Monday, March 30, 2009

MLB forms committee to look at A's stadium situation

Go figure, I don't post for a week, and now three in one day (and no, it is not three strikes and I am out). Just had this article sent to me, and thought you would like to see it as well:

Commissioner Bud Selig is putting together a committee to look at the A's stadium situation, saying that the team can't stay in its current situation at the Coliesum forever.

"Lew Wolff and the Oakland ownership group and management have worked very hard to obtain a facility that will allow them to compete into the 21st century," Selig said in a release. "To date they, like the two ownership groups in Oakland before them, have been unsuccessful in those efforts, despite having the significant support of their corporate partner Cisco. The time has come for a thorough analysis of why a stadium deal has not been reached. The A's cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation."

And:

According to the release, the committee will be chaired by Bob Starkey, a stadium expert and financial consultant for Major League Baseball. Corey Busch, a former executive with the Giants, and Irwin Raij, a lawyer with Foley and Lardner who worked extensively on both the Washington and Miami ballpark proposals, will also serve on the committee. MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy will work with them, and the group will submit a report to Selig.
Most interesting is this update from the above article:
I'm told that Busch has no ties with the current Giants' ownership group and that his Giants' background would have no impact on the territorial issue whatsoever. In fact, there's a feeling that the Giants' current ownership group might not be altogether thrilled that Busch is on this committee. It's safe to say that A's believe he will be objective when it comes to territorial rights.

Whatever happens with the A's bid for a new stadium, there will be questions about the economic climate and if the time is right to get such a project underway, even with private funds.

Bottom line? MLB is getting off the bench and starting to seriously study what will be the best move for the A's, and San Jose is looking pretty good right now folks. Stay tuned as I am sure there is going to be some more information later this week.

Play ball San Jose.

Lunch time whiffle ball tomorrow

Jack Wimberly, the new Vice President of our facebook group, has organized a lunch time rally/whiffle ball game tomorrow (Tuesday, March 31) in front of city hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose.

The game starts at 12 p.m., bring your lunch, meet some other BSJ supporters (I am going to try to be there) and don't forget to wear your A's colors. You can RSVP by clicking here, hope to see you tomorrow.

Thanks to Jack for getting the ball rolling on this fun event.

Play ball San Jose.

So things are getting interesting

First of all I have been absent due to a family issue, my 90 (almost 91) year old father in law has had some health issues and has moved from his home to my brother and sister in laws house. For the last month we have been cleaning out his house (60 plus years of stuff mind you), painting, ripping out bathrooms, and so on, in order to get it ready to rent. No, we are not finished yet, however we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

So, in my absence from this blog (but not the news) a few interesting things have popped up on the radar. First of all we had a guest opinion piece this weekend in the Mercury:
Is a baseball stadium in downtown San Jose a good idea? As city officials again seek to bring the A's to San Jose, this is a question that must be considered carefully, with full, open public involvement.
And:
The city is wisely starting a Diridon Station Area planning project, but the baseball stadium is not part of this study. It should be added, if the city is serious. However, the tail shouldn't wag the dog.

The transit center will be much more than a service for a stadium. It will be an important gateway to and catalyst for downtown San Jose. Land around it will become much more valuable. Stadium projects typically are subsidized in part with low-cost land grants and property tax abatements. Are there other land uses for this valuable location that may provide greater long-term economic benefit to the city and significantly reduce our structural budget deficit?

I agree with Helen Chapman that an open and thorough process is paramount in our quest to bring MLB to San Jose. As to the land use issue Chapman brings up, business always brings in more tax dollars then housing, so the discussion on what will bring the greatest long-term economic benefit to the city needs to compare apples to apples, ie, what other types of businesses could have the same impact on our economy as a stadium.

On that point we can look to the economic impact from HP Pavilion:

A new study this month commissioned by the folks who run San Jose's HP Pavilion produced some staggering numbers about just how successful the downtown arena has been since its opening some 15 or so years ago.

Total events? 2,600. Jobs created? 5,000. Cumulative economic impact? $1.7 billion. And, the study by Berkeley-based SportsEconomics asserts, San Jose every year sees a direct infusion of $5.4 million because of the stadium. All that for the comparably paltry $165 million it took to get the thing built.

Keep in mind that there was opposition to the Pavilion, yet you would be hard pressed to find anyone who owes up to that opposition today. Clearly the Pavilion has been an asset to our city, and in my opinion, a new stadium with a MLB team would be an even bigger asset in the long run, and we will need to remain engaged and involved with the process to make our dream a reality.

