New A's ballpark in Fremont would be surrounded by upscale eateries, shops
Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
(09-18) 21:56 PDT Fremont -- At the A's proposed new ballpark in Fremont, home runs wouldn't fly into the bay or the salt flats. They'd land in your plate of spaghetti at an upscale Italian restaurant.
If approved by Fremont's City Council, the $450 million Cisco Field would open in 2011 in a now-vacant lot in the city's Irvington district. It would be surrounded by high-end retail stores, restaurants overlooking the outfield, and housing for at least 3,000 people, A's officials told Fremont Tuesday night.
"This is the biggest project Fremont will ever see," said Mayor Bob Wasserman. "If it's approved, it will create a pride here. It will make the city a whole place."
Though finances weren't part of the discussion as the A's outlined the latest details of their 200-acre, $1.8 billion development plan to Fremont officials and residents at Fremont City Hall, the team has asserted that a new ballpark would raise millions of dollars a year in public and private revenue.
On Tuesday, the A's said they would comply with city officials' request to move a proposed elementary school closer to the stadium. It had been planned for several blocks away.
Cisco Field - which would be located 25 miles south of the the team's current stadium on Oakland- would seat 32,000 and be the smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Almost the entire outfield would be rimmed with elevated seated. That way, pedestrians, shoppers and diners walking in a mall area below could watch the game for free through windows beneath those elevated seats.
The team, tentatively to be called the Athletics at Fremont - at one time it had been the Silicon Valley Athletics at Fremont - would play in a classic ballpark with plenty of bricks reminiscent of Boston's Fenway Park or AT&T Park in San Francisco, said Keith Wolff, the A's co-owner.
"On game days, the ballpark will provide energy and excitement," Wolff said. "On nongame days, it will be like a sculpture or a park."
The public would also be able to watch games for free from a public park just beyond center field. That park would even have its own scoreboard.
The development would include 11,000 parking spaces cloaked by four- and five-story residential buildings, with more than 3,000 units in all.
Most of the 60 or so Fremont residents who attended Tuesday's meeting supported the project.
"Fremont, for many years, has needed something to keep people here," said Bill Rinetti, owner of Massimo's restaurant there. "People will stay here and spend their money here, and the whole city will prosper."
Not everyone was thrilled with the project. Some complained that the ballpark wouldn't be close enough to BART - it's five miles from the nearest station - and that the shopping area would attract too much traffic.
There were also environmental concerns.
"Everyone here seems to be intoxicated with the idea of bringing a professional ball team to Fremont," said Vinton Bacon of Fremont who works for the Sierra Club. "This project brings more suburban sprawl and is inherently environmentally unfriendly."
The A's plan to submit a formal development application to Fremont within four weeks, Wolff said. The A's have said they are leaving Oakland because they couldn't secure land for the expanded development the owners envisioned.
"We tried to do it in Oakland. That was our first choice," Wolff said. "The officials were great, our fans are amazing. We just couldn't get the land."
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