have to be moved if the A’s
moved in.
Since Wolff has already dismissed the Coliseum and Howard Terminal, the choices
really boil down to OFDT (Oak/3rd) and MLK/3rd (for lack of a better term). For
anyone that wants to keep the A’s in Oakland, this is a good thing. Why? Because it can
allow the community to coalesce around one or at worst two sites, instead of debating
three or four sites and creating factions. Really, what the City and boosters need to do at
this point is to pick one and run with it. The future of the A’s in Oakland depends on this
choice. Knowing this, there is an obvious, crystal clear choice based on some simple
facts: MLK/3rd. I’ll explain after the chart.

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Transit – BART is closer to Oak/3rd than MLK/3rd because of the proximity of the
Lake Merritt station compared to the 12th Street station. Either site would require a
transfer for some group of fans, though that isn’t any different than the current situation
at the Coliseum. The ferry terminal, which admittedly would get far less use than BART,
is only two short blocks from MLK/3rd. Proximity to Amtrak is roughly the same as with
BART, except that the JLS station is on this side of 880/980. No one talks about buses,
but they shouldn’t be ignored. MLK/3rd is almost adjacent to Broadway, which is the
spine of Oakland’s AC Transit routes. Oak/3rd’s closest existing bus stop is at JLS
Amtrak, making it a bit out-of-the-way.

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Downtown access – MLK/3rd isn’t tucked into a corner, making it easy for fans to
walk from Downtown and even Uptown to the site. Oak/3rd is tucked into a corner,
sandwiched between 880 and the active UPRR line. There are far more restaurants and
bars between the 12th Street station and MLK/3rd, creating a natural synergy.
Available parking – I put TBD here because there are several variables. It’s not
known how many public and private spaces would be available for MLK/3rd, but the
potential could be greater. At Oak/3rd, the wildcard is Laney College, which could make
lots of parking available for weekend games but not necessarily for night games (due to
night classes). Both sites would have access to parking located underneath the 880
Freeway access – On/off-ramp capacity limitations that affect the OFDT site also
affect Oak/3rd. MLK/3rd’s more central location makes for a better distribution of
traffic among current on/off-ramps. MLK/3rd is also closer to the 5th St exit from 880South, which means less surface street driving for fans.
Integration with JLS – MLK/3rd is two blocks away. If one of the City’s concerns is
properly filling the space between Downtown and JLS, a ballpark is a pretty good way to
do it. Oak/3rd is, again, out of the way.
Aesthetics – Neither site is going to beat the old Coliseum’s view of the hills, especially
with 880 in the foreground. At least MLK/3rd won’t have an unadorned overpass going
over Lake Merritt Channel in the view. For those who might like it, there will probably
be a way to design a MLK/3rd ballpark so that fans can see BART trains pass by as they
enter/exit the subway portion.
Construction difficulty – Oak/3rd is just above the designated tide line, but much of
it may also be landfill, just like China Basin. If so, needed foundation work could prove
more expensive than at MLK/3rd.
Political/Legal difficulty – Oak/3rd has a complicated ownership situation, as
Caltrans, Union Pacific, and the CPUC all have interests in the area which may not be
easily negotiated. Both sites have some number of private owners, so they should be on
equal footing in terms of acquisition costs.
I’d say it’s pretty clear which site makes the most sense, although I’m sure some of you
will debate this. However, the key to getting anything like this done is political will. As
the rest of Gammon’s column notes, Mayor Dellums has challenges he has to deal with
before turning much attention to a ballpark. Unfortunately for Oakland, it’s a matter of
timing. If Dellums decides not to run for re-election, his lame duck status will render
him unable to see a big project like this through since it’ll take over a year to approve. If
he does run and wins, he might spend too much time in the interim on other more
pressing matters or his campaign to wage a development battle like this. If he runs and
loses, his replacement (perhaps Don Perata) might choose to scrap existing plans and
move forward with his own. The question is, will that be too late?
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December 14, 2009
Written by Jeffrey
Now that we are moving on to the sites where the question of viability remains, we
should do a quick refresh on the last real study of potential sites in the East Bay. Well,
outside of the current MLB Expos Relocation Team Reunion Tour, that is.
In December 2001 HOK presented a study on 7 potential stadium sites in the East Bay.
Those sites (in order of preference based on the study) included Uptown (now condos),
The Coliseum (please, no), Fremont (been there, done that), Howard Terminal (not
viable), Pleasanton (now a planned mega development), Oak to Ninth (now slated for
something else after much wrangling), and Laney College (ain’t gonna happen).
That study used an established matrix that HOK had developed for evaluating each of
the available sites in a particular region in relation to one another. The categories used
to evaluate each site included Urban Design, Transportation, Site Factors, Cost and
Timing. Each factor held equal weight with the best site in a particular category getting a
score of 7 and the worst getting a score of 1. If two sites were judged to be equally “the
best” they both got a 7 and the next best could get a score no higher than 5. All in all, it is
an effective way to objectively rank sites. So what does this have to do with JLS West
(pictured below)?


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Well, we can use these same factors to evaluate the plausibility of the site that Marine
Layer was so prescient about. We can also use the scores for some of the similar sites
evaluated in 2001 as yard sticks for this site (and the OFD/Victory Court Site in a
subsequent post) and see where it would have lined up. I warn you all I am taking some
liberties with the scoring method, meaning I will play loose with the rules a bit because I
can’t actually make a 100% accurate translation. So while the top score will still be 7
(when it should be 3-5 at this point), I won’t follow the rule that says if there are three
“7’s” on the board the highest alternate score has to be “4.”
It is safe to say at this point, based on what we know, that “viability” is not something we
can really give a ruling on.  As Tony pointed out, viability is in the eye of the beholder. It
is very early in the game and there is a long road to prove the site ultimately viable. All
we can do at this point is call a site “potentially viable,” or worth more exploring.
For argument’s sake, we can say a “potentially viable” site is one that was in the top 3 of
the original study. Why? Because the top sites not covered by condos were looked into
by Mr. Wolff and Howard Terminal, the first “rejected” site, was number 4.  So, let’s get
to it and do it!
Urban Design- I honestly think we can skip this category. Or, further we can just give
this site the highest possible mark. I envision a potential stadium in this site resembling
what I consider to be the most aesthetically pleasing of all stadiums in the big leagues:
PNC Park.

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Sure, there wouldn’t be a bridge or a river. But imagine the Oakland skyline looming
beyond Left Field in a similar way and… Ahhhh, I can smell the hot dogs and taste the
beer. This site is clearly a 7 on the HOK scale.
Transportation- This site is not all it is cracked up to be from a transportation
perspective. It is pretty comparable to Howard Terminal, which didn’t score so well in
the original HOK study. The ferry is close, BART isn’t. Parking is a bit of a struggle, but
not impossible, and the freeway infrastructure (on ramps/off ramps) in the area is just
okay. I’d give it a 4 on the HOK scale, which is the same score Howard Terminal got in
Site Factors-  There are 57 separate parcels (per oaklandexplorer.com) in the area that
is defined by the rectangle in the City of Oakland’s presentation. Those 57 parcels have
at least 33 individual owners and include a few residences.  Excluding the streets, this
area is 14.2 acres. I wouldn’t anticipate a huge environmental clean up cost, but soil
stabilization will be an issue. One potential issue is BART running through Left Field,
but that becomes more of a footprint constraint than a deal breaker. In 2001, this site
would have been better than Howard Terminal, probably comparable to Laney College.
Those sites scored 2 and 3 on the HOK scale. In this case I will give it a generous mark
of 4.
Cost- Land Acquisition in this area, though complicated by the high number of parcels
and individual owners, shouldn’t be outrageously expensive. The value of the buildings
and land comes to somewhere around $25 Million dollars if we budget $25 per square
foot for land and use the oaklandexplorer.com values for the structures. Business
relocation will add to the cost, for sure. There would need to be some on site parking,
probably a garage with 1,000 to 1,200 spaces. This site would be better than Laney
College, Oak to Ninth, and Howard Terminal were when it comes to costs, though more
expensive than Uptown, the Coliseum or Fremont. Which really isn’t bad or good, but
right in the middle. I feel comfortable giving this site a 4 on the HOK scale for costs.
Timing- While those 33 parcel owners might not drive up the cost of the site, they could
become a factor in the speed with which the site could be developed. I imagine they
could derail it altogether, but I don’t think that would be the case. In the original HOK
study all sites but Laney College were tied for best. None were this complex, but this site
isn’t as tough as the Laney College site was either. So let’s give it a 6 on the HOK scale.
So that makes this site a 25 (with some rule bending for sure).  How does that compare?

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That’s right, a tie with Fremont. Based on the definition of “potentially viable” above…
this site deserves some exploration. I imagine that the MLB committee is doing this
exploration in the report we won’t ever get to read. But for now, I leave you with a

Worth exploring, no?

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Written by Jeffrey
My mom used to always be on me about reading the books I was assigned and not just
faking the book reports with the help of Cliff’s Notes.  As I studied these sites in Oakland
and reread the old HOK study, I was reminded of this past summer and my trip to watch
Rickey go into the hall.  Who knew he was so profound? “Mom do knows best.”
So I set out to question the assumptions I had made about Howard Terminal and the
OFD Site. And to learn just what the heck JLS West was.
I already had read a bunch about Howard Terminal and was pretty sure it was not
workable, I still feel that way after reading some more. I had read next to nothing about
JLS West and done less research on the site, but now I can see why it would be an
intriguing option for the MLB panel looking into this sort of thing. Before embarking on
this research, the site I was most optimistic about was Victory Court (or OFD as ML
called it based on navigator’s original suggestion). Is that still the case? And based on
what? Before we run the HOK test on the site, some context to what I consider to be the
Victory Court site:


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The picture above is a mock up ML has done to show JLS West and Victory Court and
their suggested orientations. JLS West is closest to us, Victory Court in the upper right
hand corner. The green line is BART towards SF. The Yellow line is BART out towards
Contra Costa County. The giant skeleton hand attached to a pier is the ferry routes.
Basically the two new sites in Oakland are neighbors. But does that mean they are pretty
much the same? Let’s use the HOK method to test, shall we? Same rules as before,
which is to say I shall bend them a bit but still keep “7” as the top score.
Urban Design- The main difference between the two locations, from a design
perspective, is the orientation of the playing field. This is for purely asthetic reasons.
Over at JLS West if you point the stadium towards the water you get a nice view of a
power plant. Over here, at Victory Court, if you point the stadium away from the water
you get a freeway over-crossing. But if you point this one toward the water… well you get
a 7 on the HOK test. Or, more accurately, you get a view across the estuary, into
Alameda and the out into the grayish green, mother nature provided central air
conditioning unit known as the San Francisco Bay. With all the condos/warehouses in
the area there is a real opportunity to have the stadium blend right in to the urban
landscape. Not too shabby a view:

Transportation- The site most comparable to this one in the original HOK study was
Laney College. You can almost think of it as the same lot, just cut in half by a freeway.
Okay, that is an overstatement, but here is an overhead showing their proximity.
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Another nearby spot in that report was Oak to Ninth. Howard Terminal is also just down
the street. As seems to be a theme lately when talking about JLS, access is not exactly
ideal. The transportation scores for these sites? Howard Terminal 4, Laney 2 and O29 1.
That’s right, they were bottom of the barrel. There have been some improvements in
parking infrastructure since that time, and this site is much closer to BART than the
other JLS site worth exploring. But the 5 in the original report (Fremont) was more
accessible, served by two freeways with ample room for parking and BART station
planned for nearby (opening in 2014 complete with protestors and picket signs directed
at the A’s!)… so how do we score it? I give it a 5, but only because it is better than JLS
West and I gave that a 4.
Site Factors- This one is pretty close to a wash with JLS West. It has a bit more
acreage per oakladnexplorer.com but it has constraints with the freeway and railroad
tracks converging on the site. Plus the area where the OFD Training site actually is,
along the estuary, can’t be used as it is slated to become a park. Soil stabilization will be
an issue. All things considered, this site is not as good as JLS West, but isn’t really much
worse. I say we give ‘em both a 4.
Cost- This site is a little bit more expensive than the JLS West site. The value of the
land and the structures combines for about $40 Million. Add to that the cost of
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relocating businesses and you get a site that is clearly not as good as JLS West from a
cost perspective. It also bears noting that the cousin across the freeway, Laney College,
was rated equal to Howard Terminal in cost back in 2001. While I don’t expect this spot
to be as bad from a cost perspective as Howard Terminal, it won’t be as good as JLS
West. So let’s count it as a 3.
Timing- Originally, in the 2001 study, the timing was measured as such: Can this site
be ready for opening day 2006? If yes, it was scored a 7. If no, it was scored a 1. The only
site that got a 1 was Laney College. We gave JLS West a 6 yesterday due to the
complexity created by having 57 parcels and 33 landowners to work with. Here there are
12 land owners. I’d say that is less complex. It is a 7.
Grand Total: 25
25 was good enough to say “potentially viable” yesterday… and it’s good enough to say it
today. Today’s parting vision:

Good thing the MLB Committee has been looking into these for a while, there is plenty
to research.
Just a thought: Maybe we should take the 4 Oakland sites and Diridon and do our own
little HOK Test scoring on a 1-5 scale. Who is game?

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December 15, 2009
Word out of the South Bay is that the Giants have gotten their own community group
together to challenge the San Jose ballpark effort and the EIR, which is due next month.
The group is being led in part by the San Jose Giants and team president and Chief
Executive Jim Weyermann.
Weyermann declined to say what role the San Francisco Giants are playing in the
campaign, referring questions to the club. Officials there did not immediately return
calls for comment.
Asked who is paying for the law firm and the San Francisco public relations agency
that’s assisting the fledgling group, Weyermann would only say the San Jose Giants
were not footing the bill.
The timing couldn’t be better, given that earlier this year the City approved $600,000 in
renovations to San Jose Municipal Stadium (PDF). It doesn’t make sense to complain
about the EIR in oh, 2006, when the team and the city were still figuring out who was
going to pay for the improvements. Perhaps the Giants would like to refund some of that
money so that San Jose can improve schools and city services, eh? Or better yet, how
about the big parent club foot the bill and show how much San Jose really means to
Wednesday’s EIR scoping meeting (PDF) wasn’t expected to be very dramatic, but now
the public comments period might get interesting.

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January 8, 2010
Some of you have already taken to the Fremont news in the previous thread. There’s a
lot to go over here, so for now I’ll just give a brief overview of what Fremont’s doing.
In July, I wrote about the challenges that Fremont faces with NUMMI. At the time, the
winds were blowing cold for the plant and only a month later, Toyota announced plans
to close the plant. Knowing the future it faced with the loss of a major employer,
Fremont snapped into action. The documents the city has made available are a
culmination of nearly three years of EIR work. There’s the traffic and transportation
study that we’d been looking for, lots of valuable ticket sales data furnished by the A’s,
and more. Here are some handy links if you want to dive in:

Matthew Artz’ article in the Argus
Carolyn Jones’ article in the Chronicle
Staff Report for Tuesday (1/12, 5:00 PM) Work Session (PDF)
Conceptual Approach & Appendices (ZIP file, 27 MB)

Here’s how I understand this would work:
• Fremont and perhaps Alameda County via a JPA would buy 120 acres of NUMMI land
at the north end of the plant for the ballpark and parking.
• The 36,000-seat ballpark would be located roughly 1/2 mile west of the future Warm
Springs BART station.
• The massive lot used for assembled vehicles would be the main parking lot, with 8,920
spaces. 2,000 spaces would be off-site.
• City expects 10% of fans to use public transit, plus a fairly high number of charter bus
• The next three years would be spent prepping the legal stuff including zoning and
entitlements changes.Construction would start in March 2013
• Opening Day would be in April 2015, coinciding with the projected start of BART
service to Warm Springs in late 2014.
• Ballpark land lease would be $1 million a year
• City would get a $1/ticket fee
• Parking revenue splits would be 75% A’s/25% Fremont
Before some of you start laying into Oakland for not having something like this ready,
keep in mind that much of this data was already available for Fremont, so it’s not like
there were additional expenditures or lead times for reports.
One of the biggest issues for Fremont is figuring out how to acquire the land. Fremont
doesn’t have a massive redevelopment agency like San Jose and Oakland, and it doesn’t
practice land banking as a method to cover the cost. NUMMI is also not in an
established redevelopment zone, so if the City were to move forward with this, they’d
have to go through the process of making NUMMI such a zone (which makes sense
ultimately – still it’s a hurdle).
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Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the NIMBY factor, which helped sink
the previous plan. The difference between this location and the oft-considered location
in the aborted Warm Springs plan is not great, only 1/2 mile. I imagine that many of the
concerns expressed then will still be concerns now. We’ll see if the economic change –
both local and national – seen in the last year affects perspectives.

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January 20, 2010
I wouldn’t have seen Guy Saperstein’s recent, brief letter to the Trib from over a week
ago had BaseballOakland’s Garth Kimball not responded to it. In fairness, I’ll put both
here in their entirety. First, Saperstein’s letter:
Need business plan
The City of Oakland, after many years of doing nothing to keep the A’s in town,
have come up with three potential parcels of land, none very attractive for a
baseball stadium site. But what the city’s proposal lacks is any business plan, let
alone a viable business plan.
The A’s have been losing $30-plus million a year in Oakland for some time — an
amount subsidized by Major League Baseball. No team owner wants to lose $30
million a year, nor can MLB be expected to continue subsidizing the A’s.
Unless Oakland produces a viable business plan for building a new stadium as well
as successfully operating the team in Oakland without losing tens of millions of
dollars every year — a plan that works not only for the team but also the city and
its taxpayers — those who think finding a few parcels of land is enough to keep the
A’s in Oakland are simply misleading the public.
Guy T. Saperstein
And now Kimball’s response:
My Word: Oakland A’s fans deserve better ownership
Guy Saperstein and the A’s ownership continue to distort the truth in an attempt to
destroy the A’s fan base and to get Major League Baseball approval to move out of
Saperstein’s Jan. 8 letter to the editor, “Need business plan,” about A’s ballpark
sites failed to disclose that he is an A’s co-owner. He also wrote that Oakland does
not have a ballpark business plan. Yet, Oakland officials recently announced that
the city and MLB officials together have fully analyzed three waterfront sites and
provided detailed ballpark and economic redevelopment plans to MLB’s Blue
Ribbon Committee.
Saperstein mentioned the Jack London Square sites are just a few parcels of land
and not very attractive for a stadium. Those three proposed sites total more than
90 acres and are ideal MLB stadium sites. Also, since when is a waterfront ballpark
with wonderful transit options and beautiful views not attractive?
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Saperstein also claims the A’s are losing $30 million per year. According to Forbes
magazine, the A’s are one of MLB’s few teams that regularly turn a profit, due to
their low payroll and their sweetheart Coliseum lease from the city of Oakland and
Alameda County.
Meanwhile, A’s co-owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher have done nothing but
depress attendance and hurt their own bottom line by providing poor customer
service, trading away fan-favorite players, threatening to move every year and
excluding many fans by tarping off the third deck.
Wolff has repeatedly stated he exhausted all efforts in Oakland. Yet, city officials
last year quickly found two new excellent waterfront ballpark sites. All it took was
effort and working with, not against, city leaders.
A new ballpark in Oakland certainly would be successful. However, what we need
even more is ownership like the Haas family provided; an A’s ownership that will
reach out to the entire East Bay and an ownership that will be committed to
staying in Oakland and winning.
Oakland is a wonderfully diverse city with great transportation options. We
deserve better than Wolff, Fisher and Saperstein, who whine instead of trying to
win. The team should be put up for sale and a new ballpark should be built in
As the 31,000 people (and growing) who have joined the “Let’s Go Oakland”
Facebook page illustrate, A’s fans are yearning for MLB to grant the city of
Oakland its first real chance since the Haas years to retain its team and return it to
Saperstein warns about misleading the public. Unfortunately, if A’s fans and the
public have been misled by anyone, it’s Wolff, Fisher, Saperstein and their fellow
A’s co-owners. We deserve better.
I’ve mostly refrained from commenting on the Oakland plan simply because I don’t
know much about all of the details. However, I wasn’t impressed with what I saw
coming out of the press conference and I’m not sure the panel will be either. In light of
the large amount of information that Fremont has released, Oakland has to come up
with something approaching that level of detail to give an impression that they are really
trying, not just posturing. And that’s why the one criticism I made at the time was that
Oakland should be focusing on one site, not three. Now I suppose I can let loose:
• Instead of buying web ads all over the place for Let’s Go Oakland, supporters could
have used the money to get a feasibility study completed. A study for three sites might
be prohibitively expensive, one site would be more cost-effective. The 2002 HOK
study is incredibly outdated, another one is needed for any Oakland site.
• Saperstein refers to a lack of a business plan. Kimball’s retort is that Oakland supplied
redevelopment and ballpark plans. That’s not what Saperstein, the rest of A’s
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ownership, and MLB are looking for. We know why JLS is the preferred area in
Oakland for several reasons, not the least of which is that there are plenty of business
interests at JLS that would love to have an anchor like a ballpark where none exists
currently. But it’s not about them. It’s about the A’s and MLB – how can you make it
work for them? Simply claiming that it would be successful, and then citing figures
from 20 years ago when a massive sea change has taken place since then, isn’t going to
cut it. On the public side, Mayor Dellums has alluded to funding sources outside the
city to help pay for land and infrastructure costs. Okay, since that’s a wildcard among
wildcards, what is that funding? Will any of the Oakland options be dependent on this
funding? How much of a risk does that entail?
• Saperstein claims that the A’s lose $30 million a year – not for them, for MLB – and
the annual revenue sharing check is proof of that. Kimball then cites the Forbes
income numbers, which are bolstered by revenue sharing in the A’s case. In other
words, the A’s are a long time money-losing franchise for MLB. If you’re focusing on
just the A’s or Oakland, you’re missing the big picture.
• While certain details of Oakland’s plans have been available to the panel and some of
the media, they’re not available to the public. There’s a press release. There is no
dedicated website, no pictures or downloadable documents, not even a FAQ. In fact, if
you click on the “New Ballpark” link at BaseballOakland, you get a “Page not found”
error. Let’s Go Oakland’s page hasn’t evolved past the petition drive stage. It’s great to
rally the troops through a Facebook page, how about giving them something to chew
on as well?
What I will agree with Kimball on is that Oakland deserves a fair chance to keep the A’s
in town. I hope that through the process put forth by the panel, they’ll have that chance.
What I’m afraid of is that Oakland is focusing its resources too much on P.R. and not on
the meat of a deal, which if true doesn’t do anyone any good. That said, Kimball’s closing
plea is for the A’s to be sold to someone more Oakland-friendly. Thanks for the oh-sopredictable cop-out. Let’s try proposing something a little more practical, shall we?

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February 8, 2010
According to East Bay Express scribe Robert Gammon, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums
spilled the beans on the date of the MLB panel’s forthcoming report. Monday is the big
day, apparently. That jibes with what I had heard privately. Update: Gammon reports
that the report will be delayed a week (Matthew Artz reported the same last week).
Over at the A’s Drumbeat, Vlae Kershner is laying odds. For entertainment purposes
only, of course.
Longtime broadcaster Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, a longtime Fremont resident, doesn’t think
his city has the mindset to get a ballpark deal done.
Let’s keep all of this in perspective. One city will “win” this recommendation, but will
have a long way to go towards having/keeping the A’s. The others will be DFA’ed for all

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February 11, 2010
While we’re waiting for some reports to be distributed, I’ll let you in on an exchange I
had with A’s Senior Director of Ticket Operations, Steve Fanelli. gojohn10 had noticed
that the All You Can Eat View Level Upper Reserved sections (316-318) are now being
called the “Value Deck.” Tickets for these seats are called “Jumbo Tickets” and cost $12
for regular games, $15 for premium dates (Giants, Yankees, etc.).
Each Value Deck ticket will come with $6 of food or merchandise credit baked into the
ticket’s barcode. If you have one of those tickets you can have your ticket scanned at one
of the concession stands behind 316-318 or at a participating stand on the Plaza or Field
concourse. Fanelli said that they’re working on a Value menu, containing items that cost
less than $5. You’ll be able to use multiple ticket credits for a single purchase. I didn’t
ask, but I assume that the value isn’t good for beer.
I wish this was offered in 2006, instead of tarping off the entire third deck. It combines
a cheap ticket ($6) with guaranteed concessions revenue -or rather, a justification for
keeping the concession stands on the upper concourse open. As it grows in popularity,
more sections can be untarped so that more people can take advantage. Even though I
bought a fielder’s choice plan in the bleachers for this year, I would seriously consider
changing that seat to a value deck seat. Unfortunately, the A’s don’t offer a value deck
season ticket plan (doh!).
I’ve never seen a proper breakdown of the A’s revenues per attendee, but they have to be
among the lowest in the majors. It’s not just the ticket discounts like Double Play
Wednesday. I don’t have any hard evidence of this, but I’ll put it out anyway: We
hardcore fans don’t spend our money in the Coliseum. Who does? Casual fans. Not only
are the concession stands much more full on the weekends when casual fans come out,
they buy food and merchandise in greater quantities than we do. Given the A’s revenue
woes, they should be exploring every avenue to bring more casual fans in – and this
sounds like a good start since it works for both fan and team.
That’s not to say that hardcore fans should feel ashamed. I don’t. I’m much more likely
to bring in a burrito and a 20-oz. soda in than I am to get a Big Dog and a souvenir cup.
The team allows it, so I’m going to take advantage. I go with a large group about twice a
year and we always do a nice tailgate and bring stuff in. Hardcore fans go often, so they
don’t feel compelled to buy something everytime they enter the gates. We’ve tasted
everything there already.
The Value Deck, as it stands with Sections 316-318, is only around 1200 seats. So even if
it is incredibly successful, it’s not going to move the needle that much. Still, I like the
concept as it takes some of the packaging done with ticket packs and makes it an
everyday, individual seat purchase. As a marketing experiment, it’s not exclusionary as
tarping and the AYCE tickets were. In fact, I believe in it enough that I’d like to buy 4
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tickets for myself and 3 blog friends. I’d like to document the whole experience, from
buying the tickets to entering the Coli to cashing in the $6 credit for the first time.
Anyone interested? Drop me an e-mail and we can work out the details.

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February 16, 2010
The Trib’s Kelly Rayburn sets the table for what should be the forthcoming report to the
commish this week.
The commissioner’s committee is expected to discuss the ballpark sites, the cities’
abilities to make infrastructure improvements, market and corporate vitality, and the
politics surrounding a possible move, numerous sources said.
Nearly lost among the posturing among all of the cities and booster groups is noted
Stanford sports economist Roger Noll’s opinion:
Roger Noll, an authority on the business of professional sports, does not see the
territorial rights issue as a death knell for the A’s designs on San Jose. He believes the
matter can be settled for the right price: $20 million or $30 million.
“My expectation is eventually they will move. How long it will take to move, I don’t
know,” Noll said. “Among all the options the most likely is San Jose.”
I’m not sure where Noll gets the number from, and I think that whatever compensation
is made won’t be a simple $25 million lump sum payment. However, it’s a more realistic
number than what many have been calling for: $100-300 million.

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February 24, 2010
Just in case the Santa Clara stadium concept gets voted down, the Oakland-Alameda
County Coliseum Authority gave the green light to a feasibility study for a new NFL
stadium on Coliseum grounds. The study will cost $125,000, the entirety of which will
by paid for by the Authority. Conventions, Sports & Leisure International will be doing
the work, as they did for the 49ers’ and A’s economic impact reports. (Seems like they’ve
got this market cornered, no?)
Zennie Abraham is upset about the apparent lack of minority involvement. My guess is
that since CSLI worked with the Niners on the single and dual-team concept, whatever
they learned from that experience could be leveraged for a new Coliseum stadium. One
interesting note: CSLI is also doing a post mortem economic impact report on Petco
Park. Of course, I painted the 49ers’ study as overly rosy and the A’s as a mixed bag, so
it’s hard to know what to expect from CSLI. Cam Inman thinks the study is a waste of
money since we can easily predict the results.
Perhaps the most troubling thing is the apparent disconnect between the Raiders and
the Authority. From Amy Trask (via Chris Metinko’s Tribune article):
“We have expended resources in evaluating and furthering the concept of an urban
redevelopment project, anchored by a stadium. In that regard, we have already
engaged (at our expense) professionals to assist with this analysis. We have not heard
from the Joint Powers Authority about the funding of a study, so it would be
inappropriate to comment further.”
I thought that these two parties were in some hush-hush negotiations over the past year.
Man, oh man. I, myself, am coordinating a move of my employer’s 12-person office to a
bigger space in a different building within the complex. There’s no feasibility study
needed, but that seems like one of those major items on a project plan, like “finalize
budget” or “send out communications to employees.” What does it say about the state of
affairs that Trask said she wasn’t contacted, and that the team has been doing its own
studies? Sounds like they aren’t on the same page at the very least. Are the Raiders that
interested in staying at the Coliseum? The only public rumblings we’ve heard so far were
the Raiders talking to Dublin about Camp Parks.
All this gets a big shrug out of me.
Update: Matier & Ross report that Oakland has bought 19 acres of land near the
Coliseum as part of this effort. My guess is that it’s the old HomeBase site (PDF) on
Hegenberger. Some observations:
• The land cost is $19 million for 19 acres. Wolff was willing to buy Coliseum North land
for $1 million an acre.
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• The HomeBase site is rectangular, making it perfectly sized and shaped for a football
• If the stadium is placed correctly, it should avoid EBMUD’s massive sewer interceptor,
which runs right through the Coliseum and Malibu lots and can’t have any structures
on top of it.

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March 11, 2010
Not sure why this took so long, but here is SVLG’s endorsement, courtesy of Mayor
Chuck Reed’s office.
Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorses San Jose’s effort to bring a privately
built baseball stadium in downtown San Jose
Board of directors vote was unanimous
San Jose – March 11 – The board of directors of the Silicon Valley Leadership
Group voted unanimously today to support the San Jose City Council’s effort to
bring a privately built and operated major league baseball stadium that is expected
to create nearly 1,000 jobs and generate more than $5 million dollars a year of
revenue for local governments.
“The stadium effort touches all the bases,” said Carl Guardino, CEO and president
of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “It provides jobs, strengthens our economy,
offers a cultural aspect for our families and is a stone’s throw from the future BART
station, already home to Caltrain, light rail and Amtrak.”
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said, “I want to thank the Silicon Valley Leadership
Group for endorsing our efforts to bring major league baseball to downtown San
Jose. Silicon Valley’s business and technology leaders know that professional
baseball makes fiscal and economic sense for San Jose and our neighboring
communities. As the largest city in Northern California and one of the most
dynamic markets for sports in the U.S., the time is right for professional baseball to
turn its attention to San José.”
San Jose has identified a fourteen-acre site at the western edge of downtown for a
32,000-seat major league ballpark. The was chosen because it is readily accessible
by major public transportation facilities including Caltrain, VTA bus and light rail,
as well as a future BART station.
Major League Baseball is currently reviewing site options and territorial rights for
the Oakland A’s. Pending a favorable conclusion, a vote by the citizens of San Jose
will be necessary. It is anticipated that this will occur in November 2010. The
earliest a ballpark would open is Spring 2014.

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March 22, 2010
Let the bidding begin. Here are several links for you to peruse:

Tim Kawakami looks at several bidders besides Larry Ellison
ESPN’s Marc Stein has the national take
SI’s Frank Hughes brings up Jerry West as a GM candidate
SF Business Times article

The Golden State Warriors surprised everyone today by announcing that they have hired
Galatioto Sports Partners to help facilitate a future sale. GSP is no stranger to the
business, as they just finished the sale of the Charlotte Bobcats to Michael Jordan. They
also have some serious league experience onboard in former NBA deputy commissioner
Russ Granik.
Beleaguered owner Chris Cohan may be looking for upwards of $400 million for the
team, even though Forbes pegged the W’s value going into this season at $315 million.
Assuming Forbes is correct, that’s at least a 27% premium, which could make some
prospective buyers balk. Larry Ellison is obviously the most prominent suitor, but
there’s no shortage of moneyed interests from all over the Bay Area that could take a
Beyond the sale, which will probably take at least a year to consummate, there is the
issue of where the W’s will play after their lease (and Oracle’s naming rights deal) ends
after the 2016-17 season. While Oracle Arena is unquestionably a superior basketball
venue compared to HP Pavilion, it remains to be seen if that will be satisfactory to
whomever buys the team. If Ellison buys the team, it would stand to reason that he’d
take the Oracle brand and use it as a cornerstone for a new arena deal, perhaps in San
Francisco. Kawakami muses on this further:
According to my sources, almost all of the major parties interested in the Warriors are
looking to possibly move the team to San Francisco, in a newly built (privately
financed) arena in Giants’ parking lot adjacent to AT&T Park.
That includes Ellison, I’m told, though I believe he’d want to own the Warriors
wherever they play–his company’s name, after all, is on the current arena.
With a bigger sponsorship base and a new luxury downtown arena, the Warriors
would almost certainly have a higher revenue stream if they were located in San

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I’ve heard that the Giants could be involved in several of these forming groups, either
as a background partner (remember, they’re also minority owners of Comcast Bay
Area) or larger player in the purchase.
Right now, AT&T Park is used about 100 dates a year, for Giants games and concerts,
etc. If there’s an arena built next door, that’s possibly another 100 dates for that area,
and you can easily imagine more retail and other use of that corridor.
It’s not out of the question, though it’s a given that a new arena would have to be
privately financed. In any event, W’s fans have to be happy that the one thing they’ve
wanted the last decade – Cohan selling their team – is one step closer to happening.

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March 26, 2010
I read this morning that some folks over at OAFC are complaining that San Jose
partisans keep touting the city’s size, while claiming that Oakland’s population density is
as important if not moreso. There’s only one problem with that argument: the fanbase
as whole can’t be judged on the population density of a town that represents 10% of
While Oakland is undoubtedly more dense than San Jose, when you start to look at
Oakland in combination with adjacent and nearby cities and towns, the density gap
shrinks significantly. For Oakland to match San Jose in population, it would have to
annex or include every nearby city north to Berkeley and south to Hayward. The net
effect of doing this not only approaches San Jose in terms of population, it also
approaches San Jose’s area.

So for a comparably sized population and area, the difference in density is less than 300
persons per square mile – or 1 person for every 2 acres. It makes the East Bay look much
more suburban than is often claimed – and really, there’s nothing wrong with that. The
only truly metropolitan city in the region is San Francisco, with a whopping 17,323
persons per square mile. The other two major cities are just pretending.

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If the regions are comparable in terms of area and population, then why does either
matter? Politics, that’s why. As I’ve mentioned before, Oakland has not built any major
sports facility without the help of Alameda County. I don’t see any evidence that it can.
The Coliseum Authority is a joint powers body, and the recent 19-acre acquisition of the
Coliseum-adjacent HomeBase site was done with the idea that any new stadium deal
would have to be done within the auspices of the JPA. Now that sites at JLS have been
proposed, Oakland’s pols have to make a very tough decision: either go it alone or
introduce the Coliseum Authority (or some other new JPA) into the process. While a
JPA (and Alameda County by extension) could have expanded bonding capacity, any
deal involving a JPA will take longer and will be more politically difficult due to
Even though a new ballpark is expected to be privately financed, it’s expected that land
and infrastructure improvements will be required. That means new on/off-ramps,
additional parking – things that, so far, Oakland partisans have either neglected to
mention or dismissed casually. This is crucial stuff, folks! You can’t dismiss it or wish it
away, because like it or not, you’re in a competitive situation. You have to put your best
foot forward. That doesn’t mean selling your soul or acquiring a bunch of land via
eminent domain. It means giving more than the occasional press conference or sound
byte to a sympathetic columnist. It means doing more than symbolic acts.
That’s why San Jose, despite the territorial rights issue, has a competitive advantage. It
doesn’t have to go through making that tough choice. It has already built a sports facility
on its own, and can point to it as a success story, not hide from it as a political liability.
It has the resources and the tax base to support big projects.
It has done due diligence. It has been patient. It hasn’t complained or lashed out (at
least during the Reed administration) throughout the process. It has studied sites
formally for four years. It has been executing its strategy to acquire land, and identified
funding sources for it. These aren’t trivial steps. These are fundamental, crucial,
expensive steps. It has reached out to the community to talk though issues. And most
importantly, it hasn’t buckled at the first sign of resistance. Whatever the MLB panel’s
criteria, surely near the top of the list has to be political climate. No amount of talk can
substitute for real action in that regard. Look at it this way: I expect Chuck Reed to be
reelected this year. I don’t expect Ron Dellums, who still hasn’t officially declared if he’s
running again, to be reelected. In Fremont, Bob Wasserman survived his reelection
campaign and if Fremont is the choice, at least he’ll be able to see the process through.
Any project of this magnitude needs a champion, needs someone to carry the water and
take the bullets when they come. At least in two cities, we know who’s going to do that.
Who’s going to do that in Oakland?
Going back to the size issue, consider this: the A’s need less than 1% of San Jose’s
population to become season ticket holders to become a success. Less than 1% equals
9,000 new season ticket holders, which rivals the A’s existing roll. Having “San Jose” on
the front of the jersey is going to be major motivation on its own. Throw in even more
wealthy communities to the west and existing A’s fans in southern Alameda County, and
it’s not hard to see A’s conservatively pull in 15,000 season ticket holders, maybe even
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20,000 in really good years. (The Twins have hit 24,000 prior to the inaugural season at
Target Field.) 15,000 full season tickets equals 1.2 million advance tickets sold, not
including partial packages, family packs, and other types of sales. Even San Jose’s share
equals 729,000 tickets, or one-third of a 2.1 million attendance season.
Does size matter? You bet it does. Size means political weight. Size means massive sales
potential. Size means huge civic pride just waiting to be unleashed. If you don’t have the
size, you don’t have the clout. You have to scramble, you have to hustle. And the fact that
Oakland will have to do that puts them at a disadvantage. It’s unfortunate, especially
because Oakland has had a chance to put themselves in a better, more ready position. If
Oakland loses the A’s, it won’t be entirely the city’s fault. They won’t have had the
benefit of a fully willing and eager partner in A’s ownership. In the end, history will be
written by the winners. Everything else will be a footnote.

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April 6, 2010
First off, I have to apologize for being an absentee blogrunner the last couple of days.
This is a busy week at work, so busy that I haven’t been able to do rudimentary
moderation. All will be back to normal tomorrow (unless something blows up). On a
tangential note, I’m exploring new ways to do some blogging and simple work tasks (yes,
that was my ugly mug on TV Saturday night).
On to the news. As reported Monday, Fremont’s wondering what the fate will be of the
now shuttered NUMMI plant, which I drove by Friday morning as a crane was getting
ready to take the plant’s sign off. If history is any indicator, it’ll turn into a mall.
Oakland’s Chevy plant shut down in 1963 and was demolished to make way for
Eastmont Mall, which itself was closed and reused as a mixed government/retail center.
The Ford plant in Milpitas was reused as a large outlet mall, with numerous references
to its storied past. Reporter Matthew Artz notes that cleanup cost for the Ford plant was
$12 million ($20 million in today’s dollars, though it’s impossible to tell just how much
it’ll cost today until an assessment is made. Mayor Bob Wasserman thinks that the land
will fetch $1.5 million per acre, or $555 million for the whole shebang. Last July, I wrote
about how no one should start thinking that any of the land could quickly be turned over
for a ballpark because of the planning and development process. This article, among
others, confirms this. If neither San Jose nor Oakland fall out, Fremont may become a
good option, but it’s unlikely that anything could start there until the middle of the
12 miles south of NUMMI, MLB second-in-command Bob DuPuy visited San Jose City
Hall, meeting with Mayor Chuck Reed and Lew Wolff.
“We talked about baseball and opening day,” said Reed, adding that DuPuy, with
whom he has talked on the phone before, “wanted to see San Jose in person.”
DuPuy is one of two people to whom a special committee appointed by baseball
Commissioner Bud Selig to study the A’s stadium options is reporting. The other
person is Selig himself, a college fraternity brother of Wolff’s.
Reed said baseball officials “like San Jose, and they are doing their due diligence. We
just have to be patient.” The committee is expected to make a recommendation to Selig
in the near future; San Jose officials have said they need a decision by late July in
order to schedule a November ballot measure on a proposal to let the team build on
city-owned land.
Wolff told the Mercury News the meeting with DuPuy “was really more of a hello —
nothing earth-shaking. The process is still the process.”

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I know that many San Jose partisans are getting excited about this – don’t. The key
phrase is “due diligence.” The three amigos didn’t even visit the ballpark site, choosing
instead to get an obstructed view from the 18th floor. As my 8th grade social studies
teacher, Mr. Gredasoff, used to say when he got fed up with the class’s behavior, we’re
“moving along at a feverish pace.”

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April 28, 2010
4/29 10:19 AM – Doug Boxer has put out his Powerpoint slide deck summarizing the
Now this is what I’m talking about! Some data to dig into. Yes, economic impact reports
should be read with a jaundiced eye, but it’s also important to understand the context by
which the data is being presented. Sure, there are projections based on what would
happen if the A’s moved to the JLS area. There are also estimates of the losses Oakland
and Alameda County would face if the A’s left. Not trying to cherry-pick, but I found
certain things interesting:
Debt service payment for the facility by the JPA was $9,143,741 for the 2008-2009 year.
The current principal on the debt is approximately $180 million. The baseball team pays
an annual rent of $1,025,000 to the JPA for the eighty-one (81) games it plays in the
stadium, and for the use of the adjoining land for parking. The A’s also reimburse the
JPA for the cost of cleaning the stadium, which in the 2008 playing season came to
$1,185,893. The costs of converting the stadium from football to baseball games are
substantial, and are borne by the JPA.
Thus, from an annual operating perspective, the rent paid to the JPA and the operating
expenses borne by the Authority are pretty close to financial break-even. However, the
costs of updating and maintaining the facility are paid by the Authority, and in the
2008-2009 fiscal year such costs came to slightly over $1.5 million. GG+A is not in a
position to estimate how much, if at all, such capital improvement costs could be
reduced if the A’s team leaves the Coliseum.
Because the rent paid by the A’s is close to the amount required to convert the stadium
from football to baseball, and the cash outflow for debt repayment and needed
maintenance are “sunk costs;” the JPA would not suffer financial loss from the
departure of the baseball team. But the JPA would hate to see the A’s leave because the
Authority realizes that Oakland’s job and income base is expanded by the operations of
the ball club in the city. Further, the taxes and fees paid to Oakland and Alameda County
by the ball club, the many vendors and service organizations that serve the team, and
the fans who attend games flow much needed revenues into the treasuries of the City
and the County.
This basically lines up with comments Ignacio De La Fuente has made about the impact
of the A’s. If the A’s were to leave, the impacts to Oakland and Alameda County would be
as follows:
• Oakland: -885 Jobs, -$29,452,000 Income
• Alameda County: -953 Jobs, -$32,566,000 Income

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Next up, the proposed sites and impact. BTW, my initial thoughts are that the direct
impacts are straightforward and in many cases quite conservative, while the indirect
impacts, as usual for such reports, appear to be a bit specious.
—April 29, 2010
Perhaps you all have heard, Let’s Go Oakland commissioned an Economic Impact
Analysis and held a press conference about it yesterday? Before I give you my
impression, a few things… I am not going to compare this to the Economic Analysis
conducted by San Jose or Fremont (Marine Layer is working on that now, stay tuned).
Second, I won’t use this report to compare San Jose or Fremont’s business value to
Oakland’s for the simple fact that it is not an appropriate application for a report like
this. All that said, here is my summary:
• I was a bit disappointed that the report still leaves us in the dark about what a final
location might be. I had hoped we would get some clue about what Oakland’s
preference would be for a site. I don’t like that they estimated the impacts of Howard
Terminal, Victory Court and JLS North to be the same, but it is true that the
conclusion is the same: Oakland should prefer something in JLS to a stadium in the
Coliseum parking lot. The cost to purchase the sites is most favorable at Victory Court
($22M) and most expensive at JLS North (over $100 M). The valuations for the
parcels is included on pages 33 through 35.
• While it could be argued that much of the benefit of JLS is overstated as “spill over
development,” it is true that the potential for spill over development exists at JLS in a
way that it doesn’t at the Coliseum. So take the spill over development specific number
(the report puts it at $4.7B over 30 years based on increased property values and
$980M in property tax as a result, in the chart on page 60) with a large grain of salt,
but not the concept that spill over development in JLS is a clear benefit to the City
versus keeping the A’s in the Coliseum complex.
• The report concludes that the largest negative immediate  impact of the A’s leaving
Oakland altogether would be the loss of one time stimulus of $500M over three years
in stadium construction expenditures (which the report estimates to create $790.8M
in Total Output). It’s hard to argue with that.
Ultimately, after reading the report, I am pretty confident in the direct impacts that are
outlined because a conservative approach was taken. These direct impacts, such as fan
spending, are potentially understated if anything. The indirect stuff, like the positive
impact of spill over development, is sort of pie in the sky rose colored glasses optimism.
But that is how these reports work.
It will be interesting to see what comes next.

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May 6, 2010
Now here’s something you won’t see given to A’s fans for a long time. It’s the Giants’
current ticket pricing list, with different prices set per series or even per game within a
series. Don’t worry that the resolution of the table is too low to be legible, here’s the

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As complex as that is, it’s just the start. All unsold tickets are subject to market pricing,
so that higher demand can lead to even higher prices. Here’s the Giants’ disclaimer:
Market pricing applies to all tickets.
Rates can fluctuate based on factors affecting supply and demand.
Lock in your price and location today!
Crazy? Well, it’s the future. Not every team will go to such extremes, but it’s still a way
for any team to eek out as much revenue from ticket-buying fans as possible.

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May 9, 2010
What a game. So efficient. Such great control. Do your thing Dallas, and fans, please give
it up for the 209.
BTW, the hug with his grandma made me a little verklempt. Braden lost his mother to
cancer in high school, and his grandmother raised him. I lost my mom to cancer a few
years back, so I can relate. Wherever you go, whomever you pitch for, I will always root
for you, Dallas Braden.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 -

Tampa Bay Rays
J Bartlett SS
C Crawford LF
B Zobrist 2B
E Longoria 3B
C Pena 1B
B Upton CF
W Aybar DH
D Navarro C
G Kapler RF












Oakland Athletics
C Pennington SS
D Barton 1B
R Sweeney RF
K Kouzmanoff 3B
E Chavez DH
A Rosales 2B
E Patterson LF 4
L Powell C
R Davis CF








Tampa Bay Rays
J Shields(L, 4-1)
D Wheeler








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A Sonnanstine
1.0 1
8.0 12
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: J Shields 16/30; D Wheeler
1/4; A Sonnanstine 2/4
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: J
Shields 21-10-19-22;
D Wheeler 1-5-6-0; A Sonnanstine 2-0-2-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: J Shields 5-7; D Wheeler 0-0; A
Sonnanstine 1-2
Oakland Athletics
D Braden(W, 4-2)9.0 0
9.0 0
First-pitch strikes/Batters faced: D Braden 17/27
Called strikes-Swinging strikes-Foul balls-In Play strikes: D
Braden 25-5-29-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls: D Braden 7-14
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
12,228 (34.9% full) - % is based on regular
season capacity
Game Time 2:07
59 degrees, cloudy
20 mph
Home Plate - Jim Wolf, First Base - Derryl Cousins,
Second Base - Jim Joyce, Third Base - Todd Tichenor

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May 16, 2010
Guess we should’ve seen this coming. The Oakland Tribune’s Editorial page criticized
Oakland’s approach towards retaining the A’s, in effect saying that the effort is too little
and perhaps too late. The argument is summed up in a simple two sentence paragraph.
With so much at stake, the city should have jumped into the fray with San Jose much
earlier and fought much harder to keep the A’s. Having monthly meetings doesn’t cut it.
Those of you who read this here blog frequently know that the writers here feel exactly
the same way. Since December, we’ve been looking for something substantive,
something that could approach in effort the work that has been done in San Jose and
even Fremont. Sadly, the only report we’ve seen is basically a sales pitch to move the A’s
to JLS in order to boost the city’s tax revenues and make area development more
Don’t believe that last part? In the report, JLS and surrounding neighborhoods are
divided into seven areas to gauge potential spillover effects from a ballpark. Area 7 is the
Oak-to-Ninth (O29) site, still waiting for development by Signature Properties (the
Ghielmettis). On page 57, a table shows that Area 7 would be 100% built out with a
ballpark, 85% without. When I read that, I did some quick math and estimated that the
difference has to be some $100-200 million. You can guess which business interests
helped bankroll the report.

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May 19, 2010
Darryl Boyd is doing a brief presentation on the SEIR (“S” for supplemental) process. So
far, letters have been submitted by the Shasta/Hanchett Park Neighborhood
Association, the San Jose Sharks, and San Jose Giants. Staff recommends certification
due to no new impacts after studying the modified project.
Now Dennis Korabiak is giving an overview of the project. Notes that there are 29,000
parking spaces in the downtown area.
So far, two commenters recommend not certifying the EIR, Eloy Wouters on the
grounds that parking and traffic analyses are flawed, another because of fiscal
responsibility concerns. A member of S/HNPA recommends the creation of a citizen
oversight committee, similar to what was done with the arena. Another commenter
recommends the 237/Zanker site as an alternative for the ballpark.
The lawyer from Stand for San Jose asserts that the traffic impact analysis for the
weeknight 6-7 PM makes no conclusions and does not properly identify mitigation
measures. Essentially this is a question of whether or not the SEIR properly states all of
the impacts. Cites a couple of lawsuits in LA and Oakland.
A member of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association is concerned about traffic
along CA-87′ though he also says that the ballpark would be a huge economic impact for
downtown and San Jose. He wants VTA to make a commitment to provide improved
services in the area, based on the success of transit usage in SF.
Michael Mulcahy (Baseball San Jose, friend of the Wolffs) is giving his sales pitch.
Another commenter criticizes the large environmental impact, while the last commenter
critiques the traffic study.
Dennis Korabiak summarizes, notes that the project will require a vote due to the land
contribution. Council decision to place project on the ballot would occur in June.
Commissioner Zito asks if the various mitigations that will be needed have been
disclosed. Korabiak replies yes. Commissioner Kamkar asks if the A’s will be paying for
the police and traffic enforcement. Answer is that it will have to be negotiated by the A’s
and City, with recommendations provided by the Good Neighbor Committee.
Public hearing closed. Now the rest of the planning commission has questions.
PG&E – What happens? No intention to acquire and relocate the substation.
Staff clarifies that the project is not in the “fair analysis” realm, which is often used to
create legal challenges for an EIR. I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this right, but it may
be because no major new impacts have been identified, compared to the old EIR. If true,
that’s huge. Staff also says that regardless of a day or night game situation, there will be
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enough parking throughout downtown – though I have to say this is a flawed argument
given the broad and one-sided definition of what downtown is.
8:33 PM – Motion to certify by Zito. Makes a statement to clarify that certifying the EIR
is not about being for or against the project, it’s about whether or not the document
itself is complete. Commissioner Jensen seconds. Commissioner Platten will not
support the motion but considers it close, thinks there may be a lawsuit. Commissioner
Klein thinks all of this could have been done with an amendment instead if a SEIR.
8:38 PM – Vote taken. Motion passes 4-1 with two commissioners absent. See ya in

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May 21, 2010
I stand corrected. Warm Springs is a no go, according to Lew Wolff, because of a lack of
a residential component as envisioned in the Pacific Commons plan.
“The entire activity in Fremont was based on the ability to sell residential
entitlements,” he said.
And Wolff doesn’t anticipate the market supporting the magnitude of housing
envisioned in the ballpark village plan. “I think we missed our opportunity,” he said.
“We have to be in an existing downtown.”
Oh well. Now that we’ve heard ownership’s perspective, the circle is complete. (Thanks
Matt Artz/Argus)

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June 2, 2010
It looks like something was in the works after all. Despite the Sharks’ objections to the
SEIR’s findings and recommendations, they and the City of San Jose agreed on a future
location for parking and possible office space (SJ Business Journal, SJ Mercury News).
The terms of the agreement are outlined in pages 68-90 of the June 15 City Council info
packet. The section is called “THIRD AMENDMENT TO THE AMENDED & RESTATED
SAN JOSE ARENA MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT.” Interestingly, the text of the
document points out that because the new parking garage would be an amendment to
an existing agreement, the garage would not be considered a new project, and (my
interpretation) thus would not require its own separate, new EIR.
The land for the garage is immediately north of HP Pavilion, on currently zoned
industrial parcels housing the decades-old Milligan News educational books facility, a
foundry, and two houses on N Montgomery St. Like the ballpark parcels, the garage
parcels would be subject to negotiation between the current owners and the City, though
the City could invoke eminent domain (yikes). San Jose Arena Management (Sharks/
SVSE) would be ultimately responsible for the land acquisition and development costs.
SJAM would also take in all revenues associated with operating the garage. The City
would reciprocate by funding the completion of Autumn Parkway – with what funds is
yet to be determined.

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The key here is that the location is not particularly ideal for either the ballpark or the
train station, as it’s over 1/3 mile away from either site (Area E above). A connector
bridge over Montgomery Street would connect the new garage to the existing elevated
parking lot, and a separate vehicle entrance/exit from the planned Autumn Parkway
would be the way to get there.While the location isn’t terribly convenient for train/
ballpark users, it does solve the issue of maintaining existing parking while a new garage
is built. As a result of this deal, both of the published garage options in the existing EIR
are now out of the running, though it’s possible and/or likely that they could be revisited
as parking demands rise in the future.
What does this mean for the A’s? For now, it means there’s one less obstacle and 1,000+
spaces of additional parking in the area when a ballpark opens, though again it won’t be
the most convenient location. In fact, some lots on the other side of CA-87 will be closer.
I think we’re moving closer to the notion that the A’s will look to build their own parking
garage on the ballpark site, also with 1,000 spaces give or take. The Nats already know
what this looks like.

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June 11, 2010
Having a big laugh over certain reactions to a piece about the 49ers and A’s and their
owners in the NY Times. The A’s part comes at the end, in which famed protester/fan
Jorge Leon has his long awaited meeting with Lew Wolff – this time in a suite.
For many fans, the teams’ search for new homes has become intensely personal.
On May 9, Lew Wolff , the 74-year-old A’s owner who also owns the San Jose
Earthquakes, invited Jorge Leon, a fan, and his friends to watch an A’s game in a
luxury box at the Coliseum. Mr. Wolff wanted to explain to them why he was trying to
move the team to San Jose. Mr. Leon had been ejected from a game three weeks earlier
for holding up a sign that read “Lew Wolff lied, he never tried,” a dig at the owner’s
public statements that he had exhausted all efforts to get a stadium deal in Oakland.
That night, the owner told Mr. Leon, a San Leandro lab technician who had “Oakland
A’s” tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, that he had wanted to build a stadium in
Oakland, but that the city could not come up with the land.
Mr. Leon and his friends talked with the A’s owner from the third inning on, at first
hardly noticing that Dallas Braden was on his way to pitching a perfect game. Mr.
Wolff left in the seventh inning, pulling on an Earthquakes jacket as he walked out of
the suite.
Mr. Leon said he came away from the evening unconvinced by Mr. Wolff.
“I want the A’s to stay in Oakland,” he said. “They bring so much pride to the city.”
Baseball Oakland went on AN and decided to jump on Wolff’s departure from the suite
as a sign the he’s not a real baseball fan. Field of Schemes’ Neil de Mause considered it a
sign that Wolff is one of the worst owners in baseball. When called out on the idea that
Wolff left the suite, not the game, de Mause tried to backpedal and cited a third/fourthhand report that Wolff left to go to a Quakes game – a game that was actually played the
night before.
Now, I’ve been in the owner’s suite twice. I’ve also talked to Wolff about how he likes to
attend ballgames. The fact is that he doesn’t like being in the suite unless he has to be
there. He only goes there to entertain guests. He shows up in the 2nd or 3rd inning and
leaves in the 7th, bidding the guests adieu and allowing the guests (who are generally
there to party, game being secondary) to finish eating the free food and drink. I
distinctly remember yelling out the suite window at Sean Gallagher, cursing his inability
to throw strikes. At the other end, Wolff looked at me and smiled, surprised. I guess he
doesn’t see too many bleacher creatures up in the hermetically sealed confines.

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Anyway, Wolff would much rather sit behind the A’s dugout, though at times he might
be in the Diamond Level or linger behind those seats. He may also head down to the
clubhouse if he chooses. The idea that people took a fairly innocuous set of events
(leaving in the 7th, putting on the Quakes jacket, everyone not paying attention to the
budding no-no) is simply rich. Is that what this has come to? Such is the blogosphere, I
On a tangentially related note, I should mention that among the World Cup hoopla that
the Quakes are playing an exhibition against Chivas USA at Raley Field tomorrow.
Should I run with that as being a trial balloon to move the Quakes to Sactown? Naw,
that would be irresponsible. Oops, I already wrote it.

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June 25, 2010
Many like to give credit to Peter Magowan for keeping the Giants in SF. With the death
of mega-developer Walter Shorenstein, let’s remember whose true legacy this was:
For some San Franciscans, Mr. Shorenstein’s most notable civic contribution was
helping to stop the Giants baseball team’s planned move to Florida in 1993. He was
sought out by then-Mayor Frank Jordan, and the two men joined other business
people committed to saving the team. Many have said that before Mr. Shorenstein
came into the fold, it looked like a lost cause. At the time, Larry Baer, then a CBS
executive who had grown up in the city, was working with Safeway CEO Peter
Magowan to drum up investors. Baer is now the Giants’ president.
“Walter played a pivotal role because he was at the center of a lot of planning and
strategy, and we held most of our meetings at his office at 555 California St.,” Baer
said in an interview Thursday. “Having a person of his stature made a statement
about the importance of keeping the team in San Francisco and sent a message to
everyone – including Major League Baseball – that we were serious.”
Mr. Shorenstein put up $6.6 million of his own money to help buy the franchise, but
subsequently sold his share after disagreeing with the direction the club was taking
under managing general partner Magowan. It also is widely believed that Mr.
Shorenstein felt he had not received sufficient public recognition for the role he played
in keeping the Giants in town.
Let’s also remember that Shorenstein wasn’t exactly a nice guy either:
While Mr. Shorenstein generally has been praised in the public arena, he also has felt
the lash of adverse publicity. He came under heavy criticism for his role in a nine-year
battle that ended with the 1979 destruction of the International Hotel on Kearny Street,
which had housed many elderly Filipino residents.
As a Filipino, I’d love to piss on Shorenstein’s grave, but there’s a bit of karma in
knowing that the garage that Shorenstein wanted on the I Hotel site never got built, and
that he was forced to sit on the land for years.

