10 October 2006

Purdy: Magowan blew it

As usual, Merc columnist Mark Purdy does little to make Oakland partisans happy. In Purdy's most recent piece, he sets his sights squarely on Giants owner Peter Magowan:

Something else I know: The Giants are concerned about the A's possible move. Team owner Peter Magowan has stubbornly invoked his territorial rights clause to prevent the A's from moving to Santa Clara County. However, Magowan can do nothing to stop Wolff from going right to the county line and snatching away consumers on the other side.

How about this? About six weeks ago, Magowan and Giants executive Larry Baer were spotted in a vehicle in Fremont, eyeballing the A's potential new home. A tipster saw them stop for coffee at Starbucks, drive around the proposed ballpark site in their SUV, then hit the freeway.

When Baer was recently asked to confirm this sighting, he jokingly asked whether someone had placed a tracking chip in the vehicle.

And then Baer said: "I can neither confirm nor deny that it happened."

In other words, it happened.

Purdy points to a parade happening in San Jose, in 2010. If the A's are having trouble figuring out the right city (Oakland, Fremont, San Jose), perhaps the best place to have a parade would be San Francisco - just to rub it in.


Jeff said...

Hey ML,

After reading James post in the other thread I'm beginning to wonder if Wolfe hasn't outflanked everybody. Could it really be possible that he tossed out the TR issue as a screen while the whole time his target has been Fremont? It makes sense if his goal were to keep land aquisition costs down in Fremont. What would Mcgowans reaction be if he approached Wolfe about selling the TR's to Santa Clara only to be rebuffed by Lew? THAT would be interesting.

Marine Layer said...

It's possible. I can say this much: Wolff encouraged everything the ballpark effort in San Jose and said to boosters there, "Let me work on this (territorial rights)." If all sites were equal, SJ would by far have been the choice. Fremont happens to have a lot of things going for it that work to the A's advantage.

An entitlements-based land deal along the lines of what's happening in Fremont may have been possible in San Jose, but it wouldn't be co-located and it would've required some extra political effort to get it done. That could have required years.

I don't believe that Fremont was the master plan. I think three plans were put together (yes, that includes a real Oakland concept) with the idea that any one of them could get the green light depending on what happened politically in their respective cities. It just so happens that Fremont so far is the path of least resistance, and most everyone knew that going in.

Georob said...

In Peter Magowan's ideal world, the A's would leave the Bay Area altogether. Pac Bell Park was being built while the A's were at their lowest level of support and attention since the late 70's. I'm sure the Giants felt that the new stadium would be the final nail in the coffin and that the A's would leave.

They didn't.

Peter Magowan is not so mad that the A's are building a stadium in the South Bay as much as the fact that they are building a stadium PERIOD. Believe me, if it was in Downtown Oakland, he'd be just as pissed and maybe more since that would be even closer to McCovey Cove.

Territorial rights over Santa Clara County eliminated a lot of A's sites, but a move to Portland or Vegas would have eliminated them all.

Again, THIS IS NOT ABOUT SAN JOSE! It's about the WHOLE BAY AREA. And the Giants have always, ALWAYS wanted to go back to having it all to themselves.

Jeff August said...

A big round of applause to MR. Marine Layer!!! I'd like to buy you a beer sometime at an A's game!

Thanks for the dilligent effort you put in to get this inofrmation out in a single place. Your blog and athletics nation (where I am "jeffro") are really outstanding places for A's fans to get informed.

I look at this development as Magowan checking out if there are really bullets in the gun. A bad anaolgy, but Wolff has a gun and it is pointed at Magowan. Magowan bet that there were no bullets, so the Fremont situation was an idle threat... turns out, there are bullets.

You can't make a "threat" if you aren't willing to follow through. Looks like Lew is willing to follow thorugh, and for that reason alone (and Magowans repeated propensity for blunder) I believe the A's will open 2010 as the Silicon Valley A's playing at Athletics Field in Cisco Village.

I, for one, am excited about the potential.

