Wolff says A’s can’t finance Fremont stadium

lewTesla might not have a problem with the Oakland A’s as a neighbor, but A’s co-owner Lew Wolff sees no future for the team in Fremont.

Wolff told me today that Fremont isn’t an option for the A’s, because the team can’t finance a Fremont ballpark without the ability to sell  entitlements to build the 3,150 housing units that were part of the original ballpark village 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.”

Matt Artz


  1. People keep forgetting Lew Wolff is a real estate developer.

  2. Duh! Too bad we wasted $150,000 studying something that was never a possibility!

  3. Good for us.

    Gotta wonder though – (Matt A. – take note)

    Why did, after holding his San Jose, Oakland and Fremont hands so close for so long – – – hiding behind a decision to be made by a “blue ribbon” comittee – – and never saying a thing – – why now, did Mr. W. decide to make his position vis-avis Fremont – abundantly clear ?

    After all, TESLA had no worries – – RIGHT ??


  4. Oh, now it’s, “we have to be in an existing downtown.”

    I don’t remember hearing that as part of the equation before. The stadium at PacCommons wasn’t in an existing downtown nor was the one next to the Warm Springs BART Station, and neither was the one on the north 40 of NUMMI.

    Who was fooling who about coming to Fremont? Anybody feeling just a little foolish about now?

  5. Wait, didn’t the NIMBYs drive the A’s away and the economic meltdown in 2008/09 have nothing to do with the A’s decision to walk away from Fremont in 2009?

    Are you now saying that the inability to exploit the 3150 housing units back in 2009 to finance a stadium really was the reason for abandoning Fremont?

    I am so confused!

    (sarcasm off)

  6. Wolff has been holding SJ, Fremont and Oakland close to his chest–how many more times can he say he wants to be in SJ—Fremont died when the Nimby’s started rising up and the real estate market went south—no one can say that Wolff has not made his intentions clear ever since WS died—its MLB that is keeping the waters muddied–

  7. Keep in mind, Wolff is just a businessman trying to make money. Only the first Pacific Commons site was proposed by the A’s and Cisco during housing booming time. The other two sites was proposed by the city management.

    To the city management, please don’t waste our limited city money and resource on the stadium any longer. If you really want to revitalize Fremont, please spend effort to make the current “downtown project” successful. Don’t waste time trying to create “other new downtown”.

  8. Actually, years ago a planning firm called ERA produced a report that expressed the idea that the idea “downtown” location for Fremont was in the area of NUMMI, next to all the freeways with lot’s of vacant land to build office buildings. Many on staff bought the idea back then – and have never stopped thinking it sensible now (A’s in WS or NUMMI both came out of Planning). And what was car oriented in past thinking is now coupled with transit thinking now.

    Likewise, if you follow closely – the plan is for mixed use – including housing – in Warm Springs near BART. That’s what NUMMI HAD been successful in averting right up to regional planning policies. Will that change now that TESLA is so small? Will that be the next impasse?

    Interestingly, the City continues to wrestle with how to deal with creating one – a real downtown. TMG, I think, is still working on “Uptown” which still try’s to meet the goals of the long dormant DC&E Downtown Plan produced in about 2004 or so.

    Anyway, Matt has an interesting photo montage he posted once showing the A’s in “downtown” – by the Lake. Maybe it’s time to repost it for fun Matt?

    By the way; the Governor’s press conference was most interesting. He went toe to toe against Texas oil companies and claimed that they were trying to shut this project down. He spoke quite passionately on the subject.

    He also said something about there being a lot of pushing and shoving to get the TESLA deal done; what’s that about???

  9. Correction: second line should read “ideal.”

  10. I remember that photo montage. It showed a ballpark plopped into the area of Central Park where the softball complex is located. It had been created by a contract Planning Dept. staff member. He had displayed it in his cubicle at the city offices and was asked to remove it when Lew Wolff visited. When his employment contract was over he was let go. He sent it to Martz and it was posted on this blog. It drew quite a few chuckles since many felt it was as ludicrous an idea as any floated by the City, no parking, no freeway access, etc.