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July 3, 2010
It’s too bad that per the ML Constitution, teams and owners aren’t allowed to sue each
other. They’re not even allowed to have open sniping in the local papers or even a
Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Instead, we have Bill Neukom sending lawyers down to
San Jose to fight for the Giants (big and little). For the A’s, it’s County Assessor Larry
Stone penning an op-ed in today’s  edition of San Francisco’s paper.
In Stone’s plea to Neukom to call the dogs off, he mentions that the A’s have proposed
their own solution for determining compensation for South Bay territorial rights.
As I understand it, the A’s have agreed that following the opening of a San Jose ballpark,
the Giants would have the right to ask Major League Baseball to arbitrate any damages
to their fan base or revenue that were caused by the new stadium. Neukom has
apparently rejected this fair and simple approach, most likely because projections
conducted in a fair manner just might show that the San Jose ballpark would have a
positive impact on the orange and black.
Obviously, Neukom would reject such a deal as it doesn’t involve a massive upfront
payoff, the kind many believe it would take for the move to happen. However, by
continuing to take such an intransigent stance, Neukom risks allowing Bud Selig and his
committee to dictate compensation terms. Here’s are the four main tenets I expect to be
the framework regarding the committee’s report:
• The A’s hurt the Giants when they moved to Oakland in 1968 because it split the
market in two.
• The Giants hurt the A’s when they moved to a downtown SF ballpark in 2000 because
they suddenly had a new venue that was more accessible to everyone in the Bay Area.
• Trading the higher population of the East Bay and access to the North Bay for the
South Bay’s corporate money and lower population is essentially a wash.
• San Jose’s progress in terms of getting pieces of a stadium deal in place put it in
advantageous position.
That last part is not to say that Oakland isn’t making its own progress as it formally
acquired the OFDT site from CEDA, but as long as there’s no EIR or negotiations with
private landowners it’s well behind. That said, what would you consider fair
 compensation given the four points above? Is it at all clear cut?

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July 12, 2010
LA TImes baseball scribe Bill Shaikin has a fairly lengthy interview with one H.R. “Bud”
Selig on the eve of the All Star Game. I say “fairly” because the Times has chosen to split
the interview into ten (!) parts to hike up pageviews. In any case, Shaikin got Selig to
comment a little on the SF-Oakland-San Jose love triangle on page 4. Here’s the excerpt
with some interspersed commentary by yours truly.
Q: George Mitchell delivered the report you commissioned on baseball’s steroid era
— 700 interviews, 115,000 pages of documents — in 21 months. It has been 16
months since you commissioned a report on the Oakland Athletics’ stadium
situation, an issue that does not appear anywhere near as complex. The A’s still
want to move to San Jose; the San Francisco Giants still say no. Why have you not
been able to broker a deal between the A’s and the Giants?
A: …Now, as far as the San Francisco-Oakland thing: It’s complicated. I like both
parties a great deal. We have territorial rules. I put a committee together that has
the qualifications to understand. They’re still hard at work. They’ve still got things
to do. This has a lot of ramifications to it.
Eventually, I will make a decision. What I want to say — because I’m generally
very deliberate, as everybody knows — is that I didn’t want to have anybody say at
the end, ‘Did you look at this? Did you look at that? What about X? What about Y?’
Selig is basically saying that he has all the cards here, so he doesn’t have to do anything
right away. If  San Jose is balking at putting a measure on the ballot without the
decision, tough luck. Why should he put himself out and start making sausage with the
owners when SJ hasn’t gotten everything done yet?
Q: Why is it not as simple as: The Giants claim their business will be severely
damaged if the A’s move to San Jose, so you quantify how much their business is
hurt and write them a check?
A: It isn’t that simple. You’ve got two parties involved here. There are a lot of
questions that people raise about damage. It’s up to us to check everything out.
There are a lot of questions the other clubs can ask — and I will ask — before we
can make any move. I know that people want a decision. I understand that. But my
job is to get it right. If it takes a little longer than people thought, so be it.
Ergo, “I really don’t want to open up this can of worms because of the effect on the NY
teams. At least not until someone in the Bay Area has their act together.”
Q: The A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are the two teams still looking for a new ballpark.
When the collective bargaining agreement expires next year, so does the
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moratorium on contraction. If the ballpark situations are not resolved, would you
consider folding the A’s and Rays?
A: No, I wouldn’t. I think we have moved past that.
It’s too late to talk contraction until the after the next CBA begins.
We’re going into 16 years of labor peace. I regard that as maybe the prime reason
for the growth of the sport.
Do you really think Selig wants two contracted teams as part of his legacy?
I love the new ballparks. I love revenue sharing. I love interleague play and the
wild card. But I don’t think we understood how those labor confrontations were
damaging us, whether it was 1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990 or 1994.
There’s no need to fundamentally change the current CBA. The only people complaining
are fans (and some owners) of small market teams. Everyone else (owners, players’
union) is reasonably happy.
There is no question that both of those teams need new ballparks. We’ll just have to
work our way through it. Tampa has done a marvelous job running their team.
[General Manager] Billy Beane has done a terrific job in Oakland. With the
economics of baseball today, you’ve got to have a new stadium.
It’s hard to infer too much from this. I’ve always held that Selig will not retire until the
Tampa Bay and Oakland situations are resolved one way or another. Since contraction is
not happening, it has to be ballparks – somewhere. Once the Rangers’ situation is
figured out, I expect Selig and DuPuy to spend a lot of time and resources on TB/OAK.
I’ll leave with one of the more revolting developments from Shaikin’s excellent
I [Selig] was a Yankee fan when I was growing up here [Milwaukee].
Does he deserve a pass because Milwaukee didn’t have a major league franchise when he
was a kid?

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July 13, 2010
There’s a reason why I don’t play much poker anymore. Frankly, I suck at it. I have no
poker face. Apparently, we’re about to find out if San Jose has a good poker face too,
because Bud Selig just announced that he is not going to bend to their will.
But, Selig said he would not let an Aug. 3 deadline from the San Jose City Council
affect the committee’s timeline. San Jose officials have said they require a
commitment from Major League Baseball by that date in order to put a stadium
referendum on the November ballot.
If San Jose decides to table the measure, that’s not going to be further impetus for MLB
to act. It’s amazing to me how stubborn they are about this. They have been slowly
plowing away with their head down for five years now. Maybe they received some kind
of promise from Selig when he visited a couple of years ago. Somehow I doubt it. Maybe
Wolff told them that he’d work the channels and take care of the lodge, which sounds
more likely. Whatever the real machinations are, San Jose will have to decide soon how
truly serious about this they are. That means taking a bit of a risk and having faith in the
MLB is the hot girl who gets all the attention in school, and San Jose is the average
looking guy who is barely acknowledged by her. If he wants to take her to the senior
prom, he needs to do all the prom stuff – rent the tux, get a limo, corsage, maybe a hotel
room… otherwise she’ll find someone else. Perhaps her slacker ex-boyfriend.
Let’s keep this in proper perspective. The cost for San Jose to be in this is minimal
compared to the way so many other American cities have been absolutely pillaged by pro
sports leagues and franchises over the last thirty years. So come on, SJ, man up. Get the
Selig also addressed a rumor about his panel perhaps working out a ballpark deal with
Selig also denied suspicions that the three-person committee has overstepped its
original information-gathering objective and has engaged in active talks to broker
a new ballpark in Oakland.
Can’t fault the slacker dude from trying to get the girl back. Does this plot sound more
John Hughes or Richard Linklater? Kevin Smith?

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July 27, 2010
Got to the set at 10:30. Line took an hour to process. Two release forms.
Craft services is skimpy on anything good. Party mix, granola bars, coffee. Yippee.
We’ve been moved three times along the 3rd base side. I’m pretty sure I’m not in any
shots. Yes, the tarps are off.
There’s a problem with actor Stephen Bishop, who plays David Justice. Evidently
casting forgot to make sure he was left-handed like Justice. It’s made for some comical
throws back to the infield.
There are a few dozen paid extras in the crowd, sometimes in designated areas such as
Diamond Level seats.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was here but by the time we got in he was relaxing in street
clothes. He left around 1.
About 20 minutes in I realized that the scene being filmed was the KC comeback from
11-0 during game 20 of The Streak. Nothing like reliving the most panic inducing
moment of the 2002 season.
They’ve reenacted the Michael Tucker double (and Justice’s reaction) over a dozen
The guy playing Eric Chavez is maybe 5’9″. The guys playing Miguel Tejada and Randy
Velarde are 6′. Huddy looks like Huddy.
Diamond Vision is playing every highlight loop from the last decade, it seems.
Anything else? I left before the last scene, which has the crowd in the LF bleachers. Glad
I did the unpaid extra thing, wouldn’t do it again.

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So it turns out Bud Selig isn’t Claude Rains after all. I had asked why MLB hadn’t simply
requested that San Jose delay the vote, and it turns out that it took a weekend for them
to make the call. From Mayor Reed’s office:
MLB President Bob DuPuy informed me today that Commissioner Selig has requested
that the San Jose City Council refrain from placing a Downtown Ballpark Measure on
the November 2010 ballot so that MLB’s special committee can complete its work. He
also committed that, if a special election is required in the spring, MLB would help pay
for it.
Mr. DuPuy also shared that he appreciated the amount of work the City has done and
the level of excitement that the San Jose community has shown in attracting a Major
League ballclub.
I informed Mr. DuPuy that I would consider the league’s request and talk with Lew
Wolff. We also pledged to continue our conversation in the coming days.
How ’bout dem apples?

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July 28, 2010
The press release is quoted below.
Mayor Reed Pulls Proposal to Place Downtown Ballpark Measure on November
Decision comes after Major League Baseball offers to help cover the added cost for
a possible special election and hints that a decision on territorial rights may come
in time for a spring vote
San Jose, Calif. – Mayor Chuck Reed has announced that he is pulling his request
that the city’s Rules Committee place a downtown ballpark initiative on the
November 2, 2010 ballot, following a discussion with A’s owner Lew Wolff. The
decision comes after Major League Baseball (MLB) President Bob DuPuy, speaking
on behalf of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, also agreed to help cover the taxpayer
cost if a special election is required in the spring.
“I pursued a November election because I believe the citizens of San Jose deserve to
have their voices heard. We have strong community support to build a privatelyfunded ballpark, which would be a catalyst for thousands of jobs and millions of
dollars in revenue to fund vital city services,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “After
discussing our options with Lew Wolff, other elected officials and members of Pro
Baseball San Jose, we have decided to forgo a November ballot measure.”
Mayor Reed will still be asking the City Council to adopt a resolution of support for
allowing the Athletics to move to San Jose that incorporates the Mayor’s proposed
amendments to the city’s ballpark Negotiating Principles.
Lew Wolff praised the strong leadership of Mayor Reed. “I’m grateful that San Jose
has shown a gritty determination to help us build a new ballpark for our franchise.
We appreciate the strong leadership of both the Mayor and Commissioner Selig,”
Wolff said. “We look forward to a final decision from the Commissioner, and will
vigorously pursue an election next year if that decision is a positive one,” he added.
Since April 2009, city leaders have been working in partnership with the Athletics
on a possible relocation to San Jose. In that time, the city has developed a set of
negotiating principles for a new stadium, completed an economic analysis and
environmental impact review for a downtown ballpark, and met with members of
a special MLB Committee formed to study ballpark options for the Athletics.
However, city leaders have been waiting for a response from MLB regarding
territorial rights that currently prevent the Athletics from moving to San Jose.

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“The initial push to hold a November vote sent a strong signal to league officials
that San Jose is serious about attracting a Major League ballclub and that it’s time
to move forward with the process,” said San Jose City Councilmember Sam
Liccardo, who represents downtown. “The Commissioner’s offer to help pay for a
possible election in the spring was the first indication that the league is inching
closer to a decision on territorial rights.”
Mayor Reed and Councilmembers Rose Herrera, Sam Liccardo and Nancy Pyle
had originally proposed placing the San Jose Downtown Ballpark and Jobs
Measure on the November 2010 ballot to avoid the added expense of a special
election. Placing a measure on this November’s ballot would have cost several
hundred thousand dollars while holding a special election is estimated to cost more
than one million dollars. Specific estimates are set by the Santa Clara County
Registrar of Voters when a measure is submitted for placement on the ballot. Voter
approval is required to use city land or funds in conjunction with a downtown
ballpark, and after this November, the next regularly-scheduled election in San
Jose is not until June 2012.
The San Jose Downtown Ballpark and Jobs Measure required that the A’s would be
responsible for 100% of the cost of building, operating and maintaining a new
Major League Baseball ballpark. No new taxes could be raised to bring baseball to
San Jose.
Ballpark Economic Impacts

A September 2009 Economic Impact Study commissioned by the City of San Jose
states that the estimated $490 million private investment in a new downtown
ballpark would bring positive economic benefits to the City:
More than 2,000 annual jobs (full, part-time, seasonal) of which 970 would be new
jobs in San Jose as a result of the project
$2.9 billion total economic output for the local economy over a 30-year period
128 million in annual net economic impact as a result of direct spending on
operations (that is partially re-spent in San Jose)
$5 million in annual revenues for local governments, including approximately $3
million to the City of San Jose’s General Fund and Redevelopment Agency
Following a discussion with Athletics owner Lew Wolff, Mayor Reed informed MLB
President Bob DuPuy of his decision this morning and will rescind his request that
the Rules Committee place the ballpark ballot measure on the agenda for the
August 3 City Council Meeting. The Rules Committee will still decide today whether
to place the proposed ballpark Negotiating Principles amendments on the August 3

Now I can have lunch.

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August 27, 2010
When the first images of the new Cisco Field @ Diridon came out, I decided to sit back
and watch the reaction. Same thing went for the official images, released through
Baseball San Jose. My initial thoughts haven’t changed: it’s quite radical. Now, I haven’t
talked to anyone at 360 Architecture, Baseball San Jose, or A’s ownership about the
images, so my thoughts are not influenced by anything or anyone. With that out of the
way, let me explain what I mean by radical.
Let’s start off with where the field is placed within the site. First up, here’s what I drew
up a couple of years ago.

In my sketch, the RF wall hugs the Autumn Parkway contour. The aesthetic effect of that
is that fans are confronted with a large wall when walking along Autumn. Additionally,
the field is pushed up further north to have more “back of the house” space. By doing
this, I effectively put a cap on the number of seats. That isn’t necessarily the case with
this new drawing.
Assuming that the remaining land acquisitions go as scheduled, including a small land
swap with PG&E, the field is likely to be situated as you see below, give or take 20 feet
north or south (north is up). That orients the field pretty close to true northeast.
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Prevailing winds tend to come from the northwest, so they should move from the left
field foul pole to its counterpart in right on a regular basis. At times, the winds will shift
to NNW or WNW. However, the winds in San Jose tend to not be particularly strong,
generally topping out at 10-15 mph. Oakland and San Francisco are generally more
prone to onshore and offshore movements.
Now for the new 360 layout:

The way that Autumn Street/Parkway is contoured, it removes almost all of the RF
corner from what would normally constitute a grandstand. And we can’t do an analysis
without discussing those field dimensions, with the very short porch in right and a
shallow corner in left. Neither of those dimensions are entirely necessary. You can see
that there is some space to lengthen both of those out, and I figure that some version of
Cisco Field has more “standard” dimensions in place.
Of course, standard dimensions aren’t possible in right if that “thing” is there. What is
that thing, anyway? Well, I’ve searched far and wide for some context. It’s not an arcade
as in San Francisco, as it doesn’t have arches. Instead, to me it’s, for lack of a better
term, a contemporary take on a classic colonnade. To wit:
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by
their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building.

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Normally, we think of colonnades as freestanding, such as those used at old LA Forum
and Soldier Field. In this case, they house multiple levels of what appear to be
minisuites. That’s the first radical step I noticed from the Fremont plan. At Pacific
Commons, the minisuites were only 15 rows from the field along the infield. Now they’re
part of the colonnades. I suspect the team reached out to potential minisuite holders to
see what effect this would have on their interest. If the idea survived this long, the effect
must have been minimal.
Depending on what the treatment for the colonnades is, they could become the
signature element of the ballpark. There’s no other eye candy in the outfield besides the
video/scoreboard, which lines up flush with the top of the colonnades and the roof. I
don’t expect to see a neoclassical look, as in the two examples cited previously. Instead,
it will probably be more modern and perhaps subdued.
Several sections of outfield seats jut out from the colonnade, creating the crazy 345-foot
dimension in right-center. Either they really needed to get those seats in there, or it’s an
affectation of sorts. Frankly, it’s unnecessary. The best thing to do would be to take off a
few sections, chop off several rows of those seats and turn it into a family or picnic area.
The resulting right-center length would be 360 feet or more.
Over in the LF corner, the line could be further extended, eating into more seats and
creating a higher wall as a result. I don’t really have a problem with it. Every team
should have a righty dead pull hitter who hits frozen ropes down the line. If they get an
extra 10 HR that way, so be it.

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After my 2008 trip to the East Coast and the more recent trip to the Midwest, I came
away with one absolute must-have: a majestic plaza for fans to enter the ballpark. AT&T
Park has this behind the plate, but the ballpark itself turns its back to the plaza so
there’s a sense of separation from the action. At Nationals Park and Target Field, the
plaza is integrated into the outfield (Nats Park in left-center, Target Field in right),
making the journey to the park all the more momentous. There’s something viscerally
stimulating about seeing the grandstand and the field get larger with each step. It’s a
reminder of what we had prior to Mount Davis, when the BART bridge walk brought a
certain level of excitement. The plaza is large enough (nearly an acre) to hold the familyoriented entertainment options.
The third deck is the other major radical move. Notice how the seats in the first two
decks are not defined or articulated, appearing to be benches. Obviously they’re not a
bunch of bleacher planks, but the third deck has the same large yellow chairs with side
tables next to each seat, just like the minisuites. This appears to be the club level. If so,
that’s a marked departure from the club levels we’ve come to expect from most venues.
There’s no expansive, separate concourse. There’s scant room for a bar. It’s not indoors.
It’s not entirely behind the plate. Instead, it’s three rows of seats, served up with tables
and drink rails. This is where I expect Cisco to make its mark. I expect each seat will
have video and in-seat concessions ordering, making every seat in the club have
diamond level-like wait service. There remains the possibility for a club restaurant down
the LF line, and a perhaps another gathering area behind the plate. The seats themselves
are at the same height and distance the Coliseum’s suites are, except with more
baseball-friendly sightlines. The club will also have the benefit of a roof over the seats,
whether it’s the mesh roof from the Pacific Commons version or something different. In
moving in this direction, they’re trying to create distinct, separate markets and price
points for premium seating that don’t exist elsewhere in the Bay Area, or even in
baseball. At the same time, they’re doing what the Red Sox did at Fenway – put the
premium stuff at the top of the stadium. It’ll be interesting to see how this pays off.

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The field is sunken, just how I’d prefer it. One of the issues associated with building
close to the bay (China Basin, Candlestick, Coliseum, any JLS site) is that to avoid the
water table or keep from drainage issues, any stadium pretty much has to have its field
at sea level or higher. Diridon is around 90 feet above sea level. There’s still the water
table to deal with, but that’s largely an engineering issue that shouldn’t be a problem as
long as digging doesn’t go too deep (in the area, the floor of HP Pavilion is also below
street level).
The bullpens are sunken below the field and placed at CF. Makes sense to me. It
explains why the fence is slightly taller at CF, as opposed to LF. Hell, the Giants
should’ve put their bullpens there – oops, they forgot about the pens when designing the
The LF corner is where it gets weird. I count 4 different seating angles. First, there’s the
normal grandstand. Then there’s a brief 2 sections that run 60 degrees against the
grandstand. Slightly beneath that is the start of the outfield section, which follows the
outfield wall. Finally, those seats straighten out and run parallel with San Fernando
Street. A building in the LF corner houses party suites, and perhaps the aforementioned
club restaurant.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the two-deck grandstand would be the
shortest in the majors by far. On the 3B side, the grandstand doesn’t go beyond 240-250
feet at best. On the 1B side, Autumn causes a tapering effect that puts the topmost upper
deck or club seat just barely beyond the edge of the infield. To compensate, surely there
will be more rows of seats in both decks, though it’s not clear how many.

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More impressions:
• The colonnade creates one more aesthetic positive: a net in RF won’t be needed. I
figure the height of the roof will be 90 feet in the outfield, making it like a Tiger
Stadium/Comiskey Park situation – if someone can get it out of there, he earned it.
• One thing that’s missing is a view as you exit Diridon Station. I would’ve liked to have
seen that. Will transit users have a gate there? Will they go to the main plaza? Or will
they use that notch in left-center that lines up with Montgomery Street?
• I’m still not sure how much of an impact columns in the grandstand will have on
views. Columns in the grandstand appear to be recessed into the concourse, not in the
seating bowl.
• With the PG&E substation change, a new access road has to be established. That will
probably come from Park Avenue, running by parking lots and/or garages.
• The tight grandstand all the way around should seal in noise well.
• 75-degree angle in the grandstand refers to the angle between the first and third base
sides. Often in new ballparks, the initial angle is 85 or 90 degrees, with a kink on one
or both sides to pull the seating bowl further in. The most severe example may have
been old Yankee Stadium, which had a 55-degree angle. Foul territory down the lines
was almost non-existent, but the implementation caused the distance from the plate to
the backstop to be extraordinarily long (72 feet).
• The Eric Byrnes sighting. It’s probably nothing, in that they used the first image they
had lying around. Or it could be a sign that this thing has been in the oven for a while.
All that said, one question remains: Do I like it? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a 7 right
now. The field dimensions need to be addressed, which is not easy since the only person
who has spent more time looking at the land besides 360 and the A’s is probably me,
and enlarging the field is a real head-scratcher. I like the back-to-basics design. I’m not
sold on how the premium seating all fits together, but I’m not a customer for those so it
isn’t my concern. I’m also not clear on what the façade will be. Brick is more
commonplace in the Diridon area than just about any other material, yet Lew Wolff has
said in the past that the design will not be retro, which should rule out brick. Will it be
some marrying of the two?
Most importantly, this will surely be the most intimate major league ballpark built in the
last 90 years. Unlike the swept-back HOK/Populous designs which are meant to be
essentially inoffensive, this one’s not going to win everyone over. Some will think it’s too
small. Others will not like how it’s set up. I suspect that once people get in the seats –
perhaps the first open house or walk through – opinions will change quickly. They’ll
wonder why the seats at AT&T, which they once thought were the best, are so far away
from the action. Skylines are good. Bayviews are nice. San Jose doesn’t have outstanding
versions of either, which means the A’s are turning to the original selling point –
baseball. I don’t see that as such a bad thing.

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September 8, 2010
A while back, I had postulated that construction of both the A’s and Quakes’ stadia
would be done together, sequenced to take advantage of lower combined materials costs
and labor. Little did I know back then that this sort of packaging extended to stadium
design as well. That’s exactly what has happened as Wolff/Fisher put out a press release
revealing the combined effort.
The timing of the release is obviously to capitalize on 360’s involvement as principal for
New Meadowlands Stadium, which is due to have its first regular season NFL game next
Monday. Print media reviews should be flooding in over the next several days, allowing
for further mentions of 360’s past and future projects, the latter of which should include
whatever they’re doing in the Bay Area.
Beyond the possible PR mini-coup, I figure that this was also a smoke signal sent up to
say, “Hey, we’re still here and we’re working on it.” In fact, they’ve been working on it
for a while. While we figured that ownership had 360 on retainer while all the political
mess was sorted out for the ballpark, it was expected that Rossetti would be the firm of
choice for the soccer stadium, since they had done several others over the past decade.
And since the Quakes’ renderings are basically the same ones from last year’s EIR draft,
it’s clear the 360 has been working on the Quakes project for some time.
Try as they might, however, this doesn’t mean that MLB is any closer to getting anything
done. Even if that were the case, we wouldn’t hear about it until at least November or
the winter meetings.

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On the technical side, the Quakes’ stadium and the A’s ballpark are a study in contrasts.
The Quakes have their club seats at field level, whereas the A’s have theirs at the top of
the stadium. The A’s will have luxury suites, the Quakes may not have any to start. The
Quakes will have a planned development right next to their stadium. Something like
that at Diridon for the A’s is much further down the road, and the A’s may have little to
no control over it. The Quakes will have plenty of parking on the premises. The A’s
I suspect that this is by design. By offering certain amenities in one facility and not in
another, they’re inviting the public to experience both in a mix-and-match fashion. If
you’re looking at it from the perspective of a corporate seat buyer, you may have the
ability to pick from different combinations of accommodations. It would take Jeffrey’s
regionality idea and give it a twist, in that it bridges multiple leagues from a selling
standpoint, not just business operations. And if the Quakes are still struggling to get
corporate sponsors to commit to the Quakes stadium, it would make sense to leverage
the A’s ballpark as a valuable selling point in the form of a package sponsorship deal.
Combine that with, say, a future investment in the teams by the Sharks’ ownership
group (SVSE), and the potential for further integration is huge. Now, I have no idea how
the accounting would work with all of that, but we’re talking about an accountant as the
managing partner – he probably has a few ideas. If you’re the Giants, this is most
certainly something to watch. The Giants would love to be able to grab additional
revenue streams by building a new SF arena for the Warriors, and this kind of flexibility
has to be part of the game.

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It’s best that I just post the contents of the letter sent by SVLG to Commissioner Selig
today (Merc article), so without further ado…
September 8, 2010
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY, 10167
Dear Commissioner Selig,
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group strongly supports a new home for the
Athletics baseball team in downtown San Jose. We were encouraged to learn of San
Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s positive conversation with Major League Baseball
President Bob Dupuy regarding the timing of a possible election next spring should
the A’s be granted approval to pursue the construction of a baseball-only state of
the art Ballpark in downtown San Jose.
By way of background, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group was founded in 1977 by
David Packard and has grown to become the largest organization of its kind in
Silicon Valley with more than 300 member companies. Combined member
companies employ more than 250,000 local workers – nearly one of every three
jobs – and generate more than $2 trillion worth in global revenue.
We, the undersigned CEOs and senior executives, are committed to bringing jobs,
revenue, a rich culture, and a thriving business climate to Silicon Valley. We believe
that an intimate state of the art ballpark located on a prime downtown San Jose
parcel, close to mass transit and major highways will be a catalyst for economic
development in our region. We also believe downtown San Jose offers a compelling
location for the advancement of Major League Baseball in the 21st Century. Silicon
Valley is well known throughout the world as the cradle of innovation and the
leading incubator of new ideas and new possibilities for human kind. There is no
better location than San Jose, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, to advance the
Major League Baseball brand on a global basis.
San Jose is a world-class community, and the ballpark proposal not only secures a
quality Major League Baseball team for America’s 10th largest city, but also
creates jobs, strengthens our economy and enhances the cultural opportunities for
our workers and their families. According to an economic study commissioned by
the City of San Jose, a new ballpark will generate thousands of construction jobs
and permanent positions at the ballpark and surrounding area.

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The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, along with other respected and diverse
organizations, stands ready to offer any support needed to move this important
project forward. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is comprised of both devoted
A’s and Giants fans and we will continue to enthusiastically support both teams.
We strongly believe that both teams will thrive in a vibrant two team market
anchored by San Francisco and the Bay Area’s largest city, San Jose. Today, the
Bay Area is the only two team market in Major League Baseball where the teams
don’t fully share their common geographic territory. The divided territory was
imposed at the request of San Jose baseball boosters in 1992 in a previous attempt
to secure a Major League Baseball team. We can only hope moving forward that
the Bay Area can be restored to a shared marketplace for the two teams in a
manner similar to Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
It is integral to our mission that we support and promote opportunities to improve
the quality of life for families who live and work in Silicon Valley. A new A’s
ballpark will provide a great entertainment and community asset that will capture
the essence of Silicon Valley. It will be a tremendous benefit to our region, with a
wide appeal that can help to promote Silicon Valley – and Major League Baseball –
on a national and international level. The new venue will be a great source of pride
for our innovative region, and deserves your consideration and approval to move
Please call on us to help make this decades old dream to attract a Major League
Baseball team to Silicon Valley a reality in the near future.
John Chambers
CEO, Cisco Inc.
Carol Bartz
CEO, Yahoo!
Tom Werner
CEO, SunPower
John Donahoe
CEO, eBay
Mike Klayko
CEO, Brocade Inc.
John Doerr
Partner, Kleiner Perkins
Carl Guardino
CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

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Shantanu Narayen
CEO, Adobe
Other signatories include Lew Wolff, former mayor Ron Gonzales, the publisher of
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the presidents of Santa Clara University, UC
Santa Cruz and Foothill-De Anza Community College District, the CEO of Palo Alto
Medical Foundation, and the head of Goodwill Silicon Valley, who happened to be head
of the Valley’s largest beverage distributor a couple years ago. Just about everyone else
on the second page is either the head of a tech firm or a bank. Including the main heavy
hitters, that’s 75 companies and organizations, and the vast majority of them are not
small businesses.
The crux of the letter is the request to share the Bay Area the same way New York, Los
Angeles, and Chicago are shared. My guess is that this won’t happen because of certain
long term implications. Unlike those other three markets, the Bay Area is uniquely set
up for a game of franchise musical chairs once any lease ends and a team wants a new
stadium. The others aren’t. If a T-rights compromise were to occur, the definitions
would look much more like Washington-Baltimore just because of the decades of history
there (and here) that can’t be easily wiped away. That said, the letter’s soft pitch does
have one statement that has some hidden teeth.
We strongly believe that both teams will thrive in a vibrant two team market
anchored by San Francisco and the Bay Area’s largest city, San Jose.
Something’s missing from that declaration.

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September 20, 2010
Update 9/21 7:40 PM - Resolutions (city and redev agency) passed unanimously.
Mayor Reed says that he’ll be talking to MLB COO Bob DuPuy soon to get some
direction, and that he’s cautiously optimistic that he’ll get a resolution soon.

Tomorrow night, the San Jose City Council will vote on another set of resolutions (city
and redevelopment agency have slightly different versions) in support of a move south.
From what I can tell, the only significant language change was the recognition of recent
statement of support by SVLG and 75 of its constituent CEO’s.
I will not be attending the session, but I will be monitoring it remotely. Action on the
resolution is slated to be early in the agenda. If you’re interested, here’s the newest
WHEREAS, on April 7, 2009 and August 3, 2010, the City Council and Agency
Board affirmed its interest in supporting the efforts of the Oakland Athletics’
ownership to move the team to the City of San Jose; and
WHEREAS, on May 12, 2009, the City Council and Agency Board established
Negotiating Principles for the development of a stadium in the Downtown for a
Major League Baseball team, which were subsequently amended by Council on
August 3, 2010; and
WHEREAS, on September 10, 2010, through the efforts of the Silicon Valley
Leadership Group, a letter from seventy five (75) of Silicon Valley’s leading CEOs
was sent to Major League Baseball urging Commissioner Selig to approve the
Athletics’ move to San Jose; and
WHEREAS, various local organizations, including the San Jose Silicon Valley
Chamber of Commerce, the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau, the San Jose
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Sports Authority and Baseball San Jose, have all expressed their support for the
Athletics’ move to San Jose, and Lew Wolff, the Athletics’ owner, is also on record
as indicating he would prefer San Jose as the new home of the Athletics; and
WHEREAS, the Council desires to reaffirm the following previously-approved
Negotiating Principles that will guide the City’s efforts in bringing a Major League
Baseball stadium to San Jose:
1. No new taxes are imposed to fund ballpark-related expenditures.
2. The City must determine that the ballpark development will generate a
significant economic benefit to the City and have a positive impact on City General
Fund revenues.
3. No public funds shall be spent to finance or reimburse any costs associated with
construction of the ballpark or construction of any on-site infrastructure or
improvements needed for the ballpark.
4. No public funds of any kind are spent to finance or reimburse any ballpark
operational or maintenance costs related to activities conducted by or under the
authority of the baseball team that uses the ballpark either at the ballpark or in the
streets surrounding the ballpark.
5. No public funds shall be spent to finance or reimburse the cost of any traffic
control, street cleanup, emergency or security services within the ballpark site or
within the streets surrounding the ballpark that are related to activities at the
ballpark conducted by or under the authority of the baseball team.
6. If the property is leased for a ballpark, the baseball team must be willing, at the
end of the term of the lease, either to purchase the property at fair market value or
to do one of the following things at the City’s option and at no cost to the City or the
Redevelopment Agency:
a. Transfer ownership of the improvements to the City or Redevelopment Agency;
b. Demolish the improvements and clear the site to make way for other
7. The entity that builds or operates the ballpark must be willing, if the City deems
it appropriate, to make the ballpark available to the City during baseball’s
offseason for up to 10 days per year for community-related events, at no rental
charge to the City.
8. The name of the baseball team must include San Jose.
(a) Reaffirms the negotiating principles previously established and amended by
the City Council; and
(b) Supports the efforts of the Oakland Athletics ownership to move the team to
San José and the assistance of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and other local
groups in their efforts to bring Major League Baseball to San Jose.

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I don’t expect this to change unless MLB makes its own announcement, after which
the resolution would be amended again. This is what we can expect until the spring
election, if it occurs.
Some choice quotes from public speakers at the session tonight:
Michael Mulcahy: I’m not a San Francisco Giants fan, but I’m rooting for them to
make the playoffs so that we can see how that transforms a city.
Former Mayor Susan Hammer: I’m getting a little impatient with the snail’s pace
of Major League Baseball.

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October 6, 2010
Blog fave Dave Newhouse reports on a panel held for the four leading Oakland mayoral
candidates about two major sports issues affecting Oakland. The one with the most ink
is the matter of whether the Golden State Warriors will finally adopt the Oakland
moniker. I suspect the answer for incoming W’s owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber lies
in money. Chris Cohan hinted a long time ago that some amount of relief from the
team’s lease might do it. It’s not clear whether the same thing would satisfy the new
owners. There is also some question as to what value each designation has. Is “Oakland
Warriors” more or less valuable as a brand than “Golden State Warriors?” Some sports
marketing folks out there know the answer to that better than I do.
Following that question of pride was a question about a pending fall. All four were asked
to address the A’s situation:
(Jean) Quan: “I think this (city) is the soul of Major League Baseball — great
diversity, ethnically and income-wise. I met Lew Wolff after I got elected. He didn’t
say ‘girlie,’ but almost. There’s not a transit-rich (baseball) site that’s more ready to
go in the entire Bay Area than ‘Victory Court’ (in Jack London Square). We own
most of it, and could develop it as an entertainment (center).”
(Rebecca) Kaplan: “I love the A’s. Lew Wolff felt (Mayor) Jerry Brown didn’t care.
The A’s could succeed here very well. I believe we could have a football and baseball
stadium on the Coliseum site. We own the land. San Jose is not a done deal. They
have a local law that requires a ballot measure, and they did not put it on the
November ballot. So there’s a window of opportunity here.”
(Joe) Tuman: “I’ll be blunt. In professional sports, it’s ‘show me the money.’ … I
won’t spend a dime of public money on keeping the Oakland Athletics here when I
can’t pay for police officers or keep the streets safe. I’m not saying it can’t work, but
let’s be objective.”
(Don) Perata: “I probably know a little more about this stuff than most people. I
was part of two Raider deals that both failed. We got held up; we really did — by
both (the A’s and Raiders). We got rid of the Coliseum board and then politicized it.
… In retrospect, it was a disaster. I don’t think the A’s are going to stay here. We
can’t play in this game, putting up the money. We haven’t been smart with our
So from this, we can gather that one candidate backs Victory Court, another backs a
Coliseum-sited ballpark, another won’t put up a dime, and the frontrunner has given up.
Well, no one can ever say Oakland lacks diversity, and that goes for sports politics too.

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According to this DIY poll by TellFi (via The Oakbook), Perata is garnering 34% of the
vote, with Quan at 27%, Kaplan at 16%, and Tuman at 10%. If Perata and his rather
brutally honest mindset prevails, it’s probably curtains for MLB in Oakland. Absent a
simple majority, Perata would have to win via the instant runoff that would occur on
election day.
Strangely, Newhouse follows up Perata’s comment by writing, “But we’ve been smart
enough to keep them.” I’m not sure that smart is the operative word, Dave.
(Thanks, Ed)
Quick postscript: I wonder how linusalf will spin this Newhouse article? Update 10/8:
He finally did, and it doesn’t say much. Also, supposedly Lowell Cohn was on Ken
Dito’s show this morning and is no longer opposing a move south because of Oakland’s
inaction. Wonders never cease.

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October 14, 2010
Despite assurances from SJRA officials last month that the agency would have enough
funds to take care of the remaining land buys for the Diridon site, it now appears that
they are running short. However, even if they do Lew Wolff may be ready to buy the rest
of the land, or even the entire site if need be.
“There isn’t a redevelopment agency or city or federal or state government that
isn’t in some form of disarray at this point,” Wolff said Thursday of the agency’s
While he and agency officials both said no details of a possible land purchase by
Wolff had been discussed, the team owner pledged: “Whatever issues we run into,
we will figure out how to get them done. We will not let anything stand in the way
of getting the ballpark done.”
This sets up a number of land acquisition/swap possibilities:
• It’s possible the A’s could buy the land and give it back to the city. That would set up a
situation in which the A’s could pay a discounted lease on the land until the City
reimbursed the team.
• They could also try to buy the existing public parcels and the remaining ones, making
the entire thing privately held. There would be a snag if the landowners were unwilling
to sell, because a private interest can’t exercise eminent domain as a city can. If the A’s
managed to pull this off, it would probably be the biggest political winner, since the
perception of a handout by the city, such as it were, would vanish. $20+24 million for
a guaranteed electoral victory in March? It’s worth a cost-benefit analysis at the very
• The team could also buy the public parcels, giving SJRA enough cash to buy the
remaining parcels and fund the Autumn Parkway project. The land could be given or
sold to the agency, with the cash transaction part happening sometime in the distance.
As mayor Chuck Reed said, “There are half a dozen different ways to put together a
deal.” The ones listed above are just off the top of my head.
Even with the low funds situation, City officials are putting on a brave face.
“We’re committed as a city to move forward with the stadium, because it’s the most
promising economic development project we’ve seen in the last decade,” Councilman
Sam Liccardo said.
“I don’t expect the redevelopment agency’s fiscal problems will prevent us from finding
a creative solution.”

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Offering to help a municipality is not a foreign concept to Wolff. He offered to pay for
upgrades to Phoenix Muni, only to get a collective shrug from the city. The Quakes also
paid for upgrades to Buck Shaw Stadium in order to make it a (not so) temporary MLS

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October 26, 2010
After Dave Newhouse’s A’s/Warriors panel with Oakland mayoral candidates at the
beginning of the month, it wasn’t clear if anything would come of their responses.
According to East Bay Express scribe Robert Gammon, it appears that something
happened, as Lew Wolff and John Fisher gave a combined $25,000 to Don Perata’s
campaign two weeks ago, perhaps a reward for his “candor.” Just to refresh your
memory, here’s what Perata said about keeping the A’s in Oakland:
“I probably know a little more about this stuff than most people. I was part of two
Raider deals that both failed. We got held up; we really did — by both (the A’s and
Raiders). We got rid of the Coliseum board and then politicized it. … In retrospect,
it was a disaster. I don’t think the A’s are going to stay here. We can’t play in this
game, putting up the money. We haven’t been smart with our franchises.”
Gammon also got some follow-up from candidate and current City Council member
Rebecca Kaplan.
Perata appeared uninterested in talking about keeping the A’s in town, according
to several attendees. “He was very evasive,” said Kaplan, who was at the meeting
with Quan, Perata, and fellow mayoral candidate Joe Tuman. “He basically
conveyed that keeping the A’s is not very important.”
So, is it simply a matter of A’s ownership supporting Perata after the position was made
public? Or was there a sort of quid pro quo there? Of course, Wolff denies any sort of
link between the donation and the stance. Was the donation made because they truly
feel that Perata is the best candidate? R-i-i-i-i-i-g-h-t. Though it should be mentioned
that many longtime Perata friends, those who’d support a JLS ballpark, also donated
serious money to Perata’s campaign affiliated, police union-funded political group.
FWIW, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was reelected in June and virtually no one
The rather prolific (at least recently) White Elephant Parade looked up contributions by
both teams, and found that the Giants donated nearly double the amount of the A’s
during the same 2009-10 state legislative session.
For Wolff and Fisher, $25,000 is a trifle, especially compared to the land bill they’ll face
as San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency checks the couch cushions for change needed to
buy the rest of the Diridon ballpark site.

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November 11, 2010
Congratulations to Jean Quan, Mayor-elect of the City of Oakland. She’s the first Asian
American female mayor among the Bay Area’s big cities, which is a huge achievement in
and of itself. Now comes the hard part. Update 11/11 12:00 PM: Don Perata has chosen
not to contest the election results.
Aside from budgetary concerns including a coming showdown with the police union,
Quan’s biggest initial task will be to hire a competent, forward-thinking City
Administrator to replace Dan Lindheim, the former CEDA head who has promised to
stay on until a replacement if found and has essentially been a two-year acting
administrator. As I understand it, Lindheim and other Oakland officials have done the
necessary legwork to get information prepared for MLB’s panel. It’s difficult to assess
City beyond that since there hasn’t been an official ballpark effort yet. Should that occur,
it’ll be up to Lindheim’s replacement and CEDA’s Walter Cohen (or whomever replaces
him) to push the process. After all, guys as gung-ho as Robert Bobb don’t grow on trees.
I discussed this further at AN yesterday:
1. One of the things that doesn’t get talked about is that there has been a severe brain
drain in Oakland gov’t in recent years. Whether some of these people deserved to be
employed is for another discussion, but from a practical standpoint, someone
tenured and respected that isn’t an elected official will have to carry the water for a
ballpark project. I have no idea who that person is.
If a ballpark process is to move forward (and with some alacrity), the ballpark champion
will have to be found right quick. It’s possible that one of the reasons a plan hasn’t been
cemented is the lack of a champion. The right person may be Planning guru Eric
Angstadt, who deftly handled questions at the May 1st Community Meeting. Of course, if
MLB makes a move towards San Jose in December it’s likely that a ballpark champion/
new administrator will not have been hired yet. Regardless, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to
have someone willing to push for the A’s – as long as it doesn’t hurt day-to-day
responsibilities – in place just in case San Jose falls through.

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November 16, 2010
The EIR Notice of Preparation is here. Guidelines for the CEQA (EIR) process can be
found here.
The informal selection of Victory Court as the preferred ballpark site has been the worst
kept secret in Oakland for several weeks now, and we’ve known about the Planning
Commission meeting since last week. So why are the regular media choosing to cover it
now (EBX/Trib)? Must be a slow news day.
Still, there are a few takeaways, and credit goes to Robert Gammon in that regard.
Mostly, they have to do with Mayor-elect Jean Quan’s view of the project, which is more
meaningful than anything any other Oaklander, elected or not, has to say on it.
• MLB’s commission wants a ballpark done for Oakland in time for Opening Day 2015.
This is reasonable considering the normal 18-24 month EIR lead time, which could
actually go longer because of Oakland’s recent history with large project EIR’s. Given
Lew Wolff’s admission that he has been denied further extensions to the Coliseum
lease, it leads to wondering about how a gap between the end of the 2013 season and
the start of the 2015 season would play out. Is Oakland holding that extra year as
leverage with the idea of pushing MLB in its direction? Is MLB entertaining Oakland’s
bid in order to secure that extra year or perhaps more if necessary? Beyond those two
parties, there are even more interesting questions. If the Raiders secure their own
Coliseum stadium deal, won’t that impact an A’s 2014 year in the Coliseum, and viceversa?
• Quan said she also believes a new ballpark at Victory Court will help businesses in
closeby Chinatown and could provide the impetus for a new hotel/convention center.
It’s strange that the big unifying development strategy for all of downtown Oakland is
a ballpark. It makes sense for a ballpark to be a major attraction, but the linchpin?
That doesn’t make sense. However, that’s the direction that Oakland is moving
towards with this hole-in-the-donut strategy. What if the ballpark doesn’t pan out?
That doesn’t mean that Oakland will be ready to go with Plan B, whatever that is. It’s
one thing for corporate interests to help pay for a ballpark. That’s not going to happen
with a convention center complex. Those projects are usually 100% public/
redevelopment funded. From a purely numbers/potential standpoint, a ballpark
makes sense because it’s essentially “free” money and buzz, especially if the financing
part can be worked out. Something else in the ballpark’s place could take many more
years to get going.
• Quan believes that the only way Major League Baseball would turn down Wolff and
Fisher’s request to move the team to San Jose is if the City of Oakland shows that it
has a viable plan for a new A’s ballpark and that city leadership is committed to
making it happen. If true, this spawns a number of new questions about MLB’s
timeframe. Will they set a hard date to complete the EIR and land acquisitions? Will
MLB set targets or milestones for the project? What if Oakland doesn’t meet those
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milestones, or new challenges or opposition shows up? Could MLB create for itself an
easy out if things aren’t going well? What constitutes fair or unfair is almost entirely
• In another Gammon article about Quan, it was noted that as part of Quan’s “Not Don”
campaign, a mailer “repeatedly pounded Perata for the Oakland Raiders deal, a
financial debacle that will end up costing East Bay taxpayers more than $600
million. At least two mailers, showed a mostly empty Oakland-Alameda County
Coliseum, with the message: ‘Thanks, Don.’ ”  The challenge for Quan is to show that
she can more competently get a stadium deal done than Perata. The key to this is
transparency at every stage of the process. Since the original four sites in May were
whittled to one with no public vetting and at least a few commenters will chime in on
12/1 with their own recommendations, it’ll be fascinating to see how the preferred site
and alternatives are handled. Will all buildable sites have to be included in the EIR?
What if the EIR actually recommends a different alternative to Victory Court (unlikely
but still)? The dagger in the Fremont plan was the abrupt change from Pacific
Commons to Warm Springs, with no public input beforehand. In San Jose, the
Diridon site was not the frontrunner at the outset and only became the preferred site
over time. From a selling the public standpoint, how warm are the citizens of Oakland
to any stadium deal, even one that has the team picking up the entire construction
tab? We’ve seen a Facebook group, we have yet to see a single poll on the subject.
While we’re waiting for the process to kick off, I’ve found a couple of nuggets that might
be helpful. First up, a cursory look at the California EPA’s Cortese list shows that none of
the parcels at Victory Court fall under brownfield or contaminated status.

Source: Project EIR Notice of Preparation
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One of the more curious aspects of the project is the land grouping, including the Laney
College parking lot. While it makes sense for the ballpark to use the Laney lot as part of
its parking infrastructure, it’s also quite possible that like the Diridon plan, there could
be no parking at the ballpark at all. If there’s no parking at the ballpark, there’s also less
environmental impact from the ballpark. That doesn’t mean that the 880 on/off-ramps
won’t need improvements, but it could mean that the cost for those improvements won’t
be as severe as they could be. Instead, fans would be encouraged to park at Laney
(expanded or not), downtown, or at JLS. It’s only one of many details that will have to
be addressed as part of the process.

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November 24, 2010
This Thanksgiving, we should all be thankful that, despite the often misplaced or illtimed effort, many people have been trying to keep the A’s in the Bay Area. To illustrate
this, I’ve put together a map showing pretty much all of the sites that have been
considered for a ballpark over the last 15 years. Below the map is a brief history and the
fate of each site.

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Competing sites:
• # – Victory Court. Emerged as the preferred ballpark location by the City of Oakland
after the unveiling of four sites by Let’s Go Oakland in December 2009. EIR process
has begun, initial comment period open. Public hearing on December 1 to elicit public
• * – Diridon (South). Preferred San Jose site picked after two year deliberation process.
EIR completed in 2009, a 3+ year process.
HOK East Bay study sites:
A – Howard Terminal. Waterfront site immediately west of Jack London Square.
Eventually was leased by Matson to consolidate shipping operations.
B – Oak to Ninth. Waterfront site east of Jack London Square. Has development
plans for 3100 homes, parkland, and commercial uses.
C – Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Home of the current stadium, has had
interest from different parties for a ballpark elsewhere within the complex. Both the
Raiders and A’s have leases through 2013. The Coliseum Authority is working with
the Raiders on a football-specific successor to the Coliseum immediately to the south
of the existing stadium.
D – Laney College. Plans envisioned replacing the college’s athletic fields with a
ballpark. Peralta Community College District was not interested in such a use.
E – Uptown. The preferred site from the study due to its downtown location and
access to mass transit and parking infrastructure. Any chance of a ballpark was
derailed when the A’s showed little interest and the site’s chief proponent was fired
and a developer-friendly housing scheme was heavily promoted. An apartment
complex is now on site.
F – Pleasanton. One of two southern Alameda County sites included in the study.
Was undeveloped back then, is still undeveloped now.
G – Fremont. The other southern Alameda County choice, the site was north of the
NUMMI (now Tesla Motors) site. The area would be reconsidered several years later
for another shot at a ballpark, but NIMBY resistance helped kill it.
San Jose study sites:
• I – FMC/Airport West. Old military vehicle plant was briefly considered thanks to
central location within Santa Clara Valley. Was eliminated in favor of a more urban
locale. Became the site of the future San Jose Earthquakes stadium.
• II – Reed & Graham. An asphalt plant next to I-280. Eliminated early on due to
infrastructure issues. Plant still in operation.
• III – Del Monte Cannery. A single-owner site that was ready for redevelopment, just
north of Reed & Graham. A developer showed interest in building condos on the site,
which is eventually what happened.
• IV – Berryessa Flea Market. Located on San Jose’s east side, its major advantages
were its size, a single owner, and its location near a future BART station. Like the Del
Monte Cannery, the site has plans for future residential development. Such work has
not yet started and may not commence for several years.
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A’s ownership promoted sites:
1. Coliseum South. Site pitched by Lew Wolff shortly after he was hired by Schott/
Hofmann. Ownership agreed to pay 50% towards a study on the site, which included
the HomeBase and Malibu lots. The Coliseum Authority balked. In 2010, the
Authority bought the land with an eye towards a Raiders stadium and ancillary
development plan.
2. Santa Clara. North of Great America, the site was also considered for a Santa Clara
ballpark plan over a decade prior. In order to prevent a ballpark from being built,
the City added a street through the property that gets very little vehicular use.
3. Coliseum North (High/66th). A broad redevelopment plan that would have bought
100 acres of industrial zoned land and changed the zoning to residential/
commercial, with a ballpark as the centerpiece. Existing landowners balked at
moving and Wolff/Fisher were not willing to pay much more than a nominal amount
for the land, leading to the plan’s demise.
4. Pacific Commons. Took the Coliseum North redevelopment concept and moved it to
Fremont, on Cisco/Catellus-owned light industrial (yet undeveloped) land. Plan died
as the broader economy went into the tank in 2007.
5. Warm Springs. Rebirth of the original Fremont plan would’ve had the ballpark
decoupled from the residential and commercial components. Area residents decried
the location’s proximity to local homes and the lack of road infrastructure. The plan
came and went quickly, which made the team look further south.
Have a good Thanksgiving, everyone.

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December 5, 2010
As part of Susan Slusser’s preview of next week’s owner’s meetings in Orlando, there’s a
couple of paragraphs devoted to the stadium situation.
There has been speculation that Major League Baseball’s committee examining the A’s
stadium might issue its findings during the meetings, but team owner Lew Wolff said
that he does not believe that will be the case, though an announcement should come
soon. “All we want is a yes or a no,” Wolff said of efforts to get approval for a stadium in
San Jose.
So an announcement should come soon, but not next week. Calgon, take me away!
A year ago, I wrote about three options that MLB could pursue regarding the A’s. They
could either A) approve a move south, B) deny the move, or C) give Oakland one more
shot with a deadline. Given the recent news on Oakland’s front, such as it is (and the
lack of news on MLB’s part), option C would appear to have been the choice, in
retrospect. Whether Oakland is getting a full shot is unclear, they’ve gotten at the very
least a year. Yet there are plenty of things that don’t seem to fit that make me wonder
what the real endgame is here.
Earlier in the fall, there were murmurs of a pending decision, which South Bay boosters
have held onto ever since. Wolff’s retreat from that position in Slusser’s piece indicates
that something may have changed, but to what extent? Wolff has held firm to wanting a
“yes or no” from Selig, while the boosters have framed the South Bay as a chance to
“explore” the territory. MLB appears to be in communication with both San Jose and
Oakland city governments, giving the whole affair the appearance of a horse race.
If you ask me, “horse race” is not the proper term. “Contingency plan” is much more
apropos. I get the sense that with the economy the way it is, the difficulty in getting
things done in California, the T-rights issue affecting San Jose, and the uncertainty
regarding Oakland’s ability to pull a deal off, MLB may view a dual-track plan as the best
course of action right now.
First, let’s understand what the Bay Area means to MLB from a historical context. If you
read the blog post from before Thanksgiving, you might see the Bay Area as one big bag
of fail. Couple that with the litany of failed attempts to get something built for the
Giants, aborted attempts to move by both the Giants and A’s (Tampa Bay and Denver
respectively), and a lengthy delay in getting the only new MLB ballpark in California
built (PETCO), you might actually excuse MLB for not believing that any ballpark plan
in the Bay Area was a sure thing. Frankly, I’d be cautious too.
And so it may be that MLB is going to approach the A’s solution in a manner that won’t
satisfy boosters from either San Jose or Oakland. It’s highly possible that MLB will
foster Oakland’s efforts, while granting Wolff his chance to “explore” the South Bay
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simultaneously. Those of you pro-Oakland folks will look at this and say that The Town
will be screwed since San Jose is so far ahead in the process. Well, nothing stopped
Oakland from starting this process a year or at worst six months ago, instead of now.
The nice thing politically about the way Oakland has gone about this is that they haven’t
had to spend any money or make any significant decisions. Now we’ve got IDLF
demanding that MLB commit to Oakland before they spend money on an EIR, which
probably got many a chuckle going in NYC and Milwaukee. MLB doesn’t have to commit
to anything. In fact, they can turn it around and pay for some or all of the EIR, thereby
forcing Oakland to start making some decisions.
As for San Jose, they’re not the undisputed winners, at least not yet. They’ll have one
chance. That’s it. While Oakland officials have pointed to a 2015 opening day for a
Victory Court ballpark, San Jose won’t have as long, with a 2014 opening looming
instead. The 2013 end of the Coliseum lease makes this a necessity. There may also be
some lingering disinterest in opening the T-rights can until San Jose is completely in the
bag, which right now it isn’t at all. Political capital for Selig to get consensus from the
owners may not happen until everything is signed, sealed, and delivered. Selig won’t
move until he has that consensus. And as long as a referendum is the deciding factor, he
may not want to push all of his chips towards San Jose.
Oakland, then, is a hedge. Suppose that MLB helps fund the EIR, just as they’ve
promised to partly fund San Jose’s special election. Since it’s unlikely that Wolff would
be involved in an Oakland ballpark, MLB could arrange an ownership change to
Oakland interests once the ballpark deal was in place, probably by buying the team
Expos-style. Knowing the position in which they sit, Oakland has to decide whether to
move forward or not. There will be some who are clearly offended by being placed
second in the process. They may ask to pull out of the running entirely. Or they could
take advantage of the opportunity, following through on all of the necessary steps just in
case San Jose blows up – just as Fremont and Coliseum North did. Is it a long shot?
There’s no denying it. Over the last 15 years Oakland’s made missteps and had the deck
stacked against them. Yet it still has a chance, however remote, of keeping the A’s. To
not work with that would be the utmost display of spite and would give MLB every
excuse to finalize the move to San Jose without the slightest tinge of regret.
For many who are wrapped up in civic identity, the A’s saga is a zero-sum game. For
someone to win, the opponent has to lose. For the rest of us A’s fans, it’s not zero-sum at
all. We just want the A’s to stay local and for the era of free agent sluggers spurning us to
end. For different reasons, MLB probably has a similar view. They want 30 vital teams.
Despite the occasional talk of contraction by tinfoil hatters out there, Selig doesn’t want
the failure of two contracted teams on his resume. There’s a decent chance that if San
Jose doesn’t work out, Oakland will get its chance, and if that doesn’t work out – well,
someone’s been thinking about what might happen in that case.

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December 6, 2010
Over the weekend, Rich Lieberman posted an update on the KTRB sale that doesn’t
move the ball forward much. At least he implores the team to buy the station, which I
wholeheartedly agree with. For those that need a refresher, the A’s flagship station,
KTRB-860 AM, went into receivership a few months ago as its owner, Pappas
Broadcasting, continued to endure difficult bankruptcy proceedings. The A’s were a
finalist to buy the station, but word was that they weren’t willing to overpay, whatever
overpaying meant. Different figures were floated over the price of the station, Big Vinny
believes it’s $12 million including debt.
The A’s have been able to forge solid TV and radio deals (CSN California and KTRB
respectively), and they’ve gotten their feet wet having to organize programming since
the station went into receiver during the last part of the regular season. They should by
all rights be able to buy the station and turn it around.
Buying the station should be a complete no-brainer now that Billy Beane has struck out
on three potential acquisitions. First it was Lance Berkman, who went to St. Louis. Then
it was Adrian Beltre, who has now rejected the A’s twice. Now it’s Japanese pitcher
Hisashi Iwakuma, for whom the A’s won the right to sign him by posting $19.1 million to
his current team. The A’s had a 30-day negotiation period during which they could sign
Iwakuma to a player contract, but the two sides were far apart on the money. That
means that Iwakuma goes back to Japan and, if he performs well this upcoming season,
will be a highly sought and even more highly paid free agent next winter (hello, Beltre).
Since the A’s are getting their $19.1 million back, why not make the big bid for the radio
station? If the number truly is $12 million, it shouldn’t take much more than that to get
the station’s transmitter issues resolved. There are scant few free agents worth eight
figures per year at this point and possibly fewer who want to play in Oakland. That
doesn’t mean giving up the free agent ghost, it just means shifting sights a bit lower with
the hope that a few more 2 WAR guys makes up for not having a single 5 WAR guy.
Having a good radio station is part of a team’s media foundation. Owning a station that
has good reception and programming will only increase the franchise’s value and
revenue opportunities, so the move really is a no-brainer. Do the right thing, owners.
Turn the page on this crappy hot stove period and get cracking on the radio station,
because it’s a long-term investment that can really pay off. You know this. Buy KTRB.

