Depending on which Oakland A’s official you believe, the team’s plans for a baseball stadium in Fremont are either dead, not dead, or somewhere in between. On Friday, team spokesman Bob Rose announced: “At this time we have decided to no longer pursue the Fremont project. We are regrouping and will have discussions internally about our future options.” On Saturday, A’s owner Lew Wolff contradicted that statement: “Unless you hear it from me, it’s not necessarily true. I have not personally made an announcement yet” – though he added, “Things look gloomy there. I’m concerned about moving forward.”
Further confusing matters is that there are two sites under consideration in Fremont. An initial report in the San Francisco Chronicle implied that it was only the original site near I-880 that was being ditched – but also cited as one reason opposition from the NUMMI auto plant, which was actually complaining about the Warm Springs site near its facility.
San Jose councilmember Sam Liccardo responded to the news by saying he hoped this would open the door for the A’s to instead move to his city, but it didn’t sound like he was holding his breath: “For people like me who would love to see the A’s play baseball in San Jose, the fact that the deal is falling through in Fremont doesn’t hurt. … Until we hear from the Oakland A’s that they’d like to move to San Jose, there’s not a lot of reason to start banging the drums down here. There are still issues that need to be resolved before the A’s could come to Santa Clara County, and we’re hopeful that Lew Wolff and his team will find a resolution.” (Yeah, no kidding about those “issues.”) Chron columnist Ray Ratto, meanwhile, is ready to file a death certificate on the whole A’s-moving thing:
Oh sure there’s San Jose, and that is only a few hundred million dollars, some currently absent political will, thousands of angry taxpayers and a few environmental impact reports away from becoming reality. You’ll notice we didn’t include the Giants’ territorial rights claims. Because those are about as enforceable as Germany’s claims on Tanzania, we decided to ignore them as baseball will if and when the time comes.
More realistically, though, the A’s are back in Oakland and for many years to come, as predicted by smart people everywhere.
(Note: I don’t share Ratto’s dismissal of the territorial rights issue, if only because Germany never had Bud Selig on its side.)
Ratto also notes that if the A’s stay put, it throws a major wrench into the Raiders‘ recently floated plans to redo the Oakland Coliseum: “It is, after all, hard to get permits to build on a site that is still in daily use by a baseball team, and while Al would not necessarily find that a stumbling block, the A’s would probably object to having their employees duck wrecking balls while trying to chase down a double in the left-center field gap.” Though, of course, Jack Cust already fields that way.