    Anon101, did you think it was a feasible solution?

  11. “[The Governator] went toe to toe against Texas oil companies and claimed that they were trying to shut this project down. He spoke quite passionately on the subject.”

    I noticed that passion too. He also spoke strongly against those opposed to CA’s coming fuel and emissions standards, saying that every car manufacturer sued the state except of course for Tesla. He was claiming vindication.

    Anon, I wish you’d expand your thoughts more often as in post #9. Good stuff. BTW, you see those italics above? Special privileges from Martz, Baby!

  12. “Gotta wonder though – (Matt A. – take note)”

    Bbox, take note: Wolff’s office wouldn’t even return your call. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you tasty sides to this NUMMI excitement. Without him, you’d still be chumming McDonald at the FCN forum.

  13. Actually VOR; it probably makes more sense IF you were intending to carry out the Down Town Plan (which I’m not sure should be).

    It also might make sense if you look at what happens when the wine festival takes place each year in the so called “downtown.” Over a two day period you have about six times a ball game crowd coming, parking, walking, spending, and leaving.

    In that Downtown Plan that DC&E in Berkeley produced in about 2003-4, it had this graphic showing the virtual SEA of parking lot’s that comprise the so called downtown. The parking lot’s were in red, as was most of the page. That’s a revenue resource where I come from.

    Next; the misnomer in your reasoning and others is about the freeway access. It misses the point about Q’ing; that is, long stretches or roadway where car’s can crawl. Sad but true. That limit’s the impact to slowing major freeways.

    Finally, do I think it was a feasible solution?

    Only if the people of Fremont wanted it to be. But I would argue, it has merit if you wanted to build a downtown in that location. In other words, if your going to incur the cost of a ballpark, why not at least capitalize on it? I mean for the public good – not private good, in this case.

  14. Oh, and thank’s “Baby” – I guessed it not long ago. (-;

  15. Marty Says:
    May 21st, 2010 at 5:24 pm
    “Gotta wonder though – (Matt A. – take note)”

    Bbox, take note: Wolff’s office wouldn’t even return your call. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you tasty sides to this NUMMI excitement. Without him, you’d still be chumming McDonald at the FCN forum.

    . . . . better chumming w/McDonald than sucking bilge from a sinking stadium position !!!

    LLLLLLLLOL ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  16. Oh, and Artz – make your choice you can – – “..dont bite the hand that feeds you . . . ” – and if you’re lucky, you can keep your job covering Freeemont City Council nonesense


    Maybe you have the backbone to DO YOUR JOB and ask the TOUGH QUESTIONS – — like this guy –


    Think about it.

  17. Could Rand Paul be the glorious cross hybridization of Ayn Rand and Ron Paul?

  18. “A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said Friday that a Fremont stadium plan isn’t viable, even with Tesla’s support.”


  19. Amen to that brother!

    Our city council, as well as the city manager, had the inside track on bringing the A’s to Fremont. But as we now know, they let it slip through our hands on account of some nimbys and pressure from nummi. Then nummi turned around and left soon after.
    Now they want to jump on the bandwagon of the tesla-toyota deal.

    Now one of them (BW) seeks higher office.

    Don’t let it happen people!

  20. I feel sorry for the Lew’s shoe licking, day dreaming millionaires ” old boys and old girls club ” of Fremont.
    Some one from Fremont claims to have sealed the deal between Toyota and Tesla, has any one seen the proof?.

    Let us Repower Fremont with Peoples Power!.
    Let Change Happen in Fremont for better!.
    ” Green Valley ” Fremont!.
    Quality education in Fremont!

