Athletics stadium plans are off

DMZ · February 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

If you were afraid that the A’s would move to Fremont and a new, posh stadium where they’d start to rake in the dough and compete with the M’s, Rangers, and Angels in raw revenue dollars, shudder no more: deal’s dead. It’d been increasingly troubled, with delays putting its date way out, but the admission of defeat is still surprising, as it puts them back in the Al Davis Reconfigurable Hole indefinitely, and that place suuuuuuuuuucks, they don’t draw there, and MLB’s nonsensical territory system and particularly their guardianship of San Jose for the Giants means they’re screwed for a long while yet unless they move to Kyoto or something crazy.

And there’s a serious chance this will be the event that finally pushes Beane to go pursue soccer.


28 Responses to “Athletics stadium plans are off”

  1. Alex on February 24th, 2009 10:15 pm

    Now if only we can get the MLB to move the Royals into our division 🙂 They already have our washed up players.

  2. TomTuttle on February 24th, 2009 10:15 pm

    And there’s a serious chance this will be the event that finally pushes Beane to go pursue soccer.

    Why in the world would Billy Beane pursue soccer?

    If he ever thinks about leaving Oakland, do you realize how much money the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, etc. would offer him to come be the GM there?

    It’d definitely be enough for him to forget about soccer.

    On the bright side though, this may mean he’s gone for good in the A.L. West, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. smatbte51 on February 24th, 2009 10:21 pm

    Billy Beane has already had plently of chances to leave Oakland and go to a bigger market. I’m pretty sure that he had all but accepted a deal to be Boston GM but then backed out. From what I’ve read about the guy it’s not all about the money for him and I’m assuming that soccer is a passion of his.

  4. DMZ on February 24th, 2009 10:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure that he had all but accepted a deal to be Boston GM but then backed out.

    Didn’t he write a book about that?

  5. juneau_fan on February 24th, 2009 10:34 pm

    I was always too lazy to find out what MLB was doing to either help or hinder the A’s stay in Oakland, but I’m going to assume they wanted the team to move out of Oakland proper.

    IMO, having lived in the Bay Area, they should have embraced the two teams on either side of the bay by putting a new A’s stadium on the waterfront, near Jack London Square. A fan could take in an afternoon game at one place, and ferry over to the other for a night game. The interleague games could be double-headers!

    I hate this ‘move the stadium out the soulless ‘burbs’ thing. Particularly someplace like the Bay Area, where you can travel from all the far flung ‘burbs’ to the two cities for a game, as opposed to the idea of going out to…where the hell were they going to put it in? Castroville? Oh, Fremont. Same dif’.

    But I just assumed the deal fell apart because nobody can put this kind of financing together anymore.

  6. egreenlaw9 on February 24th, 2009 10:36 pm

    I’ll be shocked if the A’s aren’t in Portland by 2012. It just makes too much sense not to do it.

    As an M’s fan, that would suck because of revenue, but at least we’d have a more ‘natural rival’ than freakin’ San Diego. Plus, it would give you another reason to do the STP (Seattle to Portland bike race) every July 😉

    And yes, I do realize the A’s don’t play in the NL and it would have no affect on the M’s interleague ‘natural rival’ games. But still, it’d be nice to see green and gold back in the NW.

  7. lailaihei on February 24th, 2009 10:48 pm

    That kind of sucks, I was looking forward to taking a road trip down to their new park. It looked like a really nice park to spend a day in.

  8. Unemployed Cub fan on February 24th, 2009 10:56 pm

    Wow. Almost from Day 1, Lew Wolff has been working to get the A’s out of the dump they play in (and into one of his land developments). I don’t follow this issue closely anymore, but Lew either has some other deal in his pocket or he’s on the horn looking for a buyer for the team.

  9. dw on February 24th, 2009 11:03 pm

    If the Central Valley real estate market hadn’t so completely imploded in the last year, then I could have seen the A’s moving to Sacramento. That won’t happen now. Ditto moving to Las Vegas in the foreseeable future. Or Charlotte.

    What I think might happen is this 49ers-Raiders joint stadium deal goes through, leaving the A’s as the lone tenant of the Coliseum (again) and in a position to get Alameda County to do an Anaheim Stadium style rebuild.

    I really don’t think they’ll move to Portland, even if it is the only viable option out there.

  10. bongo on February 24th, 2009 11:52 pm

    The irony is that in many ways Sacramento River Cats have a nicer stadium (Raley Field) to play in than the As. Went to a River Cats game last year. The place was packed on a Tuesday night. Probably the nicest minor league stadium I’ve seen — even better than PGE Park in Portland (and the River Cats draw considerably better than the Beavers, they lead the minors in attendance from 2000-2004). Check it out:

  11. joser on February 25th, 2009 12:03 am

    The issues were many, but it came down to NIMBYism (which may or may not be reasonable in this case — I once had reason to spend a coupe of weeks in Fremont and it doesn’t seem to have much else going for it). And the economy of course: though it wasn’t planned to open until 2012 when (let’s hope) conditions would be different, and nobody involved seems to be using the economy as an excuse, it’s got to be hard to go ahead with a huge development like they had planned with the stadium as a centerpiece when properties are going vacant and the banks aren’t lending.

