Rumors that the Oakland A’s could be headed to Fremont are heating up, with co-owner Lew Wolff telling a local men’s club he’s “quite serious” about exploring the southern East Bay as a stadium site. (As you’ll recall, the conspiracy theory goes that the A’s would move to Fremont, just outside the San Francisco Giants‘ territorial limit, then rename themselves the “San Jose A’s” to lure well-off fans from Silicon Valley.) The 143-acre site, a plot of undeveloped land controlled by the San Jose-based Cisco Systems, would provide ample room for both a stadium and the large swath of accompanying condos Wolff wants to build alongside it.
It’s also served by only a single, overcrowded highway, and miles from the nearest BART station (thanks, Chris, for the map), meaning it’d be unlikely to draw more fans than Wolff’s other leading option, a stadium in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. It’s conceivable, though, that Wolff, a real-estate developer before he bought into the A’s, might not care: The Oakland site isn’t big enough for a housing development, and if moving to Fremont is the price he has to pay for lucrative development rights – Wolff’s stated requirement in exchange for building a stadium with private money – then he might be willing to treat the ballclub as a loss leader for his condos.
It’s the sort of thing that MLB really should step in to prevent, if not for the sake of East Bay fans – heaven forfend – then for its own interests, given that Wolff would be consigning a franchise to mediocrity, or at best cannibalizing fans from a neighboring ballclub, in order to boost his own non-baseball revenues. But then, Bud Selig hasn’t exactly distinguished himself when it comes to discouraging owners from cooking the books – how’s that YES Network audit coming, anyway, Bud?