The NIMBYs

Scott Herhold of the Merc lives near one of the possible landing pads for the A’s in San Jose, and while he’s a fan of the prospect, his neighbors aren’t:

You see, I live in the Hanchett Park neighborhood of San Jose, about a mile as a City Hall falcon flies, from the potential site of an A’s ballpark next to the main Caltrain station.

And my neighborhood message group, usually sprinkled with tips on handymen or warnings of car break-ins, has buzzed about the potential downside of a stadium — traffic, lights, noise and the need for double-pane windows.

The whole debate is probably premature. The A’s lack permission from Major League Baseball to invade the assumed territory of the Giants. Last week, A’s managing partner Lew Wolff suggested everyone chill until he decides his next move.

Since it’s my neighborhood, I’m still intrigued by the passionate difference between the brave few who welcome a ballpark — I counted three on my message group — and the majority who think it’s the worst idea since Donald Rumsfeld.

One poster suggested the gulf was shaped by the like or dislike of baseball. I think it’s a more classic NIMBY battle: The neighbors might like baseball in the abstract. Just not here. Not now. Not with their money.

In truth, the NIMBY people have raised searching questions. How does a baseball stadium fit with plans for high-speed rail at the same site? What about the lights and noise? What about the inadequate parking or the choked freeways?

Leaving the question of finances aside — you all know where I stand on that — I am struck by the initial responses, even if they’re the mere anecdotal ramblings of a columnist’s neighbors. I’m curious: is there a Major League ballpark anywhere that brings with it the kinds of negatives described by Herhold’s neighbors?

I’m not asking this rhetorically. I really don’t know. Are there any ballparks, particularly new-builds, that truly antagonize their immediate neighbors? The only example I can think of at the moment is Wrigley Field, which seems to kick up problems in connection with night games and traffic issues and stuff. Of course Wrigley is a special case in that (a) it’s literally smack dab in the middle of a residential area; and (b) it probably does more to enhance the lives of its neighbors than detract. At any rate, unless you’re 95, it was there first, so complainers don’t get a lot of sympathy from me.

Anyone have any real life horror stories of living near the ballpark?


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Andy L
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Andy L

Plus you can make some money chargin people to park in your front yard, like they do by Lambeau Field.

GBS
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GBS

Craig, you can’t see how a stadium would add traffic, lights and noise to the surrounding area?  I sometimes can hear the high school band practicing a mile from my house.  I’m sure 30,000 fans screaming because of a walk-off homer that close by would be enough to wake my kids.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

GBS—of course I can, but that wasn’t the question. The question was whether any existing park is thought of as a problem the way a hypothetical park is often thought of as a problem.  My suspicion is that despite the noise and the crowds, the location of parks minimizes the practical effect on surrounding residents and businesses, at least to the point where it isn’t considered a Major Problem.

But I don’t know, and that’s why I am genuinely asking if there is a park out there that is really hated by a significant portion of its neighbors.

Howell Evans
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Howell Evans
I have never lived near a major league ball park, but I did attend The University of Tennessee, or as I like to call it The Real UT, and live in the shadows of Neyland stadium (3 blocks or so). I can tell you first hand it was HORRIBLE. I like football just fine and all, but when around 95,000 people who don’t live near you just show up for a few days every weekend, it’s a hassle. I had various rules in place: 1) Don’t move the car whatever you do. 2) If you must move the car don’t… Read more »
GBS
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GBS

Gotcha, Craig.  Like you I don’t have direct evidence, but I’d have to think there are people out there unhappy with their local stadium.  Of course, assuming can get a person in trouble…

Rob
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Rob
It’s a hard question to answer in the terms that you’ve phrased it.  Fenway certainly fits the bill as much as Wrigley, but it’s been around for 97 years.  So even if you don’t discount the sympathy you feel for people who live near the park, the neighborhood tends to attract people who know what they’re in for and hence won’t complain. But obviously, if Fenway just appeared in your neighborhood one summer, you’d be a lot more likely to bitch about the traffic and the parking and the trash and the lights and the crowds. I mean, imagine how… Read more »
GET OF MY LAWN, YOU CRAZY KIDS!!!
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GET OF MY LAWN, YOU CRAZY KIDS!!!

HIT THE BALL IN MY YARD AND YOU’RE NOT GETTING IT BACK UNTIL I SPEAK TO YOUR PARENTS!!!

Seriously, I think the problem isn’t the ballpark itself, it’s the things that spring up around ballparks, like bars, bars, and more bars, especially since all the new ballparks have planned entertainment districts around them.  Traffic is a big factor too, but mainly people are worried about drunken fans wandering around the neighborhood, three hours after the game is over.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra
Agreed to all of that.  I guess I’m just trying to figure out if, in any specific city, the “ballpark is making our lives miserable” complaint has reached beyond a handfull of annoyed neighbors and has achieved a level of disruption that attacts the interest of politicians, the media, etc. In my town, for example, everyone knows that it’s death to be near campus on a football Saturday, and anyone who lives near there (as I once did) knows the pitfalls.  It became a bigger problem, however—one that led to public meetings and news coverage—when knuckleheads started turning over cars… Read more »
jason
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jason

I lived several blocks from the Houston Texans’ football stadium.  8 sundays a year I hated it.  Traffic was just awful for hours before the game and for hours afterwards.  The traffic jams seemed to spread for miles around the stadium.

