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15 December 2005

Adios, Quakes

Several news outlets reported today that the Quakes are on their way out of town. To Houston, no less. There has been a lot of fingerpointing in recent weeks about who's most to blame. It's well known that ownership group AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) had no interest in holding onto the team in the long term. The City of San Jose had done little over the last several years to improve the Quakes' lease situation with SJSU. And SJSU wasn't budging over the terms. Attendance wasn't a big complaint driver because a well-developed fanbase and winning seasons. Revenue was.

That brings us to today, when MLS commissioner Don Garber thanked local fans and talked about a new team coming to roost in San Jose as early as 2007. The city signed a letter of intent with MLS to get a stadium financing plan in place. Judging from the message boards at bigsoccer.com, it's no consolation.

Which brings me to an interesting A's related bit of news. Quakes announcer and longtime South Bay sports media guy John Shrader mentioned on KNBR that one of the local investor groups thought to potentially save the Quakes or invest in a new team was led by none other than Lew Wolff and the A's. No details were revealed beyond that, which is enough to start some wild speculation:
  • How serious was Wolff about investing in the Quakes?
  • Did he make any kind of proposal?
  • Did the proposal involve a new soccer specific stadium?
  • Or was it more along the lines of a shared stadium situation?
  • If so, where? San Jose? Oakland? Elsewhere in the Bay Area?
  • Does this mean he actually has designs on the A's moving to San Jose?
Obviously, any number of conclusions can be drawn from this tiny bit of information. Garber mentioned that talks with Wolff and the A's will continue into the new year. It can't be denied: Wolff's connections to San Jose and the Bay Area are as strong as ever, as evidenced by his willingness to entertain Quakes talks. And that should come as a relief to A's fans who fear a move to Vegas or Portland.

12 comments:

Kevin said...

"....one of the local investor groups thought to potentially save the Quakes or invest in a new team was led by none other than Lew Wolff and the A's."

ML, did you mean to say Lew Wolff owner of the A's? Or, is the A's organization itself part of the investment group?

Anonymous said...

Call me crazy, but i've never quite understood why a team moves and the league in which that team plays puts in another team in the same city that lost the previous team (ex. Charlotte, NC) So why exactly, is San Jose getting promised another team before their current one even moves?

Marine Layer said...

Garber brought up Wolff Sports, a company that Wolff heads. It might be a holding company of sorts that has interests in various sports franchises. But he also intermingled the A's in the discussion, so it's hard to say. I doubt the A's would be involved in any capacity, except perhaps if there's some sort of joint facility in the works. Then it would make all the sense in the world.

San Jose isn't being promised or pledged a team. It was the city that signed the letter of intent to look for a stadium site and financing plan. That was exactly the reason why they tabled the fire training site proposal - they needed more time to look at other options. If only they had acted sooner.

Georob said...

Aren't a soccer field's dimensions pretty comparable to that of football? If so, why would the A's want a shared facility? I thought we were getting away from that.

Unless soccer plays in a baseball configuration. After all, we're only talking 20-25,000 fans.

Anonymous said...

Another oddly disjoint A's park note: at an Oakland City Council Committee meeting this week a businessman claiming first-hand knowledge said Wolff has pulled his North of 66th site plan off the table. Anybody can say anything of course, but this comment seemed to be met with agreeing nods from the Councilmembers.

Marine Layer said...

Really? I'll try to confirm that if it's true.

I don't think it'll be a ballpark that has a soccer configuration because it's something neither MLB nor MLS wants. Both entities want to dictate the terms and that means baseball or soccer-specific stadia. Since MLB and MLS run concurrently, sharing wouldn't work without some expensive field technology.

Anonymous said...

This should prove that San Jose isn't really a city, but one gigantic suburb. They don't deserve a major league sports team.

peanut gallery said...

No way they're going to play in the same stadium. The A's might as well stay in the Coliseum with the Raiders. One bit of news that troubles me is that SJ committed up to $80 Million in public financing for a new soccer stadium. I hope that's a false promise. That is funding that could be used for an A's stadium if Oakland doesn't come through.

tony d. said...

R.M.,
What's your take on the $80 million the city of SJ committed MLS for an expansion franchise? Could they be for real? I hope not! A little side note...I have co-workers who played collegiate soccer who never went to an Earthquakes game. They are however rabid NFL fans and have been to both A's and Giants games.

murf said...

While it might make some business sense, I can't see a shared facility ever happening.

And just to be clear, SJ signed an "intent" letter. That is not equivalent to committing $80M. That can't happen without a vote.

It seems reasonable that if the city realy wants MLS, which from the tone of the fan base there is a small but loyal interest publicly, and potentially a financial interest civicly, then they would need to put together a plan that works for an expansion team.

The overwhelming reason the quakes were not profitable in SJ was their deal with SJSU. The city and the fans had little to do with it. Spartan Shops controlled all non-ticket revenue of home games... concessions, parking, everything. MLS wanted a new stadium and a new deal. Looks like they'll get it in Houston, and if SJ or another Bay Area city puts together a plan agreeable to MLS, and MLS is expanding, it's inconceivable that the 7+ million Bay Area market would not be at the top of the list for a new team.

Anonymous said...

Why not just put an MLS team in the Coliseum after the A's move into another stadium? That wouldn't be such a bad idea seeing as the Coliseum will be pretty much empty with the exception of about 10 Raiders games a year.

Marine Layer said...

Putting the Quakes in the Coliseum isn't ideal because it's too big. The scarcity factor is even worse at the 56,000-seat Coliseum than it is at 35,000-seat Spartan Stadium. The KC Wizards play at Arrowhead Stadium and they've long sought a smaller, soccer-specific stadium.

I wouldn't be surprised if Fremont becomes a suitor. Their ballpark study is going to cover not just a baseball stadium but other types of facilities, and if MLS wants a soccer stadium with lots of fields around it, it works perfectly. FC Quakes?

On a tangentially related note, I happen to be in Houston right now (for my day job), and the front page of the Sports section here has the Quakes-to-Houston announcment. Funny how they left one bad situation for another potentially bad situation - especially if they can't get a stadium deal done.