Field of Schemes
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March 07, 2011

A's stadium holdup is a money issue and a territorial issue and a floor wax!

So San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto was on a podcast the other day to discuss the Oakland A's stadium situation and, well, let's let the fine folks at transcribe from there:

The "Blue Ribbon Committee" is a fraud. The territorial rights argument is a fraud. This is about one thing and one thing only, and it's always been about this: Do the A's have the money to put a shovel in the ground? If they had the money to put a shovel in the ground, we would've gone to Bud Selig and said, "We're ready to go now." And then Bud Selig can either tell the committee to produce a report or he could just go without it and start harvesting votes if they really want this to happen. I think it is incumbent upon the A's to show that they're ready to go right now and the fact that they keep saying, "well we haven't seen the blue ribbon report..." You know what? That's due diligence and you're supposed to do that. If you've got that stuff down you're already working at that.
...In the current economic climate, where you really need help from cities and states to get buildings done if you don't want to go into your own personal debt. I think that the idea of a San Jose stadium is really fading. It may be dead at this point. It's taken too long for the A's to get what ducks they have in a row, in a row. So I think the problem here is the A's needed more help than they let on and now they're stuck.

As notes, this is sheer wild speculation, and not even especially logical speculation given what it calls the "black hole of information around Selig." Continues writer Marine Layer:

I've said before that Selig isn't going to act until at least one of these cities has all of their ducks in a row. That means the site, legal/political clearances, everything. San Jose isn't there yet. Oakland isn't there yet. And the Grim Reaper is coming fast for cities. Plus there's the possibility that upcoming CBA negotiations will come into play, especially because the biggest debate will be about revenue sharing. If you're Selig, why would you lift a finger until this other stuff shakes out? I wouldn't.

And there's a further point that Marine Layer doesn't get into: It doesn't make any sense to say "it's not the territorial rights, it's whether Wolff has the money" when how much money Wolff needs is directly dependent on how the territorial rights are worked out. As I wrote a month and a half ago:

To make a San Jose A's move work, then, you'd need to generate enough new revenue to:
* Pay off the Giants' indemnification demands for giving up Silicon Valley;
* Generate around $30 million a year extra to pay off the estimated $461 million construction cost of the San Jose stadium that Wolff says he will build himself (California being probably the hardest state in the nation to get taxpayer stadium funds approved in, given its stringent public referendum requirements); and
* Leave some money left over to pay all those free agents that Rosenthal insists would come a-running as soon as the A's were out from the shadow of Mount Davis. Figure $50-60 million total at minimum--and it would all need to come from new San Jose fans, less the number of lost Oakland fans.
It's a tough mathematical nut to crack, even when you don't have two sides playing North-going Zax and South-going Zax.

The nut becomes less tough, clearly, if Item A is reduced. Which is what I've been saying all along: It's not a question of how much money Lew Wolff has in his piggy bank; it's a question of whether he can cut a deal that makes the Giants (and by extention Selig) happy without cutting so deeply into his revenues that a San Jose stadium deal no longer pencils out.


Ratto left the Chron for CSN-BA a few months ago...

Posted by Mark on March 7, 2011 09:40 AM

Thanks - I looked him up on Wikipedia and it still had him listed at the Chron as well. Who can we believe anymore, if not the wisdom of the crowd?

Posted by Neil deMause on March 7, 2011 10:02 AM

As a rule I don't believe anything Ray Ratto says, so there is that. Seriously though, he's an overweight sports columnist, not a reporter. He's already admitted that most of what he wrote in that article was pure speculation on his part. He has no sources to back himself up, and no proof beyond his "gut" (which is a large gut I freely admit, but that doesn't mean it contains any facts). Essentially what Ratto wrote amounts to the same idle speculation most of us throw out on boards like this...

Posted by Dan on March 7, 2011 11:26 AM

So here's a serious question for readers: When someone like Ratto says stuff like this, should I report on it? I almost skipped this news item, on the grounds that he was just mouthing off on a podcast, for Pete's sake, but figuring it was a good opportunity to reiterate the issues at stake here (and link to's excellent analysis). And I did skip the "San Jose Earthquakes demolish a building for new stadium" story, since even the Quakes say this doesn't mean they're moving ahead with the stadium yet.

In general, would you (the collective you) prefer that I try to be as comprehensive as possible here, or stick to when there's real news?

Posted by Neil deMause on March 7, 2011 11:50 AM

If it'll lower the chances of exposure to Ray Ratto...

Seriously though I don't mind that stuff like this gets slipped in now and then. Ratto may be an idiot but not every smaller piece of information isn't worthy of a post. (See I'd have argued the demolition of the Quakes stadium site is actually more newsworthy since it's another step forward (even if the Quakes FO is giving mixed signals on it's meaning))

Posted by Dan on March 7, 2011 12:05 PM

Unless you start charging per article, I vote for comprehensive.

I sense that many of your readers originally come here because of one particular stadium issue close to them and (hopefully) stay to see the bigger picture develop. If you attract more readers with a comprehensive out-put, I believe there is a possibility of more of the public becoming educated and critically aware of the issues surrounding stadium development -- particularly as the issues seem to repeat themselves ad nauseum but merely shift from one city to the next. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by Sean on March 7, 2011 12:15 PM

The A's already had a chance to have a new State Of The Art Stadium: - Cached - Similar. But for whatever reason, they decided not to strike when the iron was hot, and now they are at the mercy of the World Champion Giants, who are in a stronger bargaining position than before. Beyond that, they will find it difficult to get the financing needed for such a project, because of the risk involved, and the Jerry Brown possible RDA cutoff.

Posted by David Brown on March 7, 2011 01:32 PM

David, not sure what you mean there. The Cisco Field described in that article is the same one now planned for San Jose. The A's have been waiting over 2 years now for MLB to give them the go ahead to build the park. Believe me, they know the iron was hot, and still is, and they want to strike it. They have the hammer in hand and have raised their arm to take the swing, but MLB is holding on to their arm right now preventing them from finishing the blow. Until MLB makes up their mind officially there's little the A's can do but wait, and continue to moan about it to the press.

Posted by Dan on March 7, 2011 01:48 PM

this is interesting...about halfway down page dated 3/4/11

New construction of an athletic stadium in San Jose. Preliminary plans call for the construction of a 32,000-seat baseball stadium. The stadium will include concession areas, restrooms, ticket boxes, V.I.P. areas, locker rooms, a medical facility a...Click here for complete Project Details

Posted by Moses on March 8, 2011 05:27 PM

If I'm the 49ers, A's, Raiders, etc...I'd tell the cities of California and their communist politicians, writers and go blow themselves. And move.

Posted by Jim on March 22, 2011 10:11 PM

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