Wolff says MLB would help pay for Oakland stadium if public unwilling, film of sky falling at 11

The San Jose Mercury News dropped a weird little bombshell into its report on the Oakland A’s trade deadline moves:

A’s owner [Lew Wolff] said Major League Baseball would likely kick in some money to help the A’s get a stadium done at the Oakland site, public money not being available.

Really? That’s not something MLB has done for any other team — aside from allowing teams to deduct stadium costs from income for purposes of revenue-sharing, which has been standard operating procedure for a while now. But if MLB actually gives in and throws additional cash the A’s way, that would be a huge departure for a league that so far has depended on the kindness of taxpayers for new construction.

Newballpark.org, meanwhile, speculates that the easiest way for MLB to funnel some money to Wolff would be to allow the A’s to keep receiving revenue sharing money once they move into a new stadium. (MLB changed its revenue sharing rules a few years back to prohibit teams in big markets from getting checks, but exempted Oakland from this prohibition until a new stadium is built.) It’s certainly something that the league could do, though you have to wonder if MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would have to twist some  arms to get other owners to agree to kick in to dispense with the Coliseum. He doesn’t seem a very arm-twisty guy, but we’ll see.

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12 comments on “Wolff says MLB would help pay for Oakland stadium if public unwilling, film of sky falling at 11

  1. I think this is MLB doing a make-good for the A’s since their own policies/rights don’t allow them to make the move to San Jose. And if the Warriors and Raiders end up moving out of the East Bay, the A’s will then have that entire area to themselves.

  2. It would be a real shame if Oakland lost all 3 of its teams, but I think there’s a chance of that.

    As for the Warriors, I read into this that the arena in SF is much closer to happening today than it was a week ago. UCSF, the Warriors and SF are working together on a traffic plan. I always thought it was ridiculous when people were saying UCSF opposed this project. They really don’t.


  3. Right, UCSF itself never opposed the project. Some (not all) of their donors did. And some of their most famous and prominent donors (Marc Benioff and Ron Conway) came out explicitly in favor of the arena project and explicitly against the Mission Bay Alliance (the anti-arena group). The available evidence also suggests that voters support the project, and it’s interesting to note that the prominent groups that usually hold up development in San Francisco (like the group led by former mayor Art Agnos) are in favor of the project as well. This opposition is really just sour grapes on the part of a subset of UCSF donors. The land the arena is to be built on was privately owned by Salesforce because they had planned to build a corporate campus there, and the land was never specifically zoned for or promised to the hospital. When Salesforce decided to sell the land, the Warriors bought it fair and square. The hospital had the opportunity to buy the land as well and actually made a bid, but didn’t win.

  4. More on topic, I really don’t see the financial incentive for MLB to help fund a new stadium, one way or another, for the A’s in Oakland. If MLB made the Bay Area a single unified and shared territory like every other 2-team market, the A’s could build a stadium in San Jose, without league funding, AND get off revenue sharing. The money MLB would potentially spend on a stadium would be much better spent paying off the Giants in a settlement to make the Bay Area a single shared territory.

  5. Isn’t that effectively the same thing? Either way, there’s the same amount of overall revenue at stake, so either you’re paying the A’s to help them build a stadium, or you’re paying the Giants to compensate them for giving revenue over to the A’s to build a stadium.

  6. Neil, the other MLB owners would probably be paying MORE to keep the A’s on revenue sharing than it would cost them to compensate the Giants for the rights to Santa Clara County. The A’s historically get more than $30 million in revenue sharing PER YEAR.

    It is quite striking, when you think about it: the expense, to date, that the other owners have gone to (revenue sharing doled out to the A’s) in order to the keep the San Francisco Bay Area an unequally divided territory in favor of the Giants.

  7. I’m sure the kind of help MLB would give the A’s wouldn’t be giving them revenue sharing checks forever. It would be time-limited or phased out at best.

    And the market-size limit on revenue sharing is relatively recent. Prior to that, any added revenue-sharing checks to the A’s would have just been balanced out by smaller revenue-sharing checks from the Giants, so it was a net zero sum game.

  8. It seems unlikely to me that MLB will do anything meaningful in the way of contributing to a new or heavily renovated stadium, but it is not impossible.

    It is important to remember that MLB’s revenue sharing plan doesn’t apply only to the A’s. That money will be directed to some team deemed to be in need regardless. It isn’t like the “have” owners get to keep the money if the A’s either no longer need or just don’t get it.

    Rather than go after the clubs who didn’t manage to finagle swanky new publicly funded facilities, I suspect MLB would much rather go after the owners who are taking the $30-40m RS checks every year and pocketing them instead of investing them in their teams… and we all know which names I’m referring to on that front…

    Nevertheless, as any commissioner will tell you, no-one is ever more agreeable and co-operative on league business issues than a revenue sharing recipient.

  9. I’m not counting on it but it would sure be nice if they stuck with the renovation idea instead of demolition.

  10. Why would MLB kick in $$ for a A’s stadium? A loan will not work because how can you expect Wolff to pay back the loan to the same people he gets revenue sharing $$ from? It defeats the purpose big time.

    A new stadium is supposed to solve the revenue sharing issue but in Oakland it may not 100%. The A’s even with a 100M-200M subsidy would need to forkover 350M-450M themselves to the tune of debt service of 40M or so a year.

    If the A’s are getting 40M-50M now for free, a new stadium in Oakland would increase revenues somewhat, but would Wolff be making anymore money than he is now w/revenue sharing?

    Or would he be able to increase payroll? That is a tough one, in fact this is a big reason why he is content chilling at the current Coliseum waiting for the day to fleece Oakland for all their misgivings towards his franchise.

    Wolff wants the development around the Coliseum so he can make $$ and put into the stadium. The Giants are still 12 miles away in a timeless ballpark in the midst of a dynasty run. Or he wants San Jose where he has a gold mine of corporations ready for him (SVLG letter says it all).

    Are there enough corporations in the SF-Oak-Fremont metro area to support both teams? Yes, but the Giants have such a huge head start.. The Giants would have to stink big time for years for it to flip.

    On the other hand if MLB tells Wolff, build the stadium on your own dime but we will give you a revenue/profit guarantee via revenue sharing…..let’s talk turkey.

    I am sure this is what is happening, otherwise why would Wolff want to engage with Oakland and MLB on this at this point?

    Not to mention SCOTUS is going to review the SJ case on September 28th, that means one judge at least thought it was worth reviewing with the panel.

    This is bad news for MLB and Manfred knows it, rather than get the other owners to vote the Giants down he is trying to subsidize an Oakland stadium thinking the Raiders are going to leave in an act of desperation.

    If SCOUTUS hears the full case or the Raiders stay it is over for Manfred, he has to let the A’s into San Jose…..That is where I hope this goes. I want to see it, cause it is the right thing to do.

  11. 19th and Telegraph was the perfect location, and would have revitalized Downtown Oakland. Jerry Brown told the A’s to XXXX Off. The A’s belong in San Jose, and I used to walk to the Coliseum in the 70’s.

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