Today I launched a new website, called BallparkVote.com. The idea behind the website is to popularize the Oakland A’s stadium dilemma and to get a little engagement from the public on the issue.
The A’s currently play at O.co Coliseum, arguably the worst stadium in Major League Baseball. The stadium is old and ugly, suffers from maintenance issues, and fails to attract fans. Since 2004, the owners of the A’s have been looking into building a new ballpark somewhere in Northern California, whether in Oakland, San Jose, Freemont, Sacramento or elsewhere. A new ballpark should attract more fans and make the A’s franchise more successful financially and maybe even competitively.
Ten years have passed since initial talks of building a new ballpark, and the A’s are no closer to having a new stadium. But there have been plenty of ideas, proposals and stadium renderings. This is where BallparkVote.com comes in.
Here’s how the site works:
Obviously, the site doesn’t provide that great of insight to the A’s and MLB. The issue if far far more complex than what the fans want. There are so many barriers in building a new ballpark that are much beyond my and most of the public’s understanding. This is why, after 10 years, the A’s still have failed to make plans for a new stadium or to relocate.
Owner Lew Wolff, speaking on his frustration with A’s fans and in trying to relocate, said something to the effect that you can’t just circle anywhere on a map and say that’s a good place to relocate. There are rules, stipulations, environmental issues, land use planning considerations, transportation problems, financial barriers, and more.
Some concrete examples of barriers:
Despite these barriers, some fans believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way, and the owners, the MLB and certain cities (Oakland) simply aren’t trying hard enough to get the A’s a new stadium. Take their NBA neighbors, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors’ owners announced ambitious plans to build a new arena practically on the water between piers 30-32 in San Francisco, despite there being significant environmental and financial issues in building on that location. While they have since backed off that vision (they will relocate elsewhere, in SF’s Mission Bay district), the owners still maintain that they could have eventually built an arena on the water there.
If the A’s owners tried harder, could they move to San Jose or on the water in Oakland? From a fan’s perspective, it’s hard to know.
My idea with BallparkVote.com is to help popularize the dilemma, get people engaged with the issue, make it (somewhat) fun and interactive, and provide a little insight in what people most want out of a new A’s ballpark. While the A’s and MLB have likely done plenty of market research already and are not that interested in fans’ ideas and desires anyhow, it never hurts to get more people engaged. And while there are other sites already popularizing the issue (newballpark.org, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Chronicle, etc.), I think there is room for one more site that is fairly simple and straightforward with it’s call-to-action to vote.
The ultimate goal in any grassroots effort surrounding the ballpark dilemma is to see the A’s get a new ballpark. Whether increased fan engagement on the issue helps or not, it certainly doesn’t hurt.