Anonymous said...

Georob said "Peter Magowan is not so mad that the A's are building a stadium in the South Bay as much as the fact that they are building a stadium PERIOD."

Well, it's not a FACT yet. I still remember the news conference where the mayor and the old Giants owner (Bob Lurie, I believe) were holding up San Jose Giants pennants,announcing their plans for a new ballpark in SJ...

I am, however, cautiously optimistic...

Anonymous said...

What georob says is true, but it doesn't mean that the Giants fanbase will increase. Those of us who grew up as A's fans will never support those stinkin' Giants.

anthony dominguez said...

Hey Rhamesis, here's a thought...could Peter Magowan get MLB to provide him compensation for the A's moving to Fremont (since that move will prove as costly to the Giants as a move to SCCo proper)? Doesn't sound likely, given that Fremont isn't within the Giants T Rights...but then again, Peter Angelos didn't have T Rights to DC, but still was compensated! Also, at this point, even if Magowan came to the realization that he "blew it," I don't think we should expect the Bay Area landscape to change now (although it would be great for this SJ Partisan!). With so many people, like Mr. Purdy and many here on this site (including myself) stating how Magowan blew it for not dealing San Jose, how could a rich man with power (and pride) now admit that he was "wrong" all will never happen. See you all in Fremont and GO A'S!!

Marine Layer said...

No, Tony, MLB will not do such a thing. Selig guards MLB's central fund like a pitbull.

Georob said...

Tony, if this the A's don't end up with either "San Jose" or "Silicon Valley" in the name, will you still support them?

I don't think you will.

Everyone talks about "screwing over" the Giants and frankly, there'd be no better way to do it than to call them "San Francisco" or "San Francisco Bay" That's why the Angels are now "LA" even though, like San Jose; Orange County is big enough to support a team on its own.

It will be a tough choice, and that's why I'm sticking to my prediction that "Oakland" stays at least for the first few years in Fremont while the A's see where fan and corporate support comes from before making a change.

Transic said...

They are the OAKLAND A's until the owners say otherwise. With that in mind, it's going to be interesting to see how Wolff and other investors can come up with the mixed-use retail/residential plan they keep promising.

What kind of demand would there be for housing in that area? Isn't it a bit isolated compared to the rest of the Bay Area? From ML's photos, I get the impression that there is not much built up. Trying to get groceries or other simple errands would not be easy.

I guess the idea is to make Fremont more of a "destination area" than an actual city with the "busyness" that comes with it.

anthony Dominguez said...

What the heck are you talking about?! I support the A's now! And I've been a part of many a "let's go Oakland, let's go!!" yells in the past...does this answer your question? If they aren't named after SJ or SV in Fremont, I'll still support them...JUST AS I DO NOW! As for naming them after SF, I would agree with you if SJ's population wasn't nearly 1 million (Anaheims about 3-4K). I don't think the A's in Fremont will continue to be "Oakland" only because they would be closer to the money that is SJ/SV...if not SJ or SV, I could see them being named GOLDEN STATE or EAST BAY Athletics.

anthony Dominguez said...

Here's one final thought for this evening (and it's pretty out there). Peter Magowan and Larry Baer scouting out the Pacific Commons ballpark site...kind of like a stalker spying on some hot chick. Were they simply "stalking" the site, or could Magowan/Baer be part of a Pacific Commons land deal? It doesn't really make sense for them to be out at the site just to check it out...does it? Who else was in the SUV (Lew? J. Fisher?). They could have seen the site/gauged the distance to SCCo. by simply picking up a Thomas Guide or using Google Earth. Anyhow, enough mystery...Good night Rob!

Marine Layer said...

The Bay Area is large, but the housing demand is so high that there is no space that can't be developed other than the bay itself. Fremont's a key location because it's in the East Bay, which typically has less expensive housing than the South Bay, San Francisco, or Peninsula. Yet it's within minutes of the "Golden Triangle" where so many employers are located.

