25 July 2006

Third Deck Closure Revisited (again)

Articles from both the Contra Costa Times and the Sacramento Bee attempt to assess at midseason the effects of the third deck closure. In both pieces, A's President Michael Crowley explains that the decrease in average attendance is what was expected, as long as the customer experience was enhanced - which according to them, it has. The Bee's article has quotes from a Vacaville fan who misses the ability to walkup on gameday to get third deck seats - as do I. The net effect - increased advanced ticket sales - was alluded to but not expounded upon.

There's a sense of overstatement when looking at the numbers, especially because anyone who looks at them will have a particular perspective - that of a lamenting, displaced fan, or that of a fan who likes the crowd feel more, or even a person like me who dispassionately views the change. With that in mind, here are a couple of (uh-oh, here it comes) graphs that might give you a better understanding.

The graph above (click the pic for a larger version) shows the volatility of the A's attendance over the last 1 1/2 seasons. Also included is the Giants' 2005 trend, which thanks to high numbers of season ticket holders is not nearly as volatile as the A's. I wrote in April that one of the big points was to make the demand curve less elastic, and while that's happened in part due to the artificial capping of the Coliseum's capacity, I imagine that the effect may not be as good as desired. Excuses abound from the wet, cold spring to the A's usual May slide to the lack of a big time, in-his-prime slugger. Frankly, if Eric Chavez had 25 HR and 75 RBI by now the A's attendance would be better, since their record would probably be better as well.

This graph shows the change in average attendance over the season. In this case, it's much easier to see how the May doldrums affect the A's and how things trend up as the weather heats up. Normally, the A's go on a tear in June and July that translates into increased interest for August. Injuries resurface towards the end of August, and despite the team usually being in a pennant race, performance and attendance both tend to peter out by the end of September. The occasional blip or uptick comes from one of the big series with the Giants, Yankees, or BoSox, or from a promotional night such as a fireworks show or bobblehead giveaway.

From the average attendance graph, the picture doesn't look as bad since the difference between the A's attendance this season and last season at the 47-game mark is less than 1,800 per game, or a whopping 7%. However, the A's would have to average 31,000 per game from now until the end of the season to eclipse last season's total - though that's not the goal. The problem is now the same as always: will the A's turn on the jets in the second half and pull away, or will the injuries and generally poor hitting bite them come the last two weeks of the season? That will be the true deciding factor. This is the Bay Area, after all. We are a fickle bunch (Sharks fans aside) and we don't suffer mediocre play gladly. And with the BoSox offering retribution for the A's surprising performance last week at Fenway, it's just more reason for fans to scratch their heads and sit on the fence. Fencesitters don't always head out to ballgames, not even during a heatwave.


Georob said...

Despite all the moaning from the third deck folks, the fact remains that you can still buy plenty of tickets at game time. Had the A's average attendance been closer to 30K, then a capacity drop to 35,000 would have instilled a greater sense of urgency. As it is now, an average of only 22K still leaves 1/3 of the stadium empty.

It wouldn't surprise me if the tarps come off in '07. With Zito leaving and the A's likely to enter a genuine "rebuilding" process, attendance will only drop further; rendering this experiment worthless for the time being.

At the very least they can sell third deck seats only for the big drawing games, which is what they probably should have done all along.

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. Keep up the smart work.

So, attendance is down. What's behind those numbers, though?

-- Is there any chance that the average revenue has stayed the same or even increased, due to the average available ticket costing more than last year?

-- Is the 2006 enhanced customer experience really just marketingspeak for increased revenue per customer, in which the team has found a way to get fans to spend more at each game?

Both factor into the owner's business equation, yet they're not something I hear much about in this overall conversation.

Anonymous said...

While it is true that there are still plenty of seats that can be had at game time. There is still a perception that there are not any, or not as many cheap tickets that can be had at game time. Now there are just Bleachers and Plaza outfield. While last year your were guaranteed a cheap ticket for a walk up, non-yanks, gnats, soxs, and fireworks game, because of the upper deck, this year you lose a bit of the casual fan.

BTW, those tarps are coming in a couple of weeks. No way will they put those tarps of after each and every Raider game, they barely have enough time removing the extra football seats before an A's game. I believe they will stay off, now will they sell those tickets, it remains to be seen, but without those tarps the Coliseum will look empty, at least before with 17k in attendance there were still a spattering of people on the 3rd deck, without those tarps it will look weird.

Anonymous said...

