Wolff: Still waiting on Selig, won’t threaten to move A’s from Bay Area

All week, the inestimable Newballpark.org has been featuring a five-part interview with Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff, about — well, his plans for a new ballpark, naturally, but lots of other stuff as well. The five sections, with linkage:

It’s a fascinating (if long) read, in no small part because it’s a healthy reminder that the sports stadium game isn’t just about the battles of faceless politicians and plutocrats, but rather of human beings. It’s easy to hear about a team owner who wants a new home, and think, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what they all say, it’s part of their business model”; and as true as that may be, every unhappy owner is unhappy in his own way. Yet at the same time, you can’t forget the economic forces at work even while evaluating a particular owner (or mayor, or what have you) as a person: There are reasons why so many end up playing the same roles, and it has more to do with the pressures acting upon them than whether or not they’re nice people.

And with that, some of the top takeaways from the Wolff interview by Newballpark.org honcho Marine Layer:

  • Wolff really thinks that asking for development rights, as he initially did with his Oakland and Fremont stadium plans, isn’t the same as asking for public money: “You entitle that – assuming the city wants that – those entitlements back then were worth $100k per unit just for the right to build, sort of like land value. Instead of the developer taking that money, that money would go into a small joint powers unit (authority) and be used to fund a baseball park. That’s a double win there.” Of course, the city could also have taken the money and put it into something else, but that doesn’t seem to cross Wolff’s mind.
  • He genuinely doesn’t want to be that guy who saber-rattles about moving the team out of town: “I didn’t want to be the owner who says, ‘If you don’t do what I tell you we’re moving to San Antonio.’ Also, I didn’t want to get on a plane and start schmoozing with the mayor of San Antonio or Portland or Las Vegas or Monterrey, Mexico. I don’t think that’s the way to do one of these things.” Of course, that’s easier to do when you can play local cities off against each other, as Wolff has tried to do with San Jose, Fremont, and Oakland.
  • He’s still peeved about Bud Selig’s relocation committee taking its damn sweet time about things: “You could’ve written a PhD dissertation by now. There’s other reasons that perhaps Bud Selig is contemplating this. … I think he’s got enough information to make a decision. He may be trying to figure out a good way that the Giants are happy and we’re happy. He tends to do that. And right now, what choice do I have?”
  • Wolff doesn’t think that he can do much to make the Oakland Coliseum more attractive for fans: “Everybody’s saying you have to open this or do that, make it cheaper and cheaper. We need revenue, yet nobody says, ‘Look how reasonable the A’s game is compared to the Giants.’ Which is fine, they have a better environment to go to. You should pay more there.” (Wolff also talks about the difference between official paid attendance and actual “in-the-house” attendance, noting that one recent game that officially drew 11,000 fans had a turnstile count of only half that.)
  • The A’s are doing okay financially, so long as they keep payroll around where it is currently: “The rule of thumb for running a team before you get huge revenues is that if you can keep your MLB salary at 50% of your revenues you‚Äôll probably be at the break even point or make a few dollars. … Our revenues are around $140-150 million. Our payroll is $75 million. That’s about right. I could name another team or two teams whose payroll is around $40 million. We’d make a lot of money if we did that. I will not do that.”
  • The San Jose Earthquakes stadium is in a holding pattern because the financing doesn’t work yet: “We haven’t pulled the string yet to build it because if you look at the economics of it you’re only using it for 19 games or 20 games. … So what we’ve done is that if there are 10 steps to it we’re in step 7 or 8. We’ve spent money to do that but we haven’t pulled the string yet.”

The impression one gets of Lew Wolff overall — if you can get a meaningful impression from a transcription of an interview, especially one that the subject himself requested — is of a longtime power broker who is frustrated at not having the financial resources that the other MLB teams have at their disposal, and genuinely doesn’t see why he’s the only guy who’s having such trouble getting a stadium built. It’s hard not to sympathize with that — and yet, the argument still ultimately comes down to “all the other kids on the block are getting one, so I should too.”

