Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Friday Night Downtown "Tailgates"

One of the reasons we like the Victory Court site so much is that it can bring the urban ballpark experience to downtown Oakland and to the Jack London Square area, much like the ballparks in Denver, Baltimore and San Francisco.

Currently, the Coliseum lacks such an atmosphere, as it is surrounded by a huge parking lot on the edge of town. We here at BaseballOakland want to bring some of that atmosphere to the A's experience. We also also want to build community among A's fans and support local businesses.

So, starting this Friday (April 29) evening, we will start a new tradition: Friday Night Downtown "Tailgates." The plan is to enjoy an "A's happy hour" at a local bar in downtown Oakland from about 5 to 6 p.m., and then take BART to the Coliseum to watch the A's game in person. We hope that more A's fans will enjoy the existing active urban life here in Oakland and combine it with the fun of going to the games.

Our first event will begin at 5 p.m. this Friday at Z Cafe & Bar, located at 2735 Broadway St., near 27th Street. Its a short walk to the 19th Street BART Station.

Around 6 p.m. or so, we'll then head to BART and go watch the A's battle an old AL West rival, the Texas Rangers.

Hope to see you there at Z Cafe!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spread the Truth About the A's Ballpark Situation

We hear a lot of false things about Oakland from the small but vocal pro-Wolff crowd. It got even worse last week when hosts from our own A's radio station -- 95.7-The Wolf -- used the forum to misinform people with no facts while badmouthing Oakland.

If you want the facts about the A's ballpark situation, we've provided a basic list that's backed up with sources and web links. Heck, feel free to use it if you want to call into 95.7 to refute the misinformation that too many 95.7 talk-show hosts are spreading. (Their phone number there is 1-888-266-9653.)

Here is the A's fact sheet:

What's so great about Victory Court?

a. Excellent Public Transit Options
* Lake Merritt BART Station -- just a few blocks and a five-minute walk away from the ballpark site.
* The Amtrak train station, where commuter trains also stop, would be just four blocks away.
* The Jack London Square ferry stop is nearby on the northern side of Jack London Square.
* And a new ferry stop could be added near the Jack London Acquatic Center, about one block from a Victory Court ballpark.
* The Broadway Shuttle, called the "B," is a free bus that runs every 10 minutes from 24th and Webster all the way down Broadway to Jack London Square. With a new ballpark, you can bet they'd add a Victory Court stop.
* Oakland Streetcar: A future streetcar may be built that would stop at Victory Court, as part of its downtown loop.

b. It's three Revenue-Generating Projects in One:

*Victory Court Ballpark
*Jack London Market

All three of these tax-revenue-generating projects on the waterfront would be spurred on by ballpark construction, with the A's ballpark acting as the catalyst.

Click here for more info on Victory Court.

c. The restaurant/bar/housing/entertertainment infrastructure (like at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park ) that makes a ballpark area cool is already there:

Which is why Travel & Leisure magazine last year called Jack London Square one of the nation's "next great neighborhoods."

No corporate support in Oakland?

Not true. Oakland and the East Bay region have plenty of corporate support to support a new Oakland ballpark.

Plus, if the South Bay counts companies from towns all over the 650 and 408 area codes, Oakland should be allowed to do the same, from all over Alameda County and Costra Conta County. For corporations, Oakland and the East Bay have:

*Dreyer's Ice Cream
*Novartis (formerly Chiron)
*Port of Oakland
*Jamba Juice
*EA Maxis
And huge Oakland solar companies like
*Solar Trust

And over 100 others around the East Bay and the Bay Area who have pledged support to Let's Go Oakland and to buying luxury suites at Victory Court.

A's aren't making money?

Not true. According to Forbes Magazine last month, the A's have averaged more than $23 million in profit per year over the last three years. Since Wolff and Fisher bought the team, they have made $123 million in profit from running the ballclub in just six seasons. Just think how much money Wolff & Fisher would make if they actually tried to please the fans.

