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02 April 2006

Matier and Ross stir it up again

And now for the most speculative article yet:
At the same time, Wolff held out little hope of the team remaining in Oakland.

"It's a built-up area, and I can't ask them to do the impossible,'' Wolff said, adding that even "if they came up with a $400 million check, we still don't have a place to play.''
Then comes the obligatory Las Vegas reference:
Others, however, think the Fremont play is just another step toward the team leaving the area.

"He has to show he's tried to make a 'go' in Oakland. Then he makes an effort to make a 'go' in Fremont,'' said one Major League Baseball insider. "Then Wolff can go to the commissioner and say, 'OK -- now let me go.' ''

The inside betting is that Las Vegas is high on the A's list. But Wolff says his old fraternity brother, Commissioner Bud Selig, isn't keen on putting a team in a city that allows sports book betting.
No one can ever deny that Vegas will be a player as long as they don't have a team. It's also in Wolff's best interests to have as many open options as possible. That includes Vegas, which MLB supposedly has taken off the table for the Florida Marlins. Has Sin City been set aside specifically for the A's should it get to that point?

In January I wrote a treatise on Vegas and the challenges it faces. What do you think is more likely? That the gaming industry will accede to MLB's desire to take baseball out of the sports books? Or that MLB will let a team operate in Vegas with the sports books intact? Or that Fremont will be able to get an efficient mass transit solution for its site? Or that somehow San Jose will magically open up for the A's due to a MLB in-house negotiation?

That's why I can't handicap any city's chances. Those questions are hard enough to answer. They're even harder to quantify.

20 comments:

gojohn10 said...

I was watching the A's-Giants game today and they had a shot of McGown and Wolff at the game together. I wasn't sure what kind of relationship these two had, but at least in public today they were talking, smiling, and seemed to be having a good time.

Anonymous said...

ML: I read something yesterday that said that Wolff had said that if the A's didn't find a site by the end of the season then Bud Selig would be getting on the team to move to Omaha. I know omaha was just an example but do you think that is true? Is that why Wolff seems so eager with Fremont?

Georob said...

Was the weather bad in the Bay Area on Saturday? The A's could only draw 14K against the Giants, while both games in SF drew around 30K. If it wasn't the weather, then that doesn't bode well for us this season so far.

Anyone care to offer a reasonable explanation before we see the "A's fans are boycotting because Wolff wants to move the team" B.S.?

Marine Layer said...

Rob, you're overreacting. There was a serious threat of rain and it scared fans away. Plus it was an exhibition game. The Giants have already sold 30,000 per game but a lot of people didn't show up, especially on Friday night. Didn't you say that Opening Night wouldn't be sold out? Let's give the team a month or so to appraise their attendance performance.

Marine Layer said...

I don't think Wolff can completely limit himself to deciding by the end of the season, but I understand why he's doing it. It was place pressure on Fremont and Alameda County to get the deal done. Wolff has also recognized that when accounting for development time, the A's may not have a new stadium by the beginning of the 2010 season.

Usually, 12-18 months are devoted to an EIR, which has not started for Fremont yet. Construction would take 24-30 months, probably 27. Assuming that site acquisition happens concurrently, it could take nearly 4 years from the time the EIR starts. The clock is ticking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my questions, I really appreciate it

Jeff said...

Looks like Lew is tightening the screws. I think he wants to get something done in the bay area, and I believe the logical choice remains SJ. Will he settle for a close second in Fremont? That's the real question.

Vegas is always there, singing its' siren song. Money in spades...so to speak.

tony d. said...

Matier and Ross are a bunch of clowns! They're probably in Magowans camp and hope that the Giants one day get the Bay Area all to themselves! This morning on KRON Matier stated that an A's move to Fremont would put them "closer to San Jose and the coveted fan base." When Henry Tenenbaum asked "Why don't they simply move to San Jose?", clown Matier responded "because MLB has put San Jose in control of the Giants." My problem is, no one ever questions the T Rights...most express the Matier "That's just the way it is" sentiment. Mark Purdy (God Bless him) is the only Bay Area writer who has openly challenged the T Rights and described them for what they are...PLAIN AND SIMPLY WRONG!! Why other Bay Area writers haven't is beyond me. Are we in San Jose supposed to role over for everything San Francisco? I THINK NOT!! In closing, Matier and Ross throwing us this pro-SF/Vegas crap is utter B$!! They should relocate to Vegas...I hear Circus Circus is looking for an act!! (my apologies everyone, I'm a little ticked off right now...GO A'S!)

tony d. said...

R.M.,
Last thought for the night...call me a wishful thinker, but I just don't believe that Wolff (or John Fisher) will take the A's out of the Bay Area...the local ties are just to strong (Fisher/SF, Schott/Santa Clara, Wolff/SJ). I think they will do everything in their power ($$$) to have the A's remain in the Bay Area, be it in Fremont or San Jose. The Bay Area's pop continues to grow, and there's to much money in the South Bay to be ignored. Lastly, a question for you Rhamesis; do you have any idea how many more years Magowan has to pay his investors $20 million each (at the end of each season)? His debt payment on AT&T can't last forever (the reason the insane TRights exist in the first place)...good night all!

Old Blue Guy said...

I was at the game today (Sunday) at PacBell/ATT Park (daughter scored some freebie lower box seats; I would never pay for Giants' tickets, esp for an exhibition game). The weather was crappy early but improved later on. The Giants may have sold 30K tickets—although I doubt it, unless they tie sales in for the large season ticket base—but there was nowhere near that number actually there. It was more like 15K, I'd estimate. No lines for beer, hot dogs or rest rooms.

We sat in front of a nice young guy from Portland who was visiting his dad, who lives here. He said Florida Marlins officials recently visited Portland. He was very excited about the prospect of MLB in Portland and thought the city would bend over backwards to get it.