At one point, Wolff complains about teams overspending for free agents and how it makes it harder for the A’s to operate: “All these teams that have spent haphazardly without breaking even have gone and caused problems for themselves and baseball.” One could equally well make the same argument about stadiums: When the Yankees get a new stadium partly on the public dime, it puts even more pressure on smaller-market teams like the A’s to get taxpayer subsidies for their own stadium. What might be fairest would be for the teams that have gotten stadium subsidies to pool their boodle and chip in for the A’s to build a stadium to keep up with the Joneses (beyond the revenue-sharing deduction it gives for stadium costs) — but you probably don’t want to hold your breath on that one.

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34 comments on “Wolff: Still waiting on Selig, won’t threaten to move A’s from Bay Area

  1. The Earthquakes should just wait for the 49ers stadium to be built and share w/ them (it works out since they’ll mainly be using it during the spring and summer during MLS season).

  2. Problem with that idea is it doesn’t work. A 68,000 seat NFL stadium would swallow even a large Earthquakes crowd of 20-25,000 people. The only NFL stadium it works in is Qwest and that’s only because Qwest had some unique design features for the Northwest that lent themselves to soccer as well coupled with Seattle being the best soccer market in the US. The current Niners stadium currently designed as it is will do nothing to help the soccer experience. It’ll end up being more like the situation the New England Revolution are currently in a Gillette Stadium (and desperately trying to get out of).

  3. Is Wolff really playing San Jose, Fremont, and Oakland off against each other though? He’s not getting much in public support from any of them to begin with (definitely not the the levels most other MLB owners do), and in the case of Fremont both Wolff and the city have said they’re done. In Oakland’s case Wolff has said he’s done and not going back there (a point he reiterated in part 5 of the interview that he thinks no other city but San Jose is in a position to get it done). Sure the city of Oakland drew a line around Victory Court and claimed they could build a ballpark there (though they’ve yet to even ask the landowners), but their doing so has been a hinderance to Wolff if anything. Seems to me the only place that Wolff is focused on at this point and the only one that he sees having any shot is San Jose.

  4. I have no faith in Bud Selig to “do the right thing”.

    Problem is MLB or Selig does not view the Bay Area as a two-team market. The Giants put 40M in to rev share while the A’s suck out 40M. The market is a wash to MLB with 2 teams.

    In San Jose, the A’s would contribute to rev share but the Giants would be cut a “break”. Therefore it makes more sense to move the A’s to another market where there is a free ballpark and the Giants rev share # will double owning all 9 counties in the Bay Area.

    Selig, if it all works out, will move the A’s to San Antonio a la Washington Nationals. Get a free ballpark, and install new owners in the same fashion.

    He will then in turn sell the Dodgers (once the bankruptcy mess is done) to his old frat buddy “Lewie” Wolff for all the trouble this has cause him.

    Considering its been 873 days since the BRC was formed something must be going on in the background for this kind of delay to occur.

    There are moving pieces here and Selig hates the idea of 2 privately financed ballparks in the same market.

    This plus he does not want to revoke the Giants rights unless it is last ditch…Even though we all know the Giants are being jerks not selling back to the A’s what they got for free as a token of goodwill.

    Selig is a coward as history shows….He will do the cowardly thing if he can.

  5. MLB will not build in Oakland privately. It is too risky as the team could fall into debt and demand more from revenue sharing because of the debt service.

    MLB knows this and unless Oakland offers a free ballpark, San Jose is the only option outside of total relocation as I mentioned above.

    San Antonio has the Alamdome has a temporary facility that the team can play in….A la Washington with RFK Stadium.

    Why would Selig deny San Jose to put up a ballot initiative otherwise? Why not let SJ get that out of the way?

    Or why does Selig ignore SVLG’s letter and just recently Mayor Reed’s letter?

    It is obvious San Jose will never happen…..The Giants have won. It is only a matter of time.