The A’s tried to sell their tarping scheme with two main rationales. One, that by creating artificial scarcity they could drive more advance and season ticket sales. And two, that by closing the upstairs they could enhance the fan experience.

Reason one appears to have failed, though it’s hard to tell. Remember, the ’06 A’s had the highest expectations in probably 15 years, with bigger payroll, free agent signings, and a constanty improving youthful core. Scarcity+expectations were supposed to drive ticket demand through the roof. Instead, season ticket sales were said to show very small bumps (from 8K to 9K as of February, after which the A’s stopped talking about it publicly). And overall attendance is down almost 2,000 per game. While the A’s may be realizing a small net revenue gain—we can’t tell and will probably never know—it’s clear that the tarping has hurt attendance and hasn’t affected revenues a lot one way or the other.

Reason two, enhanced fan experience, was obvious horsecrap from the beginning and is proven more so at every game. Low-end fans have fewer options, which cost a bit more, and many of those seats are measurably worse than the deposed 3rd deck ones. Vast stretches of the “Plaza Reserved” (aka Upper Bleachers) are the worst seats in MLB, with 30-50% of the outfield completely out of view. The top five rows of the “Plaza Outfield” (aka Plaza Oblique, aka Plaza Foulpole) are within horrible overhung bare cement caverns featuring awful oblique views of the field. But it goes further than that. Fewer concessions are open and the lines, bad already, have gotten worse, especially on the first level. The bathrooms are in awful condition, more broken fixtures than I’ve seen in over 30 years. The TV screens along the 2nd deck concourse are breaking and not being replaced. Kid ticket discounts are limited to the horrendous Plaza Foulpole section only—you want your kid to have a decent view, you’re paying full adult price. Enforcement against seat upgrading has been ratcheted up, and is done with an edge of hostility which was never there before.

The A’s made a conscious decision to control ticket supply in a way that affected the working class fans and families the most. A conscious decision. That’s the real “modeling for a new ballpark” aspect of the tarps. If you’re a low budget fan, the A’s would just as soon you stay home.


Oakland Si said...

agree with FSU. I am a season ticket holder, but the plaza outfield is no substitute for third deck 316-318. when I sat there I used the concessions on the plaza level anyway.

Georob said...

Again, I think the tarps come off next year.

I'm okay with not including the third deck in season ticket plans, and not even selling individual tickets there unless both the 1st and second decks are sold out 72 hours or more before game time.

That makes the walk-up fans happy, the so-called "working class fans" happy; and if anyone wants to move downstairs, let'em. That seat will have already been paid for at full price anyway.

They can leave the tarps on the upper deck of Mt. Davis, though I might make an exception for Giants games and maybe sell them for like a buck.

But with an average attendance of 22K, a capacity of 35,000 still allows too much room for last-minute buyers. And until that disparity is significantly reduced, the A's are better off getting additional revenue from those 10 or so games that they fill the third deck.

The Cactus Leaguer said...

As I mentioned over at OSC, I suspect that your experience (fewer cheap seats for walkup fans) is not unique. I have found it impossible to purchase tickets for less than $18 when I walk up to a Mariners game despite the fact that the $7 and $14 sections are not even close to being full.

Walkup fans are a captive audience and maybe they have figured out how to charge what that market (which has committed to driving & parking already) will pay.

Apricot said...

Thanks for your continuing work on this blog.

Whoever said "increased fan experience" is not the real point has hit it on the head. It has to boil down to increased revenue. This could be from

- bumping the third deck people into second deck prices (you wouldn't need many of these bumps to make up for 1,800 cheap seat fans a game)
- efficiency savings from staffing fewer stands
- efficiency savings from more predictable crowds (doesn't look like it)
- better experience => more repeat business

I would think this experiment would have to run a few years to really see if it's working, since loyalty and repeat business are supposedly a part of the equation. Also, it might work /really well/ if the A's can make some big playoff noise. Then people will feel the actual pinch of low ticket supply.

That said, I too miss my season tickets in 317.

Bleacher Dave said...

Concourse was much less crowded this year for the Giants series. This fan's experience was certainly enhanced.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I don't see how anyone can like the view from a area where every fly ball looks like its going out of the park. I hated those seats as a kid growing up and am still glad they closed off the 3rd deck.

And trust me, the 3rd deck will NOT be open come Sep. Those tarps will go right back up like they should once a Raider game is over.

Jimmy Jam said...

