It’s that time of year again!!! A’s Opening Night at the Oakland Coliseum! The Green and Gold are back at it for their 49th season in our favorite city!! That means our annual Opening Day tailgate is back on full swing! You will not want miss this one!
So join us April 4th at the north parking lot (Lot A) at the Oakland Coliseum. The tailgating starts at 12:30. With live music from the band… JAKOB DANGER at 3:45.
THIS IS OAKLAND!! LET’S GO OAKLAND!!!
That’s three strikes, and it looks like San Jose is out.
The Supreme Court took a huge step toward making that official Thursday morning when it announced which appeals it would hear this year, and San Jose’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball was NOT on the list.
To be fair, the court might add a few new cases by early next week, but that small list likely won’t include ‘San Jose v. MLB,’ legal expert Nathan Grow said Thursday on Twitter.
What does this all mean?
It likely means that San Jose’s last, desperate attempt to help Lew Wolff move the A’s to the South Bay is over. Completely over. Kaput. Finito. As in … the final nail in the coffin for San Jose and Lew Wolff’s pipe dream to move there.
If true, then only one question remains: Will A’s owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff finally start working with Oakland officials on a new baseball-only park in Oakland? If they do, it would be the first time the A’s owners gave Oakland a chance to do so during the 10 years they’ve owned the team.
First, a recap of the city of San Jose’s failed legal war against Major League Baseball.
San Jose initially filed its lawsuit in June 2013, claiming that MLB violated antitrust laws by stopping Wolff’s plans to move the A’s to San Jose. Essentially, the suit sought to repeal MLB’s antitrust exemption, which allows the sport to ignore monopoly laws that govern all other industries in the United States.
San Jose lost its first crack at the lawsuit when a U.S. district judge ruled against the city in late 2013. San Jose appealed the decision. Strike two came in January 2015, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of MLB. San Jose then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court only hears a fraction of the cases submitted to it. And Thursday’s announcement made it almost completely official that the court will NOT hear San Jose’s case. At all.
San Jose chose the nuclear option — a lawsuit that angered other owners and MLB officials — and lost. So San Jose not only lost its all-in bet, it also made its name mud in the eyes of MLB, making it very unlikely the South Bay will ever get a MLB franchise.
A’s owners have been trying to move the franchise to the South Bay since 1995. If it was going to happen at all, it would have happened by now.
So, now what?
Well, now Wolff and Fisher are out of excuses. All San Jose options are officially exhausted. And Floyd Kephart and his vision for Coliseum City have been rejected. If Wolff and Fisher have a sincere plan for a new A’s ballpark in Oakland, now would be the time to submit it. A’s fans are all ears.
If Wolff and Fisher don’t have a sincere plan to build a new Oakland park, then they should sell this storied franchise to someone who will.
Developers have taken note of Oakland’s red hot real estate market. In recent months, several of them have submitted plans to build condos, apartments, retail and office space in Oakland.
One such developer is Joe Hernon, who aims to build 236 homes in two projects in downtown Oakland. Hernon also might partner with an arm of the Lennar Corp. to build a nearly 250-unit tower on Broadway in downtown Oakland, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
Oakland right now is the No. 1 rental market in the entire United States, and the city’s home-sales figures are nearly as hot. So it’s not a surprise that several other real estate firms have similar projects in the works in Oakland, at various stages of development.
Sadly, it’s also not a surprise that Lew Wolff is not one of them. As the projects listed above show, plenty of lucrative land and business opportunities exist for developers in Oakland. Wolff could build in Oakland, in areas that will benefit his bottom line and the city’s.
Instead, Wolff still ignores those opportunities in Oakland, to the detriment of the Athletics franchise. Why do so many others see a city teeming with promise, while Wolff keeps slamming the door shut on Oakland?
We’d love to know why Wolff clings to his inaccurate perceptions about Oakland. Maybe one day we’ll find out.
Author and A’s fan Zachary Amendt has published a book called “stAy,” a compelling and sharply written collection of stories that feature elements of the A’s franchise and the city of Oakland, while not always being exactly about them. We enjoyed the book. His offbeat tales are as compelling and fun as a night game at the Coliseum.
We recently interviewed Amendt about his book and his love for the A’s and the city of Oakland.
BBO: What motivated you to write this novel?
