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26 March 2007

SJ Giants Exit, Enter SJ A's?

Last November we discussed how the A's move to Fremont might affect the San Jose Giants. The move would invoke baseball's Rule 52, which requires consent by or compensation for a team whose territory has been encroached. Now it appears that a decision is about to be made. With no likelihood for the $8 million being sought by the Giants' owners to renovate San Jose Municipal Stadium, the state of the ballpark forces their hand. Both the SJ and SF Giants have wanted Muni to be upgraded for some time, though neither wants to foot much of the bill for it.

The SJ Giants are approaching their 20th year in existence, the longest continuous tenure of any team in San Jose. Over those two decades they've cultivated a small, devoted fanbase while showcasing *ahem* a few future SF Giants. Should the team move there will be a void that a major league team can't quite fill. Minor league baseball has an intimacy and pace that can't be captured at a major league park.

Don't cry too much for the SJ Giants' owners. Even one of the majority owners, Dick Beahrs, admits that "If the team moved elsewhere, I think you can make an argument that economically it makes sense, but we wouldn't be getting together on Thursdays in July to watch a game together." The owners will certainly be well-compensated. There's still a movement afoot for a team in the North Bay, which certainly sounds like a natural fit once the Bay Area baseball realignment has begun. The fans, however, won't receive much solace.

As it stands, the A's are still early in a relationship with new high-A affliate Stockton. The Ports play in a shiny new riverfront ballpark of their own, and it's difficult to envision that arrangement changing. The A's did operate two high-A franchises in early Beane era, so who's to say that can't happen again? Consider this:

The A's could bring SJ Muni into the SJSU-Earthquakes project, which makes sense because it's the same part of town. The A's, Quakes, and San Jose partner on Muni renovation, which would benefit the A's and San Jose (good PR), and SJSU (updated facility). While the Giants' tradition would leave, a new one could start for the A's. Stockton's market isn't threatened by a team in central San Jose. Bay Area fans would have an even greater opportunity to see A's draftees matriculate through the farm system - which tends to pay more dividends than the Giants'.

If the concept sounds bizarre, keep this in mind: One of the first sports teams Lew Wolff invested in was the late 70's San Jose Missions. Wolff has experience with the minors. The Mets and Yankees both have short-season teams in the five boroughs (Coney Island and Staten Island, respectively).

Of course, there are business reasons for not having a minor league club in San Jose. San Jose is already full of non-major league sports franchises that compete against each other (Sabercats, Stealth), and having a baseball team would dilute the market. A baseball team would also compete with the parent A's to an extent, and certainly with the Quakes for the budget sports dollar. Also, how would pro-MLB San Jose partisans feel about such a move? Would they consider it patronizing? I'd like to see the A's preserve minor league baseball for the multitude of reasons described above, but it requires some scratch and someone else to operate the team, and the economics may not allow such a situation to occur.

21 comments:

azcixc said...

I can't wait for the SVA's to get out of town, get their yuppie condo cellphone thing on.

At that point, Oakland gets its stadium back! Get some regular folks in there again, the little leaguers and old folks, those who ride BART, the Hammer Kids will return!

They can take their tarps and their "intimate experience" - with men in tight pants, gross! - get a room. Oakland deserves a real ballpark, for real Oakland sports fans.

I'd root for the OAKLAND GIANTS, even.

If the despots want to stomp on our fun, I say we start our own damn league.

Anonymous said...

ta ta, have fun with your new league...may I suggest Oaklandfans.com for you.

Have fun with your 5 or 6 friends.

Meanwhile, the majority of us will enjoy Major League Baseball in our shiny new park 23 miles away, in the SAME COUNTY...

Anonymous said...

Uhhh, yep, the Giants, I think thats a REAL possibility.

Larry Baer, talking to Peter Magowan... "HEY BOSS guess WHAT????"

"What?"

"The A's have left the Coliesum"

"Whoahhhhh, pack your bags, and turn PacBell into a homeless shelter, we're headed across the Bay, for the friendly confines of Mount Davis!!!"

