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August 20, 2008 > Letter to the Editor: The Oakland A's Ballpark Village - Should the City of Fremont Take the Risk?

Letter to the Editor: The Oakland A's Ballpark Village - Should the City of Fremont Take the Risk?

There is a sense of excitement that Fremont could get a major league sports team. I like baseball myself. My son even played on a team called the A's this year. But one should not let this excitement lead us into making a decision that could cost the City in the long run. One needs to remember that this is not just about a ball park. It's about a ball park, 3,150 homes, and over 500,000 square feet of retail. All three of these items will generate significant traffic and demand for city services.

While it's possible that a Ballpark Village could function well and improve Fremont's financial situation, the current proposal is fraught with numerous potential problems and uncertainty. I believe that it would be irresponsible for the City not to thoroughly analyze and discuss all of the potential problems that a project of this size could bring.

Traffic, parking, and transit options - Stadiums create very intense traffic and parking demands. The solutions that have been mentioned to date are still problematic.

Jobs - Unlike the high-tech jobs that Cisco, or other high-tech employers, would have brought to the area, the retail and ballpark jobs that this project would create are virtually all lower-paying, service-sector jobs. They're not the kind of jobs that typically would allow one to buy a house in Fremont. Thus, these workers would likely be coming from other locales, adding hundreds of additional cars to the local freeways and parking lots.

Remember that 3 out of 4 days of the year are not game days. If 75% of retail sales at the Ballpark Village on non-game days come from outside of Fremont, this would create significant additional traffic on 880. This project would undoubtedly pull retail dollars away from existing retail centers in the City's historic districts.

Also, let's take a closer look at where this projected $19 million dollars in tax revenue will go. Roughly 80%, $15.6 million, will flow directly to the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), not into the Fremont general fund. Redevelopment Agency funds are used solely to pursue further development and to make payments on bond debts from previous RDA projects. They cannot be used for funding city services such as the fire department, the police department, and maintenance of roads and other city facilities. Only $3.6 to $4.7 million/year will actually be paid into the Fremont General Fund, to provide the extensive city services that this complex will require.

Before approving this proposal, the city needs to take a serious look at how to address the traffic issues, whether this development will generate enough funds to cover its costs, and whether it might not be a better idea to preserve this land for businesses that could provide high paying jobs to Fremont residents.

For a more detailed analysis, view my complete statement at: www. bacon2008.com/ballpark.html


Vinnie Bacon
Candidate for Fremont City Council
Fremont

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