  6. buddy the commish doesn’t have “to do the right thing”, he gonna do the politically/economically smart thing – he runs a business not a charity.
    the bay area isn’t strong enough for 2 mlb franchises, buddy and billy-bow-tie know this, so why should the help the a’s (as in daze)?
    san antonio isn’t a big enough market for mlb either, there are no strong mlb-sized markets left unoccupied.
    neither the gi-ants mallpark or the s.j. place are free from taxpayer subsidies – not “free”.
    the a’s (as in daze) gave the gi-ants the south bay because they thought (then) that they would have the advantage (not goodwill) if city/north bay area was theirs, but it blew (as in lew) up in their faces.
    why would the bow tie give up any of his advantage? he’s not being a jerk, just a good businessman.
    the a’s (as in daze) will always come up short with local tv/radio $$$’s because the gi-ants have the market sewn up, so lew-lew complains about “overspending” because he knows that he’ll never have access to the revenue streams available in stronger/larger markets.

  7. I think Wolff is gonna sell the A’s and buy the Dodgers if he get’s a chance, but the problem is that he might spend LESS money on the Dodgers than Mr Bankrupt and Mr Stalker did (and their infamous cheapness was one of the main reasons fans hated them), and I’m sure Selig already knows this (BTW, If Wolff did get the team that would mean the Dodgers will have been owned by 3 cheap bastards in the last 15 years, 2 of whom love breaking the law. It’s almost like Selig WANTS no one to show up to Dodgers games).

    The facts are that there is no way the A’s can stay in Calfornia without a fully private funded stadium, and it can never happen outside the East Bay. In addition it’s also apparent that only guy who we all know would be a good owner for the Dodgers is Mark Cuban, but Selig is too big a douche to ever let Cuban own a team.

  8. I don’t share your sympathy for Wolff, Neil. I can appreciate that he’s frustrated with what he perceives to be a lack of progress, but he has the ability to ‘sweeten the pot’ to get things moving (whether with the stadium or with the Giants’ ownership. Nothing would speed Selig’s decision up like both owners appearing before him and announcing they have reached an agreement).

    As for the “Poor A’s” argument, well, I’m sure he does feel like the poor sister compared to the Giants (or others). But as with Sternberg (or Charles Wang, if we can cross sport), you get what you pay for. The reason the A’s, Rays (and Islanders) were comparatively cheap to buy is that they are businesses encumbered by less attractive locations, facilities or leases.

    If he wanted a prime property, he really should have outbid McCourt for the Dodgers, or Henry for the Red Sox, etc.

    The fact that the A’s are a ‘lesser’ business should not be a surprise to him, just like my Honda Civic’s inability to hit 200mph (like a Bentley Continental GT can) isn’t a surprise to me.

  9. BTW, thanks to the Newballpark.org guys. They’ve done great work on this.

    As someone old enough to remember the great A’s teams of the 70’s (yes, and the late 80’s too), it would sadden me to see them leave Oakland. But if the only thing that will keep them is a massive public subsidy, I doubt they are staying.

    California just can’t afford it. Neither can the city.

    Agree with those who say San Antonio is a red herring. Won’t happen. Selig isn’t moving them to an even worse facility for baseball in another market that likely can’t support them.

    Could the A’s join the Rays in the race to Jersey, though (almost a homecoming, if you think about it)? NY-NJ could support them, but I don’t see (another) free ball park springing up there either.

    If a new facility would generate, say, $30m extra in annual revenue and make the club more relevant (and competitive) in either Oakland or ???, it shouldn’t be a stretch for LW to put half that amount directly into debt service for a new facility. By my calculation, that would mean about $225m in capital ready to meet the road.

  10. Final questions for tonight…

    I share the view of some that Selig doesn’t want Cuban to own a major market team (Cubs/Dodgers). But if, somehow, Bud Light did manage another Henry/Loria-like switcheroo and Wolff wound up with at least part ownership of the Dodgers, do you think AHS would entertain Mark Cuban as prospective owner of a small market team like the A’s?

    He’d be far less a threat in a market in which he desperately needs to keep Selig’s annual voluntary stipends coming…

    I’m inclined to think that Cuban would have no interest in a limited economic opportunity such as Oakland (though, to be fair, MLB’s shared revenues makes it all but impossible for anything but the insane spenders to actually lose money). However, if it was his only way into the owners club he seems to very much want to be in…


  11. This has been one of the most fascinating messes in baseball over the past several years. To me, the answer was plainly obvious, but has become a bit murkier over the recession. The answer is a relocation to Portland.

    The San Francisco market, while being within the top ten media markets in the country, is truly a one baseball team area. It is a market that is over saturated with major sports franchises and a shrinking disposable income of its customers.