I've previously expressed my negative opinion of San Jose city officials and my belief that they just won't be able to get it together enough to make an A's move happen. Unfortunately, I think the only realistic way the A's will end up staying in the Bay Area is if it is to San Jose. If San Jose could grow some cojones and really get in MLB's collective face, I think the A's might be encouraged. As it stands now, I have to think Wolff may be getting little pessimistic about keeping the team here—given the tepid nature of San Jose's efforts and the obvious drawbacks of Fremont—and I think he may be ripe for the picking by another city.

And, as has been noted, there sits Vegas. One of the major sports is going to do it at some point. Even though I still think it would be a huge mistake to put a major league sport in such an environment, if the gamblers werre to give in on the sports book issue, MLB might be inclined to give it a shot. Plus any team that goes to Vegas will get a freebie stadium, a rapidly growing fan base and millions of tourists. I know that if I were in Vegas with the home team in town, I'd take a break from casinos and go see a game. Four hours at a ball game would be a lot cheaper than staying in the casino.

If you want to keep the A's in the Bay Area, you'd better step up the pace.

Marine Layer said...

"I know that if I were in Vegas with the home team in town, I'd take a break from casinos and go see a game. Four hours at a ball game would be a lot cheaper than staying in the casino."

And there's one of the biggest reasons why the much of the gaming industry has no interest in a major league team in the area. Four hours at a ballpark means four hours away from a casino. A team would have control over most baseball revenue sources so the casinos couldn't get a piece. I seriously doubt that MLB would let a casino have a piece of a team.

Why do you think San Jose's efforts have been tepid? Ever thought that they've been told that this is the way to pursue the team? Getting the EIR done now will get a very time-consuming part of the process out of the way. By the time it gets to a vote over a year from now, whatever options the A's have will be clear. It's not as bold or as attention-getting as a big fight with MLB in the courts and media. But as far as getting SJ's ducks in a row, it's the most methodical way to do it within the confines they are operating.

SJ is not trying to win a battle of principles, it's trying to bring in a team.

Anonymous said...

Oakland is not a city that is entirely built up. That is just a poor excuse by WOLFF!!!

swirlinabc said...

As a resident of the Central Valley, I have often wondered why the Pleasanton/Dublin area has never been seriously considered. Even though I grew up in Alameda and find it hard to imagine calling the Athletics anything but Oakland, this current resident of Stockton sees all this open land in Pleasanton and Dublin and a BART station nearby, and envies the idea of a shorter drive to the ball park. The tri-valley area is still in Alameda County, has better weather, a BART line, easy freeway access, and can connect easily to the fans in Contra Costa County and the Central Valley. I remember that Pleasanton was considered at one time, but no talk of recent. What's up with that?

On a separate issue, is it just me, or is anyone else still having trouble selling any of their extra season tickets? I have great seats (sec 120) and lots of good games available, but am finding nothing but yawns from everyone. The A's have this "My Tickets" site where you can resell their tickets, but it's only available to season ticket holders. Perhaps if the A's would spend a few dollars on advertising, they'd generate interest in the team and sales and more people would be interested in their team. I know that in the Stockton media, I never hear word 1 about A's tickets. Does anyone else hear or see anything? Sorry to rattle off about this subject. I'm just a little frustrated about the team right now. Of course, watching the team lose the opener 15-2 doesn't help much either. Thanks for letting me vent.

Larry said...

Once Barry is gone, McGowan will be open to a payoff that opens San Jose.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Barry...can we now expect (after last nights A's debacle)to see "Trade Barry" billboards on 880 outside the Coliseum?

jrbh said...

I thought the Matier and Ross article had at least one really interesting nugget in it: Wolff's request for a three-year extension on the lease as a show of "good faith."

(I won't make any comment now on the absurdity of Wolff asking for something he hasn't provided himself. Oh, wait, I did.)

Anyway, Wolff is going to need a place for the A's to play while he builds a new ballpark. What he's doing by asking for the extension, I think, is indicating that he's serious about finding a place in San Jose or Fremont.

Imagine, by way of contrast, if Wolff is serious about his deadline of this year (laughable, but possible, I suppose) and it turns out that he selects Portland or Vegas or San Antonio or Nome -- the Nome Dome! -- as the new home for the A's. The last thing he'd want would be to be locked into a deal that guarantees a financial disaster through 2010.

Marine Layer said...

Financial disaster? I doubt it. All he'd have to do is conduct a Expos/Marlins-like fire sale and lay off the sales staff. Couple that with the large revenue sharing check he'd get and he'd be well in the black. Repeat with me: "No major league baseball team loses money. No major league baseball team loses money."

jrbh said...

You are, of course, right, marine layer.

jrbh said...

swirlinabc,

I cancelled my season tix, but I'd still like to go to some games. E-mail me at lakemerritt2002@yahoo.com

The Fred said...

Fremont is increasingly becoming a more feasible location for the A's. The Giants will not give up Santa Clara County. San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area and provides a significant source of revenue for SF. Las Vegas can pretty much be ruled out considering Selig's opposition to sports betting. The deadline for Oakland to submit a proposal for a new stadium already passed. Portland will be a less favorable location than Fremont. Fremont has the land, the willingness, and is close to Santa Clara County, where the A's have a large fan base. Plus, the A's will stay in Alameda County, which will facilitate the development of a new stadium. All the pieces are there in Fremont. I guess it's just a waiting game to see if the government agencies are willing to expedite the EIR and if Fremont is willing to build the infrastructure for Wolffe to build residential units west of the 880. From what I've heard, Fremont is leaning towards it. If anyone has any updates, please do share and I will do the same.