    Beane is signed with the A’s through 2012 — there’s that date again, and it did seem like he was maybe planning to wind up his career there to coincide with the team embarking on a new era in a new stadium. I could see them letting him out of his contract if he wanted to go, but who knows. He does love soccer, and maybe that’s more interesting now that he doesn’t have the statistical advantage he used to have in baseball. It certainly will be a lot harder to be Billy Beane if all the other AL West teams are doing the same quantitative analysis but with bigger budgets. I mean how much fun is it to just stay ahead of Texas?

    Anyway, the A’s aren’t moving to Portland. Both the state and the city are too sensible to throw dollars at a new stadium, and as we well know that’s what it would take. For that matter, I don’t think the A’s will be anywhere but Oakland by 2012. The new stadium in Fremont was supposed to be ready no sooner than that, and that was back a year or so ago when they thought they had smooth sailing. I suppose they could move somewhere that already had a passable stadium they could play in while a new one was built, but I just don’t see that happening. Las Vegas used to be everybody’s bet for the metro area most likely to get a pro team, but that was before their property tax base fell through the foreclosure trap door. (Now, if you could easily convert a neighborhood of derelict ranch homes into a stadium…)

    Maybe the Raiders move to LA and they get the stadium to themselves, maybe not, but they’re in Alameda at least until the economy turns around. It is possible they’ll move down to San Jose eventually. Sure that may be SF’s territory, but as we saw with the Nationals, MLB is willing to bend those rules when it decides it wants to.

  12. msb on February 25th, 2009 12:25 am

    I’m guessing there won’t be a lot of public financing of anything going on in California for a while …

  13. Breadbaker on February 25th, 2009 3:50 am

    I doubt it would be feasible or cost-effective to do a Anaheim-style rebuild of the Coliseum. The original Big A was based on Dodger Stadium and was first rebuilt for the Rams then retrofitted back to essentially the original configuration, with the Disney-style rocks in the outfield. The original Coliseum was a 60’s style ashtray multipurpose stadium akin to the Vet, Riverfront and the prior Busch, i.e., to quote Gertrude Stein about the city of Oakland more generally, there is no there there.

  14. bakomariner on February 25th, 2009 7:42 am

    I live in Cali…building new stadiums is the least of concerns at the moment…

  15. Evan on February 25th, 2009 9:03 am

    I could see them letting him out of his contract if he wanted to go

    Beane might have some say in that. He does own part of the team.

  16. khardy on February 25th, 2009 9:25 am

    Anyway, the A’s aren’t moving to Portland. Both the state and the city are too sensible to throw dollars at a new stadium, and as we well know that’s what it would take.

    Didn’t Oregon pass legislation to help build a stadium through the income taxes on the team? Being that Portland is the largest metro area in the US with only one pro sports team I have to think someone sooner or later will make a serious push to move a team there. Of course this isn’t exactly the best economic environment to being asking for government favors right now. Eventually you have to think it will happen.

    Although I’m sure the Mariners will put up a huge fight. As much as they moan about how isolated they are from the rest of the league, that also means they draw fans from a larger geographic area than any other team in the league. They own the PNW.

  17. Jon on February 25th, 2009 9:47 am

    As pointed out by others, the Coliseum was a nice enough multi-purpose stadium in a decent location (near a BART station, etc.), that was made far less baseball-friendly with the construction of “Mount Davis” in center field to lure the Raiders back. The situation now in Oakland is very similar to virtually every other city that had a baseball team and football team sharing one stadium, i.e., the stadium’s configuration doesn’t really work for either anymore, which means it doesn’t really make much sense to pour gobs of money into updating it. Keep in mind that even in Kansas City, which had the foresight to build two stadiums side-by-side, they are spending more than a half a billion dollars to modernize them. With the economy the way it is, especially in California, it appears the spinning wheel has stopped before the A’s could get their new stadium. Moreover, nowhere else is baseball-ready (and likely won’t be anytime soon due to the economy), so the A’s can’t really use possible relocation as leverage. being from Oregon, I don’t see how Portland can afford to take on a baseball team. PGE Park would only be an interim solution, which means a new stadium would have to be built soon to provide revenue streams.

  18. buckleybats on February 25th, 2009 10:00 am

    I hate the A’s. Most of my life’s misery has seen the A’s trounce, drum and cream the Mariners. That being said after suffering through the loss of the Sonics I don’t want to hear anymore “new stadium or else” BS. I’m sick of it. That team needs to stay put and realize they are not the Yankees and set their sites on a more feasible plan than a billion dollar palace of gluttony.

