The A’s

I talked briefly with A’s co-owner Keith Wolff and his consultant, former Assemblyman Jim Cunneen before last night’s protest. I was on my way to visit a member of the World Champion United States Foosball Team, so it was short conversation.

They gave me the same pitch they’ve been making in Warm Springs and it goes like this:

  • Cisco field is half the size of the Coliseum and won’t dominate the surrounding area. Team offices will be inside the stadium, so there will be a year round presence there.
  • Home prices near the Ranger’s ballpark in Arlington, Texas rose 80 percent from 1990 to 2006.
  • The ballpark would only be used 22 percent of the days in a year, and the team would be happy to exclude other events there. They’ll also try to reduce the number of weekday day games from 13 to 4 so there are fewer traffic conflicts with Weibel Elementary School
  • The A’s will pay for all game-day expenses including police.
  • The team will patrol every entrance point to the surrounding residential neighborhood before and after games and make sure that fan parks or drives through residential streets.
  • The A’s are nice folks who contributed $650k to local charities last year and whose $1.8 billion project in Fremont, which includes a new school, would generate $10 million a year for the city, although a lot of that would go to the city’s redevelopment fund, and the city would still have to service the residents of the 3,150 new homes near pacific commons. The city’s redevelopment agency would also probably end up building the less profitable affordable housing units required by city law on land donated by the A’s.
  • No real traffic program yet other than a pledge for highway signs. BART estimates that by the time service is extended to San Jose 33 percent of fans will take public transit to the games. That’s hard to believe considering only 18 percent of fans currently take public transit to the games in Oakland, which has less of a car culture than Fremont and the South Bay.

A few thoughts:

  • I don’t think the Weibel residents are being NIMBY. NIMBY is when you oppose a nearby affordable housing project or want a proposed four-story building knocked down to two stories even though it’s on a major street. You can’t expect people to support a baseball stadium when the fans heading to the stadium are going to use the same freeway exits that they take to get to their houses.
  • Right now if the stadium was put on the ballot in Fremont it would probably lose. There still might be a majority of residents who support it, but the anti-stadium people have a lot more energy and passion than the pro-stadium forces. They would have hundreds of volunteers going door-to-door and standing outside of supermarkets. And they would all vote.
  • When I asked Keith Wolff about San Jose, he said the team wasn’t allowed to consider it yet. If the Fremont ballpark dies, last night’s protest would be good ammo to make the case to baseball owners that the A’s gave it a decent shot in Fremont and they should get the territorial rights to San Jose.
  • The reason most of the anti-stadium folks in Warm Springs have it in for the mayor (who unlike at least one council member actually prefers the Pac Commons site) is that they think he duped them. A lot of them probably voted for him thinking there might be a stadium at Pacific Commons and three weeks later they find out it’s probably going to be much closer to their homes.

They should be mad at The Argus. We (by which I mean I) should have found out about this before the election. I knew the big three at Pacific Commons opposed the stadium, but I didn’t grasp that their opposition would probably be an insurmountable hurdle. And, I didn’t pick up on the momentum for the Warm Springs alternative, which gained further traction after election day when Santa Clara voters ended up approving the money for the BART extension.

If the Warm Springs alternative had been made public before the mayoral election, it’s possible that Steve Cho would have gotten off the fence and opposed the A’s plan. If that had happened, he might have picked up enough votes in Warm Springs to win.

If anyone’s pissed at me, take solace in knowing that while 600, 800, 1,000 or 4,000 protestors, depending on the emails I’ve been getting, lined up outside of Weibel, I was getting my ass handed to me by the best foosball player ever to come out of the Tri-City area.

I’m the one who looks like he just ate Lew Wolff’s shoe.

Matt Artz