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December 07, 2011

Reinsdorf backs A's move to San Jose

Well, this is interesting: In the middle of an article on the Oakland A's winter trade talks, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser and John Shea dropped this about the A's ongoing negotiations to move to San Jose:

Major-league owners can vote to overturn territorial rights, and recent signs point to a potential vote on the issue at the owners' January meetings. The A's will have at least one prominent backer in White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a longtime friend of A's owner Lew Wolff.
"I'm totally supportive of Lew getting a new ballpark and going to San Jose," Reinsdorf said. "He needs to be there. It has to come to a head soon."

Now, Reinsdorf backing Wolff isn't big news: As Bay Bridge Banter notes, the two are longtime pals. But for Reinsdorf, the longtime chair of MLB's relocation committee, to do so on the record to a major newspaper seems to be some kind of indication that the winds are shifting a bit — maybe this is why Bud Selig is starting to push a bit for some kind of resolution?

Of course, there's no reason for the San Francisco Giants to negotiate a resolution unless it looks like Selig, Reinsdorf, et al., would actually try to force the issue by voting to rescind the Giants' territorial rights to San Jose if they won't sell them, and there's no particular indication things have gotten to that point yet. And also of course, Reinsdorf is the author of the Savvy Negotiator Doctrine, so it's always possible he's just trying to shake things up in the hopes that it gets Oakland to up the ante to Wolff in its own on-again off-again stadium efforts. Still, it's a sign of some kind of movement, which is more than we've seen in years with the A's, so maybe it's not crazy to think we'll see resolution of this issue before both cities are underwater.

If the A's ever do get permission to move to San Jose, meanwhile, maybe we'll finally get details of Wolff's stadium financing plans there. notes that the San Jose city council has pledged not to use public money for any stadium, including:

3. No public funds shall be spent to finance or reimburse any costs associated with construction of the ballpark or construction of any on-site infrastructure or improvements needed for the ballpark.
4. No public funds of any kind are spent to finance or reimburse any ballpark operational or maintenance costs related to activities conducted by or under the authority of the baseball team that uses the ballpark either at the ballpark or in the streets surrounding the ballpark.

That all sounds great, though it's worth noting that 1) this was just a council resolution, so it's not binding on Wolff or the A's, and 2) there are plenty of subsidies that can be said not to involve "public funds," such as free land, tax breaks, or (if you sort of squint) TIFs. Wolff and San Jose swear that they're going to build the first entirely privately funded ballpark since Dodger Stadium, and if that's true, more power to them; before we throw a parade, though, I'd still like to get a look at the fine print.


I believe I read that a lawsuit has been filed to block the sale of the land to the A's for this stadium. Hold on a sec, let me check.

Yup, here it is:

Posted by MikeM on December 7, 2011 01:05 PM

"...I'd still like to get a look at the fine print..."

that's where the devil is.

Posted by Paul W. on December 7, 2011 01:33 PM

I wouldn't worry about that lawsuit Mike. It was filed by the SF Giants through intermediaries and front groups (namely the San Jose Giants and "Stand for San Jose"). Besides being a suit with no real legal basis to begin with, MLB will also not allow the Giants to sue San Jose and by extension the A's. I'd be shocked if this ever got to trial. The more likely result is once the owners vote on San Jose for the A's that the Giants are told to sit down, shut up, or lose their franchise.

Posted by Dan on December 7, 2011 01:46 PM

I don't know about "lose their franchise," but I agree that since the lawsuit is funded by the Giants, and making the Giants' objections go away is the crux of this whole fight, once that happens the lawsuit will likely melt away with it. The Giants owners understand leverage, too.

Posted by Neil deMause on December 7, 2011 01:50 PM

To be blunt, I don't think I quite understand how MLB even decided that San Jose is part of the Giants' territory, but not part of the A's territory. Yes, there are about 6 times as many Giants fans as A's fans (sorry, A's fans, but it's true), but they're all mixed together in Northern California.

We have Giants fans, A's fans, 49ers fans and Raiders fans in Sacramento; I think that all four teams have legitimate claim to Sac.

It's a little more clear-cut when it comes to the Warriors and Kings, but even that has a lot of shades to it. Is Vacaville and Fairfield part of the Warriors territory or the Kings territory? The simple answer to that is: Yes.

Where I think that lawsuit has some merit, though, is on the sale price of that parcel. I don't think the A's should pay a nickel less for it than its appraised price. I can't see why they should.

Posted by MikeM on December 7, 2011 02:45 PM

Before casting San Jose with all other cities, it's important to point out that its redevelopment agency is practically shuttered and has no bonding capacity to speak of, and the coming death (or shelving) of RDAs throughout California will ensure that TIF cannot be an instrument going forward. I'm surprised that you don't write more about this, Neil.