I'll take the view from the third deck any day over the new "bleachers" where you can't see a good portion of the outfield. The fly ball thing wasn't so bad, if there was ever any question whether or not it was going out you just watched the reaction of the outfielders.

But I guess it's a moot point now. The two best seats for the money IMO were the Upper Reserved and the old bleachers, but you can't turn back progress I suppose.

Jeff said...

Hey ML,

How is Australia treating you? That has to be one of the greatest countries for an American to visit. People are fantastic.

Anyway, a week or so ago Lew Wolfe dropped in on the broadcast crew while the game was being aired. He was most non commital on the subject of the Fremont negotiations. So much so that a mildly interested non partisan might have concluded that there were significant problems with the negotiations. I on the other hand viewed his reticence as almost a sure sign that the deal was close to being consummated. I based my assumption on the fact that nobody seeking to purchase a multimillion dollar piece of property was going to fawn over the deal. By doing so they may drive up the asking price. For my dollar, it's beginning to look like we will soon have the San Jose A's of Freemont. Wolfe went out of his way to point out that Arte Moreno had already covered a lot of the legal work in this particular area.

Georob said...

In my opinion, the only way Lew Wolff labels the team "San Jose" is if they're IN San Jose. Maybe "Oakland-San Jose", but if the A's really want to copy Arte Moreno, they'd use "San Francisco", "Bay Area", or some other name that refers to the entire region.

It's a touchy situation, and for that reason, I think the A's will stay with "Oakland" for the first few years and see what happens afterwards. The team will be in the South Bay, which should be enough to attract fans and Silicon Valley corporate money.

As for the "of Fremont" part of it, that's really up to Fremont, but with all the negative attention that "LAAofA" gets, you gotta wonder if Wolff will put the A's through that. Besides, very few outside of California and possibly Athletics Nation call the Angels anything but "LA".

Jeff said...

I don't know Rob, it seems that the Angels are raked over the coals over their name change because it is sort of a reach. They are 30 miles or so from LA. They played in the same stadium. The only thing that changed was the team name....same product, albeit with a more Latin flair in order to appeal to a very large demographic in the area. Brilliant move by Mr. Moreno in my opinion.

With the A's, they would in fact be RELOCATING a mere couple of miles from SJ. A brand new park. There are differences between the two, and a legitimate reason for the A's to change the name of the city which they choose to represent. Your're right in that most of the rest of the world accepted the name change of the Angels with little fanfare. All the more reason I think the A's will go with SJ. SJ is after all the prize.....and there really is no way of minimizing that fact.

Anonymous said...

Something of interest you should know regarding Lew Wolff and Cisco's property at Pacific Commons. Jim Cunneen is a top executive at San Jose-based Cisco Systems. Who the heck is Jim Cunneen you ask? He's one of the founders of Baseball San Jose and former head of the SJ/SV Chamber of Commerce. Does Mr. Cunneen have anything to do with the ongoing talks for Cisco's PC/Fremont property? Jeff and Georob, I would say those "negotiations" are going quite nicely...Viva San Jose!!

Anonymous said...

Something of interest you should know regarding Lew Wolff and Cisco's property at Pacific Commons. Jim Cunneen is a top executive at San Jose-based Cisco Systems. Who the heck is Jim Cunneen you ask? He's one of the founders of Baseball San Jose and former head of the SJ/SV Chamber of Commerce. Does Mr. Cunneen have anything to do with the ongoing talks for Cisco's PC/Fremont property? Jeff and Georob, I would say those "negotiations" are going quite nicely...Viva San Jose!!

Anonymous said...

Also, Jim Cunneen has more street cred in Fremont than any of those LF bleacher guys. He's the real "510" guy and he'll take on any of those Oakland losers. He has a better hockey mask cuz it's from the San Jose Sharks!!!! Also, Fremont has the best baseball fans. We're going to take the Raiders as well. We have the best tailgates and best fans. We make better costumes in the stands than those weak Oakland fans. The Raider Nation is headquartered in Fremont!!!!

drummer510 said...

I'm not going to respond to that last remark, because anon has really put to shame many Fremont fans. As for name changes, just because the Angels became the LA Angels doesn't mean the A's should as well. The Angels name is forced and most everybody think it's a huge publicity stunt. Fremont A's of Oakland, San Jose A's, East Bay A's, etc.; what the rest of the nation/league think. I think Wolff might as well come out and say that he is copying Moreno's strategy. Maybe Wolff should built a rock structure in center field as well...