    A relocation to Portland ensures geographic continuity, while penetrating a top twenty media market that consistently generates a return in media ratings. Many assume revenue is generated from gate revenue; while that helps, the true income is generated from the media contracts. In Portland, there is a loyal base, who will both populate the ballpark as well as generate ratings and advertising revenues.

    Additionally, Portland is the largest market that has only one professional sports team. A team that, by the way, still holds the record for consecutive sellouts. The Portland area is both part of the A’s and Giants television territory, as well as the Mariners, which indicates that the relocation and payout will be minimized.

    Now for the bad. While Portland continues to grow, its housing market has plummeted, which has crippled the city. The city has begun its recovery, actually posting a positive growth rate over the past two quarters. Additionally, its decline in property value can be leveraged to secure the land for a new ballpark on the cheap.

    As a non-traditional market, there is also the potential of backlash and lack of success.

    The other barrier to success is the lack of corporate presence. While the media contracts make the true money for the team, luxury suites come in a very close second. The biggest corporations in the area are Nike, Adidas, Precision CastParts, and very little else.

    I fail to see how the A’s could do any worse to be honest and should make the move up the 5.

  12. Portland? Um… No. Portland wasn’t even willing to build a new AAA park, and it’s an isolated metro area. San Antonio is rather desperate for a second sports team, and seems eager to give out the corporate welfare necessary [one could argue that, with how crazy Portland is for the Timbers, that the area has a second team already, btw].

    Moreover, San Antonio metro (2.14 million) is less than 100,000 people smaller than Portland metro (2.23 million) *and* is only an hour from Austin metro, which brings another 1.76 million people into the equation.

    Also, notably, moving the A’s to San Antonio makes Texas’s inclusion in the West a little more sensical. As is, the West is 3 Pacific teams and 1 Central team. That’s gotta suck for Rangers fans who stay up watching road games on tv.

  13. FYI… Here’s a list/chart of pro sports market information…

    :::Notes about the chart:
    -First column is population of metro area in millions of people
    -Second column is metro area anchor
    -Third column is number of ‘big 4’ sports teams / ‘big 4’ sports facilities
    -Fourth column [#/#] is number of ‘big 4’ sports teams + MLS / ‘big 4′ sports facilities + MLS

    -New York’s figure includes soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center, as well as Nets’ old arena – which is still open; facility numbers do not include things like the Pontiac Silverdome, however, which is largely out of use, or LA’s Coliseum, which hasn’t been a pro facility in a long time
    -Kansas City’s * includes the Sprint Center since it was constructed with hopes of landing a NBA/NHL team
    -Numbers aren’t perfect, as they don’t reflect fan support for major college sports (football and/or basketball), NASCAR, or entertainment (locales like Orlando, Vegas, etc.)
    -Numbers also can’t be taken purely, as they don’t reflect area wealth, corporate support, corporate welfare, etc.


    18.897 New York (9/8) [10/9]
    12.828 Los Angeles (6/4) [8/5]
    09.461 Chicago (5/4) [6/5]
    06.371 Dallas (4/3) [5/4]
    05.965 Philadelphia (4/3) [5/4]
    05.946 Houston (3/3) [4/4]
    05.582 Washington (4/3) [5/4]
    05.564 Miami (4/4)
    05.268 Atlanta (3/3)
    04.552 Boston (4/3) [5/3]
    04.335 San Francisco (5/4)
    04.296 Detroit (4/4)
    04.224 Riverside (0/0)
    04.192 Phoenix (4/4)
    03.439 Seattle (2/2) [3/2]
    03.279 Minneapolis (4/4)
    03.095 San Diego (2/2)
    02.812 St. Louis (3/3)
    02.783 Tampa (3/3)
    02.710 Baltimore (2/2)
    02.543 Denver (4/3) [5/4]
    02.356 Pittsburgh (3/3)
    02.226 Portland (1/1) [2/2]
    02.149 Sacramento (1/1)
    02.142 San Antonio (1/1)

  14. I just realized I should probably include Key Arena in Seattle’s numbers if I’m going to include the Izod Center, as Key Arena was built/renovated for ‘big 4’ sports.

