Click photo to enlarge
With talks of a new Oakland ballpark foundering, two local elected officials have made another pitch to lure the A's franchise to southern Alameda County.
FREMONT — With talks of a new Oakland ballpark foundering, two local elected officials have made another pitch to lure the A's franchise to southern Alameda County.

County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman sent letters this month to A's co-owner Lew Wolff asking the ball club to look at building a new baseball-only stadium in Fremont — possibly near the future Warm Springs BART station or at the new Pacific Commons development off Auto Mall Parkway.

"We would be very interested in becoming the home of the A's if an arrangement could be made," Wasserman wrote June 9, "and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and introduce you to the city of Fremont."

Wasserman's letter was prompted by a call from Haggerty, who wrote June 1 that, while he favored keeping the A's in Oakland, Fremont also has tremendous potential.

He told The Argus that he would not allow a stalemate in negotiations between the city of Oakland and the A's to jeopardize the A's presence in Alameda County.

"I'm not convinced Santa Clara County or San Jose is finished trying to attract the A's," said Haggerty, whose district includes most of Fremont, as well as Pleasanton and Livermore. "Knowing there are vultures out there, I want to do what I can to keep the A's in Alameda County."

Wolff was traveling Thursday and did not return phone calls, but he did indicate he was interested in sitting down with the supervisor, Haggerty said.

A's spokesman Jim Young refused to comment about a possible move to Fremont, but he said the team would "do everything we can to secure a baseball facility within our territorial rights, and that covers Alameda and Contra Costa counties."

Haggerty, who once served on the board that oversees the Coliseum and Arena facilities in Oakland, pointed out that a large plot of land north of the NUMMI plant in Fremont's Warm Springs district was identified in a recent study as one of the most suitable sites in the county for a new A's ballpark.

New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., southern Alameda County's largest private employer, is opposed to building a ballpark on the 107-acre General Motors-owned site, between Fremont Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

A baseball-only stadium at that location still would attract a fan base from Oakland and the East Bay while serving as a big draw for corporate sponsors from Silicon Valley, Haggerty said. The property offers great transportation options, sitting between interstates 680 and 880 and near the planned Warm Springs BART station.

"Efficient public access via transit and other modes of transportation should be a key factor when determining the feasibility of a stadium site," wrote Haggerty, who serves on numerous regional transportation boards.

"Building a stadium near a BART station would be a prudent start."

Although it is far from BART, Wasserman said another Fremont option is the 143-acre vacant lot at the heart of Pacific Commons, a retail center being built off I-880. Cisco Systems Inc., which leases the property, had hoped to build a high-tech campus on the site, but abandoned the project when the economy turned sour.

The Warm Springs site, however, ranked third among seven possible sites analyzed in the 2002 study for a new ballpark, beaten out only by locations in downtown Oakland and the Coliseum parking lot next to the A's current home.

Findings from that study, by Kansas-City-based HOK Sports, are crucial for Fremont. Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown quashed any prospect of a downtown ballpark when he threw his political weight behind building the Forest City housing project on the site near the 19th Street BART station.

Last week, Wolff announced that building a new stadium in the Coliseum parking lot no longer was feasible because of a shortage of land, utility issues and concerns about infringing on parking revenues from the A's fellow tenants — the Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders.

Ignacio De La Fuente, Oakland City Council president, has called for the stadium to be built along the Oakland Estuary on a 60-acre site called Oak to Ninth. But like Pacific Commons, Oak to Ninth also has no public transportation nearby. 

If the stadium project did come to Fremont, one thing is clear: Neither the city nor its taxpayers would be footing the bill, Wasserman said. Still, Fremont could contribute land, infrastructure and other improvements to the development.

Wasserman said the A's appear to be "going sideways" with the city of Oakland.

"It's no secret they are not having a lot of success with Oakland," Wasserman said. "We just think maybe the time is right."

Letter from Mayor of Fremont Bob Wasserman to Lou Wolfe Oakland Athletics. (PDF)

Letter from Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor to Wolfe of Oakland Athletics. (PDF)