AMENDT: Oh, man. Where to start? One day I was reading the official report on the Oakland Hills Firestorm in ’91 – you know, leisure reading — and the conclusion was insane, something like, “the fire just moved so fast, nothing could be done. And taking walks through Mountain View Cemetery, upset about all the new homes in the Hiller Highlands, and one of our friends at the time was crowdsourcing her fertility treatments — this was in 2012 right after Game 4 when we routed (Detroit closer Jose) Valverde in the ninth inning -– my lady was watching the first season of “24” – this is how books are birthed you know, out of everything in life — and I was riding BART one day, hungover, and I thought of the A’s, and the fire, and the childless couple, and how I screamed louder than Fosse when we won Game 4 -– and I didn’t grow up an A’s fan, so I can’t imagine the noise you all made -– and I thought that if I do this, if I write a story collection about baseball, it should have nine innings, nine position players. And I knew if I wrote it and named it “stAy,” the team wouldn’t leave. They simply couldn’t.
BBO: Tell us about your memories of your first A’s game at the Coliseum.
AMENDT: It was in May or June of 2012. At the time the big question was, “Are we a .500 team?” not, “Can we win the division?” Our seats were behind the A’s bullpen. (A’s hurler Jarrod) Parker was pitching. And just before the game –- I can’t remember what night of the week –- the center field wall parted and a golf cart dressed up like a BART car started chauffeuring Stomper around the stadium –- and my lady turned to me and I was crying. It was just so beautiful and homegrown and sincere. You have to understand, I grew up an hour from Chavez Ravine. My first A’s memory was the Kirk Gibson home run in ‘88.
BBO: The “stAy” movement is something very close to Baseball Oakland. In your words, why it is important for the A’s to stay in Oakland?
AMENDT: I have feelings about this. The team is vital to Oakland’s emotions and economics. (I think Libby knows this better than Jean, and cares more about it.) The A’s have also witnessed –- and perhaps even partially informed –- the transformation of the town since they arrived in the late 1960s. Oakland history is, taken in sum, a saturation of awesome. Change happens faster and better here than anywhere else. East Bay politics is like the American autobahn –- all speed, no rules. In the 1880s, we were marketed as the healthiest city in America, weather- and sanitarium-wise. In the 1920s, the residents elect a Klansman as sheriff, and fifty years later nearly elect a Black Panther as mayor. Punk rock and fantasy baseball were born here. The A’s are a part of this singular municipal narrative, whether the current — and future — ownership likes it or not.
BBO: In the book you write about scraper bikes in Oakland, but you put your own twist on it — a scraper unicycle. Have you ever built one?
AMENDT: Wouldn’t that be amazing? Someone should.
BBO: Where will the A’s home be in 2025?
AMENDT: Portland, Oregon. (Kidding.) The A’s are an itinerant team. First Philadelphia, then K.C., then here. But I think we’ll win this fight. On paper it’s an infrastructure problem, but I love a world where ten years from now Sebastian Janikowski is still kicking field goals on a dirt infield.
BBO: Who is your favorite Oakland Athletic?
AMENDT: Eric Sogard. We both wear Kaenon eyeglasses.
BBO: Any other baseball novels in your future?
AMENDT: I’ve been getting into cricket recently. It’s a shock to be the same age as retiring pro athletes. Frank Gore is a day younger than me, for example. I think I’d have made a serviceable bullpen catcher had I kept playing in high school. I’m afraid I’ll always write about baseball, even when I’m aiming not to. I just finished up this book about my dad (whose name is Perry). It’s called “Liquidating Perry.” There’s a scene where we’re sitting near the left field foul pole at Dodger Stadium –- L.A.’s down eight and Perry’s double-fisting 32 oz. Budweisers and yelling for a “nine-run homer,” and when security comes after him he removes his belt and scampers up the pole. That might have actually happened. He was a wild and weird dude.
BBO: Where can we find copies of your book, “stAy?”
AMENDT: It’s at Wolfman Books across from the Tribune building, and at Book Zoo on Piedmont Avenue. Montag titles are distributed by Small Press Distribution, so you can order it anywhere.
BBO: Can Baseball Oakland invite you to a game this year in the right field bleachers?
AMENDT: The bleachers are my speed. My people. Heaven on earth.
Copies of ‘stAy’ can be bought online at the following websites. Click on the them to buy:
When the A’s began their fire sale last week, Bruce Jenkins strongly criticized John Fisher and Lew Wolff in a column whose headline called the A’s owners a “penurious disgrace.” The headline sent us to our dictionary, informing us that penurious means “extremely stingy, miserly.”
Unfortunately, Jenkins is spot-on. Fisher and Wolff truly are very stingy and they are a disgrace to baseball because they choose money over trying to win every time. We’ll let Jenkins explain further:
“The whole operation is tired and depressing. Wolff and Fisher are extremely wealthy men who make millions in baseball’s revenue sharing, yet refuse to take their rightful place among the big-spending teams, and there’s simply no excuse for that.”
