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De La Fuente Calls On SMG Instead Of Calling For Task Force On A's Matter

Here's an example of failure in the making. Instead of forming a private sector task force on the A's matter, Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente calls on stadium manager SMG for advice. Anything to put money in SMG's pocket.

It makes me wonder what SMG does for them -- tickets to events?

That's not right.

The Coliseum Authority's enabiling resolution contains a provision to establish a 20-person private sector advisory board. But it's never been done at all. The SF Bay Area has some of the World's top sports business minds, but we in Oakland don't call on them.

What's Ignacio afraid of? Good advice?

In the days when the Coliseum was ran by Oakland business people, they would get together and devote time to solve the problem. Instead, we get Ignacio making more negative comments about the A's, as in "We make more money without them."

Know where they got that idea from? SMG.

SMG's not an economics firm -- they only know what makes money for them, not what benefits Oakland.

This is an outrage. I tell you, Ignacio's going to run the Coliseum into the ground.

Oakland used to be a city of winners: people who knew how to get things done. Now, it's a city of losers -- people who have the roman appetite for victory without the spartan will to sacrafice for it.

This is a terrible development. Just awful.

Oakland hopes to gain from A's move
City already looking at ways for Coliseum to make money
Patrick Hoge, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

With Cisco Systems and Oakland Athletics officials promising to build a high-tech ballpark of the future in Fremont, Oakland city leaders are exploring how to use McAfee Coliseum without the team.

A's managing partner Lew Wolff formally announced on Tuesday what already was widely known: His team intends to build a new baseball-only stadium in Fremont, about 20 miles south of the team's current home. The move could happen within five years.

At a news conference at Cisco's San Jose headquarters, officials said the networking giant has committed to a 30-year ballpark-naming deal in which it would make annual payments to the team starting at $4 million.

Wolff, who wants to build housing and retail stores around a 30,000-to-34,000-seat ballpark, has not revealed his financing plan for the stadium, which could cost up to $500 million, other than to say it would be funded by development on the property. He estimated that building Cisco Field could take three to five years.

And in Oakland, Ignacio De La Fuente, a City Council member who also serves on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority's board of directors, suggested that his city might even benefit if the team moved.

"To be candid, we made more money in one Rolling Stones concert than the A's made (us) in a whole year. We will deal with it," De La Fuente said.

Coliseum officials say the city and county make virtually nothing on the team. The joint-powers Coliseum Authority received a $22 million subsidy this year from the city and county to operate the complex, which includes the indoor Oakland Arena. The ballpark underwent an expensive reconfiguration in the 1990s to accommodate the returning Oakland Raiders football team.

De La Fuente pointed out that the A's get 100 percent of revenue from concessions and parking during their 81 home games as well as most of the advertising revenue. The A's and Raiders share some of the ad revenue.

"I think they're going to really have to try hard to find other cities that will be as generous to them," he said of the A's.

The A's plan to buy Cisco's option to purchase 143-acres off Auto Mall Parkway on the west side of Interstate 880, Wolff said. He did not disclose the price of the land, saying it was still under negotiation. The land is owned by ProLogis, a real estate investment trust.

Wolff made the announcement just a week after the San Francisco 49ers announced plans to move to Santa Clara, about 45 miles south of San Francisco. That led the city to abandon its effort to host the Summer Olympics in 2016.

Mark Kaufman, who works as general manager for the private company that runs the Coliseum complex, said he was surprised that Wolff made the announcement "this soon," given that the team recently finished negotiating an extension of its year-to-year lease, which includes options to extend until 2013.

Kaufman met Monday with De La Fuente to discuss other ways to use the Coliseum, including possibly hosting more international and domestic soccer games.

Without the baseball team, which has played at the Coliseum for four decades, taxpayers would save at least $1.1 million a year -- the cost of changing the fields back and forth for baseball and football use, he said.

"It won't hurt the taxpayers of the city and the county," Kaufman said, adding that it also could benefit his firm, SMG, which doesn't profit from the baseball games.

Ann Haley, executive director of the Coliseum Authority, agreed that the A's have been "fairly revenue-neutral" for her public agency. She said the A's move could open up other event possibilities.

"When you've got the dates, there's a lot you can do. We haven't had the dates," she said.

Wolff, who repeatedly pointed out Tuesday that the team is staying in Alameda County, also promised a bright future.

"We're not moving to Timbuktu. We're going down the street, in our mind," Wolff said.

Wolff was joined at the news conference Tuesday by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Cisco CEO John Chambers, who said his company will deliver innovative cell phone, video and other networking technologies at the ballpark to enhance fans' experience.

For example, fans will be able to use digital phones and other devices to view and save instant replays, buy and download tickets, and order merchandise and food Chambers said. Upon arriving at Cisco Field, sensors would recognize the ticket buyer's presence if tickets had been purchased with a cell phone. Video kiosks could automatically offer seating upgrades, if available.

Wolff said the high-tech ballpark would be fan-friendly, putting spectators as close to the field as possible.

Commissioner Selig praised the A's partnership with Cisco.

"This is a great day in baseball," Selig said. "It will set the pace for ballparks that come after it."

Selig said baseball teams must have adequate revenues to stay competitive, and new ballparks with the latest features are necessary to ensure that income.

"I think this does it beautifully," he said. The A's "did what they had to. They had no alternatives."

What the team will be called remains to be seen, but it will use the Fremont name in some way, Wolff said.

"That's a decision we're not going to make for two or three years," he said.

Wolff and Chambers unveiled the stadium's logo-to-be, touting signs and other materials that read, "Cisco Field, home of your A's."

Cisco Field plans
Size: 30,000- to 34,000-seat ballpark.

Development: Surrounding housing and stores would finance the ballpark.

Location: 143 acres off Auto Mall Parkway on the west side of I-880.

Cost: An

estimated $400 million to $500 million to build.

Name: Cisco to make annual payments starting at $4 million for naming rights.

Extras: High-tech features such as cell phone ticketing and personalized video reply services.
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