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December 8, 2010
And this is where it gets messy and ugly. As mentioned in the comments thread for the
Setting Oakland’s Table post, a land deal was struck between the City of San Jose and
AT&T. However, it’s not quite the land deal you think. AT&T has been wanting to rezone
some land near Santana Row for some time, with the company offering to consider
selling its Diridon property if it got the rezoning green light. The Merc’s Scott Herhold
has the grisly details.
One aspect of the AT&T transaction Tuesday night, however, made it different.
AT&T also owns a key chunk of land in the path of the city’s planned A’s ballpark
near the main train station. And there was plenty of council discussion about
whether the fate of the two properties was entwined.
The charge of the folks who believed in this linkage, led by Councilman Pierluigi
Oliverio, who represents the area, is that AT&T dangled the ballpark area land before
the city as the quid pro quo for allowing housing on the Santana Row lot.
This actually goes back further than just Santana Row. Long ago, the Diridon ballpark
site was planned to have housing on it as part of a TOD plan, and AT&T stood to gain
from a housing-related land sale there too. Cue the economic collapse, and new housing
isn’t really worth much in that part of town right now. But the area right near Santana
Row is still hot, so AT&T wants to cash in.
Councilman Oliverio is in a tough spot, because his district has both locales within it.
And yes, he’s heard AT&T come-a-calling before:
One of the proposed exceptions that the Council denied in May 2008 on a 6-5 vote is
back again with a different lobbyist. The same property owner also owns land
where the proposed baseball stadium would be located. I met with the property
owner representatives who said if the City would rezone this piece of land then they
would consider selling the other piece of land to the City for baseball. I believe each
rezoning should be judged on its own merits and not tied to a quid pro quo.
Lobbyists. Horsetrading. Desperation. That’s what the lure of major pro sports brings.
AT&T knew it had the City over a barrel as long as San Jose didn’t exercise eminent
domain, so this is the price. Oliverio wanted an office building along with housing as
part of his general anti-rezoning stance, but he ended up casting one of the dissenting
votes (8-3 passed). Apparently he wasn’t even invited to community-developer meetings
to discuss the rezoning even though it’s in his district – which sounds insane. Who
knows, maybe it’s all plausible deniability. Whatever it is, it’s disgusting.
Going back, all that talk of AT&T being in so tight with the Giants was baseless, though
not for the reason I cited (parking, location). Strictly speaking, it was all about money.
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Some will rejoice in that it’s one more domino down. I think I just threw up in my
mouth a little bit.
If there’s a lesson to be learned for landowners, it’s this: Hold out as long as you can.
You’ll get a better deal.

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December 13, 2010

Peerless Coffee is based out of a low-slung, light industrial building built in 1976.
Established in 1924, the company has seen it all: wars, boom and bust cycles, and
several sports teams. Three generations of the Vukasin family have helmed the
company, and they are Oaklanders through and through. They have every intention and
desire to continue being a pillar of the Oakland business community. How that can
continue with a ballpark proposal lingering in the immediate future is uncertain.
As I approached the building, the aroma of roasting coffee nearly overwhelmed me. I
sipped an au lait inside the store as I waited to interview George Vukasin, Jr., who runs
the business, and George Vukasin, Sr., who left the company to his children and still is a
major presence there. George Sr. is also well known as a major proponent of Oakland
and East Bay sports, as he was pivotal in making the Coliseum complex come into being.
I sat down in their front office and we talked for nearly two hours. I could’ve easily sat
there for another two as George Sr. recounted stories of Oakland sports glories past, but
I had to start writing. Maybe another time.
We first talked about how the Coliseum deal was struck. George Sr. happily took on the
role of historian, recalling how the late developer Bob Nahas put together a coalition of
civic and business interests, including the elder Vukasin, to get a sports showcase built
in the East Bay. They quickly focused on a site in East Oakland. The land was
undeveloped, with the major owners being the Port of Oakland, EBMUD, and PG&E.
Deals were struck with both utilities to maintain easements at the complex while a land
swap was negotiated with EBMUD for a parcel on High Street, where the utility’s
maintenance yard now resides. The Port of Oakland handled the land deal, as George Sr.
was a Port commissioner at the time. The process from first discussion to
groundbreaking took 2 years and was unencumbered by CEQA laws or other red tape.
The Coliseum Commission ran the complex for close to three decades. They understood
what it took to keep the complex in the black, such as the need for 130 event days at the
complex every year. While that should be easy to do with 81+ baseball games, 7-10
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football games (sometimes), and 41+ basketball games, occasionally things would run
tight. One particular year, Vukasin couldn’t figure out what to do so he called rock
promoter Bill Graham and asked for help. Graham magically produced 7 days of
Grateful Dead shows at the arena, the proceeds of which allowed the Commission to
take care of the debt service.
Around the same time, Amnesty International contacted the Commission about putting
on a single concert, which would be held at the stadium. Walter Haas, who had put a
good deal of money into renovating the Coliseum, was not particularly fond of having a
large number of concertgoers trampling his pristine baseball field, as evidenced by the
declining number of Day on the Green concerts during the Haas era. When Amnesty
International inquired, Haas and Roy Eisenhardt unequivocally said no. Vukasin and
others tracked Haas down at the Pacific Union building in San Francisco, where they
asked him to grant permission face-to-face. Haas, ever the gentleman, relented on the
spot and the concert was held, as long as there were assurances that the field would be
kept in good condition. No contracts, no litigation, just a talk and a handshake.
We shifted topics to Victory Court, and that’s when George Jr. was able to speak more.
He was contacted 18 months ago by Mike Ghielmetti and Jim Falaschi, who suggested
that Victory Court would be a studied site for a ballpark, and that the Peerless Coffee
property was one of the targeted parcels. That led to a meeting with Ghielmetti and the
City of Oakland’s real estate manager, Frank Fanelli. Little happened during the
meeting, and no direct contact has been made since. Once George Jr. caught a man
surveying and measuring the property. The man couldn’t divulge who sent him, and
George Jr. asked him to leave. The man got in his car and went around to the back of the
property, which is accessible from both Oak and Fallon Streets. George Jr. saw him
surveying that side and kicked him off the property for good. To this day the Vukasins
don’t know who the appraiser was, let alone who sent him. They asked me who I thought
it was, and I guessed that it was MLB, contracting the work as part of its “due diligence.”
I asked why the current site was so crucial, and George Jr. went into great detail about
how the business worked. While the plant looks like a 70’s office building from the
outside, the nondescript façade hides many unique features that are part and parcel of
what makes Peerless Coffee run the way it does. Among the important features:
• The floor is an extra thick concrete pad, which allows the company to stack huge bags
of coffee from floor to ceiling without worrying about weight.
• The plant’s location near the port lowers transportation costs.
• Peerless rents out some surplus space in the back, with the knowledge that the space
can be repurposed for a plant expansion if need be.
Perhaps the most interesting thing is the process of roasting coffee itself. Peerless does a
lot of custom roasting for different clients, such as restaurants and hotels. This makes it
important for the company to have extremely precise control over the variables that
come into play, from humidity to the shape of the natural gas flame as the beans are
being roasted. Roasting the beans an extra five minutes can severely change a coffee’s
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flavor profile, according to George Sr. George Jr. followed that up, saying that the
process is so delicate, a transition period of 18 months would be necessary, including
construction time. During that time, both facilities would be running (or under
construction), allowing the new plant to work out the kinks and match the old plant’s
flavor. The fact that coffee is perishable, coupled with the change of equipment and
environment, mandates such a long transition. It’s possible that a lot of product will be
wasted along the way. When another coffee roaster built a new plant to replace an old
one, it supposedly took 6 months or more after it started operating to “dial in” the flavor
properly. Essentially, the coffee is roasted based on the conditions in that exact location.
Any changes would require a costly upheaval.
In preparation for what could happen, George Jr. and his sister, Kristina Brouhard, have
done the necessary background work just in case. As I was talking with the two Georges,
Kristina, an attorney who is also Peerless Coffee’s legal counsel, popped in for a moment
and we exchanged pleasantries. They’re getting ready to (and I’m paraphrasing here)
man the troops.
That’s not to say that manning of any troops will be needed. I asked the Georges if, as I
had suggested last week, a ballpark land grab extended as far out as Fallon Street,
instead of the taking of all land between Oak Street and Lake Merritt Channel. They
both said they’d be fine with it, though no one has explained to them why all of the land
was needed. They’re perfectly content to be neighbors to the ballpark, and their comfort
with their specialized operation suggests that they aren’t in this just to hike up the price
on their property. George Jr. doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for the business, but he
was very clear in saying, “This business is our family.” And right now it’s threatened by
the ballpark. Already, customers are asking if Peerless is going out of business, which is
clearly not the case. If you think that battling perception is hard now, just wait until the
word gets out about a ballpark.
There were plenty of other anecdotes about Wally Haas, Herb Caen, Franklin Mieuli,
Ken Hofmann, and strangely enough, former Warriors bust Chris Washburn, who
George Sr. said had a “Rolls Royce grille on a Volkswagen.” George Sr. lamented how the
revenue chase has made getting a fair stadium deal so difficult. We talked about how
genuine Oakland’s (and Let’s Go Oakland’s) efforts were, and I was surprised how much
we were all on the same page. There was a bittersweet moment in realizing that it is
possible that Oakland, so defined by its sports franchises and full of history, could lose
two or all three of them. George Sr. would’ve preferred a ballpark at Howard Terminal.
George Jr. would’ve liked a downtown site. They told me how much they appreciated my
work, and I thanked them for the time they gave me to discuss the issues. As I got up to
leave, George Sr. had the most surprising parting words for me,
You never go over the owner’s head. If you call the commissioner, the first thing
he’ll do once he gets off the phone is call the owner.
Coming from a man who has heard and seen it all – especially in Oakland and in dealing
with pro sports teams – those are sage words.

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December 21, 2010
Liveblog of the meeting (watching the stream):
7:15 PM – The first of eight speakers, Chris Dobbins, is up. The first three speakers are
in favor of the resolution: Dobbins, Mike Davie, and Jorge Leon. emperor nobody is fifth
with the the phrase “green stadium” as the magic words to making the ballpark work.
Ethan Pintard suggests other alternative sites, is concerned with land availability. Bryan
Grunwald suggests 980 Park, wants more transparency in the process.
7:28 PM – Council is speaking. Nancy Nadel asks about the Uptown garage, which will
have $3.8 million in available funding, which will not be enough to finish the garage (it
was also dependent on a now dormant housing development). Funny, she talks about
the garage in terms of bringing people in from outside Oakland; isn’t that one of the
purposes of a ballpark? Just asking.
7:33 PM – Rebecca Kaplan is up, is encouraged but wants alternatives (uses of the
Victory Court site) just in case MLB doesn’t choose Oakland or a ballpark doesn’t pan
out. Suggests the Coliseum as a possible site, though she takes care that mentioning the
Coliseum is not opposition to Victory Court (sounds like a backpedal from the preelection stance). Asks about pedestrian and rail crossing improvements, potential for a
streetcar project.
7:36 PM – Ignacio de la Fuente thanks A’s fans. Is concerned about how MLB plays one
city against another to squeeze out the best deal they can. Implores MLB to make a
decision, says he can’t in good conscience support the resolution without a commitment
from MLB. Brings up the DC-NoVA bidding war to land the Nats. Northern Virginia,
like San Jose, was considered in the lead because it was well organized and had good
political and economic support. DC got the team because of the deal put together by
Robert Bobb and then-mayor Anthony Williams.
7:41 PM – Jane Brunner rebuts IDLF. Basically says that if we don’t approve this, we
lose the team tomorrow (applause).
7:44 PM – Jean Quan expresses her support. Also looks at the site for other potential
Motion passes 6-2. “Let’s Go Oakland” chant ensues.
Side note: A Bay City News article (via NBC Bay Area) mentions Fremont as Wolff’s
fallback if MLB doesn’t allow a move to San Jose but only as a past (and currently not
active) site possibility.
Greetings from the Southland again, where I am working on an ark to transport me,
family, and pairs of animals away from the flash flooding here. At least it ends
tomorrow. I think.
Rich Lieberman has the scoop that the A’s are dropping out of the KTRB bidding, due to
the station’s “significant internal issues.” I think Big Vinny is cutting the A’s a bit too
much slack here. Lew Wolff and Ken Pries are fully aware that individual stations don’t
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come up for sale very often, so to be able to jump in on one that already has your
programming and really only needs some upkeep is a pretty rare opportunity, especially
in the Bay Area. I’ve gotten on my soapbox two weeks ago, so I won’t belabor the point.
Let’s just say I’ll be seriously disappointed if this comes to pass.
Speaking of opportunities, the Oakland City Council will take up the $750k EIR decision
on tonight’s agenda (PDF). Be forewarned, however. The agenda has 47 items, and the
meeting starts at 5:30 PM – which makes sense if you’re going to cram 47 items into a
single session. The Victory Court item, 10-0260, is way down towards the bottom of the
list and is a non-consent item, which means it will be heard after 6:30. A staff note for
the item goes as follows:
The December 14, 2010 Community and Economic Development Committee
approved recommendations and directed staff to spend conservatively – as slow as
possible and decisions to expend funds should be leveraged against tangible
Staff further directed to add a RESOLVED that the contract is subject to
termination at any time, with remaining funds left unspent, should the City’s work
with the Major League Baseball stop progressing towards a satisfactory
conclusion; 4 Ayes
Again, the item should pass handily with the added termination clause, though
there will undoubtedly be a great deal of discussion before that vote is taken. The
meeting will stream here.

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December 31, 2010
Congratulations are in order for Gavin Newsom and the SF Board of Supervisors, who
held firm and didn’t give away the farm in their winning America’s Cup bid. The City
beat out stalking horse Newport, RI, who did not actually get its 2013 bid out in time,
despite having the experience of holding the event throughout much of the 20th century.
72-foot catamarans will be the vessel of choice, and the races themselves will be held at
the Golden Gate, with excellent views from North Beach, the Marina, and the Marin
The upshot of this is that we’ve now gotten two glimpses into how Larry Ellison makes
deals when it comes to his sporting interests. He plays hardball (America’s Cup). He
doesn’t overbid (Warriors). And now that he and his partners will be investing $150
million on SF’s waterfront with the idea of ensuring that the event will continue to be
held here every three years into the distant future, it seems unlikely that he’ll turn his
attention to other potential sports endeavors, namely the A’s. Just in case you’ve
forgotten, the sixth richest person in the world has, as part of his day job, gone doublebarreled at HP and has also set his sights on just about every other enterprise
heavyweight in the tech industry. So for those who want to keep thinking that Ellison
will simply head over the bridge and become Oakland’s knight in shining armor, get
real. He has other things on his mind.

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January 10, 2011
Governor Brown just finished his press conference, where he explained his budget
plans. Brown is pushing for $12.5 Billion in spending cuts, and he is asking the
legislature (and the voters) to extend temporary income, sales, and car taxes that are set
to expire this year. As for the redevelopment golden goose, Brown said that existing
(already bonded) projects are safe. New projects, on the other hand, are in trouble.
Brown wants to “phase out” redevelopment agencies and start taking back $1.7 Billion in
tax increment annually. What it comes down to is this: If you don’t have your project
started and well underway in the next 12-18 months, you are screwed. There continues
to be some debate as to how the governor could eliminate RDA’s, with the agencies
enshrined in Article 16 in the Constitution and recently passed Prop 22 acting as
protection. The governor seems to be saying, “If we get rid of RDA’s, there are no more
protections.” Yow. Okay, who would this impact? Let’s put together a list:
• San Jose Diridon Ballpark – While the City is speeding up land acquisition, what
about Autumn Parkway and other mitigations? Will the funds be in place for the rest
of the project, or will it get kicked down the road?
• Oakland Victory Court Ballpark – Oakland already had to deal with a tight schedule
based on a 2015 Opening Day. Now, Oakland will have to get its bonds raised and land
in place right around the time an EIR is certified, or even before certification. Expect
for Oakland to push MLB harder to decide in its favor, even without anything
significant in place.
• 49ers Stadium in Santa Clara – The quasi-public stadium authority would have to get
its loans and/or bonds in place in the next 18 months as well.
• New Raiders Stadium at the Coliseum – A new stadium is practically a nonstarter
given the funding questions. Expect the Raiders to look south sooner rather than later.
• Downtown Los Angeles NFL Stadium – The now $1.5 Billion stadium (+$500 million
in the last two weeks) would require $350 million in bonds, which won’t be available if
RDA’s go away.
• City of Industry NFL Stadium – Ed Roski’s plan involves his own land, but much of
the stadium cost would be funded by tax increment on the land improvements, thanks
to much of the city being one large redevelopment zone. Uncertainty regarding RDAs
makes the prospects for building infrastructure for the stadium and ancillary
development, murky at best.
• Sacramento Kings Arena – As Kevin Johnson’s arena task force continues to talk
things out, time is running out, especially for an arena at the long dormant Railyards.
• San Francisco Arena – Land south of AT&T Park could serve as the site for a new
arena. Controlled by the Port and with development rights given to the Giants, it’s
likely that any dev plan there will require at least the same kind of public outlay that
made the ballpark deal work. Proponents would have to find another source for that

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Slide captured from the governor’s briefing
The message is abundantly clear: If you want to get something built, get a move on.
(BTW, take a look at the counter on the right today. Eerie.)

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January 16, 2011
We can now add über-agent Scott Boras to the list of people who hate Oakland, along
Lew Wolff, John Fisher, Steve Schott, Ken Hofmann, Guy Saperstein, and just about
everyone else in league with A’s ownership over the past 15 years. Ken Rosenthal reports
that Boras, well, his words speak for themselves.
“The idea that we’re here, sitting on our hands and not letting this franchise get
going is detrimental to the game,” says Boras, who grew up in Elk Grove, Calif.,
near Sacramento.
“A few franchises need to be evaluated and examined. Oakland can immediately
improve and become a success if moved to San Jose. You would then have two wellrun and successful franchises in the Bay Area.”
Now, let’s not read anything more into this than Boras’ own self-interest. I doubt he’s
out there, rubbing his hands, actively conspiring to destroy Oakland. I doubt he cares for
either Oakland or San Jose. What he wants is the ability to have one more suitor who
could offer a nice, fat, nine-figure contract, whereby Boras gets his cut. That’s it.
It’s interesting that Boras’ comments were so pointed, when Joe Stiglich reported over
the weekend that he talked to two unnamed agents who felt that the Coliseum’s
condition being a factor in signing free agents was overblown. Instead free agents were
turned off by the organization’s lack of commitment to winning. We’ll see how that
equation changes this season and next.
The rest of Rosenthal’s article pretty much rehashes the current situation, though he
editorializes quite strongly in favor of San Jose.
The three other AL West clubs — the Rangers, Angels and Mariners — play in terrific
markets with terrific parks. The proposed 32,000-seat stadium in San Jose would be the
smallest in the majors. But the A’s average home attendance would almost double if they
filled the park, and premium seating and luxury suites would provide additional
It’s time. It’s past time.
“In the end, this is hurting baseball,” Boras says. “It’s depriving baseball players
and baseball fans of a successful franchise. That’s wrong. We need to correct that.”
The solution is within reach.
Somewhere, the commissioner is twiddling his thumbs.
(Thanks gojohn10 for the link.)

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January 31, 2011
Now for the “fun” part.
Last night I described the fate of redevelopment in a California where the concept no
longer works within the budget framework. Today it’s time to discuss all of the great/
terrible fates that await our favorite local sports franchises should RDA funding sources
dry up.
49ers Bond Rush
It all starts not with the Oakland Athletics, but rather the San Francisco 49ers. The
linchpin to the Santa Clara stadium plan is $114 million in public funds, $42 million of it
from the RDA (the 49ers would provide a partial advance). This money would have to be
raised before any RDA dissolution or cutbacks take place, so the deadline would
presumably be sometime in the next 4-5 months. This means that Santa Clara would
have to go to the bond market three times for the stadium project:

$42 million from the RDA

$35 million from the newly assembled Mello-Roos district (hotel taxes)

$330 million from the Stadium Authority
If the RDA doesn’t get the bonds by the deadline, there’s no chance that the hotels will
even tax themselves for their piece, let alone fund a RDA shortfall. The agreement
between Santa Clara and the Niners would have to be reopened so that an alternate
funding source could be inserted, and that source couldn’t be tied to the general fund in
any way. The Stadium Authority couldn’t get started because there’d be no certainty of
the project getting off the ground until the funding package worked itself out.
$40 million doesn’t seem like a big deal as it’s less then 5% of the project cost. It’s still a
lot of money to raise and a big enough gap to throw a wrench into the works. There’s a
chance that both parties could figure out a way to bridge the gap but it’s not going to
happen immediately, and unless it’s the team pledging to cover it completely, any
contractual details will require renewed scrutiny.
Should the team find the sledding too rough, there’s always a Plan B. They can run to
Oakland, where the Coliseum Authority and the Raiders will be waiting with open arms.
The Coliseum Authority has bonding authority and capacity through its joint powers,
the City of Oakland and Alameda County. There’s that nagging problem of ongoing debt
burdening both parties through 2026, which can be looked at one of two ways: Should
the JPA endeavor to get a new two-team NFL stadium built in the hopes that helps cover
the debt or cut its losses and keep paying the debt even though the Raiders could be long
gone before it’s retired? (Not that amassing more debt is favorable as the current bonds
were downgraded to BBB last month.)
The problem Oakland and the JPA has going forward is the fact that the new Raiders
stadium plan had integrated redevelopment along Hegenberger, including a new
conference center, hotel and retail. With the well run dry, none of that stuff could get
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built unless some new taxation/indebtedness occurred, or unless the stadium project’s
funding coved it. So what you’d be left with is in all likelihood an updated version of the
stadium and arena complex, surrounded by parking. Sounds familiar, eh?
On the other hand, if Santa Clara is able to get the funding ball rolling, it’ll prompt the
Raiders to move more quickly in order to leave Oakland. Al Davis isn’t going to live
forever, and Roger Goodell is a take-no-prisoners negotiator who has been clamoring for
the two teams to share a stadium. Whatever the location, expect an agreement between
the host city and the two teams sooner rather than later. Otherwise it might be too late
for both.
Which Way Warriors
We’ve discussed the Warriors and the Lacob-Guber group’s interest in San Francisco.
The Port of SF owns land to the south of AT&T Park that could be well suited for an
arena. This is important as the money’s already spent, no new funds required. In order
for a new arena to be built, it would have to be privately financed and it would make the
most fiscal sense if two teams shared the arena, not just one. This model has worked
well in Chicago and Dallas, where both cities’ representative hoops and hockey teams
created partnerships to build their venues. The Giants being the developer has only
limited impact since they couldn’t materially impact which touring acts or other events
came to town. Two teams means two major winter sports teams, not just the W’s and a
minor league franchise.
Can it be done? The Giants/Warriors would have to attract the Sharks or a second NHL
team, neither of which seems likely. SVSE would probably entertain the offer as a way to
extract lease concessions from San Jose, but it wouldn’t move beyond that. It’s much
like trying to get the W’s to move south permanently – it’s technically doable but highly
unlikely. Lacob-Guber could also use the SF arena as a stalking horse for improvements
to the Arena.
Again, any new arena in SF is only possible if it is privately financed. The good news?
There will be so little big project construction in the future (save for public facilities)
that the labor could be relatively cheap.
It was nice knowing you Cowtown
Unlike some of the whispering about MLB contracting two teams, there actually has
been talk about contracting the Kings. And it will only get louder as the current season
draws to a close later this summer. The woes of the Kings and the Maloofs have been
chronicled here and elsewhere for some time now, and there doesn’t seem to be a light
at the end of the tunnel for them. Mayor Kevin Johnson is playing this like he has to
walk the ball up the floor and dump it into the post every possession instead of being
able to do anything dynamic like this. Being a mayor is a tough job. I want to see the
Kings stay in Sac, but it’s hard to see long term with every proposal linked to some kind
of redevelopment. The NBA probably won’t buy them as it did the Hornets, which leaves
the Kings in some sort of limbo for years to come.

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San JosA’s
The landbanking strategy San Jose has used for years has never been more wise than
right now, as it works to cobble together the remaining land at Diridon. As I understand
it, the money is basically untouchable at this point and SJRA can do whatever it wants
as long it takes care of its housing set-asides (25%). If SJ and the A’s are given the green
light, the vote this summer or fall won’t be about ballparks vs. schools since the money
will already be spent. The debate will be about baseball vs. other housing or commercial
developers in a time of a glut of both housing and office space. And yes, the decision
could drag on for another several months or even a year.
Oakland mayor Jean Quan has been publicly silent on what the death of RDAs could
mean for the Victory Court project, and that’s not a good sign. When the mayors went
up to the Capitol last week, the most quotable guy there was Chuck Reed, not Quan.
There should be a greater sense of urgency there if Oakland’s various supporters want
the donut hole strategy to come to fruition, but it’s not happening publicly, perhaps by
design. Should the EIR be delivered at the beginning of April, there will be ample
opportunity to go over every detail of the document, and it’s that thoroughness baked
into the CEQA process that could eventually kill MLB in Oakland. The way I see it, Bud
Selig is looking for a politically expedient opportunity to declare support for San Jose,
and that could come in the form of a 400-page EIR that brings up more questions than
answers. Why? Because Lew Wolff has to have been in his ear constantly about this
redevelopment business, and opportunities are running out fast. Maybe the day of
reckoning wont occur immediately, it might occur well along in the process as it did in
Fremont. Either way the clock is ticking as it is for AT&T in that commercial for the
Verizon iPhone.
Of course, if Let’s Go Oakland had declared Victory Court as its site in December 2009
instead of 2010, Oakland might not be in such a bad position. Oakland’s only saving
grace now is something out of its control: the continued difficulty with T-rights
negotiations. That’s like basing your retirement plan on an upcoming shared inheritance
– will you get a good enough piece, or will it mostly go to the more favored child/
mistress/charity? It’s not a real investment strategy.

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February 2, 2011
We’ve been waiting for comments from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan about
redevelopment, and now we have them courtesy of KGO-TV’s Alan Wong.
ORA apparently has $52 million in cash on hand, $20 million for Victory Court’s
development area. Quan was quick to talk up the benefits of redevelopment, specifically
pointing to the renovation of the Fox Theater as a glittering example done under Jerry
Brown’s watch.
Updated: More from Oakland North’s Laura Hautala:
Currently, the city council is the governing body of Oakland’s redevelopment
agency and directs its actions, but (CEDA director Walter) Cohen said the successor
agencies might turn out to be cities themselves. If so, the council might continue
overseeing the projects normally carried out by Oakland’s redevelopment agency,
but with less funding.
Quan told the council that she and the nine mayors from California’s 10 biggest
cities will meet with Brown’s finance director next week to discuss details of how
the proposal would work. “The scary thing is that folks in Sacramento have not a
clue what redevelopment is,” Quan said, adding that even Brown, formerly
Oakland’s mayor, seems to have forgotten the extent to which the redevelopment
agency provides funding for the city. “We have a special responsibility to make this
real,” Quan said.
When the subject shifted to the A’s, things got a little more uncertain. Let’s Go Oakland
head Doug Boxer took the question.
When asked if this was the nail in the coffin for the Oakland A’s, Doug Boxer — Cofound of Let’s Go Oakland — says, “I don’t like to think of it like that. It’s very
difficult to move a franchise. The Giants were on their way out, quite frankly,
including Canada.”
Not exactly confidence inspiring. And there’s an important distinction to make here. In
nearly every case of the A’s or Giants wanting to move, the owner was looking to sell the
• 1976 – Horace Stoneham looked to sell Giants to brewing giant Labatt’s, who would
move the team to Toronto. A court injunction stopped the sale and the team was sold
to Bob Lurie.
• 1978-79 – Charlie Finley tries to move the A’s to New Orleans but is bound to his lease
by the Coliseum Commission.

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• 1980 – Finley tries to sell to Marvin Davis, who would move the team to Denver.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn struck down the move. Finley was held to his lease again.
(Thanks, MB) Finley would sell the following year to Wally Haas.
• 1992 – Lurie tries to sell the Giants to Tampa Bay interests after striking out several
times in his efforts to get a new stadium built in SF or the South Bay. NL President Bill
White intervenes and allows time for Walter Shorenstein to assemble the saving
ownership group.
Legal obstacles (ironclad lease, sale acting as a gating mechanism) prevented the moves
in all cases. Talk of a lawsuit against the A’s emanating from a clause in the lease has
been all but debunked. That leaves Wolff/Fisher with the thing we already know as the
last true obstacle: T-rights enforced via the commissioner. We can debate all day and
night about how sacrosanct T-rights actually are, but let’s be clear – they’re the only real
obstacle left.

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February 4, 2011
Let’s go back two weeks. Lost in the glorious vengeance that usually comes with an Al
Davis press conference was a question about a future stadium from KPIX’s Kim Coyle.
Davis admitted that he is not involved day-to-day in the work, but he pressed the notion
that the Raiders need a new stadium… somewhere. Go 24 minutes into this video to get
the question and response. Below is the text.
“The best place for a site is the Oakland Coliseum. It really is. Traffic-wise, the
BART, all those amenities that go there – it’s the best place. BUT. If they can’t get it
done, you’re gonna have to use other avenues. You’re gonna have to do other
things. And we need a new stadium.”
“I mean we’re no different just like someone here brought up, being able to
compete… If we’re going to be able to compete we need a new stadium.”
“And we want the Raider Nation, we want the fans out there, you gotta support us.”
“Someone said we had 22,000 (season tickets). We’re at the low end or close to the
low end and we’ve gotta to do better. That’s just the facts.”
After the press conference officially ended, Davis talked a bit more. Asked about the
impact of the new CBA and the extension of the regular season to 18 games, he said this:
“What does a club do that’s in a depressed area like Oakland, where we find out
that the fans don’t have all the money we’re hoping they do?” Davis asked. “What
do the Raiders do about 18 games, which means another home game? These are
important things that we have to decide.”
So you have the short term danger of even more blackouts coming from greater ticket
inventory, thanks to 18 games. Yet Davis is clear in favoring Oakland first, as opposed to
immediately looking south to Santa Clara or even Los Angeles.
There’s the dilemma. The Coliseum is great from an accessibility standpoint. It is rich in
history and legacy. Is that enough? Davis did something no other owner in the Bay Area
is really willing to do – talk directly about the elephant in the room, Oakland’s struggles
as a city. Unfortunately, to ignore Oakland’s issues is to ignore reality. Yes, there are
great places to live within the city limits. Yes, it is only one-sixth of the East Bay’s
population and is near many other wealthier cities. But it has issues that make it
difficult to consider from the standpoint of funding a near billion-dollar stadium (not to
mention a half-billion-dollar ballpark), and Davis has been feeling that pinch for a
while. You’re not going to hear outsiders or “carpetbaggers” like Lew Wolff or Joe Lacob
talk about this. They’ll dance around it as much as possible. Davis has nothing to lose at
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this point and has never edited or censored himself for good or bad. His opinion counts
more than most other local owners because he’s part of the community, at least much
more than Wolff or Lacob. Apparently Davis gets credit for giving the Coliseum a real
college try – at his behest no less. If it’s too hard and the Raiders explore those “other
avenues,” what then? Does that college try translate into greater goodwill? A shrug? Or
will people remember only the endgame?

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February 15, 2011
After Ken Rosenthal (and Scott Boras) took a whack at the A’s murky future, Fox Sports
colleague Bob Klapisch took his turn today. In his piece, Klapisch claims that unless
things turn around from a revenue standpoint, Billy Beane may not be with the
organization much longer:
In fact, Beane’s friends say this is his last go-round — if the A’s aren’t allowed to move to
San Jose, he’ll officially pass the baton to assistant David Forst and look for a Plan B for
the rest of his professional life. It’s anyone’s guess what would be next for Beane;
remember, this is the same executive who turned down what should’ve been a dream
job, controlling the Red Sox.
Beane’s record isn’t spotless. Like any GM not named Ruben Amaro, Jr., he’s made
plenty of mistakes over the years regarding personnel. Yet he’s still among the top GMs
in the game, and along with David Forst they once again have the A’s back on an
upswing. That said, frequent talk of the A’s being small market – or more appropriately
low revenue – sounds like whining after a while, and constantly bemoaning one’s
station while being the only GM to own part of a team is not going to engender
Thing is, Beane can only play Sisyphus for so long. Other GMs have a much larger
margin of error when it comes to putting together teams and payrolls. We all know that
pinning the franchise’s hopes on Eric Chavez set the team back for years. High revenue
teams can have two or three Chavez contracts without suffering too much. Even the
Giants got away with Barry Zito being a parasite last year, and his contract alone is
worth two Chavys. It’s not hard to see how Beane could see that proverbial rock rolling
back downhill and choose to walk away.
One of the things I think we’re seeing from the national media who’ve chimed in on this
(Klapisch, Rosenthal, Gammons) is that they, like us, want to see what Billy can do when
he has all of the tools the other GMs do. We all want to see a culmination to Billy’s story,
because frankly, even with Moneyball, the story isn’t finished. So while some of the proOakland crowd might look at the national media as ganging up on Oakland, it’s losing
sight of the big picture. In the end the A’s need to be able to compete and the best
economic chance to do so comes in San Jose, not Oakland. That observation comes in
contrast to much of the local media (Newhouse, Ratto, Cohn, Killion), who have often
been against ownership’s stadium wranglings, holding up the legacy of the team over all
else – a valid argument but not one firmly planted in reality.
At 48, Billy Beane is still a reasonably young man for a GM. Even if he stays with the A’s,
it’s not hard to see him being booted upstairs to a CEO/President type of position where
he no longer does any day-to-day work with the ballclub. Whether he leaves or not, he’s
not going to be a GM for the next 20 years. If he leaves before he and we feel his work
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his done, it’ll be a huge blow psychologically since it’ll be an admission that the A’s, as
they currently stand in financial limbo, cannot compete long term. It won’t be easy to be
a fan if that day comes.

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February 24, 2011
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is at it again. This time he’s talking about that horrible,
disgusting word that I loathe, the one that makes my skin crawl, the C-word.
That’s right. Contraction.
Rosenthal notes that some of the big market owners are grousing about having to send
money to low revenue franchises such as the Rays and A’s, who conveniently don’t have
new ballparks to help their revenue cases. Both teams should be the likeliest candidates
because of this. However, all is not as it appears to be! Rosenthal walks back the threat
in the context of upcoming CBA negotiations. To wit:
Such a threat would, however, change the tenor of the upcoming labor
negotiations, raising the tension considerably. Yes, the owners always could pull
back to extract other concessions, but if the A’s can be saved, why risk a work
stoppage to eliminate one troubled franchise?
Naturally, he pivots to an A’s move to San Jose, which could (and should) resolve the A’s
poor revenue position. In the grand scheme of things, improving the A’s financial stance
may bump up total MLB revenue 1% on annual basis. That’s not enough to make Joe
Fan notice, but if the game is as also about getting more owners to sign off on the
financial model for the next 5-10 years, it’s an important battle to not have to fight.
Right now, MLB and MLBPA are set to go into CBA negotiations with several draft
related items such as bonus slotting, a potential international draft, and the possibility
of trading draft picks (yes please). Competition matters include increased replay and
that extra playoff round. These items are only peripherally related to how the revenue
pie is split, so the tension regarding those matters is projected to be minimal at best.
That makes the biggest struggle not between players and owners, but rather between
owner haves and have-nots. It has building to this ever since revenue sharing was
introduced, and the financial document leaks of last summer only added fuel to the fire.
For a while I’ve been talking about how revenue sharing isn’t going to be expanded. It
faces a rollback, strange as it seems, and the big market teams are pushing it. Bud Selig
is listening, as his response to Hank Steinbrenner’s comments from earlier in the week
“We have more competitive balance than ever before,” Selig said. “We have more
competitive balance than any other sport.
“Now, look, is the system perfect? No. I didn’t say it was perfect, but I said that I think
what exists today is pretty darn good. In the next labor negotiation, we have to tweak
it in some areas, and it’s significant tweaks.”

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What kinds of tweaks are we talking about here? There might be a tweak to the luxury
tax, but that would only really satisfy the Yankees. Revenue sharing is defined as 31% of
revenue minus expenses. Which means that teams keep more than 69% of their gate,
local TV and radio money thanks to the ability to deduct stadium costs. Forbes had the
Yankees 2009 revenue at $440 million after expenses and revenue sharing. By reducing
the required share from 31% to 25%, the Yankees could see their net revenue approach
$500 million, half of that excess likely going to yet another free agent pickup.
On the other end of the spectrum, a have-not team like the A’s could see its revenue go
south by only a few million. It also means that other have-nots would take similar hits.
In practical roster terms, this means not signing some like Grant Balfour. For a team
that tends to hoard revenue sharing like the Pirates, it simply means they have less to
hoard since they are forever playing the waiting game until their competitive window
(You can stop your laughing now.)
Thankfully, the have-nots and middle class teams outnumber the big markets. They’re
not going to take this lying down and they can lobby Selig just as effectively as the
Steinbrenner brothers or John Henry (who once owned a have-not team in the Marlins).
What to do then? As Rosenthal suggests, getting one team off the dole – namely the A’s
– could be a big difference maker. The Twins are already there. The Marlins will be
healthier starting next year. The Royals have a greatly renovated ballpark and a fantastic
farm system which could literally pay dividends over the next several years. The A’s will
be once they have a ballpark built (and they have the revenue streams to pay for it). That
leaves the Rays as the only team that can’t lift itself up by its proverbial bootstraps.
Knowing that the Rays probably won’t have anything done at least through this next
CBA means they are the only team to worry about instead of four or five should the A’s
situation be resolved. The sooner the owners make this happen, the sooner they can end
this major internal distraction and rally in solidarity against their real enemy: the
players union.
P.S. One other thing that Rosenthal touches on is debt or legal issues facing certain
owners like Fred Wilpon, Frank McCourt, and Tom Hicks. It would seem that owning
a team is a license to do some seriously crazy things, like investing with Bernie Madoff
or buying a bunch of other franchises that one can’t afford. While Selig may look to
enforce debt rules better, his reach doesn’t go as far as telling owners how to run their
own personal finances. Is this recent history of individual owner financial troubles
simply a remnant of the economic downturn or something else? I don’t know that any
additional “screening” of potential owners would help. It’s not like choosing owners is
going to become an open, democratic process overnight. They don’t call it The Lodge
for nothing.
P.P.S. Ray Ratto also dismisses contraction.

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March 4, 2011
Several hours ago I listed to the latest installment of Dale Tafoya’s Athletics After Dark
podcast, this one featuring Ray Ratto. Ratto thinks that the San Jose stadium plan is
near death:
The “Blue Ribbon Committee” is a fraud. The territorial rights argument is a fraud.
This is about one thing and one thing only, and it’s always been about this: Do the A’s
have the money to put a shovel in the ground? If they had the money to put a shovel in
the ground, we would’ve gone to Bud Selig and said, “We’re ready to go now.” And
then Bud Selig can either tell the committee to produce a report or he could just go
without it and start harvesting votes if they really want this to happen. I think it is
incumbent upon the A’s to show that they’re ready to go right now and the fact that
they keep saying, “well we haven’t seen the blue ribbon report…” You know what?
That’s due diligence and you’re supposed to do that. If you’ve got that stuff down
you’re already working at that.
…In the current economic climate, where you really need help from cities and states to
get buildings done if you don’t want to go into your own personal debt. I think that the
idea of a San Jose stadium is really fading. It may be dead at this point. It’s taken too
long for the A’s to get what ducks they have in a row, in a row. So I think the problem
here is the A’s needed more help than they let on and now they’re stuck.
The bedeviling thing about how MLB works is this black hole of information around
Selig. We know a lot about what San Jose is doing, we know a decent amount about
what Oakland is doing. We have Wolff and his media campaign, we have responses from
Neukom and Baer. The only thing we don’t have is the really important stuff. We don’t
know what Selig’s, and by extension the other owners’, motivation is. To fill that void,
Ratto theorizes that money is the problem. Which it may be, none of us have a financing
plan in front of us.
But unlike the territorial rights issue or the progress of environmental impact reports,
there is absolutely zero data or precedent to back up Ratto’s supposition. He is quite
literally going on a hunch, making the analytical leap that it must be the money and
everything else is a sham.
That makes little sense when you consider the following:
• The Giants have been spending millions on preserving T-rights to the South Bay over
the last two years. They bought a majority share of the SJ Giants. They’ve been
redoubling marketing efforts in the South Bay. Their stance on T-rights has gotten
more hardline with the passing of time. They’ve threatened legal action – not directly,
through intermediaries. No organization goes to this much trouble if they don’t believe
that something major is at stake.

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• They don’t call Selig “Slug” for nothing. The man is interminably slow when it comes
to big decisions and is more than willing to say the sky is green when it is obviously
blue (his remarks about competitive balance are a good example). This one’s a very big
one since it involves something the big market owners consider sacred. I’ve said before
that Selig isn’t going to act until at least one of these cities has all of their ducks in a
row. That means the site, legal/political clearances, everything. San Jose isn’t there
yet. Oakland isn’t there yet. And the Grim Reaper is coming fast for cities. Plus there’s
the possibility that upcoming CBA negotiations will come into play, especially because
the biggest debate will be about revenue sharing. If you’re Selig, why would you lift a
finger until this other stuff shakes out? I wouldn’t. I guess you can call me “Slug” too.
• The money is a lot more “there” than “not there.” Wolff hasn’t been afraid to say when
money is an issue – look at what’s been happening with the Quakes. He also hasn’t
been afraid to bail on a project when it couldn’t work out financially, as was the case in
Fremont and Oakland. Is it all locked in and under contract? Probably not. The timing
of the hiring of Darrin Gross to the business side of the A’s may be a clue. Wolff hired
David Kaval under the same auspices with the Quakes last year, and now we’re a few
months away from groundbreaking. And let’s not forget that Cisco and SVLG are
nothing to sneeze at.
• This stuff takes a long time to pan out. Peter Magowan took over the Giants in spring
1993. It took four years to get a ballpark deal in place and another three to build it.
Magowan never had to worry about complications like T-rights. San Jose has been
handicapped by the T-rights debate, which has strung the effort out to five years to get
to this point (though there were two silent years). Ratto makes it sound like either
Selig or Wolff can just forcefully say, “Make it so,” and things start happening, chopchop. That’s not reflective of how this works. It’s an ugly, dirty process, borderline
corrupt (if not outright) at times.
This post is yet another case of devoting nearly 1,000 words to something that was not
news, merely a theory from a columnist. Who knows, maybe Ratto will be proven right
in the end? If not, I suspect that when a groundbreaking ceremony occurs at Diridon
this very interview will be played over the loudspeakers, an audio version of the “Dewey
beats Truman” moment. Tech writer John Gruber calls it claim chowder. I’ll just call it a

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March 6, 2011
The what?
That’s the name of the soon-to-be-formed joint powers authority. Joint powers are
defined as the City of San Jose and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. Despite the
distinct possibility that the SJRA will be no more in a few months, the creation of this
organization will effectively ensure that some kind of redevelopment arm will continue
on for the next several decades. Here’s the full text of the resolution under consideration
this Tuesday at the weekly SJRA meeting (1:30 PM, SJ City Hall Council Chambers):
WHEREAS, the City of San Jose and the City of San Jose Redevelopment Agency
have many potential development and redevelopment projects on the horizon in the
Diridon area including high speed rail, BART, and a potential sports stadium; and
WHEREAS, the Agency wishes to have the benefit of the City’s expertise and the
ability to use the joint powers of the City and the Agency for the purposes of
considering and facilitating future redevelopment in the Diridon area; and
WHEREAS, the City and the Agency desire to create an independent joint powers
authority empowered to finance, develop, redevelop, implement, and operate
future projects in or serving the Diridon area; and
WHEREAS, the City desires to enter into a joint powers agreement with the Agency
to form the San Jose Diridon Development Authority (the “Authority”); and
WHEREAS, there are no specific projects proposed for the Authority at this time
and any future projects will be considered by the Authority Board in a manner
consistent with applicable law; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to San Jose Municipal Code Section 4.32.010, in order to
enter into a joint powers agreement creating a joint powers authority with the
power to issue revenue bonds, the City Council must find that the public interests
and necessity demand that (a) the Authority acquire, construct, maintain, and
operate the properties and the projects undertaken into pursuant to the Authority
joint powers agreement, and (b) the Authority be empowered to exercise the power
to issue revenue bonds; and
WHEREAS, those findings can be made based on the information in the
memorandum dated March 4, 2011 from the City Manager and the Executive

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The City Council hereby determines, based upon the information
contained in the memorandum from the City Manager and Agency’s Executive
Director dated March 4, 2011, that the public interests and necessity demand that:
The San Jose Diridon Development Authority be empowered to acquire,
construct, maintain, and operate properties and the projects undertaken into
pursuant to the San Jose Diridon Development Authority joint powers agreement;
The San Jose Diridon Development Authority be empowered to exercise
the power to issue revenue bonds.
The City Manager is hereby authorized to execute the San Jose Diridon
Development Authority joint powers agreement.
The Diridon area is not itself a specific redevelopment area, but it falls under the guise
of redevelopment as part of San Jose’s Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. Approval of this
resolution and other related actions would create a “son of RDA” just for Diridon. The
new agency would be tasked with planning and infrastructure for a ballpark (or
alternative), transit hub, and a whatever ends up in the six acres between the arena and
ballpark site. Included would be properties in the Autumn Parkway project.
Creation of SJDDA does not mean the City has somehow sidestepped the public
referendum requirement for a ballpark, as that is enshrined in municipal code. It does
mean that the new body would have potentially broad and sweeping authority to raise
funds for projects within the area. At this point my guess is that fundraising would be
limited to transit infrastructure, as the cost to construct San Jose’s “Grand Central of the
West” will be enormous – well into nine figures on its own. Attempts to include the
ballpark would be unpopular and highly transparent, creating a situation in which one
project could drag another down. This is especially critical as it applies to raising bonds,
as bond issuers have been very skittish about dealing with California’s cities in light of
the near and long-term prospects for RDAs.
One of SJRA’s related actions is a one-year extension of the time limits for both
redevelopment activity and indebtedness for all existing project areas. Diridon has the
latest dates on the schedule, with a current activity end date of July 2033 and a debt end
date of July 2048. BART and HSR should be in place by 2034, right? Er… By extending
the dates for project areas, the relinquishment of tax increment to state/county would
be further delayed. SJRA is by far the most indebted in the state.
I mentioned last week that I wasn’t thrilled about the possibility of this happening,
notably because it replaces one bureaucracy with another. This is clearly a reaction to
what’s coming from Sacramento, and cities feel they are being backed into corners by
the Governor’s demands. It’ll be interesting to see how the Governor’s office reacts to
these types of arrangements, and to find out what new funds will be recognized by the
state after these “sons of RDAs” squirrel away their share. Whether a ballpark or
something else gets built at Diridon, that new development will be extremely important
as its tax increment (or possessory interest taxes) will help fund the future transit hub.

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March 31, 2011
The A’s press release is available now.
For some part of the next four years, A’s games will be broadcast on 95.7, KBWF-FM,
a.k.a. “The Wolf.” It’s a country station, broadcasting with a Class B license atop San
Bruno Mountain at 6,900 watts. The coverage map from radio-locator looks like this:


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While 6,900 watts is not the most powerful of signals, KBWF is augmented by a 186 W
(that’s right) repeater near Mt. Diablo, which is meant to help the station’s coverage in
Contra Costa County. The FCC’s service contour map can be found here, though it
should be pointed out that the single line in that map reflects the same coverage as the
red line in the map above.
Perhaps the biggest and most unknown takeaway of all of this is the fact that the deal
was with Entercom, the radio giant that owns Sharks broadcaster KUFX. Entercom isn’t
looking to sell individual stations, so the chance that it might unload one of its
properties to a non-radio entity like the A’s is slim. It’s unclear what this means for
KTRB. The A’s press release makes no mention of Comerica Bank-owned station. If this
was yet another hardball tactic in ongoing negotiations, it may push the bank to take a
less hard line stance. As for KTRB, the A’s pursuit of the station is over according to
Susan Slusser. Via SuSlu’s Twitter feed:
The #Athletics pursuit of 860 AM is at an end. They offered more than double what
it was worth and had signed letter of intent to buy.
#Athletics VP Ken Pries on the receiver’s motives for terminating team broadcasts:
“You can speculate. Leverage? Up the offer? Hardball?”
If the receiver for 860 AM was trying to play hardball, she lost big-time. Only the
#Athletics had incentive to overpay for troubled station
Pries says the team will now try to find affiliate in Monterey area with demise of
860 AM. #athletics
That last tweet is for Bleacher Dave. If the A’s simply thought the price was too high, it’s
possible that KTRB’s existence as the other sports radio station in the Bay Area will be
short-lived, as whomever buys the station will surely go with a different format.
We can’t end this without a joke, this one from Ken Arneson:
So I’m assuming that the A’s new radio station “95.7 The Wolf” will soon change its
name to “The Wolff”?
It’s a sad day for the many of us who wanted an alternative to the KNBR hegemony. At
least the A’s have a broadcast deal going forward. How long this one lasts… well, we
wouldn’t be A’s fans if we knew.
P.S. – Wherever you are in the Bay Area, please turn on KBWF and let us know how
the coverage sounds. The signal is constant day and night, so it should not be affected
by the transmission power rules that plagued previous stations.
P.P.S. – Pre and postgame coverage will remain as is with Chris Townsend doing the
honors (he is employed by the A’s). Over the last couple of months, KBWF has garnered
a 1.1 rating, good for 26th in the San Francisco market (#4 nationwide) and just above
rival country station KRTY, which pulled in a 1.0. In the San Jose market (#34), KRTY
gets a 3.1 while KBWF (13th) pulls in 0.7 (30th).

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April 25, 2011
I recorded the two interviews using TuneIn Radio (really worth getting on your
smartphone platform of choice), so I had a chance to listen to them again. I picked up on
a few things that I thought would be interesting to discuss. First, the Boxer portion.
• Boxer mentioned that the suite requirement for Victory Court was 32-33 boxes, not 40
(which is what Wolff is aiming for). Perhaps this would explain why the capacity is
greater (39,000), to make up for the reduced suite requirement. Maybe this is a
realization of how difficult it is to sell suites in the East Bay with the corporate
• Since Boxer left Oakland’s Planning Commission in February, he hasn’t been as
plugged in regarding the EIR process. That’s a shame when you consider that there’s
such a vacuum when it comes to real information right now.
• Townsend was bit miffed when he tried to get Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on for the
segment. Her office referred him to Boxer instead. That’s not to say that Boxer wasn’t
good – he was, especially because he talked for an hour – but it shows there’s a
disconnect. They want to say that they’re operating within a gag order, but that gag
order should be extended to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, so why was he available
while Quan wasn’t?
• People jumped on Boxer for misstating attendance and Townsend for naming the
wrong company for the ballpark, to which I say, “STOP.” None of that matters. You’re
getting distracted by the most insignificant details.
• The Coliseum has been effectively deepsixed as any kind of ballpark site by MLB.
• Boxer admitted that if redevelopment goes away, getting the plan going would be very
challenging. He notes that some development powers should be enshrined in a
successor agency, though it’s unclear how far-reaching those powers would be. What’s
going for Oakland is that CEDA/ORA has bonding capacity for further land
acquisitions and infrastructure improvements.
• Boxer also mentioned that the EIR process takes the better part of a year to complete.
While he was probably referring to the entire process (it usually takes longer), a draft
shouldn’t take anywhere near that long.
• Boxer alleges that Schott/Hofmann didn’t pursue the Uptown site because if they
committed to it, they feared that the franchise’s value would drop. Curious. Update:
The franchise value would have dropped because the team would have been less
attractive if it were locked into a new stadium.
• Boxer mentions in passing that Wolff may have violated the contract with the
Coliseum Authority by talking to San Jose in the past. That again? If that’s a problem,
then just sue already, stop talking about it and do it. Before John Russo escapes to

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Now for the Reed segment, which was much shorter.
• Reed hasn’t had any direct contact with Bud Selig. He and his team have been working
solely through Selig’s committee. Reed thinks the work is finished, though it’s hard to
tell at this point.
• As in recent print interviews, Reed is palpably frustrated.
• Reed’s not giving up on the ballpark as long as Wolff is optimistic.
• No word on whether Reed would try for this November’s election. I’m guess no unless
word comes down from on high.
• Reed referred to the new joint powers authority (San Jose Diridon Development
Authority) as carrying on the ballpark development work as SJRA shrinks or
What did we learn today? Not much. There will be some pro-Oakland folks who are
happy that Boxer was on for an hour, which was good. However, the fact that no new
information came out was highly disappointing. Hope can’t live on words alone.
P.S. Really great work by Chris Townsend today. There’s been more stadium talk in the
last week than in the last five years on all of the sports and talk radio stations combined.

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April 26, 2011
Sports Business Daily is reporting that internet retailer Overstock.com is getting naming
rights at the Coliseum for six years, at $2 million per. Overstock has gone through many
different ad campaigns over the years. The new one includes a new actress
spokesperson, Caitlin Keats. Now I haven’t bought anything from Overstock in years,
and I always found them more geared towards housewares and with a feminine edge.
Buying naming rights to the home of the Black Hole is certainly a move away from that.
I personally have nothing to say about the name change other than this:
Knowing that Overstock is pushing its O.co domain hard, Ken Arneson is trying out a
bunch of new names. My favorite is the “O.co Liseum.” Squint hard enough and you
might think it’s not commercial at all. Maybe not.

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May 23, 2011
I’m not sure if I ever explained this before, so forgive me if I’m being repetitive. When I
set about moving this blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress installation, I
looked far and wide for a unique, succinct domain name. The obvious choice,
newballpark.com, was already registered to MLB. The reason? It was purchased well
over a decade ago by the Red Sox, who at the time were run by John Harrington.
Harrington was in the throes of a campaign to replace Fenway Park with a newer, more
modern version of the yard next door. After the Montreal Expos were contracted and
reborn as the Washington Nationals, Harrington and the Yawkey Trust were out and
John Henry, who had until then owned the Florida Marlins, took over the Sox. Henry
chose to renovate instead of replace Fenway, and the rest is history. Ironically, the
domain newballpark.com remains with the Sox despite the 180-degree turn. I could
have chosen newballpark.net (which is available to my knowledge) or newballpark.org.
Since I wanted to run the blog as a clearly non-commercial entity, I chose the latter. And
here we are. So it’s with some amusement that I found out that the A’s changed their
official Twitter feed from @OaklandAs to @Athletics. Immediately there was some
worry that this was yet another slight of Oakland, and that the change was an indicator
that they were out the door. Athletics After Dark‘s Dale Tafoya got the word from
straight from the A’s.

It makes sense. The A’s were always going to be in this awkward situation regarding
naming, especially on social media. Should they use OaklandAs, OaklandAthletics,
Athletics, or OaklandAs? Isn’t “Athletics” synonymous with what Americans call “track
and field?” Not having the apostrophe available on Twitter might lead to
misinterpretation. In the end, when A’s fans posted on Twitter, they customarily used
the hashtag #Athletics, so naturally the team might want to pursue the name. The
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baseball Giants weren’t first to claim either the domain name or Twitter account named
“Giants” with both going to the New York Football Giants instead. The domain name
athletics.com belongs to Selliquest, a purveyor of web-based sales and marketing tools
for the pharmaceutical industry. The product in question is called Net Athletics, though
the second word is emphasized. Selliquest owns both athletics.com and
netathletics.com. Would they be willing to part with athletics.com for the right price? If
it goes according to form, the company will probably ask too much for the domain if the
A’s come calling. One more thing: #FIREGERENNOW

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June 28, 2011
The Merc’s Daniel Brown wrote a bleak article on A’s attendance, grabbing a few choice
quotes from Andy Dolich and A’s sales/marketing veep Jim Leahey. Dolich reflected on
how the Coliseum used to be packed during the Bash Brothers era, and pointed a finger
at how ownership’s constant desire to move out of Oakland has hurt attendance.
“Really, it just made me sad,” he said. “There was a time – and it’s getting harder
for people to remember – when the Coliseum was the place to be. It was the Giants
who were an afterthought. It was the Giants who were playing in a dump and
waiting for high-profile opponents to come into town. It’s completely flipped.”
There are also the numerous things done over the years that have effectively reduced the
team’s exposure over time.
• Closure of A’s Clubhouse stores (ca. 2000)
• Consistent difficulty in getting a decent radio deal in place (not really ownership’s
• Elimination of Fanfest
• Tarping off the third deck
• No improvements to the Coliseum other than visual changes (vinyl signage)
Of course, there are cases like the Tampa Bay Rays, where $35 million of improvements
were made that – even when combined with a winning ballclub – had very little effect
on attendance. Sometimes a dump is a dump, and a competitive situation with the
Giants only highlights the dumpiness. The A’s are really getting left behind due to their
stadium malaise, and nothing’s gonna change as long as the Coliseum is home.
Brown also lists all of the promotions being offered just for the upcoming nine-game

Tuesday vs. Florida: Free Parking Tuesday.
Wednesday vs. Florida: $2 Wednesday.
Thursday vs. Florida: Root Beer Float Day and Free Hot Dog Thursday.
Friday vs. Arizona: Friday Family Pack.
Saturday vs. Arizona: Fireworks Night (watch from field).
Sunday vs. Arizona: None.
July 4 vs. Seattle: Fourth of July Visor giveaway.
July 5 vs. Seattle: Free Parking Tuesday.
July 6 vs. Seattle: $2 Wednesday.

This actually leads me to wonder if there are too many different types of promotions and
discounts. It sure doesn’t look like Free Parking Tuesdays has any great effect on
attendance. The novelty for BART Dollar Wednesdays, which was strong a decade ago,
has thoroughly worn off. The Yankees, Giants, and to a lesser extent, the Red Sox bring
in other teams’ fans. Fireworks nights bring in casual fans and families. Giveaways are
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great to bump up paid attendance, but take a look at the steady stream of “fans” leaving
the Coliseum on the BART ramp before the first pitch is thrown and tell me that it helps
in terms of real fan support. Would the A’s be better served by across-the-board ticket
price drops? Would it even matter?