  21. Is Fred Diaz and Wasserman still squandering taxpayer money pursuing the A’s? How big is the bill?

  22. Skumar: as long as Fred Diaz is City Manager and Wasserman is Mayor “squandering taxpayer money” will continue.

    Selling the RDA Centerville “unified site” for $1 plus $12 million in give aways is just one other example besides the A’s debacle at PC, WS and NUMMI (“strike three”)

    Unfortunately, Diaz managed to hide the WS alternative until after the last election to make sure Wasserman (who use to be police chief for a while in Tracy working under Fred) got elected.

    And of course then Fred got his contract extended for another five years – while he was spending our money in secret on the A’s at NUMMI plan.

  23. So, there’s two Council seats up for grabs in the November election – Anu and Bill.

    But what happens if Bob W. get elected to higher office? How does that seat get filled?

    We need at least three (3) votes to turn this ship around.

  24. Wow, didn’t know Bob and Fred are that “close”. Thanks Anon101 (post #24). Found the following link: http://tracypress.com/view/full_story/4303741/article-Twice-Told-Tales

    10 years ago — 1999
    Bob Wasserman, Tracy’s interim chief of police, is now back on the job after recovering from triple-bypass heart surgery. He has taken the top-cop job after Tim Neal left to become chief in Pleasanton. (Wasserman is now mayor of Fremont.)

    Wasserman was also the Fremont city councilmember at that time.

  25. Interesting dynamic regarding Nu n Town’s post #21 – as I understand it, now both pro- and anti-stadium voters are ticked off with our currently elected City Fathers (and Mothers). Wow – you have to have an advanced degree in screw-up to get both sides of such a black-and-white issue mad at you simultaneously. Contrats, Fremont City Council members! Time to go back to your day jobs full-time and let some new folks take a turn at bat, and I’d get those executive recruiters on speed-dial if I were you, Freddy.

  26. Almost makes you want to vote B.W. INTO the assembly – – – just to get him the heck OUT of our council !

  27. If Bob Wieckowski is elected to the Assembly, the Mayor and City Council will appoint his replacement. If I’m not mistaken it’s how Anu originally got on the City Council. I’m not clear on how the selection process operates, and couldn’t find a description on the City’s web site. Can anyone enlighten me?

  28. So Charlotte, if the mayor and Council appoints a replacement, what happens if they are split two to two??

  29. Under the state law, when a vacancy occurs on a council, the council must either appoint someone or call for an election to fill the seat. Failing to appoint because no one gets three votes forces an election.

    Both have happened in the past. When I got elected in 1985, there was no talk of appointment and there was an election (Dutra won.) Then, in 1989, Ball beat me and he voted with Mello and Loisel to appoint Ken Roessler. Mello, Loisel, and Roessler voted to fire the City Manager (McClain) and precipitated the recall of Mello and Loisel.

    When I again became mayor in 1994, there was a vacancy filled by election of JoNelle Zager. Then in 2004, Wasserman’s election created another vacancy and Natarajan was appointed to fill theseat.

    The cost of a stand-alone election for one councilmember drives the discussion toward appointment since that appointment is for less than two years. Either way, it is a craps shoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

  30. Re :#29,
    I don’t like the current city council but I’d like to keep BW in Fremont because he seems to be the most sensible one among the 5.

  31. Thank you for that Gus. It will be most interesting to see how this plays out.

  32. Nononsense post #33 –

    I am truly curious what you see as the RESULT of any difference in sensibilities exhibited by Bob W.

    While I agree that Bob W might be the most intellectual one of the bunch, at the end of the day, it’s a distinction without a difference – he has quietly gone along with some things that to me (and making use of your adjective) dont make any “sense”.

    Consider –

    We travelled to China in 2007 and India in 2008 . . . to do what ?? These were both, little more than boondoggles IMHO. Bob was an active member of one of these junkets.

    We’ve invested considerable time and effort and resource into a stadium – – – which, by any and all independant economic assessments, would do little for the broader economic interests of our city. But our entire council politely feigned oversight and concern by challenging minutae while simultaneously ignoring much larger holes in our thinking.

    We’ve rationalized the need for a Utility tax one minute and a few short months later, announced an unexpected “surplus” on our balance sheet.

