A’s moving to Fremont, California

DMZ · November 8, 2006 at 11:18 am · Filed Under General baseball 

Two papers, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News, reported yesterday (while I was at the polls) that the A’s will be moving to Fremont, California into a new 36,000-seat stadium they’ll build with private money for about $300m.

This gets them out of the Al Davis Reconfigurable Hole, for one thing, and it’s also a fairly amusing way to move without going to San Jose, which the Giants claim as their territory, which
a) is a dumb claim in the first place and
b) is an excellent example of how stupid and counter-productive MLB’s territorial rights system is

Fremont, if you don’t have a map handy, is southeast of Oakland, a little more than half way between Oakland and San Jose. It’s across from Redwood City/Palo Alto. ESPN’s article includes a comparison table between Oakland and Fremont that includes a racial breakdown (no, really)

What’s this mean for the Mariners?

It’s bad. This is, in the long term, possibly the worst news of the off-season. Now, Billy Beane’s record with straight free agent signings is kind of ugly. Okay, it is ugly. And there’s an argument to be made that part of the A’s success has come from the restraints on their budget (which is like the Robert Frost argument that you had to write poetry using meter).

The people in charge of the A’s are smart. They’re not moving to Fremont unless they think it’ll substantially improve their financial situation from small, profitable operation into large, more profitable operation. Some of that money is going to go to the baseball side. And the team that beats the M’s like a drum over and over is going to be far better financed.

I’ve tried to think about what the A’s would do if they didn’t have to make signability picks. Would they look at the draft and still see players of essentially the same value, and pour money into international signings? Would they drop the pretense that drafting cheap guys in the first round is a good idea and go nuts, armed with more money and better slotting? Spend even more money dumpster-diving every year?

None of these possibilities are good news.

And at the major league level, are they going to open their pocketbooks to try and field a more-expensive team as they move in? Would the A’s even spend on free agents unless the market cools a little, or are they going to sign their guys to long-term deals to buy out free agent years?

The Mariners would be playing in a division without a poor kid, where every competitor they face in unbalanced play is well-funded. Things are going to get tougher. Hopefully the M’s will get smarter and be able to compete.


59 Responses to “A’s moving to Fremont, California”

  1. dw on November 9th, 2006 11:26 am

    I think the comparison to Bothell is not bad. Lynnwood would be better. It is far from Seattle, sort of near Everett but not really.

    I think Lynnwood is a poor comparison. Right now, the Coliseum is about 6 miles from downtown Oakland, which is about the distance from downtown Seattle to Northgate Mall. The stadium site is 28 miles from downtown Oakland. Everett Memorial Stadium is 27 miles from downtown Seattle.

    So, imagine living in Seattle or Bellevue and driving to Everett for games. Or the T-Dome. That’s a looong trip each way.

  2. giuseppe on November 9th, 2006 11:29 am

    #33 Steve T. – I know this doesn’t count as a move really, but the Angels also played in Wrigley Field for a year. No, not THE Wrigley Field (but it was built by the Cubs). So that’s three stadiums. Ok, so it was only for one year and they were in a different league, but it was the same team.

    Jason – counting the South End Grounds as one location the Braves have six.

    The Cubs have six:

    Wrigley Field
    Comiskey Park
    South Side Park (parts of three years)
    West Side Park
    Lakefront Park
    23rd Street Grounds

    Counting the Dodgers brief but historic appearances in Roosevelt Stadium they have six:

    Dodger Stadium
    LA Memorial Coliseum
    Ebbets Field
    Roosevelt Stadium (15 games in ’56 and ’57 including Jackie Robinson’s debut)
    Washington Park
    Eastern Park

    I think the Giants (also as the Gothams) have six if you don’t count their two games in Oakland Park in 1889:

    Pac Bell Park
    Candlestick Park
    Seals Stadium
    Polo Grounds
    Hilltop Park (two months in ’11)
    St. George Grounds, Staten Island (April and June 1889)

    I thought the Phillies had more different parks, but I think National League Park, Huntington Grounds, Philadelphia Baseball Grounds and Baker Bowl were all on the same location or the same park:

    Citizens Bank Park
    Veterans Stadium
    Shibe Park/Connie Mack
    Columbia Park (16 games 1903)
    National League Park/Huntington Grounds/Baker Bowl
    Recreation Park

    But I think the Reds have seven legitimately different parks and I think they played in all of them for significant amounts of time:

    Union Grounds
    Avenue Grounds
    Bank Street Grounds
    American Park/League Park/Palace of the Fans
    Crosley/Redland Field
    Riverfront Stadium
    Great American Ballpark

    The Yankees, Pirates and Reds have five and a bunch of teams have four.

  3. giuseppe on November 9th, 2006 11:30 am

    Obviously I found more parks for the Reds and didn’t revise my last sentence.

  4. hans on November 9th, 2006 3:33 pm

    dw said,
    Everett Memorial stadium is 27 miles from downtown Seattle.