"Cunneen has more street cred in Fremont than any of those LF bleacher guys. He's the real "510" guy and he'll take on any of those Oakland losers."-Please stop, your embarrassing your city.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious that 11:45 anon is an OAFCer pretending to be from Fremont. S/he's done it in other comments on here before. It's pretty lame and childish, and thoroughly unconvincing. A sign of the desperation of the "if they set 1 inch outside of Oakland city limits, they are dead to me" crowd?

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the snipey threads. I think the previous poster does bring a good point even if s/he is attacking Fremont. The passion of fans and the working class is being left out of all the discussion. Oakland does have some of the most passionate sports fans even if they aren't there in large numbers. I'll take the flag wavers and drums over the corporate crowd of that Telecom park across the bay. By the way, what would they call the interleague series of the A's and Giants if the team moves to Fremont? It couldn't be the Bay Bridge series since the bridge is not in Fremont city limits like Oakland.

Anonymous said...

When you say Viva San Jose, do you mean Viva San Jose Athletics of Fremont of I wish we were in Santa Clara County?

Anonymous said...

since the point of this whole third deck closure is to gather information for a new a's ballpark, i have a suggestion:

why not build a 40,000+ ballpark, and then tarp off some fairly undesirable sections to reduce it to 35,000?

then if at some point the demand is for a 40,000 regular season ballpark, the tarp could be removed. also, the tarp could be removed for the playoffs.

if it's going to be a a's-only facility, what would be the downside of doing this??

Anonymous said...

no point in having fremont in the name, it has no name recognition.

if they're moving right next to san jose, the name should be oakland a's, san jose a's, or if they want both "oakland a's of san jose."

Anonymous said...

someone suggested "the east bay a's" playing at "ebay field"...

Anonymous said...

"It couldn't be the Bay Bridge series since the bridge is not in Fremont city limits like Oakland."

who exactly is going to make them change the name? is it copyrighted?

it's the bay bridge series, or the battle of the bay. whether the a's are in oakland or fremont, the teams have to cross the BAY BRIDGE to play each other.

Georob said...

Oh, the San Jose folks are full of themselves again.

IF San Jose was indeed "the Prize" and Lew Wolff's intentions from Day One was to move them there and nowhere else, I honestly believe that he would appeal to not only the commissioner. but to the MLB owners to scrap the boundaries. For no matter what Bud Selig wants, the owners have to vote on it.

Lew Wolff is a SAN JOSE-BASED BUSINESSMAN and has been long before he took over the A's. So of course he's got contacts there. Of course he's going to be seen in public with San Jose friends, movers, and shakers. And if he was from say, Napa; we'd see a lot of wine executives hanging with him too. But no one would think he wanted to move the team there, would they?

Of all the San Jose Civic Boosters, Lew Wolff is the best qualified to convince the other MLB owners that San Jose should have a team. But he hasn't done it, why?

I'll tell you why. It's because like Oakland and Fremont, San Jose has risks. And to a good many owners, I think that risk is that a "San Jose A's" fanbase comes at the expense of the Giants. You can argue about whether that's true, but if the owners believe it then perception is reality.

San Jose is a great city and the A's would do well there. But it's not going to solve baseball's problems, not going to turn the A's into the Yankees, and most important, is NOT the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


Jeff said...

Oh, it's the prize alright. Did the Fremont site just pop up out of nowhere with Wolfe? Aren't there North Bay sites that are just as appealing? Of course there are....but none of them happen to sit next to a behemoth the size of SJ. This is a no brainer. It's so obvious it borders on the ridiculous to deny it. As I've said before, you could sit SJ in the middle of South Dakota and it would be more than sufficient in size and corporate presense to support a team. The only reason a team is not already there is that the voters rejected a bond to build a stadium. If it weren't so valuable do you really think the Giants would be so protective over their "rights"?

Rob, I often wonder about why you bother. You seem to enjoy denouncing both the Oakland crowd and the SJ speculators. Do you post just to atagonize both groups? It often appears that way.

Georob said...

Jeff, I "denounce" those who want to turn this into a cheerleading forum for their favorite city.

Read my last post. Did I not say that San Jose would be a good location for the A's? That Lew Wolff ought to appeal to the MLB owners and try to revoke the territorial boundaries?