Along with the opinion piece and stats on HP Pavilion we also had a glimpse of some interesting statements by Lew Wolff:

He pointed out that San Jose officials have selected a site and completed environmental studies necessary to build a ballpark, and that a business group is preparing to start a campaign in support of an A's move to San Jose.

"I think they probably are in as good a position as anyone in California," said Wolff, who is co-owner of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. "They are the 10th-largest city in the country."

The article also mentions that Wolff is actively seeking a solution to the territorial rights with MLB. While the territorial rights are an issue, they are not a deal breaker by a long shot, and as has we all know, the bottom line is what works best for MLB and not just one team. There is no doubt that keeping the A's in our area is good business, the fan base is here, we have great weather, a large metropolitian population, great public transportation to the proposed site and we already have proven that we have the ability to support a sports franchise (Sharks).

Here is a good take on the territorial rights issue:

There's only one thing keeping Wolff from living out his San Jose fantasy, and that's the San Francisco Giants holding the territorial rights to the San Jose area. The Giants are unwilling to budge on that one, and they're doubling down on their angry public rhetoric. "Baseball's constitution defines Santa Clara County as the Giants' territory," Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said. "It's the heart of our fan base in many respects."

San Jose is the heart of the Giants fan base? Does Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter know where the Giants play their games?

This will manifest as a war for the hearts and minds of Major League Baseball owners. MLB comissioner Bud Selig, Wolff's former fraternity brother, is already down --writing in a January letter that he supported the San Jose move. The owners would have to approve the move with a three-fourths majority. It's a double-edged sword for them. They share revenue, and owners would love to see profits maximized within the Bay Area's largest and wealthiest city. They would all profit from that move. On the other hand, this opens the door to other teams moving into their markets, so they'd have to consider the precedent that their own turf could also be put up for grabs.

Last, but never least, a few housekeeping items:

1.) Our facebook group is 649 strong and growing, keep up the great work everyone!

2.) Don't forget to RSVP for Tuesday, April 7th (San Jose City Council), stay tuned for more information and details.

Play ball San Jose.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A's to Oakland: thanks, but no thanks

The A's have sent out a statement by Lew Wolff today telling Oakland, thanks, but no thanks:
"We have fully exhausted our time and resources over the years with the city of Oakland, dating back to previous A's ownership," he said in the statement. "We recognize conditions have not changed. Letters to Major League Baseball offer nothing new or of any real substance. Outside stimulation to have us continue to play in an aging and shared facility may generate press and 'sound-bite' opportunities, but do not provide any tangible alterations in the circumstances we face."
Click here to read the entire statement.

The above statement comes on the heels of this story:

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and City Council President Jane Brunner appealed Thursday to the commissioner of Major League Baseball to do what he can to work with the city to keep the A's in Oakland.

Dellums and Brunner made their pitch in writing after plans to build a ballpark for the A's in Fremont fell apart last month, and as San Jose officials take steps toward luring the A's to their city.

"We are writing on behalf of the city of Oakland to make clear that we are prepared to do everything reasonably possible to keep the Oakland A's in Oakland," the letter from Dellums and Brunner said. "We are committed to working with Major League Baseball and the A's owners to keep the team in Oakland."

And:

Ken Pries, the A's vice president of communications and broadcasting, said in an e-mail that A's owner Lew Wolff was aware of the letter. "He has no comment at this time and his focus now is on the team and the start of the 2009 season," Pries wrote. "His goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California. A goal that has not changed."

At the top of the Merc's website is this story:

Plans for the A's to move to Fremont fell apart last month, and San Jose is viewed by many people as the leading contender to and the team. But the San Francisco Giants hold territorial rights to Santa Clara County, meaning Selig may have to get involved if the A's are allowed to move to San Jose.

Wolff's letter noted attendance and season ticket holders in Oakland are both among the lowest in baseball — even when the A's are playing well on the field.

"Our goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California," Wolff wrote. "That goal has not changed. We have no interest in covering old ground again, as we need to move forward in finding a future home for our team."

Dellums' office did not immediately comment.

Interesting to note that yesterday Wolff had no comment, and today he makes a very strong statement that his energy isn't going to be in negotiating plans he has already rejected. Oakland now finds itself at the bottom of the ninth, two outs and no one on base.

How does this play for San Jose? First of all it indicates that moving the A's to our city is much more then a 50/50 proposition, I would say we are now looking at 80/20, the biggest caveat being territorial rights, and the second hurdle being the building of the stadium.

Given that MLB is a business, their bottom line is profit, and if it makes financial sense to move the A's to San Jose, those territorial rights are going to disappear. In my opinion moving the A's to San Jose may well increase the overall profits for MLB and the owners who are now subsidizing teams like the A's.

