A’s owners still optimistic about new ballpark
SACRAMENTO, Calif. ” Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff remains optimistic about building a state-of-the-art ballpark in Fremont despite challenges and a shaky economic situation.
“I think we can get it done, but the frustration of the process sometimes gets to me,” Wolff said Monday at a regional luncheon of the Associated Press Sports Editors. “Right now we’re playing in a football stadium. It’s not good for baseball.”
In November 2006, the A’s unveiled plans to move south and build the long-awaited ballpark they hope would transform the small-market club into a bigger spender and a more popular choice for fans in the Bay Area.
“We’re getting close to receiving the first drafts of the environmental impact reports. We’ve run into lots of things, which every developer does in California,” said the Los Angeles-based Wolff, who has more than five decades of experience in the real estate business. “We have an election that just happened that is favorable to our getting to Fremont. We’re just following the process and we’re pretty much on the schedule.”
The A’s, in partnership with Cisco Systems Inc., agreed to purchase 143 acres of land from Cisco in suburban Fremont, about 20 miles south of their current home at the Coliseum. The team still hopes to break ground on a ballpark to be called Cisco Field. The initial goal was to open in time for the 2011 season.
The stadium ” with a price tag of around $500 million that would primarily come from private funds ” would be an intimate venue with an impressive range of technological capabilities. The A’s had been trying unsuccessfully for years to find a suitable site in Oakland for a new stadium, and they are tired of sharing a rundown space with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
Wolff said he had no “direct answers” yet about the long-term plan.
“I think they’re on track. We can’t fault the city,” he said, noting the City of Fremont has been as cooperative as can be during the planning phases of a difficult project. “If we can get our new ballpark going, we’ll have the smallest ballpark in baseball at 32,000 seats. That’s a reflection of our market. It’s a ballpark that will last longer than the current economic life.”
If the Fremont location doesn’t work out, Wolff said Sacramento probably wouldn’t be an option. The A’s Triple-A team plays here.
“We’ve investigated pretty thoroughly,” he said.
New Giants owner Bill Neukom, who took over as managing partner for Peter Magowan on Oct. 1, said he isn’t worried about a potential A’s move into a market closer to San Jose, where many Giants fans reside. San Francisco owns territorial rights to San Jose.
“It seems like they’ve done their homework and found a good site,” Neukom said. “We wish them the best with the process. It might (affect us) but it’s a reality they’re entitled to be in that location and put the best team on the field and run the best business they can.”