December 9, 2008
Because of the economic downturn and the belated realization that access to mass transit will be crucial to attract fans in future years, the Oakland Athletics have reversed course on their plans for their future stadium, to be called "Cisco Field." Team owner Lew Wolff acknowledged that they are giving up on the fancy, upscale "ballpark village" development project on the southwest fringes of Fremont, California, and are now focusing on a site adjacent to a future Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station about a mile and a half to the east. At last report, team officials were negotiating with Fremont city officials and people from BART. See San Jose Mercury News and there is a map in the San Francisco Chronicle; hat tip to Mike Zurawski.
This is far from being a done deal, however, and indeed, the Oakland A's Web site still shows the previous location. Both the new site (between the I-680 and I-880 symbols on that map) and the previously-proposed site are about the same distance from downtown San Jose (10 miles) and from the Coliseum in Oakland (25 miles) where the A's currently play; in other words, "out in the boonies." I know there is hesitation among government officials in San Jose, but that is really the only logical place to build a new baseball stadium in Northern California, aside from Oakland. I hope the A's think long and hard before committing to a stadium that is so remote from a major population center.
While browsing the Chronicle Web site for news updates, I came across a humorous piece about the possible temporary relocation of the University of California Golden Bears' football team to Candlestick Park until their own new stadium is rebuilt. The San Francisco 49ers are still stuck in stadium "limbo," as the proposed Santa Clara site is going nowhere fast. I've been thinking about how the 49ers and the Raiders might economize by drastically renovating their existing stadiums rather than building new ones from scratch. (Stay tuned!) Since last June, the 49ers have gone back to the original name, "Candlestick Park," ditching the silly-sounding "Monster Park" name. See Sports Business Daily.
Even though baseball is "on the back burner" in most sports fans' minds, there will be some important sporting events at baseball stadiums over the next few weeks: college bowl games in Washington, D.C., a hockey game at Wrigley Field, and more.
Finally, I recently learned about a Web site that is definitely worth taking a look at: Baseball Stadium Reviews, by Amanda Lippert. It is loaded with great photographs, and includes a systematic evaluation of all the ballparks she has been to.