This is an archived version of a Field of Schemes article. Comments on this page are closed. To find the current version of the article with updated comments, click here.
July 21, 2010
Wolff to Selig: How long, o lord?
That Lew Wolff letter making eyes at San Jose may be of unknown provenance (see comments), but the Oakland A's owner has emerged with some fresh quotes making clear his feelings about his team's future home. From today's San Jose Mercury News:
"Baseball appointed a committee 16 months ago to check out if there are opportunities we missed in Oakland or Fremont," he said. "I'm still waiting for the results."
The committee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig will recommend whether the A's should move to San Jose or stay in Oakland.
As for specific proposals from the city of Oakland, Wolff added, "I have not heard word one of any detailed plan. I was asked to sit back and let them do their work. Well, 16 months later I haven't seen any results. Maybe Oakland has and they're not telling me. I don't know why they're hiding it."
The Merc News somehow interprets this as re-opening the door a crack for an Oakland stadium bid, but my tea-leaf reader says it's just Wolff trying yet again to put some pressure on Selig's committee to release its report already so everybody can get on with their lives. Which, Wolff no doubt knows, isn't going to happen until he's cut a deal with San Francisco Giants owner Bill Neukom on the cost of territorial rights to San Jose — which is no doubt why Wolff's allies have been publicly bashing Neukom in an attempt to get him to come down in price.
Meanwhile, the A's relocation battle has taken to the Oakland Coliseum bleachers, as a fan there tells the Merc News he was kicked out of a game earlier this year for holding a sign that read "Wolff lied. He never tried." City attorney John Russo responded by ordering the Oakland police not to assist in ejecting any A's fans for displaying anti-ownership signs. On second thought, maybe it's best if Selig's committee takes its time — this whole mess is getting too much fun to watch.
Won't have to worry about the Oakland PD kicking people out of the stands at all before too long. Oakland is so broke they've already laid off 80 police officers with another 200 to follow and ordered OPD to stop responding to "non-serious" calls like car break ins, etc... I doubt very much unruly fans at the Coliseum are considered "serious" anymore, not when they've got riots in streets and 3 shootings in less than a 24 hour period. And people wonder why Wolff wants out...
As for Neukom, rumor is that the two teams are far apart on what would be appropriate arrangement. Wolff wants either the Bay Area to be a shared market like the other 2 team markets, or make SC County a shared territory. Neukom on the other hand wants the A's to either move out of the Bay Area or to maintain the status quo.
"As for Neukom, rumor is that the two teams are far apart on what would be appropriate arrangement."
Well, duh. From each owner's perspective, that's what makes the most sense in terms of maximizing revenue, right?
To be honest, Neukom holds most of the cards here, since the only upside of giving up rights to San Jose would be gaining a few more East Bay fans, which is a pittance compared to what it means to the A's. The only way he'd budge would be if Selig threatened to unilaterally impose a price tag on him, and that's just not Selig's way.
I don't see MLB paying off Neukom directly to let the A's move, either (can you imagine Steinbrenners of any vintage agreeing to give up their money to help the A's?), so this deadlock is likely to continue for a long time. No matter how much Wolff gripes about it.
Neil--MLB owners are already paying the A's to stay in Oakland...to the tune of $30M a year in revenue sharing--at some point they gotta question why they are doing this with no end in sight to change this game--
Once again: Unless there's a net increase in revenue from both Bay Area teams as a result of a move from Oakland to San Jose, one that's larger than any league bailout of the Giants, there's no benefit to the other 28 teams in doing this.
Tell me something; how did the league as a whole benefit when the Expos moved to DC? Can't wait to hear your answer to that one! Better yet, when the Giants/Dodgers moved out west? Or when the Rockies, DBacks, Rays and Marlins were added to the league (thus invading someone's "territory")? Look, for the last time, the A's will simply be relocating in an existing market of 8 million people! They have corporate/political support in SJ in the form of a naming rights deal (Cisco Systems), backing by the powerful Silicon Valley Leadership Group and a city bending over backwards to get them (with no public funds!). Why you keep insisting that this must benefit the other owners or that Neukom holds most of the cards here (he doesn't!) is beyond me! Again, you tout your site as being against greedy owners and public funds for stadiums yet you constantly come to the defense of the Giants/Neukom and their stupid T-rights to the nations 10th largest city. You're loosing all credibility my friend!