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June 29, 2011
Update 4:50 PM – The League of California Cities, a redevelopment and city lobbying
group, is going straight to the California Supreme Court for a ruling on the
constitutionality of the new laws.
Update 2:40 PM – Governor Brown has signed the twin kill redevelopment bills.
Reminder: Lew Wolff will be on The Chris Townsend Show (95.7 FM) at 5:30 PM
At the end of Howard Bryant’s first column on the state of the A’s, it might have been
easy to lose track of something Lew Wolff said.
Though the clock is ticking on the A’s, sources also say the committee has not expressed
any time pressure to present Selig of its findings.
“That’s very true,” Wolff said. “The pressure isn’t on them. It’s on me.”
Starting today, the pressure will definitely be on Wolff – despite the fact that this
pressure will come from circumstances beyond his control. At the Capitol, Republicans
briefly delayed the inevitable passage of the budget, which was constructed from a
combination of realignment and suspect revenue projections. The final package includes
the two redevelopment bills (one to kill, one for ransom/rebirth) that were passed by the
legislature two weeks ago. Cities throughout the state are lawyering up, though it’s hard
to see what settlement could arise since any compromise on the state’s part would have
consequences for the budget.
Legal challenges or not, all cities have to deal with the repercussions of the budget
passage. Redevelopment advocates have called the twin bills little more than an
extortion scheme to allow them to continue to work, and they’re not wrong. As
mentioned last Tuesday, here are the amounts that would have to be paid for cities and
counties to keep their RDA’s functional:

Alameda County: $7.7 million
Fremont: $9 million
Oakland: $39.7 million
San Diego: $69.8 million
San Francisco: $24.6 million
San Jose: $47.6 million
Santa Clara: $11.4 million

The figures are the extortion amounts. See how the Oakland amount is nearly as high as
the San Jose amount even though it has less than half the population? That’s because so
much land in Oakland (most of the flats) is in one redevelopment zone or another.
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Oakland North reports that the ransom payment won’t be factored into whatever budget
is passed by the City of Oakland, which is understandable since it’s such a recent
happening. As of this writing, Oakland is still choosing one of several budget proposals
to approve, with the tough battle to gain union concessions won by Mayor Jean Quan.
For Oakland, the issue with redevelopment becomes a matter of what they’ll be allowed
to do once October 1 hits. Unlike San Jose, Oakland hasn’t gone to the trouble of
winding down ORA’s activities, which makes extracting ORA from City Hall difficult.
Currently, 17 police officers have their salaries paid by ORA, as well as half the salaries
of the mayor and city council (who serve on the ORA board). As they scramble to figure
out how some of those needs will be met, it’s not hard to see how actual projects which
haven’t started in earnest could fall by the wayside.
Worse, not operating a RDA doesn’t mean that the state won’t get its pound of flesh. It’ll
still entitled to the $40 million, only it gets to decide at a later point how it will extract
the money from the city. If a city decides it can “play ball” it can pay the vig this year and
a smaller amount for next three years, and whatever’s leftover can be used for RDA uses
by a successor agency, or as I called it previously, “Son of RDA”. If a city decides it can’t
play ball, a successor agency will be created for them, much the same way a defendant
can get a court-appointed public defender. That agency’s sole purpose will be to tally up
and distribute tax increment as it comes in, none going to new projects. Most
importantly, in the can’t-play-ball scenario cities won’t be able to issue new debt. That’s
a killer for Oakland, which was counting on being able to tap into new bonds to pay for
some of the Victory Court project (land/infrastructure) cost. It’s even more important
now that ORA had to absorb some of the city’s budgetary cost by acquiring HJKCC.
Without that ability to issue new debt, Oakland’s liable to say, at “Our hands are tied,
sorry we couldn’t do more.” And they’d be perfectly within their rights to do so. Thanks
for killing the A’s again, Governor Moonbeam.
Then again, there may be a loophole, one that some of the largest RDA’s have been
looking to exploit – and one that may have the biggest legal test. When Oakland
initiated $100 million in property transfers from ORA back to the city two weeks ago,
my response was, “What took so long?” Los Angeles transferred $1 billion worth of
assets in a similar fashion in January. While these transfers may have occurred before
the 2011-12 fiscal year begins, language written into ABX 26, the redevelopment killing
bill, allows state-appointed auditors to determine if any transactions done January 1,
2011 or later (effectively after Brown took office) to be reviewed. What that means for
those assets is anyone’s guess at this point, and probably will be the focus of more legal
wrangling should the state start looking to liquidate assets to get its revenue.
There’s also the case of San Jose’s newly and hastily created SJ Diridon Development
Authority. All thats missing from the name is “Re”. The whole affair seems like an
overreaction to Brown, though there may be some hidden wisdom in there somewhere.
Regardless of whether work is done through the skeleton crew at SJRA or SJDDA, at
some point San Jose will also have to decide if it wants to pay to play. Recently, Mayor
Chuck Reed and Lew Wolff have been adamant that they will find the necessary funds to
cover the rest of the ballpark land acquisition and infrastructure change, $27+ million
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total. However, San Jose will also have to pay its $47 million soon if they want to be
clear of the state’s reach. That would preclude merely piecemealing the remaining land
sales/buys, as they have suggested. Instead, the onus may be on Wolff to deliver on the
$89 million price of the Airport West (Earthquakes Stadium) land renegotiated last
December. That money isn’t due until 2015, yet here we are with pushed up deadlines
thanks to the death of redevelopment. $89 million would provide enough cash for SJ to
complete its work and fund other infrastructure in the area it wants to be known as
Silicon Valley’s Times Square (I thought it was Grand Central?).
Soon, a coalition of the ten largest cities in the state (including SF, SJ, and Oakland) will
put together a lawsuit to vigorously challenge Brown’s redevelopment pay-to-play-or-die
scheme. Their case is supported by the passage of Proposition 22 last November, which
prohibits state-based redirects of property taxes. Legal murkiness started during the
gubernatorial transition when Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown signed off on
declaring a fiscal state of emergency, which set the framework for the redevelopment
reform bills. Which has greater precedence, a new law or an even newer declared state of
emergency? That’s what the courts will have to decide.

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July 12, 2011
As part of the ongoing All Star media extravaganza, Bud Selig responded to an inquiry
by the Chronicle’s John Shea:

There goes the idea that contraction was a bargaining item for the CBA. So let’s go with
the idea that the Giants have been hoping that the A’s give up and leave town or get
contracted. The latter is not happening, at least through the length of the next CBA
(which is expected to approved by both MLB and MLBPA by the end of this season).
Now let’s pivot to the A’s, who want Selig to force the Giants to make a deal or have Selig
force a vote. Based on Selig’s reputation, the latter is not happening there either. Is that
complex, as Selig says? Not really. Is it a difficult negotiation? Certainly. Let’s not make
the issue bigger than it really is.

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August 8, 2011

Last Monday, I received an email from A’s PR man Bob Rose. He indicated that his
boss, A’s owner Lew Wolff, wanted to have a chat with me. After some back and
forth, we arranged for a meeting at the Fountain Restaurant inside Wolff’s
Fairmont San Jose early Wednesday morning. The discussion went two hours long
and covered a wide range of topics. Wolff expressed his interest in having an
unedited conversation to explain what he’s been doing, and I was more than happy
to have that chat. The transcribed discussion below has minimal editing – only to
clean up incomplete sentences, the inevitable “uh” and “um” moments, and for me
to add brief editor’s notes when I felt the need. My comments and questions are all
in bold, while Wolff’s is in regular font. Editor’s notes are in italics/square
brackets. I have intentionally not included links so as to not distract the reader. The
interview runs more than 12,000 words. This is Part 1 of 5. The topics covered are
as follows:

Part 1 – History of working in Oakland, 980 Park site, Process
Part 2 – Oakland now and what it takes, Earthquakes, contraction
Part 3 – Territorial rights, Giants’ motives, Dodgers/Mets, Coliseum
Part 4 – Tarps, discounts, player development, CBA, payroll, T-rights again
Part 5 – Redevelopment, Target Field, Cisco Field, Keith Wolff, museum
and history

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. I think you’ll feel that there are
many revealing answers in there, and plenty of stuff for Oakland and San Jose
backers to dislike. I’d also like to thank Lew for allowing me the opportunity to do
this Q&A.
- Marine Layer

ML: You became managing partner in 2005, after a year-plus stint as VP of venue
development. Coincidentally, I started this blog in 2005, partly as a writing
exercise, and to inform fans. Over six years have elapsed. Did you think it would
take this long?

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LW: No, obviously I didn’t. Prior to buying the team I was working on the thing. I’m not
sure the title meant anything. I thought that we would figure out a way to do it on the
Coliseum site or one of the sites in Oakland. At the time the economy was booming and
the value of residential entitlements or zoning was huge. There were a lot of public
companies, all these big homebuilders, were dying for the ability to get more and more
residential rights, to build apartments or homes.
We came up with the idea. The very first editorial which I saved in Oakland – this was
before I was even the owner – said “No public money in baseball.” Which is okay. Except
for the Giants and Dodgers, all teams’ new ballparks have had some form of public help
(financing). So we had an idea that if we brought a new ballpark to Oakland or any
place, we could say to the community, “You don’t have to write a check, but we’d like to
entitle certain property for residential” – not for our developer. The reason this escapes
everybody is because nobody’s going to take their time to look into it except you.
The idea was this: Say someone wanted to build 1,000 apartment units. And they’re
going through the process. You entitle that – assuming the city wants that – those
entitlements back then were worth $100k per unit just for the right to build, sort of like
land value. Instead of the developer taking that money, that money would go into a
small joint powers unit (authority) and be used to fund a baseball park. That’s a double
win there. The city gets more housing and those entitlements don’t have to be by the
ballpark. They could be in Dublin or Fremont, they could be anywhere (in Alameda
County). This was a very interesting concept and we checked it legally. It was very
clearly stated in an article in the Chronicle, so it wasn’t a hidden idea. With all the delay
and difficulty in both Oakland and Fremont – Oakland in the sense of land availability
because it’s a built up city – to get land assembled, and then all the issues with traffic
and freeways and off-ramps and so on – so time went on and of course the economy
changed. So this entitlement approach to build a ballpark is a dead issue, and we don’t
see it coming back for a long time. That says, “Oh my goodness,”  instead of putting up
$100 million, which we were hoping to do at the most, we now have to do the whole
thing ourselves. That pretty much requires us to be in a central business district
(downtown) because the infrastructure is already there. We don’t have to rebuild the
freeway or an off-ramp. The entitlement aspect of it – somebody should’ve jumped on it.
We couldn’t do it by ourselves. We weren’t looking for money, we were looking for
process. So we spent the time before we bought the team and about a year or so after. I
think I told you before – I don’t have the book with me- that it takes me one hour, fortyfive minutes to go through everything we did in Oakland. Even though somebody has a
sign in RF saying, “Lew lied, he never did anything.” That person hasn’t come and sat
down and asked, “Tell me what you did do?”
The other side of it is that side – Oakland, Richmond – that whole area was built up
rapidly during WWII, shipbuilding and so on. (Land) ownership is very diverse. Just
land acquisition alone is difficult. Even though some of the areas look blighted, as soon
as you say we’re trying to build a ballpark there, immediately the land values go way up.
Some people say that the “North of 66″ plan was just a gimmick. What they’re not
willing to do and be fair about is that we looked at every possible site – Coliseum, Laney,
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even the Victory area – all that stuff and somebody at the City said to me, “We can’t help
you here. What do you think?” At the same time Councilman Larry Reid was looking at
another area around the Coliseum where he was going to acquire a lot of stuff. I drove
through there and it looked pretty blighted. All I wanted to do is start a dialogue with 50
property owners or 30. Except for one or two people, nobody wanted to even discuss it.
There was relocation, we could’ve moved people to the (shuttered Oakland) Army Base.
People will just say, “Oh he just made that up.” If I had my material with me you’d see
that before even looking at that we looked at every opportunity that was available. We
wouldn’t do it if everybody didn’t want to do it. We couldn’t even get traction.
It’s very simple. One of the very first things any city should do is look at their (county)
assessor’s office. Draw a boundary around Victory Court or something. It takes a day or
two determine there are 20 property owners and their names. Some of them are in a
trust or something. If you just took the assessed value – and because you’re going to buy
the property add 50% – you’d have a good idea of the that (total value) is and if you
really wanted to, you’d call each person and say, “We’re just thinking about this. You’re a
property owner here. We’re not doing anything yet.” Then you’d get an idea of the desire
to participate from the beginning. Someone might say, “Oh my god, that’s my business, I
can’t take it.” If we gave you that assessed value, and then we paid for relocation to the
Army Base and a nicer (newer) facility – I mean it’s a lot of work. I didn’t expect
Oakland to do that. But I also didn’t expect them just to draw a line around six blocks
and say, “Oh there’s a ballpark.”
ML: We get that too much now.
That’s all we’re getting, because I believe – and this is not a defense – it’s because we’ve
explored everything more than once. For two years now this committee, which I ‘ve had
very little access to – and I’m sure they haven’t talked too much to the Giants either –
guys I know, they’re good guys. They’re supposed to step in and check out if I did
everything, and if I missed something. I haven’t heard that I missed anything. You
could’ve written a PhD dissertation by now.
ML: Certainly.
There’s other reasons that perhaps Bud Selig is contemplating this. He’s my friend, and
he’s involved in lots of stuff in baseball.
ML: You’ve had that information that you showed me last time we talked here two years
ago. Because it’s taken this long and you have access to this panel, do you feel that the
you and the argument you’ve made have been somewhat rebuked?
No, just the opposite. I think they can’t find a flaw in it. If they can, tell me what it is.
They’re not rebuking me. I think it’s so overwhelming. If someone flew in from Mars
and you were going to put a ballpark somewhere and one was already in San
Francisco, where would you put the next one? [laughs]

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Had they come up with a different approach that could be refuted or digested, I think it I
would’ve seen it by now. At the same time, I can’t give a reason why a decision hasn’t
been made. It’s a baseball decision. The commissioner is a very contemplative person.
I’m an owner that wants to cooperate with baseball. When I got into this Bud Selig told
me, “What I encourage owners to do is to put baseball first and their teams a very close
second.” Instead of putting a team in bankruptcy or whatever’s happening in other
cities. I’m just not cut out for that. I feel that being in baseball is a privilege, and we’re
enjoying it.
ML: We’ve already gone plenty into my second topic, which is a lot about the proOakland crowd who’ve said you’ve lied. I’ve written that the only thing you’ve really lied
about is that you didn’t have a Plan B. Is that right, or am I off-base there?
Well, the word lie is a very strong word in my life. I don’t call people liars. The Plan B
would be that if someone says to us – no fault of Oakland by the way – that “you have a
team that you can’t move and you have to stay in this facility and make it work with the
Raiders there.” Plan B is fairly simple, it’s just that we haven’t addressed them. Moving
out of the state to other markets, of which there aren’t many. Selling the team to
somebody that can do what we can’t do.
ML: Which a lot of them are hoping that you do.
That’s fine, but that party should also have a real plan, go through what we’ve gone
through. The one thing that I wanted to do, because I’ve been in public dealings with
cities my entire life, is that I didn’t want to be the owner who says, “If you don’t do what
I tell you we’re moving to San Antonio.” Also, I didn’t want to get on a plane and start
schmoozing with the mayor of San Antonio or Portland or Las Vegas or Monterrey,
Mexico. I don’t think that’s the way to do one of these things. I still don’t think it’s the
way to do it. But almost every new ballpark, including the Giants’, has been done under
the threat of leaving town. So Plan B, the options are obvious. I think a better way to
phrase your question is, “Have you spent time doing that?” The answer is, “We have
not.” We still don’t feel like we’re moving out of the market.
ML: I’m in the market and I just took the train down here.
Exactly. Frankly, I don’t have the energy to start discussing with another city council
outside the state of California. If we were dead in the water, we’d have to ask baseball
what they’d want us to do.
ML: You’ve led into my next subject already with the discussion about what’s been done
in Oakland. What is the difference between getting something done here, in San Jose,
and in Oakland right now?
Very simple. One, we have a downtown location. When I say “San Jose” all I’m talking
about is a specific site in San Jose.
ML: That one. [Ed.: I point in general direction of Diridon]
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If somebody that you could go to San Jose instead of Oakland, that doesn’t mean it just
happens. San Jose acquired land and went through the process of acquiring it in a
downtown area where the off-site costs are minimized. They would be in downtown
Oakland if there was a site. There’s a demographic difference, but if our entitlement
program worked in either Oakland or Fremont we would’ve been there. I don’t care
what people say. We would’ve been there. As much as I love San Jose I wasn’t thinking
about San Jose at the time at all. We wouldn’t have spent the amount of time and money
we did on Fremont if we wanted to get out of our district. People don’t remember that.
There have been huge demographic changes since the Bash Brothers and the A’s drew X
attendance. Back then the population of Oakland was probably twice what it is today.
[Ed.: The 1990 population of Oakland was 370,000, slightly less than the current
figure of 390,000.] I don’t track it. St. Louis is the city where I came from, and the city
used to be 800,000 people, it’s 300,000 now [Ed.: This is correct]. There used to be
ten, twelve major company headquarters there. Now there aren’t any except Anheuser
Busch, who is rumored to be leaving. There’s been a shift. Even if there were a site in
Oakland, if we didn’t have the entitlement program it would be very hard to rationalize
it. It’s even hard now. $400-450 million for a privately financed stadium – which it
should be private, why should the people pay for it. The process that the public can help
you with it can be huge. San Jose, through whatever reasons, has gotten the process so
that we can go ahead.
If we started in Oakland, whether it’s Victory Court or floating over the freeway – I want
to talk to you about that one.
ML: Yeah. We’ll get to that one (980 Park).
Can I tell you my quick stance on that one?
ML: Sure, go ahead.
It’s an A+ in planning and an F in implementation. [laughs]
ML: Okay!
I love concepts like that.
ML: Well, it came from an architect.
Geodesic dome over a city so that you can control the climate?
ML: [laughs]
I like that stuff, but I’ll let somebody else do it.

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ML: That reminds me of a documentary on Robert Moses. There were all these concepts
for a Dodgers’ stadium. One of them was a geodesic dome by Buckminster Fuller, which
would’ve been interesting for 20 years until they got tired of it.
Two things about that. One thing I think you’ll like intellectually. Housing filters down.
So if the Rockefellers live in a mansion with a roof and spread out. I did some work
years ago in Guam. A subdivision house with a carport and so on is what filtered down.
Now if the Rockefellers were living in a geodesic dome we’d have geodesic domes
ML: Makes sense. 
Give me Robert Moses for one year and I’ll have a new ballpark anywhere you want.
[laughs] He had more power than the mayor and the president. This great metropolis
(New York), that great ability to create, we don’t have that today. I always give a speech
that if you have a cure for cancer somebody will be against it. I like the democratic
approach to things, but it’s inhibiting the state getting things done.
ML: Sure is. State. Country.
You know when the President said, “shovel ready?” If he meant shovel ready after the
environmental work, we’d be talking about a decade sometimes.

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Part 2
ML: As I understand it, you had met with Mayor Quan in Oakland recently.
I’m actually having lunch with her today. I have not met with her (yet). She has been
very nice to make time to see me. There’s no agenda.
[Ed. – I have not heard anything from either camp about what was discussed during
that meeting. Nothing to the regular media either, AFAIK.]
ML: Just a chat, really.
What I’m telling you is what I’ll tell her. There’s no magic bullet here. If there was it’s
simple. MLB (the panel) would’ve come to me with Oakland and said, “Here’s a
suggested financial plan”
ML: Comprehensive.
Remember that they’re the messenger. They’re just doing what they’ve been asked to do
and I’m sure they’ve done it three times now. It sort of says to me that nothing has been
produced that means anything, to my knowledge. There may be other reasons. The
commissioner is contemplating whatever he wants to do. I think we’re getting there
soon. I just don’t know.
ML: Okay.
The only thing missing is that I would’ve enjoyed the process of building the ballpark,
financing it, and doing all these things. It looks like because of my age (I won’t be able
to). So my son (Keith Wolff), who I think is as good or better at this than I am, and he’s a
lot more calm than I am. I believe that development – public or private – can’t get done
without a sense of urgency.
ML: It sure seems that way.
We have the resources and we have the people. It’s just that I final – I mean I can but
I’m the commissioner’s age. I want to be very careful. None of us are going to live
forever or be as active forever. I’m lucky, I think baseball’s keeping me active.
[Ed.: I have to point out that he ordered a frittata with fruit on the side, no starches,
coffee with no cream. I ordered Eggs Benedict with potatoes, lots of cream with my
coffee. Multiple cups.]
ML: It seemed like that happened with the Marlins, where Jeff Loria fought for years,
and when he finally got approval his son-in-law took over.
That’s also true in Minnesota. I’m sad that the owner (Carl Pohlad) didn’t get to see his
ballpark. We’re very advanced in our opinion. Why go out and spend $20 million on
working drawings if you don’t know you have a site?
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So it’s just a matter of waiting for a decision. I’m not a patient person but I’ve become
very patient. The thing that makes me most comfortable is that I have a lot of backup to
get this done. That’s number one. On the hand this is affecting our whole organization.
We’ve got great people – Billy’s been there for fifteen, sixteen years, twenty years for
Mike Crowley. I’ve promised them a new, modern facility and I feel responsible.
There’s something I think you’ll like to know. When we bought the team (2005), six
teams had payrolls above $100 million. Now it’s twelve or thirteen. While Billy and his
guys are fantastic at doing what they do, there’s only so much they can do. We can go
and lose $30 million a year like the Haas family was doing but we’re not gonna do that.
So if anyone wants me to do that I’m gonna have to say that we won’t.
[Ed. – According to Forbes/Financial World numbers the A’s lost $6-10 million per
year during the last years of the Haas era, which would be worth $9-15 million now.
MLB’s stance historically has been to consider Forbes’ numbers inaccurate.]
ML: That’s something I’ve been arguing for years.
And baseball doesn’t want us to do that. All these teams that have spent haphazardly
without breaking even have gone and caused problems for themselves and baseball.
Remember that baseball is a partnership. The rule of thumb for running a team before
you get huge revenues is that if you can keep your MLB salary at 50% of your revenues
you’ll probably be at the break even point or make a few dollars. It’s not an internal rate
of return 20% or something like that. You shouldn’t be in this business if you want that.
The great thing about Billy and Mike and their people is that they’ve been able to keep
us competitive until we get a new ballpark – I haven’t delivered. We’re in a total revenue
issue. We just need more revenue and we can’t get it without a new ballpark. We need
some scarcity. We can’t have 70,000 seats or people yelling about tarps.
ML: I’ll get into that later.
I don’t have a yacht [laughs] that we’re paying for out of secret proceeds from the
ML: We’re talking about Oakland for a little bit. Has anyone presented you with other
information about Victory Court, a sales pitch, or anything like that?
Absolutely not. However, gotta be fair. I think Oakland thinks, “We’re not dealing with
Lew Wolff. We’re dealing with this committee.” If the committee has done that, I don’t
know about it. I think what’s happened is that they’ve discovered what we’ve known.
Through no fault of Oakland, the ability to build a new ballpark – well, you know that
drawing a boundary around six blocks or ten blocks doesn’t make a ballpark. Is there a
soil test? Will you do eminent domain, will you take people’s property? Do the off-ramps
have to be replaced? Hundreds of items. And that kind of Socratic discipline – why

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should a fan in LF worry about that? Those rich owners over there are supposed to do it
no matter what.
ML: Let’s move on to this freeway park. It was proposed by an Oakland architect, Bryan
Grunwald, who occasionally posts on the blog. 980 Park is a concrete deck over a
submerged section of freeway near downtown Oakland. You said that you consider it an
A+ in planning and an F in implementation. Care to elaborate?
The problem with that is that talking to you is easy. Talking to guy looking for $2 ticket
night on Wednesday is different. I can’t even imagine the cost on that. Forget about a
ballpark. Say you’re putting up a hospital there or a park. I think we’re talking a billion –
I have no idea. Air rights, we have them all over California. I haven’t seen too many
places where they’re building over there – bridges and stuff. Let’s assume that we did
that tomorrow. It would take a decade. I wouldn’t know where to start. First of all, we’d
say to Oakland or somebody, “Give us the platform and we’ll build on it.” The platform
itself has got to be overwhelming. I love those kind of ideas. They win architectural
contests, a student gets a master’s degree for doing them, and we do have huge amounts
of air rights all over the world. It just will not happen. If that’s the best we can do, might
as well forget it.
ML: There are few places where air rights translate into anything. Those are places
where the need is great, such as Manhattan.
I just don’t get it. It would be fun to have an architectural contest. But it’s like an
iceberg, beautiful at the top, huge (beneath the surface). If that’s the best any of us can
do, we have to forget it.
ML: Let’s shift over to San Jose now. You’ve had an ongoing dialogue with the City and
Mayor about the Earthquakes stadium. How is that going?
The Earthquakes stadium also has to be privately financed. Certainly it’s a lot less
expensive than a baseball park. I think – I don’t have the numbers exactly – they just
opened a new soccer stadium in Kansas City. I think it was $150 million or something
and I believe every penny of that was public money [Ed.: Cost was actually $200
million, all public]. We’ve worked very hard. What we want in a soccer stadium is a
place you can go – we’re not looking to build Wembley Stadium – we’re in the 15-18,000
seat goal in this market. We’ve worked really hard to get the cost down to about $50
million, which everyone in soccer asks, “How can you do that?” Well, people can do it if
it’s their own money, it’s not the government. There’s no soccer stadium that I know,
except maybe Home Depot Center (that was not fully public).
ML: That was years ago. [Ed.: Columbus Crew Stadium was also privately financed by
Lamar Hunt.]
Well they also had a good deal from CSU-Dominguez Hills. I’d like to move it faster but
we’re doing it in stages. Right now we’re going through a planning process, not for a
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building permit but a use permit. We spent money to tear down the FMC building, but
we haven’t pulled the string yet to build it because if you look at the economics of it
you’re only using it for 19 games or 20 games. The ancillary use of these facilities, which
I think is better than what my consultants think, concerts aren’t what they used to be,
high school graduations. It’s Silicon Valley, I think you can have product introductions
there. A lot of these things that you can’t predetermine. So what we’ve done is that if
there are 10 steps to it we’re in step 7 or 8. We’ve spent money to do that but we haven’t
pulled the string yet.
ML: On a related note, I went to the game at Stanford against the Red Bulls. I hate to
belittle Buck Shaw, but it’s a small venue. Stanford, which was another example of
something built with private funds, cost controlled by John Arrillaga. Many people came
from down the Peninsula, there were plenty of the existing fan base, locals. For the fans
it felt like it was overdue. Did the experience of that game – 40,000 people, the place
was buzzing with excitement – change your thinking or reinforce it in terms of what the
Quakes need to thrive?
No. Two reasons. One, One of the people at MLS called me and asked if it was it the
game or the fireworks. The game was around the 4th of July. If you look at our fireworks
games in Oakland –
ML: They’re consistently higher in attendance.
So I said to our guys, “Why don’t we just work out a deal to play at Stanford all the
time?” Stanford doesn’t want that. I don’t want it. No, the depth of the market means
that except for three cities, maybe, soccer is not profitable. The owners – Anchutz, my
guy John Fisher, the Krafts – they love soccer and they’re gonna support it if it takes
another decade to get it where it needs to be. We’re the same way. But the market is not
for 40,000 people. We wish it was. If we have 15-18,000 fans and they’re really on top of
the field – we’re not trying to have private boxes, soccer is a family sport – we couldn’t
do Stanford every week in my opinion.
ML – One of the things I noticed from the renderings is that other than the fact that it’s
three sides with one open, the design looks like a miniaturized version of White Hart
Lane, where Tottenham Hotspur plays. Is there anything to that?
We’re close to them as you know. I don’t think so, except that when you think about a
soccer stadium the dimensions of a field are the dimensions of a field. The only real
difference to me is if there’s a track, which really screws it up. All we want to do is get
noisy and close. I would say that 70 or 80% of them are like that.
ML – The NFL just completed its CBA negotiations after 3 month lockout. MLB has
been, as I understand it, having some ongoing discussions with the players union about
their new CBA, which is expected to be done by the end of the season – 

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End of the year. Or sooner.
ML – Does what’s happening here with the stadium and the unknown that it is right
now have any impact with the CBA?
No. However, I believe that, or I hope that we will have a non-confrontational
negotiation, which has been ongoing. What you’ll have is, I don’t know the exact term,
probably 3-5 years of what we call labor peace. We had that the last 5 years. I think some
of the things that both sides are discussing – I don’t want to get into that information –
will be beneficial to all of baseball and all of the union. I don’t think it’ll be the
threatening kind of thing we’ve seen in basketball.
ML – There’s been almost no media coverage except for the occasional article from a
national baseball writer.
I think it’ll get a little more coverage as we get closer to finalizing an agreement. It may
not be controversial at all. This is the year to finish that agreement if possible. We’re
working on it very hard. It isn’t like one side is screaming at the other.
ML – The players appear to be offering ideas that the owners may be interested in.
I follow it but I don’t want to get into it. The commissioner – you need to give him a lot
of credit. His orders, and the head of the union, are we’re in this business together. Let’s
work something out. I haven’t heard anything earthshaking.
ML – That’s good to hear.
Usually union negotiations get tougher close to the end. [laughs]
ML – What do you think about talk – and this is coming from national writers who are
spitballing – about contraction of the A’s, Rays, or both?
We (the A’s) are against contraction. Nobody’s called us up and said, “We’re thinking
about contracting you.” Contraction has a lot more issues to it than just shutting down a
team and so on. They’d pay us the value (of the franchise). Then you’ve got minor
leagues, places, cities all over the country with ballparks based on our activities, not just
Tampa. We want to do the opposite.
ML – Do you think there’s pressure to get this done (a ballpark) so that nobody even has
to consider that step?
That’s a very good question. I think getting it done has nothing to do with contraction.
Baseball may have as many teams as they need. Some years it’ll be like we ought to
contract. I do think that there’s so much going on with the Mets and the Dodgers, you
can only address so many things. All of us are multitaskers. I don’t know that it’s so true
in baseball. I don’t think it has to do with contraction. But sure, we and Tampa both

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need viable environments for our fans, or we won’t have any. It isn’t anything against
any city.
ML – Do you and Stuart Sternberg (owner of the Rays) ever commiserate at the owner’s
meetings about whose plight is worse? 
I’ve decided that mine is worse than his. He’s a good guy.
ML – He’s also a little younger.
He’s got more time. We don’t commiserate so much but we are both concerned. Very

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Part 3 of 5
ML: You’ve frequently said here and everywhere that it’s all about keeping the A’s in the
Bay Area, in this market For our ownership.
ML: Right. Recently, Giants president Larry Baer has hinted that while he supports the
A’s looking in their territory – Alameda and Contra Costa counties – but if they can’t
they’re welcome to try somewhere else such as Sacramento. How do you respond to that
“hint” by Baer and the Giants?
If tomorrow you had the only McDonald’s in San Francisco, and fourteen miles away
there was another location in Oakland. And your SF McDonald’s is worth $10 million
and the Oakland McDonald’s is worth $100,000. That was fine for you (SF). Now the
Oakland location says they’re closing up and they’re moving outside of the territory.
What happens to the only McDonald’s then? Larry and the Giants would benefit hugely,
I guess, in their minds. They dominate the market now, they may want to dominate it
totally. Their market value might jump a huge amount.
However, I don’t get it. I don’t get why they’re so adamant about this. It’s just a
difference of opinion.
ML: Do you think the Giants have a motive for protecting their territorial rights other
than what they’ve stated publicly? Which is – they just want to pay off the ballpark.
I’ll have to say that going back to – forget that it’s Oakland or San Jose – there are four
two-team markets. [Ed.: Note exclusion of DC-Baltimore] Three already have the same
boundaries. I think this one should too. I think we would have a great rivalry with them.
Why shouldn’t we have a beautiful ballpark? In fact, one of the backers and instigators is
my partner and his family, the Fishers. I think if you actually went to a lot of the passive
investors in the Giants – these are people who want to support the Bay Area, not just
one team. What is it gonna hurt? In fact I think it’s gonna be better for them too.
Everybody has their own views.
ML: There’s been some talk from fans and media about challenging baseball’s antitrust
exemption. Knowing what you know, being in what they call “The Lodge”, is there
anything realistic about that?
Well, today we live in a litigious society. If you want to sue over this chair you’re sitting
on you can sue the manufacturer because you’re not feeling well. We are not of that ilk.
We are a partner. Maybe this is an odd view, but I believe that we’ve entered a
partnership. This is what the commissioner chose. As I said before, we’re not even
thinking about it (suing). It’s not right based on being part of a partnership. Therefore
it’s not a lever for us, it might be for someone else. If the reverse is true, maybe a smart

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attorney running a baseball team might say, “We can do this, we can do that.” [Ed.: I
chuckled] We’re not going to do it, that’s all there is to it. It’s just not right.
ML: This seems to be something very consistent that you’ve said, even going back a
couple of years ago. The partnership idea that all of the owners are in one boat and
they’re all supposed to be rowing in the same direction.
I know I’m a little naïve when it comes to that, in the world that we live it, but that’s how
I’m gonna run it.
ML: Okay. When it comes to making a decision, is it really all up to the commissioner?
Yep. Well – that’s a good question – he would need a vote of the owners [Ed.: 3/4 of
owners]. Since I’ve been there, there haven’t been a lot of votes. Maybe the Giants
wouldn’t vote for it or a couple of teams. Again, it’s a collaborative thing. With all the
work that’s gone into this, whatever the decision is, it’ll have a lot of backing. I think if
he decides to let us move to San Jose that he’ll get a lot of votes. I don’t think the voting
will be an issue. He even has the power to go beyond that if it’s for the good of baseball. I
really don’t sit there and analyze this from a legal point of view. If the decision is “you
can’t” or “you can” the support will be to follow the commissioner’s lead.
ML: And that’s really all you’re looking for. Yes or no.
ML: You mentioned the Dodgers and Mets offhand. Are they on the front burner and the
A’s on the back burner, or does it not work like that?
You’d have to ask the commissioner. No, I don’t think we’re on the back burner. I really
think the Mets and the Dodgers are two different situations. But they’re both important
(teams), important markets, important to us. The Mets aren’t suing baseball. They’re
just trying to survive – and maybe they made some errors with this Madoff thing – I
don’t know that much about it. The Dodgers are attacking, they put their team in
bankruptcy. If they follow the constitution of baseball that’s cause for taking over the
team. I’ve got my own stuff I worry about every day. We need those markets to have
ownerships that are committed and capable of not getting into these issues.
ML: Commissioner Selig, when asked about what’s happening with the A’s a couple of
times this year has said, “We’re working on it,” in nice, vague terms. Are they really still
working on it? Seriously.
[laughs] I think what he’s working on – and I don’t know – is unless Oakland knows
something that I don’t know. I answer is I think he’s contemplative. Way beyond where I
am. We talk several times a week, not on this issue but on others I’m involved in. I’m
having a – I enjoy the commissioner. We’ve known each other a very long time, longer
than I’ve known my wife – and we’ve been married 54 years. I think he’s got enough
information to make a decision. He may be trying to figure out a good way that the
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Giants are happy and we’re happy. He tends to do that. And right now, what choice do I
have? Last night we won a game. That’s more fun than worrying about this crap.
ML: I agree, I agree. Now let’s talk a little about the Coliseum. I’m sure you’re aware that
attendance is up this year as opposed to last year, and over 2009 as well. 
When Russia went from communism to capitalism they had a huge jump in economics,
but that’s from a very low base. [laughs] When I talk to the commish he’ll say to me,
“You know, you’re up 4.5%.” The one thing he follows is attendance. Now I follow paid
attendance, I’m not sure that he does.
ML: Fair enough.
Attendance is up (league-wide) according to my last conversation. They’re up a little bit
in the American League.
ML: Yeah, I think it turned around after the weather. 
Now I don’t know if it means in the ballpark. I look at Dodger Stadium and it looks
almost empty sometimes.
ML: I believe that it’s paid attendance and it’s somehow withstood the drop for the Mets
and Dodgers. 
What happens is that some people are afraid to give up their tickets. I was hesitant to
give up my Laker tickets. But then I look back and ask how many games did I go to since
my kids all moved out of L.A. Do I really need these tickets? And then a year later I
decide to do one more year. I worry about the impact of that.
ML: I see.
I just wish the Dodger thing was settled and we could move on.
ML: In the past you’ve mentioned the Coliseum’s defects and its chronic state of decay.
Could a ballpark be built alongside or replace the existing Coliseum? For now let’s put
aside the financing – well no, we can’t put it aside.
No, let’s put it aside for the moment. First I looked at the Coliseum, because there was
nothing downtown. We’re talking about the physical stadium. This is where I read the
older (sports) writers, they’re living in the past. A lot has changed for Oakland since
then. The last year the Haases owned the team they had the highest payroll in baseball
and drew 1.2 million. You might want to check that out.
ML: They were. [Ed. – 1.2 million in the strike-shortened 1994 season, 1.1 million in
each of the following two seasons.]

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[Ed. – At this point Lew’s son-in-law, Dean Rossi, comes by with his son, Arthur. It’s
mostly a personal conversation so I’ll leave this out. Lew will drop Arthur off at the
Coliseum to run around the clubhouse – every kid’s dream – before heading up to City
Hall to meet with Mayor Quan. Note: Two partners in Rossi’s law firm help run
Baseball San Jose.]
So where were we? Coliseum.
ML: So is it possible?
Let’s talk about it. Aside from the market being – Oakland used to have several major
corporations, doesn’t have them any longer. The whole thing with the Raider thing, Mt.
Davis, we had nothing to do with that. You can never get sight lines that satisfy two
sports in one venue anymore. Even inside it’s not good to have hockey and basketball.
You can do it but, you know.
There are so many physical issues. Right now if we wanted to move the fans closer, I
don’t know what to do. The field is 22 feet below sea level so there’s no way to move
forward without tearing down all the seats. You’d understand that better than most.
ML: Yeah.
The field is great until football. The field is great because we have a great
groundskeeper, Clay Wood. As soon as the Raiders come in – it’s just not good.
About the site. You can make all the drawings you want on that site. This is what really
bothered me. The Coliseum wasn’t even the #1 site in the HOK study. Even Fremont was
in the study. The Coliseum had a little line about some kind of utility thing. I asked if
there was a title report ordered for the Coliseum. In my world that’s one of the first
things you do. Nobody knew, the city didn’t know, it was just a bunch of bureaucratic
nothing. So we ordered the title report, which is just about this thick [fingers spread an
inch apart]. There is an easement.
[Ed. – The Coliseum Authority recently bought the land in question as part of its new
Raiders stadium effort. Oakland Councilman Larry Reid envisions an ancillary
development project similar to L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, next to Staples
Center. The Authority is also proposing $4 million in additional expenditures related
to project study costs.]
ML: You mentioned this. It was the sewer interceptor.
It’s not an easement you can move. So any architect who wants to build over the freeway
or whatever, needs to sit down and determine what easement does relative to placing a
football stadium or arena. That kind of even minor detail, we could say, “oh we’ll do it”
but never do it. None of that’s done. The average fan shouldn’t have to bother with that.
But that site isn’t as simple as we thought.

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One time I thought it would be a good idea to buy the triangle that heads out to
Hegenberger (Malibu/HomeBase lots). I said, “Look, we don’t know if we’re gonna stay
here, but we need that piece to do parking or mitigate, otherwise it’s chaos if you’re
trying to develop that site.” All of a sudden another architect comes up with an idea for
these multistory garages. Well, who’s gonna pay for those? And if you’re on the fifth
floor of a garage for a baseball team, you might as well stay home. So it was just a
hundred inhibitions.
Now, we recently had someone come up to me, a legitimate guy. I didn’t ask who it was
as it came through someone else. He said, “Gee whiz, we think there’s a way to remain in
Oakland and live with the Coliseum” and so on. Well, tell me what it is. “If you guys
want to sell the team” and all that stuff. I’d like to know what you’re talking about before
I would even contemplate that. Other owners haven’t been able to do anything in
Oakland (build stadia) either. We’re not the only one. The Coliseum’s an over 40-year
old facility. Dodger Stadium is too. Dodger Stadium, I believe, would take a minimum of
$100 million to keep it going – and they keep it pretty well maintained. So you tell me
what this would cost.
ML: I have no idea.
I don’t either. They (Coliseum Authority) don’t have any money. We’re constantly
making repairs that are not our obligation.
ML: Really? Like what?
Leaks and things. The scoreboard. There are two of them because of football. I think
they’re finally going to replace them, but if they don’t there are no more parts. If a light
goes out we borrow it from another one. It’s aggravating. But they basically say they
don’t have any money. They still have bonds to pay off. The place is old and this is not
the time for cities to write a check for sports.
ML: Yet they’re going forward with a study for the Raiders.
All these studies. If I were an investigative reporter I’d like to know how much is spent.
Supposedly that study is done. And that’s fine, they should, the Raiders are fine. Where
are all these things? Who’s doing them? If it’s a six month study what happened to the
first two months? We have heard nothing. And we’ve been more tolerant than the other
two teams (as tenants). We’ve never affected our rights there. If we win (legally), what
do we win if they don’t have any money? It was a baseball park once. I wasn’t around
when any of that happened, but the amount put into that sure seems strange to me. That
was before my time.
ML: The litigious part kind of speaks for itself at least for the other two teams.
Look, I’m just not litigious. I think our legal system is killing us, so much initiative. I’ve
been in business almost 50 years. I’m a real estate developer. Most of my
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contemporaries are suing someone every three months. I’ve had two lawsuits my entire
career. I think everything can be settled. But you can’t do it if someone’s not willing to

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Part 4 of 5
ML: Now lets move onto everyone’s favorite topic – tarps. They’ve been a bone of
contention ever since they’ve been up there. What have you learned from having them
up there, whether they were an experiment or another initiative, do they help? Hurt?
Does it even matter?
Actually, I want to go to your site. The doubleheader the other day. It was interesting.
Somebody caught me the other day at the soccer game, he said, “Oh, I went to the
doubleheader, I’m a Giant fan but it was so much fun.” But in your own blog, there were
a whole lot of comments saying, “Gee the (Coliseum crowd) looked great because the
tarps were there.”
ML: A lot of people said that.
There you are, I win, they (the critics) lose. Move on.
ML: [laughs] And it wasn’t even a sellout. 27,000.
I know, but it would be better if the seats weren’t there. Look, we have $2 Wednesday
and a $1 hot dog. You personally have a problem with that. There’s a limit of ten (hot
dogs). [laughs]
ML: It’s true. [Ed.: Years ago I once ate six dollar dogs in one sitting. I am no Joey
I want to see the person who eats that. All kidding aside. Everybody’s saying you have to
open this or do that, make it cheaper and cheaper. We need revenue, yet nobody says,
“Look how reasonable the A’s game is compared to the Giants.” Which is fine, they have
a better environment to go to. You should pay more there.
ML: That actually gets me to something I’ve been thinking about for a while. All the
discounts that are available. They’re great and they allow families to come in (more
frequently), but sometimes I wonder if there are too many discounts, that it devalues the
It definitely does. If everything is product – I’m not saying gouge people – but
everything is product. I sort of get a kick out of Groupon. It’s a big problem all sports
and concerts, Stubhub and others. Somebody wrote an article in the LA Times where the
people went to a Dodgers game for $2.95, they got three seats. It’s also in the hotel
business – you’ve got all these sites like Expedia. I don’t know where it’s going but a lot
of people go on StubHub. Sometimes they’ll buy seats for triple. Sometimes they’ll buy
seats for a third. It’s a very good point. Baseball’s looking at it. The hotel is looking at it
in a different way. Who owns the content and controls the price? We own the content.
I’m not sure we control the price.

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ML: The Tuesday free parking promotion that you’ve had for couple years. Monday’s
attendance was 11,000. Tuesday’s was 12,000. 
In the house Monday was 5,500. Tuesday was 8,000. I don’t know if the parking was a
ML: It doesn’t seem like it has a lot of traction.
One of the problems is that we don’t have (much to work with). I think our marketing
group may be one of the best in baseball because they have such a challenge. It’s fun to
be at the Coliseum, but I don’t know (beyond that). We try everything. The critics say,
“Lew’s trying to discourage fans.” That’s really not true. If they want to believe that it’s
Our revenues are around $140-150 million. Our payroll is $75 million. That’s about
right. I could name another team or two teams whose payroll is around $40 million.
We’d make a lot of money if we did that. I will not do that.
ML: The team you’re playing right now (Tampa Bay).
They run pretty well. I was thinking of a different team.
[Ed. – Wolff demurred on naming the team.]
Over a time period, because of where they were in the standings, all of a sudden they got
some terrific young players through the minors. Billy has kept us competitive, and he
doesn’t get as much credit as he should, but that leaves us in the middle of the draft. So
where other teams get higher picks –
ML: Top ten pick.
That’s never been my goal. I’m convinced that we will have a new stadium in 4-5 years. I
hope it’s here. I can’t keep asking Billy and his guys to (deal with being a low revenue,
low payroll team).
ML: In the past two years regarding player development, it seems you have gone in a
different direction of going after international players, whether it’s Michael Ynoa or
Hisashi Iwakuma. Outside the draft. Is that some sort of new targeted strategy?
It’s a strategy but it’s not new. The big money teams. I don’t have the exact figure, but in
the last few months the Rangers have spent some $20+ million in the Dominican
Republic. [Ed. – Technically this was $23 million for three players, two from D.R. and
one from Cuba.]
If the new CBA has draft pick slotting and an international draft it’ll be better for us. We
can’t go after free agents and pay somebody six years [trails off]. Last year we thought
we had the makings of a pretty good team. We sat down with – and I personally was
involved with Billy and David and Scott Boras – and we sat down with Adrian Beltre. We
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went down to Orange County and met with him. At the end of the day we offered
somewhere over $70 million for however many years, pretty much equal to what the
Angels offered. Scott said, “No he’s gonna get $90 million.” And Adrian was wonderful.
We left and thought, “That’s not what he’s getting.” And then Texas paid him.
We went after Lance Berkman, the (National) league leader in home runs. I didn’t do
that. Billy literally flew to his home and talked to him. We offered him 2 years at $8
million (per year), I don’t remember the exact figure. St. Louis only offered him one year
at that. I don’t like to blame on Oakland. For reasons of his own choosing, he decided to
go to St. Louis. Those two players would’ve been very important to us. We went out and
got other terrific players, free agents – DeJesus, Willingham, and so forth. It’s a little
disappointing that the hitting (hasn’t panned out). We’re starting to look at our air
conditioning (the marine layer). Why do they hit .280 (somewhere else) and then come
here (and not hit)? We’re starting to hit now, hitting’s a little contagious.
So when fans say that we’re trying to discourage and we’re trying to make the product
bad, they’re wrong. We’re doing the best we can. We send in a report every year about
how we use revenue sharing. We don’t put it in our pocket. Our best approach is to build
through the minor leagues, drafting, and (hopefully) the international draft.  That’s our
best chance of competing.
ML: Do you think that slotting and the international draft will be part of the next CBA?
I don’t know. I hope so, I think it’s good for everybody.
ML: I sure hope so. It’s crazy that given all the reporting about big money payrolls being
2x, 3x, 4x the A’s, it’s sort of underreported how much development budgets make
expenditures that much higher.
Well, we have no choice. So we have to use our money efficiently. So it isn’t a matter of
lowering your payroll for a major league team. In fact you have to use that extra money
in the minor leagues – on the draft and so on.
ML: Could the A’s to land a top tier free agent – say a slugger – next year or the year
after that regardless of the ballpark situation? Would you take a shot at it?
We took a shot at Beltre. That was a six or five year deal. The answer is yes, but that isn’t
where we’re going to get (that productivity). First of all, the probabilities of our being
successful are limited. Boston, Texas, the Yankees – they can just offer another this or
another that. We will not intentionally lose money because it’s not good for baseball. It’s
not good for the team. We’ve tried everything. We got lucky once with Frank Thomas (in
The year we went to the playoffs, this is what scared me the most. My people told me,
“Just you watch.” Going into 2007, after we got to the ALCS, all we needed was another
this or that (player). We had less season ticket sales going into 2007 (than in 2006).
How is that possible? It’s just a function of our market is shared. When all of these
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columnists report this and remember that, when we were playing in the Coliseum and
the Giants were playing in Candlestick. That’s a lot different today than it was then.
They’ve got a beautiful new ballpark. We don’t.
ML: That’s really what it comes down to, doesn’t it?
It’s not totally that. I think our management talent is as good as anybody’s. I tell you I’ve
got owners all over the place who laughed I when I gave Billy and Mike (Crowley) long
term contracts and shares of ownership. Now they’re saying how smart (the deals) are. I
don’t know two other people, plus David (Forst) and Farhan (Zaidi), who could operate
under the conditions that we have – which I’m not complaining about, they’re just what
they are – any better than those guys.
ML: Yeah. I’m not sure what else you can do other than hoping a lot of high draft picks
all of sudden drop in your lap. That’s not happening.
We’ll be okay. We’ve got the trade deadline coming up. We’re not looking to acquire
anybody. We’re not going to give away people just to reduce salary. We want to get
something for that. I don’t know how many teams are – so many teams have $100+
million payroll that even if they’re on the cusp of getting to the playoffs they may not be
that interested. All of that accelerates from now until Sunday.
ML: If you get a really great offer that you can’t refuse…
We’ll look at it, but I like the way the team is playing now. Plus we’ll get draft choices if
we don’t keep certain players. We’re not in a panic position.
ML: No fire sale.
No fire sale. The nice thing about us, and you have to give Billy a lot of credit, one of my
favorite all time keepers, not just a player, a keeper, is Mark Ellis. We have a young guy
in Jemile Weeks who we hope to be our future. The only thing that we did was – Billy
did this, I didn’t even think about it – we wanted Mark to be in a position where he was
playing all the time. [Ed. – Ellis to Colorado trade]
ML: Which he is now.
So that was sort of a below market deal, but it was good for him and we owed it to him.
ML: I think it had near universal praise for the way it was handled.
Selig told me never to fall in love with a player because they always move.
ML: Naw, we all loved Ellie.
That guy is so sweet and so decent. We’ve got quite a few but he’s special.
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ML: It’s the great legacy of A’s second basemen from Rapid City, SD. Like this stadium
business, the radio saga dragged on much longer than it should have? What did you
learn from that experience?
Again, the Giants have a better situation (because of KNBR). We didn’t learn much. We
learned that sometimes the people who administer bankruptcy, sometimes they get fees
for that. Sometimes they don’t operate in the best interest of the very people they’re
working for. The situation that came along in the middle of that (95.7 KBWF) was fine
and we did it. It’s not perfect but it’s working out better than we thought. I was getting
tired of listening to country music, and then the ballgame, and then a religious channel.
ML: Those were trying times. Let’s go back to territorial rights. What is the best way you
think this should be resolved?
Good. I always say that if I had a magic wand, we should share the territory.
ML: Flat out.
Just like all the other two-team markets. Your article is right. Santa Clara County was
nobody’s territory at one point. That’s good information, it’s true. I have seen the
minutes of those meetings, and the Haases were complemented for being cooperative.
The reason that happened was to build a ballpark in San Jose. I was even active in that
as a businessman. I had no thoughts in ever being involved in baseball. For the Giants to
say they have the territory but they didn’t mean to – I just think we should share the
market like the other teams. Theoretically the Angels could move right next to the
Dodgers if they want.
ML: They could but it’d be crazy.
The Mets could move next to Yankee Stadium. The White Sox could move across town.
They’re not going to but it’s allowed. And we’re further from the other team than any
other. [Ed. – Again, not including DC/BAL] The whole thing in an academic sense, I
can’t imagine the debate.
ML: Do you think the owners understand this? Do you have to talk to them or lobby
them about this?
I made up my mind not to lobby them. Over this long period of time they’ll tease me a
little bit about it. In fact several have told me, “I’ll talk to Bud for you.” I say no. It’s
being done the way it’s supposed to be and let’s just see what happens. Running around
and lobbying, I just don’t do that. It’s just not worth it. First of all, everyone’s going to go
along pretty much with the commissioner’s decision.
ML: What’s your confidence level right now that this will get done by the end of the

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In your lifetime? I have a lot of confidence that it’ll be done this year, but I said that last
year too.
ML: Right.
Who knew that baseball would explode in two or three other areas? I still have a high
degree of confidence that we’ll get an answer one way or the other. That’s all I’m asking
for. I mean, I want a yes for sharing. In lieu of that I’ll take a no.
ML: Do you have a hard stop or a deadline for getting this done?
Yes. We missed it by two years. [laughs]
ML: There you go.
The answer is no, not now I don’t. As I say, I’ll pass the baton to those who are working
on it. We’re working on this everyday. We’re talking about sight lines and everything.
We just haven’t pulled the trigger to spend because we want to know it’s there (first).
ML: Okay.
How about redevelopment? Don’t you want to talk about that?
ML: I’m getting right to that. Actually let’s talk about T-rights for one more question. If
there was a dollar value attached to the T-rights here, is that something you’d consider?
Is there a threshold or limit for that?
What do you mean, pay for this (Santa Clara County)? We should be paid for what we or
the Haas family gave up?
ML: Well, I suppose this is an academic thing.
We’ll leave that up to the commissioner.
ML: Okay. Fair enough. On to San Jose and redevelopment. There are two properties
remaining that have to be acquired. We last heard that they were supposed to be
wrapped in June but we haven’t heard anything from the City about that. I’m guessing
that they haven’t done it because of all the shakeup with the budget and the ending of
redevelopment. Now that they’ve filed a lawsuit there’s all sorts of stuff up in the air.
San Jose went and acquired half the property or more, which is good for us because
they’re committed. I spent most of my adult life in redevelopment. We’re not looking for
redevelopment to hand us a check or a bond issue or anything. That’s true in Oakland
too. The value of the land that we think it is, if San Jose needed that money to be paid to
be the last properties (we’ll do it). We thought at first that we’d end up leasing land.
Owning the land would be better for us. Whether it’s redevelopment, the city, a special
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district, whatever the hell they come up with, it makes no difference to us because we’re
not looking for anything different than we would be normally. So in a funny way it’s a
little better for us.
ML: Really?
Well, look. If we’re fortunate enough that they announce that we can go you have to
close your eyes and say, “What will that mean?” The whole community is gonna be
excited about that. The thing that bothers me is that – even in this economy – we need a
ballpark whether the economy is good or bad. Right?
ML: Yeah.
So why should we be holding up jobs and construction and so on over an argument that
I think is –
ML: Petty?
Petty. As a percentage of what we’re doing, the cost of the land, I don’t know what it’s
going to be, if you’re going to spend $400-450 million the land is not going to be a
situation where it costs X percent and it’s too much so we’re not going to build a new
I hate to see what’s happening to redevelopment, because I think it’s one of the few
aspects of government that has a cost-benefit to it. I’m still surprised – and I like
Governor Brown – I didn’t get why he did that. The answer is that I’m sorry about
what’s happening to all of these cities in California. We have a real shovel-ready project
if nobody interferes with it. It’s not a concern. Your blog talks about it all the time which
I think it good but it really isn’t a problem for us. We have one problem, and that’s the
decision. Is that clear?
ML: Yes, and it’s somewhat reassuring in light of what we’ve learned in the past 6-7
I didn’t say it was good for all cities.
ML: I’m not going to lie. There are a lot of people on the blog who read and comment
who look at this and say, “That’ll be one more thing that eventually eliminates Oakland
or some other city because they won’t have the resources to make it happen.”
By the way, they’re right. Not San Jose though – they’ve spent the resources. Their EIR
is done. We may have a lawsuit from some phony – you know all that stuff. Starting
now, somewhere else? Forget it, it’s not gonna happen. Anywhere.
ML: Did you even conceive that something like this would enter the equation when you

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No, not at all.
ML: Going back to the first question, so much has changed in six years. 
A lot has changed and sometimes things that look negative may be positive for certain
people, and vice-versa.
ML: The last questions I have are more fun stuff. I was considering bringing a book that
I bought last year when I visited Target Field.
The Target Field book?
ML: The big book, the commemorative book. 
I have it.
ML: It’s beautiful, covers the entire history of how they got to that point. Other sites that
were considered. Politics, and then finally the actual construction. Have you been to
Target Field and maybe the Marlins ballpark?
I have been to Target Field but not the Marlins ballpark.
ML: What do you take away from Target Field?
Are you talking about the history of it?
ML: No, just the ballpark.
I think it looks terrific. It’s actually built on a smaller site than we have. It’s cantilevered
out over –
ML: Over streets and railroads.
I don’t think we can afford to build that structure in California privately. They’ve had
some help there (in Minnesota). What we’re planning to do is this. When you aircondition space like special restaurants and things. Because of San Jose and the
economy and so on. We’re gonna have all of the great concessions but we’re not gonna
have a stadium club because we want the downtown to provide that. The less airconditioned space you have the more you can put into the field. Target Field is great.
Give it to me tomorrow and I’ll take it in a second.
But we will be the closest to the field of any ballpark ever built in baseball, at least in my
lifetime. And it’ll be fun. We just want to have fun. We want the fan to walk in and have
fun. We don’t need to have a monument or tribute like Yankee Stadium – it’s incredible
there, the materials and everything. It’s a $1.5-2 billion or whatever it costs. What we
want is for somebody to go and say, “Gee, that was really a fun experience. I felt like I
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was really close to the player.” Each of our places in the ballpark – and my son can go
over this with you – are neighborhoods. So it might be better to be in LF standing up
than it would be to be behind home plate.
The average (attendance related to) capacity last year based on our study: 51%. So
everybody’s saying we’re making this thing too small. Number one – we’re in a two-team
market even though the other team doesn’t agree. [laughs] Number two – we think less
is more. We want players to look up and have the stands filled. As much as they
shouldn’t care whether it’s one person or 50,000, they do care.
ML: They absolutely care.
And so does the manager and so does the staff and the ticketing group. We have 130
people we employ and deserve to have a proper operating environment.
ML: Okay. Going to the Cisco Field renderings that were released last year by Baseball
San Jose. A bunch of us, because we’re stadium geeks, started to dissect the pictures to
figure out what’s in there, what’s going on. We were able to divine a few things and
maybe some of my guesses were wrong. The first thing that stuck out from a pure
baseball standpoint – because that’s what we watch, the action on the field – in RF you
have that big wall of something facing Autumn Street. The dimensions of the field I’m gonna defer to my son Keith. who lives up here in the Bay Area. I’m gonna have him
call you or you can call him, either way. He can sit down and explain this to you. It can
be a separate blog time. I like it, but I just don’t have the info.
ML: Is Keith dealing with most of this technical stuff now, nose to the grindstone?
He’s my son so I don’t want to overdo it. He’s a little less emotional than I am. Probably
smarter, Harvard MBA and all that. He’s a real estate developer and a good athlete. Billy
wants to see more of Keith but Keith’s nose to the grindstone, trying to keep everything
going here. On both soccer and baseball plus he has other activities outside of that.
You’d get a kick out of talking to him.
ML: I’d love to do that, whether that’s soon or after the decision is made.
The other thing is the architect, who used to be with HOK then left – if the two of them
were here you’d get a kick out of talking to them. They’re great people. I’ll work on that.
ML: That’s the stuff that we (on the blog) really want to talk about. You mentioned Billy
Beane just now. Do Billy and Keith have an ongoing dialogue over how the ballpark
should be developed? 
What Billy wants is to do is be able to walk into an office where he doesn’t trip over
boxes and stuff. The answer is that we have Steve Vucinich [Ed.: VOOSE! A’s equipment
manager]. He has a continuing list of all things the things he’d like to see in the
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ballpark. He’s been keeping the list for so long that it’s been getting yellow, he teases
me. We will use all of our people – we have already but not to the degree when we start
actually determining storage space, down to the details. We have great resources for
this. Better than just consultants.
ML: That reminds me of when what is now Chase Field was being planned, they left a lot
of the conceptual stuff to Buck Showalter, a manager. 
A manager would like to have more space between the foul line and the stands. We want
to have one inch. So we’ll have that kind of battle going.
ML: I like that kind of battle. It’s a good thing to sink your teeth into. One more
question. During the Fremont unveiling, you referenced ancillary development items
such as the baseball village and museum. What happened to the museum concept? 
We probably don’t have room for it there. My partners, the Fishers, they contributed a
wing to an art museum in San Francisco. They talk about a museum all the time. They
look at the art of baseball. Or maybe they’re talking about pure art. They’ve also been
down here and have had a conversation with the local museum. [Ed. – As we are talking
I look out the window at the San Jose Museum of Art, a short throw from where I sit.]
They have a great art collection, it’s not necessarily sports-related or sports
memorabilia. We haven’t thought about it, but we’re open to those kind of fun things.
Right now we don’t know if we can incorporate too much of that into the ballpark
because of the size. So it isn’t perfect. If John Fisher were here he’d be talking about
bringing great contemporary art to a baseball park and I’d be talking about bringing
somebody’s uniform.
ML: You know what? I went to Cowboys Stadium last year and there were several
contemporary art installations throughout. And it’s really beautiful and striking. 
John will be a big influence on this facility.
ML: That’s great. One last thing. When you look at the renderings, I’ve had a few people
tell me it looks like a modernized mirror image of Fenway Park. 
You know, I don’t see it that way but I’m not sure. It is small and compact. Again, I’d like
to defer that to the meeting with Keith and so forth. I mean, if we had Fenway Park right
now I’d be very happy. [laughs]
ML: [laughs] For years, Fenway had 33,000 seats and no one complained.
You gotta always remember we’re in a two-team market. While there’s plenty of
baseball, there’s plenty of other attractions in California, in fact there are more
attractions than in Boston for the consumer. We gotta be careful about that.
Is that helpful? I’m pleased you were willing to do this. Believe me.

