Saturday, November 10, 2007

A's submit ballpark application to Fremont. What's next?

Almost a year to the day that the Oakland Athletics publicly announced plans to move their baseball team to Fremont, team officials submitted a formal application Thursday to build a stadium with a surrounding neighborhood of retail stores and housing.

The "Ballpark Village" would be sit just west of the Pacific Commons shopping center, near Interstate 880 and Auto Mall Parkway. The stadium, with just 32,000 seats, would be the smallest of the 30 Major League Baseball parks. Retail stores - including restaurants and a hotel - adjacent to the stadium would be open both during game times and non-game times. The mixed-use area also would include apartments built on top of the stores.

A's officials say they hope to have the stadium ready for the 2011 baseball season.

Village would create a brand new neighborhood

Approximately 3,000 lofts, apartments, and homes eventually will be built in the complex, with most of the housing in areas south and west of the stadium. The residential area of the Ballpark Village also would include a new elementary school and several small parks.

In previous discussions, A's officials proposed an "urban-style", multi-story school that would sit on just four acres - about a quarter of the footprint of many suburban schools. Fremont Unified School District trustees recently said they would prefer a more traditional suburban design for the school. In their proposed plan, A's officials say they will work with the city and school district to arrive at a "mutually agreeable size and location" for the new school.

How would those who live and work in Fremont be affected?

At their November 27 meeting, City Council members are expected to approve the hiring of a consultant to perform an environmental study of the planned Ballpark Village. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be completed before construction can begin.

The study will address possible impacts of the project to surrounding communities as well as to wildlife and natural resources where the complex would be built. The study also includes possible ways to mitigate problems that it identifies.

The EIR process is expected to take about a year and a half to complete, Fremont Economic Development Director Darren Fields said. Before it can begin, the public will be invited to a "scoping session", where they will be able to request specific issues they would like the EIR to address. The public also will have the opportunity to review and comment on a draft version of the report once it is completed. Those comments, as well as responses to them, become part of the final report that the City Council must approve at a public as part of the approval process.


With 81 regular-season home games, each attracting tens of thousands of spectators, it should come as no surprise that the most talked-about impact is traffic.

A's officials say they will encourage the use of public transportation, running shuttle buses from the Fremont BART station four miles from the stadium and the Milpitas light rail station seven miles south of the stadium. The BART shuttle will move to the new station in the Warm Springs district - about 1-1/2 miles from the stadium - once that opens.

A's officials say they also hope that the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) and Capitol Corridor rail services will build a new station at the northwest corner of the complex. That land is owned by Fremont's Redevelopment Agency.

Those who drive will be able to take one of three exits from Interstate 880 to get to the stadium. Each of the exits (Cushing Parkway, Auto Mall Parkway, and Stevenson Boulevard) would lead to a separate parking area, distributing traffic to and from the stadium. Team officials say the shops and restaurants also would help relieve congestion, as some spectators would arrive early and leave late to eat and shop.

The business end

City officials also will be discussing the financial aspects of the project with the A's management. The private negotiations will include any incentives sought by the A's, as well as an analysis of potential benefits to Fremont. Once the two parties reach agreement, the terms of the deal will be presented to the City Council at a public hearing.

Heading home

With the EIR and financial arrangements complete, the plan for the stadium and surrounding development will be discussed by the Planning Commission at a public meeting. If the city's planning commissioners approve the project, it will be sent to the City Council for final approval. The public will have the opportunity to express their views at each of these meetings.

Included with the A's formal application was a check for $700,000 to pay for the environmental study. The team also will pay for the experts in Major League Baseball and stadium deals who will represent Fremont in the business negotiations with the A's. Though arguably the most significant development in Fremont's 50-year history, Fields said Fremont is handling the project just like it would any other.

"Any developer pays for their application. If you want to build in Fremont, the general public doesn't pay," Fields said.

For more information...

Click here to read the development application submitted by the A's.

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