Could The A’s and The Sharks Play At The Same Time?

“A’s Wait For New Home As Cities Play Hardball.” So read the sub-headline of a recent front-page story in the Mercury News. The paper provided an overview of the three proposed ballpark sites in Oakland. It seems that some civic leaders from the East Bay are making an eleventh-hour push to keep the A’s in Oakland despite the fact that Mr. Wolff has expressed a strong interest in moving the A’s to San Jose.

In its coverage, the Merc mentioned the issues of territorial rights, the city’s reduced tax revenues, and “stubborn landowners” as hurdles to San Jose’s effort to build a downtown ballpark. In addition, there are the concerns of the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed stadium site. “Critics of the project…cite problems with the stadium’s environmental report. In analyzing the traffic impact on nearby freeways and intersections, the city mainly focused on the hour between 5 and 6 pm. But dissenters contend that’s insufficient since games will most likely start at 7pm.”

From Mayor Reed: “We hope there will be traffic. We are looking forward to the day when something is going on at HP Pavilion and baseball and lots of things are happening.”

But what would it be like to have two major events going on at the same time in that corner of downtown San Jose?  Is it at all practical? Imagine a sold out concert at the Arena starting around the same time as an A’s/Yankees game. Could the surrounding neighborhoods endure such an influx?

One area resident (on the condition of anonymity) expressed the following: “The recently approved SEIR indicated that the ballpark will cause ‘significant and unavoidable freeway traffic impacts.’ Building a stadium at the proposed location near the Arena is shortsighted. Currently, Arena events cause a significant traffic jam making travel difficult and on some streets impossible, particularly for local street traffic.

“The Arena holds 18,000 patrons….imagine what it would be like, should a stadium holding 32,000 patrons hold an event simultaneously! 50,000 patrons all arriving at the same time would cause backups of all of the major freeways and the access roads surrounding downtown San Jose…is there anyone looking after the folks trying to commute or conduct business?”

It’s a fair question. Who is looking out for the interests of the surrounding neighborhoods? Will they be unfairly impacted by the new ballpark? What price should they be made to pay for our “progress?”

Perhaps it would be possible to promise (and require) that all same-date events have staggered start times. Ideally, there would be an increased number of daytime ballgames to allow for the numerous nighttime concerts and hockey games at the Arena. The idea of an increased number of baseball games being scheduled in the daytime is not without precedent. Major League Baseball provided for such a thing at Wrigley Field in Chicago, as the stadium (a neighborhood ballpark) did not have lights for many decades.

31 Comments

    • What?!  There’s a way to get around without my trusty SUV?  What is this “light rail”?  Next you’re going to tell me there are there are buses as well.

  1. The best place for a new ballpark is the Reid-Hillview airport in East San Jose.  Redeveloping this 180 acre site would be one of the best things ever done to make San Jose a better city. 

    Since Reid-Hillview sits adjacent to Capitol Expressway, access will be a breeze from either 101, or 280/680.  Additionally, light rail will be extended down Capitol for additional easy access to he ballpark.  Finally, patrons will be to shop and eat at Eastridge before and after the game.

    Interestingly, if the ballpark is built at Reid-Hillview more people will use that site in one game than have used Reid-Hillview in 20 years.  Yet, the negative side-effects from the ballpark are miniscule compared to the side-effects of a recreational airport in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

    This is a win win win for everyone.

  2. It’s interesting that many of the players Pete mentions in this piece have (largely) forgotten that VTA light rail (Mtn. View-Winchester) is a 5-minute walk from the HP Pavilion and the proposed stadium site.  Clearly use of light rail with free parking at Bascom, Winchester, River Oaks, and other park-and-ride lots can be used NOW to resolve the anticipated traffic congestion. 

    In particular, Mayor Reed (who sits on the VTA’s Board of Directors) didn’t mention that VTA’s 22, 63, 64, 65, 68, and 180/181 express buses currently serve the area.  In fact, many of these buses have served the HP Pavilion since it first opened as the San Jose Arena in 1993.

    The very obvious solution to all concerns about traffic to/from the HP Pavilion and the proposed downtown baseball stadium is all found here:

    http://www.vtaridersunion.org/guides/arena.html

    The lack of discussion of current solutions to traffic in the arena/ballpark area has me wondering if residents and San Jose’s leaders are really ready for BART and/or High Speed Rail.  How do we talk about the future when we continue to avoid talking about solutions available NOW?  Sometimes being smart means talking about what’s NOW instead of thinking 10-20 years into the future, and this is one such instance.

