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Athletics have deal with Cisco for Fremont site

FREMONT, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics have reached a deal
with Cisco Systems Inc. to build a new high-tech ballpark in
southern Fremont, city officials said on Thursday after meeting with the
team's owner.

The agreement would create a 32,000- to 35,000-seat ballpark,
dubbed Cisco Field, on a 143-acre parcel held by the company. If
the plan is approved by the city, the A's could begin playing there
as soon as 2011.

If Cisco has its way, the new ballpark in Fremont will be the stadium of the future.

Fans will swipe electronic tickets stored on cell phones.
Bleacher bums will view instant replays at their seats with laptop
computers. And digital advertising displays will be able to switch
images based on the buying habits of the people walking by through
data embedded in their cell phones.

That was the vision that A's owner Lew Wolff laid out to Fremont
City Council members this week in a pitch for Cisco Field, a
planned ballpark featuring the company's technology, Fremont Mayor
Bob Wasserman said Thursday.

"It's fabulous -- the technology is something else," Wasserman
said. "It went over my head. It only takes about 10 seconds to go
beyond me when you're talking about technology. I can't say I
understand it all, but it's going to be quite a ballpark."

Wasserman said the city has not determined how much money it
will ask for from the A's.

"We have to get enough to make it feasible for us," he said.
"It's going to require a lot of services, it's going to require a
lot of things from the city ... I don't have a dollar figure, but
it's the kind of thing I'll know when I see a good deal."

A formal announcement of the deal was planned for Tuesday at
Cisco's San Jose headquarters.

Wolff declined to speak to reporters Wednesday as he left the
meetings. Team spokesman Jim Young has said the A's won't comment
until an announcement is made. Cisco officials also declined to
comment.

The deal is contingent on the city approving a large-scale
development plan for the ballpark, which will be surrounded by
homes and shops on the parcel west of Interstate 880. Cisco holds a
34-year lease on the land, and has the option to buy the property
in the next three years.

The A's, who share the Oakland Coliseum with the NFL's Oakland
Raiders, have been searching for a suitable location and funding
for a new stadium for several years, branching out into the
surrounding area after locating no suitable sites in Oakland.

Last March, Wolff confirmed the A's interest in exploring a move
to Fremont, about 25 miles south of Oakland on the east side of San
Francisco Bay.

Wolff did not indicate when he planned to submit an application
to the city for development -- which would prompt a review process
that could take two years -- although council members said they
expected to receive one shortly after next week's planned
announcement.

Some major issues facing the ballpark include traffic, parking
and accessible public transportation.

The question of whether to rename the team also is in the air,
although Wolff offered "Fremont A's" and "Silicon Valley A's"
as possibilities.

As for the technology, wireless access is becoming an increasingly common feature at
ballparks, but analysts said a park built with the reported
features would be a big step forward.

However, while the ballpark could be the ultimate consumer
showcase for a company that derives most of its sales from
corporate customers, the strategy also could backfire if the entire
system doesn't work properly or fans don't warm to the idea, said
Sam Wilson, a communications equipment analyst with JMP Securities.

"These things work both ways," he said. "If everything works
flawlessly, it's a great showcase. But if everything doesn't work
flawlessly, it's the exact opposite. It's a laughingstock."