"Think we could have those tarps dyed Orange, and find the old orange seats they used to have?"

Georob said...

In the article, the SJ development director says that the A's "wouldn't want to have a minor league team in its operating radius".

Well, what is that radius? If its 50 miles from Oakland, don't the SJ Giants already violate that? Or are they protected by the parent team's territorial rights over SJ? I guess the A's wouldn't care if one of their own teams was in San Jose.

If this were a AAA team we were talking about, I could see both the conflicts and the possibilities. But single A? I say let places like Sonoma and Stockton have them.

However, I do remember many years ago an effort to try and get a minor league team in Concord. And with the A's moving to Fremont it might behoove Lew Wolff to try and protect his Northern East Bay fanbase by putting a single A team there.

John Seal said...

Even though I'm a hardcore A's fan, I love Municipal Stadium and would hate to see San Jose lose its team. If that's unavoidable, though, how about having the SJ Giants relocate to the Coliseum? That way those of us who actually live in Oakland would still have some baseball to watch (well, other than Little League and Cal...).

Anonymous said...

Hey MarineLayer,

What do you think of Glenn Dickey's speculation in todays Examiner www.sfexaminer.ocm
that the wolff is only trying to get the land zoning change in fremont changed and that while he is building his residential, he is going to announce that the Ballpark is not feasible and move out of the area.

Seems pretty speculative at best to me.

Anonymous said...

isn't it obvious that the Fremont park is not going to happen?

Marine Layer said...

We're all speculating at this point, and Dickey's earned the right. I'll post later today about his column.

Anonymous said...

I thought the fremont plan was a smoke screen from day 1. first wolff stipulates that any new park has to be close to bart, then he quickly pulls the plug on the spot in the coliseum parking lot because of power lines (?), then the ill-conceived village up the road from the current site in oakland, then suddenly the site at fremont is ok despite the fact that traffic, as you say, would be a mess and the site has no convenient public transportation access. Not sure if you remember but before wolff announced the fremont plan, he said that he discussed something with Selig about the park but Selig told him that plan was premature and should be tabled for now. So I'm wondering if that plan was to locate out of the bay area (Las Vegas?, Portland?) and should be looked into when the fremont thing inevitably fails.

Oh well, I do think that all would be better off if the a's were to move to Sacramento anyway. There, they could attract some of the east bay fans they currently have, draw on a growing region in the sac county and have the area to themselves. Here, they will forever be second fiddle to the Giants who have tradition, fans and the premier venue in all of MLB in one of America's favorite destinations - San Francisco.

azcixc said...

WIN: Fremont's about the condos and the Cisco-Disco deal. Who needs the real game when they'd be just as happy with virtual ball? Game consoles for all the fans! Build it and they will come.

WIN: A's to Sacramento. Double up the stands and you've got intimate right there. Heck, don't matter if half the seats only have half a view. And looking at the map, I see MORE LAND !!!

WIN: Rivercats to Oakland. We'd be happy to swap you - fair trade?

Once upon a time, the fair citizens of the Bay Area would tell LA land developers to stay the hell down in LA. And 70 year old billioniares knew when it was time to curb their greed, play some golf, and retire

Anonymous said...

Well, the conspiracy theorists are alive and well! Either Marine Layer put the comment moderation on auto pilot or he's decided the board's gotten a little too boring

Bring 'em to Raley! said...

The Sacramento Athletics! Yes!

azcixc said...

anon 3:43:

If you are referring to me as a "conspiracy theorist," your reply is without substance, but is rather an ad hominem attack: replying to an argument by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument.

As such, your comment is the one which should be called into question; thus you prove your own point true.

I represent someone who has been transformed from a happy, loyal, paying customer into an extremely dissatisfied ex-customer.

Let me ask you two simple questions:

In what context can this be justified as the result of good business practice?

Is the customer to blame?

