It’s no secret; the A’s have needed a new stadium for the past 15 years. What’s crazy is there’s still a few cracks from the 89 earthquake. I’ve wanted to break down the whole A’s moving somewhere situation, but I knew it would be a long winded effort. Since the Raiders moved back into town, the Oakland Coliseum has been less than adequate for a baseball team. Brad Ziegler recently tweeted that he was disappointed in the fans for not coming out, and why wouldn’t he be? The A’s sported the lowest attendance in all of baseball averaging a measly 17,392 per game last year. This year they’ve only played 15 games, but still have only averaged 17,056 per game. Ziggy later tweeted “I understand some come in late, but it’s frustrating to be at this level and know that at Triple-A (Rivercats), there are twice as many fans at the game.” I’ve been to both stadiums, and sadly it’s true, the Rivercats are a bigger draw in Sacramento than the A’s are in Oakland, and the crowd is probably louder in Sac too for AAA games. It’s also a reason Mceezy and I feel they would be a nice fit in Sacramento, but the feeling there seems to be that it’s too small of a market to support an MLB franchise. The Rivercats stadium was built in a way that it can be added on to easily, but I’m sure A’s Owner, Lew Wolff, has looked into that option, and most other possible options over the past seven plus years he’s been looking for a new stadium deal. The former owners pretty much sold Wolff the teams majority stake, because they were tired of getting rejected on their new stadium proposals. The saddest part is, that the few fans that are showing up, are being thrown out if they have negative signs ala Washington Redskins style. I don’t buy that Lew Wolff is a Sam Presti, so we can squash that rumor that he hasn’t tried in the city of Oakland. He wants to keep the team in the area, so I think or I’m sure he would’ve tried to move them. He reportedly released a 227 page book on his efforts to stay in Oakland from 2003-2006 when the Freemont deal sort of went through. Either way, the A’s need a new stadium somewhere, and whether that’s going to be in Oakland or not remains to be seen.
Rewind to 2006, the A’s had a deal, a place, investors, a ballpark, and a blueprint to move the team to Freemont in 2011 (can’t believe that would’ve been next year already), but that deal came to a grinding halt. I wasn’t thrilled about the move to Freemont, and still find this youtube clip hilarious of two A’s fans boycotting the move to Freemont by ghost riding the whip, it was an instant classic, and I bring it back out whenever I can. I really do want them to stay in Oakland, but only if we get another stadium approved. I will welcome the move as long as it’s within Northern California. I’m not positive on what legal/city BS that happened behind the scenes to break it all up, but not approving the BART extension that would’ve gotten a lot of fans to and from the park was a major factor. I can’t say I would’ve completely liked the Freemont destination, but it would be much improved from the Coliseum. It’s been nearly four years since they reportedly had the deal for brand new Cisco Field in Freemont, and not much progress has been made in finding a new location or stadium since. In the battle of the “he said she said” between Wolff and the city of Oakland, it really a case of who do you believe? In 2004 and 2005 there were numerous drawn up plans to build a stadium in Oakland, the city seemed to reject every idea that came out, so I don’t think Wolff hasn’t really tried that hard in Oakland for awhile. Recently there’s slightly renewed optimism that the city can get some kind of deal done and build the A’s a new park. I’m VERY skeptical of that happening though. It just seems like both sides aren’t on the same page every time they sit down and try to work something out. It’s sad to say, I don’t think they will be in Oakland forever.
The biggest rumor gaining steam over the last couple years is that the A’s are trying to move to San Jose, and it sounds like Lew Wolff would welcome that move, and so would the city of San Jose. If San Jose supports their perennial playoff hockey team (Sharks), averaging more fans than the A’s at the Coliseum, then I see no reason they wouldn’t latch on and support a baseball team. The common conception is that the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to the area, and won’t relinquish them to the A’s. This is true, they do own the rights, but there is a way around it, and that would be to get a majority vote from all of the owners to approve opening up the rights for the A’s to move in, but it has to be initiated by Bud Selig. Not sure why Selig hasn’t called for a vote yet, especially since Wolff and him were “good” college buddies. The one reason we’ve heard is that the Giants may lose revenue from people not making the trip from SJ to see Giants games. Personally, I think the attendance loss would be minimal, since a lot of people in the East Bay would just go see the Giants instead of going down to SJ to see the A’s. In the eyes of other owners, I wouldn’t see why it’s THAT major of a road block, especially because the A’s wouldn’t be leaning on a revenue sharing program as much as they currently do, thus putting more money in all of the owners’ pockets. If you were an owner, wouldn’t you want to have a team at the bottom of the league (in terms of revenue) so they could make themselves more self sufficient? If I was an owner in any city besides SF, I’m sure I’d be down to clip the Giants of their territorial rights when it meant more money in my pocket.
There is no exact reason that I can pinpoint as to why Selig hasn’t called for such a vote. I can only assume that he is scared of getting rejected by the owners, even though it makes tons of sense on so many levels. They can even make the A’s pay reparations to the Giants for lost revenue to make up for taking over the territorial rights. Wolff, in the past has maintained that a move to anywhere in the Bay Area might not make them contenders in the free agent market, but would allow GM Billy Beane to sign some of their players before they jet and become superstars elsewhere.
I’m pretty sure Lew is the only owner in the league that has to carry around a photo book of all his players to remind him of who they are. It might actually come down to carrying a book with pictures of all the fans in the seats. If they got a stadium, I’m envisioning a situation reminiscent of the way the Minnesota Twins signed Joe Mauer this past year just after getting the stadium christened. We could sign guys like Kurt Suzuki and Brett Anderson, or are we already doomed to see them walk away. From what I understand the main reason he hasn’t called this to a vote is because he assigned a task force to figure out where the A’s would be best off. It’s been a solid 14 months since he asked that task force to look into the A’s issues, and nothing has been reported back to him. Selig has gone out of his way to NOT talk about the A’s situation. It’s been so long now that I’m wondering if Selig just wants to wait out yet another full year. As chances have it, the new CBA would be negotiated probably throughout the 2011 season, and that now brings me to the question/conspiracy theory, are the A’s going to be a casualty of contraction joining MCeezy’s list of defunct franchises? If that’s the case the Rays might be a casualty too, since they are the only other team in the MLB without a stadium deal in place that desperately needs one. I’m scared what the future holds for the A’s…