The A’s can’t move, so they better get a new stadium or else they’ll, um

If you’ve ever wanted the nonsensical way news outlets cover teams’ “need” for new stadiums displayed in the course of a few short sentences, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler has you covered:

The A’s options for moving to other cities are limited or nonexistent. Rooted in Oakland? More like stuck in Oakland. If they don’t strike a ballpark deal soon, it will be panic time for everyone.

Schaaf, recently re-elected, really would like to avoid going down in history as the mayor who waved goodbye to three pro sports teams.

I’ve read it three times now, and I don’t know how a human being with a fully functioning brain typed those first four sentences, and then that fifth one right after it. The rest of the column makes enough sense, but guys, I’m worried about Scott Ostler. Can someone check on him?

Everyone else, meanwhile, sit back and enjoy this rendering of A’s fans waving to the giant floating eyeballs beyond the team’s new right-field fence:

22 comments on “The A’s can’t move, so they better get a new stadium or else they’ll, um

  1. They could always temporarily move to Montreal and rename themselves the Montreal Eh s……happy Thursday. : )

  2. Ostler has spent the last 10 years being ‘Professionally Skeptical’ on the A’s chances to get a new ballpark. Or make money. Or have success on field. Or …

    As I’ve said before, the summary of any Ostler article (or most baseball articles on SFGate/SFChronicle) on the A’s is “They should probably move. Where? Pff, somewhere, I dunno, but they should leave the Bay. So, how ’bout our Giants?”

    • “Ostler has spent the last 10 years being ‘Professionally Skeptical’ on the A’s chances to get a new ballpark.”

      And he’s been totally right on that front. As have many others.

  3. “Stuck in Oakland”?

    An interesting choice of words. When ownership bought the Oakland A’s, what exactly did it think it was getting?

    Even (expensive) expansion franchises aren’t portable… you have to have an anchor/host/bloodmeal city to feed off, or sports leagues won’t even take a meeting with you.

    When you buy the Oakland A’s, you get the Oakland A’s. For all of Wolff/Fisher’s platitudes over the past decade or so about “getting to San Jose” or there “Being no Oakland option”, MLB made it clear that it would be up to the A’s and not the league to satisfy the Giants.

    I personally think that is wrong and that the A’s have a better and more viable claim to SJ than the Giants do given the history of that territory, but it doesn’t matter what I think… MLB is the arbiter.

    So, their territory is Oakland. And they’d better make the best deal they can to stay there, whether that is in a renovated coliseum or a purpose built new stadium. It’s no-one else’s fault that the A’s can’t make a deal with Oakland. They might not get the deal they want, but then, neither will the city.

    • The A’s don’t have a better claim to territorial rights to San Jose than the Giants. I mean they actually held the rights at one time, but then decided to sell them to the Giants for nothing in 1990 when the Giants were trying to con San Jose or Santa Clara into building them a new stadium. For some reason they didn’t ask for the right back after that fell through. And now the new owners of the Giants are unwilling to part with them without appropriate compensation.

      Sucks to be the A’s but that’s how things work.

      • Here we go again.

        The A’s did not “sell” the rights to SJ. The Haas family agreed to surrender their rights to the San Jose region if the Giants were able to get a stadium built and moved there. This would have left SF to the A’s in return.

        The Haas family did not believe that the A’s would necessarily be successful in moving to SJ (which is what happened, just like they weren’t successful in moving to Toronto, or Tampa or anyplace else), so they reasonably felt that agreeing to ‘swap’ the territory of SJ for the territory of SF would not be a bad thing… if it happened.

        So, the Haas family sent a letter to MLB (a copy of which is floating around on the internet somewhere) indicating it had no objection to the Giants relocating to San Jose if they were successful in funding and building a stadium – which they were not. It was in every way a conditional transfer, only MLB does not remember it that way.

        If you have evidence of there being a sale of the territory, please provide same. I have never found any evidence of a cash (or other) transaction covering the transfer of territory. It was a trade that was never consummated… the equivalent of Charlie Finlay trading 3 players for $3.5m in 1974… except in this case the outgoing assets went but the incoming one did not.

      • PS: The A’s (in the person of Wolff) did send a letter to MLB indicating that they believed that, as a result of the Giants failure to move to SJ, the rights should reasonably have reverted to the Athletics as was indicated in the original letter.

        I suppose we can say that that isn’t the same as ‘demanding’ the rights back, but Wolff did make it clear that it was the A’s position that the territory remained theirs because the Giants had not exercised the option the Haas family granted them.

