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Volume 25 No. 177

Facilities

The A’s are set to "unveil a 'bigger than baseball' mega-ballpark deal that includes a 'jewel box' waterfront stadium at Howard Terminal," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The plan would turn the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site into a "tech and housing hub that would keep the Oracle Arena as is, while stripping the massive stadium there down to a low-rise sports park and amphitheater." A's President Dave Kaval said that the franchise's "call for control of both the 55-acre Howard Terminal waterfront site and 111-acre Coliseum site in East Oakland is essential if the team is to deliver on its promise of a '100 percent privately built ballpark.'" Matier & Ross report the ballpark will be designed by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group and is a "deliberate throwback" to early 1900's parks. It would be "nestled amid wedge-shaped high-rises -- some as tall as 20 stories -- with windows looking directly down on the playing field." The site is "too windy for the ballpark to be open to the water," but it would include a "publicly accessible rooftop park with sweeping views of the waterfront, Oakland and San Francisco." The plan also includes an "aerial gondola to shuttle 6,000 fans an hour from downtown Oakland over Interstate 880 and the railroad tracks to Jack London Square." There also would be "pedestrian bridges over the tracks -- though apparently not an auto bridge." The A’s already have "put in an offer to buy the Coliseum site" for $137M. Kaval said that the offer "isn’t set in stone, and that the team is open to partnering with the city, county or both -- even other private interests -- to develop the site" (SFCHRONICLE.com, 11/28).

TIME TABLE: In S.F., Ron Leuty notes the A's expect to "complete the privately financed, 34,000-seat ballpark in time for the start" of the '23 season. Details, such as "how much the development will cost and how exactly it will be financed without taxpayer help, haven't been disclosed." However, the A's have been "negotiating for much of the past six months with the Port of Oakland for the Howard Terminal site." The Coliseum site "essentially would become a revenue stream for the A's that could help finance a new ballpark and help the team ease concerns about pro sports leaving the neighborhood around the Coliseum" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/28).

TWITTER REAX: Author Neil deMause tweeted the designs are "crazy-looking." The Athletic's Pablo Maurer: "I feel like they turned the controls over to an intern who spent A LOT of time playing SimCity 2000 in his childhood. I keep waiting for a Godzilla to appear from the periphery and crush it." N.Y. Times' Shane Goldmacher: "Instant reaction: I love this A's stadium proposal." Tampa-based WTSP-CBS' Noah Pransky: "Like Tampa proposal, project seems to lean on ancillary development to pay for the ballpark, typically a financial loss-leader. Unlike Tampa proposal, project doesn't seem to be tapping into local taxes at all."

A's New Ballpark And Coliseum Redevelopment

The case for rehabbing KeyBank Center is strong, with well-documented returns on investment
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Pegula Sports & Entertainment COO Bruce Popko said that the expiring leases for New Era Field and KeyBank Center have added "pressure to the information-gathering effort needed to make big decisions in the near future," according to a front-page piece by Tan & Epstein of the BUFFALO NEWS. The New Era Field lease agreement expires in '23 and the lease for KeyBank Center expires in '25. Popko: "We have some more time, but we are up against it. We are now to the phase where we have to begin to make some determinations because five years goes really in the blink of an eye." Tan & Epstein note changes could "range from new seating, technology, video screens and audio systems to revamped food service and more specialized programming." Popko said, "We know we’ve got to improve the fan experience." As far as potential sites for any new stadium, including the possibility of combining a Bills stadium with a new convention center, Popko said that "nothing is off the table." He added, "We don’t go into it with any preconceived notions." Popko said PS&E was asked by ownership consultant CAA Icon to "really have as open a mind as we can, and we're going into this exercise like that" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/28).

LOCAL SUPPORT? In Buffalo, James Fink wrote with PS&E in the "initial phases of development or renovations options for New Era Field and KeyBank Center and an Erie County study underway on the need for a new downtown convention center, the question becomes will state leaders be willing to write a series of big checks to help finance the projects?" Local leaders may be "forced to address the state support issue for all three projects within the next year." The cases for the convention center, "rehabbing KeyBank Center and renovating or building a new football stadium are individually and collectively strong, each come with well-documented returns on their respective investments." Visit Buffalo Niagara President & CEO Patrick Kaler said, "That there could be multiple ‘big ticket’ asks being made to Albany at the same time is a concern" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/27).

CLEAR AS THE DRIVEN SNOW: In Rochester, Leo Roth writes under the header, "As Sure As The Snow Blows Off Lake Erie, A Bills Downtown Stadium Is A Lock." Bills co-Owners Terry and Kim Pegula "don’t do anything small, so forget remodeling an old house." A new downtown stadium, projected to cost $1B, would be a "coup de grace on their Buffalo renaissance, which includes HarborCenter," their $200M hockey facility. The Pegulas already "own land on potential stadium sites and parking lots in the burgeoning Cobblestone Entertainment District." Fan input is "welcomed," but there is "no stopping a new stadium from happening." Roth: "And yes, a dome is on the table" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 11/28).

The developers of a proposed $1.5B commercial and residential development at the Nassau Hub detailed plans for a "new suburbia" that they said could "transform 60 acres of vacant blacktop around NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum into a vibrant, walkable mixed-use downtown," according to Robert Brodsky of NEWSDAY. The developers' plans "call for the construction of 500 units of housing, geared primarily toward millennials; 600,000 square feet of office and biotech research space; two hotels and 200,000 square feet of entertainment options and 'experiential retail,' stores that provide additional services for customers such as yoga and cooking classes." RXR Realty Chair & CEO Scott Rechler said that a newly-proposed 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot concert venue, to be known as Long Island Fame, would be "designed to attract locally-raised artists, performers and athletes." New York legislature is "expected to vote next month on an amended lease that, if approved, would allow the developers to jump start the planning process." But to begin construction, the developers would "need additional legislative approval once a lease agreement is reached with the county and plans are finalized with unions and surrounding communities." Rechler said that construction of the first phase of the project -- including "two state-funded parking garages with a combined 3,400 spots, the Northwell medical facility, half of the housing and the entertainment and retail options -- could begin within 18 to 24 months if the amended lease agreement is approved" (NEWSDAY, 11/28).

In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson notes the MLB Rangers have "opened a sales office in the vacated home" of the team's HOF inside Globe Life Park. Inside is a "scale model of Globe Life Field, Texas Live! and the Loews hotel." The ballpark portion of the model "includes a retractable roof that moves as it will when the real deal opens" for the start of the '20 season. The Rangers "continue to insist that no decision has been made on whether to have natural grass or a synthetic surface" at the new ballpark (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/28).

OPTIONS ABOUND: In Providence, Mark Patinkin noted after the Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox announced their move to Worcester, Mass, Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien has "heard informal pitches from one Single-A baseball team, and three independents" about using McCoy Stadium. Grebien has also "heard from minor-league soccer teams and entertainment companies wanting to bring performances there." However, for any of that to happen, McCoy, which is the "oldest Triple-A park by decades, first needs to be renovated." Grebien said that "other ideas are on the table" for discussion, including "tearing down McCoy" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 11/25).

IT'S BO-TIME: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reported Bojangles Coliseum has a "new 10-year naming rights agreement worth twice as much as the previous agreement." In a new deal set to begin Jan. 1, Charlotte-based fast-food chain Bojangles "agreed to pay $240,000" next year to keep its name on the 8,300-seat arena (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/26). The AHL Charlotte Checkers are the primary tenants at Bojangles Coliseum (THE DAILY).