Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MLB: Victory Court is Serious Business

A hot-off-the-presses East Bay Express story on the A's ballpark search declares that Oakland's redevelopment agency is in the best shape of all Bay Area cities still vying to be the Oakland Athletics' home city and that, most importantly, "Major League Baseball knows it."

The new article, written by investigative reporter Robert Gammon, goes on to report:

... while San Jose's plan is hindered by financial woes, Oakland's is not. Budget documents show that Oakland's redevelopment fund for the Downtown/Jack London Square area, also known as the city's Central District, will have a projected $20 million total surplus in its operations and capital accounts next year. In addition, City Administrator Dan Lindheim, who also manages the redevelopment agency, says the Central District has plenty of bonding capacity to finance what's needed for the ballpark.

In fact, Major League Baseball's blue ribbon task force has combed through the financial records of Oakland's redevelopment agency in recent months to confirm that the city's ballpark plan pencils out, Lindheim said. The league also brought in noted stadium architects Populous, the designers of AT&T Park in San Francisco, to examine Oakland's planned site for the new stadium in Jack London Square, known as Victory Court. Populous, formerly known as HOK Sports, analyzed East Bay ballpark sites during former City Manager Robert Bobb's tenure. "They've spent an enormous amount of money on high-priced consultants to go through this," Lindheim said, referring to the league's task force.

If parking was once considered a roadblock, information provided to MLB by Oakland officials seems to have quelled that concern. Gammon wrote:

The city plans to build 2,500 parking spots on the Victory Court site, and the rest will be off-site. One of the leading options is to turn vacant parcels underneath I-880 into surface parking lots. Such a move would give the city at least 10,000 parking spaces within five-eighths of a mile of the ballpark.

Gammon also noted the importance of the support that Mayor-Elect Jean Quan has for this project. Quan reportedly said: "I think it will help bring us out of the recession." There are still issues to resolve -- most notably, negotiating with businesses who would have to be relocated from the Victory Court site, and the possibility of adding another offramp from Interstate 880, which is adjacent to the ballpark site. But Gammon's story included one tidbit that should quiet any critics who say that MLB will reject the Jack London Square site. According to Gammon, MLB officials themselves are the ones most enthusiastic about Victory Court as a ballpark location:

The league's experts selected the Victory Court site as the most viable spot for a new ballpark. It's not far from downtown, it's close to BART, and it's on Oakland's waterfront — and thus met major criteria set out by the league. "They like the waterfront site," Lindheim noted.

6 comments:

sarabaseball said...

Wow!! How exciting!
God bless Bob Gammon. He is on top of everything.
Sara

Kevin said...

Fisher and Uncle Lew thought they could swoop in and move the A's with little or no resistance. Boy were they mistaken.

Jerome said...

All of the San Jose pumpers on AN will dismiss this as BS. I read their comments when Wolff sent them a message and I was ready to vomit from all of their brown nosing.

I've often thought why the obvious question in this whole saga has never been asked. Would I rather enjoy a game at a beautiful stadium with a view of the Oakland hills, a view of the SF skyline, watching boats go under the bay bridge, and feel a nice bay breeze? Or would I rather watch a game in a beautiful stadium where I may see the top of HP Pavilion and a couple of 5-story buildings with names of tech companies that are changed every few months? This is not hard to answer. No offense to San Jose natives but their downtown is not exactly a huge tourist attraction. On the other hand a beautiful ballpark complete with a revitalized Jack London would be.

I don't want to get a head of myself but, if this comes to fruition, does Lew keep the team or sell? Personally I wouldn't want him to enjoy the benefits of a new JLS park after everything he has done. I hope he sells if SJ is rejected. Let's get an owner who cares and will put the effort into the east bay.

Jerome said...

According to the SJ advocates, San Jose is a slam dunk. According to this link, it doesn't appear that way:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=78612

Predictably, the guy blogging at newballpark.org rebutted the EastBayExpress article and mentioned that Oakland RDA would have to pony up $100 million or more for improvements and San Jose would have to give $0. The link I provided states otherwise. By the way, I posted this link and a comment on newballpark.org and it still has not been allowed for view. It is "awaiting moderation."

Jerome said...

My post finally went through on newballpark.org. I was premature with my comments because the blogger there seems to be very intelligent and up-to-speed on the whole stadium situation. He seems to favor SJ over JLS but that is o.k. He has a right to his opinion.

Go Oakland!

Kenneth said...

Funny thing is, while Robert Gammon is a big Oakland/East Bay booster and can be accused of bias, it was actually Ballpark Digest who reported this rumor. While is unsourced, like most rumors are, Ballpark Digest has no skin in this game and has no justification of bias in either direction. Or the San Jose Boosters can just write them off as another part of the "Orange and Black Conspiracy." it seems that San Jose, for all the good things they have, seem to be a bit insecure about their place in the Bay Area, especially when compared to SF.

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