This is really quite simple: like other MLB teams the A's are trying to get a new ballpark, albeit 35 miles south of where they currently play. New venues have helped the revenues of the other teams and Cisco Field in SJ will help the A's get off of MLB welfare...end of discussion!
Let's try these one at a time:
1) Moving the Expos to D.C. helped MLB's finances because D.C. threw money at a new stadium like it was going out of style, which enabled MLB to sell the franchise for a premium price. No parallel with SJ there.
2) If the A's would "simply be relocating in an existing market of 8 million people," then there's nothing to be gained for MLB as a whole by reshuffling the same fan bases. The only benefit for MLB is if it increases the size of the market. Which it might, but enough to make it worth MLB's while to pay off Neukom for Wolff? Doubt it.
3) I'm not defending Neukom, just pointing out that if you're waiting for a commissioner to tell him to lead, follow, or get out of the way, that commissioner is not going to be Bud Selig.
4) Still waiting to hear how a new ballpark, in itself, without subsidies, would help the A's revenues any more than PNC Park has helped the Pirates or GAB has helped the Reds. And if it's San Jose that would make the A's wealthy, still waiting to hear where that money would come from, if not from the pocket of the Giants.
Repeat after me: 75% of Silicon Valley corporations don't do any business with the Giants! And the 15% who claimed they did (10% of company's did not respond to SVLG poll), they stated they would still do business with the Giants EVEN WITH the A's in San Jose. Where would the money come from for the A's? Uhh, maybe the 75%, yuh think?! Again, Cisco Systems naming rights! Giants fans in South Bay/San Jose aren't going to defect to the A's, and A's fans like myself will definetely buy season tickets; couple that with the existing fanbase and the A's are set. Giants won't be hurt one bit by the A's in SJ (unless of course Neukom decides to field a piss poor team/product, which is the case in Pittsburgh). A's off of revenue sharing, which all owners will appreciate. You know Neil, I'll end this post with this final thought: I don't think you like being on the wrong end of an argument. I know you're an author and all, but come on man! It's OK!
lew-lew wolff-ie is the odd man out in what is essentially a one team market, this market is not big enough to support 2 mlb franchises.
the gi-ants have a stranglehold on the local media and sponsors/advertiser $$$'s with the a's (as in daze) getting the scraps.
this won't change in s.j., they will always come up 2nd here and lew-lew doesn't even have another city to use as leverage to get what he wants.
don't hold your breath waiting for bud-dy boy to cross bow-tie neukom, it ain't gonna happen, bud won't cross his "inside" buddies - just look at the mess in texas.
maybe lew can get a nice fat contraction check for the "investor group" and this will be settled...
Tony, let me see if I can parse your argument: Tha Giants wouldn't lose any fans to the A's. But there are A's fans in San Jose right now. And there are lots of companies in San Jose that currently don't spend any money on baseball at all.
What you seem to be saying is that on their own, these people and companies in the South Bay are going to increase their baseball spending so much that, even after deducting any lost revenue from East Bay fans who decrease their baseball spending, it will pay for the costs of a stadium and increase the A's revenues so much that they'll no longer be eligible for revenue sharing money.
To get the A's off the dole would take at least $40 million a year in new revenues. To pay for a new stadium, maybe $30 million. If you think that non-Giants fans and companies in San Jose are about to drop an extra $70 million a year on the A's ... well, I guess you can make that argument, but let's just say it would be unprecedented in sports history.
Neil, you're assuming there is anyone in the East Bay spending money on the A's right now. From a sponsorship POV there really isn't. You're also assuming what little money from the East Bay is currently being spent on them wouldn't continue to be spent on them after they move to San Jose.