Jenkins then called for Fisher and Wolff to get out of baseball, something that many A’s fans have been wanting for years. Jenkins wrote:
“Can you imagine running a business that everyone wants you to sell — and then stubbornly refusing? As if you’re right and the exasperated public is wrong? The message couldn’t be more clear: Sell the damn team. Get out. Something has to change in Oakland, and it won’t without an entirely new outlook.”
We’ve always believed that the story of A’s fan attendance should focus on how good attendance is at the Coliseum, in spite of 20 years of ownership’s threats to move the team and constant negative talk about the stadium. Apparently, Jenkins agrees:
“As for the fans, one wonders why anyone would bother to give Lew Wolff or John Fisher one cent of a paycheck.”
Finally, Jenkins openly questions how Fisher’s and Wolff’s tired act is playing with fellow MLB owners and the league’s new leader.
“I just have to wonder if new Commissioner Rob Manfred would prefer to see it happen under responsible ownership. He has to be as repulsed by the A’s business strategy as anyone else.”
After two decades of A’s owners mistreating Oakland baseball fans, we’re definitely repulsed by ownership’s business strategy. We completely agree with Jenkins. Count us among the many A’s fans who wish Fisher and Wolff would “get out of baseball” and “sell the damn team” — finally — to someone who cares about winning.
In A’s co-owner Lew Wolff’s recent 4-question interview with Athletics Magazine, he saved the most important and alarming parts for the very end.
Wolff has spent years saying that, a) the A’s need a new ballpark to replace the aging Coliseum, and b) the Oakland Coliseum site (among other Oakland sites) would NOT work for a new ballpark, for reasons ranging from the Coliseum complex’s “utilities” to its plumbing to having to share the field with the Raiders. Now, Wolff is singing a different tune, saying he will consider the Coliseum (but only the Coliseum) as a viable Oakland site. He repeated that theme in the recent Athletics Magazine interview, but with a very important wrinkle. Wolff said:
“…we of course would like to play in a new or vastly improved baseball-only venue … The outcome we seek, and the only outcome we seek, is an improved local venue for our fans, players and sponsors that support our team.”
Notice the vague but carefully worded change of heart there. No longer do the A’s need “a new ballpark,” according to Wolff. Nope, now he’s proposing a “new or vastly improved baseball-only venue.”
What might that mean? It means that Wolff is floating the idea of remodeling the 49-year-old Coliseum for the second time, rather than building the brand new ballpark he’s long told us that the A’s and their fans need. By the way, he says he needs the Raiders to leave, too, before he starts work on the remodel. Leave it to Lew Wolff to propose the cheapest, shoddiest, least fan-friendly option that threatens not one but two Oakland teams.
A few years ago, we might have been gullible to buy into this “plan.” Like a lot of A’s fans, we’re tired of the uncertainty that Wolff & Fisher have foisted on all of us. We might have championed a lesser plan just to remove the threat of losing our team.
But here’s the reason why Wolff’s remodel must be rejected: It’s not a sincere offer — just like his impossibly complicated “66th to High Street” plan in 2005 was insincere and intentionally dead-on-arrival. This remodel idea appears to be just another head-fake intended to give him an excuse to say, “Can I move to San Jose now?”
We also believe Wolff & Fisher (leaders of MLB’s 4th-richest ownership) would use this remodel as a way to stay on MLB’s welfare roll so they can collect more than $30 million in yearly revenue-sharing handouts from their fellow owners. We believe that Wolff & Fisher would argue to MLB, “But we’re still in an old ballpark, renovation or not, so we deserve your welfare checks.”
Also, there’s a reason why Wolff’s PR hacks have long been trying to convince people of the lie that “Oakland has to choose between the A’s and the Raiders.” The reason is that Wolff wants to use the Raiders as yet another excuse to leave.
Our guess is that if Oakland leaders and Alameda County officials reject this terrible remodel idea — as they should — Wolff will then go to Commissioner Manfred and MLB owners and say, “Hey guys, look we tried, but Oakland won’t kick out the Raiders for us and there was just no new place for a yard and the best we can do is renovate the Coliseum. Sounds crappy, right? Well, how about letting us move to SJ WHERE WE CAN BUILD A SHINY NEW STADIUM!!!!” (Cue “The Price is Right music)
All these desperate schemes will fail, as all of Wolff’s San Jose baseball stadium efforts have since he came on the scene 12 years ago.
Wolff seems unable to give up on his pipe dream of a San Jose ballpark. And he can’t be trusted with the task of building a successful new A’s ballpark because, while he submits sincere plans for San Jose, all he gives Oakland are flimsy schemes intended to fail.