Posted by Marine Layer on December 7, 2011 02:54 PM

Mike, originally San Jose wasn't Giants territory. The A's had the east bay (Alameda and Contra Costa Cos.) and the Giants had the San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. Santa Clara County where San Jose is was a shared territory belonging to neither. However when the Giants were trying to get a new ballpark back in the early 90's they were exploring several options, among them Santa Clara and San Jose. In order to place their ballpark there they wanted to ensure there would be no conflict and asked the A's for the full rights to the county. Then A's owner Wally Haas being the Bay Area guy that he was didn't want the Giants to leave (at that point the front runner to land the Giants was St. Petersburg, Florida), so he granted them full rights to SCC since that was wear the Giants wanted to build their ballpark. Eventually we all know they didn't build there and instead moved further into San Francisco proper. But they never gave the rights back to Santa Clara Co. and are now perpetuating this myth that it has always been their territory. The reality is that the Giants are full of shit. They were gifted SCC so that they could move there, and they didn't and now that the county is trying to acquire another team they're trying to cock block it.

Posted by Dan on December 7, 2011 03:12 PM

Dan is right on the rights being moved back in 1992. Reinsdorf and Selig were AL owners and were there in person.

The funny thing is had the Giants moved to San Jose they would have still pocketed their rights to San Francisco and the A's would be still in the same mess today.

Except they would be trying to build at China Basin and the Giants would be crying that is their territory.

In either case, the same situation would still be on the table today.

The Giants "slyly" pocketed those rights because as you can see Haas did not think to far ahead and was trying to sell the team anyways.

The territory should have been shared 100% when the leagues merged in 1993.

Therefore MLB has to compensate the Giants not the A's for this flaw in their system.

Even Selig says when asked why the Bay Area is not shared like the other 2-team markets..."That is just the history, it may not be a great answer"

Posted by SBSJ on December 7, 2011 03:30 PM

ML, regardless of whether San Jose is broke, the A's would still be paying property taxes. There are many ways to kick those back to the team, with or without RDAs.

Posted by Neil deMause on December 7, 2011 03:39 PM

That might be difficult to pull off, Neil. Santa Clara County is the mongoose to San Jose's snake right now, and I can't see them signing off on any deal that would allow the A's to sidestep either property taxes or possessory interest taxes since that would directly hit SCC's revenue stream. I'll admit that's a circumstance that's unique to this situation, but it's there regardless.

Posted by Marine Layer on December 7, 2011 05:01 PM

FYI - Santa Clara County is participating in the RDA lawsuit on the side of the Attorney General's office, which backs Gov. Brown's RDA phase out.

The San Jose RDA has starved SC County of property tax funds it has been entitled to, and the amount that is owed to the county is huge.

Posted by SantaClaraTaxpayer on December 8, 2011 02:09 AM

When you are a "friend of Bud's" (Reinsdorf & Wolff) you eventually get what you want. The king of inside deals is not going to let his long-time friends or biz pals down before he leaves the job.
No matter how little sense a scheme from franchises that should be
discontinued or reorganized, it'll happen - the A's and Mets are prime examples of this.

Posted by Paul W. on December 8, 2011 01:05 PM

Why should either franchise be discontinued or reorganized? The Mets owner got is shirt taken by Bernie Madoff, and the A's situation is about to be resolved in what is likely to be the best stadium deal from the city's perspective in a half century (Assuming the financing fits the promises which is still up in the air).

Posted by Dan on December 8, 2011 03:34 PM

Well looks like Oakland's Victory Court ballpark site is dead (the one the MLB Blue Ribbon panel was favoring in that city). Guess we know why they never released the preliminary EIR for the site, they never did one and have now wasted another year. Instead Quan and her merry band of morons are shifting their focus back to the Coliseum and want to build a "Coliseum City" on the existing site (a site both the A's and MLB have said is unacceptable at this point as they want the ballpark in a downtown). No word on who Quan expects to pay for this, since we know she doesn't have any money in the city coffers and the 250 million redevelopment had will be gone come January. If she expects the A's to pay for it all then you can kiss the Oakland A's good bye. Coupled with Billy Beane, Lew Wolff, Jerry Reinsdorf, Jeffery Loria, and Sternberg's comments in the last month it looks like San Jose is going to become a reality as far as MLB is concerned.

*Sorry if my disdain for Quan is leaking through but she has mismanaged the city and the relationship with the A's in particular as bad if not worse than her 2 predecessors and it pisses me off*

Also telling, the press release and article make no mention of the Raiders. It stands to reason if the Coliseum is demolished to make way for a new arena, ballpark and "Coliseum City" that the Raiders will not be present. Which begs the question, where will the Raiders be?

Posted by Dan on December 9, 2011 01:53 PM

I wonder what the Raiders would do with the coliseum if the A's leave. Or does the City of Oakland own it the stadium. That is a lot of money to build 3 sports complexes and other amenities. Look how tough the L.A. project has been and it has private financing involved.

I heard the Raiders are now exploring their options at the Grand crossings stadium in L.A. because that one is shovel ready and the silly AEG downtown looks like some futuristic maxi pad pipe dream trying to lure the chargers only.

Maybe the writing is on the wall in Oakland and the states and local Municipalities don't have money for sports facilities. I would hate for Oakland to loose the Raiders but its all about business in the world of sports.

I think if Oakland is serious about keeping the A's focus on one team at a time because the new ball park will cot a fortune to supplement all 3 teams in this economy especially.

Posted by Trancefreak on December 23, 2011 03:04 AM

Dan (aka M Purdy) ... doesn't matter if you don't worry about the law suit or not - it's real. And, oh by the way, you're a clown.

Posted by Glenn on December 26, 2011 11:33 AM

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