Click this link for verification.

A's can't compete in Oakland, just look at all the free agents who don't come here?

Not true. The Oakland Tribune's Joe Stiglich wrote an article in January that refuted Wolff's and Beane's whining about this. Here's what Stiglich wrote:

"Two agents -- who each have represented major leaguers for many years -- said the A's stadium gets overblown as a factor that's kept many free agents away.
"What is frustrating for them is that none of them believe that they can win (with the A's)," said one agent, requesting anonymity."

Plus, Wolff is on record as saying that once the A's get a new ballpark, they don't plan to increase the payroll that much, that it "will be business as usual. Billy likes it that way. Frankly, it's more fun."

Oakland officials haven't done anything to keep the A's over the years?

Not true. Over the years, Oakland has worked hard to keep the A's. Check out the list:

1995 - Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann buy the A’s, and Oakland and county officials try to please the new owners by paying them $11 million in cash, and up to $20 million in baseball-related stadium improvements.
1998 - Schott and Hoffman put the team up for sale. The Oakland city council and Alameda County officials start working with Schott and Hoffman and MLB to choose a suitable buyer.
1999 - Oakland/Alameda County officials spend much of 1999 working with A’s owners and Bud Selig on finding a new local A's owner for the A’s. Oakland officials select a group led by Andy Dolich and Robert Piccinini. In September 1999, MLB owners tabled the vote and made no decision. Oakland officials were shocked and A’s fans were furious.
2001 - After Steve Schott attends a Santa Clara City Council meeting saying he wants to move the A’s there, Oakland and Alameda County officials respond again that they want to work with the A’s on building a new ballpark in Oakland. Schott does not publicly respond.
2001 – A report says that Schott and Hofmann are on the verge of selling the A’s to a Hollywood producers with Las Vegas ties. The news shocks Oakland city officials like City Manager Robert Bobb, who had met with A’s owners just a week before about extending their Oakland lease.
2001 – City Manager Robert Bobb hires HOK Architects to study ballpark sites in Oakland and other parts of the East Bay with the goal of keeping the A’s in Oakland
2002 - Robert Bobb tries to interest the A’s in the Uptown site, located in downtown Oakland. A’s owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann never publicly support the site and never show up at an Oakland City Council meeting. Since then, A’s owners and officials have appeared at city council meetings in Santa Clara, Fremont and San Jose in support of ballpark plans in those cities, but never in Oakland.
2002 - A’s fans held a rally outside Oakland City Hall before a City Council meeting where HOK Architects gave a presentation on ballpark sites. No one from the A’s front office attends either the rally or the meeting.
2005 - Ex-Oakland Councilman Dick Spees approaches Lew Wolff and offers to lead a booster group comprised of Oakland business leaders to help get a ballpark built in Oakland. Wolff rejects Spees’ efforts, telling him that he wants to do it alone.
2005 - Oakland Councilmen Larry Reid and Ignacio De La Fuente react favorably Wolff’s presentation to redevelop hundreds of acres near the Oakland Coliseum. Yet, according to later news reports, Wolff almost immediately started negotiating with the city of Fremont for a ballpark in Fremont.
2006 - Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums meets with Lew Wolff to discuss keeping the A’s in Oakland. Wolff also rebuffs Dellums, telling him that he is focusing on Fremont and that Dellums shouldn’t “break his pick on this one."
March 2009 - After the Fremont ballpark plan falls apart, Dellums again reaches out to Wolff. But Wolff again rejects Dellums. So, Dellums, Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner respond by sending a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, as does U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who is an Oakland resident.
December 2009 - Oakland announces two new proposed ballpark sites (and an additional site that was previously examined) near the Jack London Square waterfront.
April 2010 - Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner and Let’s Go Oakland leader Doug Boxer release an economic report touting the benefits that a new Jack London Square ballpark would have on Oakland. Brunner and Boxer also hold a public meeting at an Oakland school to discuss the ballpark sites.
December 2010 - At two separate meetings, the Oakland Planning Commission and the City Council approve doing an EIR for the Victory Court ballpark sites.

