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March 27, 2009

A's owner: San Jose or the highway

Looks like my conspiracy theory may be right: Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff anointed San Jose as the front-runner for the team's new home yesterday, telling reporters, "We are really saying that we'd love to stay in Northern California, and go to San Jose. Wolff added: "From a preparation point of view, they are in as good a position as any city in California."

Perhaps more tellingly, Wolff said he expected a decision from the league on the San Francisco Giants' territorial rights to that city "by the end of the season, maybe sooner. I hope sooner" — the first public indication that MLB is preparing to officially reopen the question of rights to Santa Clara County, which were assigned to the Giants nearly 20 years ago when that team was mulling a move to San Jose.

Wolff also rattled the non-threat threat saber, hinting that another unnamed city outside of the Bay Area could acquire the A's if San Jose falls through: "If we want to stay in Northern California we don't want to get on a plane and go to another city... I won't name that city." Wait, wait, don't tell me!


Say hello to my lil' friend ... your San Antonio Athletics!!!

No way MLB forces a change to the Giants territorial rights to that area - also no way Lew would be able to pay off the massive sum to get rid of those rights in the first place and privately finance the stadium! And no way SJ voters would approve any sort of subsidy to ol' fat cat Lew and his schiesters!!

Lew, just sell now and rid us of all this suspense!

Posted by Jock on March 27, 2009 12:34 PM

Hopefully MLB sees the light here and opens up the 10th largest city for its own team---otherwise the A's are out of the bay area--there will be no ownership team that will want to keep them here in an outdated stadium in Oakland---and there is no way that Oakland can put anything together that would rationalize keeping them in Oakland-

True A's fans hope that it happens in SJ--because new owners are unpredicatable in what they do--look no further than what Clay Bennett did in Seattle--

Posted by SanJoseAs on March 27, 2009 12:56 PM

Looks like the future is the San Jose A's. The territorial rights issue will be resolved this year after a vote of the MLB owners at Selig's direction (Hopefully with the A's paying nothing to the Giants since they didn't pay for the privilege of the rights in the first place).

As for financing the stadium, hopefully Wolff can do it privately as any public money in San Jose would require a vote.

Posted by Dan on March 27, 2009 02:08 PM

Obviously a veiled reference to Sacramento, but between Sacramento County's $166M deficit and Mayor KJ's problems, I'm not holding my breath.

Besides, the Sacramento Rivercats play in West Sacramento, which is in Yolo County. West Sac is tiny; they can't pay for this alone.

Big Cal Expo board meeting today! Here's the agenda:

The fly in the ointment: The California Department of General Services must approve any decision for this large a deal. I figure that adds 2 years to the timeline. And the State Legislature will also be involved.

Can the Maloofs afford to wait until 2015 for a new arena? I am deeply skeptical that they can, and I think 2015 is optimistic. This is now a longer shot than even I expected it to be. Good!

Posted by MikeM on March 27, 2009 02:31 PM

Dan, I don't share your optimism. The ownership group of the Giants built their privately financed ballpark with alot of funds from South Bay fans and companies. The A's ownership group bought the team knowing that SJ was off-limits. There is no way MLB turns it's back on the Giants and lets the A's play down there without any sort of compensation. It would be a huge sum. But my feeling is that there will be no change in territorial rights. The Orioles did not own rights to DC area ... only TV deals so it's not the same deal.

Posted by SanJoseAs on March 27, 2009 02:43 PM

Well, what cities outside of the Bay Area are there?

--Las Vegas
--Salt Lake
--San Antonio

Hmmm...If the A's must leave the Bay, then any of those work for me...we'll have to see about that. Hopefully the A's stay in the Bay, but if not, then send them to one of the above cities.

Posted by TheWiz on March 27, 2009 04:07 PM

If it's not San Jose it'll be a different ownership group that moves them to any of the cities on your list. Because Wolff has stated he's got no interest in Sacramento. And he's stated just yesterday he's got no interest in sites outside NorCal. So it's basically SJ or bust now for the current ownership group.

Posted by Dan on March 27, 2009 04:33 PM

Wolff says he welcomes a vote in San Jose:

"... he'd welcome a vote on a stadium, and wouldn't run a costly campaign.

"If it's thumbs-up, fine, and if it's thumbs-down, fine," Wolff said. "We don't need to be where we're not wanted."

Posted by oly on March 27, 2009 04:58 PM

Since when is Wolff's word worth a pound of salt? He first stated that he was going to build at the coliseum lot, then he said he needed to be close to BART and he decided on a site in Fremont nowhere near BART, then he moved to Warm Springs - whoops the neighbors aren't in sync, now he says SJ and he's not interested in Sac-town, etc. Ok, you're right ... NOW he must be serious.

Posted by Horacio on March 27, 2009 05:16 PM

Neil's suggestion of Atlantis is as good as any of those cities mentioned above by TheWiz... there is no way on God's green earth that any of those cities are capable of hosting MLB right now. Even if you ignore the market size issues (which are considerable, especially in Salt Lake) there is zero political will to get a stadium built. Vegas is imploding, Sacramento can't even figure out how to save the Kings, Portland is focused on getting MLS, SA closed up shop on MLB two years ago and thinks they are getting the NFL someday, and Salt Lake just got MLS.

It's San Jose, or keep flailing away in Oakland until a relocation candidate or contraction partner can be found (neither of which will happen for at least 7-10 years).

Posted by Greg on March 27, 2009 06:06 PM

How about giving the Giants the rights to Oakland?

Posted by Carl D on March 28, 2009 10:37 AM

Carl, I'm sure that's probably on the table. God knows most of the few fans that are actually in Oakland won't exactly be happy with the A's after they leave so it's a lost area anyway.

Posted by Dan on March 28, 2009 01:29 PM

Not sure what the Giants would get with the "rights" to Oakland: They don't want to move there, and neither would anyone else with the Giants and the A's both in the region.

If you want to argue that the Giants could market themselves to the East Bay once the A's were gone, that's certainly a point. Albeit not one that I think will lead them to give up San Jose without trying to excise a large portion of Lew Wolff's wallet.

Posted by Neil on March 28, 2009 11:37 PM

San Antonio A's... Hmmmmmmm>??? sounds perfect! We are the 7th lagrest city in the US and growing, Sports in San Antonio is very well supported! Bring em! but keep the green and gold, tradition, tradition, tradition.

Posted by Chris on March 30, 2009 10:01 PM

SA is only the 7th largest city in the U.S. by virtue of having incorporated virtually its entire metro area into the city — if New York City counted that way, it'd have 25 million people. Most TV market lists have it at around 37th, which is a more accurate barometer of its drawing power.

Give it 5-10 years and that could change, but right now San Antonio is a hot Milwaukee.

Posted by Neil on March 30, 2009 10:17 PM

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