The aerial photos I've posted are from January 2004. Since then, an enormous shopping center has been built there that contains Lowe's, Kohl's, Circuit City, Costco, and several other retailers. The only thing really missing is a supermarket, and the area could become hot enough that there will be multiple grocery chains bidding for the privilege.

What's missing are major infrastructure pieces. If the project adds a few thousand new residents over time, will there be a school in the area? Where will parks be located? Will a police station be added?

Fremont has few entertainment options within city limits. This is all a big part of keeping entertainment dollars within.

bartleby66 said...

The DUMBEST thing the A's could do would be naming the team "San Francisco" or "San Francisco Bay." McGowan would be laughing so hard the milk would come out his nose. To whom exactly would this appeal?

North Bay and San Francisco residents who aren't currently going to A's games aren't going to suddenly start driving thirty extra miles to go see "San Francisco Lite." They'll keep going to see the real San Francisco team.

East Bay residents who have their own resentments of San Francisco and the Giants aren't going to start going to games in greater numbers. In fact, many would be completely repelled by this (much more so than changing the team name to San Jose, a city with which Oakland feels little rivalry).

Nor would this be the best way to develop new fans in the South Bay. Just as fans in the East Bay have feelings of civic pride (evidenced by the strong feelings posted here about keeping the team within city limits and Oakland in the team name), so do South Bay fans. This idea that San Jose metro residents love being considered an inconsequential vassal state to San Francisco would be amusing if it weren't also insulting.

Does San Jose have an inferiority complex where San Francisco is concerned? Certainly it does. SJ is by far the larger and more economically important city, tenth biggest in the country, yet no one east of the Sierras knows where the heck it is. In fact, they wouldn't even know it existed if it weren't for the Sharks and that stupid Dionne Warwick song. The best way to appeal to this large and affluent fan base and corporate community is to give it the recognition it craves.

(And as someone who has lived and worked for more than ten years in Palo Alto/Los Altos/Saratoga/Los Gatos, I can say that this includes people in those communities, who by and large have stronger ties to and identify more with San Jose than San Francisco).

The argument that the Bay Area is all one market has just enough truth to it to be seriously misleading. For some purposes it is, and for some purposes it isn't.

For pro football, sure, it doesn't really matter that much where you put the stadium. There's only eight home games a year, they're almost all on Sundays (making the drive more tolerable), and pro football is enough of an event that people don't care that much about driving an hour to the games.

For pro baseball, it's a totally different story. There are eighty-one home games a year, most of which fall on weeknights. Sure, people will drive an hour once in a while if they have no other option, but they're not buying season tickets under those circumstances. On average, the people filling the seats are going to live within about thirty minutes of the ballpark.

Currently, AT&T Park and McAfee Coliseum are about fifteen miles apart. This is not an optimal way to serve a region as large and populated as this one. It makes as much sense as building only two airports and putting them right next to each other because, "what the heck, it's all one Bay Area."

Moving the A's to Fremont will hurt the Giants a little, but benefit the A's a lot. The net will be a huge increase in revenues for MLB overall which could never be achieved in Oakland proper because it simply does not have the corporate base to support the suite and club seat sales which drive everything in modern baseball.

The situation in Anaheim is not completely analogous. Anaheim is not a major city in its own right like San Jose; it's a big bloated suburb more comparable to Fremont. If there was another big city closer to the Angels than Los Angeles (as San Jose will be to the A's in Fremont), I'm sure Moreno would name the team after that city. There just isn't any city in Orange County that residents identify with the way Silicon Valley residents identify with San Jose.

Those of you who are advocating this "one Bay Area" view, have you ever visited the South Bay? You should come down sometime and try to get more of a finger on the pulse of the community. You might like it; it's not as scenic or glamorous as SF, but downtown SJ is lively on the weekends, and the weather is nice. :-)

Georob said...

Since Disneyland opened fifty years ago, Anaheim has been known worldwide. Pretty good for a community of around 300,000 if you ask me!