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ML: I’m pleased that you had time to sit down and discuss this.
I guess the point is that I keep getting beaten up, and if people feel that way fine. I feel
there are areas where we’ve really been diligent that people don’t want to think about.
ML: This was really great. It’ll be really productive when it gets posted. 

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September 11, 2011
A series of changes at Oakland City Hall and the State Capitol may portend well for
Oakland’s chances to get either an A’s ballpark or Raiders stadium built. Or maybe not.
First up, newly hired Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana, late of San Jose,
made two key hires in poaching SJ Finance Director Scott Johnson and SF
Redevelopment head Fred Blackwell to be Assistant City Administrators, each with
different roles. Johnson will be tasked with the responsibilities you’d normally consider
as part of a city manager/administrator role, such as finance/budget and labor relations.
Meanwhile, Blackwell will be covering a redevelopment-oriented role. Scuttlebutt is that
CEDA head Walter Cohen may be on his way out amidst “major changes” there. Could
CEDA and ORA be headed for big time restructuring? It would make sense if they want
to deal with next year’s budget deficit early. That shouldn’t mean bad things for the
Victory Court EIR or the Raiders project since they’re already in the pipeline. It
probably means there will be fewer resources for planning and future projects, both
short and long-term.
Up in Cowtown, yet another bill (actually two) designed to bypass the CEQA process has
made it through the Legislature. SB 292 (D-Padilla, San Fernando Valley) limits
potential legal actions against LA Stadium/Farmers Field EIR by pushing challenges up
to the State Court of Appeal, where cases could be expedited more quickly. This is
important because it could save several months, maybe even a year by offering this kind
of protection. The actual EIR review process will not be impacted in a major way, only
the method for dealing with legal challenges. SB 292 only protects the Farmers Field
project, so it isn’t helpful for either Oakland project, or others with already certified
A companion bill, AB 900 (D-Steinberg, Los Angeles), could help Oakland. Initially
meant as a companion for SB 292, AB 900 expands its coverage to large projects worth
$100 million or more. Naturally, that would include any major stadium or arena project
throughout the state, including either Oakland stadium, the Kings’ downtown arena in
Sacramento, and others. AB 900 actually sets a time limit of 175 days for the Court of
Appeal to issue a decision on any affected project after a party files a petition
challenging said project. AB 900 will not become law unless SB 292 also is signed into
law, so at this point everything rests with Governor Brown, on whose desk the two bills
Brown may be of two minds on the bills. On one hand, he can’t be in love with the
Legislature for flat out denying him on a multitude of tax extension requests, though he
may be putting the blame on Republicans instead of his own party. And while he’s no
proponent of stadium projects, in the case of these two bills there are no traditional
public sources of funding being tapped, so he may be a little more amenable to signing
these bills than he would for other deals. We’ll see shortly.

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September 14, 2011
So there I was, trying to cheer myself after another A’s loss with a side trip to SF’s new
high-tech grilled cheese joint The Melt, and I hear that Bill Neukom, he of the
monopoly-defending ways (for both the Giants and Microsoft), has been ousted as CEO.
“What the what?!?!” I thought.
Mark Purdy appears to have the best read on things. Whether Neukom was too
profligate a spender or if his style rubbed the rest of the Giants executive committee the
wrong way, it’s a shocking end to a tenure.
At this point it’s much too early to know how this is going to shake out for the A’s.
Neukom may stay on in some capacity, and if it’s as some sort of legal counsel, there’s
no reason to think the Giants will be even the slightest amount more flexible regarding
territorial rights to Santa Clara County. Team President Larry Baer will take the reins,
and he hasn’t exactly been friendly to the concept. In a similar manner, Texas Rangers
managing partner Chuck Greenberg was deposed before the beginning of the season
and subsequently replaced by Nolan Ryan.
Still, you have to think that with the brain-trust of the Giants so worried about spiraling
payrolls despite consecutive sellout crowds and locked-in TV dominance, something has
to give. Given Bud Selig’s generally laissez faire approach to managing owners and
ownership groups, this has to be an internal struggle. Who knows, maybe T-rights is
part of the discussion? I can’t see it being at the top of the priority list. Selig is probably
watching closely to make sure that the Giants don’t turn into the Dodgers, and not much

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September 18, 2011
This came this afternoon from A’s VP of Stadium Operations David Rinetti:
Rhamesis and Jennifer,
I am hopeful that both of you will use your means to send this message to all
A’s Bleacher patrons:
As you are all aware, we met with a small group of A’s regular Bleacher patrons a
few days ago to discuss a potential change in policy. Our goal for this meeting was
to try and come up with a solution to deal with the 200 or so complaints that we
receive for every premium game in the Bleachers due to guests that show up
without a place for their party to sit. Our hope was that we would work with the
core group of Bleacher fans to create a way for them to purchase their regular
seats in advance and even offer them incentives to do so. We have heard loud and
clear from many of the Bleacher patrons through the various blogs and emails that
there is clear opposition to this plan. Although some blogs and emails have accused
the A’s of trying to alienate their fans, or that this was an intentional ploy by
ownership to make things difficult for our Bleacher guests; this is very far from the
truth. We were just looking for a way to improve customer service for our fans.
Based upon the feedback that we have received, we will not be changing our policy
in 2012. We will, however, aggressively monitor the Bleacher area for the premium
games to make sure that all fans with Bleacher tickets can be seated.
We thank you all for your continued support of the Oakland A’s.
David Rinetti
Vice President, Stadium Operations
That should settle it.

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September 25, 2011
I want to point out something before we begin. Whether it’s this story or the quotes from
Susan Slusser’s articles, let’s remember that none of it are statements from the A’s,
MLB, or San Jose. As close as they seem to the situation, there’s a lot of conflicting
information out there so take all of this with multiple grains of salt.
It’s always been there, lingering in the background. I even wrote about it only six weeks
ago. It’s the boogeyman. It’s eminent domain. A frequent commenter has the gory
I was at a bachelor party in San Diego this past weekend. A San Jose city council
member was part of the group and we discussed the A’s in detail.
What he told me was this:
1. ATT is being a “pain in the ass” and will not move unless forced to by eminent
domain. Even re-zoning the land for ATT in West San Jose did not help the cause at
all. In fact the city council in hindsight would have never agreed to it had they
known ATT would still refuse to leave.
2. The city will not use eminent domain on ATT unless MLB gives the OK that the A’s
can move to San Jose. Therefore this is not a “race” between OAK and SJ. San Jose
like Oakland is in a holding pattern waiting for MLB to make a decision…..Two
cities, same boat. He told me that they cannot “justify” using eminent domain on
ATT without MLB approval to move forward.
3. He stated to me their RDA is pretty much done and he “implied” to me Wolff will
have to buy the last 2 parcels himself but would not out right say it when I tried to
question him more on it. The city council knows full well that Wolff will pay for it
because everyone knows it is a “drop in the ocean” of the overall cost of the stadium.
He also mentioned SJ unlike most cities did not misuse their RDA funds and used it
for several successful developments across the city.
4. He agrees with me Lew Wolff has some kind of “backdoor” deal with Selig as being a
former lawyer he does not understand Wolff’s patience with the situation. The city
has brought up an anti-trust lawsuit to Wolff and he has told the city “not to sue”
and to let the process play out despite San Jose having an excellent case in anti-trust
court, which he agreed with me is “solid”.
5. Without Wolff supporting an anti-trust lawsuit San Jose is stuck in mud and he is
very pessimistic the A’s to San Jose will ever occur. Although he is still holding out
some hope.
6. He also agreed San Jose is getting the “best ballpark deal” of any city in history of
MLB. The city is not paying for anything outside of what they have so far. Diridon
will be re-developed regardless of the ball park but not for several years to come.
BART or High Speed rail would have to be within 3-5 years of being in San Jose.

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I wanted to share this info with everyone as this is first hand info from a SJ city council
member that is as recent as yesterday.
AT&T owns the largest remaining property within the Diridon site. Its reluctance to sell
will force San Jose to use eminent domain to acquire AT&T’s land (and possibly one
other piece) in order to complete the site. There is no way to build a ballpark without the
AT&T land.
Even though Lew Wolff has expressed a willingness and confidence in the ability to
acquire all of the ballpark site, not having a willing seller creates a big time hitch. San
Jose can’t force AT&T and the A’s to negotiate on land. Instead, San Jose can acquire the
land, then negotiate on the relocation and replacement land costs, then have the A’s
reimburse the City. Making things more complicated is the fact that public-to-private
exchanges tend to be politically unpopular. That may cause a final step in which the A’s
buy the land, then convey it back to San Jose for free so that the site (and maybe the
ballpark) are publicly owned. The Quakes stadium site is a publicly owned “island”
surrounded by Quakes-owned land. Wolff indicated there are numerous ways this could
play out, and these are just a couple different permutations.
Adding to the complications is the still lingering fate of redevelopment, which won’t be
decided until January. Right now no agency is allowed to buy anything even though the
state Supreme Court granted RDAs a six month stay to operate. San Jose is trying to
bypass this roadblock by moving assets to its San Jose Diridon Development Authority,
a redevelopment wing thinly disguised as a joint powers body. Keep in mind that San
Jose has not made its ransom payment to keep its barebones redevelopment group
running, choosing instead to sue Governor Jerry Brown over the new redevelopment
laws. For that matter neither has Oakland, and Oakland could require eminent domain
on multiple landowners to clear Victory Court.
Despite this major hurdle, all we’ve heard over the last week is a growing confidence in
public statements by both Wolff and Billy Beane, indicating Sid’s item #4 may well be in
play. If that’s the case, here’s how I see this playing out:
1. Wolff gets green light during November owners meetings.
2. San Jose seizes upon this and makes one last offer to AT&T before the end of the
year. If AT&T continues to holdout, City notifies that it will start the eminent domain
process via SJDDA.
3. City can’t actually start eminent domain without a referendum, so if it’s required a
special election will be held during the early spring (with MLB picking up part of the
4. City procedes to acquire the land and begin relocation, which should take 3-6
months to complete.
5. Demolition and site clearing would have to be done throughout the summer and fall
of 2012.
6. Groundbreaking happens in November or December 2012.

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It’s important to note that there’s always that final offer. Eminent domain is every bit as
much a threat as it is a tool and may be used simply to bring parties to the table. AT&T
knows that San Jose is hamstrung by the referendum requirement and other political
realities, so it may be playing its own special brand of hardball. A supposed quid pro quo
deal between City and AT&T over rezoning an old work site near Santana Row may have
been AT&T playing City like a fiddle. The Death Star of telecom is no stranger to
strongarm tactics. This is the company that thinks eliminating a wireless carrier by
acquiring it will actually bring more competition to the industry.
FWIW, I’ve been consistent in my feeling that no one in the South Bay camp has the
stomach for a lengthy antitrust challenge to MLB. As for the “best ballpark deal”, with
the A’s on track to pay for everything ($450 million ballpark and up to $100 million in
land and improvements), yes, it would be better than the deal for AT&T Park and any
other MLB ballpark deal in the last century.

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October 14, 2011
We’re almost exactly one month from what could be a very pivotal owners meetings in
Milwaukee. And while Commissioner Bud Selig may not end up feting his colleagues
over a Brewers’ World Series, it may be that Selig’s frat bro Lew Wolff will be the one
celebrating. Merc scribe Tracy Seipel reports that the recently formed San Jose Diridon
Development Authority (a.k.a. SJ City Council) will meet in closed session to arrange an
option from which Wolff could buy the remaining ballpark site parcels.
As discussed previously, Wolff would in all likelihood have to pay for both land
and moving costs for the affected landowners/business, since SJDDA/SJRA is tapped
out now and for some time to come. One thing that may help is that Maritz Wolff,
Wolff’s real estate investment firm, sold a series of hotels in August for $570 million.
Some portion of that could easily offset the estimated $24+ million of the remaining
land buys. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the timing is set up for a 1031 exchange,
which would limit tax exposure for Wolff (in-depth knowledge on this subject is above
my pay grade).
Seipel also reports that the purchase may be part of a final push to convince Selig and
the other owners:
Mayor Chuck Reed explained it another way:
“It’s so that Lew can go to the commissioner of baseball and say, ‘I control the dirt.’

Reed characterized the plan as taking away “one more little reason the
commissioner can’t make up his mind.”
Because of the black cloud over redevelopment and the lawsuit against the state, it’s
possible that much of the money may have to be reclaimed by SJRA for its extortion
payment to the state, the big bond payment that’s due next month (which could cause a
default), or other issues that the agency has to address. It’s not just a matter of SJRA
being broke. They also can’t enter into any new agreements, which is probably what
caused City to in a moment of prescience create SJDDA. It’ll be interesting to see how
the option agreement is structured. The Airport West agreement went through some
major changes before arriving in its current form.
Seipel ends the piece with a note from City Attorney John Doyle, who said that a
referendum will be required for the ballpark/land transaction.
There are a number of follow-up questions that can only be answered by the actions of
SJDDA and affected parties in the coming weeks:

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• What will be the final price for the transaction(s)?
• Does this lead to Wolff buying all of the land, or giving the purchased part back to the
• Unlike Airport West, the purchase of Diridon has a much earlier deadline. What is that
• Is Wolff in effect bailing out SJRA by doing this?
• While Reed openly cheers on the influence that this move may have, Doyle (as you
would expect) tamps down expectations on MLB’s decision-making. What’s the story
The road ahead promises to be scenic, and a little bumpy.

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October 16, 2011
Sometimes I wonder if, given the lack of juicy topics, some of the local media default to
writing about the A’s stadium situation. It’s not sexy, and it’s easy to write about without
getting into any real depth. That’s exactly what Chronicle baseball writer John Shea did
when opining about a new Coliseum ballpark.
Shea thinks that the possibility of a joint 49ers-Raiders stadium in Santa Clara should
provide an opening for the A’s to stay there. The land is already there and paid for, as is
BART and a ton of parking. Sounds simple enough, right?
Should the Raiders decide that they want to stay in Santa Clara long term, then yes, this
could work out just fine and dandy. Except for a few minor details. Allow me to
1. The Raiders may only view Santa Clara as a temporary thing (10 years), with an eye
towards building somewhere else in the future. The prime location would be the
Coliseum, which as reported previously, has plans on the drawing board for a new
football stadium and land purchased to support it.
2. MLB wants this thing wrapped up by 2015. They’ve said so to both Oakland and San
Jose officials. By waiting out the Raiders’ decision making process, they’re
guaranteeing that a new ballpark for the A’s couldn’t open until 2017 or 2018 at the
3. Why should MLB be subordinate to what the NFL is doing? The A’s have already
suffered from that exact problem for the last 16 years.
4. Who’s paying for the remaining debt at the Coliseum now? Certainly not MLB or the
5. What happened to Victory Court? That’s the Oakland site that was chosen by both
the City and MLB to move forward because of its location downtown. MLB has
already dismissed the Coliseum and Oakland has gone along with it. Nothing has
fundamentally changed to make the site more attractive. By going back and forth on
sites like this, those involved look as if they’re not making a concerted effort.
Instead, it looks like they’re grasping at straws.
6. Wolff responds in the article to Shea’s idea by saying that he couldn’t privately
finance it at the Coliseum site. And he’s right. A “rebuilt” Coliseum is out of the
question since MLB would never go for it. And investing $450 million at the
Coliseum is impossible for some time to come, given the state of stadium
lending and the fact that it’s a “depressed area“.
The only thing that could drive this is if MLB outright rejected the A’s efforts to gain
territorial rights in Santa Clara County. Even then, it really comes down to simple
sentiment: Al Davis said before his passing that there could be a future for the Raiders at
the Coliseum, whereas Lew Wolff doesn’t believe in such a future for the A’s. They’ve
both spent a lot of time on this. After all this time, are they both wrong? Or is a quaint
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notion thrown out there on a whim more realistic? Somehow I find that hard to believe.
Facts are inconvenient, I know.

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October 26, 2011
As part of the complex land deal the City of San Jose is trying to complete in order to
assemble the Diridon ballpark site, City is selling five acres of land it has already
acquired to the A’s (and Lew Wolff) for $6.9 million, according to the Merc’s Tracy
Seipel. Indexed for inflation, that price is only a quarter of the original purchase price
and half the land’s market value. The land in question includes the former Stephens
Meat plant (now a parking lot), the vacant former KNTV studios, and other properties
along West San Fernando. The land sale will be voted on at the November 8 City Council
If the Quakes land deal is any guide, City will do the following assuming they get the
green light from MLB:
• Make final offers to holdout landowners including AT&T, threaten eminent domain if
• Allow A’s to step in and buy properties at market value plus relocation costs
• A’s deed all land back to City
• City arranges for nominal ground lease for A’s to build ballpark (similar to China

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Ballpark site parcel map as of March 2010

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The whole package would have to be voted on be the citizens of San Jose sometime
within the next year. I expect City to push hard for a special election sometime in the
early spring – perhaps during spring training or as the baseball season begins – instead
of choosing for the 2012 June primary or November general election.
Mayor Chuck Reed continues to express confidence (bravado?) in the City’s ability to
finish the land deals without resorting to eminent domain. To that end, an AT&T
spokesman gives a sufficiently cagey answer when asked about selling the Montgomery
work center.
Within the span of nine days, we’ll have three major developments in this neverending
• November 8: San Jose City Council votes on land deal
• November 10: Oral arguments begin on redevelopment court case in San Francisco
• November 15: Territorial rights may be taken up on the owners meetings agenda (not
I’ve cleared my schedule properly to cover all of this, in person for the local stuff.

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November 7, 2011
Update 10:25 PM – Not surprisingly, the Merc’s editorial board has come out in favor
of the land deal.
Procedurally, the approval of the land deal to complete the Diridon ballpark site
should be a slam dunk, considering the SJDDA (which approved it in the first place) and
the City Council are effectively one and the same. Still, since tomorrow’s City Council
session will be a public affair, there should be a mix of voices pushing to persuade/
dissuade the Council. In particular, I wonder if any/many of the Occupy San Jose
protesters will attend, since they will be in close proximity. Far be it for me to expect
fireworks at a San Jose City Council session, but I’ll be attending anyway. The session
will be at 1:30 PM at Council Chambers.
City has also posted the agenda for the session and an all-important memo containing
the details (PDF) of the deal. Some of the finer points:
• The issue at hand is the approval of an option agreement (end of memo), in which
terms are laid out for the A’s to purchase the land. That’s not the end of it, because a
formal purchase agreement will have to be drawn up within 90 days of execution of
the option agreement.
• Quoting from the memo directly here: “The Redevelopment Agency paid
approximately $25,160,000 for acquisition and relocation costs for the entire
ballpark site.” That’s a bit misleading, because the land being sold does not include
the parcels that are yet to be purchased to complete the ballpark site.
• Colliers International estimated that the entire value of the site is $38,250,000 if for
its “highest and best uses”. Appraised solely for a ballpark use, the land is worth only
$19,100,000. Back when Diridon was first discussed in 2005, the market value of the
entire Diridon site was probably close to $70 million. If they had purchased the PG&E
substation and the land fronting Los Gatos Creek, the cost would’ve soared over $100
million easily.
• Purchase price of the site for AIG (yes, that’s the “Athletics Investment Group” if you
haven’t been watching local broadcast disclaimers) is $6.975,227, or 36.5% of the
appraised value, and does not include the already public land within the site
(Montgomery and Otterson Streets).
• AIG’s option to purchase the site is for two years ($50,000), with the possibility of an
additional year ($25,000).
• This is the only item on the afternoon session agenda, which should allow for a lengthy
discussion and comment period. Baseball San Jose put out a letter on its blog
providing talking points on the deal.

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November 19, 2011
Read Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal’s new article on A’s-to-San Jose move
developments, then check back here for analysis and discussion.
The big stuff from Rosenthal:
• MLB wants a larger seating capacity than 32,000. FWIW, last year I explained how the
A’s could get up to either 36,000 or 38,000 by simply adding four rows to one or both
seating levels.
• Selig supposedly warned Wolff that $180 million precluded a move to the South Bay.
First, take a look at the chart of recent franchise sales I posted last May. Then consider
two takeaways from this: 1) Wolff may have to pay compensation to enter Santa Clara
County even if he disagrees with it, 2) An Oakland or East Bay-based A’s automatically
has a depressed value, as was speculated when Steve Schott lacked interest in Uptown.
How does MLB reconcile those two problems, which are clearly related?
• The usual back-and-forth between Wolff and critics, and the Giants’ continued
• MLB could explore the Montreal option and buy the club and resell when they get a
stadium deal and a buyer for the team. Of course, that only hastened the Expos’
departure from Montreal. Also, MLB has to know by now that $500 million for an
Oakland ballpark with the economic and political climate in California is going to be
more than a little difficult. It goes back to bullet point #2 above: if MLB and
prospective owners know that Oakland and the East Bay are limited in terms of
revenue generation, what is the financial incentive to build there? How does that help
the franchise or MLB for that matter?
• There’s a claim that the Giants would have to hit 3.2 million in attendance in order to
“break even” with a projected $130 million payroll in 2012. That’s a curious point, and
one I’d ascribe to a talking point from someone in the Giants, until I looked at the
numbers. This past season, the Giants hit a $114 million payroll figure on $230 million
in revenue (49.5%). Historically, the Giants have been at around 52-53% of revenue
over the course of the last CBA, though in 2008 they hit 56%. That’s probably their
upper limit, and $130 million in payroll would speak to that unless they got some new
revenue stream out of nowhere. Or unless someone took some dead weight contracts
off their hands.
All of the things I’ve been hearing leading up to the owners meetings is that some sort of
resolution is due as soon as January. Rosenthal’s article certainly supports this, and
actually gives a tiny amount of credence to the idea that Selig is being thorough.
(Imagine that?) The path to resolution, as described by Rosenthal, is not the easiest to

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That’s a lot to take in for a lazy Saturday afternoon. I’ll be off to a birthday party soon, so
my contributions to the comments thread may be limited the rest of the day. I’ll still
check in every so often, so behave yourselves.
Added 4:20 PM – The Merc’s Scott Herhold picks apart the San Jose ballpark land
deal, calls critics “short-sighted”.

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November 22, 2011
In February I wrote about a potential revenue sharing rollback in the new MLB
collective bargaining agreement. While today’s joint announcement didn’t produce a
percentage rollback (or contraction for that matter), there is a sort of rollback coming
for revenue sharing. And the way it’s constructed, it’s targeted at one team in particular
– the Oakland Athletics. Here’s the relevant text (courtesy of The Biz of Baseball):
a. The net transfer value of the Revenue Sharing Plan will be the same as the current
plan. Net transfer amounts will continue to grow with revenue and changes in disparity.
b. The fifteen Clubs in the largest markets will be disqualified from receiving revenue
sharing by 2016. The revenue sharing funds that would have been distributed to the
disqualified Clubs will be refunded to the payor Clubs, except that payor Clubs that have
exceeded the CBT threshold two or more consecutive times will forfeit some or all of
their refund.
c. The Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund will increase from $10 to $15 million per
Again, no percentage rollback (A). It’s item B that has enormous implications for big
market teams. The revised revenue sharing system effectively shuts the big market
teams out of the program by the end of the CBA, gradually losing 25% of any revenue
sharing receipt annually until 2016 when it’s eliminated entirely. The Bay Area is the #4
media market and is #6 in population, so neither Bay Area team would be eligible for
revenue sharing in the future. Sounds like a deadline and a decision for the A’s, right?
Not so fast. SI is reporting that a provision in the new CBA allows the A’s continue on
revenue sharing past 2016 if there is no resolution. So what does this all mean?
The A’s are in a unique and unenviable position among the 30 MLB franchises. They are
both a big market team and a low budget team. In the long run, they can’t be both. No
other big market team operates on revenue sharing, year after year. When Lew Wolff
and I talked two years ago, I mentioned that the A’s were the only two team market
where one franchise pays into revenue sharing while the other receives it. He replied
that he hadn’t heard the Giants-A’s dynamic phrased in such a manner. I joked that he
could take that up to the league office if he wanted at no charge.
MLB appears to be taking the steps to ensure that the A’s are positioned to become a
full-fledged big market team. Getting a stadium deal in place is only the first step. Vastly
improved media and sponsorship deals are just as important. That doesn’t mean the A’s
will reach the Red Sox or even the Giants in terms of revenue, but if they can achieve the
medium revenue levels of the Nationals or White Sox, they’d be considered selfsufficient. Both Wolff and Billy Beane are aware of this.

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One explanation for the provision may be that the A’s might not be able to open a new
ballpark in San Jose until after 2016, though there has been no indication that this is the
case. If Wolff isn’t given the go-ahead to move to San Jose, there’s no telling what will
happen down the road. It should set up the A’s for a sale at some point. The problem
with this is that we know that an Oakland-based buyer with knowledge of the area’s low
revenue generation would have to buy the team at a discount, whereas other buyers
looking to move the team elsewhere would be willing to pay full price. Hopefully it never
gets to that point. MLB is not going to approve Oakland’s continued stay on welfare.
They’ll move the team out of the area instead.

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November 28, 2011
In April the A’s and the City of Phoenix were set to extend a lease at Municipal Stadium
and Papago Park, assuming that the parties could figure out a way to pay for around $10
million in improvements. Unfortunately the deal fell through, which led to discussions
with neighboring Mesa, where the Cubs are building a new, $99 million facility on the
west side of town to replace HoHoKam Stadium (ballpark) and Fitch Park (training
facility). The A’s would move into HoHoKam/Fitch after the Cubs leave in 2014.
It’s terribly unfortunate that the A’s and Phoenix couldn’t come to some kind of
agreement. Muni is the most transit-accessible Cactus League facility and it has a ton of
parking around it. The Phoenix Zoo is within walking distance, and the views of Papago
Park beyond the outfield are excellent. HoHoKam’s best attribute is its size, with a
capacity of 12,623 (nearly 4,000 more than Muni). It also has a berm in the outfield, a
feature never built into Muni.
By 2016, Valley Metro will extend its light rail line to downtown Mesa, putting it roughly
1.5 miles from HoHoKam. It’s unclear what improvements would be needed or
requested by the A’s to move to HoHoKam/Fitch. With the A’s leaving Muni for good,
only one Cactus League team will remain within Phoenix city limits, the Milwaukee
Brewers (at Maryvale). The Brewers may leave Maryvale at some point because the
neighborhood is a bit sketchy. That would leave Phoenix with zero Cactus League sites,
which is strange considering how big the city is.

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December 10, 2011
On Friday there were actually three big news stories that could affect the A’s future for
some time to come. Naturally, there was the Oakland press conference that amount to
very little, followed up shortly thereafter by the trade of Trevor Cahill to Arizona for
prospects. The biggest news, however, may be not directly related to the A’s at all. After
the Angels’ blockbuster signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, it was revealed how
Arte Moreno is going to pay for them: a new TV contract with Fox Sports worth $3
billion over 20 years.
Think about that. $150 million per year for the next 20 years. The previous Angels TV
contract (also with Fox) was worth $50 million a year, which already probably tripled
what the A’s were getting via TV. Now they’re getting ten times as much as the A’s.
They’ll get more from TV than the A’s get from all sources save for revenue
sharing.  Jonah Keri wrote in September how the Rangers’ big TV deal with Fox Sports
(20 years, $1.6 billion) made the Rangers poised to become another dynasty, and then
the Angels come along and blow that out of the water with a deal worth nearly
double. The Angels can practically service their entire payroll just with TV, radio, and a
little bit Central Revenue money, which makes every ticket sold, every hot dog served
pure gravy. And because the Angels have historically had among the lowest ticket and
concession prices in the majors, they now have massive headroom to raise those prices
and the obvious justification to do so.
Forbes’ 2010 revenue figure for the Angels was $222 million. For the 2011 season, that
probably edged up to $230 million. You may recall that I wrote about $230 million
being a revenue target for the A’s – in 2015.  The Angels hit that mark this year, and will
absolutely blow past $300 million in the future thanks to the new TV deal. The next
edition of Forbes’ list could have the Angels jump from #9 to #3 or even #2, past the
Cubs, Red Sox, Mets, perhaps even the Dodgers. (Don’t worry about the Dodgers
though, they’ve been court-approved for a new TV deal that will zoom past the Angels at
around $4 billion over 20 years.) That’s scary. It doesn’t portend well for the A’s in the
future. Seattle is just as much in a pickle. The Bay Area is home to 7 million residents,
with less than half “devoted” to the A’s. The Seattle Metro has 3.5 million residents. The
DFW Metroplex has 6.4 million. The LA-to-Riverside MSA has nearly 18 million. It
would seem that TV deals tend to scale based on the number of households in each
market, factoring in some level of fan interest. It also helps if there’s competition. LA’s
chief cable provider, Time Warner, partnered with the Lakers to start their own RSN
starting with the NBA’s 2012-13 season. The numbers for the deal look familiar: $3
billion over 20 years. That competition doesn’t exist in the Bay Area, where Comcast,
Fox Sports, and the Giants partner on CSN Bay Area and Comcast wholly owns CSN
Given the massive amounts of money being thrown around, there doesn’t seem to be
any practical way for the A’s to compete. In the October article I wrote that the A’s
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would have to double media revenues to compete, they might need triple or quadruple.
Even then they’ll be way behind the Rangers and Angels. The best way to effect change
might be for the A’s to start their own RSN, though that’s a huge gamble since running a
network isn’t exactly cheap and the A’s aren’t the kind of ratings bonanza that’s
attractive to advertisers. Plus there will be the immediate friction from Comcast, though
in the end I’d expect it to be a ploy to get a better deal at CSNCA. Until then, if you’re the
A’s braintrust what do you do? Sure, you work diligently for the stadium and you’ve
been trying to improve your station in terms of media revenue. But despite your best
efforts, with the new deals for rival teams threatening to make them Yankees
equivalents of the West, the long rebuild strategy more than makes sense – it may be the
only way to go.

City Administrator Fred Blackwell talks about the Coliseum City concept. The only thing
missing was a white flag.
Now let’s circle back to yesterday’s press conference. It was accompanied by a letter to
MLB from Mayor Jean Quan (PDF). The letter affirms the City’s commitment to the A’s
and outlines the support it can provide for its (now) two sites: Victory Court and
Coliseum City. Here’s what was written about Victory Court:

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Based on updated analysis, the City believes that the costs associated with the Victory
Court ballpark project entitlements, land acquisition, and completion of site
improvements and infrastructure have changed substantially since its earlier
estimates and that those costs remain in the $250 million range. Although the mix of
funding sources has been modified, the City remains confident that it will be able to
deliver on its commitment to fund each of those elements. With regard to timeline, we
believe we can deliver a site, which includes land assembly, full entitlement of the
Ballpark project, and completion of infrastructure by November 2014.
The City claims that a new ballpark would be ready for the 2016 season. But that’s
wrong. Assuming they were able to assemble the land and infrastructure pieces,
construction would take 24-30 months from the ready date. That puts the opening of
the Victory Court ballpark at 2017, not 2016. Remember, this is only one year after
Victory Court was unveiled, with Quan saying when she got the mayor gig that Victory
Court could be “fast-tracked“. Does 2017 sound like fast-tracking to you?
Beyond the problem grasping the schedule, there’s a major problem with the $250
million. City says that the “mix of funding sources has been modified”, which may be
code for a reaction to the coming changes in redevelopment. Regardless, it’s clear that
the money for this project would come from redevelopment, which means that the bulk
of it would come from some form of TIF (federal grants? Don’t make me laugh.).
Pushing the completion of the project out to 2017 suddenly becomes convenient. Why?
The state’s plan to redirect “excess tax increment” would run for as much as the next five
annual state budgets, with the system reverting back to normal once the budget crisis
ends. As 2017 approaches and developers start to move on speculation near an
approved-for-construction, vetted-by-MLB Victory Court site, property taxes should
rise, which means that funding for the $250 million land/infrastructure piece should
materialize. But there’s a fundamental flaw with the plan. Does anyone honestly believe
that redevelopment will simply go back to normal and the state’s budget woes will be
fixed in the next five years? The money to be realized from redirect redevelopment funds
is only a small fraction of what’s needed to bridge the budget gap. Already, Governor
Brown is pushing hard for new taxes next year and massive automatic budget cut
triggers thanks to ongoing monthly revenue shortfalls. Then there’s the looming
possibility that redevelopment will be abolished or transformed into a form that
requires a new tax structure and local ballot measures.
Now on to Coliseum City. Exactly one year ago, I wrote an analysis of the Coliseum’s
plans to build a new stadium for the Raiders along with ancillary development. Back
then the plan looked like this:

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Something’s missing on the left side of the drawing.
The new version:

Coliseum City with third venue

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Most of the immediate ancillary development has been moved to in-between the venues
and along 880. The scope has gotten much bigger. At 750 acres, the new initiative
requires two specific plans, one for each side of 880. Coliseum City (at least the
immediate area) is conceived of as three venues plus L.A. Live. It would require all three
tenant teams to pony up most or all of the cost for their new or improved venues, with
the possibility of ancillary revenue to help pay the bills. City is pitching the concept as
having two big advantages over other cities or sites: No EIR required and land already
owned by the City. While it’s correct that the environmental process should be
streamlined, I think that having a third venue will require at least some form of EIR
since planners have to account for the possibility of three events happening
simultaneously and the impacts that would occur from that kind of situation. As for
land, okay. And? The Coliseum has already been dismissed by MLB, so why pitch it as a
feasible site now? Nothing has changed to explain how anyone can (not) pay for a
privately financed ballpark there.
When I got word of the Friday event, I was curious, then suspicious. First of all, why do
this on a Friday? What was the rush? Obviously, it was a reaction to the news that the
Warriors are exploring an arena deal at China Basin. Here’s the irony of the situation:
While the Giants are exploring with the Warriors a way to leave Oakland, Oakland has
been consulting with the Giants on ways to derail the A’s efforts to move to San Jose.
Strange bedfellows, indeed. Oakland’s strategy has turned into having a viable backup
plan if San Jose doesn’t pan out, in which case not being able to deliver by 2015 or 2016
doesn’t matter since the A’s have no other choice in the Bay Area.
Very few members of the public were present since there was little advance notice. City
could have drafted a resolution that would have been discussed at a future City Council
session, but decided not to. Instead it was a short press conference with a short Q&A.
That’s what it’s come to. A feeble punt of a letter. Even Quan’s letter ends on an odd
We are advocating for the A’s to remain in Oakland because we believe that sports
franchises can lead to economic growth. So long as a team creates jobs and enhances
economic development in the City, then we will encourage them to remain in Oakland.
My advocacy for keeping the A’s is not about baseball or a particular sports franchise,
it is about doing what is best for the City. I am convinced that Oakland has the best
weather, transportation, fan base and sites available to MLB.
It’s all about what the City gets out of it. It’s not about the franchise. That’s refreshingly
honest. Yet in the same paragraph Quan touts the sites, process delayed and shaky as
they are, as the best. It’s this kind of fragmented, incongruous argument that melts
under even the lightest scrutiny that’s had me so frustrated lo these many years.
With that, we have two big cases of retreating. The A’s know the new economic
landscape, what steps they have to take to address it, and what shortfalls they face even
if they achieve their immediate goals. Oakland has been flailing with its incoherent
strategy, not revealing details or taking important steps. When I spoke to Doug Boxer
yesterday, I told him that showing progress on an EIR matters. Milestones matter. He
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said it didn’t matter since the decision rested with one man (Bud Selig), and that the
average fan doesn’t care. I was flabbergasted. What’s the point of having a Facebook
operation if the average fan doesn’t matter? Why even have a press conference? He’s
right about one thing, that there are no parties involved in this mess with clean hands. I
came away saddened and I felt like a little bit of my soul died. Thankfully I had a few
beers and nice conversation with LeAndre, then went to a friend’s donation party later
that night. I could have drunken myself into a stupor, but I chose to ease up because I
wanted to write this long article. Because I’m sick of the bullshit. It needs to stop. We
need to move forward. Maybe the end is coming soon, maybe it isn’t. I’m not sure if I
want to keep writing this blog if things don’t or can’t change. They say it’s always darkest
before dawn, right? It’s pitch black right now.

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December 12, 2011
The future at the Coliseum boils down to this.
Two areas defined for the Coliseum redevelopment plan. Area 1 is called "Coliseum
City". Dotted orange lines are borders, not solid blue lines (zoning).


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I’ve been reading the meat of the Oakland Coliseum Area Specific Plans RFP. It has
some clearly outlined goals:
• To maintain a world class sports and entertainment complex
• To attract major technology or science employers to the campus across 880 from the
Coliseum (a.k.a. Zhone)
• Create jobs
• Provide long-term benefits to the East Oakland community
• Support the airport
During Friday’s press conference, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan revealed that six firms
have submitted proposals based on the RFP. It wasn’t immediately clear if the bids were
based on both areas (Coliseum City, Oakland Airport Business Park) or just one. Either
way I’m interested in seeing what will happen. As I’ve written previously, the process is
going to take some time to complete. This is not an environmental impact report. That,
and EIRs for specific items if they are deemed large enough to require such studies,
would come later. The scope is large, as it should be if it’s covering 750 acres. It includes
an advisory that any consultants should plan for 25 project meetings with city staff, 8
community workshops, and 12 public meetings with the Planning Commission and City
The interesting about the RFP is not that in the list of alternatives, it asks for one in
which the A’s leave the Coliseum complex. In light of recent news about the Warriors
being lured to SF and the possibility that the Raiders may join the 49ers in Santa Clara,
what’s surprising is that there is no alternative that considers what would happen if all
three tenant teams leave. At this admittedly early juncture, it seems a lot more likely
that there will be only one or two teams left at the Coliseum in ten years than all three. It
may be more likely that no teams will remain as opposed to the three.
In the City’s efforts to appease the Raiders, they’ve left huge openings for the Warriors
and A’s to exploit if they wanted to leave. The Warriors have it good. The region is crazy
for pro basketball as a product. The bar is astonishingly low for perceived success. Joe
Lacob and Peter Guber (and Bob Piccinini, ahem) know that the Warrior fanbase will
follow the team across the bay without batting an eyelash, and if some group of proOakland fans chose to protest, they’d be easily replaced by fans in the West Bay. We’ve
been chronicling the A’s efforts to stay and leave for over 6 1/2 years here, so I don’t
need to rehash all of that. As for the Raiders, consider this: it was the NFL, not the
49ers, that put together much of the $850 million of financing for the Santa Clara
stadium, including Goldman Sachs. Does anyone honestly think that the NFL and
Goldman Sachs would do that if they weren’t going to lean heavily on the Raiders to play
in Santa Clara, at least for a decade? The agreement drawn up with the City of Santa
Clara supposedly has the team and the NFL on the hook for debt service, so it’s
reasonable to think the Raiders will be nudged south. The NFL doesn’t give out it “G-3″
loans to just anyone. It doesn’t want to do it twice in the Bay Area if it can help it,
especially if another $150 million is in play for a stadium in either LA or San Diego.

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A proactive, instead of reactive, government would at least explore the possibility of no
teams at the Coliseum just to suss out the potential of the area post-pro sports. Pride
and the lingering debt on the stadium and arena are pushing the City in a different
direction that may not be very realistic. The challenges for Oakland in developing the
Coliseum area are many:
• Cost to build new stadia or significantly improve the arena have to be borne by the
teams. At a half-billion for W’s or A’s and $1 billion for the Raiders, the cost gives an
owner pause.
• The likelihood for a big name employer to take the Zhone campus is slim. The City
tried to pitch the campus as one of its two bids to lure the Lawrence Berkeley Labs
second campus. That lost out to Brooklyn Basin Oak-to-Ninth, though LBL has
delayed the announcement of the new campus location until next year.
• With each tenant that leaves, that’s one less anchor to attract developers. Based on the
number of games and usage, the Raiders should be the easiest one to let go of since
they only play 10 games a year. A ballpark has 82 games, an arena 42+ and concerts
and other events. That makes it doubly puzzling that they’d go so hard for the Raiders.
Let’s be clear about something. It makes sense for the City of Oakland to think about the
future. They shouldn’t think with tunnel vision. The RFP mentions baseball twice, and
specifically figures the Raiders in as part of the future. The City needs to work on all
possibilities, not just the Raiders or a pie-in-the-sky Coliseum City development. No
matter how Mayor Quan tries to spin the process in Oakland as “easy”, figuring out what
to do the Coliseum 10, 20 years down the road is anything but. The plan needs to be
comprehensive. As the process starts in earnest over the next year, I hope that Oakland
residents start asking the tough questions. They deserve real answers. They’ll have their
chance in the workshops and hearings.

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December 20, 2011
The A’s have announced that there will be a FanFest prior to the 2012 season, and this
time it’ll be a real event! FanFest 2012 will be held at Oracle Arena on Sunday, January
29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re a season ticket holder or have made a deposit on
season tickets for the 2012 season, you can RSVP for free tickets. If not, tickets are $8
for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is free.
In the past the A’s have struggled to get a corporate sponsor for the event, so it’s good to
know that CSN California is doing the honors this time around – and hopefully for years
to come.
Why Oracle Arena? According to the schedule, a Monster Energy AMA Supercross event
is being held on January 28 at O.co Coliseum. Nothing like seeing hills of dirt instead of
lush green grass to harsh one’s mellow.

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January 8, 2012
We now know how Oakland will replace all of those lost redevelopment dollars:
Foreigners! At least that’s the program according to today’s Trib report by Angela
Before I go further, I have to give credit to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan for going this
route. It has some potential, and it’s something that we’ve discussed on the blog
previously as it pertains to a foreign investment in a new Sacramento Kings arena.
While it’s unfortunate that neither she nor the City Council have had the “adult
conversation” I argued for in the post, at least Oakland’s been resourceful enough to
identify a path forward.
It makes sense for Oakland to look for creative, out-of-the-box methods to attract
investment to the City, and the federal government’s EB-5 program is one of them. Quan
has gone to China to look for investors, and may be onto something with EB-5. The
program allows immigrants a green card if they put $1 million or more into a new or
“troubled” American businesses. Investors also have to create 10 full-time jobs with each
application. That money requirement goes down to $500,000 in the case of rural or
high unemployment areas, Oakland being one of the latter. Pool enough of these
together and a company may have enough capital to move forward.
The Bay Area Regional Center is a government-certified investment firm whose charter
is to bring in foreign investment under the EB-5 program. Its service area is most of the
Bay Area and Sacramento. Yet the projects it identifies as most ready for investment are
three in Oakland. That’s not surprising because BARC is based in Jack London Square,
with one of its principals being Oakland developer Jim Falaschi. In fact, BARC is trying
to bring in nearly $70 million for Signature’s stalled Oak-to-9th project. (Signature is
also trying to get Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to build its next campus there too.) The
Trib article notes that BARC was involved in the $8 million Tribune Tower deal, though
records of actual foreign investment in the project are murky. An admission that BARC
“is still looking” for a project 2 1/2 years after opening, while honest, is not encouraging.
That’s not to say that EB-5 programs don’t attract investment. Chinese investors put
$249 million into the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, though that money didn’t go
directly into the Barclays Center arena. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, $1.5
billion has come into the U.S. from foreign investors through EB-5. Like any
government program, it’s rife with bureaucratic delay. Applications have often taken
months to process. One report this week indicates there are some kinks to work out as
the program grows. It can be difficult for foreign investors to separate the good
investments from the poor ones based on sales pitches from needy businesses who could
easily inflate their projects’ potential.

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As cities start to look for alternate avenues for investment, the market for foreign
investment will start to get competitive. For Oakland, the biggest issue may be, well,
Oakland. Foreigners can understand investing in New York, Los Angeles, or San
Francisco. They also get things like ski resorts or wineries. Oakland, for obvious reasons,
is a tougher sell. It’s possible that Oakland will need to claim multiple success stories
before they can attract enough investors for a major project like Coliseum City. There’s
still the problem of getting team owners and leagues to buy in. They’re the head while
the foreign investors are the tail. Every application is an investment, not just $500k for
a green card. It’s going to take a lot of selling – and even more believing – for Oakland to
pull off major funding with EB-5. Or as economist Scott Barnhart, writing for EB5info,
wrote in response to a NY Times editorial:
For example, if the 34 floor tower typically used for retail, office space and/or
residential purposes did not qualify in New York, one can be assured that states with
the highest unemployment levels are not likely close substitutes for a Manhattan
address for either the developer or prospective investors, so this project would likely be
shelved. Similarly, a large condominium in Florida will not sell if located in a high
unemployment area away from the coast instead of a lower unemployment area on
the coast, yet the labor will be imported to the site.
There’s a reason why O29 isn’t taking off. And it’s the same reason why Victory Court
and Coliseum City probably won’t take off either. It’s still worth a shot, at least from the
City’s perspective.
Finally, the EB-5 program is limited to 10,000 approved visas per year, potentially
limiting investment. Compared to going the regular (and now shuttered) redevelopment
route with its self-contained process, EB-5, with all of its marketing, multiple
stakeholders, and delay, may be tantamount to climbing Mt. Everest.
To read more about EB-5, check out the EB5news site and Twitter feed, and EB5info.

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January 11, 2012
Update 11:00 PM – Mark Purdy has a recap of today’s “events.”
MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom reports that while Commissioner Bud Selig’s three-man
panel made a presentation to the Executive Council today, there was nothing new to
report on the Oakland/San Jose situation. The panel has presented information at
different intervals, so this is no surprise. However, remember that everything comes
from the top down: panel presents to Executive Committee, then the issue (probably)
goes to the Relocation Committee, then to all of the owners for a vote (if it gets that far).
Spring training homes have no expressed territorial rights, so Lew Wolff’s efforts to put
together a deal with Mesa at HoHokam Stadium continue unabated. According to
Bloom, improvements to Hohokam would cost $10-15 million, with the city footing 60%
of the bill and the A’s 40%. I look forward to seeing the plans, and will dissect them as
you’d expect me to when the time comes.

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January 19, 2012
Two weeks ago, we laid out the possibilities for the A’s as a team-in-limbo at the
Coliseum for 2014. In today’s Trib, reporter Angela Woodall got comments from
principals from Alameda County and Oakland, the A’s and Raiders. Try as I might to
find a proper analogy for this increasingly awkward situation, I simply can’t. So we’ll go
with the comments instead.
A’s President Mike Crowley said he sent what he considered a fair lease extension
proposal in June that was met with a “convoluted” response from the Coliseum Joint
Powers Authority, which oversees the municipally owned complex.
“So that ended that conversation pretty quickly,” he said. “If we can’t work
something out here, we’ll have to find somewhere else to play.
“There are not many options. But we have time. We’re here in 2012, and we’re here
in 2013.”
Always eager to open mouth and insert foot, Ignacio De La Fuente “contributes” to the
“The reality is they’re the ones who have a timeline, not us,” said De La Fuente,
referring to the 2013 deadline and the lack of alternatives to the O.co Coliseum in
the Bay Area.
That’s strange. The A’s are the only ones with a timeline? Didn’t MLB want the A’s
playing in a new venue by 2015? Comments like that and Mayor Jean Quan’s suggestion
that Victory Court could be acquired and entitled by November 2014 (making a 2015
opening impossible) aren’t going to convince MLB that Oakland is really serious about
this. Couple that with the ongoing discussions with the Raiders, and you get the sense
that the A’s aren’t exactly the highest item on the priority list among the Oakland-based
sports franchises.
As I mentioned in the previous post, Oakland has little incentive to renew the lease at
terms similar to what the teams are paying now. Both teams pay around $1 million each
season with some additional revenue thrown in for good measure, not nearly enough to
take care of the $20 million in debt service (equally split between Oakland and Alameda
County), not to mention the $500k in field conversion costs. The Coliseum Authority is
right to angle for more money to cover debt service and costs, but they can’t get too
aggressive. If they try to hike the rent to $5 million or more, the A’s will have to consider
whether that’s a good deal as opposed to the opportunity cost of improving an existing
stadium somewhere else. They’ve already done it at Buck Shaw, adding 3,500 seats and
improving the facilities for $4 million. My guess at this point is $3 million for either the
A’s or Raiders for 2014, and an option year if new stadium complications arise. That’s a

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fair amount given the market conditions, which are favorable for Oakland in the short
term but not favorable in the long term.
The Raiders are a factor in this as well. Movement in the direction of a new stadium
somewhere as opposed to improving the existing Coliseum makes temporarily sharing
the Coliseum less impactful for the Raiders. At least the Raiders have an existing NFL
stadium option should talks sour with the Coliseum Authority: Candlestick Park. In
2010 the 49ers extended their lease at The ‘Stick through 2014, allowing for a smooth
transition to Santa Clara if all of the funding lines up properly. Coliseum City would
displace both teams for at least two years (perhaps on a staggered schedule), making it
even more difficult to accommodate the A’s and Raiders sufficiently.
Several Oakland officials, including former City Attorney John Russo, have said that the
A’s have misrepresented themselves and their intentions when getting the last two
extensions signed in 2007 and 2010. That argument never held water to me, because
there was always a termination fee that the A’s had to pay if they left Alameda County. If
that isn’t an acknowledgement of the situation, I don’t know what is. The Raiders have a
similar clause in their lease, yet they aren’t getting vilified nearly as much for talking to/
about Santa Clara and Los Angeles. I suppose it all comes down to what the parties care
about – getting a deal done as opposed to having good optics about potential deals. If
both teams leave Oakland, optics won’t matter one iota and the chickens, in the form of
voters, will come home to roost. Then again, maybe not? I suspect there is a large
percentage of the populace in Oakland that will be thankful that the City didn’t get
screwed Mt. Davis-style all over again. That day of reckoning is drawing closer.

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January 26, 2012
Last night I caught much of the Oakland City Council/Redevelopment Agency special
session, which was held to discuss the impending shutdown of ORA and CEDA, the
City’s economic development arm. Plenty of angry citizens and city employees were on
hand to voice their displeasure with the 105 layoffs and cutbacks to numerous programs
and nonprofits. It was an alternately sad and angry meeting, and the presence of Occupy
Oakland protestors didn’t help advance the discourse.
The Council passed a resolution in support of SB 659 (Padilla), a bill requesting a two
month “stay of execution” of RDAs. It appears to be symbolic, as numerous legislators
have said that it’s unlikely that the bill will make it out of committee and Governor
Brown would reject it if it ever landed on his desk.
Of the Mayor and City Council, only Councilmember Libby Schaaf actually pegged the
situation down cold. She said that the City Council was in denial about the future of
redevelopment. Mayor Jean Quan tried to deflect any criticism early on by saying that
the City had set aside the $40 million “ransom” payment and was planning to move
forward with reduced scope redevelopment, as many other cities and counties were.
Quan also mentioned that the City had heard in November (probably around the time of
the oral arguments) that there was a possibility that RDAs throughout the state would
be shuttered. Puzzlingly, the Mayor and Council did not make any contingency plans at
that point or at any other time through the end of the year.
Worse, Quan has had limited discussions with the public employees unions about the
impact. Today on KQED’s Forum, host Michael Krasny asked about those limited and
belated discussions. Quan replied that she made a call to a union rep the night the
Supreme Court’s decision to shutter RDAs was handed down, plus one meeting last
Saturday and one other meeting between City Administrator Deanna Santana and SEIU
on the 9th. That’s it. Things really got testy at the session when Councilmember Nancy
Nadel asked Santana if she would be willing to take a paycut from her $278,000 salary.
Santana didn’t answer directly and said she’d have to consult her attorney. To the City’s
credit, they already done 10% across the board cuts in the last budget cycle.
Unfortunately, that didn’t take into account the redevelopment shutdown. Now, just as
last year, the City is looking at three different budget scenarios and will vote on one to
put forward including redevelopment shutdown-related impacts. It’s also in a special
kind of flux as it has 450 redevelopment projects that it is waiting for the State to
determine whether some or all of them can move forward.
Callers on Forum echoed many of the sentiments of commenters at the session last
night. The City was late to react, took things for granted, had their heads in the sand,
etc. And that’s where it gets me. There is a clear pattern of behavior here. On three very
disparate issues: Occupy Oakland, the budget post-redevelopment, and the state of the
sports franchises, the City has routinely and consistently been late to react and lacking
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in its planning efforts. It has also waffled on occasion, something directly related to
confusion that comes from the lack of planning. That is simply pathetic. Oakland needs
clearer, more focused leadership now more than ever. Its residents deserve that. Forget
the sports franchises for a moment. There are life and death, real quality-of-life issues at
stake here. Hiding and not having an ongoing dialogue with your employees and
constituents is thoroughly inexcusable.
During the radio interview, Quan was quick to mention Oakland’s place on the NY
Times’ 2012 45 Places to Go list. Which is great, one of the mayor’s jobs is to sell the city
every chance she gets. At no time during that hour or during the session last night did
the fates of the sports franchises come up. No surprise there. When people say that
Oakland has more important things to do than worry about pro sports, there is
substance to that argument. That’s not a sign of weakness. That’s an acknowledgement
of reality.

P.S. San Jose voted Tuesday to shutter its own redevelopment agency. The lion’s share
of cuts that needed to be made were done six months ago.

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January 30, 2012
In a session with the print/broadcast media yesterday (before the blogger session), Lew
Wolff suggested that 2016 would be a more realistic date for Cisco Field to open due to
the permitting process. To understand why this might be the case, it’s best to look at
what’s happening with the Earthquakes stadium project, only two miles northwest of
downtown San Jose.
Nearly a year ago the Quakes got a demolition permit for the Airport West/FMC plant
site. A large industrial building had to be torn down and the ground had to be graded for
the eventual construction. A soft groundbreaking ceremony was held, after which the
demo took three months. Now it’s the end of a January 2012 and the actual building
permit has yet to be granted, thanks in large part to objections by a neighborhood group
near the stadium site. San Jose’s Planning Commission will have a hearing on February
22, at which point all grievances and objections should be aired in public. If you read
this list of items to discuss regarding the project, you’ll see that it is on par with what has
been (and would continue to be) discussed for Cisco Field.
If slipping to 2016 is real it brings up one critical issue for the franchise in that the “2014
situation” stretches out to 2014-15. Either a two year lease  (maybe with an option year
just in case) would have to be negotiated with the Coliseum Authority or a two-year
temporary home would have to be found, the latter seeming less likely. There may also
be an inside baseball reason to slip a year: if MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig (thanks
for waiting) has a compensation plan worked out that is too costly for the A’s and/or the
other owners to swallow, allowing one less overlap year between the remaining
mortgage on AT&T Park and the opening of Cisco Field may be more palatable. To me
this is one of the more frustrating aspects of making such a deal. As I was pointing out to
Lone Stranger yesterday, high eight figures or more in compensation is a big deal for
anyone, including a billionaire who owns a franchise. I get that. Big picture, $75 million
is only 1% of MLB’s annual revenue. Stretched out over three years, it becomes 0.3%.
That amount shouldn’t cause extended bellyaching. It should be manageable.

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And that’s how the drive for a downtown Oakland ballpark ends – with a whimper.

Yet another dream dies.
The Trib’s Angela Woodall reports that as a result of redevelopment cuts, the Victory
Court ballpark site is now officially dead. We called it before the New Year, so it’s no
surprise. But wait, weren’t there two sites near Jack London Square?

