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March 15, 2010

Selig on A's stadium report: Still typing, be patient

In case you, like Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff, have been wondering what's up with that A's relocation commission that Bud Selig instituted last spring, Selig officially declared yesterday that they're still working on their report:

"I've talked to them a lot," Selig said of the committee members, "and they have a report that will be coming in the near future. I don't have any comment until that's done."

The task force, in case you've forgotten, isn't actually commissioned to decide the best home for the A's, but rather to discover "why a stadium deal has not been reached" and how best to proceed from here. Presumably the final report will include an analysis of proposed sites in Oakland, Fremont, and San Jose, though the big decision that everyone's waiting for is what it will say about San Jose's status as San Francisco Giants territory — and how much the A's would have to pay to get the Giants to give up those rights. Given Wolff's previously stated preference to relocate to San Jose, the price for buying off the Giants is likely what will decide whether the A's owner gets his way, or is stuck negotiating with East Bay cities.


The price for the A's to get the rights to San Jose should be exactly what the Giants paid the A's for those rights in the early 90's... $0 and a pat on the head.

Posted by Dan on March 15, 2010 08:38 PM

It's not going to be up to the Giants re: payoff for territories. It'll be up to the committee and Selig. Although I agree with Dan that the Giants shouldn't get crap for "their" territory, I'm sure MLB will gaurantee revenues through a set date and perhaps a chunk of the A's revenue sharing checks through 2017; the year they finally pay off the ballpark mortgage.

Posted by Tony D. on March 15, 2010 11:55 PM

Who pays off what ballpark mortgage in 2017?

Posted by Neil on March 16, 2010 07:26 AM

I'm just curious how Tony D. can read Lew Wolff's mind? Wolff has never let anyone know how his stadiums intend to get paid for. Anytime this is brought up he tells people to "not sweat the details" and "dont worry" huh? No stadium proposal that Wolff has advertised has ever come with a financing plan. Not Fremont, not the San Jose Baseball plan, nor the San Jose Earthquakes plan.

Speaking of the Quakes, Wolff has said that he cannot go forward with the A's stadium due to certain MLB barriers. Ok fine, however the Quakes have no such barriers, and yet there is still no stadium being built. I know you are a SJ/Wolff cheerleader Tony but I will continue to be skeptical about Lew Wolff and refuses to take his words at face value.

Posted by A's Observer on March 16, 2010 11:35 AM

I believe he's referring to the debt the Giants took on to build the privately financed Pac Bell Park. It should be paid off sometime in the next decade if I'm remembering correctly (2017 sounds about right). That should leave the Giants with just the lease payments to the city for the land it actually sits on.

Posted by Dan on March 16, 2010 01:29 PM

Oh, were the Pac Bell bonds as early as '97? I hadn't remembered that.

Setting aside A's revenue sharing checks (assuming the A's are paying revenue sharing) only until the Giants pay of their stadium debt would be pretty arbitrary - it's not like the Giants only want money in years where they have large debts to pay - but does have a kind of Seligian logic to it. If there's any precedent from the O's-Nats situation, though, it's that the number arrived at will be "whatever's large enough to keep the Giants out of court."

Posted by Neil on March 16, 2010 06:06 PM

"Whatever's large enough to keep the Giants out of court." Are you serious Neil? See MLB Constitution: teams can't sue teams or MLB! And if the Giants ever attempted something that stupid, they'd have to open up their books and reveal to everyone that 1) their Silicon Valley corporate support is overblown (see SVLG poll of 2009 Neil) and 2) their actual season-ticket base out of Santa Clara County is rather small (less than 7,000 patrons). They would also have to convince a court that all those 7K would all of a sudden become San Jose A's fans with the team in SJ (hint Neil; that's impossible!). Simply put; NO CASE!

The fact that Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T Park was privately financed is the main reason the Giants always harp about their T-Rights to SJ/Santa Clara County; "all the corporate support and sponsors coming out of Santa Clara County and our debt payments blah blah blah." Yes, the debt payments will sunset in 2017. After that, the G's get a annual "raise" of $20 million.