Furthermore, Orange County has a population of 3 million people. That should be enough in anyone's book to support a baseball team by itself. Problem is, they still have to compete with the other 6 or 7 million that make up Southern California and identify with "Los Angeles"

That's why Moreno chose to name the team "LA", and why the A's would be well served by going after a broader constituency than the name "San Jose" would imply.

At 1.6 million, Santa Clara County doesn't even come CLOSE to Orange in population, but because San Jose was fortunate enough to annex everything to the south of it, they want it all. Let's face it, if areas like Blossom Hill, Almaden, Willow Glen, Capitol, and even Coyote had done what Campbell did and incorporated into separate communities, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

To you guys this is ALL ABOUT SAN JOSE, period! It's not about the A's, or major league baseball, or even the greater South Bay. For if that "SJ" doesn't get put on those green and gold uniforms, you're outa here!

I'm right, aren't I?

bartleby66 said...


As far as current South Bay A's fans abandoning a Fremont-based team if it's not named "San Jose": No, you're dead wrong. This question has been answered repeatedly on this board, but since it keeps getting asked, I'll say it again: NO. Virtually every South Bay poster here is already a fan of the OAKLAND A's. Why would this change by virtue of the team moving closer to us? At least if you're going to keep repeating this absurd and insulting accusation, offer some rationale for it.

As far as this being all about the City of San Jose, again, no. As has been explained repeatedly on this board, the South Bay/Silicon Valley offers a large, affluent population and the biggest concentration of corporate money, by far, in the entire Bay Area. Therefore the move will benefit the A's, MLB, greater South Bay residents, and southern Alameda county residents. In fact, pretty much everyone except the Giants and those disgruntled Oakland partisans who miss their $10 seats behind home plate and easy BART ride to the game.

As a clarification: I do not live or work in the City of San Jose. I live and work in two of the South Bay towns that you have previously asserted are locked-in Giants territory. I don't believe this, nor do I think Peter McGowan believes it or he wouldn't be as concerned, but we'll see once the ballpark is built.

Calling the team "Silicon Valley" or "South Bay" would probably serve Wolff's purposes well enough. But as I've posted before, people don't identify primarily with counties, fictional places like "Golden State" or amorphous regions like "Bay Area," they identify primarily with cities. Also, "regionalized" names sound pretty clunky. For those of us who live down here, "San Jose" is pretty well synonymous with "South Bay." So, we would feel well-represented by it and it would better serve the A's efforts to market to the South Bay.

With respect to Anaheim, you are right that it has name recognition because of Disney, but it is still a big suburb and it doesn't dominate Orange County the way San Jose dominates the South Bay. Even so, I actually agree that the Angels would be better off sticking with the name "Anaheim" (for want of a better alternative) than trying to lay claim to "Los Angeles." Los Angeles is an hour away and already has its own team; and as you've said, Orange County is more than big enough to support an MLB team on its own. I think Moreno will alienate more of his natural market than he'll draw away from the Dodgers.

However, in the case of the Angels, at least you can see why Moreno is trying: As you noted, Los Angeles is more than twice the size of Orange County. Santa Clara County, on the other hand, is more than twice the size of San Francisco. So if you're the A's in Fremont, which makes more sense: Trying to identify with a city that's almost an hour away and already has its own team, or identifying with a much larger city which is five miles from your ballpark and has no major league team?

Bleacher Dave said...

population map of the bay area:

anthony Dominguez said...

Bartleby66...YOU DA MAN! Crickets can now chirp away all they want Rob! By the way, I think the Anaheim teams should go by "The OC!"..."The OC Angels!" or "The OC Ducks!" Heck, the Clippers should get smart, relocate to The Pond, and be coined "The OC Clippers!"

Georob said...

Okay, well let's look at it from this angle: How often do you hear the Giants or 49'ers referred to as "West Bay" teams? Hardly ever.

Like it or not, the "San Francisco" label signifies to a good many Bay Area residents (North, South, East and West) that this is THEIR team. This is one big reason Oakland always plays "second fiddle" and why marketing the A's as a South Bay team will only be marginally better.