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Left: JLS North. Right: Victory Court
JLS North was dropped quickly. Perhaps it was too expensive to acquire. Or maybe
there weren’t enough business interests pushing for the site. Whatever the reasoning
was, it wasn’t disclosed. Now Victory Court has also gone quietly into the night with
little explanation by those who pushed for it.
Let’s step back through memory lane on Victory Court. Our time writing about it, your
time reading about it, gone forever:

Oakland FD Training Site [4/13/09]
I called it! [12/8/09]
Navigator Called It! (Or Victory Court: An Overview) [12/14/09]
Questions without answers [4/26/10]
Oakland’s report and what it means [4/29/10]
Liveblog from the Oakland community meeting 5/1 [5/1/10]
Not so breaking news (EIR) [11/16/10]
Oakland Planning Commission Session 12/1 [12/1/10]
Put up or… [12/10/10]
A Cup of Joe with the Georges [12/13/10]
What’s next for Oakland? [12/22/10]
Quan talks tough as cities race [2/7/11]
News for 3/14/11 (hiring of negotiator Paul Jacobs)
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Waiting for the Victory Court EIR [4/14/11]
What we know about Oakland [9/30/11]
Retreat! [12/10/11]
It’s a bargain, I swear [12/14/11]
Oakland focuses on EB-5 funding to replace redevelopment funding [1/8/12]

I guess it’s Coliseum City or bust. Or something.

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February 2, 2012
Get ready for the ceremonial hard hats. The NFL has granted the 49ers $200 million in
G-4 loan funds, the financial linchpin in the team’s Santa Clara stadium plan. That
money, combined with the $800 million in loans put together by BofA, US Bank, and
Goldman Sachs, should make it possible for the team and the city to move forward with
a soft groundbreaking very soon. That would be followed by a modest demolition and
clearing of the parking lot, which has little but asphalt and parking safety light poles
running through it.
Not coincidentally, Santa Clara took a preemptive legal step and sued anti-stadium
group Santa Clara Plays Fair to stop them from getting the stadium project on the ballot
again. An unusual step, City Attorney Ren Nosky moved forward with this in order:
“to remove any uncertainty over this issue” and “establish once and for all” that the
project can’t go back to the ballot.
It’s an interesting move, and probably a good one for all concerned. It puts SCPF on the
defensive, because it’s likely that the city will have its legal argument at the ready and,
depending on how quickly the lawsuit in Santa Clara Superior Court is heard and how
much support SCPF gets from outside, the group may be ill-prepared. We’ll see if they
get the requisite support from the ACLU, as advertised. Presumably Ralph Nader’s
League of Fans should also be involved, though not from a legal funding standpoint.
The two sides will be arguing over the contents of the 400+75 page, two-part
Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA). There’s a lot of stake, because if the
court were to strike down parts or all of the DDA, the team’s financing could be at risk.
SCPF wants a new referendum, so if a judge rules that the DDA were partially or wholly
improper compared to the terms passed with the 2010 referendum, it’s a huge delay that
could, via the vote, kill the project entirely. For Jed York, the reasoning is probably
simpler – he wants to open the place in 2014. Even with the staggering cost of the venue,
it’s all the more reason to get a jump on being able to service the stadium’s debt. I figure
if the lawsuit were heard in the spring, the judgment could be wrapped up by summer at
the very least. Meanwhile, the city would be concurrently clearing the land. The stadium
would take 27-30 months to construct, so they could hit their target if absolutely
everything went right. If they experience a delay because of the lawsuit and/or
referendum, it’s pretty much a 2015 launch unless the team wants to split the 2014
season between Santa Clara and The ‘Stick. I may be a fly on the wall for some of the
Moving away from the legal realm, the terms of the NFL loan are curious in that they
aren’t forcing the Raiders to share the stadium in Santa Clara. The league is asking to
49ers to keep the Raiders in mind. This is something of a pivot, since last year I had
heard that if both Bay Area teams were to stay, one facility somewhere was the best
possibility. I suppose this is in keeping with the Raiders’ and Mark Davis’s city-agnostic
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stance. The Raiders in play for both Santa Clara and Los Angeles, and I have to believe
that the NFL likes that kind of flexibility. The more teams that could move to LA the
better. San Diego is one. The Vikings can’t get anywhere in the Minnesota legislature.
Buffalo will probably opt for small improvements to Ralph Wilson Stadium, for which
the G-4 program has a subset of rules for financing. Under new ownership, Jacksonville
is not in play for the time being. The St. Louis Rams appear to be at the greatest risk of
leaving, with onerous lease terms for the city and the team’s long LA legacy. It could play
out several ways:

49ers/Raiders in Santa Clara, Rams in LA
49ers in SC, Rams/Raiders in LA, Chargers in SD
49ers in SC, Raiders/Chargers in LA
49ers/Raiders in SC, Rams/Chargers in LA

What I don’t expect to happen is for the NFL to hand out three loans of $200 million to
Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and San Diego (or SC, Oakland, SD). For this CBA cycle and
the number of teams that need new venues, the NFL is probably working with a $1
billion cap on G-4 loans, with some allowance for improvements to older venues. The
previous CBA, which ran six years, had only three venues built during the period
(Cowboys Stadium, MetLife Stadium, Lucas Oil Field) and one that opened just as the
CBA period started (U. of Phoenix Stadium). The G-3 loan program then ran out of
money in early 2007, which should be a signal to all teams that are looking for the NFL
to pony up: he who hesitates is lost.

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February 8, 2012
Update 2/9 2:30 PM – KQED FM’s Nina Thorsen has posted a transcript of Wolff’s talk.
It seems that when Lew Wolff makes one of his frequent trips up from LA to the Bay
Area, he tries to pack as many appointments as possible. I mentioned during the August
interview that just after our discussion, he was going up to Oakland to chat with Mayor
Jean Quan. When we met in 2009, it was just after he met with San Jose Mayor Chuck
Reed. Today he discussed the A’s and Quakes at a San Jose Rotary lunch in downtown
San Jose, a day after he appeared on Bloomberg TV. The better to save on jet fuel, I
As usual, Wolff didn’t reveal in his talk with staunch ballpark proponent and Santa Clara
County Assessor Larry Stone. Much of what he’s said we’ve written about, so I won’t
both rehashing much of it. If you want a recap, read Merc scribe John Woolfork’s article.
BANG A’s beat writer Joe Stiglich was there, as was KQED’s Nina Thorsen, mic in hand.
The news of the day was this:
(Wolff) gave no indication why it wouldn’t go his way. But he also said nothing’s
changed with regard to the Giants’ position that Santa Clara County is theirs alone.
There’s been no discussion of a monetary figure for buying off the Giants’ territorial
claims, though Wolff noted the Giants didn’t pay the A’s to acquire them.
Now I don’t expect MLB or Wolff to say anything about T-rights negotiations, however
deep or frequent they’ve been. If the Giants hold fast to their no-negotiation stance, and
the A’s believe that they shouldn’t have to pay for T-rights, then it’s difficult to see what
Commissioner Bud Selig has to work with unless he decrees an amount or lets the
matter go to arbitration.
Wolff also said that the team would be named the “San Jose Athletics”, which is no
surprise. According to an AP report, there was Stomper doll on display with a San Jose
Athletics uniform on. One unaffiliated company has gone as far as mocking up logos
(non-MLB Properties infringing, of course) with San Jose and green and gold. The
results look quite professional, I have to say.
Stiglich mentioned that Wolff would like to hear a decision in a couple of months. At
some point we’re going to have to use Friedman Units or Kardashians in describing how
long this is taking. Right now, it’s 6 FU’s. It’ll happen when it happens, I suppose. Wake
me when there’s real news to report.

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March 22, 2012
On a panel at the 2012 IMG World Congress of Sports, Giants CEO/President Larry
Baer continued to flog the idea that the Giants own Santa Clara County. Via Sports
Business Journal:
During a panel discussion, he cited a “territorial grant” that allows the Giants to
market to Santa Clara County. Baer said the Giants franchise depends on revenue
derived from there, with 35 to 45 percent of its market coming from San Mateo and
Santa Clara counties.
I thought the number was 50%? Now it’s 35-45%. Two weeks ago it was 43% from Santa
Clara County alone. No wonder we can’t keep these numbers straight. Baer can’t either.
Baer went on to cite how the Giants got it done with good ole’ sweat and gumption. He
conveniently forgets one tiny little detail: When it comes to having billionaires ready to
coalesce and save the franchise, Oakland is no San Francisco. The two groups that
reportedly want to buy the A’s? Not from Oakland. Bob Piccinini? Not from Oakland. If
the team is going to be saved in Oakland, someone will have to step up from Oakland.
It’s one thing to talk about civic pride, another to have the means to act on it.

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March 24, 2012
Another week, another media morsel. If it’s not the Giants leaking information out or
Larry Baer defending the Giants’ territorial rights claims, it’s a national sports writer
pleading Lew Wolff’s case or Lew himself answering questions. To me, it feels more like
slow-motion tennis than baseball, and while I like tennis, this has gotten repetitive and
This time it’s Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal again with a plan to resolve the A’s-Giants
impasse. Rosenthal thinks that the Giants should be guaranteed a minimum revenue
amount against potential losses incurred from an A’s-to-San Jose move. He cites the
O’s-Nats deal as an example. However, while Peter Angelos got a $360 million sale price
guarantee and $75 million to start up MASN, I don’t believe that he got an annual
revenue guarantee ($130 million) as Rosenthal suggests. There’s a good deal of
conflicting information on this. It’s sort of a moot point because the O’s cleared the
supposed minimum in the first year of the agreement, 2005, and haven’t looked back.
Forbes’ estimated revenue for 2011 was $179 million.
Guaranteeing revenue for the Giants is a different matter. According to Forbes, the
Giants haven’t been below the $200 million revenue mark in three years. Last year the
Giants were in the top ten at $230 million, whereas the average revenue was $211
million (median: $201 million). I have to think that MLB, in its desperation to get some
kind of deal done, has floated a revenue guarantee number to the Giants, to which Baer
has balked. I’ve argued frequently for some kind of compensation plan that includes
revenue, but a revenue guarantee of $230 million gives me pause, so I imagine it gives
Bud Selig and the other owners pause as well. Then again, Wolff is projecting a bump
from $150-160 million to $230 million for the A’s, so for baseball the result should be a
net positive.
Rosenthal also talked to Tulane law professor Gabe Feldman about the prospects of an
offensive antitrust lawsuit against baseball. Feldman characterized such a suit’s chances
as very slim, a “real longshot”. Also ready with a quote was San Jose City Councilman
and future mayoral hopeful Sam Liccardo, who may see all of this baseball posturing
end up as part of his election platform if the saga continues at its current pace.
The sucker punch is saved for the end:
Only a few hardy souls — a latter-day version of the flat-earth society — believe the
Athletics still can make it in Oakland. San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area. A
new ballpark in the city not only would transform the Athletics’ business model, but
baseball’s as well.
There will be some Oakland defenders who say things like, “If you tell a lie long enough
people believe it”. No, that’s not it. Sometimes a spade is a spade. If it wasn’t the case,
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Oakland wouldn’t be pinning its urban revival hopes on a pie-in-the-sky plan like
Coliseum City. If it wasn’t truthful, Signature wouldn’t be trying to offload O29 on any
Tom, Dick, or Harry who might be interested in land. It’s telling that one of the chief
pro-Oakland arguments is that baseball doesn’t have the wherewithal to change T-rights
on Wolff’s behalf. That’s all well and good, but how is that confidence-inspiring for

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April 14, 2012
Throughout the first homestand, I walked around the Coliseum to take stock of any
changes in the stadium. After Wednesday’s game, I fired off an email to A’s VP of
Stadium Operations David Rinetti to see if I missed anything. Here’s what I saw:

New ticket kiosks on BART Plaza and outside Gates C & D
Speakers above plaza level seats
New signage (navigation, ads)
Paint along concourses, especially the bleacher concourse
New food items such as the pork nachos

Rinetti added that in the future the West Side Club will feature a game-used
merchandise booth, which sounds cool. As to the scoreboards that were potentially
going to be replaced? “Not on the schedule,” according to Rinetti.

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April 21, 2012
You have to hand it to Roger Goodell. He has a playbook for getting stadium deals moving, and
by God it works. Goodell lets the team owner come up with a proposal, and if it stalls he comes
in with Goldman Sachs in tow and/or a threat to move, implied or otherwise. As a result, Santa
Clara put up $900 million in public loans and cash for the 49ers stadium project, while the
Vikings – after much debate – are getting a deal crafted in the Minnesota legislature that could
provide up to $800 million in public assistance for stay home.
In the Vikings’ case, all it required was a little open-ended discussion about Los Angeles and a
sighting of owner Zygi Wilf’s private jet in SoCal. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has become the
Oscar Goodman of football, an outsider but serious power player whose city’s existential threat
to other cities forces them to the table. The Vikings deal is by no means complete, but it’s further
along than any talks to date, so that has to be encouraging for both Vikes fans and Wilf.
On Thursday, the 49ers officially broke ground on their new home as of the 2014 season. The
stadium will undoubtedly be impressive and significantly better than Candlestick Park in just
about every way imaginable, except affordability. (I thought I was going to get some pictures of
the event but that fell through, sorry.)  Now we can talk in earnest about the Bay Area hosting a
future Super Bowl or World Cup matches. It’s pretty exciting, despite my misgivings about the
And it’s with that news that I can sit back, somewhat detached from the plan and say that I’m
jealous of the 49ers right now. I don’t want a major handout for the A’s or Goldman Sachs
waiting in the wings. I don’t need a stadium that costs more than a billion dollars. I just want a
new place where I can take friends, where it doesn’t feel like pulling teeth to ask them if they
want to go. A place that celebrates baseball, not merely hosts it at best adequately. Despite what
some readers think, I don’t care where it’s built. If that’s Oakland, great. If it’s San Jose, so be it.
Even Sacramento I wouldn’t mind so much at this point. My stance has always remained steady
all this time – as long as it’s privately financed and I can get to it locally, I’m all for it. On this
blog and elsewhere we have these endless debates about what it will take, territorial rights, what
resources specific cities can offer, and there will be plenty of time for that later. For now let’s
simply look at the leagues.
Mostly, I’m jealous that the NFL can get its stuff together on stadia so much better than MLB. It
doesn’t matter that on the whole NFL stadia cost twice as much. The projects should be far
riskier because of the expense and the inherent lack of utilization. In the post-downturn, postredevelopment California, the toughest market to build anything new, the NFL will have beaten
MLB by at least two years, maybe more. In the time that Bud Selig has had his panel discussing
what to do about the A’s, we could’ve had a fancy (or not) groundbreaking. We could be talking
about the future. Instead, we’re treading water as usual. No one can tread water forever.

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May 3, 2012
Today at 10 AM, there will be a press conference at Clorox headquarters in Downtown
Oakland about efforts to keep the A’s in town.
Clorox is handling the media advisories for the event. That’s all I know for the moment.
Since I’m still in San Diego, I won’t be able to attend. I’ll keep an eye out for news as it
comes in.

Update 10:30 AM – A tweet from KRON’s Haaziq Madyun:

Haaziq Madyun @KRON4HMadyun
Oakland business leaders say they have identified a group willing to buy the A's and
keep them in Oakland.
11:10 AM – From Baseball Oakland’s Facebook page:
Today Clorox CEO Don Knauss has announced continued support by the East Bay
buisness community in Keeping the A’s in Oakland. He is willing to work with current
ownership, however if that cannont happen he is willing to work with another group
that is willing to buy the team and pledge support for them (sic) 
11:30 AM – I just got off the phone with Lew Wolff. He confirmed that the team is not
for sale and that ownership has explored all options in Oakland.

11:55 AM – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has put out a press release.
May 3, 2012
Clorox and Other Major East Bay Businesses Join Mayor Jean Quan to Voice Their
Support to Keep the A’s in Oakland
OAKLAND, CA– Chairman and CEO of The Clorox Company Don Knauss, joined
by several of the largest companies located in the East Bay, today stood with
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to announce support for keeping the Athletics baseball
team in Oakland.
At the event, Knauss stated, “Clorox strongly and enthusiastically endorses the
efforts of the East Bay business community and City of Oakland to keep the
Oakland A’s here in a new, world-class stadium. As former president and CEO of
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the Minute Maid Company, I was actively involved in the design of the new
Houston Astros downtown ballpark and subsequently secured naming rights to
change the name to Minute Maid Park. From that experience, I can speak firsthand to the revitalization a world-class ballpark can bring to a city. Certainly,
Oakland would benefit greatly from the jobs, tourism and vitality a new stadium
would bring.
“The business community is committed to helping drive an effort to support the
current ownership group in their quest for a new stadium so long as they are
committed to staying in Oakland,” Knauss went on to say. “However, if the current
ownership group is not committed to Oakland, we want to make clear that
Oakland and the East Bay business community are ready to step up to the plate to
help ensure the A’s stay home where they belong in Oakland. We’re confident we
have identified an ownership group with the financial wherewithal to buy the team,
keep them here and get a new stadium built.”
Added Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, “I want to thank Clorox and members of the
business community for doing what is necessary to keep the A’s in Oakland.
Developing a world-class sports, entertainment and business complex as a new
home for the A’s will generate thousands of jobs and create economic development
opportunities for this City.”
At the event, the East Bay business leaders said they are prepared to work with the
City, County and A’s ownership to help secure corporate sponsors in the following

Stadium Naming Rights

Major Corporate Sponsorship Commitments – Significant anchor
sponsorships, including seat licenses and luxury boxes. (A number of the companies
have already made substantial deposits into an escrow account to demonstrate
their seriousness when it comes to such sponsorship commitments.)

Other Regional Sponsorships — Given the size and breadth of the East
Bay, home to nearly 2.5 million people, representing one of the country’s strongest
economic markets and huge marketing and sponsorship opportunities, the business
leaders made clear they would work with the City and the County to identify
additional corporate supporters throughout the entire Bay Area and beyond,
including Sacramento and Stockton.

Reaching Out to Business Partners – Given the size of the companies,
many have relationships with business partners who would have a strong interest
in supporting the team and the region as sponsors.

Identifying Specific Industry Anchor Sponsor Opportunities – Pursuing
opportunities for the kind of anchor sponsorship relationships Major League
Baseball teams typically have in sectors like the airlines, health care, car
manufacturers, beverage and food companies, energy companies and major
consumer companies.
Among the East Bay businesses represented today are:

Bigge Crane & Rigging
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Jobs and Housing Coalition
Kaiser Permanente
Matson Navigation Company
Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Pandora Internet Radio
Reynolds & Brown
Signature Development Group
Wendel Rosen Black & Dean
World Market

If the team is not for sale, and East Bay backers would prefer new ownership, where
does that leave us? No different than yesterday or a week ago, I suppose. The game plan
by many of the Oakland-only community has been to wait out the process and hope that
Selig denies Wolff the rights to San Jose, then come forward with a new ownership
group and stadium plans, which may or may not be tied to Coliseum City. The problem
with this is that how do you impress Selig, who according to many of the community is
out to get Oakland, without some serious level of detail and planning? They’ve had over
three years to put something cohesive and coherent together. Press conferences like
these, which seem to occur every couple of months, are good at generating media
interest. Beyond that, where’s the substance?
Clorox deserves a lot of credit here. Don Knauss is driving this forward, and as I’ve
mentioned before, every stadium campaign needs a champion. Knauss might be that
There’s also one key difference between what’s happening with the A’s and what’s going
on with the Sacramento Kings. The Maloofs are broke. The Wolff/Fisher group is
anything but broke. The only party who can “force” a sale is Selig, and he’d need a very
good case to make that happen.

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May 4, 2012
Clorox CEO Don Knauss has been making the rounds, first on KQED yesterday, then on
KNBR this morning, and finally on The Game during the lunch hour. All three are worth
consuming, so if you haven’t done that yet, get through all three links, then come back
and read the rest of this post. Cool?

Okay. Knauss was very consistent with his messaging, which should be no big deal for a
CEO of a high profile public company. The bullet points from his pitch were these:

Knauss and other East Bay business interests would like to meet with Lew
Wolff and perhaps MLB to discuss options in Oakland.

If current ownership (Wolff/Fisher) continues to believe that there is no
shot in Oakland, Knauss has put together a potential ownership group with members in
the East Bay and others in SoCal that could buy the team, keep it in Oakland, and build
a ballpark.

The group has identified three sites in Oakland. The preferred sites are the
two on the waterfront: Howard Terminal and Victory Court. The Coliseum complex is
the third site, though it is not “preferred”.

Financing for the stadium would be patterned after the model the Giants
used to build AT&T Park. This includes the selling of seat licenses.
During The Wheelhouse, Mychael Urban pressed Knauss for answers about plan
specifics and why the group has never directly contacted Wolff. Knauss replied that in
the first case, he wanted to at least until after the May owners meetings (though he
didn’t say anything would be released at that point), and in the second case, he “wanted
to respect the process” MLB has put forth with the commissioner’s panel and so forth.
Well then, how does one go about making it work as the Giants did in China Basin?
Thankfully, some very smart economists – John M. Quigley, Eugene Smolensky, and
Stephen J. Agostini – have gone to the trouble of diagramming the process.  The
flowchart below comes from a paper titled Stickball in San Francisco. It’s better known
as the San Francisco Giants’ case study in the book Sports, Jobs, and Taxes by noted
sports economists Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Ready? Here’s the secret recipe:

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Step-by-step instructions on how to follow the Giants’ plan.
See? Easy peasy, no sweat right? Sure, there are a few things that are different, such as
the need for a ballot measure. Oakland has long claimed that it doesn’t need one. That
claim originated from two theories: that either Oakland could leverage redevelopment
money or the powers within the Coliseum Authority (JPA). The latter still stands
technically. The former? As long as Oakland’s pledge to take care of costs to put the site
together stands, and those site costs keep rising (Victory Court was at last count $250
million), the Mayor and City Council are going to have an extremely difficult time
convincing the voters that they shouldn’t vote on it. Even in the Coliseum’s case, going
without a vote is inherently very risky because many of the people on the JPA board are
standing office holders, such as Ignacio De La Fuente and Scott Haggerty. The stench of
the Mt. Davis deal still hangs thick and heavy over the Coliseum, and the Authority is
having trouble refinancing existing debt at the complex. Does anyone honestly think a
$2+ billion megaproject like Coliseum City won’t go to a vote? The project is calling for
its own streetcar! Maybe Knauss will don a Harold Hill costume the next time he does a
press conference.

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Then again, Knauss expressed a preference for one of the waterfront sites. We know that
Victory Court is incredibly expensive and that some current landowners aren’t exactly
going to roll over for a ballpark, even though they are great Oakland supporters. Maybe
it’s time to revisit Howard Terminal one more time. It’s difficult to see how the Howard
Terminal site would work. Matson, one of the key corporate supporters at yesterday’s
press conference, consolidated operations at HT several years ago. There’s no readily
available place to relocate Matson should they give up HT. I suppose it’s possible they
could give up a portion, say 15 of 50 acres, in exchange for some kind of break from the
Port. Then it just be a matter of dealing with the nearby power plant and prepping the
site, which would require completely new pilings/foundation work (just like AT&T
Park). Judging from the price tag for SF’s Piers 30 & 32, the cost would be around $80
million to start plus whatever the price is to compensate Matson. Whatever that total is,
it’s probably cheaper than Victory Court. (Personally I’d pick HT just because of its
proximity to Beer Revolution, but that’s just me.)
Finally, there’s the matter of seat licenses. Knauss and his partners think there’s a
market there. Lew Wolff has said there isn’t a market from the beginning. Who’s right?
I’ll defer to Wolff, who has access to the season and advance ticket sales rolls and has a
pretty good idea of what people are willing to pay for tickets and premium offerings. The
Giants’ $255 million financing package included $75 million from 15,000 charter seat
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licenses. That’s a $5,000 average upfront payment (available in installments, of course).
Is the market really there as Knauss claims? Consider for a moment that the 49ers are
selling seat licenses right now. The Raiders, if they get a new stadium built at the
Coliseum, will require their own seat licenses. They may also be in the mix for whatever
venue the Warriors cook up. The A’s would be entering the fray with, if using the
formula the Giants used, 20% of the ballpark cost, or $100 million of seat licenses. The
A’s don’t have the Giants’ 25,000-strong season ticket roll, or the reputation of having a
large number of premium ticket buyers (Green Collar Baseball, anyone?). So you’d have
three, possibly four teams selling seat licenses along with more expensive tickets. That’s
a good way to oversaturate the East Bay, a market which has historically shown trouble
maintaining solid fanbases unless the teams are ultra-successful. These financing terms
don’t work unless great support can be maintained through thick and thin, or at least if
some of the load can be sloughed off to corporate interests. Otherwise someone has to
make up the shortfall, and as we saw from the OFMA debacle, the results can be
disastrous. MLB and Selig know this, and they won’t be impressed just because someone
says “we can work it out”. Selig will want to see pledges, upfront payments, real tangible
proof that seat licenses can be supported and that there won’t be a shortfall that drags
down the franchise. The CBA has a provision that the A’s have to come off revenue
sharing by 2016, unless they’re still at the Coliseum. MLB is not going to approve a plan
that creates huge risk for the team and causes them to stay on revenue sharing even with
a new ballpark.
Perhaps the best predictor of how portable the Giants’ financing model is comes from a
2002 AP article which quotes former owner Peter Magowan and  Rob Tilliss, the JP
Morgan consultant who put the deal together. Magowan:
“You cannot expect a private ballpark to be built in Cincinnati or Milwaukee, there’s not
the economic base there. It’s not the Silicon Valley,” he says. “And we couldn’t do it
today. We were very lucky in our timing we had low interest rates and a very good
“It definitely is not a one-size-fits-all kind of model.”
Knauss’s argument is that economically, Oakland is closer to San Francisco or Silicon
Valley than it is to Cincinnati or Milwaukee. I find that hard to believe.

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May 18, 2012
There’s been a wide range of reaction from Bud Selig’s non-update yesterday.
• Gwen Knapp: “No decision means ‘no’ to the A’s. They aren’t getting the rights to San
Jose, not yet, not soon, not even over Larry Baer’s stone-cold corpse.”
• Mark Purdy: “And no action was taken — although Wolff’s quotes do indicate the blueribbon panel’s findings back up his contention that none of the Oakland stadium
‘proposals’ amount to anything.” (Purdy also brought up a potential antitrust case on
• Ray Ratto: “So [the owners] see no compelling reason to hurry toward a decision they
don’t want to make anyway.”
• Art Spander: “The solution to all this is for Wolff, who wants nothing to do with
authorities and business people in Oakland, a place he doesn’t live, to reach a
• Robert Gammon: “…it seems clear that the Giants’ presentation was more persuasive
and that the rest of the league has no intention of overruling the Giants’ opposition to
the A’s move.”
• Jon Heyman: “Some progress is seen in that a significant amount of discussion is
being dedicated to the A’s to the point where the talk has moved from committees to
baseball’s Executive Council.”
• Buster Olney: “The time has come for Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff to start
firing off lawsuits in effort to move to San Jose — or sell the team.”
• Ken Rosenthal: “Do not get distracted by any of this. The A’s focus is still on San Jose.
The focus of the entire sport is on how the A’s can get to San Jose.”
• All of that came from a few rather innocuous quotes from Bud Selig. At this point it
doesn’t matter what Selig did or didn’t say – the quotes have been twisted so
completely that anyone can weave their own “truth” from owners meetings.
Here’s what we knew going into the meetings:
• There would be no official action taken on T-rights.
That’s it. Both the A’s and Giants made presentations, which some believe is
encouraging and some don’t. Former Giants managing partner Bill Neukom was present
at the meetings, presumably to plead the Giants’ case. It seems likely that both teams
will continue to make presentations at future owners meetings until a decision is made.
The decision thing is the issue. The sad truth of the matter is that MLB doesn’t have to
decide anything anytime soon, just as Lew Wolff doesn’t have to sell the team anytime
soon. The A’s will stay afloat via revenue sharing through the end of the CBA, and as
long as Wolff and Billy Beane don’t get out in front of their skis in terms of payroll, the
team should continue to make money. In that short-term vein, the “best interests of
baseball” may be to keep the status quo. You could easily say that Selig is kicking the can
down the road, where his eventual successor will have to resolve the dispute. You might
also say that the tossed off comment about moving outside the Bay Area is strategic one
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meant to incite at least a little panic. That may have worked in Miami and Minneapolis,
but it’s not going to work here. It never has.
Eventually that short-term position will end and be replaced by a long-term, permanent
solution. That’s when some kind of decision will have to be made. Unfortunately for us
A’s fans, we have no idea when that might happen. There’s certainly no urgency on the
matter. Maybe MLB is waiting for the Giants to retire debt, though the prospect of the
team refinancing some of the remaining debt creates a gray area in its own right. The
post-redevelopment world hasn’t shaken out yet, and won’t for at least several months.
Until some of these variables settle, it’s in baseball’s best interests to keep both Oakland
and San Jose in play. For Selig to kill either option would be poor strategy on his part.
San Jose boosters and politicians may be frustrated, but at least the city has most of its
pieces in place. Oakland is finally getting some momentum thanks to Don Knauss,
though it’s too early to tell if that momentum is real and sustainable. As long as a
decision isn’t made on San Jose that shuts out Oakland, another lease extension at the
Coliseum can be negotiated. This vague flexibility even opens up the possibility that
Fremont could re-enter the picture, perhaps as soon as the next elected mayor takes
office in 2013.
The wildcard here would be if San Jose decides to unleash the legal hounds. Again, this
is where I think Selig’s M.O. comes into play. As long as Selig can say, “We’re still
studying this,” there’s no specific decision to point to that San Jose can build an
antitrust case around. Sure, they can make threats, but until someone files a case it
won’t mean much.
Until then, what we’ve got here is a Mexican standoff. How do those usually turn out?

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May 21, 2012
Just like that, Coliseum City is in jeopardy.
The interwebs are abuzz with reports that the Golden State Warriors and the City of San
Francisco are going to announce a Pier 30/32 arena deal as soon as this week. The team
has issued a non-denial denial, and the rumor appears to have multiple sources, which
makes this news possibly the proverbial smoke that will lead to fire.
If true this is terrible for the Coliseum City project’s prospects. By virtue of an arena’s
typical utilization, the arena part of the complex is a a major anchor that the project
needs. Losing the Warriors removes at least 43 home games from the schedule, totaling
800,000 annual spectators. Oakland/Alameda County could refashion the arena to
better attract more concerts and other types of events. The risk with that plan is that the
old arena in Oakland and the new arena in SF will be only 11 miles apart, so they’ll be
competing for exactly the same acts and events. The Warriors will have the advantage of
new technology to make their venue superior and more flexible for staging. They’ll also
have a great incentive to keep the arena as busy as possible since they’re footing the bill
for the construction cost. This affects HP Pavilion to a degree as well since it will be
overshadowed by its much newer competitor to the north. However, HP Pavilion is over
40 miles away, serving the South Bay. This sort of spacing is already evident in the Bay
Area with Chronicle Pavilion in Concord and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.
The two major LA arenas (Staples Center, Honda Center) are also a good distance apart,
allowing both to combine to serve the bulk of the LA market.
The W’s leaving means that the naming rights deal with Oracle, which runs through the
2015-16 season, has a very slim chance of being renewed. There’s little point for Oracle
to do so, as the marquee tenant will be in the process of vacating while the arena itself
will be at a competitive disadvantage compared to its competition across the bay. Even
though Oracle CEO Larry Ellison lost out to the Lacob-Guber group when bidding on
the Warriors two years ago, the SF Warriors brand should be more valuable than the GS
Warriors, making a potential naming rights deal something that Ellison should
Currently there’s about $95 million of debt outstanding at the Oakland/Oracle Arena.
With each lease year completed $5 million comes off, leaving a shortfall of $70 million
for the W’s to pay off if they leave at the end of the 2016-17 season. This amount would
be payable by the team regardless of whether they played in SF or Oakland. This is
because Oakland positioned Coliseum City as having a new arena to replace the existing
arena. This effectively adds $70 million to the cost of the new Oakland arena because
there’s little chance that Oakland/Alameda County will operate the new and old venues
side-by-side. If you were Joe Lacob and you knew that you’d have to pay $70 million
either way, why would you choose Oakland over SF?
This gets to the heart of Oakland’s problem in pitching Coliseum City to its tenants. All
three teams want much greater revenues, and just as important, greater control over
revenue streams and more independence from each either. They’ve been able to coexist
with little friction over the last decade, but that didn’t come about without a good deal of
previous strife as all three teams have had legal battles with the Coliseum Authority.
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Mayor Jean Quan has already put out yet another letter restating Oakland’s
commitment to the Warriors, just as she did with the A’s. What she and the JPA need to
do – which they haven’t done yet – is explain how Coliseum City will significantly
increase each tenant’s revenues (W’s rank 13th according to Forbes) compared to other
options. Instead we’re having discussions about whether or not Coliseum City can pay
for itself, which is a major perception problem. Most of the City’s arguments have been
about how Coliseum City will benefit Oakland, with little said about how each team will
benefit. Only the Raiders part of the project has any traction, thanks to ongoing
planning work designed around and with input from the team. Yet the Raiders continue
to entertain options outside Oakland just in case Coliseum City doesn’t take off. All three
teams and ownership groups know how difficult their respective plans are on their own.
To tie feasibility and risk into other parts is unnecessary, even foolish.
SF has shown its willingness to speed up the environmental review process when
needed, as it did with the America’s Cup project. A similar effort could be done for the
Warriors’ arena, with the caveat that the impacts for an arena will be significantly
different. The America’s Cup only occurs once every three years over a short, welldefined timeframe. An arena gets 800k visitors annually for NBA games plus another
500k or more for other events. Onsite parking at the W’s arena is expected to be only
1,000 spaces, leaving the team and city looking a few thousand more within the vicinity
to meet demand. It’ll be a challenge to get the W’s arena approved and built. SF’s
advantage is that it has successful precedents in AT&T Park and, coming soon, the
America’s Cup. That’s experience that matters.
This new SF arena plan is in its infancy, so it’s premature to call this one “in the bag”.
One thing’s for certain – the two parties are heavily motivated and appear to be making
measurable progress. If only we could say that about an A’s ballpark…

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May 27, 2012
I fear for Trib reporter Matt Artz’s email inbox, because it’s about to get pummeled.
In today’s edition, Artz tries to explain why Oakland’s three teams are varying shades of
noncommittal with regards to staying at the Coliseum, or even in Oakland in general.
For most of us who follow the situation closely, the information is pretty much old hat.
Still, it’s good to read someone in the local media deal it as plainly as Artz did, even if
the truth is unpleasant.
As Oakland fights to keep its teams, industry leaders say it’s hampered by the fact that
its main lure was a site more attractive 40 years ago than it is today.
“I think that’s a real problem,” Smith College economics Professor Andrew Zimbalist
said. “The times have passed it by.”
Exactly. No one questions how devoted or hardcore Oakland and East Bay fans are, they
are among the best in the nation. Unfortunately, the business of pro sports has become
such a high-stakes affair that economically, Oakland is practically a AAA market while
San Francisco and San Jose/Silicon Valley are major league markets. Nowadays money
trumps hardcore seven days a week.
Yesterday I was looking into how Orlando’s Amway Center was built, hoping to
understand how it surpasses Oracle Arena in terms of amenities. Oracle does well in
having four premium seating options: courtside seats, suites, and two different club
options. Amway Center has an astounding seven options: courtside seats, founders
suites, presidents suites, legends (party) suites, MVP tables, 4- and 6-person loges, and
club seats. All seven options are priced specifically to target certain well-heeled
demographics, whether they are big corporations, prominent small businesses, or rich
people who simply want more elbow room. A future post will go into how all of this
works. For now let me tell you that there’s no going back. All four North American pro
sports leagues are multibillion dollar outfits. So are NASCAR and NCAA football.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan talked Thursday about having a huge Cowboys Stadium-like
facility in the Coliseum complex, to be co-anchored by a convention center. One thing
she didn’t mention was the price tag for such a complex, or even just the stadium itself.
Lest we forget, Santa Clara’s Stadium Authority is on the hook for $700 million of the
49ers stadium costs. Zygi Wilf and the Vikings will be paying 49% of the Metrodome’s
$1 billion replacement, leaving the rest to public funding sources. Even if you buy the
somewhat dubious argument that the 49ers are paying for the lion’s share of the cost
(who runs the Authority, again?), Santa Clara had to put up $144 million in hard dollars
initially. What price will Oakland/Alameda County have to pay to stay in the game?
$200 million? $500 million? Quan cites the $200 million NFL G-4 fund, but that’s
available to every team, every market. Any new stadium will cost at least $1 billion.
Also today, a sobering analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows how cities
struggle to make their money back even with glistening new stadia, characterizing these
efforts as an “arms race”. Good thing that the leagues appear to be bedrock solid for the
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foreseeable future, because if they weren’t municipalities would be wading into their
own “mutually assured destruction”. So dream big, people, because it’s not your money!
Until there’s a price tag. Then it’s definitely your money.

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June 8, 2012
Thanks to CSN’s Casey Pratt for going to the trouble of pulling quotes from two of The
Game’s Newsmakers interviews with Larry Baer (Monday) and Lew Wolff (Thursday).
For the most part, neither executive said anything substantive about the Giants-A’s
If you want to torture yourself by reading into the interviews, you can glean a few things
about what has been happening:
• Both Baer and Wolff are pointing to Commissioner Bud Selig to resolve the dispute.
• Baer and Wolff have had an ongoing dialogue (negotiations) regarding territorial
• Baer backed off from saying that the Giants would welcome the A’s looking elsewhere,
such as Sacramento. The Giants consider the Bay Area a two-team market.
• Wolff continues to press that the plan is San Jose-or-bust.
• Asked about what happened during Wolff’s meeting with Don Knauss, Wolff
demurred and asked the interviewers (Tierney and Townsend) to ask Knauss.
Everything else we’ve heard before ad nauseum. This concludes your weekly nonupdate.

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June 18, 2012
Update 8:18 PM – The Coliseum Authority board approved AEG 7-1, the only vote
against coming from Ignacio De La Fuente.
Oh to be on the Coliseum Authority board these days. The board has two weeks to
decide on a firm to manage the Coliseum complex, and the firm they’re grooming to take
over, AEG, is getting a lot of unexpected scrutiny over their ability to take the Raiders
away even as they manage the stadium for the next several years. The Trib’s Angela
Woodall reports that AEG’s status as a potential “poacher” is hanging up approval of the
facilites management contract.
The JPA/Authority has sought assurances that AEG would not try to lure any of the
current tenant teams away, which is fine and dandy, except that the JPA’s counsel has
said that such a stipulation has little teeth. The only thing the JPA could do is terminate
the contract, which would entitle them to keep $4.5 million in money promised by AEG
to manage the complex.
$4.5 million is a pittance for AEG, considering their claim that they’ve spent $27 million
on studies and preparation for the Farmers Field project. They’ve promised to spend
$10 million on badly needed improvements to a Metro Rail station near the LACC/
Staples/Live!/Farmers complex. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex may
be a nice item to put in their portfolio, but Farmers Field is AEG’s big bet. It’s a beautiful
situation for AEG because they can play both cities against each other – they’re
practically doing it now! They’ll be in bed with the JPA as Oakland pushes Coliseum City
while getting cozy with the Raiders, who are considering LA to some extent, in the
The whole scenario puts the Authority in a bind. They need AEG to do consulting on
Coliseum City (as farfetched as it is), yet they can’t have AEG poaching the Raiders.
There’s no other competitor that has anywhere near the kind of real world experience
handling single-site, multiple venue development as AEG. Chris Dobbins of Save
Oakland Sports and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley were both in lockstep about
their concerns.
And let’s get real about this, the only team AEG has any interest in is the Raiders. AEG is
booked solid at Staples with its three teams and the company hasn’t expressed much
interest in baseball. While Oakland has expressed interest in retaining the Warriors and
Athletics, they’ve taken the most steps to keep the Raiders. AEG has Oakland by the
short hairs, thanks to Mayor Jean Quan putting Oakland’s chips behind Coliseum City.
Even when there is a big player involved, the City part of Coliseum City can be
extraordinarily difficult to get off the ground, as the St. Louis Cardinals and developer

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Cordish can attest. Comparisons to Mission Bay/South Beach in SF are meaningless
because that area and East Oakland are on different planets economically.
Alternately, the JPA could choose incumbent SMG, with whom they’ve had an up-anddown relationship, or Comcast’s Global Spectrum, which comes closest to AEG in that
they operate the Wells Fargo Center and the newly opened Xfinity Live! in Philadelphia.
The latter finally came to fruition several years after the two stadia and the WFC had
opened, and after the old Spectrum was demolished to make way for Xfinity Live!.
If the Raiders went to LA, that creates a situation in which the Coliseum could be
available for a new A’s stadium, which is probably the only solution at the complex that
MLB would sign off on (assuming the ancillary development came in). The problem with
that solution is that there would still be $100 million in Mt. Davis debt to deal with and
either a demolished or decaying facility, and the A’s and MLB would want nothing to do
with that. That brings us back to the question, What’s in it for the A’s?
It’s a tough situation to be in. Mayor Quan believes that Coliseum City is the best hope
for retaining the teams and revitalizing East Oakland, yet it can be argued that bringing
in AEG is akin to letting a fox in a henhouse, which could kill the vision of Coliseum City
before it even gets started. I’d like to think that the City will make a prudent decision
here, but by paving the way for AEG before the decision is made they’re almost locked
into a specific path. It may well be a path to ruin.

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June 26, 2012
I headed up the Nimitz to attend the biweekly Save Oakland Sports meeting at the Red
Lion Hotel on Hegenberger. The meeting ran two hours and was, despite the
organization’s rather young state, quite well run. S.O.S. is really just getting started with
its various activities, so I’m going to refrain from appraising their efforts. I can tell you
that it looks like an eager, resourceful group and broad coalition, though they’re aware
that Oakland and the greater East Bay are under pressure to deliver for the three teams
without much time to do so.
If you want to know more about what S.O.S. is doing, I suggest you attend one of the
meetings. Again, they’re held at the Red Lion Hotel in Oakland near the airport, though
the venue could change from time to time. If you’re pro-Oakland, I urge you to attend.
The group needs people as a show of strength, and they’re soliciting creative ideas to
help bolster support for the teams and new venues. I’ll even go so far as to say that if you
are pro-Oakland and you’re not attending, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
At the previous meeting, Mayor Jean Quan gave her thoughts on the Coliseum City plan.
One notable thing I picked up was that she said that the Pier 30/32 rebuild would
cost $400 million, not the roughly $100 million many had estimated previously. I don’t
know where that figure comes from, but it seems inordinately high. We’re talking about
removing old piles from the bay, driving new ones, and building a 13-acre concrete deck
on top of it. It doesn’t matter that much if you’re building on the water or on mud next
to the water because around here that mud is a huge liquefaction risk (ironically, partly
due to pile driving). I’ll try to verify this in the coming days.
Now, if you’re wondering how I was treated, I’ll put it this way: When I introduced
myself, I got a good amount of applause. One of the members expressed reservations
about having me there because he considered me a pro-San Jose guy. Given the chance
to clarify my stance, I said, “No offense to Oakland, I’m just a get-it-done-quickly guy.
I’m not particular about cities.” Everyone I met was friendly and respectful, even if we
had disagreements about actions and motivations. Folks, we can have a clear,
reasonable dialogue on these issues without resorting to name calling, accusations, and
recriminations. I don’t know how S.O.S. is going to do in the future, but I have the
utmost respect for what they’re doing and how they’re going about it. Good luck, Save
Oakland Sports.

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July 14, 2012
Come 2014, the A’s will be a much richer team, a team capable of fielding a $100 million
payroll. And they won’t have to build a ballpark, negotiate any new local media deals, or
raise ticket prices to do it. That’s because new national television deals will be in place
for the 2014 season, and they promise to make every team a good deal richer.
A flurry of stories have come out in the last week to trumpet the coming broadcast rights
war. All of the current national broadcast deals expire at the end of next season, making
this next set of TV rights negotiations a total free-for-all. I’ve assembled some of the
articles for your perusal.

Baseball’s Long, Hot Summer (Adweek/Anthony Crupi)

For Baseball, TV Landscape Is Becoming a Pretty Picture (NY Times/
Richard Sandomir)

MLB Plans On Doubling TV Revenue (The Daily Courier/Jordan Kobritz)

How Much Could MLB’s Next National Television Contracts Be Worth?
(Baseball Prospectus/Maury Brown, subscription req’d)
Currently every team gets around $24 million per year in national TV money via three
contracts (Fox, ESPN, TBS) plus international and digital media revenue. All told, it’s at
least $33 million per team per year from baseball’s central revenue, or $1 billion for
MLB total annually. According to many industry observers, the new TV rights deals
should net MLB around $2 billion per year by themselves, at least doubling if not
tripling the amount each team will get. That won’t mean all that much to the Yankees or
Red Sox, since they’re often up against the luxury tax threshold. For a team like the A’s,
however, it’s manna from heaven. A bump to $2.1 billion (a reasonable guess at this
point) will put $70 million in every owner’s pockets, every year.
Let’s look at this at the micro level. Estimates have the A’s 2011 revenue at $160 million,
though Lew Wolff will argue that it’s less. With greater ticket sales this year and other
incrementally growing revenues, I’d wager that $160 million is a realistic number for
this year (Forbes might say that it’s $165 million or more). Now add $42 million in fresh
national TV money, and suddenly every team in baseball, including the A’s, is a $200
million revenue franchise. Use the typical 50/50 ratio of payroll to revenue, and the A’s
payroll is $100 million. Simple, right? ($230 million doesn’t seem so far away anymore.)
Ah, but there’s more to it than that. Chances are the digital media and international
broadcast money will also grow. Several teams will approach $300 million in revenue,
which means that $150 million payrolls will become more commonplace. Again, all
without raising the price of a single ticket. The A’s will continue to be a have-not
relatively speaking, but that extra money should make it easier for ownership to sign a
young slugger past arb years, or more than one. While we currently think of $75-80
million as the practical upper limit for payroll when Billy Beane feels the team is in
contention, that amount should be the lower limit for payroll in the coming years.
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Giants ownership grumbled loudly about keeping this year’s payroll to $130 million.
That figure should be their lower limit in 2014.
Exploding TV money will have one other important effect on teams: franchise valuations
and sale prices should continue to grow. The Padres sold for $600 million plus $200
million for their share of the new Fox Sports San Diego network. I figure that puts the
A’s at $500 million now, and that’s without the benefit of the new TV money. In 2014,
the A’s should be worth $600 million easy. Knowing the gravy train that’s coming,
Wolff/Fisher would be crazy to sell the franchise anytime soon, regardless of what
happens to their San Jose ballpark pursuit in the near term. On the flip side, the
growing franchise value will only make it that much more difficult for an outside group
(Don Knauss & Co.) to buy the franchise and finance a stadium, soon to be a combined
$1.1 billion price tag. If we’re looking for an event to burst the valuation bubble or
dissuade Wolff/Fisher from continuing to own the team, the new TV contracts definitely
aren’t it.
The most fascinating part of this will undoubtedly be the negotiations. When the last
rights were negotiated, baseball was considered a sport on the decline among the
networks, best relegated to regional sports networks and ESPN. Since then, NBC and
CBS have launched their own sports network competitors to ESPN. Fox may convert
Speed to all sports instead of just motorsports, the same way NBC converted OLN and
CBS did CSTV. All three would want baseball as a tentpole for their fledgling networks
and for their cable bundling efforts, the better to wring ever higher subscriber fees from

Today’s youth probably have no idea that NBC was once the network that
carried baseball, with Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola announcing Saturday’s Game of the
Week. The peacock has now gone over a decade without baseball, and their desire now is
hot and heavy. Baseball is just what NBCSN needs to gain traction among viewers, in
addition to the Game of the Week. Keep in mind that because NBC’s big tentpoles are
Sunday Night Football, the Olympics, Notre Dame football, and the NHL, there are huge
swaths of weekend daytime programming for NBC that have no pro sports at all. That
might lead people to think that when it comes to sports, NBC is out of sight, out of mind.
Is NBC/Universal/Comcast will to spend money on MLB the way the company never
would under Jeff Zucker? We’ll see. Pros: Better integration with Comcast Sportsnet
properties. Cons: An even larger Bob Costas soapbox.

CBS has rarely had MLB on TV over the last few decades, the exception
being a financially disastrous gig in the early 90’s (thanks, Toronto Blue Jays). The
Tiffany Network also owned the Yankees during the 60’s. That was about as far as they
went. CBS likely has the same motivations as NBC. Under Les Moonves, the network has
tended to stay away from baseball, so either they saw the light if they’re interested or it’s
purely a carriage play. Pros: The unlikely yet possible resurrection of the MLB on CBS
theme, which had a “The Natural” 80’s-style majesty. Cons: Potential re-teaming of
Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver, one of the worst announcing tandems in
broadcast history.

Fox is the incumbent, and frankly, they’ve been shit the entire time. At the
outset, Fox declared war on ESPN, claiming that its “tribal” approach to sports by
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grabbing RSNs would allow it to integrate well with the national broadcast. That never
happened, and Fox has only retreated ever since. Not that I liked the now-discarded
theme song, but to replace it unceremoniously two years ago with the NFL on Fox theme
clearly showed where the network’s thinking is. The move to 4 PM broadcasts this
season is a good one because it opens the afternoon slots for teams, but I can’t help but
think Fox just did it because they didn’t have any primetime programming on Saturday
nights for the East Coast. Pros: Can’t think of any except maybe Ken Rosenthal. Cons:
Fox may get even lazier in its handling of MLB.

ESPN may have the most to lose. They absorbed the hit that came with the
launch of the MLB Network (not part of the conversation BTW), and focused on making
sure their web and news coverage stayed solid in the face of new competition, though
they let go of quite a few talents along the way. They still have Sunday and Wednesday
night games and little good to replace them if they lost those properties. Try as it might
to jam as much NFL news into its summer programming, ESPN can only go so far with
football. The network has reduced the number of games per week it broadcasts. It may
be forced to bid to broadcast more games per week if the other cable sports networks
are willing to do the same. Pros: Webgems. Cons: Chris Berman.

TBS will probably get outbid on its little property, Saturday Night
Baseball. They tried to transition from the Braves to all teams using all of their Atlantabased talent and production and have generally done poorly or have been ignored in the
process. Handling of the playoffs, which Turner tried to do similarly to the way it
handles NBA games, was confusing and  generally abysmal. Clearly, national baseball
broadcasts weren’t in Turner’s wheelhouse. Pros: Eck in studio. Cons: Dick Stockton.
There’s a decent chance that MLB will structure bidding so that a network can bid on a
specific league, the way the NFL splits broadcasts for its two conferences. That would be
an interesting twist, though it would create an inherently unequal situation due to the
popularity of the Yankees and Red Sox. I’m certainly not digging the idea of AL nights
and NL nights. Digital carriage also has to enter the picture. Streaming of national
games may be part of every deal, though you can bet that they’d still be subject to those
frustrating blackout rules.
How do think this new windfall will affect the A’s in the future? How should broadcast
rights be distributed? Do you have a favorite channels on which you’d like to see
national broadcasts?

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August 6, 2012
Two articles from Sunday (Chronicle: Matier and Ross, Mercury News: Bruce Newman/
Sharon Noguchi) point to a special trip made to the Bay Area last week by
Commissioner Bud Selig’s three-person committee. The committee, which has been
studying the A’s stadium issue for more than 40 months, met with San Jose officials on
Tuesday, followed by Oakland officials on Wednesday.
The M&R report indicates that Oakland’s bid is moving towards a potential deal at
Howard Terminal, anchored by a $40 million sale of land there to help kick things off.
Present were Clorox CEO Don Knauss and Signature Properties’ Mike Ghielmetti.
The $40 million part has me confused. To whom would Howard Terminal be sold? To
the A’s or some ownership group? To other developers like Ghielmetti? For years, the
minimal entry for any Oakland site had to be to take care of the land and any
infrastructure at the very least. But if that responsibility has to be shouldered by
whomever builds a ballpark, the price to build the venue will only get higher. Remember
that at Howard Terminal, some amount of reconstruction of the site’s foundation will be
required to make it safe and suitable for a ballpark and perhaps other surrounding
commercial development. If the ballpark costs $500 million just in construction cost,
and the land acquisition and site preparation costs $140 million, the final price tag is
$640 million!
It would’ve been interesting to find out how much time Knauss & Co. spent presenting
themselves as ballpark backers first before jumping to a different role as would-be
owners. Assuming that they pay the full freight on a ballpark and a minimum $500
million for the A’s, they’d have to come up with $1.14 billion for the whole package.
That’s a tall sum just to keep the A’s in Oakland, no matter how it’s sliced. A downtown
site such as Howard Terminal was expected to be more expensive than the Coliseum
because of the added complexity in pulling off the deal, but is that difference (at least
$100 million) worth it? It’s hard to pass judgment on Howard Terminal until we know
more specifics. Nevertheless, at this point the committee is probably of many of these
details, and that will be important for MLB’s continued evaluation.
Last Tuesday’s meeting with San Jose seemed to be a more ho-hum affair, with the
exception of the presence of Brad Ruskin, a very prominent lawyer who has at one time
represented all of the major pro sports leagues other than Major League Baseball (he
has also represented some MLB clubs). One of his specialties is antitrust law, and he is a
trial lawyer, so his presence may be to show that he could represent MLB in an antitrust
case if push comes to shove. Opposing Ruskin would presumably be Allen Ruby, who
the A’s brought on board earlier in the year.
For his part, Lew Wolff continues to be defiant in the face of questions about selling the
team. His angle is that, unlike much outdated criticism about his previous efforts to put
together a ballpark deal in Oakland and Fremont, his plan is simply to build a ballpark.
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Ancillary development using surrounding land is becoming more increasingly difficult
to pull off, yet that’s the formula being espoused by all of the Oakland bids: Howard
Terminal, Coliseum City, and Victory Court. The committee has to be taking all of this
into account.
Another factor is State Controller John Chiang’s review of the land transfers between
San Jose’s defunct Redevelopment Agency and the son-of-redevelopment San Jose
Diridon Development Agency. If the transfers are upheld, Santa Clara County has
indicated that it won’t make any further challenges to the land deal so the ballpark could
conceivably move forward. If the transfers are ruled improper, the land would go to the
the redevelopment successor agency, which would subsequently auction off the land.
The land would be sold to the highest bidder, who may be someone other than Wolff.
Keep in mind that San Jose would still hold the final trump card as it was would have
any final determination over what could be done with the land. As much as AT&T claims
that its land is of paramount importance to its service delivery model, they’d have sold
the land years ago if it could’ve been rezoned to medium-density residential as was
considered a decade ago. In any case, Wolff seemed confident that he’d be able to get the
land however Chiang’s office ruled. That ruling is due in the next couple of weeks.
The cynic in me looks at this trip with a simple explanation. Summer owners’ meetings
are scheduled for next week, and while there will be more pressing matters on the
agenda (Padres sale, national TV deals, Nats-O’s-MASN deal) it’s expected that there
will be some sort of update on the A’s-Giants ongoing saga. What better way to look like
you’re doing something than to have a couple of meetings right before the owners’
sessions? It seems unlikely that Selig will be able to render a decision or bring up a vote
based on whatever new information was gathered based on the trip since it’s so fresh, so
it’s just one more opportunity to kick the can down the road – at least until November.
In the meantime, whatever’s happening to the A’s on the field can take precedence, and
that’s not a bad thing at all.

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August 7, 2012
Yes, we’ve been here before. I suppose it’s time to discuss Howard Terminal yet again.
In June I attended a weekday afternoon Rangers-A’s game, followed by a ferry trip from
Oakland to South San Francisco. San Francisco Bay Ferry was using that week to launch
the new service, which to that point had its southernmost terminal at AT&T Park. I
noticed many people who, when they learned of the free promotional ferry ride, decided
to take a quick cruise across the bay.
While I was waiting for the ferry, I walked around JLS and near Howard Terminal to
take some updated pictures just in case.

Overhead view of Howard Terminal, with power plant and ferry terminal included for
comparison. (via Google Maps)
The best place for a ballpark may be the southeast corner, where the two cranes are
located. The cranes can be and often are relocated. The area designated for auto
processing is about 9 acres and is surrounded by the rest of Howard Terminal, a power
plant, the Inner Harbor, and OFD property. The Trib’s Matthew Artz reported yesterday
that tenant/operator SSA Marine (Matson) is suing to get out of the 25-year lease it
signed only 7 years ago. Howard Terminal was chosen as a site for consolidated
operations by SSA Marine. A planned multi-story auto processing/storage facility had to
be scrapped amid NIMBY concerns and Howard Terminal only runs at 55% capacity
thanks to market changes. Those may be the biggest factors in SSA Marine’s decision to
file suit. The issue there is that while SSA Marine may ultimately want concessions on
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the lease, they may not necessarily want to leave or downsize their presence there. If the
site I described as ideal were to be reused for a ballpark, SSA could only stage one large
vessel at a time as opposed to two now. If SSA were to agree to relocate to elsewhere on
Port property, it’s likely they’ll require a huge cut in lease terms while trying to maintain
the kind of consolidation they were able to enjoy when they first inked the current deal.
They’d also want to be able to expand if their container shipping business improves.

View of Howard Terminal from Ferry Terminal pier
If the City and the Port wanted to use all 50 acres of Howard Terminal, the solution is
simple: tear up the lease and start the process on alternative development (planning,
EIRs, infrastructure, identified projects). From looking at the Port’s budget documents,
SSA Marine provides a substantial portion of the $10 million in revenue the Port derives
from Inner Harbor maritime activities. That figure isn’t broken out by location or by
company, so it’s hard to speculate further on SSA’s impact. Regardless, any disruption
or change to SSA’s operations has to be considered an opportunity cost, since the Port
would be foregoing that revenue stream to take on a ballpark lease and other
commercial lease revenue. Currently, Inner Harbor provides nearly as much revenue as
the entirety of Commercial revenue at the Port.

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Train passing the power plant along The Embarcadero. Part of Howard Terminal is
behind the plant. Intersection is Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and The Embarcadero.
In the picture above, you’ll notice that along this stretch of The Embarcardero, only one
side of the tracks is paved street. The near side is gravel. This continues to Jefferson and
Clay Streets, where the Jack London Square streetscape as we know it begins. If a
ballpark were to be placed at Howard Terminal, a great deal of new street and
pedestrian infrastructure would have to be planned and constructed in order to safely
accommodate the anticipated large crowds. That includes at least one pedestrian bridge
leading from MLK, Brush, or Market. Additional acreage at Howard Terminal could be
repurposed for parking, though that’s a double-edged sword. If a large amount of
parking is built there, streets will have to be beefed up to accommodate traffic increases.
There’s no obvious place north of Howard Terminal where parking could be built
without the demolition of existing structures.

