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July 09, 2012

KJ to announce plans to lure A's to Sacramento

From the "To a man with a task force, every problem is the lack of a stadium" department, we present Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who, spurned by the Sacramento Kings, and unable to get anyone interested in building an arena for no team at all, has apparently set his sights on bringing baseball to town instead:

Still looking for a redevelopment catalyst in the downtown railyard, Mayor Kevin Johnson has turned his eye to a new sport, asking his Think Big Sacramento task force to look this summer into marketing Sacramento as a big league baseball town...
Aides say the mayor's moves are aimed at sending a message to Major League Baseball that Sacramento wants to be in the mix if and when a team is looking for greener pastures. Johnson has made it no secret he would like to do business with the Oakland A's, who are unhappy in their antiquated stadium.

On the face of it, this wouldn't seem a totally outrageous notion: Sacramento does have a track record of supporting one major-league sports team, after all, and it's a bigger TV market than St. Louis or Pittsburgh. (Though smaller than Orlando.) Still, it's a relatively corporate-presence-poor city, which hurts the potential for luxury suite sales, and it has the Bay Area megalopolis not far in one direction and a whole lot of not much in three others. Plus, A's owner Lew Wolff still has his heart set on San Jose as a destination, and Oakland is arguably a better fallback option if he ever gives up on ever wresting the South Bay from the Giants' clutches.

In any case, though, KJ appears to have sports facility fever now, and is dead set on finding somebody to build something for, whoever it is. "Sacramento must seize control of its own future," Johnson said, um, somewhere. (The Sacramento Bee story doesn't specify where or when.) "We cannot rely on others, or wait for something to come along."

A further "announcement" is due at 11 am Pacific today, according to KFBK's Rob McAllister. Can't hardly wait!


Sacramento has no chance to land a baseball team.

If they could not get an arena setup for an existing team what makes anyone think a baseball stadium will be any easier?

In San Jose, there are massive corporations and affluent fans everywhere. The San Jose-Santa Clara-Sunnyvale Metro is the richest in the US.

Sacramento before the recession was a decent market for pro sports. Since then even with a new stadium any team moving there would need massive revenue sharing checks to survive from MLB.

That does not solve the issue at hand with the A's in Oakland.

In San Jose, the A's would not only be able to pay off the debt service, they would be able to put into the revenue sharing pot.

The Giants know full well a team in Silicon Valley would have a larger payroll than them. There are that many corporations and affluent fans who are untouched right now. 25% of SV companies do business with the Giants TOTAL....Imagine that 75% with a team in their own backyard??

That is why the Giants cling to San Jose with their life.

Eventually the A's have to be let in, there are zero viable sites in the East Bay....Hence the delay.

Viable means it is impossible to build without an inordinate amount of $$ to clean up the site, move businesses, or re-do transportation in the area.

MLB knows this, if it was not the case they would go back to Wolff and show him an alternative.

It is only a matter of time, the Giants have confirmed recently they are in talks with the A's about San Jose.

Tells you Selig is trying to broker a deal to bring this to a close soon.

Posted by SBSJ on July 9, 2012 02:08 PM

Well the fact the city wasn't the reason the Kings arena didn't happen is a good first indicator. The city offered the Maloofs a very sweet deal for them. Having to pay only $75 million of the total cost of the arena was a gift horse that the Maloofs looked in the mouth of. It was 100% on them that the arena failed. But it also shouldn't have been surprising. The Maloofs have now personally derailed 3 arena plans in Sacramento because at the end of the day, they want to be in Anaheim close to their friends. Which is why Sac is now moving on, they've already decided the Maloofs aren't even worth the time and are offering similar financing to the A's.

Posted by Dan on July 9, 2012 03:15 PM

This clearly sends a message to the NBA. If David Stern was looking for a reason to go ahead and accelerate things in Seattle, he now has a good one.

"Sacramento doesn't care about us. They have moved on. For the good of everyone, it's best that we find a solution where we move on too."

MLB in Sacramento is a joke. It's not going to happen. KJ is a fool. Nice legacy, there, KJ.

I definitely think the Giants would throw up obstacles in Sacramento, too. It's not a small market; I think there are about 1.5M people in it. It's not something they'd just give up. Giants fans outnumber A's fans by probably 5-1 in Sac.

People need to see the proposed location, too. It's not good.

I look forward to the next Economic Engine report, though. If a $391M arena was going to produce $7B over 30 years, then a $500M baseball stadium should generate about $15B, correct? Well, then, start building! What's the hold-up?

Posted by MikeM on July 9, 2012 04:00 PM

Lew Wolff responds:

Wouldn't it have been better if KJ had spoken to Wolff in private first? Seems to me as though KJ asked a question in public, without having a vague idea what the response would be. And now that we've seen the response... Oops?

