Overconfidence, NIMBYs, lack of political insight kill Oakland A’s stadium plans

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By Jesse McKnight
Executive Vice President, The Saint Consulting Group

wolffThe biggest mistake that professional sports teams — or developers of any potentially controversial project — make when launching a development is to do so without fully understanding the politics of the permitting process. It appears that the Oakland A’s did exactly this in their recent failed efforts to build a new baseball stadium in Fremont California.

Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff admitted as much when he said that he didn’t anticipate resistance to the Fremont stadium plan, referring to both local residential neighbors and local businesses. See this San Francisco Business Times report.

He seemed to be shocked that neighbors and local businesses would be concerned about a stadium oakland-athletics popping up in their neighborhood. Why would anyone be concerned about some 30,000 to 40,000 extra people in their neighborhood over 80 days each summer? Oh, and by the way, the site didn’t provide access to any public transportation.

Too often, decisions on the politics surrounding a controversial project are based on the
assurances of locally connected permitting lawyers or local politically connected consultants. But these “savvy” lawyers or consultants depend on relationships with local politicians to advance their work on behalf of many clients; and preserving these relationships is key to their future work for other clients.

At the end of the day, Mr. Wolff and the A’s needed to spend more time understanding what “local” people wanted and not what a few high paid consultants were telling him. With a simple due diligence scope of the political challenges he was likely to face, Mr. Wolff could have saved himself not only embarrassment, but significant time and money.

Before you commit to a project or develop a battle plan to overcome local, political, or competition-generated opposition, wouldn’t you like to know your chances of success?

The Saint Consulting Group uses a Scope Report, our proprietary diagnostic tool, to provide objective, expert analysis of the situation and recommendations for winning local political battles. Done in a matter of days, it cost-effectively:

• Gathers needed intelligence.
• Complements your own discovery.
• Reviews objective findings.
• Evaluates project viability.

Anticipating challenges and mobilizing efforts early allows you to identify and solidify your support base, and preempt opposition before it gains traction.

Jesse McKnight is executive vice president of The Saint Consulting Group, email mcknight@tscg.biz, phone 510 770 1511

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