Many of you provided lots of healthy feedback when the blog underwent a reskinning several months ago. Despite the excellent response, I've felt that the Blogger platform was somehow holding the site back. The Thanksgiving weekend seemed like an good time to make another move, and so I'm moving the blog to the WordPress platform. In addition, I finally got a proper domain. The new site is newballpark.org. It's live and it looks slightly different, but just about everything's there. I've added a discussion forum (under construction) so it'll be easier to have discussions away from the regular posts. I'll also add photo galleries and other types of content in the coming months.
Newballpark.org won't be in some extended beta period. It's where I'll be posting from now on, so update your bookmarks and favorites and get the word out. The old site will stay up indefinitely, but there won't be any new posts and I will be closing out comments on existing posts in short order. Of course, feedback is always welcome, and I appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement you have sent over the years.
Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend,
25 November 2009
Joe Stiglich has a follow-up from yesterday's article, consisting of a sitdown with Lew Wolff. Wolff still puts out the 32,000 ballpark capacity (though I have heard otherwise). He refutes much of the criticism he has received:
"It isn't like, if we had a winning team, we would have had double the attendance," Wolff said. "If you trace it back for a long time, we're in a market that's difficult to tap. We're close to the Giants, who have a beautiful ballpark. I don't think the fact that we traded some guys "... When you look back at what we sent out, I think the balance sheet is in our favor, thanks to Billy and his guys."Whether you buy into that line of thinking depends on your "worldview."
Gary Peterson wants an answer from the ever indecisive Bud Selig, and tries to break down the three possible outcomes.
Last but not least, Zennie Abraham never fails to pimp his software/bona fides every chance he gets, especially at his SFGate blog.
24 November 2009
The media blitz has begun. The Trib's Joe Stiglich references a feature piece in the December issue of San Francisco Magazine (not online). In it, writer Steve Kettmann, a San Jose native who spent a few years as the A's beat writer, gets the clearest statements yet from Wolff and more surprisingly, "silent" partner John Fisher. One of the Fisher quotes takes another prominent sports media personality to task:
Fisher and Wolff are a generation apart, but Fisher told me that he considers Wolff "a tremendous partner and friend, who, while he values my input, is the final decision-maker and has been from the beginning-despite what [Chronicle columnist] Ray Ratto may write.
Later, Wolff describes how he came to be involved with (and later own) the A's:
So 40-plus years later, during the 2002 World Series, (Selig) tracked down Wolff in Paris and asked him to one of the Giants-Angels games. To get there, Wolff enjoyed the first of many police-escorted trips with the commissioner. They traveled from the Mark Hopkins Hotel to PacBell Park. Then, during the game, Selig asked Wolff if he had any interest in talking to the A's owners, Hofmann and Schott."Lewie, would you be interested in buying the interest of one of the partners in the A's?" Selig asked."I thought my role, if I bought in, might be to work on the venue and have a little fun," Wolff told me.Soon enough, while investigating the idea, Wolff got a call from John Fisher, with whom he had been a co-investor in hotels such as the Carlyle in New York, the San Jose Fairmont, and the San Francisco Fairmont. Fisher and his father had been part owners of the Giants before largely dropping out in 1995, so Wolff asked about the idea of crossing the bay to buy out the A's owners. "I think it was around $180 million for all of it, which required about $100 million in cash," Wolff told me. That was too rich for Wolff's blood, so "I said to John, 'I'll just take a small piece, and I'll run it. Whatever you want.' So John called back and said, 'If you'll buy 10 percent now and commit to buying another 15 percent, I'll join you.'"I said, 'You know, once you ask someone to run a team, they can't be removed easily, unless I kill someone or something. So are you sure?' And John said, 'Oh yeah, we've known you a long time.' "Wolff told me he now has $15 million invested. "This is a significant investment for me, and it's not chump change. I think my ownership position is as large as Peter Magowan's was in the Giants."