Click here for the source link.

The A's haven't drawn very well in Oakland?

Not true. The A's have drawn as well or better than the Giants whenever they had a good owner committed to keeping the team in town. In contrast, look at Wolff and Fisher. When they took over in 2006, the A's previous season's attendance was more than 2.1 million and right in the middle of the pack for all of MLB.

Then Wolff tarped off the 3rd deck and threatened to move out of Oakland. Since then, attendance has gone down every year Wolff has owned the team. The common denominator recently is Wolff, not Oakland or loyal A's fans who just want a commitment from the owner.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wolff to the Dodgers?

Peter Gammons on Thursday morning went on the A's new radio home, 95.7-The Wolf, and highlighted two ideas:

1) Gammons believes the A's eventually will move to San Jose
2) Many MLB insiders want Lew Wolff to take over the Dodgers and leave the A's behind.

The weird thing is that those two ideas seem to be mutually exclusive.

In other words, if the second idea is true and Commissioner Selig and MLB really do prefer that Wolff leave the A's for Los Angeles, then that really negates Gammons' first idea. Because very few people want the A's to leave Oakland, except for a South Bay boosters and, of course, Wolff himself, who wants to move the team solely so he can increase his real estate holdings in the South Bay.

Wolff's obsession with moving the team has never been about baseball or the fans or in improving the A's bottom line. It's always been a real estate deal, whether it included new undeveloped land in Fremont or increasing the value of land Wolff already owns in San Jose.

Wolff can't turn the Dodgers into a real estate deal, which is probably the biggest reason why he so quickly refuted Gammons by releasing a statement Thursday afternoon denying his interest in the Dodgers.

Wolff to the Dodgers? The vast majority of A's fans would rejoice at seeing Wolff sell the team to someone who actually cares about winning and who is committed to keeping the team in Oakland.

Yet, the L.A. rumors just won't go away. Wolff seems too stubborn right now to take the hint that maybe Selig wants him out of Oakland. To that, we'll say only this: Don't break your pick on this one, Lew. Don't break your pick on this one.

Fairmont Hotel = Oakland A's

How are the Oakland A's just like the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco?

Well, for one, Lew Wolff co-owns both of them. Secondly, they both are great Bay Area traditions and, unfortunately, Wolff is running both the A's and the Fairmont into the ground.

Recent San Francisco Chronicle articles revealed that Wolff tried to close the legendary Tonga Room at the Fairmont. Now, he wants to gut the Fairmont's tower and end decades of tradition by building condos at the Fairmont. But San Francisco leaders and union officials have fought Wolff, and now he's talking about just selling and "letting the next guy deal with it."

If this all sounds familiar to A's fans, it should. Wolff is working off the same arrogant playbook with his machinations for the A's. First, he tarped off the 3rd deck at the Coliseum – similar to closing the Fairmont's Tonga Room in that, in both instances, he's trying to signal the public and the media that something is "wrong" with a place that otherwise the public holds in high esteem and fondness.

Then, he tries a drastic change – like moving the A's south or getting rid of longstanding hotel rooms at a Bay Area social landmark like the Fairmont – that will benefit only him and do so financially, while most others in the Bay Area will suffer a loss of their tradition as a result.

That playbook failed in San Francisco for the Fairmont. And the same playbook is failing again in Oakland, as Wolff has taken a proud franchise and run it into the ground. Want proof? Attendance at A's games, once solid the year before Wolff took over, has instead dropped significantly each year Wolff has owned the team, and it got especially worse after he tarped off the Coliseum’s 3rd deck.

The team also has had four consecutive non-winning seasons.

The classic definition of insanity is trying the same failed strategy over and over and expecting a different result. Now that Wolff has failed in San Francisco with the Fairmont and is failing again in Oakland with the A's, for some reason he keeps sticking with the same failed strategy. Sounds insane to me.