Not one A's fan that I know of, (well, I can think of one who lives in Palo Alto) is willing to hassle the drive to downtown SJ to see the A's in a new ballpark. Fans who live from Hayward north, and in the mid to upper Contra Costa area who go to the A's games now, I just don't see them going to SJ.
I've worked for a large SJ employer for 23 years and the only A's fans I've worked with grew up in the East Bay. Everyone else roots for the Giants. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see flocks of fans turning from the Giants to the A's with a move.
That's true you probably won't see flocks of Giants fans changing allegiance. What you will see I suspect, is Giants fans who've been unwilling to trek the 100+ miles round trip up to Pac Bell Park going to games in San Jose out of convenience. An opposing fan or casual's money is just as good as an A's fan's money. As for current A's fans who won't make the trek, to that I'd just say then they're not really fans to begin with. I have an admittedly skewed view since I've been making the trek from the South Bay to the Coliseum for 22 years. But the idea that you wouldn't drive a little farther to see your team if you're a real fan is just laughable to me.
I know of lot's of A's fans in the South Bay (I'm one of them) that will go to downtown San Jose to watch a game...NOW YAH KNOW! I'm pretty sure hard-core A's fans from the East Bay, particularly from Tri-City/Tri-Valley southward, will go downtown to see their team (880, 680, Capitol Corridor Amtrak, BART by 2020). I also know some Dodgers, Orioles and Yankees fans who will get season tix because they love the game but hate the distance to SF/OAK. NOW YAH KNOW JOE!
Its nice to know that I'm not the only A's fan in the South Bay.
Dan, I don't drive to the games when I go, but I take BART. There is no BART to downtown SJ and I've gone to stadiums with downtown parking in garages and such and its such a PITA when 30 or 40 thousand people try to vacate at the same time. I admire you as a fan for making the trek from the SB to see our beloved A's. But its not just a "little" farther for me. Its 115 miles round trip to downtown from where I live in Contra Costa County. And driving is the only way to get downtown. BART is a 15 minute drive then I'm on the train and not paying the $17 parking charge at the Coliseum. For me there's a hassle factor involved. Stockton and Sacramento are an hour away, parking is free or half what the A's charge and I can sit a lot closer for my money. Granted you're not seeing "major" talent, but for a pleasant evening out watching a ball game its worth it to me.
And Tony D, I'm glad you know other A's fans. They all seem to be hiding from me.
@Neil- If it doesn't make sense for the A's to move to San Jose then why do the Giants hold onto San Jose with their lives?
The Giants know if the A's move to San Jose the A's payroll would be more than theirs. The recent SVLG letter with 75 companies signing it tells you this right of the bat.
In reality it is against anti-trust law to even stop the A's from moving to San Jose but MLB is the only sport that has an exemption.
The A's will move to San Jose and since Neukom is being a stubborn idiot MLB will force upon him a settlement and allow for Spring election in San Jose. Not by Selig but by the other owners.
I am surprised you think the way you do and do not see the long term benefit for the league. The A's suck MLB 30-40 million in revenue sharing a year. Over time with them putting in 30 million in San Jose they will not only pay off the Giants but bring MLB long term profitability.
That is of course if you think "long term".
"If it doesn't make sense for the A's to move to San Jose then why do the Giants hold onto San Jose with their lives?"
1) It might well make sense for the A's to move to San Jose if they didn't have to pay the Giants anything for the privilege. I suspect that's not the world we live in, though.
2) Even then, there's a difference: The A's would have to build a stadium to capture the San Jose market. For the Giants, it doesn't cost them anything to hold onto those rights.
"The A's suck MLB 30-40 million in revenue sharing a year. Over time with them putting in 30 million in San Jose they will not only pay off the Giants but bring MLB long term profitability."
Since money doesn't spontaneously generate from thin air, you're telling me that the A's would bring in enough new money to 1) pay off the Giants, 2) erase the $30-40m a year they're currently getting in revenue sharing, and 3) generate $30m a year in excess revenue in San Jose. Oh, and 4) presumably turn a profit. Tickets in San Jose would need to be $500 a pop to manage that - I know Mark Zuckerberg is loaded, but still.