A’s owner wants control of Coliseum site for development, just without so much development

With the Oakland Raiders sorta kinda maybe thinking about moving to Los Angeles, it would seem that A’s owner Lew Wolff is sitting pretty to finally seize control of the Oakland Coliseum property so that he can build a lucrative mixed-use development to help pay for the costs of a new stadium. So, naturally, Wolff thoroughly confused everyone by announcing that what he really wants to see built around an A’s stadium is a giant parking lot:

Wolff said there is not enough land readily available at the Coliseum complex to build a stadium and satisfy the city’s desire for additional development, such as homes, shops, offices and a hotel.
The only way it could work, Wolff said, would be to build multilevel parking garages, but that would leave fans waiting in long lines to exit the garages and begin their drives home.
“Parking is a key issue for us,” Wolff said. “We want surface parking surrounding the ballpark wherever we build it unless we’re in the heart of a downtown.”

Now, no argument from me that A’s fans are going to want to park somewhere, and that multilevel parking structures are kind of a mess. (I still have nightmares about the New Haven Coliseum parking ramp.) But given that, as an astute Twitterer noted, back in 2010 Wolff went on and on about how an Oakland stadium would only work if it were surrounded by “residential entitlements” (i.e., the right for Wolff to build condos), it’s a bit odd to see the guy suddenly saying screw condos, parking lots are where it’s at!

The most likely interpretations, it seems, are that Wolff’s latest gambit is an attempt to tell Oakland 1) there’s not enough room for two stadiums plus other development, so get the Raiders offa our lawn, 2) you’re not giving us enough land, go back to the plan where 800 acres would be in play, 3) we don’t like those Coliseum City guys, let us plan our own development or it’s no deal, or 4) some combination of the above. Still, it makes for a bit of a muddled public message from Wolff — but then, muddled messages are kind of his specialty.

Cobb County admits it doesn’t know what Braves bridge will cost, that taxpayers will fund it

Hey, what’s up with that Atlanta Braves double-decker bridge that no one knows how much it’ll cost or how to pay for it, you ask? (You really need to work on your grammar.) Well, the Cobb County commission has hired an engineer to design it, but still can’t give any answer on the cost part:

When asked how much the bridge would cost, [] DiMassimo said the county is sticking by its $9 million estimate — a figure they came up with more than a year ago — before officials decided that building a bridge to support the circulator bus would be too expensive.

Asked if the bridge construction cost could be higher, DiMassimo said, “potentially.”

The rest of the article, by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s great Dan Klepal, is equally sad-hilarious and worth reading before it disappears behind the AJC’s paywall. My favorite two bits:

And:

This “build the stadium now and figure out how to get people to it later” plan just gets better and better, don’t it?

 

Rays threaten to move out of St. Pete the year that Malia Obama turns 30

Now’s here some quality clickbait, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times (“Winner of 10 Pulitzer Prizes”!):

Rays owner vows stadium search by 2022, with or without St. Pete’s okay

Whoa, Stuart Sternberg is throwing down the gauntlet! He’s going to straight-up ignore his lease with St. Petersburg and, wait, why 2022?

Sternberg made his unusually frank comments in a question-and-answer session with the Tampa Bay Times while he was in town for an annual Fan Fest celebration…

Assuming it takes at least five years to build a new stadium, will you start a regional search without St. Petersburg’s permission by 2022?

Absolutely. Before that. I haven’t thought of a timetable, but five years is a minimum from the time you would start the process to when you would ring the bell.

So: The Tampa Bay Times asked Sternberg if, given that it would take a few years to build a stadium, and the Rays‘ lease is up after 2027, he’d start looking around for stadium sites a few years before then. And Sternberg said — wait for it! — yes, he would. Though given that, as Noah Pransky (yes, him again) points out, Sternberg can’t actually start negotiating with any other cities before 2028, as spelled out in that lease (which the St. Pete council is refusing to let him out of), he’d be limited to just looking. Which you have to figure he’s doing already anyway, right? So, not much of a story, probably the kind of thing you’d bury in the back—

They don’t make Pulitzer Prizes like they used to.

Everybody suing everybody else over everything, same as usual

Lawsuit news! Nothing but lawsuit news!

