Oakland council mulls ways to change A’s lease deal without actually changing it

The Oakland city council, fresh off its decision to cave completely to A’s owner Lew Wolff’s threat to move the team out of town, somewhere, and approve the stadium lease extension exactly as he proposed it, met in closed session yesterday to discuss making some “tweaks” to the lease. Or perhaps doing some “tinkering,” depending on which part of KCBS’s report you choose to go by. Either way, it would likely run afoul of Wolff’s “enough talk, just vote for my plan” edict of last week, but it’s nice to see the Oakland council trying to figure out how to flex its muscles after agreeing not to do so, maybe? (Two pro-lease councilmembers got fed up and walked out of the meeting, for whatever that’s worth.)

For his part, Oakland councilmember Larry Reid (one of those two meeting walkouts) says he doesn’t think Wolff’s move threat was a bluff, insisting “they have options” and citing San Antonio and Montreal as two possibilities. Which I guess means he didn’t read my article for Sports on Earth this morning on where the A’s could possibly move to, because no, those are not good options at all. (And I didn’t even get into the problem that San Antonio’s only existing stadium, the Alamodome, would feature a 280-foot distance to the right field wall.) One hopes, though, that he at least read the SF Weekly’s take on the A’s lease mess, which sums it all up pretty nicely:

“I looked at the numbers, thought, ‘this isn’t so good for the city,’ and then mentioned that in public,” Quan said. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I’d like to apologize to the A’s, and to all of professional baseball. Of course you can stay, and take whatever you want from the taxpayers. In fact, I would like to offer Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig one of my kidneys. Even if he doesn’t need it. Please: it’s the least I can do.”

A spokesman for Selig responded that he would like both of Quan’s kidneys.

(The photo caption is pretty excellent, too.)

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17 comments on “Oakland council mulls ways to change A’s lease deal without actually changing it

  1. SFWeekly really hit a home run with that satire piece. As for Lew’s “options”, if I were on the Oakland City Council, I would tell him to go ahead and fully explore them. But that’s not what City Councils do. The Green and Gold people will probably freak out for a bit but I’m sure in the end Quan and the CC will acquiesce. Because that is what City Councils do

  2. Frankly, if it was Canada, I’d think Vancouver would make far more sense (and in the AL, because Seattle-Vancouver).

  3. Vancouver is way smaller than Montreal, plus has far less of a history of successful minor-league teams:


  4. This article is complete b.s. The lease lew is giving oakland is more than fair, and jean quan is a brain dead idiot if she tries to change it. The alamodome is more than sufficient for the A’s. Educate yourself on the subject before writing an uninformed piece of dribble you call an article

  5. I almost thought the linked article at SF Weekly was satire. But nope, as commenters like Mark are quick to prove, it’s reality.

  6. Agree on Montreal being the most realistic choice in Canada. It’s always been a big market, and there is the local group trying to bring the team there that could potentially be of use in getting something done. That said, I’m not sure how appealing it would be to a guy like Wolff who has most of his holdings in California (that is unless he sold the team to Montreal interests). Seems far more likely Wolff would hang around California trying out Sac or a temporary venue elsewhere in his existing territory than it would be that he’d move to any of the potential markets.

  7. So if Oak City Council can “tweak’ the lease, can the alameda county board “tweak’ the lease?

    What does this do to the JPA? Who is made up of oak city council and alameda county board members…

    Should the A’s not of negotiated the lease with the JPA but instead with the Oak City Council? or the alameda county board?

    Who is the landlord/boss? The JPA, Oak CC, Alameda county board?

    So many questions no answers because its oakland, they should of waited to “agree’ until after the elections.

  8. I know that Metro Montreal is a lot bigger than Metro Vancouver, but let’s face it, with 2.5M in Metro Vancouver, it’s big enough. Plus, Montreal likes to think of itself as more in alignment with Paris than San Francisco.

    Strictly an aside: I don’t know why the NFL isn’t somewhere in Canada already. When I was in Vancouver over New Years, I noticed way more Seahawks shirts than Canucks shirts. It really wasn’t close. Even my cousins got into “Beast Mode.”

  9. ” The alamodome is more than sufficient for the A’s.”
    Nuh uh! What part of “280-foot distance to the right field wall.” don’t you understand?

  10. Mark:

    “Lew” isn’t giving the city a lease. “Lew” is a tenant. The owner/manager of the building offers the lease, the tenant accepts, refuses or as in this case, negotiates it.

    Lew doesn’t own the stadium any more than he owns the San Jose market.