  3. VTA light rail isn’t the simple answer for special events like a baseball game, with heavy abnormal demand packed into a small time period. In its comments on the EIR for the baseball stadium, the VTA said it can’t afford to pay for such special service, and asked for subsidies to help pay for it. Where’s that money coming from?

  4. If 150,000 can fill downtown San Jose for three days of fine Jazz (averaging 50k per day), then we can handle the rare instances of same time Cisco Field/HP Pavilion events.  It’s very simple: use VTA light-rail (as others have suggested), Caltrain, Capitol Corridor/Amtrak, buses, or simply park in the downtown core and walk.  Eugene Bradley is right; there are options right now to get into/out of the downtown without having to drive or disturbing the neighborhoods to the west of Diridon/Arena.  The auto-centric model of stadiums past, drive to a huge parking lot/watch a game in a massive cookie-cutter stadium/drive home, is history (see AT&T Park in SF).  Lastly, if Cleveland (pop, 433,000) can handle the traffic with both Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) and Quicken Loans Arena across the street from each other, so can San Jose; We’re a big city now!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/gateway_sports_and_entertainment_complex

  5. VTA busses and Light Rail, Hwy 17 Express, CalTrain, ACE Train, Capitol Corridor and someday CA High Speed Rail and BART.  Is there a better place in the Bay Area to bring 50,000 people together?

  6. I highly suggest the proponents of public transportation attend the last Diridon Good Neighbor Committee meeting tonight at 6pm City Hall.  The issue of planning for more parking or better use of our existing transportation will be the highlight of our discussion tonight.

  7. “Stadiums are sold as enormous draws for events, but the economics are clear that they aren’t helping,” said Andrew Moylan, the director of government affairs at the National Taxpayers Union. “It’s another way to add insult to injury for taxpayers.”

    That’s just one quote from a NYTimes front-page story this morning about how baseball stadiums around the country have left a financial mess for cities to clean up as they abandon cities. Believe me, the A’s will abandon San Jose, probably in about 10-15 years, in part because of the baseball business’s precarious economics. The A’s will supposedly build their own stadium, but they’ll get plenty of tax breaks, infrastructure help. etc. Let’s just mention the millions in redevelopment funds used to buy the land. As we saw in this morning’s Mercury News, is distorting the ability of redevelopment to focus on areas truly in need of such funds. If you’re interested (and I know that the Baseball San Jose shills will not be interested), here’s the link to the NYTimes article titled “As Stadiums Vanish Their Debt Lives On”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/sports/08stadium.html?_r=1&hp;

  8. A little late to try to preserve the old Valley of Heart’s Delight, no?  If you can’t go back to the good ol’ days of dirt and horse-drawn carriages (you can’t), then maybe it’s about time for SJ to grow up and take advantage of opportunities like a baseball team owner paying for a stadium downtown. 

    “Baseball San Jose shills”, indeed.  Better that than a friggin Hater NIMBY any day.

    • Huh? The point is that San Jose is indeed the small town dazzled by the flashy pimp and his minions.  SJ grow up? Not if this stadium is any indication; that’s the 1950s. The dumb in bigdumb is right, if you still believe that taxpayers will bear none of the cost of the stadium. We can do better. We’ve got to do better.

  9. Downtown Girl,
    This “Baseball San Jose Shill” read the article about the old Giants Stadium (now demolished), and reading it proved that you are completely ignorant when it comes to the A’s to San Jose story.  Repeat after me: Lew Wolff/A’s will privately finance the downtown San Jose ballpark; meaning you or I won’t pay for it!  Do you understand?  Trying to compare old, massive “cookie-cutter” stadiums from back east, which were all payed for with taxpayer monies, with what Lew Wolff is trying to do downtown is dishonest and, quite frankly, stinks.  As for “distorting the ability of redevelopment to focus on areas truly in need of such funds”; uh, excuse me, but land acquisitions and infrastructure improvements downtown IS EXACTLY WHAT REDEVELOPMENT FUNDS WERE INTENDED TO BE USED FOR!  RDA funds are supposed to be used to further economic developement.  Do you understand?  And your BS about “tax breaks” and “infrastructure help” isn’t just relegated to sports venues; see all of the corporate headquarters, office campus’, shopping centers and residential developments that have made this valley.  Without the “tax breaks” and “infrastructure help” this city would still be the Prune Capital of the World. 

