Thursday, February 26, 2009


The Mercury News is running articles about a potential move of the A's from Oakland to San Jose these days. They officially nixed plans for a new stadium in Fremont, and San Jose is experiencing that hope which springs eternal etc. I find this interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the series of nasty articles the Merc was running when we first moved here which lambasted city government for spending lots of money on environmental impact studies and the like. Fickle.

As someone who used to live cheek-by-jowl with the proposed stadium site, I have some opinions. First, the neighborhood is feeling a little worn out on development. The city council hasn't been terribly friendly to residents who want to preserve what walkability we have and create more. Any time a developer whimpers that they can't possibly build new high-density housing if they don't put residences instead of retail at street level, planning commissioners hold their little hands and protect them from the big bad neighborhood. This doesn't instill confidence in the process.

Second, a lot of the people in the neighborhood worry that a stadium would cause no end of congestion and noise. With the HP Pavilion just up the street, they know what they're talking about. If the city wants a stadium, there needs to be good planning and budgeting to handle traffic and crowd control. Get creative! Someone, somewhere must be able to design a public service campaign to make it socially unacceptable to pee all over the neighbors lawns and parks on the way back to your car after a sporting event.

I realize I'm sounding grumpy here, but if I had confidence that planners could get these little things under control, I'd be the biggest cheerleader for moving the As to SJ. As many loyal readers know, back in Chicago we were big Sox fans. Our good friend Job cleverly rented an apartment just a few blocks away from Comiskey, which meant that we spent a lot of time at his house enjoying BBQ, free parking and a leisurely stroll to the games. It was wonderful! I've missed being able to get to MLB games since we got here. No desire to go all that way to see the Giants, the A's are my area team of choice, and transit there is kind of a pill. Fighting traffic to Fremont so that we can take BART the rest of the way to the stadium is a little more stressful than it needs to be. And we could WALK if the A's move to SJ's proposed stadium.

My friends over by the train station are worried that a stadium would turn them into a ghetto, but I think the opposite would happen, given what I saw in Chicago. Wrigleyville is a happening place, drunken fratboys peeing on the grass after games notwithstanding. Big fans will be willing to pay decent money to live near the stadium. I think if anything, the proposed stadium would raise property values, which I know would relieve everyone over there.

A clever A's management would notice but not mention the fact that the South Bay has a high concentration of kids along the autistic spectrum. A built in fan-base of stats keepers who would make lifelong fans. Sure, you'd have to tone down the music at the stadium and not set off fireworks after every home run if you want to sell tickets, but that seems like it would be better for everyone anyway. A total win. (For those who don't know me well, I'm NOT making fun of people with autism. I'm making fun of baseball stats and fandom in general.)

Who knows-maybe some of the passion and excitement around the hockey team just up the street would rub off on the A's and keep the fire in their bellies. I'd love to see the A's move to my neighborhood, but I'm doubtful it'll happen.


Joe said...

I grew up with the A's and remain a fan. I don't think they'll ever move to SJ. IMHO the City just isn't going to put up the kind of money needed to build a 21st century ball park. And, Lew Wolff isn't going to put up the money by himself, so it will sit in limbo.

Anonymous said...

Where is your brother's comment on the city planning? Come on Pete this is your big moment!

P.S. If you want my opinion the A's should have stayed in Kansas City or maybe Philadelphia