Yeah. I think you can see why I don’t always report on every piece of lawsuit news: There’s nothing stopping anyone from filing suit for any reason, so while it’s often interesting to know what’s being challenged in court (hey, you never know what might succeed), most of it ends up being just a lot of legal fees signifying nothing, and there are more important things going on. Today’s a slow news day, though, so a perfect day to play catchup, and give you all some information for filling out your restraining order brackets.

Boston columnist compares Red Sox playing in Fenway to baseball’s history of segregation

I’ve been a newspaper columnist myself, so I get what they’re for. At their best, they combine insightful reporting with the kind of personable, entertaining writing that isn’t usually allowed on the news pages. (I’m not sure that distinction will hold up in the age of blogs, but it’s been useful for newspapers.) At their worst, they’re just people who are paid a lot of money to gush opinions that aren’t any more sensible or well-researched than those held by any random person on the street, but which for some reason go out to millions of readers.

The Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley, at least, is up-front about what his opinions are: This is a guy who last summer called himself “the cranky guy who screams that Boston needs a new baseball park.” So we shouldn’t be surprised that with Boston talking vaguely about somehow building a stadium for the 2024 Olympics if it gets them, Buckley, who doesn’t want Boston to get the Olympics, has nonetheless turned it into an opportunity to scream that Boston needs a new baseball park:

Fenway Park isn’t going to last forever. As Red Sox principal owner John Henry said last spring, the aging ballpark has “an expiration date.”

When?

“I think we’re several decades away, a good 30 years,” Henry said. “Hopefully we’ll still be around, but we’ll leave that for the next ownership group. Someone at some point in the decades ahead will have to address the possibility of a new ballpark.”…

But if we left all our problems to be solved by future generations, we’d still be dumping raw sewage in the Charles River. Jackie Robinson never would have gotten into Ebbets Field without a ticket.

And there you have it, the kind of opinion trap that columnists all too often find themselves building and then falling into: The Red Sox continuing to play in Fenway Park is like swimming in filth and segregation. I really doubt that Buckley sat down to write that yesterday, but eventually he got to a point where he needed to figure out how to argue that the third-most-valuable team in baseball can’t live without a new stadium, just because the team’s owner said Fenway should be structurally sound for another three decades or more, but three decades isn’t until the end of time, now is it?

This is the kind of logic that an editor really should catch and send back for rewrites, but opinion columnists don’t generally have their ideas rejected just because their editors think they’re screwy. Unless somebody powerful objects to it, that is, in which case it’s bound for the circular file. Some ideas are more unacceptable than others.

Cobb County now talking double-decker bridge to Braves stadium, cost goes back up again

When last we checked in on the bridge across a highway that Cobb County is going to have to build to get people to the new Atlanta Braves stadium from a neighboring parking lot, county officials were downsizing it to a pedestrian-only bridge to save money. As I remarked at the time:

The Marietta Daily Journal reports that the bridge will now be pedestrian-only, and so significantly cheaper. But also presumably much slower to cross, unless the Braves will be holding an annual Rollerblade Giveaway Night.

Apparently nobody liked my rollerblade idea, because Cobb County is now talking about a double-decker bridge that would carry pedestrians on one level, and shuttle buses on another. Which would be significantly more expensive again — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Dan Klepal notes that a similar bridge elsewhere ended up costing more than $30 million, though the details are now hidden behind the AJC’s paywall.

[UPDATE: Klepal has now provided the paywall-hidden details, and it was actually a 290-foot enclosed pedestrian bridge that $32 million, including design and engineering costs. The new Braves bridge would be 1,100 feet long, be double-decked, and would have to support not just pedestrians but vehicles, likely making it a bit more expensive, yeah.]

That whole approving a stadium in an undeveloped area before figuring out how much it would cost to build transportation infrastructure thing is just working out so well, isn’t it?

OC Register columnist proposes Angels-Tustin-Disney-Anaheim swap that would … do something, somehow?

I’ve seen newspaper columnists try to fill space with random musings before, but the Orange County Register’s Jonathan Lansner takes the cake here:

When I view the stadium puzzle through this prism, my eyes see an unorthodox solution.

The Angels team up with Tustin, for stadium purposes and more.

Anaheim partners with its old pals at Disney, and the stadium land helps the theme park juggle its parking challenges as well as any eventual expansion plans it may have for a third park. (Might such an expansion take its theme from one of Disney’s movie franchises, like “Star Wars”?)