        Honest Bud the used car dealer did not see it that way, which I found odd given that Selig and Wolff apparently new each other quite well (college pals! small world!)

        As I say, I think the A’s do have a legitimate claim to the territory, but it’s the MLB owners’ views that matter in this, not mine. And it’s not like this is the first instance of the MLB owners acting in collusion against the reasonable and fair interests of another…

  4. Scott is quite possibly the worst professional journalist in the Bay Area. He writes contradictions like that on the daily.

    • Opinions I don’t like = bad journalism

      Yep, we’re definitely living in the bad timeline.

  5. Does anyone really believe that the Oakland mayor will face backlash to the Warriors moving to San Francisco? People who go to the games will still be able to go.

    • Considering she just won re-election on the first choice (ranked choice voting) with more than twice the vote of her nearest challenger, her last two predecessors lost badly after 1 term each and the last person to actually be re-elected as Mayor Oakland is now Governor of California, signs point to no.

      Further, as Oakland mayors are limited to two terms her next step if she wanted to remain in government would probably be Congress or statewide office, in both cases meaning she’d be representing voters for whom the distinction between a team in Oakland or SF would be fairly small or non-existent.

  6. With the Raiders moving out, the A’s could do a perfectly acceptable renovation of the coliseum, start with removing Mt. Davis, then reshaping the lower bowl into a baseball only configuration. (eliminating 20 acres of foul territory). Like Busch Stadium II. Then expand concourses, and reduce the size of the upper deck, and now you’ve added 10 to 15 years of stadium life.

    • Not a bad idea, but where will they play in the meantime? Or is this like when Mt Davis was built, “just ignore the workmen and enjoy the game”?

      • They could do it pretty easily as phased construction in the offseason, I bet. The Red Sox did it with Fenway and the Cubs with Wrigley, and Oakland wouldn’t have to deal with snow.

    • The A’s might be better off just paying at AT&T for a couple of years to do a tear down and rebuild on the same site. There would need to be a lot of structural changes to make the stadium into a modernist ballpark and spending that money again in 10-15 might not be the best idea.

      • If they were so inclined there is plenty of land on the Coliseum site to build another ballpark while still playing in the current one. You’d lose some parking, sure, but the impact would be minor.

        However, it is clear they are not so inclined. They clearly want a site closer to Downtown Oakland. I can speculate why but it doesn’t particularly matter why.

    • They’ve looked at what would be required to expand the concourses, and it seems it would require cutting away enough support structure that *entire* third deck would need to be removed.

      Removing Mount Davis and the third deck would drop seating to under 30K, require a LOT of demolition/construction during which they’d have to play elsewhere for at least a year, probably more (No, there is no interest in playing at AT&T and handing the giants a big slice of the gate receipts at a time when the A’s need more revenue), and they’d still be putting lipstick on a pig in a bad area of town.

      To summarize that plan in the view of a team that really needs to increase the revenue, given that they have already spent money considering it among many other options:

      This will cost more and gain less than a new ballpark, so I strongly doubt they’re interested in kicking the can down the road ANOTHER 15 years before they can have something that isn’t ancient and undesirable.

      • Fair comments. If they did “redo” the coliseum it could not be a major renovation that would make it a “like new” venue. It would be a $75-100m spruce up, along with whatever it costs to demolish Mt. Davis.

        Agreed on ground sharing with the Giants… the A’s are not going to pay rent to the team that obviously blocked their attempt to get to San Jose/Fremont.

  7. On a related but non-relocation point….

    Temporary stadia have come a long way since the kind of ‘bolted together grandstands with portapotties’ that were used a half century ago.

    Let’s say the A’s do want to do a complete demolition and rebuild on the existing site (as opposed to building in the parking lot, which is what most teams have done in recent years… and the A’s certainly have room to do).

    For less than $30m, you can build temporary administration and services structure(s) along with temporary seating areas large enough to hold 28-30k fans. It’s not a tremendous fan experience (all ‘lower deck’ seating), but it can be done. And in an era where owners are farming the MLB subsidy anyway, maybe you only build a 20k seat temp stadium to play in for 2 years while the real one is built.

    I’ve been in a couple of these builds (for soccer and football) and, as a temporary measure they are fine. You even have real concourses and bathrooms.

    Compare this with the cost of moving away from your existing fan base and paying rent to someone else for seating areas that mostly won’t be used because your fans are unlikely to travel… it’s not that bad an option.