Oakland Athletics

Athletics considering using an aerial tram to get people to their hypothetical new ballpark

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One of the sites the Oakland Athletics are considering for their new ballpark that, I imagine anyway, will one day be built, is the Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square. It’s a site the city has been pushing, though the current Coliseum site is also in the mix.

As those most familiar with the ballpark situation in Oakland have noted, the biggest problem with the Howard Terminal site is access. The nearest BART station is not super close — it’s like a mile away — and there is a freeway and train tracks in between. To wit:

 

One possible solution is building a new BART station, but that’s totally not happening because of the expense. Another solution is far more . . . novel. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Oakland A’s are exploring using a gondola ski lift to transport fans from downtown to the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, where the team is thinking of building a new ballpark . . . an overhead lift that would sail over I-880 and the Southern Pacific railroad tracks that separate downtown from the port.

Teams are always looking for uniqueness when it comes to a new ballpark, and say what you want about a gondola, but it’d certainly be unique.

The article talks about the pros and cons of such a beast and gives examples of other places where gondolas like that are used, though none are pro sports facilities. The article says 4,000-5,000 people could make the trip to the park each hour. If you’re expecting 30,000 people to go to an A’s game and if gates open a couple of hours before the game that’s gonna make things tight. I presume, though, that there will be some parking closer to the park, albeit expensive and/or a bit tricky to get to, and probably some shuttles and the like. As with all parking and transportation systems, we’re talking about “ands” not “ors.”

Still, it’s a bit out there. Certainly a change for A’s fans who, at present, are used to being able to take BART right to game, alighting at the station on the stadium’s premises. Which remains the current top selling point for the Coliseum.

UPDATE: WEEI denies it will change Red Sox broadcasts to a talk show format

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UPDATE: WEEI is pushing back on this report, denying that it is true. Finn’s source for the story was the agency posting job listings which said that, yes, WEEI was looking to do the talk show format. WEEI is now saying that the agency was merely speculating and that it will still be a traditional broadcast.

Both WEEI and Finn say they will have full reports soon, so I guess we’ll see.

9:47 AM: WEEI carries Boston Red Sox games on the radio in the northeast. For the past three seasons, Tim Neverett and Joe Castiglione have been the broadcast team. Following what was reportedly a difficult relationship with the station, Neverett has allowed his contract with WEEI to end, however, meaning that the station needs to do something else with their broadcast.

It seems that they’re going to do something radical. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe:

There were industry rumors about possible changes all season long. One, which multiple sources have said was a genuine consideration, had WEEI dropping the concept of a conventional radio baseball broadcast to make the call of the game sound more like a talk show.

That was yesterday. Just now, Finn confirmed it:

I have no idea how that will work in practice but I can’t imagine this turning out well. At all.

Hiring talk show hots to call games — adding opinion and humor and stuff while still doing a more or less straightforward broadcast — would probably be fine. It might even be fun. But this is not saying that’s what is happening. It says it’s changing it to a talk show “format.” I have no idea how that would work. A few well-done exceptions aside, there is nothing more annoying than sports talk radio. It tends to be constant, empty chatter about controversies real or imagined and overheated either way. It usually puts the host in the center of everything, forcing listeners — often willingly — to adopt his point of view. It’s almost always boorish narcissism masquerading as “analysis.”

But even if it was the former idea — talk show hosts doing a conventional broadcast — it’d still be hard to pull off given how bad so many talk show hosts are. There are a couple of sports talk hosts I like personally and I think do a good job, most are pretty bad, including the ones WEEI has historically preferred.

Which is to stay that this is bound to be awful. And that’s if they even remember to pay attention to the game. Imagine them taking a few calls while the Red Sox mount a rally, get sidetracked arguing over whether some player is “overrated” or whatever and listeners get completely lost.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Red Sox fans who listen to the games on the radio.