While it may seem like the backstory is the focus of the article, it is just backstory. Still, I put it out there for emphasis. The idea that the ownership situation was ever in flux since the Wolff/Fisher group took control was and is patently absurd. The real thrust of the piece is San Jose, San Jose, San Jose. And no, the fact that it's in San Francisco magazine is not accidental.
There's a lot more, including a sadly humorous anecdote about the Coliseum from Billy Beane and Sandy Alderson commenting on territorial rights. It's definitely a worthwhile read, so head out to your local newsstand/bookstore/library to check it out.
Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee reported that River Cats owner Art Savage, who successfully brought pro baseball back to Sactown after a long absence, suddenly died over the weekend. Savage, who was a non-smoker who had successfully fought off lung cancer, was consistently hailed throughout the Central Valley and the baseball world for running the River Cats so well and for providing an excellent product year-in, year-out. The comments to the article bear this out, as there is nary a bad word in Savage's memory. The article traces his life, from college at Texas Tech to tax accountant to CEO of the Sharks and then the move to get the River Cats started.
In his stint in San Jose, Savage befriended many of the political players who are now aiming to bring the A's to San Jose, including Lew Wolff. Savage, who was 58, will apparently leave the team to this sons.
23 November 2009
Just got this from the City of San Jose:
In February 2007, the City certified an EIR for the Baseball Stadium in the Diridon/Arena Area Project (2006 Stadium Proposal), which included a maximum seating capacity of 45,000 and a maximum height of 165 feet, with scoreboards up to approximately 200 feet and lights approximately 235 feet above finished grade. However, due to an error in the traffic data that were used in the previous traffic study for the 2006 Stadium Proposal the City has determined that it is necessary to update the traffic analysis for the modified project using corrected traffic data to disclose a new significant impact to freeways. In early 2009, the City began exploring the development of a modified stadium project. Key components of the modified project proposal that differ from the 2006 Stadium Proposal include: a smaller maximum seating capacity of 36,000; relocation of the parking structure; an option to reposition the stadium to the south; and the realignment of South Autumn Street and South Montgomery Street near their intersection with Park Avenue.
Obviously, people will quickly pick up on the new figure of 36,000. I don't know where it comes from exactly, but it probably works when gauging impacts since it's exactly 20% less capacity than before. Beyond that, the repositioning of the stadium looks interesting since we've discussed that here many times before. It's good to have options.
The Notice of Preparation has a few other gems, including the potential acquisition of other sites outside the known ballpark footprint. If the ballpark is repositioned to the south, it would be pushed to the southern edge of the property while Park Avenue would be narrowed from four to two lanes (this stretch is the only one in the immediate area where it is four lanes wide). The PG&E substation could remain intact or be reconfigured, though the former would be a really tight squeeze.
A scoping meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 16 at the usual bat-time/bat-channel.
Update 3:11 p.m.: 36,000 is not merely an estimate for EIR study purposes. It's quite possibly the new ballpark capacity. Rejoice!
20 November 2009
After a 12-year run as a charter franchise in the WNBA, the Maloof family suddenly closed up shop with the Sacramento Monarchs, citing financial concerns. This leaves the WNBA at least temporarily with 12 teams, and the Maloofs with one less loose end should they try to bolt from Sactown. At least one player learned of the team's ignominious fate via Twitter.
That doesn't mean that women's pro hoops are leaving the NorCal market. Apparently, Oakland city council member Rebecca Kaplan has been pushing hard to get a WNBA team at the Coliseum, and the exit of the Monarchs may provide such an opening. Similar talk has existed in the past regarding San Jose, but SVSE head honcho Greg Jamison denied any discussions. The Bay Area has been a great market for women's hoops in the past, but the lack of a WNBA franchise always seemed puzzling. Was it the NBA exacting penance for San Jose having the Lasers? Or was Chris Cohan simply disinterested in sponsoring a WNBA franchise? Whatever the case, it would be great to have a new team in Oakland to tap into the fanbase and help pay for rent at Oracle Arena to boot.