    This is my point exactly. This stadium is going to be a long way from pretty much everywhere, and there is not boing to be an easy way to get there. Sure it’s closer to San Jose, but it is significantly farther and harder to get to from most of the bay area than the current site is (which is not that well-located in the first place) or a site in downtown Oakland.

  5. Grizz on November 9th, 2006 5:10 pm

    The move closer to San Jose is significant. San Jose is over twice the size of Oakland (900,000 to 400,000 — Seattle, by comparison, is just under 600,000). San Jose is also significantly more affluent.

    The plan is not perfect. But given the territorial restrictions, the area’s population sprawl, and the fact that traffic will be a problem no matter where the A’s put the stadium, targeting the South Bay market is a smart move. For South Bay baseball fans, it will be a much shorter drive to see the A’s than the Giants. The Angels have shown that a team can thrive in essentially a suburban location.

  6. Joe on November 10th, 2006 12:36 am

    -Traffic to Fremont is terrible. The 880 between Oakland and San Jose is clogged with traffic on most days, at most times of day. The whole stretch is an industrial mess.

    So it’s worse for people driving from San Jose and Silicon Valley to drive 27 miles less in that traffic?

    I’m sorry, but if you think there’s more money in Oakland than in all of San Jose / Santa Clara county / the valley, you’ve been spending a little too much time inhaling Marin’s finest. Right now if you live down there and you want to skip out of work early to go to a ballgame, you’re far more likely to go see the Giants. This shifts things much more in the A’s favor. It’s a shame, really, because the A’s have always been kind of the blue collar team in the area and there aren’t many of those left. But I’m sure the owners would much rather look out and see a parking lot full of BMWs rather than worry about folks arriving on mass transit or walkups.

  7. BelaXadux on November 10th, 2006 12:39 am

    The As don’t draw at a viable long-term level where they are now. There _is_ no walk-up draw per se, the team’s playing to 12-15K a game, and the luxury box crowd which all sports franchises have their hearts set on see nothing to like where the team is located now. Moving them to Downtown Oakland does nothing to change their demographics; a nice new stadium would help, but only in the near term. From the standpoint of ‘centrality,’ Emeryville, where the old Pacific League teams used to play, is ideal, or the Berkely waterfront. Land in either place is likely just impossible to get, and prohibitively expensive if available.

    But the real issue is that the As must find a way to boost their draw from outside the East Bay corridor; they must draw _significantly_ more from Contra Costa, ideally draw more from out the Livermore corridor to Stockton and Sacto, and really need to draw much more from San Jose. Building in and around Oakland only condemns the As to perpetual attendance inferiority. If they build in Contra Costa, they can forget drawing from San Jose and the West Bay. If they build in San Jose, even if they could, they can forget drawing from much of the East Bay, and northern Contra Costa. Building in the Fremont area is really the only choice for boosting draw from all regions. Also, Fremont is directly accessible by bridge from the Peninsula, and while that region is Giants country, the As can hope to accrue some gains to at least offset attendance losses from up Richmond way. 880 sucks, sure: like the freeways in Downtown Oakland _aren’t_ a bumper to bumper crawl midday through rush hour, hey? If the stadium isn’t on BART now . . . that’s not good. That said, BART has been extended before, and the team can at least work toward this in the future. Fremont to San Jose is the most likely of all BART extensions to get any action, and on grounds quite independent of the team.

    The site’s not a certain bet, but it’s better than the alternatives, to me, and could really pay off. Personally, I’d rather have a stadium in Emeryville, but it just makes no sense because it won’t make any money.

  8. hans on November 10th, 2006 9:07 am

    A few responses:

    -A BART extension to San Jose is already being worked on. It has been planned and accepted. The nearest stop to the planned stadium site will be two miles away. They are not going to make a detour fromt he route that has already been selected.

    -Emeryville is about 2 miles from the sites that were considered for downtown Oakland. It is not more central. BART does not go there, but all BART lines go through downtown Oakland.

    -the Cities of Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Livermore (i.e., the Livermore Valley) are in Alameda County, not Contra Costa. Downtown Oakland is more accessible to all of these cities than Fremont is. Contra Costa County is located north of Alameda County, making downtown Oakland much more accessible to its residents.

    -Downtown Oakland is also more accessible to the growing Central Valley communities of Tracy, Brentwoon, Stockton, and Sacramento (home of the River Cats). Oakland currently draws from all of these areas, and a new stadium more suited to baseball and in a more central location would definitely increase this draw.

    -I never tried to argue that there is more money in Oakland than in the entire south bay… only that there are plenty of nice places in Oakland.. and that it is certainly more interesting and a better place to visit than Fremont. My main point, however, is that the central location of downtown Oakland is accessible to many more people than a Fremont location.

  9. Grizz on November 10th, 2006 10:21 am

    For the A’s, it appears that a central location took a backseat to a closer proximity to the highest concentration of people with the most disposable income. There is a reason that San Jose has a Gap and a Cheesecake Factory, but downtown Oakland does not.

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