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Ferry Terminal with Howard Terminal in background
East of Howard Terminal is a stark contrast. Jack London Square dominates and has a
great variety of mixed uses. The waterfront building at 10 Clay Street is largely unused
and could make a great A’s museum, as slo_town identified in June. Some negotiation
would also have to be done with Oakland Fire Department because Station 2, where the
Fire Boat is located, sits between HT and JLS.

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10 Clay Street
Finally, there is the issue of the impact of the ballpark itself. Besides increased traffic
and the distance from BART (3/4 mile to the 12th Street/Oakland City Center Station),
the visual impact of a ballpark will be up for much debate. If the field is oriented to face
downtown (away from the water), there’s a risk of a having a 500-foot-long, 10-12 story
tall edifice bumping up against the water. If the field faces the water, the visual impact is
much less since the ballpark will be “camouflaged” by the power plant, but the impact of
lights on Alameda becomes greater. Either way it’s no slam dunk.

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View from departing ferry
Still, when you look at the picture above, it’s easy to see why someone would advocate
for Howard Terminal, challenges and all.

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August 9, 2012
After yesterday’s game, I headed up to Howard Terminal yet again to snoop around and
take a few more pictures. I also read up on SSA Terminals/SSA Marine’s lawsuit against
the Port of Oakland. This post will contain an analysis of both.
First, let’s start off a bird’s eye view of the site, with a few items labeled for further

Overview of Howard Terminal and Jack London Square
From right to left you see:
• Jack London Square in the southeast corner. A one-block stretch of Broadway is
• One block over from the heart of JLS is Washington St, followed by Clay St. Broadway
and Washington extend to downtown Oakland. Clay does not.
• At the end of Clay Street is the Ferry Terminal, the Ferry Landing (10 Clay St.)
commercial building and a small public plaza and green space.
• A narrow promenade (10 feet wide in an important stretch) runs along the shoreline
west to Howard Terminal. If a ballpark were built at Howard Terminal, the lightlyused promenade would have to be widened as it’s the safest and best pedestrian access
from the Ferry Terminal and the JLS shoreline and marina.
• Complicating matters is the Oakland Fire Department EMS Station, which is home to
Fire and Police boats. The station would have to be reconfigured to widen the

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• The blue and red stars indicate the rough locations of ballpark sites. The blue star is
the site I identified on Tuesday. It would probably be the most expensive site because
it’s all piers, not land, and would make the foundation more expensive. The red star is
the site surveyed in the 2001 HOK study. It is inside the original shoreline.
• North of the blue star is the power plant, which can’t be moved without incurring great
• The green lines are possible locations for pedestrian and vehicular overpasses, lining
up with MLK Way and Market Street, respectively. Both connect with North and West
Oakland, as well as 980 and 880. At Howard Terminal, the streets are 900 feet apart.
Now I’ll explain why the overpasses (green lines) will be needed. A couple of pictures for

View East from The Embarcadero and Clay toward Jack London Square

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View East from The Embarcadero and Clay toward Jack London Square

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View west from The Embarcadero and Clay towards Howard Terminal
These tracks cannot be moved. They are a big part of what makes the port truly
intermodal. If 40,000 people are going to cross these tracks and The Embarcadero to
get to a Howard Terminal ballpark, it is paramount that safe methods for getting those
people across are implemented. Gates and traffic cops aren’t going to stop stupid,
drunken fans from playing chicken with an Amtrak or freight train. Unlike the light rail
trains run by SF Muni outside AT&T Park, these trains don’t stop quickly even if they’re
traveling fairly slowly.
The second picture also shows that there is little streetscape west of Jack London
Square. The westbound car lane ends in another block at Jefferson, and the track area
isn’t paved. It would make the most sense to completely shut down The Embarcardero
near Howard Terminal to all traffic other than trains for a 6-8 hour window on game
How then, do you get people across The Embarcadero? It’s for all intents and purposes a
moat. By building bridges, of course! The scale and number of bridges would be driven
by the amount of parking that is made available adjacent to the ballpark. And that is
largely driven by the amount of parking available in and around Jack London Square.
Over 3,000 spaces in lots and garages are present, plus at least 500 on-street parking
spots. However, only 1,250 spaces are within 1/3 mile of either HT ballpark site. Extend

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the radius to 2/3 mile, which is sort of the fringe distance that people are willing to walk,
and you get 7,000.

Comparison of parking near ballpark sites
Additional parking may be made available under the BART alignment or on street, but
it’s clear that parking near Howard Terminal is a clear site deficiency. The obvious place
for a new facility is next to the ballpark. 16 acres would yield 2,000 spaces, which should
serve the dual purposes of filling the needs of the ballpark and satisfying current JLS
tenants (restaurants, Yoshi’s, movie theater) that have depended on the existing
infrastructure. For that much parking, whether it’s all surface or new garages, two
entrances would be required, or rather, two overpasses. That’s why I drew the two
overpass paths. Market Street is the main entrance to Howard Terminal and is already
set up to handle heavy traffic with four lanes. MLK Way is also four lanes. The
overpasses would also create two additional pedestrian overcrossings, netting four total
along The Embarcadero.
The price for the overpasses? Around $10 million each. Add that to the promenade
expansion, parking construction, and other site improvements to make Howard
Terminal hospitable for a ballpark.

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Promenade from Ferry Terminal to Howard Terminal
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s important to note that no ballpark at Howard
Terminal will be possible without SSA Marine/SSA Terminal vacating the premises. And
while Matson (partnered with SSA) provided support to Don Knauss in his efforts to
either build a ballpark on the waterfront or buy the A’s (or both), it doesn’t appear that
Howard Terminal operator SSA will be easy to move. While SSA’s container business is
down in Oakland, the company is not blaming the downturn on the way Howard
Terminal is configured. Instead, SSA has a problem with its lease at Berths 57-59, just
over a mile west of Howard Terminal (Berths 67-68). SSA is suing the Port of
Oakland over alleged violations of the federal Shipping Act. SSA alleges that the Port is
giving preferential treatment to Ports America, a competing terminal operator at the
Outer Harbor, Berths 20-26. SSA’s claim is that Ports America (PAOHT) is leasing its
site for 45% less per acre than SSA, while not having to contribute much to
infrastructure improvements. Due to the more expensive lease, SSA is saying that it’s
losing business to lower-cost competitors like PAOHT to the tune of $46 million per
Renegotiating SSA’s lease to make it on par with PAOHT could negatively affect port
revenue $10 million annually (offset somewhat by new lease terms), and while the two
sides have talked they haven’t sat down to negotiate. The lawsuit will be three years old
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in December. SSA is being coy about what they want out of this besides a lease. The
ballpark gives them a very convenient trump card that it wouldn’t otherwise have, now
that we know that Howard Terminal is the only site in Oakland that MLB is
investigating. It’s a very tough spot for the Port and City to be in. If the City doesn’t get
the Port to renegotiate the lease along SSA’s terms, Howard Terminal is dead before it
begins. It can’t kick SSA off the property as the lease goes until 2017, with two possible
5-year extensions that SSA will probably decline. Plus any changes to Howard Terminal
like the ones I described previously have to work for the other tenants of the Port like
PAOHT and other shippers, making the Port every bit as beholden to its tenants as it is
to the City (from which the Port operates independently anyway). And if you want to
make things even more complicated, the City of Oakland wants out of a bad bond hedge
deal with Goldman Sachs. Who’s a major investor in Carrix, the parent company of SSA?
Goldman Sachs.
Cost estimation is difficult, but back-of-the-napkin math has infrastructure at $50
million depending on site and foundation, and an ongoing loss of $10 million in fees to
the Port with a redone lease and relocation costs. From the looks of things, SSA might
play ball if they get their lease redone. If not, what’s their incentive? This reminds me a
lot of what the City of San Jose did with AT&T on a rezoning deal near Valley Fair.
Considered a quid pro quo deal, we may never know if it really is one unless a ballpark
in San Jose is built. SSA appears to be in line for a similar enriching.

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September 2, 2012
Six years ago I went to the first game at the new Stanford Stadium. Yesterday I went to
the first game at the renovated California Memorial Stadium on the UC Berkeley
campus, eager to compare and contrast the experiences. Both home teams lost their
respective first home games. Both stadia received major upgrades in terms of amenities
and comfort. That’s where the similarities end. Stanford Stadium is a modern facility
that bears little resemblance to its forebear. Memorial Stadium was painstakingly
renovated to maintain as much of its early 20th Century charm as possible. It’s with that
key difference that I’ll start my review of CMS.

Panorama from top of South End of California Memorial Stadium
Like many stadia built 80-100 years ago, CMS was a testament to classical form and
simplified function. Slightly less than half of the oval seating bowl was built atop a hill
on the east side. The other half was a concrete structure with arches and a single narrow
concourse. All of the seats were wooden bleachers. A small press box was affixed at the
top of the west side of the bowl. At one time 80,000 could be packed sardine-style into
Over the years CMS deteriorated noticeably, with huge cracks in the concrete and
bleachers splintering everywhere. The stadium was situated directly on top of the
Hayward fault line and the west half was not considered safe by modern seismic
standards. Many calls were made to replace or refurbish the old girl, with nothing
happening until the UC Board of Regents approved a $300+ million plan to rebuild the
west side. The new half would contain three club areas, a new and wider general
concourse, a large press box, and a training center for the athletic department that
would be competitive with other major college sports programs.

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Area outside West façade descends into additional public spaces, press box hanging
above the bowl
The debate over whether the upgrades were worth it will continue for years to come, as
Berkeley continues its internal struggle over academic priorities and costs to attend keep
rising. What the fan is left with is a sense of history and legacy preserved, with
modernity accentuating itself in specific areas.
The three level press box and club building is the big nod to the new landscape of college
football, where everything is driven by intense media coverage and alumni with fat
wallets. The building is a glass-and-steel structure, its frame forged and delivered in
pieces and put together on top of the new concrete support structure that holds up the
rest of the west bowl. There’s even a space beneath the press level where the camera
positions are located that makes the building appear to float. Chicago’s Soldier Field
renovation may come to mind, but the work done at CMS isn’t nearly as imposing or
potentially upsetting.

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Press box “floating” above stadium bowl
What was once a single, dark concourse with water seemingly dripping from every crack
and opening is now two: the swank lower club level (which I didn’t visit) and the regular
concourse, which now lines up with the elevation at Gate 6. The result is that large areas
were opened up, allowing natural light coming through the arches to flood the
concourse. It also creates numerous scenic vistas of other parts of the campus and the
Bay. As the morning fog receded, I was able to see all the way to San Francisco and the
Golden Gate Bridge.
The main concourse is 30-45 feet wide depending on where you are. Concession stands
alternate with much improved restrooms everywhere you look. Blue tiles of different
shades mark the restroom locations, while the concession stands are adorned with
names like “Oski’s Place” and “The Fault Line”. Oski is, of course, the beloved bear
mascot at Cal, whereas “The Fault Line” playfully notes that it’s located right on the
Hayward fault.
Walking through the concourse, it’s hard not to notice the many expansion joints
dividing roughly 100-foot sections of the stadium. These joints and piston shocks will
help absorb motion in the event of a major earthquake, with as much of six feet of travel
allowed. Flexible conduits are located in areas with expansion joints, which should
reduce the chances of data or electrical disruption. Concrete columns are spaced every
20 feet, giving an appearance that the structure is overbuilt.
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Expansion joint with additional support for utilities
Lines for food were long towards the north and south ends of the stadium. Between the
20 yard lines the lines aren’t so bad. Crowds will figure that out by the end of the season.
The fare was pretty standard, with a regular hot dog and a Saag’s polish on the menu.
Prices were cheaper than at pro games, but noticeably more than at other college venues
I’ve been to. Top Dog has three stands on the East upper rim, and those had 20 minute
lines from the looks of it. The club most certainly has pricier options.

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The only obvious change to the east bowl was the replacement gold aluminum
bleachers, matching the rest of the stadium. Padded seat cushions with backs were
available for rent. Down near the field where I sat, four rows were ripped out and
replaced with ADA-compliant wheelchair locations. The old south tunnel is now just
access to two ADA restrooms, from which security had a hard time shooing confused
fans. The new Field Turf playing surface was also lowered four feet, which helps sight
lines immensely. Way up above the field, Tightwad Hill is still there, with its spectators
almost close enough to touch.
On the north side the tunnel remains intact, allowing for a pre-game procession through
the campus into the stadium. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, with
Walter Haas III doing the honors in memory of his father, the much-loved former CEO
of Levi Strauss, one-time owner of the A’s, and philanthropist whose name is
emblazoned on Cal’s arena, a staircase at CMS, and the business school (which faces the
north entrance Gates 1 & 2).

Much improved main concourse
Just about all of the flat areas of the Berkeley campus are packed with academic
buildings, athletic facilities and other structures, making open space rather scarce.
There was some question going into the planning and construction phases for CMS
about whether or not there would be places for fans to mingle or even tailgate before
games. Some effort has been made in this vein by creating plazas outside the arched
façade with tents for additional concessions or grills. It’s not quite the same as
tailgating, yet these are spaces that can find a purpose in the future.
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All told, Cal and HNTB did a wonderful job of holding true to the idea of maintaining
California Memorial Stadium’s architectural and structural integrity. There’s no telling if
Cal will be a good football team anytime soon. Nevertheless, Memorial Stadium is a
beautiful place to watch a game and a reminder of how stadia don’t have to be overly
utilitarian. It’s worth a visit.

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September 24, 2012
Today’s report from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand indicates that MLB’s
national television deals are just about locked in. We’ve discussed this a couple times
now. I’ve done some rough math on it, and the financial picture looks even healthier
than I previously projected. Sure, the TV deals will more than double in value, from
$660 million to $1.55 billion. But it’s when that figure is coupled with all other sources
of national revenue that the picture starts to really brighten.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a
single ticket.
The table above reflects rising revenues from every source except for Sirius XM, whose
deal was locked in years ago with the money paid in advance. MLB Advanced Media, the
internet and broadcasting subsidiary of MLB, admitted last year that it was hitting
nearly $500 million in revenue just for 2010. Combine each team’s share with other
non-TV sources (adjusted for inflation), and each team comes away with $31.8 million
per year. All told, that’s an estimated $83.5 million per year.
That doesn’t even include the dividend each team ownership group gets as an equity
partner in MLB AM.
Every team is going to get this windfall, so it’s not as if the A’s or Rays are getting some
great competitive advantage. It will allow both teams to be able to confidently offer FAcompetitive long-term deals to their own free agents, though $100 million payrolls are
still probably beyond reach. To get $100 or $110 million payrolls, both teams will need
new stadia. The impressive thing about these bumps is that the A’s will get $10-15
million more via Central Revenue than they get from playing in the Coliseum. Add in
local TV/radio and the usual $30 million or so in annual revenue sharing, and the A’s
should net $180-185 million per year starting in 2014. Not rich compared to the other
teams, but a far cry from destitute.

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October 14, 2012
Earlier this week, Let’s Go Oakland’s Doug Boxer led the charge to collect 10,000+
names on a petition asking the A’s to take down the tarps at the Coliseum for the
playoffs. The move worked insofar as the team announced the takedown for potential
ALCS and World Series games. Sadly, we know now that those games won’t be played.
Despite that, the petition drive succeeded in getting attention for the tarps and the
fanbase, although Boxer’s phrasing the petition as “giving paying fans access to playoff
games” was a bit of a stretch.
It’s unlikely that Boxer will be leading any petition drives to keep the Warriors in town,
since the San Francisco Business Times and the San Jose Mercury News both report
that Boxer, in addition to his LGO duties, is a paid consultant to the Warriors for their
waterfront arena project. Boxer is a former Oakland Planning Commissioner and is well
connected, making his counsel pretty valuable for getting a complex project like an
arena at Pier 30/32 off the ground.
Since the Warriors unveiled their plans in May, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions here
asking why keeping the A’s in Oakland is such a passionate movement while the
Warriors have gotten a collective shrug, relatively speaking. The A’s have only been in
Oakland three years longer than the W’s. The W’s have had much more consistent
attendance and TV ratings than the A’s. The answer comes in part from Boxer’s
response to the SFBJ when they asked him about his seeming inconsistency in
supporting the W’s move while fighting to keep the A’s from leaving.
“The entire Bay Area shares one NBA team, its fans are all over the region, and the
best place for it to be situated is right in the middle of the whole region, at a
spectacular waterfront location, at Piers 30-32, equally accessible from every city,
north, south, east and west,”
It’s a very diplomatic non-answer, but it sheds light on a couple of possible explanations.
We already know that the team’s identity is the bland “Golden State Warriors”, a name
that has only succeeded in getting fans from other cities to ask where “Golden State” is
located. The Warriors have generally refused to take on the Oakland moniker, though I’d
heard that when the arena was renovated for the 1997 season, then-owner Chris Cohan
was willing to consider the name change in exchange for significant lease breaks. Prior
to Cohan, neither Franklin Mieuli nor the Dan Finnane/Jim Fitzgerald group wanted a
name change. So while the W’s are literally the only NBA game in town, the fanbase is
linked mostly to the W’s regional legacy and proximity rather than a city identity. When
the team started marketing alternate jerseys featuring the old “The City” logo nearly a
decade ago, the jerseys proved extremely popular.

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Jason Richardson and Baron Davis before the “We Believe” season started.
In response to “The City”, “The Town” design clothing started showing up around
Oakland. That right there is a microcosm of the issue we’re seeing. With the A’s, there’s
a rivalry across the bay, a distinct identity, winning tradition, all things to rally around.
The Warriors don’t have any of that. Even the one championship the Warriors got in
1975, the Coliseum Arena was booked for the NBA Finals, forcing home games to be
played at the Cow Palace. There’s precious little to get riled up about. It shows in the
lack of grassroots or other political movements to retain the Warriors like Let’s Go
Oakland. The City of Oakland’s “Oakland Loves Its Sports Teams” recent week of events
barely mentioned the W’s at all. There are no websites or Facebook pages devoted to
such a cause, no outlets to foment this kind of anger against ownership. Sites like
Warriorsworld and Golden State of Mind aren’t terribly concerned with the issue right
now. Plus there is a decent-sized contingent of fans who would love to see the W’s in San
Francisco to bring SF’s prestige to the team.
Back to the subject of Doug Boxer. How can his inconsistency be explained? He can use
the whole “centrally located” line with the A’s just as he does for the W’s. The problem
with that is that having two “centrally located” baseball teams in the Bay Area has
caused them to repeatedly steal each others customers, as the A’s did in the late 60’searly 70’s and the Giants did when AT&T Park was built. The Bay Area has grown to the
north, south, and east with no proper adjustment by the teams to reflect that change,
making it possible that this cycle will continue. Thing is, that’s not LGO’s argument. To
Boxer and LGO, the A’s are first and foremost and Oakland/East Bay team. And that’s
fine, though Boxer’s stance short circuits at least one of the arguments being espoused
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by those wanting to keep the A’s in town, including Oakland resident Katherine Brown
in the Tribune:
I cannot bear the thought of the hundreds of jobs that people from Oakland could lose
if the A’s ventured to another city. I cringe at the idea of a stadium remaining dormant
for 9 months out of the year- filled not with thousands of cheering, Bernie-leaning
fans, but only with the memories of what was.
Perhaps Boxer should discuss what will happen to the jobs that normally service 44
Warriors games at Oracle Arena, or the memories of the “We Believe” season or Run
TMC. I’ve personally asked Boxer on several occasions to write a post here, on this blog.
I promised that it would be unedited and that it could run without comments if he
requested it. He came close to doing it once, but so far has chosen not to write a post.
That’s fine, but I think he owes an explanation to a lot of people about this inconsistency
– and it doesn’t have to be here. Doug Boxer is a genial guy. Jeffrey and I had lunch with
him a while back and it was nothing but pleasant. Other than that experience, there’s a
specific observation I can make about Boxer. About a year ago at what was probably the
unveiling of the Coliseum City plan I talked to him at City Hall after the press
conference. He told me that there are no innocents in this franchise politics business,
and I agreed with him. I just didn’t realize back then that he was Exhibit A in showing
how conflicted this whole mess is.

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November 9, 2012
MEASURE B1 AT 65.83%)
From commenter CFL:
Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana and Assistant City Administrator in
charge of Coliseum City Fred Blackwell had to postpone their 11/13/12 meeting with
Save Oakland Sports. Save Oakland Sports will also postpone it’s announcement. We
will reschedule this meeting to sometime before the beginning of 2013.
No reason was given, but I have to think this has to do with the fate of Measure B1,
which has fallen short of passage so far. Without the $40 million in TOD funds
earmarked for Coliseum City, the City of Oakland and Alameda County will have to
scramble to figure out how to pick up a funding source to jumpstart the project. As of
now, Coliseum City has to be considered stalled.
Update 5:00 PM – Support for Measure B1 has slipped further, now down to 64.85%
voting yes. To pass, B1 would need to get an improbable 75% of the remaining 80,000
absentee ballots. In this light, it’s probably a good idea to cancel the appearance at the
SOS meeting, since there’d be nothing to promote. However, an explanation of some
kind would be welcome.
Update 11/10 5:30 PM – Alameda County’s Registrar didn’t take a break on Saturday, so
we have new numbers. An additional 20,000 ballots were counted, and Measure B1 has
made a solid comeback to finish the day with 65.31% voting Yes. The measure still needs
75% of the remaining 60,000 votes to pass.
Update 11/11 5:00 PM – Today the Registrar went into overtime, processing 37,000
ballots. That means they’ve counted 118,000 ballots since Wednesday. Yes on Measure
B1 inched up further to 65.79%, which is encouraging. However, it appears that there
are only 20-25,000 ballots left to count. Measure B1 would have to get 84% Yes votes
among the remaining ballots to be counted in order to pass.
Update 11/12 6:00 PM – 12,000 more ballots were counted on Veterans Day. Measure
B1 inched up a little to 65.83% approval. The bad news is that (if my math’s correct) all
remaining votes would have to be Yes votes for B1 to pass.

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December 21, 2012
At the end of the 2012 regular season, the Chronicle’s Matier and Ross wrote that the
Coliseum Authority sent A’s owner Lew Wolff terms of a five year lease extension at the
Coliseum. The purported catch was a $50 million exit fee should the A’s leave early for
San Jose. Now the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin reports that Wolff has sent a letter to the
Coliseum Authority (JPA) asking for – that’s right – a five year extension.
In a letter to the body that governs the Coliseum, A’s owner Lew Wolff agreed to keep
the team in Oakland for at least five years “regardless of the outcome of our efforts to
obtain a new facility in the City of San Jose.”
In the world of stadium negotiations, these are chess moves. It’s important to try to look
multiple steps ahead. There are a lot of ways this could play out, though there is a
complicating factor which I’ll get to in a bit.
First, as onerous as a $50 million early termination fee sounds, if Wolff is pushing back
the opening date of Cisco Field to 2018 it’s not that big a deal, since Wolff won’t have
any motivation to get it done early. On the surface, the JPA may be insistent on
including the clause. Wolff may be just as determined to get it removed, simply because
of the flexibility it provides. Why be encumbered by $50 million when you don’t have to
be, and when historically that hasn’t been the case?
If there’s a threat, it comes in the form of something else Wolff alludes to.
“The A’s organization certainly prefers to remain in Oakland for the next five years
rather than being forced into looking elsewhere for a temporary home venue. If
possible, we should retain the 130 full-time jobs and the almost 800 union jobs that
encompass a full baseball season, the fun of the A’s, and Major League Baseball in
Oakland for five more years.
“I believe the A’s have a great deal to contribute to the area for the next five years,
and even thereafter.”
“Being forced into looking elsewhere for a temporary home venue” is the threat. In
August I wrote about the possibility of the A’s not being able to come to terms after
2013. It forces Commissioner Bud Selig’s hand. From the looks of things, MLB so far
hasn’t been involved in lease discussions. This may force Selig to get involved directly,
from negotiating the extension to figuring out a long term solution, which has been
going on since Wolff joined the A’s in 2003.
Even if the parties (including MLB) only focus on the short-term, there is one other
factor that comes into play: the Raiders. The Raiders have had more productive talks
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with the JPA regarding a lease extension, and something was supposed to be announced
this fall, yet nothing has. The A’s currently pay higher rent than the Raiders, but the
Raiders are obligated to share a small amount of in-stadium revenue annually, making
their lease payment technically higher than their Coliseum-mates. Both the A’s and
Raiders are keenly aware of each others’ desire to make whatever lease at the Coliseum
as low as possible. Yet the JPA wants to rework the terms to help pay off more of the
debt service and operating costs, which Bloomberg mentioned yesterday amount to a
$17 million annual subsidy.
If the A’s are being asked to pay a $50 million exit fee, are the Raiders being asked to do
the same? Are the terms on the table for both teams comparable, or do they favor one
team over another? Neither owner wants to feel they’re being ripped off, and neither
wants to feel locked in if it isn’t necessary. Strangely, the Raiders have more leverage
than the A’s, since they could bolt for Santa Clara or even LA if things don’t work out.
The A’s don’t have that luxury.
Just as the City of Oakland and Alameda County have to approve lease terms for
Coliseum tenants, MLB has to at least informally green light any lease terms for the A’s.
Selig will frown upon anything that looks like it’s trapping or penalizing the A’s, since a
bad lease could negatively affect the A’s franchise value.
Maybe an A’s lease extension that’s agreeable for both them and the JPA will materialize
quickly. Maybe not. If I’m reading the tea leaves on Wolff’s statement, though, he’s
forcing the situation. And he’s doing it by not formally doing much at all.

Update 2:45 PM – BANG got Wolff’s letter and posted it. I’ve copied the whole thing for
your convenience:
December 21, 2012
To all concerned and interested:
I believe our organization has been and continues to be a positive member of the City
of Oakland and Alameda County community.
Our policy regarding the JPA is to agree on the most mutually beneficial lease
relationship to remain in the O.co Coliseum. To that end, we seek a lease extension that
will allow us to remain here for the next five seasons. Our president, Mike Crowley,
who has administrated our lease for the past 16 years, has full and complete authority
to enter into a lease agreement that we hope will be beneficial to our fans, the City and
County, and our organization.
Yes, we need a new baseball venue, and sadly, we have not found any path to one in
the City of Oakland or in the City of Fremont. None of the three City of Oakland
administrations that we have operated under has ever presented a realistic approach
for a new ballpark to us. The lack of viable options here is not the fault of any public

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administration or private party, but rather is due to broader circumstances that
impact the elements needed for a Major League Baseball venue.
Regardless of the outcome of our efforts to obtain a new facility in the City of San Jose,
we would remain at our current venue for a minimum of five years. If an opportunity
arises for the JPA to implement a new or renovated stadium for the Raiders or any
other tenant, our lease would have a cancellation clause in favor of the JPA.
I stress that the A’s organization certainly prefers to remain in Oakland for the next
five years rather than being forced into looking elsewhere for a temporary home
venue. If possible, we should retain the 130 full-time jobs and the almost 800 union
jobs that encompass a full baseball season, the fun of the A’s, and Major League
Baseball in Oakland for five more years.
I believe the A’s have a great deal to contribute to the area for the next five years, and
even thereafter. I further believe, and hope that having the benefit of a five year
income stream and the jobs our organization brings in will be viewed as a benefit to
the City and County. Simply, Mike Crowley needs an authorized party with whom he
can negotiate and complete a new five year lease between the JPA and the A’s.
Thank you for any time and consideration you can afford this request.
Lewis N. Wolff
LNW: sk
I have to reiterate that the JPA had sent the A’s lease terms before the end of the regular
season, which Wolff obviously has not found acceptable, otherwise we’d have an
announcement about a lease deal. The ball is now in Oakland/Alameda County’s court.

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December 22, 2012
So what does “temporary” mean anyway?
For Lew Wolff, it means five years after 2013 spent at the Coliseum, followed by what he
hopes is a smooth move to San Jose.
For Mark Davis, it means five more years at the Coliseum while a new Coliseum and
village are built next door.
For the Coliseum Authority (JPA), it means… well, they haven’t exactly articulated what
that means, have they? It may mean one new stadium, or two. It means having the
Raiders and A’s pay more to stay temporarily at the Coliseum in order to reduce the
subsidy Oakland and Alameda County currently pay to keep the place running. How
much more? We don’t really know. It’s a delicate balancing act. In the previous post I
alluded to Davis and Wolff not wanting significantly higher rents at the stadium, yet
that’s exactly what will be required if the JPA is to reach its goal of offsetting costs
The Merc’s John Woolfork and the Chronicle’s John Shea have dug into the lease matter
more, getting reaction from local pols.
Woolfork found that the lease extension talk started in July 2011, when A’s President
Michael Crowley first requested a lease extension. With the negotiations going very
slowly, the surprise is the MLB tried to help act as an intermediary in the discussions
but was rejected by the A’s.
Shea’s big find was that Wolff, while preferring to stay in Oakland over a move to a
“temporary home venue”, admitted that “there are options” for such a transitional
Those two new pieces of information are huge. Whether or not you believe Wolff is
bluffing with the temporary venue idea, he just played that card. He’s thinking about it.
And you can bet that he has at least one location in mind. It’s out of the standard team
owner playbook. Many will feel that the A’s are locked into the East Bay thanks to
territorial rights, and that more than anything should dictate how the A’s and MLB act.
Most of the time, these positions are merely negotiating ploys to extract concessions.
Playing the temporary venue card is a sure sign of desperation, which Wolff has
displayed for some time. If it forces MLB to act on his request or the JPA to commit to a
Raiders stadium that would remake the Coliseum complex (per the letter), it will have
been well worth it. If it results in a “mutually beneficial” five year lease, it buys everyone
time to figure out the next step.

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There is a value proposition in play. In the short term (the length of the extension), the
A’s will be averse to a lease that hurts their revenue position. For instance, the Warriors’
lease at Oracle Arena had the team pay $7.5 million for the 2011-12 season. That figure
includes revenue sharing of club seat and suite sales, which helped finance the arena.
The A’s rent for 2012 is $1 million, and they get to keep parking and some ad/concession
revenues. If the A’s were forced to pay something closer to what the Warriors pay while
giving up revenue, that’s up to a $10 million hit to team revenue, or -6% or so annually.
Suddenly the lease extension isn’t just a matter of convenience, it’s a real question of
cost-benefit. There is a point at which it costs too much to stay at the Coliseum,
especially if there are no agreements on improvements to the old stadium such as
scoreboards or even plumbing (those resources would be used on new stadia). I don’t
think the A’s should get the sweetheart deal they’ve been on since 1995, but this seems
like too much considering the age and state of the Coliseum.
That’s how the specter of a temporary home comes closer to being real. If the A’s are
faced with having to forego $10 million in revenue each year for five years, would it
make sense to invest that money in a different option? A temporary option?
One more to consider: If you attended a Warriors home game this year, you probably
noticed the lovely, brand new high-definition, center-hung scoreboard. It’s part of an $8
million improvement plan at Oracle Arena that was implemented to upgrade
technology. Half of the project was paid for by the W’s, and the rest was split between
the JPA and AEG, the new arena operator. The bidding process for a new operator for
both the Coliseum and Arena included a requirement that the winning bidder pay for
improvements at Oracle Arena. The vendor for the arena’s technology package? Cisco.
For whatever reason, there was no request to make any additional improvements to the
Coliseum. New anything at the Coliseum could help convince either of the tenants to

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December 25, 2012
On Christmas Eve, 95.7 The Game announced that it will become an ESPN Radio
affiliate starting on January 1. In the press release, parent company Entercom touted
The Game’s coverage of the NBA, BCS, MLB, all through ESPN. It’s unclear which sports
radio station in the Bay Area will carry Dial Global’s NFL national radio broadcasts.
Both of the KNBR stations are signed with new Cumulus property CBS Sports Radio,
leaving Dial Global/NBC Sports Radio on the outs. I had opined that The Game might
hook up with NBCSR because of its somewhat cozy relationship with Comcast
SportsNet, and because in the spring Entercom worked a deal with Dial Global to
broadcast the NFL and NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Obviously that did not
come to pass.
What will change? Well, if you’re sick of ESPN’s relentless self-promotion, prepared to
be sickened even more by The Game. Periodic news and score updates should carry the
branding. Interview segments will frequently carry ESPN reporters like Buster Olney
and John Clayton. Overnight and early morning shows from the national ESPN Radio
feed will be on The Game, including “Mike and Mike in the Morning”. Other short
segments like Mike Tirico’s “SportsMinute” should follow. As for the actual lineup, there
are no changes to the talent. After a bit of scheduling weirdness when Eric Davis and
then Brandon Tierney left within weeks of each other, the lineup appears to have

6:00 – 10:00 AM: The Rise Guys: Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler, and Dan Dibley
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: The Pulse with Matt Steinmetz [and a rotation of co-hosts]
12:00 – 3:00 PM: The Wheelhouse with John Lund & Greg Papa
3:00 – 7:00 PM: Bucher & Towny: Ric Bucher & Chris Townsend
7:00 PM – 12:00 AM: Guy Haberman
3:00 – 6:00 AM: Mike & Mike In The Morning (ESPN Radio)

Going forward, the best thing about the schedule is that Haberman’s show runs until
midnight, allowing for extended postgame A’s talk, which will be driven in large part by
the team’s success. Chris Townsend continues with the drive-time slot he has richly
deserved. That won’t be enough to hold the interest of those who believe local radio is
one Giant suckfest, but what are you going to do? Radio and TV ratings for The Game
and CSNCA correlate directly with interest in the A’s, and when the A’s aren’t winning
all that’s left are the hardcore fans. We’ll see if many of the fans who came back during
September and October stick around this time. One thing’s for sure – as a presence The
Game isn’t going anywhere for a while. Considering the nomadic existence the A’s lived
on the radio prior to The Game, we can only be grateful.
—P.S. – Hat tip to Bay Area Sports Guy/Ruthless Sports Guy for picking up the news first.

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January 15, 2013
No, we’re not talking about the BatCave or the Playboy Mansion, but it’s a grotto of a
sort. The City of Mesa has approved a memorandum of understanding between the City
and the A’s that outlines the terms of the A’s move to Hohokam Stadium starting in
2015. (If you haven’t been to Hohokam or would like a visual refresh, this photo blog is a
good start.)
Per the terms in the MOU, the A’s would stay at a renovated Hohokam for 20 years
initially, though they have the chance to break the lease after the 15th year as long as
they pay $1 million for each year they don’t stay. There are also two 5-year options the
team can exercise after the 20-year term is up. Hohokam Mesa was the A’s spring
training home from 1969-78, much of the era spent at a place near downtown known as
Rendezvous Park. After spending a few years in Scottsdale, the A’s moved to Phoenix
Municipal Stadium. The 2013 season marks the 30th spring training spent at Muni, with
only one more before the move 8 miles east to Mesa. The Cubs were granted major
improvements to Hohokam/Fitch in 1997.
At 12,500 (or 13,000) seats, Hohokam has arguably the largest capacity of any spring
training ballpark, Cactus or Grapefruit League. That stands to reason because the home
team has long been the Cubs, whose large, multigenerational, national fanbase and
eager snowbirds regularly put up league-leading attendance figures. For the A’s some of
that capacity won’t be needed, so some of the seating sections will be removed or
reduced in size, to be replaced by more premium, revenue-generating facilities.

Renovated area beneath LF scoreboard includes “Grotto” bar at field level
The biggest major change will be in left field, where the expansive berm will be
significantly reduced if not altogether eliminated. Instead there will be two standing
tiers, the lower one containing a dugout-like “Grotto bar”. This bar will be at field level,
which means that the solid fence in left will be replaced by chain link to provide fans
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views from the bar. The upper tier leading up to the scoreboard is a smaller standing
platform. Behind the scoreboard is a terraced picnic area leading down to a staging area
for numerous food trucks. Though it’s not mentioned, I imagine that the scoreboard
itself will receive some upgrades.

Down the LF line a set of bleachers will be replaced by a covered pavilion
Another bar will take the place of a freestanding bleacher stand near the left field corner.
It will be part of a covered pavilion whose standing terrace will replace several rows of
seats down the line. The setup is very reminiscent of Raley Field’s beer garden, which is
also down the left field line.
The drawings above are preliminary and are subject to change. They were the only two
from the City Council presentation, with another slide devoted to changes at the nearby
training facility, Fitch Park. Even with the reduced seating, I figure the capacity will be
at or around 10,000, which would put Hohokam in the middle of the pack as far as the
Cactus League goes. Unless the A’s make other changes, it appears that the other berm
areas in center and right field will remain intact. Altogether, it’s a nice set of
improvements from not only PHX Muni, but also from the current Hohokam. There will
still be inexpensive and family-friendly options, along with more swanky facilities for
fans. Fitch Park will get a clubhouse expansion. Even with the fairly restrained upgrades
the A’s are getting compared to other teams with new spring training complexes, the
Hohokam/Fitch combo will be superior to the Coliseum. There’s all sorts of just not
right in that.
—The funding part is simple and straightforward. As we discussed two weeks ago, Mesa is
paying for the first $15 million of the project. Mesa and the A’s split the cost from $15
million to $20 million, and the A’s will pay for the rest. What’s interesting about this is
that the A’s aren’t paying any rent. For the three month period (January 15 to April 15)
that the A’s occupy Hohokam/Fitch, they pull in and keep all revenues while paying for
all costs. City controls revenue and pays for costs during the other nine months. Those
costs include concessions, security, and parking personnel plus utilities. During spring

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training the A’s are responsible for repairs and maintenance inside the walls and fences
so to speak, whereas City takes care of the surrounding grounds. Both sides are to
contribute $25,000 annually to a capital improvements fund during the lease term, but
that’s it as far as yearly obligations. Mesa has used a similar agreement for the Cubs for
Compare that to the now-dead lease extension agreement negotiated for PHX Muni. The
A’s would’ve paid up to $500,000 per year plus a $50,000 capital improvements
contribution through 2025. Assuming operating costs isn’t small potatoes, but it’s a
preferable arrangement for any team since it has control over everything.
Why would the City of Mesa do the deal? City has been wanting to keep Hohokam/Fitch
up-to-date even after the Cubs leave for nearby Riverview Park. They did a study to
determine what the costs would be in three scenarios:
A: Do upgrades needed to make Hohokam/Fitch attractive for another team in the
future, including teams currently in the Grapefruit League
B: Cease operating Hohokam/Fitch as a spring training facility and run it only as a
public park
C: Do upgrades up to the A’s standards request
Turns out that the annual cost for Scenario C was $773,231, slightly more than half of
Scenario B ($1,490,228) and slightly more than a third of the cost under Scenario A
($2,310,406). Those figures don’t include debt service on the $15-20 million of
improvements. By that sort of limited perspective, having the A’s at Hohokam is better
than the alternatives. It leaves one lingering question: Who’s paying for the $15-20
Tourists and locals, that’s who. Funding for both Hohokam/Fitch and the Cubs’ $99
million Riverview Park (“Wrigleyvile West”) project will be covered by Mesa’s
Enterprise Fund, which is essentially a big redevelopment fund bucket. Debt service is
paid for by utility taxes on the 439,000 (bigger than Oakland) residents. Last year Mesa
was able to refinance the existing fund debt, which could save Mesa up to $72 million
over the next five years. Some money may also come from the Arizona Sports and
Tourism Authority, the state-authorized body that boosted hotel and car rental taxes to
help pay for numerous Cactus League ballparks and the market’s crown jewel,
University of Phoenix Stadium.
While it’s not apples to apples, there may be some comparisons between the Hohokam/
Fitch deal and whatever may be negotiated for the A’s at the Coliseum. Short of the
Coliseum Authority giving the A’s an extension of the current deal and throwing in some
improvements on top of that (fat chance), I can’t see how the A’s could get a better deal
than what the team is getting in Mesa. Unless you’re the Cubs, that is. The Cubs are
getting this:
Lew Wolff and Flip Maritz own a hotel in Mesa. Unfortunately for A’s fans, it’s 3.5
circuitous miles away from Hohokam. Luckily for Cubs fans and Maritz Wolff, the Hyatt
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Place is only a mile from Wrigleyville West, just off the top of the rendering above. I
guess if Cubs fans are stuck with an eternally heartbreaking team, nice surroundings can
provide some consolation.
P.S. – If you’re going to the Valley of the Sun to catch some spring training action and
you’re headed to Hohokam, you might want to check out the Mesa Historical Museum,
which has an exhibition called “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience“. The museum
is located in downtown Mesa, 2 miles from Hohokam. Exhibits will include items and
photos of the A’s first stay in Mesa.

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January 25, 2013
I wasn’t able to attend this morning’s Coliseum Authority meeting. Thankfully for
everyone, Steven Tavares of the East Bay Citizen was. And the story he got coming out of
there was quite a doozy. The JPA approved a $1 million contract for additional studies
on Coliseum City, which we figured would happen given the new pro-development
makeup of the JPA board. What we didn’t see coming was just how the study would be
paid for.
How the Authority will pay the $1 million in total costs for the two studies also
rankled some commissioners. According to Alameda County Auditor-Controller Pat
O’Connell, the Authority will “short” a $3.5 million capital improvements fund
previously earmarked for a new scoreboard at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland
Athletics and the Authority have been in negotiations to replace the out-of-date
scoreboards, said Goodwin, and Friday’s decision may negatively impact relations
with the A’s, also in search of a new ballpark.
“What’s the message we’re sending to the A’s?” Goodwin asked. According to staff,
the A’s estimate the costs of the scoreboards to be $4 million. “Well, it better cost
closer to $2.5 million, if we do what we’re about to do,” countered Haggerty. The
alternative, said O’Connell, would be to ask the Alameda County Board of
Supervisors and Oakland City Council for addition funds, a move likely unpopular
on both fronts.
Maybe the shortfall will force the JPA to buy used. Whether that’s enough to get
improvements or not, it’s a clear indicator that the East Bay is going forward on
Coliseum City, cost uncertainty and other tenant issues be damned.
Worse, the retractable roof concept appears to have gained traction, even though it will
surely inflate the project’s price tag. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell was
careful to note that all three current tenants would get new venues under the plan,
though as usual, how that would all come together was not articulated. Even the Raiders
are not a given in terms of paying for their part of the study, as the NFL and team are
fashioning their own – for a stadium only with little ancillary development.
Doesn’t this seem like a lot of flailing right now? This is despite having the project under
consideration for the better part of three years. Many in Oakland are quite convinced
that this is the vision for the city’s future. What of the teams? Aren’t they supposed to be
partners in this? Aren’t they paying the freight? Apparently that doesn’t matter, not as
long as one great redevelopment plan remains out there for someone to stake their
political career to.

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February 6, 2013
This week the Raiders released a seating map for their 2013 season. The startling
revelation from this release is that the Mount Davis upper deck seats have been
completely eliminated, as have the outer sections of the original third deck.

Sections for sale do not include the outer 4 sections of the original upper deck or the
newer Mt. Davis sections

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A look at 2012 attendance sheds some light on what the Raiders’ motivation may be.
While the first two home games were considered sellouts (for blackout purposes, not
complete sellouts), attendance dropped off quickly as an unappealing group of nondivision opponents accompanied a six-game slide into irrelevance. Whatever goodwill
was earned during the “Oakland Loves Its Sports Teams” rally was squandered by
Thanksgiving, with many fans already looking forward to 2013 when the team was
forgotten locally as the 49ers continued their surge into the playoffs.

2012 Raiders Home Attendance
The stated football capacity of the Coliseum 63,132 64,200 according to the Raiders,
already the second (or fifth) smallest stadium in the NFL. If Mt. Davis and the ends of
the original upper deck are removed, the new capacity should will be 51,000 53,250,
with Mt. Davis accounting for some 10,000 seats by itself. While this would increase the
team’s chances of hitting every game’s blackout target, if the NFL approves this change
it’s tantamount to admitting that those seats are unsellable, at least while the team
remains mediocre. CSN’s Paul Gutierrez notes that there was only one home blackout in
2012 because of the Raiders’ use of the 85% rule, so blackouts may not the issue.
Instead, the Raiders may be eschewing the 85% plan altogether, because it somewhat
disincentivizes sales above the 85% mark of regular, non-club seats. Per the CBA,
revenue from marginal sales above the 85% mark had to be split evenly between the
Raiders and the visiting team. If the Raiders presell a ton of the best seats to Raider fans
and not invading fans, they might be able to boost the home crowd feel even as fewer
seats are available. That was certainly the case for the A’s at the end of the 2012 season
and in the postseason.
HNTB, the firm that architected the Coliseum renovation in 1995, was commissioned by
the Chargers to examine deficiencies at Qualcomm Stadium compared to other newer
stadia. Interestingly, the study included the Coliseum, even though the Coliseum is less
than half new. Included in the study was a measurement of the highest, farthest seat at
the 50-yard line for each stadium. That seat on Mt. Davis is 336 feet from the 50, the
farthest of the 10 venues in the comparison. While the same seat on the opposite side of

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the field was not measured, given what is known about the bowl that seat is probably
100 feet closer.
If there’s a winner in this, it’s the LA firm that Lew Wolff contracts to remove and
replace the A’s tarps every season. Looks like they’ll be getting a new customer right
quick. Fans also get very inexpensive seats in the process. Wolff himself is probably
feeling rather victorious today. Losers? 11th hour or walkup ticket buyers. There will be
a much smaller inventory for the secondary market, which in recent years had tickets on
Mt. Davis for less than $10 on StubHub.
Raider fan, what do you think about this? Good/bad move? An admission that the team
will be terrible? Sound off below.

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February 20, 2013
Update 7:20 PM – Around 4:30 today, an article by the Trib’s Matthew Artz indicated
that Oakland officials apologized to Lew Wolff for erroneously stating that the City and
Mayor Jean Quan didn’t receive the letter. Wolff angrily replied (in ALL CAPS no less)
that he did, in fact, send the letter, and later produced a letter of acknowledgment from
Quan dated January 2. During the Bucher & Towny show on The Game, Townsend
explained that his crew and Phoenix reporter Kevin Curran had launched their own
inquiry into the status of this now mythical letter. Curran sent an email to the Mayor’s
office asking for the letter since, by law, the City has to file all such communications.
This afternoon the story from Artz broke, followed by an email reply from Quan
spokesperson Sean Maher explaining the situation. Apparently the original email, which
was also sent to numerous media, was buried in the “mountain of (holiday) furlough
email” the City received. Because of this, news outlets reported on it first, giving City
staff the impression that they didn’t receive it, when in fact, they did. The explanation
was also a bit wishy-washy because the Mayor supposedly “eventually” received the
letter, giving the impression that she didn’t receive it directly. Statements coming out of
the Mayor’s office yesterday continued to press that they didn’t receive the letter. In any
case, Oakland comes off highly incompetent at the very least and petty on top of it all,
just because Santana decided to lash out at Wolff. That’s simply poor form. Obviously,
that led to today’s apology.
Monday’s much-delayed Save Oakland Sports meeting was held at La Estrellita in
downtown Oakland. Though host Chris Dobbins was keen to not put City
Administrators Deanna Santana and (Asst. Admin.) Fred Blackwell on the hot seat, to
their credit the staffers addressed several lingering issues with some degree of frankness
and a general lack of spin.
Blackwell gave an update on the state of the Coliseum City studies and EIR. The study
work should be awarded in the next month, and documents should be ready by the end
of the year. Because of the broad scope of the project, there will be a master plan for the
750 acres on both side of 880 and a specific plan for each side, the big focus being on the
sports complex. Blackwell called Coliseum City the most dynamic project in the state in
terms of size and transit access.

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View from east towards Oakland Estuary. Image: JRDV
Based on JRDV’s newest renderings, he has a point. Much of the area on either side of
the Nimitz would undergo a drastic transformation. While there would be a new football
stadium in Lot B and a ballpark pushed up to the corner of Lot A, almost everything else
would get torn down and replaced. Chief among the changes is a new arena, which
would be placed west of 880, where Coliseum Lexus and another empty car dealership
are situated. Low and mid rise buildings would be tightly packed from Oakport to the
Estuary and in between the two stadia. Two new pedestrian bridges would cross 880.
The BART bridge would be transformed into a huge plaza over the Union Pacific tracks.
The only two legacy structures that would remain intact in the vision are the 12-story
high-rise office building that briefly housed the Tribune and the newer Zhone building.
Before your eyes roll completely into the back of your head, let’s look at the three
venues, starting with the ballpark. Blackwell continued previous talk of Oakland giving
Lew Wolff information on Coliseum City and Howard Terminal, repeating Wolff’s
continued rejection of both sites on financial grounds. Blackwell flat out said that new
ownership may be required to get something done in Oakland, and that a MLB could act
on behalf of a team to get a deal done. Of course, Blackwell cited Miami as an example of
that working. “Working” meant taxpayers putting up 2/3 of the cost and politicians who
approved the deal being run out of office. MLB wouldn’t do that unless it felt it could get
several pounds of flesh. In Oakland, there is no flesh to take. The only thing MLB has
offered so far is to negotiate the short-term lease at the current Coliseum.
As for the Raiders, Santana mentioned upfront that it took four months to get all of the
right people (City, County, Raiders) named and set to negotiate the future stadium deal.
Four months? You’d figure an e-mail thread and a conference call or two would take
care of that.

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In a refreshing bit of candor, Santana and Blackwell talked about the challenges facing
the Raiders’ stadium piece. Santana said twice that any new project would have to bake
in the $100 million of remaining debt (Mt. Davis). As I’ve mentioned before, any
advantages Oakland has because of “cheap land” are wiped away because of this
albatross. It also makes financing somewhat unclean, though that would depend on how
current and future debt are structured. Right now, Mt. Davis debt is tied to the general
fund of both City and County and was refinanced last summer. I imagine it could be
complicated to restructure the debt to be paid solely by stadium/project revenues and
would drive up the cost of borrowing to boot. Santana also talked about how the defeat
of Measure B1 in November negatively impacted funding for Coliseum City to the tune
of $40 million.
Blackwell admitted that the NFL may have a hard time giving the $200 million that
Mayor Jean Quan is looking for, citing fan and corporate support. Why? The G-3 and
G-4 loan programs are dependent on two specific revenue streams: national TV money
and club seats. TV money is not that big a deal since it’s highly distributed, but the NFL
is wary of teams running into blackouts. The Raiders are a particular high-risk case
because even though the stadium doesn’t have a large capacity among NFL stadia, it’s
had its share of blackouts and has a relatively low season ticket base (30,000). The
recent tarping and pricing moves done by the Raiders are being done to grow the season
ticket figure and reduce the chance of blackouts. In future seasons, the Raiders could
increase capacity as the roll grows and the team performs better. Corporate support is
another matter. Blackwell said that the NFL considers corporate support more
important than regular fan support. The 49ers have done exceedingly well selling to
businesses, which allowed the NFL to release $200 million for the Santa Clara stadium.
Corporate support is not great in the East Bay, and the 49ers may have taken some East
Bay business from the Raiders, putting the Silver and Black in a very tough position.
Blackwell didn’t offer any answers on this, other than to say that the East Bay will have
to step up to show it can support the Raiders in a new stadium. It’s a sobering but
realistic view, not one to go rah-rah about.
On the Warriors front, Blackwell laid out the City’s case very plainly: Oakland would
wait until W’s ownership got frustrated with the process of building something at Piers
30/32, then welcome the team back with open arms. With the A’s, ownership is
certainly frustrated (with MLB and the Giants), not enough to run back to make a deal
with Oakland. While working in SF, Blackwell saw the same strategy in place for the
49ers, only to see the team start building in the South Bay.
Things got a little strange with Santana laid into the A’s. Santana accused the A’s of
playing games, claiming that the letter Wolff wrote requesting a five-year lease
extension was only sent to the media, not to City or County. That’s rather confusing,
because as the Merc’s John Woolfork wrote on 12/21:
If Wolff’s letter was discouraging to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, she didn’t let on,
saying in a statement that she was “pleased to receive Mr. Wolff’s letter stating his
desire to stay in Oakland for five more years.”

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Considering that it took four months to figure out who the players were in a negotiation,
I wouldn’t be surprised if the letter was lost somewhere. One thing to keep in mind is
that Wolff has already done two lease extensions at the Coliseum during his tenure. If
there’s one real piece of stability here it’s Wolff, not the turnover in Oakland City Hall.
The tough part of all of this back-and-forth is that even if Oakland is resurgent as its
supporters say it is, it’s not to the scale of SF and SJ. It may never be to the scale of SJ.
That makes it easy to make a case against the future of pro sports in Oakland. Without
some kind of miraculous public and/or private miracle to really boost Oakland, it’s hard
to see how Oakland could get to its rivals’ level. Maybe the argument is that Coliseum
City is that miracle. Oakland has had nearly 50 years to show that pro sports is an
economic stimulator. There’s no reason to believe Coliseum City, even in its fully
realized, pipe dream scenario, is the miracle Oakland is looking for. The track record –
in and out of Oakland – doesn’t support it.

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March 1, 2013
In 12 seasons as a point guard in the NBA, Kevin Johnson averaged 9.1 assists per game.
Even though he’s 13 years removed from his last game in a Phoenix Suns uniform, KJ
has shown throughout this drive to keep the Kings that he can still run the point and
dish out dimes like he was 26, not 46. KJ deserves credit for putting together the
coalition of civic and business leaders, outside big money private equity investors
(whales), and his owners of other teams that he has been lobbying to Sacramento’s
That’s not to say that KJ has complete control of the situation. He still faces a
formidable bid from a Seattle group that has already done the paperwork necessary to
buy the team from the Maloof family. All KJ can do as mayor is to put together the best
possible presentation and the most credible group to represent Sacramento. Everything
else falls to the NBA and David Stern to decide.
During Thursday’s State of the City address, KJ finally revealed the names of the equity
partners, along with other details important to the Sacramento bid. Let’s dispense with
that information quickly:

Mark Mastrov will head the group attempting to buy the club.
Ron Burkle will head the group looking to build a new downtown arena.
The site being considered is Downtown Plaza, where a mall is currently located.
The city and the NBA still expects the arena to be a public-private partnership.
The previously divulged 20 local business leaders looking to invest $1 million apiece
for a share of the team are all going in on the 7% minority share currently tied up in
bankruptcy court.
Former Kings great Mitch Richmond is one of the group of 20.
The bid will also attempt to bring back the Sacramento Monarchs WNBA franchise,
which folded in 2009 as the Maloof family started to go into the red.
The city intends to get its $75 million loan paid in full, and redevelop the Natomas
area (where Sleep Train Pavilion is located) as part of a long range plan.
The city will put together a deal that involves no new taxes and has no negative impact
on the general fund.

While the presence of Mastrov and Burkle were the worst-kept secret of the whole affair,
the structure of their relationship to the deal is a surprise. The thought going in was that
they might go in together on the team and arena. Instead, by splitting the tasks, it allows
the two alpha dogs to bring in their own people for the part they’re most interested in.
Mastrov could revive the group that he put together to bid on the Warriors for $420
million in 2010. The fact that Mastrov’s group made it to the final round of bidding
should show to the owners and Stern that they can be comfortable with Mastrov. In
addition, if Mastrov is bidding on 50-65% of the team as Hansen-Ballmer were doing,

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the group’s outlay should be less than what they offered for the W’s, along the lines of
$300 million is my guess. Mastrov had this to say about his bid:
“This is about building a winning franchise for a winning community. Sacramento has
proven time and time again to be a great NBA market. As a longtime resident of
Northern California with deep ties to Sacramento, I am thrilled to be a part of an effort
to do something special for the region.”
Burkle gets to bring in his friends at AEG to work on the arena project. This would be
synergistic with a rumored bid for AEG by Burkle. The AEG sale is still up in the air as
offers are not coming close to the $8 billion that Phil Anschutz is seeking. As of today,
those monitoring the AEG horserace have real estate investment giant Colony Capital in
the lead. The structure also allows one degree of separation between Burkle and the
Maloofs, who aren’t exactly buddies after Burkle helped block the Maloofs’ attempt to
move the Kings to Anaheim a year ago. Burkle had his own quote about the news:
“I am excited about the economic possibilities for the arena and for downtown
Sacramento as a whole. We have an opportunity to transform downtown into a
vibrant hub of economic and cultural activity that will create jobs and generate a
positive economic impact for years to come.”


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Downtown Plaza has languished for some time, and calls for a serious revamping
regardless of whether or not there’s an arena. Interestingly, one of the tenants is a 24
Hour Fitness center that only opened in 2011 (update: reopened after closing). It’s one
of thirteen in the Sacramento region and the only one anywhere near downtown. I
would imagine that even with an arena, the 24 Hour Fitness location would be preserved
at Mastrov’s behest, perhaps even expanded to include a new Kings practice facility. It
also seems likely that Macy’s would stay put, at least the main (women’s) store on one of
the six blocks that make up Downtown Plaza. One complicating factor is that there are
3,700 parking spaces underneath the mall. While those spaces would be extremely
helpful for arena infrastructure, the NBA apparently doesn’t want parking directly
underneath an arena, so those spaces will have to go. That could create a big sticking
point when EIR time rolls around, since something will be needed to backfill the lost
capacity. Knowing a little about the layout, the plan that would make the most sense
would be to demolish the center of the mall, build the arena there, then continue to use
the 24 Hour Fitness, multiplex, Macy’s, and food court, while buying additional property
on the fringes to build parking garages and additional commercial space.
Will all of this be enough? Based on history, the odds remain stacked against
Sacramento. At least the city and KJ are putting the best deal possible in front of the
NBA. KJ even sounded highly magnanimous in his address, as he took time to thank the
Maloofs for their contributions to the region over the years. He didn’t have to do that as
the Maloofs are already one foot out the door. But he did, and it showed the kind of
diplomacy and class one would expect of a prominent leader. In his time in the
Association, KJ learned a thing or two about working the refs. It works. That’s a stark
contrast from Wednesday’s SotC speech by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, which contained
yet another minor snipe at Lew Wolff (she described her meeting with Wolff as “a tough
day” in line with the more difficult moments of Occupy movement). One of the frequent
refrains I hear from the Oakland-only crowd is, “You can lead a horse to water but you
can’t make him drink.” That’s fair. How about another popular adage, “You catch more
flies with honey than with vinegar.” You want to rise above? How about rising above the
fray? Food for thought, Oakland.
Update 2:30 PM – Sacramento reporter and occasional River Cats fill-in play-by-play
man Rob McAllister reports that AEG is not involved with Burkle on the arena side.