Posted by Tony D. on March 16, 2010 10:20 PM

A's Observer--the Earthquakes stadium EIR and proposed mitigation was just approved by the SJ council tonight so things are moving forward. They are also developing 8 soccer fields on land around the stadium to be used for youth soccer tournaments--a smaller version of what is in Dallas--so things are moving forward.

Regarding the A's---what Neil seemingly overlooks is that the A's get a welfare payment of $32M annually from MLB--with about 24 of the clubs paying into the welfare system and the remaining 6 taking from it---you can bet that those 24 clubs are tired of subsidizing the Oakland franchise--as Tony D has said--its not up to the gints----its up to 22 owners of MLB supporting the A's move to San Jose---and at what cost--logic would tell you that if they can build a ballpark in Fremont and be within their "territorial rights" than going another 4 miles from the proposed stadium site to the Santa Clara County border is really not worth all that much.

The Bay Area is the only two team market in MLB that doesn't share the territory---time for some consistency in across the board.

Posted by SanJoseA's on March 17, 2010 02:19 AM

Tony D: Yes, I'm serious, because we have precedent: Peter Angelos successfully got a cut of Nats' TV revenues by threatening an antitrust lawsuit, and the Giants could certainly do the same. Would they want to go through with it? Probably not. Would MLB still be scared pantsless of even the prospect of having to open its books? Probably, which is one reason Selig isn't going to just take the Giants' territory and hand it to the A's. (The other being that he likes to work by consensus of owners whenever possible.)

SanJoseA's: Yes, the A's get revenue sharing money, but a chunk of that would likely be redirected to the Giants if they lost the South Bay fans. And on the subject of their stadium bond payments, keep in mind that right now they're deducting those from their revenue for sharing purposes — so when those come off the books, they lose that "tax deduction," making their windfall that much smaller.

Look, I'm making absolutely no arguments about where it would make the most sense to place two teams in the Bay Area if you had a blank slate. I'm just saying that given the fact that two of the areas involved already have stadiums in place and the third would have to build one from scratch, plus the byzantine internal politics of MLB, plus the dire economic state that California is in, this is going to be a long, complex slog. And I don't think any of us can guess where it will end up until we see what territorial indemnification numbers, if any, are in that commission report.

Posted by Neil on March 17, 2010 07:21 AM

From the piece "National Pride: Baseball returns to Washington" by Sarah Kellogg: " (Peter)Angelos didn't have any legal authority to fight it (Expos move to DC)," says (Andrew) Zimbalist, "He was just huffing and puffing. Baseball didn't want a disgruntled owner, so they made a deal with him." That fact aside Neil, do you really think that the Giants would want to bring down the entire anti-trust "house" just to keep the A's out of San Jose? Become a rogue organization who's reasoning is selfish and that doesn't give a damn about the welfare of all of MLB? Dont think so. By the way, it would be the Giants who would be "scared pantsless" of having to open their books (see earlier post).

Posted by Tony D. on March 17, 2010 01:03 PM

I think when money is at stake, sports team owners will rattle whatever sabers are within reach. Especially knowing that Selig would never let it get as far as open warfare.

Posted by Neil on March 17, 2010 01:08 PM

Hey--I like the idea of the gints suing MLB and removing the anti-trust bs---they would then have zilch to say about the A's moving to San Jose--no different than the '9ers moving down to Silicon Valley on the doorstep of San Jose---I don't hear Oakland Raiders rattling any sabers that it impacts their market---

Posted by SanJoseA's on March 17, 2010 01:26 PM

You read my mind SJA's (or I read yours ;o). Go ahead G's, bring the damn house down!

Posted by Tony D. on March 17, 2010 04:31 PM

That report will see the light of day when Selig's statue gets erected.

Posted by bevo on March 18, 2010 11:42 PM

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