As to the building of the stadium we shall have to see what our electeds and business leaders come up with by way of funding. A best case would be if a majority, if not all, of the funding will be private funding with some taxpayer money used for improvements to the site. Given that there is no proposal on the table anything written at this point is a guess, so we shall have to wait and see what our city and the "A's to San Jose Study Group" comes up with by way of funding.

And once again you all amaze me! Our facebook group is now well on the way to 600 members! Way to go everyone! Keep on inviting your friends and family.

Don't forget: April 7th is the day we will need to show up at city hall, mark you calendar and plan to be there to show your support for MLB coming to San Jose.

Play ball San Jose.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A's to San Jose Study Group raises money for poll

Just received word that the newly formed "A's to San Jose Study Group" has raised enough money for a poll. This is great news, and I would expect that a poll will be, as they say, "in the field" within the next few weeks or a month at the latest.

As I am watching the rules committee meeting right now there seems to be a broad support for baseball, as well as some reasonable concerns by the public. Concerns raised: make sure that there are a number of well publicized public meetings, EIR out of date, the projected impact on neighborhoods and a few other issues.

Here is a link to the mayor's memo, and please make sure to mark April 7th on your calendar, that is the day (night) that we will need to be at city hall to show our support.

(Update: The upload seems to have made the document unreadable, try going here for a better version. And here is the memo from Councilmembers Pyle, Herrera and Campos)

Here are some links to stories covering the meeting today: KCBS, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Once the polling is done we will have a better idea of where we stand with the residents of San Jose. I will guess that support should be fairly strong if there is little to no public money used in the building of the stadium. We shall have to see, but hopefully we will get good news in a short amount of time.

And WOW! We hit 500 members on our facebook group yesterday, and right now we stand at 516 members, you all rock!

Again, mark your calendar for April 7th.

Play ball San Jose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"A's to San Jose Study Group" names co-chairs

Just received a news release from the "A's to San Jose Study Group," announcing two newly appointed co-chairs:

Former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer
San Jose Businessman Michael Mulcahy

This is huge news! Hammer has long been an advocate of bringing MLB to San Jose, she is well respected and she has the past experience of dealing with MLB. Having Hammer join with this newly formed group of community and business leaders is clearly a step in the right direction, and sends a strong message to MLB that San Jose is ready for the big league.

Mulcahy is a strong community and business leader who has amazing leadership and organizational skills, on top of having a great singing voice (maybe he should be nominated to sing at our first opening day). Having worked with Mulcahy before, I can tell you first hand that he is one of the nicest, smartest and hardest working individual you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

In case you were wondering, the "A's to San Jose Study Group" is an organization focused on keeping the public and city hall informed and up to date on the actions of our local "movers and shakers" who want to bring MLB to San Jose. This group is also working on raising money for polling as well as reaching out to our public and private leaders.

From the press release:
For the past month, an ad hoc group of community leaders and elected officials have convened to discuss the political feasibility of bringing the Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team to San Jose. Among others, the group has been comprised of County Supervisor Dave Cortese, County Assessor Larry Stone, businessman Bill Baron, attorneys Dave Robeson and Sam Chuck, along with representatives of Mayor Chuck Reed’s office and members of the City Council.
Today's news is also important as it sends a very strong message to MLB that San Jose is not only serious about the A's, we have the leadership in place to make this happen.

So, stay tuned to this blog for more updates and breaking news, as soon as I learn anything else so will you.

And thanks so much for your help in driving our facebook numbers, we are currently at 492 members! If you haven't yet invited your friends and family members, please take a minute to invite a few more people today and help us break .500 ; )

Play ball San Jose.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Working together

The Mercury's editorial today was spot on, especially this part:
Major League Baseball needs to acknowledge that San Jose is the only practical option for the A's in the lucrative Bay Area market. Wolff has dealt with the city for decades. He has good relationships with Mayor Chuck Reed and downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo.
San Jose is clearly the best location for the A's, an even better site then their current home in Oakland. To achieve our dream of bringing MLB to San Jose we need to be a team and work together. Our team has many components, including elected officials, business leaders, supporters and residents who live near the proposed stadium location. And as things progress we will be called upon to take action by showing up for meetings, writing letters and more. Above all each part of our team needs to remain focused on the big picture: bringing MLB to San Jose.

And the Mercury hit home with this as well:
We believe San Jose residents would like having the A's play downtown. They've seen the Sharks and the arena enrich city life. And while some neighbors will fight a ballpark, others have moved downtown for a more urban experience. Condos near AT&T Park in San Francisco don't suffer from proximity to that great ball field.

The vote on the arena was very close, but today hardly anyone admits to having opposed it. The same would happen with a ballpark for the A's. But to win support, city leaders will need to work together. That's why the enthusiasm of both Reed and Campos, his political nemesis, is a very good sign.