    Also, notes from above…

    -New York & Los Angeles could clearly support more teams
    -Houston has no interest in hockey, and likes college sports more than most areas
    -Atlanta has no interest in hockey and soccer, and is crazy for college sports and NASCAR
    -Riverside is relatively too poor for pro sports; it also tends to be represented by LA-area teams
    -Seattle could probably support an NHL or NBA team if it had an updated arena
    -San Diego could probably support an NHL or NBA team if it had an updated arena
    -Baltimore could possibly support an NHL or NBA team if it had an updated arena; the area is relatively poor, however
    -Denver has a lot of teams due to its tv market presence for a large geographic area and Colorado’s love of sports
    -Cleveland’s metro figures don’t include several mid-sized metro areas in its immediate proximity (Akron, etc.)
    -Orlando is more entertainment-oriented, and also loves NASCAR and college sports
    -Las Vegas is more entertainment-oriented, has gambling issues, and saw a housing crash before it could land a team; its growth is also very recent
    -Austin is a major, major college sports town
    -Norfolk is relatively poor
    -Providence is largely represented by nearby Boston teams, particularly teams in Foxborough
    -Louisville is a college sports and horse-racing town, and largely represented by nearby Cincinnati (1.5 hour)
    -Buffalo’s numbers don’t reflect nearby Rochester, which has over a million people metro
    -New Orleans recently had a large population loss (Katrina), which explains its population/team ratio
    -Birmingham lacks facilities, is college sports and NASCAR crazy, and relatively poor

  15. Interesting write-up here. The thing that strikes me as far as Lew Wolff is concerned is that he is a victim when it comes down to it. For the most part, the A’s had a pretty good ballpark, but then the economics of baseball changed, and they had to figure out a solution that led to “Moneyball.” However, what is really hurting them is the fact that the Raiders returned to Oakland, and Mount Davis was born. Lew Wolff had no part in that decision, if he did, I am sure he would have said no.

  16. I love the chart, Erik – thanks for posting it.

    I don’t see either San Antonio or Portland as ready for a team, both because of population (yes, San Antonio is only an hour from Austin, but that’s not so hot for baseball, where fans have to get to games after work and then home again — it’d work better for football, where you have all Sunday to drive) and that fact that neither one has a stadium or even a hint of one. Or, more to the point: An A’s owner would be giving up a mediocre market with a not-great stadium for another mediocre market with no stadium at all — maybe it’s something they’d consider as a desperation move if they were totally locked out of the Bay Area, but so long as there’s any hope of staying put and getting a cut of that market, moving to San Antonio would make about as much sense as the Mets moving to Charlotte.

    For better or for worse, now that D.C. has a team MLB has done an excellent job of putting teams in all the best markets. With the possible exception of Montreal, but I don’t think they’re ready to unburn that bridge yet.

  17. How did the As ever last in the Bay Area with the Giants in town during the 70s and 80s? The As produced winners and people flocked to this terrible stadium to watch the As, well, win.

    In the 70s and 80s, the As were competing for sports dollars against the Golden State Warriors, the 49ers and the Raiders. It is doubtful that the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Earthquake pull that much ticket revenue from the As.

    What changed from those 20 years of the 70s and 80s to the last 20 years? The As stopped winning.

    As Bill Veeck wrote, winning trumps all marketing plans. He is correct.

    Wolff spends roughly 50% of revenue on salary. In the NFL, teams spend closer to 70% and the NBA spend about 65% of revenue on salary.

    The As are allocating their financial resources in the wrong places. How many more wins could an additional $10 to $15 million of salary expense generate?

    The Bay Area can support two MLB teams because they supported two MLB teams for 50 years. Nothing changed.

    The Giants wanted to move to San Jose and even St. Petersburg. Yet, somehow, the ownership found the necessary money in its bank account to pay for the construction of Pac Bell Park. Why can’t Wolff find a similar amount in his bank account?

    Perhaps he needs to lower his IRR for the stadium. Perhaps the stadium will not be as fancy as he would like. In the end, though, he will get a new stadium. Is that what is wants or does he really prefer for the public to pay for it? If it is the former, then breakout the check book. If is the latter, then he should keep his yap shut until someone else decides it has the money and desire to build a stadium for him.