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March 11, 2013
When the season starts and you notice the A’s-themed tarps that will stay up the entire
year except when replaced by Raiders-themed tarps, remember this:

Payment schedule of Coliseum bonds
Last year the Coliseum JPA sought to refinance the stadium debt in order to switch the
debt from variable to fixed rate. New bonds were issued in September.
It can’t be emphasized enough that whatever is planned in the future for the Coliseum,
this debt has to be factored in. The City and County will want to repackage the debt in a
way that takes the burden away from their respective general funds. Naturally, the A’s
and Raiders probably want no part of this, considering how expensive it already is to
privately build anything. Even if nothing gets built until 2018, $100 million in debt will
remain, making that a sort of tax on any new stadium(s). The JPA is asking the A’s to
pay more in rent, reportedly up to $3 million a year. Even then a substantial subsidy will
be required. Ultimately, no deal on Coliseum City – no matter the size or scale – will go
anywhere unless the outstanding debt at the Coliseum is addressed to all parties’
satisfaction. That’s a challenge as towering as Mt. Davis itself.
Added 11:30 AM – Matier and Ross have an item covering the JPA’s ongoing lease
negotiations with the A’s and Raiders. 
The tug-of-war for the five-year extension is over the $3 million in parking taxes that
Oakland says the team owes, and over the A’s claim to about a third of the beer sales at
the Coliseum – be they at an A’s game, a Raiders game, a U2 concert or any other event.

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The tightrope is with the Raiders, who don’t like giving the A’s the beer money and don’t
appreciate the A’s request for ballpark “improvements” that may come at the Raiders’
The parking tax referred to in the piece dates back to 2009, when Oakland unilaterally
decided to enforce a long-dormant 18.75% tax per car at the Coliseum. The A’s hiked up
parking fees from $15 to $17, and the price stayed there ever since. However, the A’s sat
on the additional revenue while other details shook out, such as a revenue split between
Oakland and Alameda County that was only settled last year. Assuming that a 2014-18
(or longer) lease extension can be worked out, the parking tax would be yet another
detail to negotiate. The beer revenue split goes back to when the A’s sued the Coliseum
Authority and received lease concessions, including a split on pouring rights for all
events and some advertising revenues. As for the baseball-specific improvements that
the Raiders may be resisting, I’m not clear on those. I’ll try to dig that up. All I know at
the moment is that Lew Wolff has wanted an escape clause if the Coliseum undergoes
changes for the Raiders. 
Finally, M&R end on a vague note – MLB might look favorably on Oakland if a shortterm deal can be worked with Wolff/Fisher or “a new set of local owners”. Perhaps, but
let’s be clear on a couple of things. First, even if Wolff were to declare today that the he
and John Fisher were putting the team up for sale, the actual process to vet prospective
bidders (such as a Don Knauss & Co. bid) and then complete the sale would take the
better part of a year or more to complete, which is of no help to the A’s immediately as
they try to work out a short-term extension. Second, MLB won’t approve a sale to an
East Bay-focused group unless there is an ironclad ballpark deal in place. Otherwise
there’s no point because the A’s would remain revenue sharing recipients indefinitely,
even though it’s written into the CBA that they’re supposed to be off revenue sharing in
the next several years. Third, MLB has offered to insert itself into the lease discussions,
only to be told no by Wolff. Wolff’s making a leverage play here. He did well in getting a
ton of flexibility in the last two lease negotiations. This time, talks are sure to be more
rancorous. If MLB wants to float a feel good item to help soften up the JPA, I’m sure
Wolff won’t mind. Finally, there’s the issue that appearing to help the A’s and MLB may
send the wrong message to the Raiders, who are the only team directly working with the
JPA and Oakland at the moment. It’s a very fragile, fluid situation. No one said it’d be

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March 19, 2013
As the cities of Santa Clara (+ San Francisco) and Miami get closer to the NFL’s May
awarding of Super Bowl L to an official host city and stadium, one city is struggling to
get its ducks in a row whereas the other is taking care of its final bid details. Miami’s bid
is flailing as funding for a major upgrade to Dolphins Stadium remains in limbo.
Meanwhile, Santa Clara’s City Council is prepared to approve a series of concessions to
the NFL that should sew up the game for the South Bay, while creating a risk that Santa
Clara will run in the red in the process.
To help pay off the 49ers stadium, the Stadium Authority has several revenue streams
tied to taxes and fees employed for every Niner home game and other events. The NFL
requested that such fees be waived for the Super Bowl, and apparently the City is more
than happy to comply. Fees being waived include the following:
• 10% NFL Ticket Surcharge – At a conservative set price of $500 per SB L ticket, the
$50 surcharge would yield $3.75 million with an expanded capacity of 75,000.
• $0.35 Ticket fee – Meant to fund some senior and youth programs. A cap of $250,000
per year is imposed on this revenue source. If the 49ers play at least one home game,
it’s likely that the 49ers would hit the cap, rendering additional collection of this fee
• Hotel tax – A Mello Roos district was created to provide some stadium funding,
backed by a hike in the transit occupancy tax from 9.5% to 11.5% in the stadium’s
immediate area. The NFL asked for its share (350 rooms for an unspecified number of
days) to be waived. Assuming that the NFL needs 350 rooms for the full two weeks,
the City would forego some $70,000+ in hotel taxes. The City notes that it expects to
make up this loss via taxes collected on additional room bookings.
• Off Site Parking fee – The City has imposed a $4.54 fee per space for event parking.
That too will be waived. This appears to be for all Super Bowl activities, not just the
game itself. The City notes that the fee is meant to offset the cost of traffic
The non profit San Francisco Super Bowl Committee is supposed to reimburse the City
for the cost of services rendered by the City (and other jurisdictions). The committee is
not going to backfill the City’s lost revenues. Strangely, no estimates of this impact were
disclosed, even as the City touts $300 million in additional economic activity for the
region. Much of that major economic impact will be felt in San Francisco, where the
majority of non-game events will be held. The key will be the layout of the Super Bowl
hub surrounding the stadium. If attractions such as the NFL Experience are staged at
Moscone Center instead of the Santa Clara Convention Center, real economic impact for
Santa Clara will be limited outside of Super Bowl Sunday.
A year ago I wrote about what it would take to host a Super Bowl in the Bay Area, and
despite Santa Clara “taking one for the team”, there is a burgeoning sense of excitement
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about the possibility of hosting the big game. It’s just too bad that the City Council,
knowing it had at least a little leverage with the knowledge that Miami is struggling so
much, hasn’t considered driving a harder bargain with the NFL. Maybe next time – if
there is a next time.

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March 21, 2013
Update 7:30 PM – Added link to Controller’s report.
Yesterday we got word that the 49ers and Santa Clara prevailed in its lawsuit to reclaim
$40 million in redevelopment funds. Today comes the news that the State of California
has ruled that land transfers from the City of San Jose to the Diridon Development
Authority were ruled illegal.
The Controller’s ruling on the ballpark land seems to hinge entirely on the fact that the
City/RDA didn’t enter into a sale agreement with A’s ownership until November 2011,
after the June 28, 2011 cutoff when AB 1X 26 took effect.
The RDA made unallowable asset transfers of $29,137,727 to the San Jose Diridon
Development Authority (Authority), a joint powers authority made up of the City and
the RDA. All of the property transfers occurred during the period of January 1, 2011,
through January 31, 2012 and the assets were not contractually committed to a third
party prior to June 28, 2011.
The graf above comes from the 12-page report released today, a draft of which was sent
to the City on November 15, 2012 to allow for a response. The City argued that “there is
no statutory or legal support” for the 6/28/11 cutoff to no avail. The Controller
disregarded this argument and directed the land be turned over to County-appointed
Successor Agency, whose oversight board will make the final determination of what to
do with the land. City has cutely shortened “Successor Agency” to SARA and for good
reason. What does SARA stand for?
Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose
If the Diridon Development Authority is the “son” of revelopment, SARA is the
daughter. What does SARA make of this mess?
Ordering the City to return the assets to the Successor Agency only to have the Oversight
Board direct that they be returned to the City is simply form over substance and wastes
valuable time, energy and resources to arrive at the same result.
Regardless of what happened with the Controller’s decision (which was expected) the
City still feels that the land will end up with the A’s. If they had inked the sale agreement
in March 2011 instead of November, the transfers would’ve been in the clear. Now they
could sue the State the same way the 49ers did, but since that would be even more costly
and the City and County are already working on a proper land disposition agreement,
that seems like a terrible idea.
What will happen next? My guess is that the land won’t actually be sold. Instead, the
parties will work on a lease agreement that would allow the A’s to build on the public
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portion of the ballpark site while the A’s buy the rest over time. The alternative is to sell
the land for “market value”, with a yield large enough to be approved by the Controller.
The purpose of this is two-fold: get a sale so that funds can be sent to the state, and
ensure that the land is assessed at a value high enough to get adequate proceeds to the
state, county, and schools. Mayor Chuck Reed, who is on the SARA oversight board,
released a statement in response to the ruling just a few minutes ago.
I am disappointed in the findings made by the State Controller regarding certain
properties transferred from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency to the City of San Jose,
San Jose Diridon Development Authority, and City Housing Agency.
The properties transferred to the City include assets that serve a civic or government
function, and likely will fall under the government use provisions of the new
redevelopment dissolution law and my expectation is that the Oversight Board will make
the same findings.
With respect to the Diridon Development Authority properties, the State Controller
failed to recognize an Option Agreement validly entered into between the JPA and the
Athletics Investment Group. Any transfer of these properties to the Successor Agency
would be subject to the contractual rights of the Athletics Investment Group as required
under state law.
The City Council and County Supervisors have both made their desire to have a ballpark
built on the site known through formal resolutions in the past. My expectation is that we
will continue to work together to bring the Athletics to San Jose regardless of the
ultimate ownership of the JPA properties.
Coincidentally, an oversight board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning at City
Hall. While this news came too late to make the meeting agenda, I would expect the
matter to be discussed. I’ll attend and report back.

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The City of Sacramento was supposed to release its arena term sheet today. Hourly
delays turned into postponement as City Manager John Shirey explained that the
document was still being hammered out. Release has been rescheduled to Friday, and
now we have a good reason for the delay: Warriors minority partner/VP and tech
industry veteran Vivek Ranadive is now onboard as part of the Mastrov-Burkle group.
The news is even bigger than that, since Ranadive will take over Mastrov’s role as leader
of the group. If the Ranadive-Mastrov-Burkle group is approved by the NBA, Ranadive
would take the CEO role and be a Governor at league meetings and votes.
My immediate reaction to the Ranadive news was that it’s good that the Sacramento
group has more financial ballast to take on the Seattle bid. Ranadive is not a billionaire,
but his status as a current minority owner and a guy who is in with David Stern and
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis can be nothing but good for the bid. On the other hand, this
is a major piece of 11th hour upheaval that fundamentally changes how the bid works.
Ranadive bargained hard to become the controlling partner, and it’s likely that when
Stern visited the W’s two weeks ago, the commish pushed Mastrov to relinquish that
stake. That’s a huge role to give up if that’s been your goal for several years, if not longer.
Maybe in the end it’ll help Stern streamline ownership approval if Seattle is denied.
Regardless, it looks like some serious desperation on Sacramento’s part.
Ranadive’s emergence as potentially the first Indian-born owner of an American major
pro sports franchise would be a major win for the NBA. It was Ranadive who introduced
the W’s Bollywood night themed games, and I’d expect some serious South Asian
outreach the same way the NBA has aggressively courted China and East
Asia. Moreover, Ranadive continues a trend of the NBA bringing in tech-based owners.
Consider the current list of owners with tech backgrounds:

Paul Allen, Microsoft (Blazers, purchased in 1988) 
Mark Cuban, Broadcast.com/Yahoo (Mavericks, 2000)
Dan Gilbert, Quicken/Quicken Loans (Cavaliers, 2005)
Ted Leonsis, AOL (Wizards, 2010)
Joe Lacob, Kleiner Perkins (Warriors, 2010)
Robert Pera, Ubiquiti (Grizzlies, 2012)

That’s more than the other three leagues combined and signifies what the NBA thinks of
the nouveau riche tech world: they like it. The NFL and MLB have the least turnover,
with plenty of multi-generational old money mixes with real estate tycoons and media
companies. Now we’re seeing a proliferation of hedge funds and tech money infiltrating
the ranks. Oil money has made major inroads into the Premier League. The economy
has changed thanks to the internet and globalization. It’s good to see team ownership
reflect that. For the most part, the days of the singular owner are over. The money’s
bigger, as is the risk, so it makes more sense to team up to build an ownership group
that can provide both the fun and the returns investors are looking for.

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March 22, 2013
Update 3/23 1:30 AM – Pillbury made its own motion in response. They’re aiming to
“augment the administrative record; memo of p’s and a’s” (points and authorities), so
they’re providing their defense of their behavior in the case. I’ll try to get a copy of the
motion ASAP.
There’s a fairly new term being used in baseball talk on the internet these days:
TOOTBLAN. It’s short for Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop. It’s very
popular on Twitter, and its lineage dates back to some misadventures on the basepaths
by Ryan Theriot, who naturally was on the Cubs when the term was coined. When it
comes to baserunning, Theriot is the polar opposite of Coco Crisp, whose recent profile
by Grantland’s Jonah Keri elevated Coco to ninja-like levels between the bags. Still,
Theriot has two World Series rings in the past two years, so who’s the nincompoop now?
Well, it’ll forever be Theriot. Sorry dude.
The City of San Jose committed its own TOOTBLAN in the Stand for San Jose lawsuit.
During the suit’s discovery period, the City inadvertently released several documents
that clearly should have been protected by attorney-client privilege. When City attorneys
found out, they asked S4SJ’s attorneys at Pillsbury to return the documents. Instead,
Pillsbury held onto the privileged docs and sought to augment their own case with the
documents. That forced the City to file a temporary restraining order against Pillsbury,
which was granted by a judge in January 2012. Suspecting that Pillsbury lawyers would
use the information anyway, last week (3/11) the City filed its own motion to disqualify
counsel (read the PDF for the blow-by-blow), saying that Pillsbury’s conduct during
discovery should force them off the case. From the motion:
By this motion, respondents and real party in interest seek disqualification of
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (“Pillsbury”) from further involvement in
this case. Pillsbury attorneys closely examined and attempted to use nine privileged
documents inadvertently produced by the City of San Jose. Pillsbury was ethically
obligated not to review these documents any more than necessary to determine
they were privileged and to immediately notify the City of its possession of the
documents. In derogation of these obligations, Pillsbury not only reviewed the
privileged documents in their entirety and failed to notify the City that it possessed
them, it refused to return the documents after the City discovered the inadvertent
production and requested that the documents be returned. Instead, Pillsbury
affirmatively sought to incorporate the documents into the administrative record in
this case and use the information in them to support petitioners’ claims, threating a
motion to augment the record if they were not included. The City was forced to
bring a TRO and preliminary injunction proceeding, which resulted in an order
requiring Pillsbury to return the privileged documents and all copies. The
documents contained highly confidential attorney/client communications and
attorney work product bearing directly on the issues in this case. Pillsbury’s
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possession of this information prejudices the defense of this case, and there is no
effective remedy short of disqualification.
I consulted with some folks who have a better grasp of the legal issues here. Apparently
the motion to disqualify counsel is not something that is successfully granted often, and
any such claims have to pass a fairly stringent test to force such an action. At the same
time, the inadvertent release of privileged or confidential information during discovery
isn’t all that uncommon, given the reams and boxes of documents that have to be made
available for a trial. Still, this is an embarrassing moment for the City and it seems like
they want to be rewarded for making a pretty big mistake.
The documents in question include marked up versions of the EIR, analyses and
comments from the City Attorney’s office, and to my surprise, a draft of a Disposition
and Development Agreement – effectively the lease terms for the ballpark and/or land.
Frankly, I want to see this information and the public should have the right to see it. For
now, records requests may have to be filed to gain access, and that may not happen until
after a trial ends. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how Judge Hubner rules on this
next month. Just like last fall’s motion to compel, this is a long shot at best, but
Pillsbury’s conduct could result in sanctions if not disqualification. If Pillsbury were
thrown off the case, S4SJ would be forced to bring in new counsel and prepare a new
case, creating considerable delay. Plus the new legal team wouldn’t be the Giants’ own
firm. Considering how the Giants may have pressured the Controller’s office to take
actions against San Jose in the ballpark land rollback, just about anything’s fair game at
this point. The hearing will be at Santa Clara County Superior Court on April 12, 9 AM. I
expect to be there for the proceedings.
Note: I spent a couple of fruitless hours at the Superior Court trying to get a copy of
the motion, because it hadn’t been properly filed yet. I strolled a few blocks over to City
Hall and went to the City Attorney’s office to request a copy. I received it via e-mail
within an hour of the request.

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April 3, 2013
Added 1:00 PM – I’ve taken the liberty of posting the text of Mayor Reed’s letter to
Commissioner Selig.
Mr. Bud Selig, Commissioner
Major League Baseball
777 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Ste. 3060
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Commissioner Selig:
When will the A’s be moving to San Jose? That’s the question that is most often
asked of me by CEOs of Silicon Valley companies competing to retain and attract
global talent, by youngsters excited about competing in little league baseball, and
by fans throughout San Jose.
The A’s ownership continues to express its desire to locate the team in San Jose and
I strongly endorse that outcome. There should be no doubt of San Jose’s ability to
be a great host city for the team and for Major League Baseball. There should also
be no doubt that the stadium could have been under construction by now.
We respect your desire to examine fully all aspects of allowing the A’s to move to
Northern California’s largest city. In 2011, former MLB President Bob Dupuy,
speaking on behalf of your office, asked that our City Council delay approving a
public vote to advance a planned stadium project in Downtown San Jose. We
abided by that request. Mr. Dupuy also indicated that you would soon make a final
decision and, if favorable towards San Jose, the MLB would assist the City with the
costs of a future election. Two years have passed since. As you know, we have been
contacted many times by the MLB’s Blue Ribbon Panel and we have responded
promptly and thoroughly in every instance. Meanwhile, we continue to
communicate with leaders in the community and are prepared to advance
implementation actions to the City Council following your decision.
Direct communication between us will help resolve any lingering issues about our
commitment to having the A’s home plate located in San Jose and could reduce the
probability for additional litigation. I’d appreciate an opportunity to discuss this
with you and have asked my Chief of Staff, Pete Furman, to contact your office
regarding scheduling a meeting with you. I hope you will look favorably upon the
Best Wishes,
Chuck Reed
c: Lew Wolff
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It’s probably not a coincidence that in the span of two hours, Lew Wolff spoke for the
first time this regular season about the stadium situation on Chronicle Live!, followed by
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed asking for a meeting with Bud Selig via a one-page letter
sent to  the Commissioner’s office.
Reed is positioning the requested meeting as something that could head off future
litigation. Over the last year, San Jose has become more vocal about challenging MLB
through the courts. So far MLB hasn’t budged. I can’t imagine that this will work either.
Regardless of whether San Jose actually has standing in a case against baseball, the
sport still has the lion’s share of leverage. If granted the meeting, maybe Reed will come
with a phalanx of high-profile lawyers to shake down Selig. More likely is the idea that
Reed will continue to pitch San Jose’s positives (of which there are many) and try to
allay any fears that the A’s can be self-sustaining in the long run. Remember, they have
to be off revenue sharing in a new Bay Area stadium.
As for Wolff, he was peppered with a lot of questions by ChronLive’s Jim Kozimor.
Unfortunately, Wolff refused to talk about any progress on the decision-making front for
a stadium location, citing the Selig-imposed gag order on both teams. He was able to
comment on other matters. On the prospects of the five year lease Wolff requested last
The environment of getting a (lease extension) is very positive.
That’s encouraging. All A’s fans hope that the flying rhetoric stops and the team and the
JPA can work out an extension that benefits both sides. That’s not going to be easy with
the Raiders asking for more revenue control. We’ll see over the coming months if a
proper agreement can be worked out for all sides.
Asked if Wolff and the Fisher family would consider selling the team if Wolff doesn’t get
his wish to move the franchise to San Jose:
The answer is no… we want to keep this generational.
Following the 14-minute interview, in-studio guest Mark Purdy further elaborated on
the “generational” aspect. Purdy indicated that Lew could cede more of the stadium
effort in the coming years, as he approaches 80. Next in line is Lew’s son Keith Wolff,
who has been working on plans for Cisco Field and the Earthquakes Stadium, where
major site work started happening in the last week. Lew says that the Quakes stadium is
on track, but process could slow it down. For now he says that the Quakes stadium
should be open for the 2014 MLS season, conceding that there could be delays in
completing the project. I figure that once that venue is up and running, Keith Wolff will
assume his father’s place as the public face of the stadium effort, if not the franchise
itself. With the recent trend of teams acting as investment vehicles and development
anchors, this is naturally hard-to-believe. Considering how Wolff views his ownership of
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the franchise and how he attends games frequently with his grandson, it’s not
necessarily that far-fetched. Wolff dismissed Kozimor’s suggestion that the team is just
fine collecting revenue sharing checks, responding that he wanted to leave the team and
the sport in a better place than he found it. As long as there continues to be an impasse
vis-à-vis San Jose, that’s inconceivable.

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April 21, 2013
The Chronicle’s John Shea confirmed something I had heard about the reasoning for the
Giants’ AT&T Park debt refinancing.
The Giants’ plan to pay off their stadium debt by 2017? No longer in the works, we hear.
There have been steps to refinance the $170 million loan to help fund their proposed
development on parking lot A across from McCovey Cove. There was a time the Giants
said they had to limit their payroll because of the $20 million annual mortgage.
Remember how, in 2009, SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera threatened to sue baseball
over the perceived financial threat posed to the City if the A’s were granted territorial
rights to the South Bay? Well, I’m glad for everyone’s sake that the Giants feel it’s safe
enough to take on even greater debt to grow their empire. I was so worried for a while
Meanwhile, a group of East Bay mayors including Oakland’s Jean Quan and Berkeley’s
Tom Bates are trying to upend legislation introduced by SF assemblyman Phil Ting that
would help smooth (or bypass) some of the environmental review and approval process
for the Warriors’ arena. It’s not strange that they would pursue this route, since it is
local politics at work. The irony is that whatever new law helps the W’s arena could
provide a blueprint and pave the way for an A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal, which
makes sense because both are on waterfront sites and face the same restrictions.
Of course, if Howard Terminal never gets past the talking points stage no one ever has to
find out how expensive it’ll be to build there.

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April 22, 2013
A pair of Oakland A’s fans and longtime readers of this site have started a site called
Oakland Fan Pledge. The purpose is to gauge interest in tickets and different seating
options at a hypothetical Oakland ballpark, either at the Coliseum complex or Howard
Terminal. Results of this survey may be shared with MLB, public officials, and the A’s if
the team ever decides to stay in Oakland.
This new effort follows similar campaigns in Sacramento and Seattle to build interest in
a new arenas in those cities. Sacramento’s Here We Buy has received more than 11,000
season ticket pledges so far. A similar drive in Seattle claimed more than 44,000 season
ticket pledges and 268 suites. Obviously a pledge is not the same as a binding contract to
purchase tickets, but as long as people are being honest about their levels of
commitment, the information gathered from these kinds of campaigns can be useful.
Interestingly, because Seattle and Sacramento were so public about their efforts, it’s
likely that Oakland Fan Pledge may be compared to the cities fighting over the Kings/
Sonics, however unfair that may seem. Here’s the press release from the group.
April 22, 2013
John Hansen
John Jackson
Oakland Baseball Fans Launch Campaign for New Stadium
April 22, 2013
Oakland, CA – Baseball fans who want the A’s to stay in the East Bay have a new
way to show their support: pledging to buy ticket plans at a potential new
baseball-only stadium in Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge
(www.OaklandFanPledge.com) is a new independent website created by A’s fans to
show Major League Baseball, A’s ownership, and Oakland city officials that local
fans will support a new ballpark in Oakland by pledging their dollars to buy
On the website fans can choose from various ticket plans and pricing levels at a
hypothetical ballpark. While no monetary transaction takes place, those who
pledge are asked to be realistic about what they could afford if a new stadium were
to be built. Ticket prices are based on averages of other recently-opened stadiums
throughout Major League Baseball (MLB). Premium seats include a separate fee
for ‘seat rights,’ similar to what was done for the Giants’ opening of Pacific Bell
Park in 2000, a standard for a privately-financed stadium. The full list of tickets
and money pledged will be continuously updated on the site and shared with MLB,
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city officials in Oakland, and the A’s. If the time comes that the current, or future,
A’s owners commit to a stadium in Oakland, the site’s owners plan to share their
list of pledges.
Oakland city officials have identified two possible sites for a new baseball stadium
within city limits: one at the existing Coliseum complex and another on port-owned
land near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge
provides a clear way for A’s supporters in the region to weigh in. By committing to
buy ticket plans at a new Oakland baseball stadium, fans can rally around keeping
their team in town by sending a clear message. “The A’s owners have told the
team’s fans for years that the A’s are as good as gone from Oakland, and it’s
frustrating,” says John Jackson, a lifelong fan who is helping to organize Oakland
Fan Pledge. “There are tens of thousands of fans that would open their wallets and
buy ticket plans if a long term commitment to Oakland was made and a new
stadium was built.”
Oakland Fan Pledge began as a grassroots response to frustration around the
team’s uncertain future in Oakland and lack of progress in building a new stadium
for the team. Major League Baseball has spent over four years reviewing potential
Bay Area stadium sites without making a decision. Meanwhile, the A’s ownership
has alienated much of the team’s local fan base by repeatedly expressing their
desire to abandon the East Bay for Santa Clara County, which is currently under
the control of the San Francisco Giants through MLB territorial rights.
“Oakland Fan Pledge is more than a way for A’s fans to show a financial
commitment to their team and to Oakland,” says John Hansen, another organizer
of the site. “It gives fans a way to move beyond being told their team is done in
Oakland, and visualize a new hometown stadium the team’s current owners have
tried to convince them isn’t possible. We believe not only is a new stadium in
Oakland possible, but that local fans are ready by the thousands to fill it up.
Through Oakland Fan Pledge, we look forward to sending this message loud and
clear to Major League Baseball and the team’s owners, and dispelling the myth that
Oakland is anything but an extremely viable home for the A’s for decades to come.”
I’ll be sure to fill out my survey ASAP.

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April 29, 2013
Just in: the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to reject a relocation of the
Sacramento Kings to Seattle. This preliminary vote is meant to be a recommendation to
the greater Board of Governors. Given that it was a 12-0 vote, the decision effectively
kills any chance of the sale and relocation being approved. It’s possible that Seattle’s
Hansen-Ballmer group could launch a lawsuit against the NBA, but that would interfere
with any future consideration for either an expansion franchise or another potentially
relocated franchise such as the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now it’s up to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the “local” ownership group
headed by Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov to pull through with the money parts of
the deal. KJ and the City Council have to get an EIR passed, put up $250 million in
arena bonds, and work out the financial details, which aren’t yet finalized. As for the
“whales”, they have to put up their half of the arena through realized pledges from the
community. After years of Maloof-caused turmoil, Kings fans can for once breathe
easily. The Capitol will keep its team. I can practically hear the cowbells from 90 miles

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May 1, 2013
It was bound to happen. As the Coliseum JPA and the A’s got further into lease
extension talks, they were sure to hit a snag. KTVU reports that after year of ongoing
dialog, talks halted last week over the requirement for the A’s to pay $7 million in
parking taxes. (Note: Six weeks ago, Matier & Ross had the number owed at only $3
million.) The issue goes back to when Oakland, looking for a way to boost tax revenues,
started to enforce a 18.5% parking levy in 2009. All three tenant teams boosted rates to
cover the tax, including the A’s charging $17 instead of the $15 they had charged
previously. Unlike the Raiders and Warriors, the A’s pocketed the hike while the City
and Alameda County fought it out over how much money the two parties and the JPA
should get.
The Authority has been asking the A’s for the money for a few years, with Lew Wolff
focused chiefly on plans to move to San Jose, only in the last year or so turning towards
an extension at the Coliseum. Both sides indicated that discussions were going well, but
it’s probably difficult to come to an agreement over $7 million when that’s more than
the A’s have paid in rent the past five years. The A’s say that they don’t owe money but
will pay the tax moving forward, which sounds thoroughly disingenuous considering
they raised the parking rate in response to the imposition of the tax.
The County wants a bigger cut of concessions revenue, which was practically signed
away to the A’s when the team and the JPA settled their post-Mount Davis lawsuit. The
A’s were also burned by the JPA when they chose to take money meant to replace
scoreboards and rerouted it towards the Coliseum City study.
For their part, the A’s will only say that “The disputed items are subject to arbitration or
possibly incorporated in a new five-year lease extension.” Arbitration could easily put
the A’s on the losing end, paying the full $7 million, but if they’re aware of that and they
could somehow get less through negotiation or arbitration, holding out is not a bad
tactic. They know that the City’s and County’s stance is to go ofter them hard as the A’s
have really nowhere to go while a move to San Jose sits in limbo.
The A’s abruptly cut off talks for now, which itself may be a negotiation tactic of sorts. Is
Wolff willing this to go straight to arbitration, or does he want to wait until after the
baseball ends to pick up talks again? If they, it’s not likely that everyone at the table will
suddenly become nicer.
P.S. – I did some quick and dirty math on this. The City imposed the tax start in July
2009. That left 3.5 years of tax accrual before the start of the 2013 season. 5000 spaces
* 3.5 years * 82 games * 18.5% = $4.5 million. Not $3 million, not $7 million. Free
Parking Tuesdays and last year’s playoff parking revenue are not accounted for.

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May 8, 2013

If there’s one significant takeaway from the 49ers/Levi’s press conference today,
it’s this: the “SF” on the Niners’ helmet remains a very strong symbol.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee deflected a question about the stadium being in Santa
Clara instead of the city proper, talking about moving forward with the stadium as
a regional solution. But it was 49ers owner Jed York and Levi Strauss CEO Chip
Bergh who repeatedly emphasized the historical ties between the 49ers and the
City, going back to the Gold Rush days. It’s a brand synergy that can only be borne
of history, one that may not have been possible if the 49ers dropped the “SF” on
the way south. This affirms Levi’s position as a strong sponsor of San Francisco
teams – first with the Giants in 2006. That deal, which featured the prime arcade
wall (replacing Gap’s Old Navy) marked the start of a growing presence in the
sports world for Levi Strauss. Previously under the Haas family, Levi’s sports
presence wasn’t nearly as large even though Wally Haas owned the A’s. So it’s
somewhat ironic that Levi’s aggression in the market came after the Haases gave
up prominent leadership roles in company, the company choosing to go with
outsiders (Bergh is from Proctor & Gamble, Phil Marineau came from Pepsi) as
debt and a changing market threatened the company’s very existence.
Bergh also mentioned off-hand that the scoreboards, on which enormous Levi’s
logos will be placed, will be 190 feet long. That’s 10 feet longer than the frame I
informally measured a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, the logo may be slightly
taller than the rim of upper deck. Couple that with the gaps in the upper seating
bowl, and the logo should be plainly visible for miles around, especially at night
when it is lit up.
At $220 million over 20 years, the revenue the 49ers and Santa Clara Stadium
Authority will realize is very solid, behind only MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
That stadium is home to two teams. It’s less than the in-limbo Farmers Field deal,
but that was also for two teams and would’ve involved more uses as a retractable
domed facility. All in all, Levi’s is setting the bar for the Bay Area, including new
venues for the Raiders in Oakland, Warriors in SF, and the A’s deal with Cisco.
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Cisco’s deal, negotiated in 2006, was for $4 million per year over 30 years in
Fremont.  The argument that the A’s should get more with a San Jose ballpark is
only strengthened by the news of the Levi’s Stadium deal.
Original post
The 49ers and Levi Strauss have scheduled a 11 AM press conference outside the
jeansmaker’s San Francisco headquarters. While both sides are mum for now,
multiple outlets are reporting that during the presser the two parties will announce
a naming rights deal for the 49ers’ Santa Clara stadium.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Lauren Hepler, the City of
Santa Clara, which has to approve the naming rights terms, will make those terms
public at 4 PM today.  The City Council/Stadium Authority Board is expected
to discuss the terms in a special session tomorrow.
The presser will be streamed at 49ers.com/live at 11. This post will be updated as
Update 10:45 AM – The Mercury News’ Mike Rosenberg has tweeted that the deal
is $220 million over 20 years.

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May 21, 2013
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the big announcements today: Super Bowl L
(2016) has been awarded to San Francisco/Santa Clara. Houston was awarded Super
Bowl LI (2017). Miami is officially left out in the cold until they get publicly-financed
stadium improvements.
Anyone who has been following the process with even a passing interest should know
that this was as anti-climactic a decision as it gets. Once a funding package for Dolphins
Stadium died without coming to a vote in the Florida House. South Florida bidders and
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have no choice but to go back to the drawing board as
they have to deal with future competition from Dallas/North Texas, Indianapolis,
Minnesota, and in all likelihood, Atlanta (see below).
While Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium will physically host the game, Media Day, and other
activities, San Francisco will host most of the peripheral events. Chief among these is
The NFL Experience, the temporary theme park, which will be held at Moscone Center.
The SF bid committee has not made public all of the details of the bid, but we’ll see
everything emerge in the coming months. Daniel Lurie, SF philanthropist and part of
the extended Haas family, put together a coalition of business interests and civic leaders
to raise $30 million of pledges to host the game, the two weeks of events leading up to
the game, and contributions to community groups. The list of companies in the fray is
who’s who of Bay Area heavyweights, including Google, Apple, HP, Intel, GAP (yes, that
GAP), Virgin America, SAP, Brocade, and others.
NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen couldn’t help but gush over the 49ers’ doing the
seemingly impossible:
The fact that somebody turned a shovel for a stadium in (California) is
Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Jed York and the 49ers still deserve major
kudos for getting this done. They combined a steady political drive with some fortuitous
on-field success to execute exceedingly well. They’re also getting the benefit of a major
first-mover advantage at Levi’s Stadium. When the big game is held there, chances are
the MLB’s Lodge will take a look and think, We might’ve been first movers here. (Sorry,
the Sharks are still bit players compared to NFL & MLB).
York and Lurie have pitched Super Bowl L as the first truly high-tech experience, with
no paper tickets and extremely connected fans in the seats. Whether SF/SC becomes a
regular rotation player among Super Bowl host cities will depend largely on how well the
technology works, and, of course, the weather during the game.

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Not to be lost in the news is that Atlanta was approved for $200 million in G-4 funds for
their crazy new stadium to replace the still-young Georgia Dome. If you’re keeping track,
that’s now three stadia that have gobbled up a full-sized G-4 share: Levi’s Stadium, the
Minnesota Vikings’ next home, and now the Falcons’ downtown digs. With the Packers
getting $58 million for a Lambeau Field expansion, nearly all of the G-4 program money
has been spoken for, with maybe one full slot or a few smaller slots remaining. The
Raiders have indicated that they may not participate in the program, probably because
they have to match the NFL’s cash dollar for dollar and get additional privately-sourced
commitments to secure approval. The Chargers and Rams are also interested, and in the
latter’s case, St. Louis is obligated to give them a ton of money if they want to keep the
team in town. The Chargers and Raiders have an uproad battle to get public funds.

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June 17, 2013
There’s fifty feet of crap. And then there’s us. – Billy Beane, Moneyball
Figurative turned literal on Sunday, as the A’s and Mariners (and umpires) were forced
to vacate their respective clubhouses after the game because of a sewage backup. The
backup caused sewage to seep out of the shower drains as players were trying to clean
up. Both teams were forced to use the Raiders’ locker room showers, which are located a
level up in the old Exhibit Hall.
As part of the 1995 Mt. Davis renovations, the Exhibit Hall was transformed into new
football locker rooms, while the A’s clubhouse and visiting facilities remained mostly
untouched. As a result, the plumbing in the clubhouses continues to deteriorate and
requires constant repairs, which the A’s usually end up paying for during the season. Per
the team’s lease, they can deduct the cost of the repairs against their annual rent
payment. During the NFL offseason, the Raiders locker room often gets used as an extra
staging area for VIPs. As a part of the stadium that was constructed less than 20 years
ago, it’s in much better shape than the old baseball clubhouses.
In 2011, I asked Lew Wolff about the state of affairs at the Coliseum. Here’s an excerpt of
our discussion:
Wolff: We’re constantly making repairs that are not our obligation.
ML: Really? Like what?
Wolff: Leaks and things. The scoreboard. There are two of them because of football.
I think they’re finally going to replace them, but if they don’t there are no more
parts. If a light goes out we borrow it from another one. It’s aggravating. But they
basically say they don’t have any money. They still have bonds to pay off. The place
is old and this is not the time for cities to write a check for sports.
Two years later the leaks have gotten worse and the scoreboard still needs replacement,
with funds to make that happen siphoned away to study Coliseum City. It’s easy to make
scoreboards a low priority at a decrepit place like the Coliseum since they don’t affect
players or revenues. Functional clubhouses, however, are a different matter entirely. It’s
one thing if the clubhouse flooding and contamination was confined solely to the A’s
clubhouse. This time it affected both teams and the umpires. Now there’s the prospect of
complaints being filed by the A’s, Mariners, and the players’ and umpires’ unions.
(Susan Slusser noted that the Angels complained about a similar incident in 2001, citing
a possible E. Coli threat.) Ultimately the responsibility falls on the Coliseum Authority,
the body acting as the landlord for the three Coliseum tenant teams. A Herculean effort
by an industrial cleanup company like ServPro should get the place up and running. The
structural deficiencies will continue to linger.

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I know next to nothing about engineering sewer systems, but I do know that having
facilities below sea level (such as the clubhouses) can make it difficult to get a proper
gravity-based flow going. The funny thing is that one of EBMUD’s huge sewer
interceptors runs right through the Coliseum complex, so it should be easy to get
wastewater and sewage out of the complex assuming that the sewer lines and pumps are
working properly. Evidently at least one part of the stadium’s sewage infrastructure
wasn’t working at all. Think about that. There is a river of shit running right through the
Coliseum and somehow it couldn’t be utilized on Sunday.
Some are pointing to the possibility that the sewer system was taxed by large crowds.
The A’s drew 171,756 total fans during this recent six-game homestand. Let’s put that in
perspective. That’s 28,626 per game, or roughly half the originally designed 1966
capacity of the Coliseum. Even the Sunday sellout was only 57% of the 2012 football
capacity. The system as a whole should not have been stressed in the slightest.
As the investigation into the cause of the incident continues, it will occur against the
backdrop of ongoing lease negotiations. Previously it was assumed that the Authority
would have a good deal of leverage because the A’s have nowhere else to play in the Bay
Area post-2013. Now the tables have turned, as it can be argued by many parties that the
Coliseum is unfit to host MLB games until the clubhouse sewage problem and other
deficiencies are addressed. MLB could even step in to make preconditions on the JPA
prior to further lease talks. That would put the JPA in quite the pickle. How can the JPA
recover more money from the A’s towards Coliseum debt service if it has to fund
additional, costly improvements at the Coliseum? If the JPA wants to lock the A’s into a
deal longer than 5 years, how much money is the JPA willing to put up to make it worth
the A’s and MLB’s while? And how does that coincide with any requests the Raiders are
making for their lease extension?
Prior to this incident, Lew Wolff offered to continue on at the Coliseum for five years
with the current use terms, rent TBD. He could and should demand infrastructure
improvements, but he and Michael Crowley could be enticed to stand pat and maintain
the status quo since it would be less complicated. It would be hard for the A’s to make
any leasehold improvements without prior approval of the JPA, and since they’re not
bound by the lease beyond December there’s no immediate incentive to do so. All they’ll
probably do at the moment is make necessary repairs, clean and disinfect the place, lay
down some new carpet in the affected areas, and hope for the best. While that should be
enough to get through the rest of the season, imagine another sewage incident occurring
during the postseason. What kind of PR disaster would that be for Oakland? And I can’t
image naming rights sponsor O.co is thrilled to be associated with this debacle. It’s bad
enough that from afar the stadium resembles a toilet.
Three weeks ago Jon Heyman incurred the wrath of A’s fans over his snide tweet
comparing AT&T Park to the Coliseum. He mostly stayed away from any remarks this
time around, except for a retweet of Slusser getting a David Rinetti (A’s VP of stadium
operations) quote:

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Vice president of stadium operations David Rinetti said the Coliseum has problems
with sewage on a regular basis but this is worst ever.
5:13 PM - 16 Jun 2013
Smart move by Heyman to stay away from this mess, though I wouldn’t blame him if he
gloated in private. Trololol.
Update 10:45 AM – Bob Nightengale has a choice quote from Wolff and reiterates a
story from February.
The A’s, of course, have tried to bolt town for the last five years. The San Francisco
Giants won’t share their territory and permit the Athletics to move to San Jose. Major
League Baseball, which hoped the A’s and Giants would somehow reach an agreement
on their own, finally got a resolution from their blue ribbon committee. The committee
submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the
requirements, a move could soon be underway.
Wolff won’t talk about the guidelines. Neither will the Giants. Or even Major League
Well, since the NSA isn’t sharing any of Wolff’s telephone conversations with
Commissioner Bud Selig, it’s fair to say that if Wolff agreed to the parameters, he’d have
a shovel in his hand today digging into the San Jose soil.
Wolff denied the February report in last week’s radio interview. Clearly something isn’t
meshing here. The two short-term decisions at the moment are the lease and the S4SJ
lawsuit. It would make sense to wait to announce something until both of those issues
are resolved.
Update 2:30 PM – Amazingly, Lew Wolff is pulling his punches, at least according to a
new Carl Steward article.
“What it says basically is that it’s a deteriorating facility,” he said. “I think
everybody is aware of that, even the people who run it. We’re sort of all in this
together, so it isn’t something I would use … we just have to solve it right now.”
Wolff downplayed that this might be the kind of incident that would give him extra
ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A’s situation,
which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess
the team’s options.
“Even if they said tomorrow, `OK, you can have a new stadium,’ we can’t do it in
one day,” Wolff said. “We’re still going to have a plumbing issue.'”

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Of course, Wolff isn’t going to stop the M’s, other teams, MLBPA, or WUA (umpires)
from filing their own complaints. Those may have more bite. On the other hand,
Billy Beane’s comments were a little more pointed.
“Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time,” Beane said. “Our
employees are impacted by this. I was the first to see the manager’s office (Sunday),
but we see it all the time, and this is not unusual. I don’t blame them (the Mariners)
for reacting, but we have to live with it on a semi-regular basis.
“If we say anything, we’re told we’re being opportunist,” Beane added. “I wish these
were working conditions we didn’t have to work with. When it affects somebody
other than us, it becomes a story. I’m used to it. I deal with it.”
Doesn’t get more Oakland than that.

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June 18, 2013
#BREAKING: The San Jose City Council has voted to sue #MLB for refusing to let
the Oakland #Athletics move to San Jose.
10:47 AM - 18 Jun 2013
More from ABC 7:
So, the city has hired Peninsula attorney Joe Cotchett to file a lawsuit. “This is all
about economics. And, you have a city like San Jose, the tenth largest city in the
United States, cannot get a baseball club. I can name you other cities that are
pulling for San Jose for the same reason. They want the right and the chance to
bring a baseball team to their city, their county, whatever it might be,” he said.
A 2009 study found that a new ballpark for the A’s could pump $130 million a year
into the San Jose economy. And, San Jose’s mayor has hinted in the past that he’s
considered legal action, but the city has always deferred to the principal owner of
the A’s — Lew Wolff.
The City has been talking to Cotchett for a while about prepping the lawsuit. I had also
heard that Cotchett may be taking this case pro bono, but I can’t confirm that at the
moment. Correction: Cotchett is taking the case on a contingency basis. Cotchett has a
ton of experience with antitrust suits and sports, representing the Raiders and the NFL
at different times.
The Merc’s John Woolfork also has an article with a primer.
The podcast of the Cotchett interview on 95.7 The Game is available here.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s office put out the lawsuit press release:
For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2013
Michelle McGurk, Office of Mayor Reed
(408) 535-4840 or (408) 655-7332 (cell)
City Council Unanimously Authorizes Lawsuit to Allow A’s to Move to San Jose
San Jose, Calif. – The City of San Jose has filed legal action in federal court to
eliminate the territorial restrictions that Major League Baseball has used to keep
the A’s from moving to San Jose. The complaint was authorized by the City Council
during closed session this morning.
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“For more than four years, the City of San Jose has made an exhaustive effort to
work with Major League Baseball to resolve any concerns about our city’s capacity
to host a major league ballclub,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “During that time, it has
become abundantly clear that Major League Baseball prefers to use territorial
restrictions as an excuse to restrict commerce and prevent the Athletics from
relocating to San Jose. This restriction is costing San Jose residents millions of
dollars in new annual tax revenues that could go towards funding more police
officers, firefighters, libraries, gang prevention efforts, road repairs and other
critical city services.”
The Oakland Athletics ownership group has expressed a desire to construct a new
privately-financed and privately-operated ballpark in Downtown San Jose. While
the City of San Jose has worked with the Athletics to facilitate the construction of a
new ballpark, their efforts have been stalled by the San Francisco Giants’ claim of
“territorial rights” to Santa Clara County. In 2009, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
appointed a special blue ribbon committee to analyze the Athletics’ options for a
new ballpark. But after four years, there still has been no decision on whether the
Athletics can relocate to San Jose.
According to an independent economic analysis report conducted by Conventions
Sports & Leisure International, a new major league ballpark in Downtown San
Jose would generate significant benefits, including:
$5 million per year in new tax revenues to the City and other local governments;
$130 million per year in total net new economic output; and
Nearly 1000 new full and part-time jobs.
San Jose has entered into an option agreement with the Athletics Investment
Group, LLC, the California limited partnership that owns and operates the Oakland
A’s, to purchase property for a ballpark in Downtown San Jose. According to the
suit, Major League Baseball is interfering with this contract by refusing to allow
the Oakland A’s Club to locate to the City of San Jose. San Jose seeks to restore
competition among and between the clubs and their partners by ending MLB’s
collusive agreements. The lawsuit outlines several practices that have resulted in
an unreasonable restraint on competition, in violation of federal and California
law, and constitute unlawful, unfair, and/or fraudulent business practices under
California law, including violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law,
Tortious Interference with Contractual Advantage, and Tortious Interference with
Prospective Economic Advantage, and for violation of the federal Sherman Act, and
violation of California’s Cartwright Act.
The City of San Jose is being represented in this case by attorney Joseph W.
Cotchett and the firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP. The firm is working on
Additional Resources:

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Legal Action filed June 18, 2013: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/
Economic Impact Analysis: http://www.sjredevelopment.org/ballpark/
Ballpark archive, including renderings: http://www.sjredevelopment.org/
And now, MLB’s response:
Major League Baseball Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs
Rob Manfred issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit filed by the
City of San Jose today:
“In considering the issues related to the Oakland Athletics, Major League Baseball
has acted in the best interests of our fans, our communities and the league. The
lawsuit is an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional
sports league. It is regrettable that the city has resorted to litigation that has no
basis in law or in fact.”
———Additional comments from San Jose Councilmembers, who unanimously voted to
approve the lawsuit:
Xavier Campos, Councilmember, District Five: “The Mayor and City Council want to
send Major League Baseball a clear message that the future home for the Athletics is
in San José. The new ballpark will draw more fans and generate additional revenues,
and create jobs during the construction phase of the project as well as permanent
jobs well into the future. It’s a win for San José and it’s a win for Major League
Kansen Chu, Councilmember, District Four: “I am disappointed Major League
Baseball has prevented the A’s from moving to San José. Winning this lawsuit not
only will provide a great economic impact for the City of San José but will also
benefit Major League Baseball.”
Rose Herrera, Councilmember, District 8: “This is the right step to take on behalf of
our residents to get the baseball team that we deserve.”
Ash Kalra, Councilmember, District 2: “Major League Baseball has given the city of
San Jose no other option but to turn to the judicial system to have our concerns
heard and this matter resolved. The lack of response from Major League Baseball has
been extremely disrespectful to the efforts our city and community have made in
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creating an attractive environment for the Athletics, particularly since the team’s
ownership agrees that San Jose, the Capital of Silicon Valley, is the ideal location for
their great organization.”
Johnny Khamis, Councilmember, District 10: “I supported filing the lawsuit against
Major League Baseball today because San Jose deserves economic justice.”
Sam Liccardo, Councilmember, District 3, “Our Downtown hotels, restaurants,
shops, cafes, and clubs and their workers will benefit the tens of thousands of people
attending each game at a Major League ballpark,” said Councilmember Sam
Liccardo, who represents the Downtown. “Independent experts put the total
economic impact at $130 million a year. But the wait staff and cooks at our local
restaurants can tell you about the real impact professional sports have on a large-city
economy. When the Sharks play, Downtown is packed with patrons. We expect an
even bigger impact with baseball.”
Pierluigi Oliverio, Councilmember, District 6: “As the Councilmember representing
the majority of the land where a future ballpark would be built, I support taking this
action today. San Jose residents need resolution now. We have waited for four
painful years, and the area surrounding the future stadium has languished due to
years of indecision. In addition to Downtown, surrounding neighborhood business
districts like The Alameda and West San Carlos will benefit from the economic
revitalization that a major league ballpark will bring to the Diridon Station area.”
Donald Rocha, Councilmember, District 9: “Today’s legal action is hopefully the first
step in a process which will bring the City, Major League Baseball, the Giants and the
A’s to the table. I firmly believe that there is an opportunity for a positive outcome
for all parties, and for too long we’ve all been so focused on our own best interests
that we haven’t pursued that conversation.”
———Further reading, if you’re interested:
• SF Chronicle editorial – San Jose cries foul over A’s
• SJ Councilman Sam Liccardo (San Jose Inside) – Why San Jose Sued Major League
• Jeff Passan (Yahoo!) – San Jose lawsuit at least provides some hope in putrid A’s
• Craig Calcaterra (NBC Hardball Talk) – The San Jose lawsuit against Major League
Baseball should be thrown out of court
• Gwen Knapp (Sports On Earth) – Rotten In The State Of California
• Mark Purdy (Mercury News) – San Jose takes big swing at Major League Baseball
• Ray Ratto (CSN Bay Area) – Is closure coming to the San Jose saga?
• Wendy Thurm (Fangraphs) – San Jose Sues MLB To Get A’s, Charges Teams Conspire
To Maintain Monopoly Power In Markets
• Nathan Donato-Weinstein (SV Business Journal) – Why the deck is stacked agaisnt
San Jose in MLB lawsuit
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• Jill Tucker & John Shea (Chron) – San Jose sues MLB over A’s move
• Karen Gullo (Businessweek) – Major League Baseball sued by San Jose over A’s
• Background: Pumping up the antitrust threat (Newballpark.org)
• Background: Sick’s Stadium and relocation of Pilots from Seattle to Milwaukee
Commentary later tonight.

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June 25, 2013
Clorox CEO was on with Chris Townsend earlier today. As usual, Townsend had a pretty
thorough, wide-ranging interview that touched on a number of A’s and stadium-related
topics. I’m going to highlight a couple of items.
Townsend: When it comes to buying the A’s, are you personally interested? Is Clorox
Knauss: No I wouldn’t say we’re interested (Clorox) in buying the A’s. We clearly
would love to work with the current ownership, Lew Wolff and John Fisher, on
keeping the A’s here. I think there’s a lot of old data that Lew Wolff has about
working in Oakland… We think the world’s changed here.
Later in the interview…
Knauss: I think we have this tremendous site down Howard Terminal, which is just
adjacent to Jack London Square. We have what I believe can be the premier site in
baseball… When I last talked to Lew about that last year, he said ‘we looked at that a
long time ago, it’s not viable’. I think the last time the A’s actually sat down with the
City in any serious way was over five years ago with Mayor Dellums. At the time I
heard some of the old excuses why Howard Terminal wouldn’t work and they’re all
void now, it’s a completely different place.
Townsend: Why do you believe Howard Terminal is viable?
Knauss: In 2005 the last time they looked, the Port was close to full capacity. Now
it’s under 50% utilization. The Port can easily use Howard Terminal for a ballpark
without adversely affecting the shipping business… The second thing I’ve heard over
the years is that there is this environmental contamination on the site and people
throwing some crazy numbers around about remediating that site. We’ve done the
diligence there as well and have been assured by experts that the ballpark can be
built on that site without a substantial cost associated with cleanup. Basically we can
build a ballpark right on top of that site without scraping the site clean, the same way
AT&T Park was built on that pier.
Knauss went on to talk about the revitalization of Jack London Square and the recent
Brooklyn Basin deal. Then Townsend moved onto Knauss’s potential interest in owning
the A’s.
Townsend: In the past you’ve talked about having a group to buy the A’s. Why have
you never made an offer?
Knauss: We’re trying to respect baseball’s protocol. Our attitude is to negotiate this
and not litigate this… We’d love to have Lew sit down with us and go over the new
world that’s down there, not the old world that he’s familiar with. The other thing is
that we’re close to getting this lease renewed so I think we’re demonstrating that you
can get things down in Oakland and Alameda County… The second thing is getting
site control of Howard Terminal. So I think that’s the reason we haven’t said, ‘Let’s
find another ownership group.’ We think that could be viable, but I think clearly we’d
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rather say, ‘Look Lew, we’ve got a viable site, we believe that the team deserves a new
world class ballpark, but there’s a way to get that done here in Oakland.’
Townsend: Clorox moved a number of jobs to Pleasanton. Why do you do that but
yet you still say, ‘Ah we’re still about Oakland.’
Knauss: It’s a fair question. There are two things we wanted to try to achieve with
that. One is, it’s a bus- it’s really a focus on innovation. The reason we’ve been
around for 100 years is because it constantly innovates new products. We wanted to
get all of our innovation people in one location. Now obviously innovation is driven
by R&D, and we’ve always had R&D people folks out in Pleasanton. We had about
400 scientists out there and we’ve had ‘em out there for decades. What we’ve learned
over the years is that when you put all of the functions out there that drive
innovation – marketing, sales, finance, human resources, legal, etc. – put all those
people out there with the R&D people, then you get much quicker innovation, you
get bigger ideas developed. So we wanted to create a new campus out in Pleasanton
where we had our nucleus and add those people. We moved a lot of those folks out of
downtown Oakland out to Pleasanton – but we kept them in Alameda County.
The second reason we did it was a business continuity issue. The headquarters building
– obviously we’re all in the Bay Area sitting on various faults. We wanted to get some
dispersion of our IT resources out in Pleasanton too where we thought we could spread
out some of our risk from a business continuity standpoint. Those were the two central
reasons: better innovation, better business continuity, minimizing risk. We’ve kept
people in Alameda County, and we’ve kept our general office in Oakland, and certainly
I’m sitting here in Oakland and I live in Oakland. So we’re committed to Oakland.
Let’s try to put this in perspective. Don Knauss was brought in as Clorox CEO in October
2006, shortly before Ron Dellums was elected mayor. Knauss is clearly referring to the
anti-sports Brown administration and the general absence of leadership during the
Dellums era. Are we – and Wolff & MLB – supposed to believe that a new sheriff is in
town, that Oakland has suddenly gotten its act together? Moreover, Knauss recited
Quan’s stance on the ballpark issue: As long as we provide the site, the A’s and MLB
can’t turn us down. I think it’s pretty simple. If Oakland provides all site prep costs,
streamlines the process, and throws in $200 million, then you can get MLB to pay
attention. Without that it’s not really an even playing field with San Jose, where the
greater number and size of upfront revenue commitments can help pay down ballpark
debt early, just as is being done in Santa Clara.
Knauss also talked at length about the issues associated with developing Howard
Terminal, which he minimized as much as possible. Muppet151 has a little insight into
HT is in a state of constant and PERMANENT review. I talked to the guy in charge of
overseeing the site who said it’s somewhat similar to what contained contamination at
the San Jose Arena. You can read the SJ documents here:

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The HT project manager explained things a little further in an email to me when he said
“While the Land Use Covenant restricts activities that would interfere with the cap from
being conducted without DTSC approval, it is common in development plans to
engineer acceptable solutions that modify cleanup remedies including caps under DTSC
oversight.” If the footprint of the stadium extends outward to the point it’s over the
capped area, and it’s my understanding it would, the stated scenario would take place.
From a technical standpoint, HT is definitely possible, and can be done. The problem is
that this is not a 1 time fix. This is a permanent issue, and worst of all this is
infrastructure work that the public will be on the hook for. There was cleanup work done
in the area in 2004 making the ballpark possibility a little stronger. But the 200,000
cubic yards of capped material remains, as done the 2002 CA DTSC estimate of a $100
million cleanup should something go wrong. And again, that’s public money. Things
might go smoothly….but over time, caps need maintenance, and putting a stadium over
the underwater caps makes the situation remarkably unique.
Currently, nothing can be built at the San Jose Arena parking lot, including a garage for
the arena or a future high speed rail terminal, without a comprehensive and costly
remediation plan. Right now there’s only a sealed asphalt cap there.

Knauss also brought out the “respecting the process” stance used by many on the
outside, including the mayors of both San Jose and Oakland. They’re all willing to
“respect the process” until they hear something that doesn’t work with their agenda.
That’s how the game is played. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen recently, the only way to get
Bud Selig’s attention these days is to sue baseball.
When asked about Clorox’s move of hundreds of jobs to Pleasanton, Knauss’s previously
well-focused responses devolved into some incredibly inane, weaselly CEO-speak. Read
that response carefully. Earthquake faults? When Loma Prieta hit on the San Andreas
fault, the Coliseum had enough structural damage to force Games 3 & 4 to be played at
the ‘Stick, despite the Coli being on the Hayward fault (and supposedly less prone to
damage). Knauss didn’t touch the issue that really caused the move: many of the
scientists and their families lived along the 680 corridor and preferred to work there
instead of commuting to Oakland. Knauss had to make the tough decision to keep
Clorox competitive. That’s the reality of the move, not some BS reasoning about
earthquake faults or risk management. And that’s the irony of it. Clorox is perfectly able
to move 500 jobs to Pleasanton or 300 jobs to Arizona if it has business or competitive
reasons. In terms of pure economic impact (tax revenue, job creation), the A’s are a
much smaller company than Clorox, yet they can’t move 35 miles for competitive
reasons. Makes me wonder if Knauss just did this to provide cover for the company’s
previous and future moves under his leadership. It didn’t cost him anything, that’s for

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June 27, 2013
Previous posts about Howard Terminal:

Howard Termin