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Greener Grass, Episode 8: How it Could Work in Oaktown

Let's be honest. The old axiom "possession is 9/10ths of the law" might not really apply to the City of Oakland and the A's. Well, really because the A's aren't a possession of the City, they are owned by Fisher and Wolff (and Gus Saperstein). And MLB's constitution doesn't allow municipalities to own teams. But folks who trot this line of reasoning out are not referring to real ownership, but more the symbolic ownership a fan base has of a  team. Personally, I am pro Oakland keeping the A's as much as I am pro San Jose landing the team. Anywhere in the Bay Area is fine by me.

You have to be leery of Oakland's chances of keeping the A's when the Commissioner's frat brother is saying "San Jose is the way." Though, Lew seemed to be allowing for the possibility that Oakland will pan out on Chronicle Live. But you know what? If I was Oakland, I would be saying "so what?" I would be proud of who I was A's or no A's. This is not to say that the City shouldn't be putting forward a plan to keep the team. Here is what my plan would be, were I the guy who had to come up with a plan.

As per usual, a slight detour is in order. I'd like to invite all of y'alls to join me on an intimate tour of the City of Oakland. It is on March 28th and this is the route we shall be following.

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The Oakland Half Marathon Route (via www.oaklandmarathon.com)

While we won't be visiting the specific location I believe will be included in Oakland's plan for a future A's home, we will be running nearby. Speaking of that place we are running nearby, a refresher picture of what I consider to be Oakland's best shot:

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The Oakland Fire Department Training SIte (via obiwan2900)

In the picture above we have two distinct areas, one for stadium one for a park. I went through all of my opinions about how to build an excellent fan culture at this site with the frog in my pocket, who is absent today but sends some notes, a few weeks ago. What I didn't really talk about with this site, is how workable it is from a stadium building perspective.

So let's start with a tale of the tape. The area I have outlined above is a 22 acre conglomeration made of 17 lots. 13 of those lots are owned by private entities. The other 4 lots are comprised of two City owned parcels (this is about 6 acres and includes the OFD Training site), one owned by the Peralta Community College District and one owned by BART. All of this info I gathered at this website.

(frog's note: Before I let jeffro go all Pollyanaish on the site I feel like it is important to note that perhaps the largest hurdle is that three distinct Right's of Way run through this general area. I have been told by people who would know that the Utilities who own these ROW's are not exactly easy to work with. These could present major challenges.) 

Of the 22 acres, only 20 are encompassed in my pretty Christmas color shapes above. The reason is that one of the City owned parcels actually extends below the freeway. So, reality says we are looking at 20 acres for potential development. How much would it cost you ask? After speaking with some folks who know about land values, and factoring in the value of the buildings on the 13 private lots, the total parcel is worth about $40 Million dollars. Oakland could tell Uncle Lew and Mr. Fisher to pony up for that, but of course they would really be screwing themselves if they did, so this is going to have to be purchased by the Redevelopment Agency, or CEDA as it is known in Oaktown. The City would lease the property back to the A's, just as proposed in San Jose and as is in San Francisco.

(frog's note: This may get boring if jeffro goes too deep into this, but the OFD site as he envisions it falls into two different Redevelopment Zones. This can be a hindrance, or a blessing, depending on who you ask. For the record let's just say it makes things a bit more complicated and leave it at that)

I just need a chart. I can't help it. Here is the Tale of Tape for the OFD Training site:

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Some CEQA/EIR concerns. Besides the 18 month delay that is. Automobiles. As in how do they impact the neighborhood?

For instance: parking anyone? I mean as in where the heck do you park when there are 20 Acres for a stadium, some buildings and a park? The Coliseum is great for parking. Mainly because there are 105 acres with which to play and much of it is covered in asphalt specifically designed for the purpose of parking (or grilling and beer drinking while being parked).