    As to San Antonio (one poster correctly noted that Portland is a non starter), the city is poor relatively speaking. Like most of Texas, the jobs that exist there are low paying. The state is working to close a $28 billion deficit (yes, it is larger than California’s budget deficit). Texas lacks a lot of tax function like a state income tax. So, the money will have to come from other expenditures like education, roads, and prisons.

    San Antonio has made no bones about preferring an NFL team. The Alamo Dome would make for a terrible baseball stadium (worse than the LA Coliseum). I-35, which connects Austin and San Antonio remains a four lane (two lanes in each direction) pot holed mess. It would be okay for eight Sundays but not for 81 home dates.

    As to other markets, Los Angeles metro and Chicagoland could support a third franchise and New York metro should be able to support a third and fourth franchise. Unless you end up with a slew of bankrupt franchises, I doubt MLB or the owners will allow franchises to move into those metro areas.

  18. Bevo, your analysis is flawed for the simple reason that it ignores the biggest change to the baseball market in the Bay Area… Pac Bell Park. The A’s were able to compete on even footing with the Giants when the Giants played in a stadium that was dumpier than the one in Oakland. That has since been reversed and then some with the Giants having a stadium that is often cited as the best in baseball. The allure of that nice stadium overrode winning on the A’s part during the first half of the last decade. And now that the Giants have the pretty park, and the winning team there’s little the A’s could do. Even a winning A’s team wouldn’t draw well.

    As for San Antonio, why are we even talking about it. Wolff specifically stated it wasn’t an option and he’s not exploring leaving the area. He just threw out one of the names occasionally ballyhooed along with names like Portland and Monterrey that weren’t being discussed. Unless people are really that paranoid that they think just because Wolff mentioned a city he IS contemplating moving there, which frankly is straying into tinfoil hat territory.

  19. Jessy:

    I don’t consider Wolff a ‘victim’ here. The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995. The Haas family sold in 1996, as I recall. Wolff stated in the Marine Layer article that he became Managing partner in 2005.

    Yes, Mt. Davis was a bad decision. It was executed badly and no consideration was given as to how it would affect the facility’s use for baseball. And it has impacted the facility as far as baseball use in concerned, without question.

    But Wolff certainly knew what he was in for before he became managing partner. Since the Raiders deal was signed before the Haas family had even sold the club, the case can be made that the new owner(s) failed to look after their own interests.

    Wolff and his partners purchased an encumbered asset. They did so, no doubt, expecting that they would be able to remove that encumbrance and make a massive return on that investment. That hasn’t happened. This does not make him a victim in my book.

  20. sf, sj, oak bay area nine counties population is 7 million, not 4 million as the chart above shows…

  21. I have a hard time seeing Portland or San Antonio happening. MLB expanding to an entirely new market in unfavorable macroeconomic conditions (both league-wise and nationally) with an ad-hoc stadium deal would be read as a sign of desperation.

    San Jose is the most logical place for them but San Francisco isn’t going to share their territory.

    Barring SJ, I think it makes most sense for them to move to LA or NY. Both markets could support a third team. However, Mets and Yankees just got new stadiums, so I think LA is the most logical option for them.

    Have AEG build the A’s a new stadium next to the Staples Center. The A’s get placed into the 2nd biggest market in the country, in prime downtown real estate. AEG gets many more visitors to LA Live, with 81 home games instead of 8. The smaller size of the stadium should allow the building to be built without remodeling the convention center/using public funds.

    AEG can then cede the rights to an NFL stadium to Roski’s City of Industry plan.

  22. On top of that, Wolff could probably build the Quakes a new soccer-specific outdoor arena at the Hollywood Park redevelopment site in the city of Inglewood. There’s more than enough space and the redevelopment bid needs a lot more commercial investment. A 15,000 seat arena would fit perfectly.

    Yes, LA *can* support 3 MLS-franchises. The Coliseum/Rose Bowl are regularly filled to capacity for soccer matches; the region can support 3 teams in soccer-specific stadiums, together their capacity would only be ~70,000. A sports museum, and shopping village would also fit there.