    I have a suggestion for yah Downtown Girl; you should become “Downtown Los Banos Girl,” because the big city is obviously not for you.  Good day!

    • Well,that’s interesting. The RDA fund applications you mention went to entities that actually produced something—computers, houses, retail businesses that sell things. Baseball does not produce anything except, runs, hits, balls and profits for the owner. Wolff will pay for the stadium. You betcha, and he’s getting a bunch of tax breaks in return. He has never done anything for free, without a public subsidy, so stop this fiction about how he’s paying for it. He will have a tax-exempt status, except he isn’t even non-profit. Oh, ok, we’ll get some jobs—not many, and they’ll all be low-paying, except for the players, who aren’t even from here, and of course Lew Wolff, who will get big bucks.

      Hey, I can see us as the prune capital—peach, apples, tomato, etc. capital. Those are real things to sell; they feed us. Baseball is great sport, when it’s actually sport instead of a flailing big business looking for handouts from sucker cities like San Jose.

      • “The RDA fund applications you mention went to entities that actually produced something—computers, houses, retail businesses that sell things. Baseball does not produce anything except, runs, hits, balls and profits for the owner.”

        RDA funds also have gone to the Camera theaters, the Civic Center, and the Rep just to name a few.  They all only produce the same things as baseball: traffic for downtown businesses and good old fashioned entertainment.  You’d better be against those too.  We wouldn’t want any money going to anything we can’t feel and touch, would we?

        • And don’t forget to mention the 6 million dollars RDA handed over to well connected and well-to-do former mayor Tom McEnery to help the poor fellow out with his downtown faux-euro uber market.

  10. Nobody mentioned the realignment of Autumn street, which will add a direct 4 lane artery going between 880 and the stadium (as well as the Arena). This will allow the traffic to be dispersed across 3 freeways: 280, 87, and now 880. Regardless, it’s designed to be an urban stadium. If you have to drive to the stadium, just exit the freeway a few exits early and take side streets Downtown. Find a cheap lot 4 or 5 blocks away from the stadium (there are many), grab some food/drinks, enjoy a nice walk to the game, grab more food/drinks on the way back.

    A stadium like this one gives people a chance to have a experience outside of the game, unlike the current situation with the A’s. If people take advantage of this fact, it will also disperse traffic so that fans aren’t all arriving and leaving at the same time… which is what you see in Oakland or the current 49ers stadium.

  11. > But what would it be like to have two major events going on at the same time in that corner of downtown San Jose?  Is it at all practical?

    Well, just check out what happens around 10th and Alma with San Jose State Football, San Jose Giants, and Sharks Ice events.

    When the San Jose Giants play, Sharks Ice has to post parking lot guards to prevent freeloading baseball fans from using Sharks Ice parking.

    When San Jose State football stadium is hosting a major event like a football game, soccer game, or graduation, Sharks Ice essentially has to button up.  If you’re not there, you can’t get there.  If you’re already there, you’re stuck there.

    And Sharks Ice itself holds events that draw substantial crowds: hockey tournaments, figure skating competitions, Sharks practices, etc.

    None of these contending events would approach the level of congestion of a simultaneous Sharks game, concert, or basketball tournament at HP Pavillion and a Giants baseball game at a downtown baseball stadium.

    Downtown arterial traffic is woefully inadequate.  The “light rail” is a ridiculous, useless, pointless monument to union greed, pandering politician earmarks, and Rod Dirdon’s disadvantaged childhood when he didn’t get a Lionel trainset for Christmas.

    For a downtown stadium, access and traffic congestion is a REAL problem and a REAL issue. 

    The people of San Jose need to ignore all the sports fan boosterism and civic happy talk and understand the full impact of Big Stadium on the downtown community.

    • No comparison you Baseball sabotage person. There is no light rail, CalTrain or parking garages at south San Jose State campus. There is no reason to walk to Spartan football as that area has no amenities like Downtown San Jose.  Oh I forgot there is a taqueria, laundromat, auto parts store, used car lot and liquor store on Keyes Street.

        • The point is Downtown is the appropriate place for baseball since it has the transportation infrastructure and fun things to around it that promote walking like the Guadalupe River Park and many restaurants. Places like San Jose State south campus and the fairgrounds do not compare.

