Dickey: Too many issues for Cal to play at AT&T Park 

Having Cal play its 2011 football season at AT&T Park will be good for the Giants’ bottom line, but it is a bad move for both teams.

Here are some of the obvious problems:

- The Cal football season will start in late August or early September, while the Giants are playing in the regular season. The Giants may very well be in the postseason, too, in October.

Cal and the Giants are supposed to meet to work out their schedules, but major league schedules are not usually released until early in the next year. And, even if the Giants know their regular-season schedule, they can’t anticipate a playoff schedule. If there’s an October conflict, Cal would either have to switch venues again or switch a home game to the road, which could put them at a competitive disadvantage in the Pac-10 Conference race.

- AT&T has been used for football, including the Emerald Bowl, in which the Bears played in the 2008 season, but it will only hold slightly more than 45,000 for the 2011 games.

With the resurgence of the football program under Jeff Tedford, the Bears have been averaging more than 60,000 for home games — and USC, always a huge draw, will be on the 2011 schedule. That means Cal could accommodate few more than their 38,000 season ticket-holders. Not good, especially with Cal trying to sell more expensive seats in their retrofitted stadium for 2012.

The park is also not a good football venue. Bleacher seats have to be brought in. Season ticket-holders won’t be happy.

- Parking at AT&T is limited and expensive. To be sure, parking for games in Berkeley is not good, but many fans park away from the stadium and walk in. Garages around AT&T are expensive and, if fans park on the street, they’d have to leave during the game to feed the meters.

The relative lack of parking also means fewer people will be able to drive to games. There is a BART-Muni Metro connection for East Bay fans — I’ve taken it occasionally for Giants games — but it’s time-consuming.

- There is no way to protect the field for baseball games. The Giants have suffered before when they’ve had football games there, including the XFL, UFL and the Shrine East-West game, and they’d have virtually no time to repair the damage this way. What if they lose out on the playoffs because a star player twists an ankle running on a torn-up field? Will it be worth the extra cash they get from Cal?

AT&T was one of three possibilities, with Candlestick and the Oakland Coliseum being the other two. Candlestick would have been a better choice.

There would have been no scheduling conflicts because 49ers games are not played on Saturdays. Late in the season, after college seasons are over, the NFL: schedules some Saturday games, but it could certainly exclude the 49ers from consideration for those games for one season. Candlestick also has 70,000-plus seats, with backs and arm rests, and ample parking for those who want to tailgate.

AT&T for Cal games is simply a bad idea.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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Glenn Dickey

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