You will be able to watch Rules Committee meeting online, here is the link, or you can attend in person, here are the details:

Rules & Open Government Committee
Wing Public Rooms Room 118+119
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Time:2:00 PM to 5:00 PM

I won't be able to attend in person, but will be watching online and blogging the meeting from home.

Finally please make sure to mark your calendars with the April 7th date, which may well be our first call to action. The meeting should be in the evening, and I will try to get something online that you can print out and bring with you to show support for BSJ.

Play ball San Jose.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Return of the Nimby

Now that the A's and San Jose are back in play, concerns from residents close to the proposed stadium site are once again being voiced. In all fairness those who would be most impacted by the stadium should have all of their concerns addressed. On the other hand, our city needs to do what is in the best interest for our city, weighing concerns against the economic impact of a new stadium.

Scott Herhold discussed his neighbors concerns today, and then he finished up with this:

So where one of my neighbors bemoaned a possible explosion of fast-food restaurants if the A's come to town, I see a ballpark pumping energy into The Alameda. In 15 years, I've seen nothing but good from the impact of the HP Pavilion.

I don't mean the city ought to accept any ballpark under any terms. We know there are good and bad deals. When the city negotiates with Lew Wolff, it needs to bring its "A'' game, and I intend that as no pun: He's bringing his.

What I do mean is that a ballpark can be — with the right rules, in the right circumstances, for the right price — a big plus for the city and even for most of the neighborhood. Now, the A's white shoes are a wholly different matter. .

While I do not always agree with Herhold, on this matter we are in complete agreement. Herhold's support of new ballpark, even though he may experience some inconvience, is welcomed. Herhold also understands that a stadium project could have widespread positive economic impacts for the entire South Bay.

And we also should not forget all those who raised the same or similar objections to HP Pavilion, as noted by the New A's Ballpark blog:

Proponents of the ballpark point to all of the naysaying regarding the arena's development. The arena didn't destroy either Shasta/Hanchett or the further away Rose Garden, and it actually led to redevelopment of downtown and the Cahill Park neighborhood immediately west of Diridon Station.
We all know the obvious: a new stadium in downtown San Jose is going to impact life for many of us who call San Jose home, some more then others, but there will also be benefits to our city and its residents. Moving forward it is imperative that concerns are addressed, benefits noted and concessions made where possible.

Play ball San Jose.

Monday, March 2, 2009

San Jose is still the one

The Mercury had an interesting story on Friday:
In a dig-the-enthusiasm-but-don't-go-too-far e-mail to Mayor Chuck Reed, Wolff revealed: "Naturally my decision to cease our efforts in Fremont has generated a lot of calls, e-mails, etc. from your community and a number of others," Wolff wrote at about 8 p.m. Thursday. Though "I do not wish to seem disrespectful, and I always am delighted to take calls from elected officials and others, I would appreciate you letting those who wish to contact Major League Baseball officials that, as far as I am concerned, such contacts are not recommended."
And I found this blurb on Rob Neyer's Blog (ESPN.com writer):

When I invited the Athletics to Portland on Wednesday, I was of course just fooling around; at this moment there is neither the political nor the corporate support for a $400 million construction project. Not to build a millionaires' playground, anyway.

The best outcome for the A's and their fans would be staying in the Bay Area. My only real concern is for those fans, many of whom would presumably have a non-arduous trip to a ballpark in San Jose. If you've been to the Bay Area -- and particularly if you've tried to drive from San Jose to downtown San Francisco during anything like rush hour -- you know the two cities don't feel particularly close to each other. For every San Jose fan the Giants might lose, they might gain a fan from Berkeley and Oakland.

Note that while Portland has been mentioned as possible place for the A's to relocate, right now, according to Neyer, Portland does not have the political or business infrastructure in place to make that move possible, San Jose is far better situated by way of political will and organization, not to mention that the A's are already located in the Bay Area. You can read more about Portland's efforts by visiting their stadium website (which you will note hasn't been updated for a while).

So, given the above information, what do we do moving forward? We keep doing what we are doing, getting people to join the facebook group and this blog. Our facebook group is, as of this post, at 399 (WOW!), and we need to get that number up into the thousands to show MLB that there is widespread local support for bringing the A's to San Jose.

In the near future we may also be called upon to show up at public meetings, and it will be important that we arrive in large numbers if we want MLB to know that the residents of San Jose are worthy of the "big league." Keep watching this blog and the facebook group for updates on meetings we will need to attend. Until then, keep doing what you are doing and start saving those pennies for your season tickets.

Play ball San Jose.