    It’s a pity he doesn’t own the OAC, though. You wouldn’t hear a peep out of him regarding it’s condition if he did.

  11. MikeM:

    There are a few reasons why the NFL isn’t already in Canada. First and foremost, Canada doesn’t hand over stadium cash the way US cities do (*except in Edmonton, where they are making Glendale look like shrewd bankers, frankly). An NFL team owner in Canada would have to pay for the majority of his stadium himself.

    Second, the domestic league (the CFL) actually presents some issues for the NFL. Not in terms of competition for corporate dollars or TV time, obviously (though the Bills in Toronto series has been a dismal failure, costing it’s hosts tens of millions of dollars). The CFL provides for the NFL a second professional league in North America at no net cost (as the USFL, WFL, WLAF, XFL and UFL have done). This makes them virtually exempt from any sort of monopoly challenge vis labour or business issues. Unlike MLB, players do have another professional option (albeit not one they would willingly explore).

    There has always been concern within the NFL that they do not want to set up shop in Toronto and, in doing so, kill the CFL. I don’t know if any of them actually care (though they would lose a free player development league if they did off the CFL), but there are other legitimate business risks… and all the soft stuff like “we promote football everywhere” (*except where we’ve extirpated it).

    Now, CFL and NFL fans are a very different breed and, while there is some crossover, it is smaller than you would think. We could spend a great deal of time discussing whether the NFL’s arrival in Toronto, let’s say, would actually kill the CFL. At minimum though, it would vacuum up considerable corporate sponsorship that might otherwise flow to the smaller league.

    As with MLS and MLB/NBA, there are really only three markets in Canada that the NFL might ever be interested in. While those markets may or may not be successful on and off the field (and the tax rules in Canada make the latter considerably harder to achieve), they would add nothing to the marketability of the NFL in the US, and thus would add little in the way of tv or marketing dollars.

    Given that, would the existing 32 owners be willing to cut in their non-US partners on a full share of the (mainly) US tv revenue?

  12. ” The alamodome is more than sufficient for the A’s.”

    The Alamodome was built for basketball and football. It was never intended for baseball.

    Here’s my short list of reasons the Oakland Coliseum is better than the Alamodome for baseball…

    1) The seats don’t actually face the infield – they face the 50 yard line in the middle of centerfield
    2) The press box is beyond third base in the back of the upper deck
    3) Fieldturf / Astroturf
    4) Translucent roof
    5) Not a lot of square footage behind the stands – no room for team stores and other revenue generating activity
    6) No dugouts
    7) Front row seats are about 20 feet above the playing surface for baseball
    8) 280 foot foul lines *plus* 320 foot power alley in right field
    9) Small amount of luxury seats
    10) Majority of seats are not behind home plate but behind the 50 yard line.

    There’s more, but the A’s are so much better off in the Oakland Coliseum than in the Alamodome.

    I find it funny that the only people who seem to put the Alamodome at the top of the list are outside of San Antonio. I’ve yet to hear or read that a San Antonio official claimed some interest in the A’s. Same is true with Montreal. The only places I know that have expressed interest in the A’s are Oakland and San Jose.

    BTW, I believe Vancouver is considered part of the Mariner’s franchise territory.

  13. I’m fairly certain Vancouver is *not* in the Mariners’ designated territory, though it may well be in its TV territory. (The maps I have only show the U.S.)

  14. Speaking of TV, does the “regional sports network” concept exist in Canada as it does in the US? If so, Vancouver would seem to be significantly more attractive if their RSN range covered the western half of the country.

  15. Keith:
    I’m pretty sure all of Canada is considered the Blue Jays TV territory and I think the Rodgers sports network channel broadcasts them nationwide. They probably wouldn’t be happy about giving away half of the country to another team, but who knows.

  16. Keith, the RSN concept does exist in Canada… however it is far less lucrative for sports teams than the US ones are (population, again. And lack of competition for viewers, given that four major communications companies essentially have full control of the domestic market). The media company that owns the Jays doesn’t release what it pays (internally) for the rights… but most credible pundits put that number at somewhere around $300k/gm – or $45-50mm per year, give or take.

    I’ve also heard the same story Persi mentioned above: that when the Expos were moved the Jays ‘inherited’ the rest of Canada as it’s territory. I have not heard that from anyone associated with MLB, but then, it’s not the kind of thing they’d go around chatting about recklessly.

  17. ALK: “yeah, but, other than them ten things, it’d be totally perfect an’ everything…”

    MLB would threaten to move a team to Minot, ND if they thought such a declaration could make them money. Hence my bet that someone will threaten to move there at some point in the next 40 yrs….

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