A's Move, 49ers Changes, Stanford Twins
Not Fremont. In recent years, baseball parks have been built in downtown areas in Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco because it’s beneficial to a city to have people of diverse ages and cultures coming into the business districts.
Fremont has no real downtown. It’s growing at the fastest pace of any Bay Area city but it’s still mostly a string of communities with no real center. And the proposed site for the A’s park and development is in an area that is now mostly warehouses. Not exactly a thriving business center.
Eventually, if all the development is finished, Fremont should benefit from added taxes on the new homes and businesses. But, that will come as a price, too. The infrastructure is going to have to be seriously upgraded. Who’s going to pay for that? Not the A’s, you can be certain. Fremont will also have to add to its police force for 81 (or more, if the A’s are in the postseason) games where they will have to provide traffic control.
The current A’s fans won’t benefit, either. For openers, just getting to the park from the north, which is where most current A’s fans live, will be a nightmare. The A’s currently have about 20 per cent of their fans coming on BART but the nearest BART stop for the proposed site is 5.1/2 miles away. Fremont officials and the A’s talk optimistically of adding an extension which would be two miles away but at best, that won’t be done until after the proposed opening of the park. It may never get done. There are a lot of areas that want a BART extension and there’s a shortage of money. Who’s going to provide the political muscle to divert funds to Fremont for this extension?
Driving to the game? Good luck. I drive that 880 corridor frequently because it’s my route to the 49ers complex in Santa Clara. I try to stick to the hours between 10 and 3, when the carpool lanes are not in effect. Before and after those times, it takes me twice as long. It’s going to be massive gridlock for night games.
What this means is that there will be a realignment of the fan base. Many of the current fans, especially those who come by BART, will watch the games on television, while the A’s will pick up fans from the east side of San Jose.
The A’s will probably get more corporate sponsors and advertising from San Jose businesses, but perhaps not as much as they think. Many of the Silicon Valley people are aligned with the Giants, who tapped that group for “charter seats” to help build their park in China Basin and for season tickets. They aren’t likely to change their allegiance simply because the A’s have moved a few miles closer, especially since it would be an easier ride (or Cal Train journey) up to the Giants park.
The plans for a new park include seating for only 30-34,000, which makes it more of a boutique than a ball park. To get the revenue they’re talking about which would allow them to boost their payroll significantly, they’ll have to charge prices comparable to what the Giants are charging now, which is roughly about double across the board from their current prices. The Giants have been able to do that, but some of the reasons they’ve been successful won’t apply to the A’s Fremont site.
PacBell Park (as I still think of it) is a jewel of a park in a great setting, with views of the bay and/or the San Francisco skyline. Those views won’t exist in Fremont. It is in a cosmopolitan city, with top restaurants a cab ride away. Fremont, I hear, has great take-out. San Francisco has roughly a half-million people coming into the city on weekdays for work and almost as many coming in to shop on weekends, and a sizeable number come to Giants games. Fremont has nothing comparable. And, as I mentioned above, the Giants have already tapped into the Silicon Valley money.
Many questions remain for this project. The area will still have to be rezoned, for one thing.
But of one thing, I have no doubt: Lew Wolff will make a ton of money off the project.
A’S MANAGER: The announcement of the proposed new park has delayed the A’s announcement of a new manager, but my money is still on Bob Geren, the bench coach for the A’s last season and a successful manager earlier in their farm system.
49ERS STADIUM: I wrote last week in the Examiner that Jed York, brought into the organization to learn the business, is eager for his dad to step back and let him take over. Last week’s bungling by John York showed why that would be a good idea.
John York announced a plan to build a stadium in Santa Clara without having even talked to Santa Clara officials since last June. The stadium plans were the same ones that had been designed for the project at Candlestick. Missing then and now are any financing plans.
When Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy laid out plans for a stadium in 1997, Policy had made certain that all the financing components were in place, including the $100 million bond issue narrowly passed by the voters. That plan would have worked, but when Policy left, everything fell apart.
Since then, I’ve talked to people working on the different pans under York and the response has always been the same: “We’ve got a great plan but we have to work out the financing.” That’s still their position.
The 49ers need to bring corporate money into the stadium project, as Larry Baer did when the Giants built their park. The 49ers should be able to do the same, but let me ask you, if you had money to invest, would you trust John York?
And that’s why the 49ers will not get their stadium until John York is out of the picture.
STANFORD TWINS: Having the seven-foot Lopez twins come in as freshman brought up the inevitable comparison with the Collins twins. Stanford head coach Trent Johnson, who was an assisstant when the Collins twins were at Stanford, notes one significant difference: “When Jarron and Jason were here, they practiced against guys like Tim Young and Mark Madsen, so that really helped them improve. Brook and Robin won’t have that advantage.”
Stanford will meet Texas A&M in the first game of the 10th annual Pete Newell Challenge at the San Jose Arena on Dec. 3. Cal plays Nevada in the second game. The game has been moved from the Oakland Coliseum Arena for the first time because the Raiders have a home game that day.
TALKING HEADS: Of all the things that annoy me most about TV announcers, two stand out:
1) The way NFL game announcers have to insert “football” into every sentence. “He’s a great football player.” “This is a great football game.” Yeah, we get it guys. We know they’re not playing basketball.
2) The way announcers fixate on talking points and make them cliches. The latest is the analyst who says some of a quarterback’s best throws were his incomplete passes, because he threw the ball instead of risking an interception. The guy on the Cal-Arizona game said that about Bear quarterback Nate Longshore. Of course, Longshore threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in that game. I guess we can say that was not one of his best throws.
TICKETS! TICKETS! TICKETS! Looking ahead to the holiday season, tickets will be available through the links on this site for bowl games, including the Rose Bowl, where we hope the Bears will be. There are also popular holiday programs, including Radio City Christmas, Wicked and Jersey Boys.
Cal football tickets will be available on this link as well as tickets for these big college football games:
--Michigan at Ohio State
--Notre Dame at USC
--Auburn at Alabama
--Nebraska at USC
--Texas A& M at Texas
--USC at UCLA.
Tickets are also available for NFL games and these hot concerts:
--Barbra Streisand, through November 20.
--Red Hot Chili Peppers, through December 17.
Tickets are also available for the Rolling Stones tour.
What do YOU think? Let me know!