    We’ve convinced ourselves that we cant possibly figure out a way to send the equivalent of a red light violation or parking ticket to someone who cant manage their residential alarm service – and make money doing it.

    Finally, I’m very surprised that a forward-looking politician like Bob has (so far) not seen any reason to extend his informal communications with constituency to include such expedient mechanisms as this one.

    So, Nononense – at the end of the day, maybe you are right – but, on these matters, I see Bob as just another member of the Council who is “goin’ along – to get along”.

    I am interested in your specific thoughts.

  33. I hope enough of us can see through all the smoke screens that the council has blown are way in recent times. We’ve mentioned the A’s, Nummi closure, Fred’s control over the council, BW’s claims that he alone has created thousands of jobs, etc…..

    It’s time that new leadership is given an opportunity. BW is not the answer.

  34. If we can replace Anu and Bill, that would be a major accomplishment. It will send a clear message to the other three they better start listening to their constituents. If both Anu and Bill retain their seats, then all five will believe they are untouchable. Making sure BW doesn’t win the assembly and stay on the council will probably be better than letting the council appoint a puppet.

  35. I agree with Larry’s assessment about BW. Also comparing to other councilmembers, he usually form his own opinions on certain issues, instead of just voting along with the mayor.

    Also heard some stories about the 2004 appointment to fill in Wasserman’s vacancy. Two councilmembers prefer Dirk Lorenz (the 3rd place in the election), while other two want Bill Harrison (Wasserman’s campaign manager). To avoid the cost of another election, Anu Natarajan was appointed (as a compromise?).

    In 2006, both Bill Harrison and Anu Natarajan were elected as first term. (or 1.5 term for Natarajan?)

  36. Bryan is almost right. I recall there were two votes for Natarajan (Dutra & Wieckowski) and Cho wouldn’t participate in the process decided upon for the selection and stayed firmly in support of Lorenz. Wasserman then cast the deciding vote for Natarajan. Otherwise, they would have had to call an election.

  37. Good advice, Larry – PROVIDED – that replacements for Anu and William are independant and critical thinkers.

    Another polite non-confrontational-mired-in-group-think personality (read “Wasserman yes-person…) would be a huge miss.

  38. Saying that Bob Wieckowski is an intellectual bright light on the Council is a bit like saying he’s the smartest kid on the short bus, and electing him to Assembly is the Peter Principle applied to government.

    Did anybody else get today’s flyer from Bobby titled “Bob Wieckowski helped usher in a new day for NUMMI”, with pictures of the presser announcing the Toyota-Tesla deal? Big pictures, little print – the only quote included on the piece is from fellow Councilmember Natarajan. Show of hands anybody who thinks Bobby had anything to do with matchmaking that deal? I’d love to be proved wrong; just waiting for proof.

  39. Fre-Lif –

    Completely agree w/your observations – – my response was an attempt to meet Nononesense half way and to possibly invite some thoughtful discussion of B.W.’s qualifications – -maybe there’s something to learn – looks more like “maybe not”.

    Wondering why this self-proclaimed “environmentalist” was not more vocal and visible during the Coyote Hills debate.

  40. I just hope the general public is not dooped into believing another of Bob W’s outlandish claims. This time a mailer taking credit for the Nummi\Tesla deal.

    I called it back on May 22nd- Post #21.

    Please, please, please, Fremont don’t be fooled by him again.

  41. “…county taxpayers still on the hook for about $250 million in bonds used to renovate the facilities in the 1990’s”

    It’s 2012 folks and the A’s are looking to exit-stage-right . . and at the same time, taxpayers are stuck paying off this tab. . . . while what they SHOULD be looking into is to hire more cops.

    But, instead, they’re going to continue to pay into this pesky little bill which, won’t just walk away – unlike the A’s.

    Wonder where the line for this kind of contingency was in the economic projections that the A’s and Niners served up to the taxpayers of Santa Clara and San Jose.

    Don’t waste your time looking – – – it ain’t there.


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