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A’s cancel community meetings as opposition to new ballpark plan accelerates

As opposition to a proposed Oakland A’s ballpark site in Fremont’s Warm Springs neighborhood intensifies, San Jose officials quietly position themselves to make a play for the team.
With citizen opposition to a new Oakland A’s ballpark in Fremont’s Warm Spring neighborhood snowballing, the team’s plans are increasingly in doubt — and San Jose officials are getting ready to pounce.

Last month the A’s formally dumped plans for a ballpark/development complex in Fremont’s Pacific Commons area and shifted their focus to the Warm Springs area, near a new BART station. While the move addresses the need to include mass transit in the ballpark plans, it also puts the ballpark closer to the freeway and on the edge of a residential neighborhood, adjacent to a school. The folks there are not pleased with the prospect of freeway traffic being snarled by game-day fans, nor are they happy with the school being impacted by fans during weekday matches.

In face of the sudden opposition, the A’s have scrapped two informational sessions in the last week and altered a third to meet with ballpark opponents.

Meanwhile, San Jose officials are quietly positioning themselves to be able to act quickly if Wolff comes knocking on their doors. The city’s redevelopment agency controls a 14-acre parcel once foreseen as a ballpark site, and while there are some issues with the so-called Diridon Station site (a nearby power substation will need to be relocated at taxpayer expense, and proximity to the airport will present some design challenges), it’s still seen as a very desirable site.

Ironically, the increasing number of protesters may be good news for Wolff and the A’s. As opposition to a Fremont ballpark grows, the better Wolff is positioned to argue that the Oakland territory cannot support a new ballpark — and that gives him an out to discuss new ballpark with San Jose officials. Wolff has a great relationship with San Jose city officials dating back to his days as a developer investing millions in downtown properties like the Fairmont Hotel. Yes, the Giants will need to be compensated for their territorial rights, but putting a new ballpark in Silicon Valley’s largest city can’t help but be a win-win for the A’s.

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