A’s announce plans to build teeny-tiny stadium

The Oakland A’s held their news conference yesterday to announce plans for a new stadium in Fremont, and the details are … well, they didn’t exactly say. Most of the day was taken up with bland pronouncements from A’s owner Lew Wolff and MLB commish Bud Selig (“This stadium will not only reflect the latest in everything, but it will reflect a unique sensitivity to fans”), plus executives from Cisco Systems – the networking-supplies company that will provide land, technology, and the name for “Cisco Field” – showing off various techie gewgaws such as the ability to buy tickets and food with your handheld PDA.

In actual news about the stadium – and its financing – there wasn’t plenty of it:

  • The stadium will be even smaller than reported, between 30,000 and 34,000 seats, making it easily the smallest in the majors. As the San Jose Mercury News noted, this will “keep fans close to the field, provide an intimate feel, make single-game tickets scarce and keep up demand for season ticket sales.” All noble goals, surely, though one could argue that making tickets scarce will keep some fans closer to their TV sets than to the field.

  • Asked if he could say how much public money he’d want for the stadium project, estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million, Wolff replied: “No, I can’t. … This is primarily a private activity, but we’ll use both process and entitlements to come up with a financial plan to be presented to the city of Fremont [and] Alameda County.” Anyone with access to a real-estate-developer-to-English version of Babelfish, please contact me immediately.

  • The question of how on earth fans will get to the stadium (or residents to the accompanying condos) when the only highway running past the site is already jammed to the gills is “a valid one,” said Wolff. He added that he’d seek “input from the community” on this, which to the conspiracy-minded might have sounded suspiciously like “Go ask your Uncle BART for money.”

  • As for the name of the team, that won’t be decided for “at least two or three years,” according to Wolff. (The A’s owner said he hoped to have the stadium ready for business between 2010 and 2012.) He also indicated that the team name would include the words “of Fremont,” though opinions differed on whether he was serious – the fact that he immediately suggested “Omaha A’s of Fremont” as one possibility lending credence to the not-serious camp.

Wolff apparently still hasn’t shared any details of his plan with Fremont or Alameda County officials, some of whom were less than awed by yesterday’s dog-and-pony show. Fremont councilmember Bob Wieckowski told the Mercury News: “The worst thing you want to do is say, ‘This is the greatest thing’ when you have no idea what you’re talking about.” Dude, you could so never make it as a real-estate developer.

One comment on “A’s announce plans to build teeny-tiny stadium

  1. Sounds like Uncle BART has something in the works, although it is not very clear on how much of the cha-ching can be directly attributed to the Oakland Athletics of Fremont. I suppose we are still in wait-and-see mode.