Posted by MikeM on July 9, 2012 04:49 PM

At least Sac is putting an offer on the table. I am not so sure that Selig is going to allow San Jose. He may sit on this for a few more years.He may be waiting to see how long Wolff is committed to San Jose only. As far as Oakland's chances to keep the A's,I think we may have to wait until the Raiders decide where they are going.If they leave,Oakland may finally present an actual legitimate plan to the A's,to save at least one of their teams.Otherwise I really don't think Oakland cares if they lose the A's if they can keep the Raiders.

Posted by Rob on July 9, 2012 05:21 PM

I believe the answer is completely obvious.

Bring back the Gold Miners/Canadian Football!

Posted by Tyler on July 9, 2012 06:10 PM

Rob, KJ may have put an offer on the table, but the footwork and prep he put into this were non-existent. So foolish to put this idea out there without having spoken with Wolff first. What in the world is he trying to prove -- the "Bigger Fool" theory? If that's what it is, he won.

I think KJ managed to maximize the number of alienated people today. It seems like even the Maloofs look better today than they did 72 hours ago.

Posted by MikeM on July 9, 2012 07:29 PM

2.5 million people

easily support professional teams, the only problem is as you mention...San Francisco...6 to 8 million people and a ton of teams and things to do...

to the east of Sacramento is Tahoe, 2 in most of California there are a ton of other things to do other than attend professional sporting events...

KJ has a big problem with his morality problem...showering with teenage girls...basically a nowhere man and his wife, the one who got the education sack in DC is even worse...would you let your daughter or would you like to around that guy?

Posted by sergio on July 9, 2012 08:31 PM

Not that it probably matters much for all the reasons outlined above, but the Giants can't block a move to Sacramento, as they don't have territorial rights to Sacramento County.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 9, 2012 08:35 PM

Neil, because of the antitrust exemption, what you're saying is only kind-of true. There are probably 5 times as many Giants fans as there are A's fans. Other teams respect that.

By moving the A's to Sacramento, you'd alienate way more people than you'd win over. At that point, a lot of teams vote the other way.

They'd way rather be in San Jose than in Sacramento. "They" being "MLB", that is.

Also, the 2.5M number is overstated. I always see "Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto" when I see 2.5M. I'm not even sure how to get to Modesto; is it 99, or 5?

Posted by MikeM on July 10, 2012 01:19 AM

KJ sounds desperate. Is a Big 4 sports team really the only way possible to revitalize Sacramento?

A's would be better off staying in the Oakland Coliseum. Sacramento would be a huge gamble on a small-market with an already financially fragile club.

To me, this underscores why MLB will ultimately give the A's the rights to Santa Clara. The Bay Area is one of the few metro regions of this nation that can definitely support two MLB clubs, with its huge population and wealth. The Giants would be financially damaged if the A's take Santa Clara but not as much as MLB as a whole would be damaged if the Bay Area suddenly became a one-team region again and the A's were forced to take a major financial gamble with a move to a place like Sacramento or another expansion city or risk contraction.

As per Neil's other story, why doesn't KJ work to get an MLS team to Sacramento? Seems like the financing for a soccer-specific stadium would be much easier to arrange and it would be easier to fill on a regular basis. If MLS ever had thoughts of putting two teams in NorCal, separating them geographically between SJ and Sacramento might be the best way to prevent them from cannibalizing each other.

Posted by ChrisinLA on July 10, 2012 07:06 AM

The A's moving to Sacramento was also discussed in the 80s and their Sac is bigger than St. Louis, Pitt, Baltimore, San Diego, KC, Milwaukee, & Cincy. They would be able to support it on population numbers but I don't think it fits with the new economics of Pro Sports. Not a lot of corporate HQ to buy suites and rights/Ad deals.

This could either be KJ sending a message to voters that might want this kind of thing that he is trying to bring a team there or could be a MSG to other MLB teams that might want to leave their city for a sweet stadium deal (since Sac appears to be willing to bend over backwards to keep a team#.

Just because it seems dumb to us, doesn't mean the general public in Sacramento will think the same. #We also thought the Sac Arena deal was insane for the city but it wasn't the people that killed that deal).

Posted by jb on July 10, 2012 11:21 AM

Sacramento would be better off trying to land an MLS franchise. A 15,000 to 20,000 seat stadium would also be perfect for the summer concert scene.

Sacramento could not support a MLB team - no way they can sell the luxury boxes and draw 30,000 fans a game (MLB's average attendance).

Posted by Ron on July 11, 2012 01:31 PM

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