Marine Layer said...

azcixc, a few corrections:
Fremont is not interested in furthering their bedroom community rep by allowing the housing without the ballpark. So it's not a win for them.

I've written about how Raley Field, despite its youth and expandability, will not be ready to field a major league team by simply adding seats. The game has changed an order of magnitude since Raley was built. It simply won't cut it.
----
georob: Rule 52 specifically states 15 miles. The way it was written previously, the RiverCats could've moved to San Jose and the Giants wouldn't have had an argument.

azcixc said...

hey ml -

Found your original post:
http://newballpark.blogspot.com/2005/08/what-about-sacramento.html

Much has changed since then.

The SJ reporter referred to the Tigers as "less than mediocre slugs."

Post-tarp, I think we know the Wolf has no interest in "the vast majority of casual baseball fans."

Toss this into Google Maps: 400 Ball Park Dr 95691

Look at all that land !!!

Pre-ballpark village, none of us were looking too closely at feasibility studies regarding the acres surrounding the park. You didn't make any mention of these lots in your article of 8/05. Got any more data there?

Heck, tear down Raley Field and rebuild - they're building from scratch anyway. If Fremont falls through, and we can convince Lew, he can build his condo-trocity right there.

Send Oakland the Rivercats and a player to be named later and I will be a happy customer once again.

azcixc said...

Your link to "San Jose Missions" points here:

Wolff Urban Development LLC

The principals of Wolff Urban Development owned a significant interest in the San Jose Missions Minor League Baseball team in 1980. The team was subsequently sold and became part of the San Francisco Giants farm system. The team was renamed to the San Jose Giants.

Wikipedia says:

The San Jose Missions were a minor league baseball team which played in the Pacific Coast League in 1977 and 1978. The team had been known as the Sacramento Solons prior to 1977, and played its home games in a football stadium there. Hoping to persuade Sacramento officials to provide a baseball facility for the Solons, the owners "leased" the team to San Jose for two seasons while negotiations were under way. After two seasons of dismal attendance in San Jose, and with no progress made on the stadium issue, the team was sold and moved to Ogden, Utah for the 1979 season.

These accounts appear to contradict each other. What's the true story?

Anonymous said...

azcixc,

Sac is NOT going to build a stadium built for the Athletics; they were overwhelmingly against building an arena for the Kings.

I do believe Fremont is the last best hope for the A's in Northern California.

Unless you are like the nutcase Diamond Shril, who would rather have the A's leave the state altogether rather than a place a mere 23 miles away, then your argument seems more like class envy at "yuppies" and the like, as the economics of baseball, which have driven teams to new stadiums, thus making it harder for the average fan to attend as many games.

That's not the A's fault, its simply the way it is now.

Marine Layer said...

The Tigers may have turned into pennant winners, but Sac is no better position to get a team. Let's keep in mind that Raley Field is in West Sac, not Sac proper. West Sac is known for being more development-friendly than the capitol but that doesn't mean it'd be easy to do basically the same thing there as what's being planned in Fremont. A key issue is levee protection on the west bank of the Sacramento river. There's no way that housing gets built that close without shoring up the levee. The nearby industrial businesses would have to sign off on the plan as well.

Marine Layer said...

The 1977-78 Missions were the "leased" Sacramento Solons. Once they left, the 1979 Missions stepped in as a Class-A Cal League team. That team lasted through the 1982 season and was supplanted by the SJ Expos and in 1984, the SJ Bees.

Anonymous said...

The reason the A's no longer have two High A teams in California is because MLB passed a new rule prohibiting teams from having more than one affiliate in the same league. So the only way the A's could get an affiliate in San Jose would be for them to move from Stockton. Which is doubtful given the great new stadium there.

Marine Layer said...

So that's the reason. That's unfortunate. I think that one of the reasons baseball's golden era was so special was because of how large the institution of baseball was, with Class B, C, and D in addition to independent leagues and the established A-AAA system. All of these teams gave the game as a whole greater exposure to numerous communities than it has now. TV and free agency changed the rules.