There might be one more similarity between Wolff's Fairmont and Wolff's A's. He’s on the verge of selling the Fairmont. Here's to him selling the A's soon to "the next guy" to deal with it. There are plenty of interested deep-pocketed local buyers who want to keep the team in Oakland and, let's face it, they can't do any worse than Wolff has.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oakland Business in the News

Think a new ballpark at Victory Court won't help redevelop the areas around Jack London Square, Chinatown and the Laney College area?

Just look at how the wild success of the Fox Theater in Uptown has drawn new bars, restaurants and condos. Now add business recruitment -- with a big assist from Mayor Jean Quan -- to the mix. Mayor Quan and Oakland officials have successfully recruited Gateway Bank to move its headquarters, and 65 jobs, to Oakland's Uptown District.

Speaking of business recruitment, Quan was in San Francisco recently with the goal of luring several of its tech companies over to Oakland. The meetings were set up by Oakland-based, which was doing a solid for its hometown. Would those tech companies relocate to the area around Victory Court and Laney College, which is in line for the city's plans for a redevelopment makeover?

Stay tuned.

Now, Oakland-based BrightSource Energy is in the news, as Google just pumped $168 million into the greentech company's solar energy power plant in the Mojave Desert. Maybe those predictions of a BrightSource IPO this year will happen.

Sungevity is another Oakland solar company that moved to Jack London Square last year.

We still remember a smart quote from Sungevity president Danny Kennedy when they made the move: "We're excited to be part of Oakland as it regenerates. This is a central location for the Bay Area talent pool that we want to draw from."

Kennedy also said of Jack London Square: "This is a tremendous location to continue our expansion."

The Oakland A's could easily be saying the same thing one day.

All of this underreported good news for Oakland illustrates that Oakland's corporate strength is a lot like the city itself: Underrated and underappreciated.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thanks for a Great Night, A's Fans!

Opening Night came and went, and though the game itself was a downer with a 6-2 loss, we had an amazing time at the pre-game tailgate that was co-sponsored by Let's Go Oakland, Oaklandish and, yes, Baseball Oakland.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with A's fans and friends, and eating BBQ food, drinking free Linden Street Brewery beer (thanks again, Adam!) and getting a "Stay" T-shirt or pennant or sticker or all three, which were generously donated by Oaklandish.

It was awesome seeing so many local baseball fans fired up to keep the A's in Oakland. Some of our favorite moments Friday night came when fans approached us and said how much the the A's mean to them. A lot of others asked what they could do to pitch in to keep the A's in Oakland.

The passion for the A's from everyone was really inspiring to see.

Thanks again for a great night, A's fans.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Play Ball!

It's Opening Night for our beloved Oakland A's and we can't wait to get to the Coliseum for the mother of all tailgate parties.

What's your favorite A's game memory at the Coliseum?

There are too many to count. We remember the perfect home stand in August 2001, when the A's swept the Yankees and Red Sox on six consecutive sun-kissed summer days.

How about Catfish Hunter's perfect game in 1968? Or Ramon Hernandez's walk-off bunt in the 13th inning of Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS? Rickey breaking Lou Brock's all-time stolen base record in 1991?

Or the A's demolishing the Giants in Games 1 and 2 of the 1989 World Series? Or the greatest defensive play in World Series history, when two throws -- one from Reggie Jackson in right field to second baseman Dick Green, who then threw a strike to Sal Bando -- nabbed Dodgers star Bill Buckner at third, all but sealing Game 5 of the 1974 World Series?

Or how about Mother's Day 2010, when Dallas Braden threw a perfect game?

You get the point. We know your love for the Oakland A's runs deep and is filled with all the rich history that A's ballplayers have given us the past 43 seasons.

Here's to creating even more amazing A's memories tonight. It's Opening Night again in Oakland. And that's a beautiful thing.