Do I know anything more than anyone else who may be speculating? No. But this path is certainly worth exploring – even if we spend other people’s notional money in the process.

Setting aside that Lansner seems to have come up with this entire plan while in the shower, it doesn’t even really make much sense: The Los Angeles Angels would move to a new stadium in Tustin funded by new development there, even though Tustin officials have made clear that they won’t give Angels owner Arte Moreno free land for development, and the Angel Stadium land, which is owned by the city of Anaheim, would be used for … parking for Disneyland, which is three miles away? Which would benefit whom how exactly?

I’ve already spent more time thinking about this than I should have, and probably more than Lansner did, too. Suffice to say that column-writing is the cushiest gig in the universe, and if anybody offers me space to write one again, I promise to be fully awake before pressing “send.”

Two stadiums on Oakland Coliseum site wouldn’t leave much room for actual money-making development

If you want to see why many folks are skeptical about the Oakland A’s and Oakland Raiders both being able to build stadiums as part of a redevelopment of the current Coliseum site, check out these images, both courtesy of Newballpark.org. First, the original, now-discarded “Coliseum City” plan, which would have covered 800 acres on and around the current stadium site:

And now the latest 120-acre plan:

Notice what’s missing there? The vast majority of the housing development, aka “the stuff that you can actually make money on in the Bay Area.” As Newballpark.org’s Marine Layer notes, there’s still room for two stadiums on the smaller site, but you have to ask yourself: “If capital wasn’t biting at 800 acres and two stadia, why would they bite at 120 acres and two stadia?”

What about 120 acres and one stadium? That’s slightly more feasible, but we still need to see A’s owner Lew Wolff’s and Raiders owner Mark Davis’s actual financial plans for those — if it’s “120 acres of rent-free land and property tax exemptions and one stadium,” that’s not so hot a deal for Oakland. New city mayor Libby Schaaf has asked the two team owners for competing bids, anyway, so hopefully soon we can see if either is less craptacular than the other.

New MLB commish tries to shill for Rays, A’s stadiums, lacks Selig’s flair for crazy-ass threats

With everything else that’s been going on (like me getting ready to be on the teevee), I utterly failed to welcome new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who officially took over from commissioner-since-the-last-millennium Bud Selig last weekend. (Yes, he’s finally gone. Yes, you are now invited to dance a bit on his grave.) And Manfred immediately showed that he knows what his job is, chiming in about how the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays need new stadiums, and he’s gonna help them get ‘em, by gum:

“I share your view that Tampa and Oakland are situations that need to be addressed, and believe me I will be making myself available to both owners, both clubs to play whatever role they want me to play in helping them get their situations resolved because I do think both of them are really important to the game.”

I’d give that about a B-minus as commissioner rhetoric goes — it hits all the usual points (teams need new stadiums, the league will throw its weight around to help get them) but without the flair of his predecessor: It’s no “Don’t make me come in there,” that’s for sure. Manfred should know that the job of a blackmailer commissioner is to always include at least an implicit threat, to let cities know who’s boss and

“I think Montreal helped itself as a candidate for Major League Baseball with the Toronto games that they had up there last year. It’s hard to miss how many people showed up for those exhibition games. It was a strong showing. Montreal’s a great city. I think with the right set of circumstances and the right facility, it’s possible.”

Well, it’s a start, anyway.

Wrigley rooftop owners say Cubs execs punishing them for refusing to enter into price-fixing scheme

The Wrigley Field rooftop owners have filed yet another lawsuit against the Chicago Cubs, adding to their previous suits over landmarking violations and violating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by placing signs to block views of rooftop owners they didn’t like. The new charge: price-fixing!

On May 8, 2012, at least nine owners met with Ricketts and Cubs executives. They said that demand for tickets inside Wrigley was declining because the rooftop businesses’ offered discounted tickets, sometimes through Groupon, and game-day tickets. The team asked them to “agree with the Cubs on setting coordinated, minimum ticket prices.”

Ricketts later threatened to block the views unless they agreed to a “price-fixing scheme, stating, ‘whatever you give us is in return for not being blocked.’ ”

The suit also includes charges of fraud and defamation, and probably puppy-kicking for good measure. All of which could conceivably be true, but it’s clear that the rooftop owners’ legal strategy has gone in record time from “threatening to sue but not ever actually doing so” to “throw everything at the wall at once and see what sticks.”