“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.