This Athletics Magazine interview showed once again that the old A’s ballpark will never be replaced until Wolff is replaced — with a new owner willing to work with Oakland.
Oakland’s restaurant business scene has been thriving for years, as more than 300 new eateries, bars and coffeehouses have popped up there in the past few years alone.
Now, Oakland has begun the process of adding new housing, as several projects are in the city-approval pipeline or already have broken ground.
The Oakland-Hayward-Fremont areas are expected to have a 42 percent surge in construction spending, according to a construction research firm.
The city’s many planned projects are “another sign of increased investment and development interest in Oakland,” wrote Roland Li of The San Francisco Business Times.
John Protopappas, who leads Oakland-based developer Madison Park Financial, is seeking approval for three new housing projects totaling 230 units in Oakland.
Next, Carmel Partners has proposed 330 apartments at the corner of 4th and Madison streets, next to Jack London Square.
Also, there are plans to build a nearly 300-unit apartment tower near Lake Merritt and the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. And speaking of the Kaiser Center, two developers are vying to renovate and re-open the historic Kaiser building — which would be one of several revitalization projects near the lake.
Coliseum City, though in a very early stage, would be the biggest development, as it’s expected to add at least one new sports stadium, a shopping center, 4,000 homes, a hotel, parking garages, thousands of jobs and enough technology office space to nearly fill three Transamerica Pyramid buildings, the Oakland Tribune reported.
Other projects are in the works, too. The developer behind Napa’s Oxbow Public Market has plans for a similar food market in Oakland’s Jack London Square. The market is slated to open in fall 2016 and will take over the 32,000 square feet on the first floor of the building, while the second floor will be improved later to support the market, according to Annie Sciacca of The San Francisco Business Times.
And building has already started on the Brooklyn Basin development, which will add 3,100 homes and 200,000 square feet of retail on the Oakland waterfront, just south of Jack London Square.
There are more Oakland developments in the works, but you get the picture. Development and new construction of all types are heating up Oakland. A great city is only getting greater and economically stronger with each passing day.
If you want cold, hard numbers illustrating Oakland’s economic revival, look no further than the city’s sizzling real estate market.
Oakland has 11,000 housing units in the works, Mayor-Elect Libby Schaaf told Bloomberg News last week. Most of those proposed homes are in the early stages of City Hall’s permitting and approval process, but Schaaf said she expects they will be built and that Oakland has space for even more in the coming years.
Oakland also has more than $2.5 billion in commercial projects in the works, which are expected to add thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue, the Chronicle’s Carolyn Jones reports. As Jones reports, all the economic growth, coupled with San Francisco’s tech explosion have given Oakland some of the Bay Area’s steepest housing price increases. Since 2010, rents have risen 45 percent and home prices have soared 76 percent. Also, Oakland’s median housing sale price is up 121 percent from four years ago.
What parts of Oakland are set to enjoy all this future growth? Well, judging from recent media reports, the majority of it.
For instance, the Brooklyn Basin waterfront development, set to build south of Jack London Square, has broken ground on a 3,100 unit development that also will have about 30 acres of park space, and 200,000 square feet of retail outlets, 200 boat slips and related marina structures
Also in the works is the Lake Merritt Station Area plan, which would add nearly 5,000 housing units and more than a million square feet of office space over the next 25 years in the neighborhood next to Chinatown and Laney College.
Proposals to build in and near Jack London Square include two residential towers.
Meanwhile, Shorenstein Partners wants to build a housing tower downtown, next to the Ask.com building. Other hi-rise developments are being discussed, including one on the empty lot between the Fox Theater and the Uptown apartments. Also, another residential tower has been proposed next to Lake Merritt and the Kaiser Convention Center.
A developer next year will begin building 235 apartments on Wood Street in West Oakland. It’s one of several projects planned in West Oakland, as developer City Ventures plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the area, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
In the grand scheme of things, there are potential down sides to a hot real estate market, as first-time home buyers and struggling artists probably aren’t too enthused that experts say that Oakland is now among the nation’s least affordable cities to rent or buy housing.
But for the fight to keep Oakland’s sports teams in town, these countless articles and statistics show that the city’s doubters are wrong. The real estate market is further proof that Oakland’s economy is more than strong enough to be a viable, 21st-century sports town. It’s pretty simple: If there are hundreds of thousands of East Bay residents who can afford a $1 million home, they very likely can afford A’s season tickets. And many of them would buy A’s tickets now if they were properly courted and marketed to by the A’s ownership.
In spite of what you may have heard, Oakland has always had the economic strength of a major league city. But Oakland’s fast-rising real estate market and its plans to add more than 10,000 new units in coming years remove all doubt.