In fact, while listening to KNBR today during a discussion about the Sharks, the smart-ass host made some remark about going "all the way down to San Jose" to see a game. So much for showing respect to the "tenthlargestcityintheus"!

If San Jose built high rises all the way to Morgan Hill and surpassed LA in population, it wouldn't change the fact that there's still a huge body of water that defines this region and it's named "San Francisco".

So shout "Viva San Jose" all you want! Me? I'll go for Viva Paper Towels!

Marine Layer said...

If the radio host in question was Ralph Barbieri (a.k.a. "The Razor"), he was referring to the fact the he drives to San Jose not from San Francisco, but from his home in Novato. Considering all of the bridge-related traffic, it's probably a quicker drive from Stockton to SJ than from Novato to SJ.

peanut gallery said...

Besides, KNBR hates on everything they don't partially own (Giants) or have broadcast rights for (Warriors, 49ers, Giants). They aren't a very good indicator of how the typical sports fan feels, from SF or otherwise.

Cool map, BD. Thanks for posting that.

bartleby66 said...

Rob, you don't live down here, and I guarantee you don't understand the psychology of those of us who do. "San Francisco" would not give South Bay residents as much sense of ownership of a Fremont team as "San Jose," "South Bay," or "Silicon Valley." Those posers who only want to identify with the glamour of San Francisco will remain Giants fans.

Why do you think the Sharks have been so wildly successful, despite the fact that they don't play in a traditional hockey market, despite the fact that hockey is a second-tier sport, despite the fact that the Sharks have been lousy for most of their history, despite the fact that they compete with a host of other sports and entertainment options in the Bay Area, and despite the fact that tickets are insanely expensive?

The reason the Sharks have done so well is because they identified and targeted an unserved market in the South Bay. South Bay residents didn't know a damn thing about hockey before the Sharks came, they were just wildly excited to finally be recognized as a major league city on some level. This effect would be an order of magnitude higher for a real big-league sport like MLB.

When you develop a business plan, you don't attack the competition's strength from your own point of weakness. Fremont will never out-San Francisco San Francisco itself, and it would be foolish to try. If you are a person living anywhere in the Bay Area who truly identifies with San Francisco, are you going to go see the real San Francisco team or some wannabe imitator out in the burbs of the South Bay?

A smart business plan tries to identify markets which are unserved or underserved, especially if they play to your strengths. The strength of an A's team in Fremont will be proximity to a large and affluent population and huge corporate base which currently has only one quasi-major league team. That's where you're going to concentrate your marketing. If you happen to get a few San Franciscans to drive down also (maybe die-hard AL fans), great, but you're not building your marketing plan around them.

Yes, those of us who live in the South Bay consider ourselves residents of the Bay Area. But there are primary identifications and secondary identifications, and that is a secondary identification. The primary identification is generally to the largest city in your region and the one with which you have economic ties.

I truly have no idea why you brought up Barbieri's comment, it really supports my point. He hates having to drive from the North Bay to San Jose for Sharks games, which is totally rational. In his case, he does it because it's his job, but I dare say very few Sharks season ticket holders live in Marin (and relatively few in San Francisco, for that matter). How the hell do you think we in the South Bay feel about having to drive all the way up to San Francisco or Oakland every time we want to see a professional football, baseball or basketball game? My point again, underserved market.

Likewise your comment about San Jose not getting respect. It DOESN'T get the respect it deserves, and that's part of why a big-league team targeting its marketing to San Jose would be so powerful.

If I travel and get asked where I live, I don't say "San Francisco," I say "near San Jose." Of course, that usually gets a blank stare, at which point I'm forced to say "It's about an hour south of San Francisco." I'll be damned if I ever start telling people I'm from San Francisco, but I know I speak for a lot of South Bay residents when I say I'd love to be able to drop the footnote. A major league team identified with San Jose would be a step in this direction.