  23. Dodger fan- The problem is that moving to LA has the same problem that moving to San Jose has. Territory rights. The Dodgers and Angels would object.

  24. Why would the A’s want to leave Oakland?

    This is the greatest sports city in all of sports.

    All sports teams always sell out. A’s draw over 3 million a year. The Raiders have been sold out since 1980.

    The Warriors have sold out since 1965

    The Bay Area is supreme to all. All areas outside of the Bat Area are useless.

    A’s will remain in Oakland forever.

  25. You guys missed part of my point.

    MLB is looking for a “free ballpark” and they need a place where the A’s can play in the meanwhile.

    In reality San Antonio makes the most sense, large top 10 city in the US with a ultra successful NBA team that has been supported.

    Austin nearby helps too but 2.23M people is more than enough to support an MLB team.

    It does not have to be San Antonio but some “loser city” is talking to Selig’s BRC right now but here is how it goes down.

    1. MLB buys the A’s from Wolff and Fisher
    2. MLB forces the Giants to buy the A’s old territories and gives that money (50M-100M) to Wolff/Fisher.
    3. Wolff/Fisher buy the Dodgers for a below market value rate and with the sale of the A’s (who have very little debt) it is a great deal for them.
    4. MLB owns the A’s and moves them to a city where a “free ballpark” is awaiting a la Washington.
    5. Once the ballpark is financed then MLB finds new owners…once again a la Washington.

    MLB makes $$ flipping the team, gets rid of McCourt in LA, gives Lew Wolff a nice consolation for being blocked from San Jose and a free ballpark for the A’s.

    Some city is working with Selig’s BRC because if not then if Selig had “nothing” on the table why would he deny San Jose’s request for a ballot initiative?

    Why would Selig ignore letters from SVLG and the Mayor of San Jose?

    It is because he has something in the works but the Dodgers mess threw a delay into this that Selig did not for see….Otherwise Selig would “hedge his bets”.

    Lew Wolff keeps his mouth shut…Why?

    From Lew’s point of view 1 of 2 scenarios play out:

    1. Bud Selig does the “cowardly” thing and moves the A’s out of the Bay Area, solves the Dodgers bankruptcy issues, kicks out Frank McCourt out and awards the Dodgers to Wolff/Fisher for all their troubles. As I detailed before this scenario is the most profitable for MLB and that is why it is Selig’s #1 option from a business perspective, although I think this is BS.

    2. Selig’s plan to move the A’s to another market falls through and he has no choice but to open up San Jose to the A’s and Wolff gets his privately financed ballpark…This is what I want to see happen.

    In either case Lew Wolff “wins”..With that being said why not “kick back” and let Selig do his thing?

    Selig having known Wolff far longer than the other owners I am sure has sat down with “Lewie” and told him this…off the record.

    Wolff in turn seeing he wins big either way sits around praises Selig for the “fine job” he has done with MLB and tells the other owners “not to lobby” for him and and let Selig finish his process.

    Wolff has even told San Jose to not sue because of this. What Wolff is doing is the “smart play” and it is easy to see why.

    Wolff wins big here….He is just waiting for the final word which should come once the Dodgers mess is resolved in the next 8-12 months. Perhaps a bit longer..

  26. I don’t think anyone missed anything Sid.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the matter, but unless you can “name that city” that is willing to build a free ballpark like Washington did (before sanity returned to the housing market, before the credit markets dried up, before dozens of municipalities/counties were facing layoffs, pension clawbacks, school/hospital closures and even bankruptcy), some of us can’t share that view.

    Wolff may end up owning the Dodgers, stranger things have happened. But there is, in my view, absolutely no value in moving the A’s to San Antonio (or any other interim market where a facility and MLB starved fan base does not exist) in the meantime.

    They will stay in Oakland until either a better final destination is available, a new ballpark plan is agreed (don’t hold your breath), or the franchise is contracted (ditto. It would cost far less for MLB to buy them and operate them in Oakland indefinitely).