But the San Jose folk want to just harp on how wonderful the city is and how it's a great undiscovered and untapped baseball market. Sorry, but when you already have two major league teams within 50 miles of you, you're not undiscovered, untapped, and certainly not "THE PRIZE"

As for the Oakland supporters? They constantly whine about how "unfair" the city's being treated, while ignoring the fact that its own leaders choose do to little about saving the team.

On top of that, they threaten to abandon all support if the A's take two steps out of city limits, saying that a Fremont move is the same as moving to Portland or Las Vegas. Give me a break!

Worst of all, Oakland's loudest and most eloquent advocate on this blog is flat out full of s___!

Lastly we have the Fremont folks, who have convinced themselves that
because of their "great fans" and "the real 510", they are destined not only to get the A's, but the RAIDERS too. Huh?

Fremont may indeed have all those things, but they also have land. As well as a location strategically between the East Bay base and the South Bay potential. Somehow, I doubt the "real 510" had anything to do with that.

Lew Wolff will move the A's to whatever locality makes the most economic and realistic sense. Not to the town with the best cheerleaders, and certainly NOT to the town that had the best pissing match.

Kevin said...

Jeff, I may be wrong, but I think the North Bay is also Giants territory.

Jeff said...

My apologies Rob, I misunderstood you. I somehow got the impression that you felt the SJ demographic was not a very big target for Wolfe. My own impression is that it has been his goal all along. Not that he had it in for Oakland, but the realities of the Oakland situation precluded a serious run at building a new stadium in Oakland. Building in Fremont and marketing to SJ may be the "second best" option, but it's more than adequate for his purposes. Sure, it's a regional approach rather than a direct approach, but it still works. I do agree with you concerning the extreme Oakland advocates. Most are reasonable, especially on this site. But others are (OAFC) can be utterly insufferable in their hatred for Wolfe. I don't get it, because if they are serious they should be focusing their venom on the city leaders. Putting the screws to the pols remains their most likely path to success.

Kevin, I think your correct. I should have said other sites in Contra Costa county and Alameda county. Those are the only two area's available to the A's if I remember correctly.

bartleby66 said...

Great post by apricot, you hit the nail right on the head. Why should the A's care if they lose a few thousand fans paying $8 (or $2) per game if they make more money overall? They have to maximize revenue if the team is going to remain viable over the long haul.

I can understand people missing the $8 ($2) upper deck; it was one of the biggest steals in the entertainment industry, let alone professional sports. How do you think fans in Boston would like to be able to walk up on game day and buy an upper deck seat for the Yankees or even the playoffs at minor league prices?

This is one of those "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" scenarios. It's true that the cheap seats at A's games are now more expensive and lower quality on average than before, but not enough fans showed up to make the old deal a sensible economic model. The A's are still a raging bargain compared to almost any other team in the bigs.

As for whether the tarps will ultimately help attendance, it's way too early to tell. The big prize for the A's is increasing their pitiful season ticket holder base; a few thousand extra season ticket holders would make up for an awful lot of disgruntled $8 walkup fans. The main reason people buy season tickets for baseball is to secure good seats for the playoffs. Assuming the A's make it this year, we'll need to wait until 2007 and 2008 to see if playoff ticket scarcity results in additional season ticket sales. It will take some time for a new reality of A's ticket scarcity to be processed by the ticket buying public.

bartleby66 said...

On the naming issue, the A's will be crazy if they don't call themselves the San Jose A's. There are more people and way more corporate money there than anywhere else in the Bay Area. In fact, if you were starting from scratch and there were no MLB teams in the Bay Area, you'd put one in San Jose before you put one in San Francisco.

The whole point of moving to Fremont is to capture the South Bay market without having to deal with the Giants territorial rights issue. From a marketing standpoint, any other name than San Jose A's makes no sense. Lew Wolff has alluded to this when asked whether the Giants will influence the team name, saying basically "We're respecting their territorial rights, they need to respect our right to call ourselves what we want."

There is zero chance the A's will call themselves anything "...of Fremont." The only reason the Angels use "...of Anaheim" is because their lease requires them to use Anaheim in the team name. Anaheim was able to obtain this concession because the city contributed millions of dollars of public money to the Angels' stadium renovation. As the A's ballpark will be privately financed, Fremont will not have the leverage to extract a similar concession.

People get way too worked up about what city limits a stadium sits in as pertains to team name. The Angels, NY Giants, Jets, Cowboys, Redskins, and Dolphins all sit outside their name city (and sometimes in a different state), and none of their business seems to have suffered. Although Fremont is traditionally considered part of the East Bay, it is geographically and economically a suburb of San Jose/Silicon Valley.