    Is there anyway possible for the Giants and A’s to share the Giants (whatever corporate name) stadium until a new park can be built?

  19. DMZ on February 25th, 2009 10:30 am

    You think the A’s don’t realize they’re not the Yankees?

  20. JMHawkins on February 25th, 2009 10:38 am

    You think the A’s don’t realize they’re not the Yankees?

    I really hate those green and gold pinstripes.

  21. droppedrod on February 25th, 2009 10:53 am

    Portland seems like a stretch as they have even more funding issues at the state and local level than Seattle. Without city and couty portions of sales tax, Oregon cities have less control over their revenue streams than Washington cities do. The problem is compounded by the fact that Oregon voters keep overturning increases in taxes passed by the legislature. NPR ran a story today about how Oregon will have to use bailout money to prevent having to close schools early for the summmer. Hard to believe that any politician would back public money for a ballpark in such an environment.

  22. dw on February 25th, 2009 10:59 am

    I doubt it would be feasible or cost-effective to do a Anaheim-style rebuild of the Coliseum.

    1. Tear down Mt. Davis. Replace with low-rise luxury “home run porches” similar to what Wrigley has (and maybe even some ground-level ones like we have at Qwest Field).
    2. If you can, remove the upper deck; if not, try to at least modify it a la New Comiskey (made it smaller and reduced the pitch)
    3. Reconfigure the field to be a baseball only stadium by reducing foul territory and improving sight lines.
    4. Improve amenities.

    All told, that’s probably a $150-200M job, less if they leave the upper deck free. A new stadium would cost twice that.

  23. Breadbaker on February 25th, 2009 2:38 pm

    dw, I’m not an engineer and I’m not familiar with construction costs in the Bay Area, but given how much is being spent on Kauffman and Arrowhead (or the most recent estimates for redoing Key Arena), I’m thinking your estimate is very low. You can’t “reconfigure the field” because the field was set in big round bowl with the foundation and the seats miles away from any configuration that allows you to put a baseball diamond on it.

  24. joser on February 25th, 2009 3:41 pm

    Yeah, that estimate is way off.

  25. dw on February 25th, 2009 4:09 pm

    Just for reference, the work that the White Sox did on Comiskey was done over six years and cost $20-25M a year. The 2005 Dodger Stadium renovation (where they shrank the size of the field in, yes, a bowl) cost $80M.

    I think you could do a heck of a lot to improve the Coliseum for $200M, which, BTW, is half what Cisco Field was estimated at. Maybe you can’t rejigger the upper deck at $200M, but it will at least get Mt. Davis knocked down, more seats on the field, and a little more openness. And they could do it in stages like Comiskey, spreading the cost out over the next 4-5 years.

  26. Doug Taylor on February 25th, 2009 4:37 pm

    They can’t change that the stadium is in a part of Oakland that few people want to live in, and ever fewer want to go to.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to see them move, and Portland could probably manage it. They’ve been looking at remodeling PGE for an MLS Timbers side, and people have already drawn up stadiums and locations…they did the work for a possible Marlins move several years ago.

    With construction and material costs coming down, they could probably do it for even less money than they thought. It would take significant private investment to get it done, though. That would be Portland’s biggest problem, which they have yet to solve. It’s not like the money isn’t there, but they don’t have a champion to get behind it.

  27. zzyzx on February 25th, 2009 6:07 pm

    “Hard to believe that any politician would back public money for a ballpark in such an environment.”

    …and yet it looks like they’re about to do that for MLS…

  28. murphy_dog on February 26th, 2009 10:10 am

    As a Northern California resident, and lifelong M’s fan, I take full advantage of Oakland as an opportunity to see the M’s in person. Living in Sacramento also allows me to see the Rainiers play the River Cats here.

    Sacramento has long had a desire to have another major sports franchise, up to the point of digging a giant hole and pouring the footings for a stadium for the Raiders. Yes, you can still find Sacramento Raiders license plate frames and bumper stickers around town.

    The reality of Oakland is that the Coliseum is a multi-purpose stadium, but even with Mount Davis, it will never be as bad as the Vet. The surrounding neighborhood isn’t all that bad, not saying I’d want to live there, but it doesn’t bother me to take the family to games. Its not any worse than South Philly, probably even better.

    The A’s and Giants will never share the SF park, simply because the Giants own the stadium themselves and financed it without public money (for the most part), and it is clearly the Giants stadium. Hard for A’s fans to ignore the address being 24 Willie Mays Plaza, or the various statues.

    Let the A’s stay in Oakland. their attendance stinks because they’re really not that good of a team, and there are no big name players drawing fans.

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