A proposed new park in Fremont probably pushes the A’s closer to a departure from the East Bay. Nothing about the park makes sense from a baseball standpoint. The site is off Interstate 880, a heavily traveled corridor even in the middle of the day, as I know from driving it to go to the 49ers’ complex in Santa Clara. In commute hours, you have to double the time it takes to get from point A to point B.
It will be an absolute mess for fans trying to get to night games from either north or south of the park.
The only people who could get to the park easily are those living in the area around the site.
The closest BART connection is more than five miles away. Though there is talk of getting a line built closer, that is highly unlikely. Many communities want BART lines and the ones with political clout are the ones that get them. Fremont, which is not really a city but just a collection of small towns, doesn’t have much clout.
The A’s have drawn as much as 20 percent of their attendance at McAfee Coliseum from the BART line which goes right by the stadium. A’s managing partner Lew Wolff had made proximity to a BART line a condition for a new site in Oakland. When he announced his preferred Oakland site, across 66th Avenue from the Coliseum, he insisted that a new BART station must be built there.
Now, the official word from the A’s is that a BART station nearby is not a requirement for the new site.
What’s going on here?
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Never forget that Wolff has made his money in real estate. His projects have included much of what has been built in downtown San Jose.
The projected baseball park in Fremont would be part of a much larger real estate project, including retail and housing. To build that, Wolff needs to get zoning changes. The lure of a new park will certainly be enough to get those changes.
I believe that, having got the zoning changes and started his real estate project, Wolff will then announce that it really isn’t feasible to build a new park there.
And then, the bidding will begin from cities eager to get the A’s.
Wolff is not the primary villain in this scenario. The A’s should have a new park in downtown Oakland, where it would be a badly needed stimulus for business. But City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente has been the only Oakland politician who has pushed for a new park; he proposed a site just to the south of Jack London Square.
Former Mayor Jerry Brown actively opposed the park, forcing out City Manager Robert Bobb when he pushed for one. New Mayor Ron Dellums, though he talks of his childhood dreams of playing major league baseball, hasn’t said a word about a new park in Oakland. When Wolff proposed building across 66th Avenue, he got no help from the city when landowners jacked up the price for their parcels in a once-thriving industrial area that is now largely a wasteland.
So, five years from now, oreven less, you can expect the A’s to move.
And, it won’t be to Fremont.