A picture, with little numbers representing parking lots/garages:

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Parking near OFD (via obiwan2900)

The "A" in the picture is to the left of the imagined home plate entrance with the site being the area framed and crossed in magenta. Across 880 you can see a small sea of asphalt, perhaps more a bay than a sea, or even an estuary. That is a spot where folks may be allowed to park in addition to the parking garages depicted  by all the little numbers. Not to mention Jack London Square Amtrak is to the left of the site with parking and people coming on trains. And Lake Merritt BART across the freeway. While getting to the yard will require some walking (it is about 1.25 miles between the number "5" and the imagined ballpark) from all of these parking lots/garages, it looks to me that there is a lot of nearby options for parking.

That is not to say that parking is a non issue. There would most likely be the need for an additional parking garage somewhere nearby. A good estimate is 1,200 spaces (for premium season ticket holders, players, etc.). I am not sure where in the vicinity it would be built (I guess it could be shoe horned in and the park that was so central to my dreams of a cool culture goes bye bye), a safe bet is that the total cost of building a 1,200 space garage would be in the neighborhood of $30 million. I wouldn't expect for the A's to be willing to build the garage themselves, so the City's contribution so far is about $70 million ($40 million for the site plus $30 million for the garage).

Another automobile related issue... Freeway on/off ramps. The off ramps that serve this area are not designed to serve the amount of traffic a ballpark would bring. This is getting long so I am going to keep this part short. This website has all kinds of great info about transportation projects in Alameda County. Using these projects as a rough baseline, it will cost about $40 Million to bring this up to snuff. So the City would appear to need to find at least $110 Million to make this site work.

But what is the incentive for the A's? Is the $110 Million enough?

The San Jose Economic Impact Analysis is a good place to read tea leaves about the A's intentions. A $460 Million dollar investment to construct the stadium in Diridon is a good baseline. The problem is this... The A's say San Jose is the way to go because Oakland doesn't have significant corporate support nor a site. The $110 Million only addresses one of the two issues.

Another potential challenge here is that the construction of a stadium in this specific part of Oakland is most likely more expensive than the Diridon site in San Jose due to soil conditions (I am not that smart, I talked to an engineer friend of mine and he explained why but I only got "soil conditions" out of the whole explanation). So, worst case the stadium probably costs more like $500 Million. We can assume Cisco's naming rights deal will still apply and generate about $130 Million. This leaves $370 to cover.

The corporate base becomes a problem when it comes time to privately finance this chunk of change. While the facebook group is doing well with 25,000 members, Oakland Boosters realize that it is going to take real financial commitments from ticket buyers to get the stadium built. Charter Club style tickets for corporations would be a large part of the private financing mix as well as some kind of PSL programs for Average Joe's. In San Francisco, this accounted for 20% of the funding package. In that case it was $70 Million, in this case we are looking at $100 Million dollars that need to come from these presales.

I have to say one thing real quick: HOLY CRAP THIS IS A LOT OF MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now back to the matter at hand. One other source for funding in the San Francisco case was TIF. it accounted for roughly 5% of the total package there and that would be $25 Million here.

So, if Oakland believes there is enough corporate support to help build the stadium... They should be willing to guarantee it. If I was the A's I would ask the City to guarantee up to $125 Million towards stadium construction, with $25 Million being TIF. The other $100 Million is really a bad number, because the City would only be liable for the difference of $100 Million minus actual presales. If there isn't really the corporate support in place as the A's contend then they don't have to worry about it so much from a funding perspective (future revenues might be a challenge). If there is the corporate support as Oakland contends, then they don't have to pay any of that money.

(Frog's note: I cringe because this sounds so much like the stupid Raiders deal)

At this point in our imagined scenario, it is up to the A's to cover $245 Million. That is basically the same percentage of total stadium construction costs that the Giants took a loan for when they built AT&T Park.

So, citizens of Oakland... I ask "Are you willing to drop something potentially as high as $235 Million, guaranteed to be at least $135 Million, to keep the A's?"

I honestly don't know if I would be okay with that, but I think that is the high level plan that keeps the A's in Oakland.

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