        • > The point is Downtown is the appropriate place for baseball since it has the transportation infrastructure and fun things to around it that promote walking like the Guadalupe River Park and many restaurants.

          Right.  There’s so much fun taking place in Downtown that people are staying away in droves.

          Building a mammoth, anti-trust exempted, taxpayer subsidized congestion magnate fervently wished for by a majority of slackers who don’t pay taxes will just magnify the fun.

          NOW I get your point.

        • The HP Pavillion/Arena has been a great success for Downtown and San Jose. Even with your pessimistic views it is hard to dispute that the Sharks have been positive as well the who’s who of musicians that have performed at the Arena. San Jose deserves to have the energy of other cities that have Downtown ballparks. If this goes on the ballot it will pass since most San Jose residents are positive and want to see good things happen for our city.

        • I’m a Sharks fan.

          There is NO comparison between NHL hockey and major league baseball.

          Baseball is a dying institution.  It is utterly simplistic and happens at an eighteenth century pace.  This is the age of the internet, ipods, and 500 channel TV systems.

          The whole schtick of major leage baseball has degenerated into announcers droning on about ever more meaningless and absurd statistics, and endless TV shots of sixty year old pot-bellied codgers (“managers”) in dugouts looking bored, spitting, and scratching their crotches.

          People regard this as “entertainment” only because the boob tube TELLS them it’s supposed to be entertaining.

          If you ever listened to the sports talk programs, they will admit that baseball is NOT attracting young black players.

          Major league baseball is a dodo bird.

        • I’m not a big fan of baseball, but I don’t think its going anywhere anytime soon and the stadium would bring tremendous benefits to downtown San Jose and the community as a whole.

        • > And the odd gets odder.  Tell me… how many young black players are coming to hockey?

          Well, if that’s your criteria of sports relevance, the number of young black players going into hockey is INCREASING. 

          The number of young black players going into baseball is DECREASING.

          The number of blacks playing hockey would have really exploded if Bill Clinton had built midnight hockey rinks instead of midnight basketball courts.  But, in typical liberal fashion, Clinton and liberals in general, stereotyped blacks as basketball players.

        • Major league baseball attendance took a major nosedive after the players strike.  It took a long time for attendance to recover.

          It’s only a matter of time before there is another strike/lockout as major league baseball revenues decline.  The owners and players association will have another bloody steel cage death match over who gets what, and the fans will get disgusted all over again and, one last time, decide that they are through with overpaid prima donnas.

          Who, in there right mind, wants to take their kid to a ball park, pay ten dollars for a hot dog, and sit in the hot sun watching some overpaid relief pitcher snoozing in a folding chair in the bull pen?

        • “If you ever listened to the sports talk programs, they will admit that baseball is NOT attracting young black players.”

          And the odd gets odder.  Tell me… how many young black players are coming to hockey?  And since when is that a measure of whether a sport has a future or not?

        • I like Baseball.
          My sons like Baseball.
          Every high school has a JV and Varsity Baseball team.
          I think Baseball will stand the test of time.

        • “Well, if that’s your criteria of sports relevance, the number of young black players going into hockey is INCREASING.”

          It’s not my criteria for relevance, it’s yours.  Try to pay attention.

          I think it’s a completely idiotic point that you raised.

    • The HP Pavillion has done a wonderful job of improving the neighborhood surrounding it…such a great job, in fact, that the area immediately south of the Pavillion was deemed in need of rehabilitation and is being bulldozed to provide a land bank for a possible baseball stadium, which will further improve the neighborhood!  I’m bedazzled by the improvement possibilities!
      Stadium or no stadium, we’re already being gifted with some fabulous empty lots—can’t you just see the potential?? And we’ll get to pay for lots of needed road improvements—Lew, no need to pick up the check, Chuck says “the people” have got this one!
      In days gone by, favored members of society would learn in advance of the general public where (say) freeway offramps were to be built, buy adjacent land on the cheap, and reap happy profits once the highway went in. Nowadays, we just site “public improvements” like stadiums conveniently near where favored members own land (EuroMarket!) whether it’s smart or not. Same scam, same people benefitting.
      I’m bedazzled by it all!

  12. “…fervently wished for by a majority of slackers who don’t pay taxes will just magnify the fun.”

    Who are these slackers?  And how can I get out of paying taxes like them?  What an odd statement.