The occasional fireworks going off late at night to celebrate were even worse.

You wont get 80,000 fans for a baseball game…but you will have to deal with 81 games instead of 8.

Mark
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Mark
You have never been to a Fenway Residents Association meeting. They HATE any attempt by the Red Sox to do anything with the area. They also complain the loudest about the crowds, bars etc. It is hilarious. The property in the area is massively overvalued because of Fenway and its accompanying bars, crowds and shops all over the area. Yet the instant someone plunks down 1.5 mil for a very small condo, he gets annoyed by the very crowds and, noise and commotion that made his place attractive in the first place. I can only imagine how much yelling there… Read more »
John
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John

considering these sweet economic times we live in, I would think dumping a stadium and all that comes with it is probably the only way to raise ones property value.  So if they don’t like the extra noise, move with a tidy profit and if its money then stay.  Seems relatively simple.

Conor
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Conor
I think Rob said it best. I live about a mile and a half from Wrigley Field so I’m far enough out of the chaos. But that’s the thing – it’s a very crowded and lively neighborhood year round and the people who live there want that type of atmosphere. I like to have it close enough to visit when I’m in the mood, but far enough away that I can park on the street in front of my house and go to sleep at 10 pm if I want, undisturbed on my quiet little block. Now I don’t know… Read more »
Chris H.
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Chris H.

I doubt anyone would just drop a stadium into a residential area, a la Wrigley.  Better to put it somewhere where you can have a big parking infrastructure, because parking = $$$.

Seattle Zen
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Seattle Zen
I went to law school six blocks from Camden Yards and though I never lived close enough to be affected, a pair of friends lived REALLY close. I remember times sitting in their house and hearing a roar, which would get us to turn on the TV to see what happened. And that was with the windows closed. The neighborhood had much bigger problems with the ghetto that existed just to the west. However, I think there were reasons to complain when the used the stadium to film Major League II during an off season. They used the PA system… Read more »
NickC
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NickC

CAVE people – Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

Jeremy
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Jeremy
My (rail) commute takes me past AT&T;Park, so I absolutely see an effect of the ballpark. If the Giants are playing a night game at home, I know that I’m going to walk from my office in the financial district to the Caltrain station near the park, as the subway will be slammed and the buses motionless on the same streets as everyone else. I don’t consider this a problem at all, and it tickles me that I can walk faster than the vehicle traffic. Furthermore, the ballpark is the centerpiece of a truly revitalized South Beach neighborhood, and integrates… Read more »
Eric
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Eric
Dodger Stadium has five gates through which traffic can enter the parking lot, but for over a decade only four of them have been in use.  The Scott Ave gate, which allows traffic to enter from a residential area in LA’s Echo Park neighborhood, was closed by the team after getting pressure from the local residents as well as a member of the City Council. We’ve all heard the tales of just how bad traffic can be getting in and out of Dodger Stadium, and with that in mind you get a sense of just how much complaining must have… Read more »
YX
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YX
Mark said… … It is hilarious. The property in the area is massively overvalued because of Fenway and its accompanying bars, crowds and shops all over the area. Yet the instant someone plunks down 1.5 mil for a very small condo, he gets annoyed by the very crowds and, noise and commotion that made his place attractive in the first place. ———————————————————- While I agree with the general statement, the area is not overvalued by Fenway. The area is walking distance from Boston University, Northeastern, MIT, Harvard Medical and part of Boston College. It is within 10 minutes of downtown… Read more »
vendor71
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vendor71
Another thing to consider about traffic in the neighborhood is that a ballpark is not a 9-5 operation.  There will be ballpark traffic in the area all day and most of the night, even when the team is on the road.  It takes a lot of deliveries to keep a ballpark in beer, hot dogs and foam fingers.  If you saw how much beer is delivered to some of the parks you’d be amazed.  Also, not only are there still fans wandering around at midnight, even on a Monday, you also have employees, sometimes a thousand or more on game… Read more »
InnocentBystander
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InnocentBystander
The Trenton Thunder (AA – Eastern League) has community complaints. Though the franchise has been very successful, they are mostly drawing fans from outside of Trenton (different demographics in the city). It is not easily accessible by public transportation so everyone drives in. This has caused major road problems. In fact they have moved roads and constructed new roads to try to deal with the problems. One of the road projects tried to take over a row of run down but occupied dwellings through eminent domain. It failed, and they eventually had to do the road as a tunnel underneath.… Read more »
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