Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff issued a public letter to fans on the team’s website on Wednesday, saying he wanted to “offer some information that I believe may be of interest to you.” The information in question: a long defense of the team’s stated desire to move out of Oakland, preferably to a new stadium in San Jose.
Wolff’s argument, once you strip out all the bits about GM Billy Beane being a “top individual in [his] profession” and how the A’s almost made it to the World Series in 2006:
- We tried to build a new stadium in Oakland or Fremont, but that didn’t work.
- “We fully recognize that our efforts to secure a competitive venue must be privately financed.”
- In Oakland or Fremont, a privately financed stadium would have required “residential entitlements” — or as they’re better known, development rights to build condos. However, “under current economic conditions, the residential entitlement concept has been rendered unavailable due to the prolonged recession and sharp decline in demand for residential housing.” Translation: Nobody in their right mind wants to build condos in California right now.
- The San Francisco Giants‘ AT&T Park is really beautiful. And (mostly) privately financed. And “within walking distance to millions of square feet of commercial office space, extensive residential accommodations and huge amounts of hotel and convention facilities.” There’s no place to build anything like that in Oakland.
The clear implication, though Wolff doesn’t explicitly mention the city by name, is that San Jose could offer room for AT&T-style development nearby. How that’d take the place of the revenue Wolff was hoping to get from condos, though, isn’t clear, since all he’d be getting would be 14 acres of land on which to build a stadium. (Also not ever specified: Why or whether the A’s would be better off financially in a new stadium, especially if they’d have to foot the construction bill themselves.)
And, of course, there’s still the question of how much money Wolff would need to pay off the Giants for invading their MLB-sanctioned “territory.” MLB commissioner Bud Selig promised this week that his blue-ribbon commission would issue its report on the matter “soon,” but he’s been saying that for a year and a half now, only strengthening speculation that the report won’t come out until the Giants and A’s have agreed on a price.
Selig did, at least, say that the threat of folding the A’s (or the Tampa Bay Rays, if their stadium campaign falls through) is off the table, saying “we have moved past” the threat of contraction. The threat of relocation, though, is always in play.