    Wolff can casually throw out places like San Antonio, Las Vegas, Portland, Minot or Pensacola (what?, why shouldn’t Florida have a third team so that retirees can prove yet again they won’t pay MLB prices to watch baseball?) as much as he likes. Unless he finds a large municipality that doesn’t have baseball and isn’t in someone else’s territory (NJ), AND is willing to plunk down $400m or so just because they love baseball so much, he’s not moving.

  27. @John

    You missed the point again.

    Wolff himself will not sell the team or move it. MLB will like they did with the Expos to Washington.

    Wolff is merely sitting around waiting for what Selig will do.

    The A’s have to leave Oakland ASAP. Their lease is up 2013 and will not have a place to play.

    Oakland has refused to give them renewable options because they want a commitment from the team they will stay.

    Plus Oakland wants to keep the Raiders on the Coliseum site and they cannot unless the A’s leave.

    Selig and his BRC know this full well. Oakland is thinking by delaying their VC EIR Wolff will be forced to sell the team to new owners who will with their own dime pay for a new ballpark.

    Bad thought process as Wolff knows full well its San Jose or LA for him at this point.

    Selig if he did not have anything going with another city why would he ignore San Jose’s Mayor, Corporate base, and shoot down 2 different ballot initiatives?

    No one can seem to answer that question and it is obvious why….Selig has another city in the wings.

    San Antonio proposed car and hotel taxes to subsidize a Marlins stadium a few years back.

    That idea has worked so well in Arlington that they are on pace to pay off the bonds early….For once sales taxes and a public subsidy actually work…At least in recent memory.


    Washington did not have a new facility in place, they had RFK and had to take time to get the new ballpark finished.

    MLB made a ton of money moving the Expos and got a free ballpark….they are going to do the same with the A’s.

    Do not think Wolff will sell the team to anyone but MLB for something in return. Wolff is not leaving baseball anytime soon.

    Selig stated a 2015 deadline for a new stadium. He never said it was going to be in the Bay Area….

  28. “The A’s have to leave Oakland ASAP. Their lease is up 2013 and will not have a place to play.”

    Right, just like the Marlins and Twins had to move after their leases expired in 2003.

  29. I noticed that Sacramento is on that top 20 markets list that Eric G. drafted. If Wolfe is going to downgrade to a market the size of San Antonio, he should naturally move 80 miles east to Sacramento where the team already has a AAA affiliate that plays in a stadium built with the ability to expand to a MLB market size facility. The A’s already draw an enormous fan base from the central valley and wouldn’t have to spend many resources drumming up support in a new market. Sacramento is just far enough from the Bay Area to be its own market but just close enough to retain much of the same fan base.

  30. Sid:

    No, actually, I didn’t. And neither has anyone else.

    The answer to your “unanswerable” question is simple: Selig will not do anything that promotes the idea of one team moving into another’s “territory” until the matter of indemnification has been resolved.

    As for Oakland’s intentions, it’s usually a mistake to assume you know what someone else is thinking…

  31. John- Oakland wants a privately financed ballpark like what San Jose is offering.

    Problem is Oakland knows that will not happen as Wolff/Fisher refuse to pay for it themselves and with good reason….It would be a money loser MLB would have to send more $$ via revenue sharing.

    If Oakland would pay for it then everything would be golden….I wish they would.

    In the end whether its San Antonio or someone else the A’s are gone. San Jose will never happen, its sad because the Bay Area is a 2-team market.

    The Giants value in a 1-team Bay Area will be #3 in the league behind the Red Sox and Yankees….perhaps higher than the Red Sox.

    San Jose is larger than San Francisco but yet is owned by a team in SF and is the largest city in the market. How does that make sense?

    While the 3rd largest city in the market has a team? Bad placement in so many ways.

    With a team in SF and San Jose each, MLB would be in great position in terms of corporate dollars and rich fans. Even privately financed in both cities would be a money maker for MLB.

    Selig is a coward and should use his “best interests in baseball powers” to tell the Giants to take a deal.

    San Jose only happens if all else fails and that includes total relocation of the A’s.

    @Neil- Your right on the Twins and Marlins but Oakland refuses to give options or a new lease to the A’s unless they commit to stay.

    I will say if Selig does retire in 2012, the new commissioner might let the A’s into San Jose. Perhaps that is why Selig delays knowing this will fall to the next guy.

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