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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oakland A's Continue Flirtation With Fremont On New Stadium - It Will Never Work

You've read it here first. By the time the City of Fremont adds the costs required to make the Cisco lot a really viable location for a new baseball stadium, the cost will be so high they'll punt on the entire effort, or be forced to by the city's residents. The traffic needs and environmental and access problems -- not to mention the lack of population density there -- make the site less than acceptable barring a $100 million expenditure on top of the stadium cost.

Just watch.

The other problem is that the A's are darting here and there like a high school girl who just realized boys like her. My read is the team's continuing to play "set up" -- if a deal's not quickly done, then they can say "The Bay Area just doesn't work." Or say, "change the Major League Agreement so we can move to San Jose." I reallly think the A's have adopted that strategy. I'm certain of it. They're moving way too fast and making too many errors in the process.

Here's the Trib article.

A's see a strong pitch in Fremont
Team, Cisco hashing out deal for 143 acres that ultimately could spell end to pro baseball in Oakland


FREMONT -- Oakland A's co-owner Lew Wolff is close to completing negotiations with Cisco Systems Inc. for a 143-acre parcel, a deal that could clear a major hurdle in allowing the team to move to Fremont, City Manager Fred Diaz said.

"I think we are the lead candidate for the new home of the A's," Diaz said. "If there's a deal to make for both the A's and the city of Fremont, then we'll find it and make that happen."

The Fremont city manager's comments came after Wolff briefly met April 3 with Fremont City Council members and staffers, including Diaz and Daren Fields, Fremont's economic development director.

Some city officials also were at a March 29 meeting in which Wolff told more than 200 people he is serious about pursuing a new ballpark on Fremont land.

If a deal between Cisco and the A's is completed, the next step would be for the team to submit a development application for the site, adjacent to Interstate 880 and just south of the Pacific Commons shopping center. An environmental impact report for the land then would be issued; that would take about 12 months.

Talks have progressed so far that only a few issues, such as stadium naming rights, remainunresolved, Diaz said: "That is my understanding through (talking with) Lew Wolff."

But Diaz said he does not rule out the possibility of the A's staying in Oakland or moving to San Jose or another city.
"I have never underestimated the competition ... in this race to attract the A's," he said.

Both Wolff and a Cisco spokeswoman have declined to comment on the negotiations.

When asked about Fremont sites, Wolff said last week, "You can close your eyes and picture that part of the Bay Area 10 years from now. It's going to be a growth area."

Wolff said Fremont has land that could fit "our idea of a baseball village. It will be more than just a ballpark."
In fact, it could include a hotel connected to the ballpark, thousands of houses and a major retail complex. The A's could use money from the mixed-use development to finance the stadium and avoid touching public funds, Wolff said.

Cisco leased the 143-acre property in 2000, and the San Jose tech company has an option to buy the land between 2007 and 2010. Cisco prepaid about $100 million in rent and also paid infrastructure costs on the parcel, Fields said.

Even if Cisco and the A's complete an agreement, there are many details to be worked out. Access to the Pacific Commons site is a potential problem. The Fremont BART station is about five miles from the site, so traffic could cause problems.

By comparison, AT&T Park in San Francisco provides access for fans through a combination of nearby Caltrain and Muni rail line stations, a ferry stop behind the stadium and BART lines several blocks away on Market Street. Oakland's McAfee Coliseum features nearby BART and Capitol Corridor stops. But those details can be worked out, Wolff said.

"Everybody is looking for the negative here," he said. "There are lots of issues, and we'll deal with all of them. I don't have all the answers this minute."

Wolff, a Los Angeles developer, co-owns the team with billionaire John Fisher, son of Gap founder Don Fisher. Wolff has turned to Fremont because he believes the team needs a new ballpark to replace its current, 40-year-old Oakland home.
A Fremont ballpark would allow the A's to tap into the corporate dollars of Silicon Valley without invading the South Bay territorial rights that belong to the San Francisco Giants. In Fremont, the team also would stay close to the East Bay suburbs along the Interstate 680 corridor.


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