Georob said...

I have a question for all the San Jose fans out there:

You all seem pretty confident that the A's will become the "San Jose Athletics" regardless of whether they play there or not. But what happens if they keep the name "Oakland" or go for something that doesn't clearly imply the South Bay?(ie: Bay Area, SF Bay, Golden State, etc)

Will you still support the team? Will you go to games in Fremont or even become season ticket holders?

Judging from the fervor of the SJ crowd, I'd venture to guess that a good many of you would answer in the negative or at least give a very ambivalent "maybe"

Like I said to Jeff, I'll denounce anyone who wants to turn this into a civic cheerleading forum. And I sense too many of you see this as "payback time" for all the years San Jose has been in the shadow of San Francisco.

If that's the case, you're just as bad as the Oakland whiners who'd abandon the team even if they moved to San Leandro.

bartleby66 said...

I should state up front, I live in the South Bay. Speaking for myself, I support the team now as the "Oakland Athletics;" why would this change simply because they moved closer to where I live?

Actually, remaining the Oakland Athletics would be my second choice. People relate more to cities than states or regions; cities have identities, a sense of place. Oakland typifies grittiness, toughness. Although not as marketable as San Jose, it has a certain appeal.

If the A's try to please everyone by calling themselves something like the "Bay Area Athletics," they will end up pleasing no one. For one thing, rivalries work better between city pairs (SF v. Oakland is a better rivalry than SF v. "Bay Area"). For another, none of these faux regional names exactly rolls off the tongue.

Regional names sound dumber the larger or more diverse the region they purport to represent. Calling yourself the Arizona Diamondbacks is one thing, but a state like California, with many large, distinct metropolitan markets, just doesn't lend itself to this kind of agglomeration.

The lamest team name in professional sports, bar none, is the "Golden State Warriors." Who relates to a place called "Golden State?" What, like this is going to make the wine-and-cheese tasting crowd forget what city the arena is in?

I don't think the East Bay fans would find a regional name much more satisfying than I do. I also think they'd get used to rooting for the San Jose A's the same way we in the South Bay are used to rooting for SF or Oakland teams.

But yes, if the A's go the regional name route, I will remain a fan. And yes, if they move to Fremont, I will definitely go to more games and will likely become a season ticket holder. I know many other South Bay fans who feel the same way.

As a clarification, I feel no rivalry or hostility with San Francisco, one of the world's great cities. I would like to see San Jose get more recognition, which it deserves as the tenth largest city in the country.

Jeff said...

Rob,your question is a little unfair to the Oakland supporters. They are the ones who will be "loosing" something, while the SJ crowd has only something to gain. Or so it seems to me. Anyway, as I've stated before, it really makes no difference to me if the A's stay in Oakland or move to Fremont. I imagine that I will become at least a partial season ticket holder if the A's relocate. As you're aware, it's a long trek from Fresno to the Bay area so a full season ticket package isn't really a viable option. And it's likely that once the Oakland supporters become accustomed to the A's in Fremont, most of them will eventually attend games in the new park.

I have to agree that a regional name would make little sense. My bet is that the team will be called the San Jose A's, or perhaps a regional name tied to the city of SJ....such as the East Bay A's of San Jose. Either way, I have little doubt that Wolfe will market directly towards SJ.

Georob said...

The fact than San Jose is the "tenthlargestcityintheunitedstates" MEANS NOTHING. As I noted several months ago, there are actually six cities with MLB teams with populations SMALLER THAN FRESNO! (Atlanta, Minneapolis, KC, Anaheim, Arlington, and either Miami or Tampa)

It's the size of the market that matters here, and unfortunately a good chunk of what's considered the "San Jose market" is also considered part of San Francisco's as well (Palo Alto, Fremont, and Sunnyvale to name a few)

Because of the bay, the hills, and traffic, it's very easy to consider one's own locality as completely separate and disconnected from the rest of the Bay Area. But from a corporate and business standpoint, the Bay Area is more often considered as ONE REGION. And those corporations will be paying for Lew Wolff's stadium, whererver it is.

This is why the MLB owners haven't said "Territories be dammed! We need to be in San Jose!" And it's also why I think the A's will be very careful about changing the name until they've been in the South Bay for awhile.

Which relates back to my original question. If having the "SJ" on the team is so important, it makes you wonder just how loyal the South Bay support is going to be, especially for a team that is playing there.