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25 September 2007

Act locally then globally

An article in this week's Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal (by Lindsay Riddell) covers the A's business side of the house from a different angle: opportunities abroad. The premise is that while Moneyball keeps the ship running lean and mean, the lack of high-profile players limits potential advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

The first step towards getting high-priced free agents, especially from Japan, is to get on a better financial footing with a new ballpark. Revenues should rise appreciably from current levels for Billy Beane to go after one or more international stars (Beane's somewhat spotty results with big ticket free agents notwithstanding). We can only speculate as to how much, and even team officials admit that they're not going to reach Yankee heights anytime soon.

However, this is an interesting opportunity to open a dialog with fans, especially sabremetric nuts who go ga-ga over measuring value and efficiency. Surely the team's already come up with certain projections about what their payrolls would be leading up the opening of Cisco Field and beyond. That's not to say they should share all of this info with the fans, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to throw fans a bone about what to expect.

For instance, how about a pledge? Again, no specific numbers. We don't know if this year's $80 million payroll translates to $100 million or $120 million in 5 years. However, everyone would be well served by something along the lines of this:
The A's will maintain a payroll similar to the other AL West teams.
The other three teams have payrolls 20-30% higher than the A's, so a pretty sizable bump would be required to get to their level. I've run a couple of models and think that this is doable even without constant sellouts thanks to the way the deal will probably be structured and MLB's revenue sharing rules. So why not at some point throw the fans that bone? It'll make the whole concept easier to swallow for the hardcore fan.

14 comments:

lew wolfe is a jerk from LA said...

The A's should do their fans a favor and begin to play competitive baseball again. To be honest, I'd rather be watching the Rivercats. Seeing the A's wilt to Boston is embarrassing.

Where was the Wolfe at the trading deadline? City Council meetings. I will maintain that his purchase of the team was entirely for purposes of land-grab, until proven otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, he's an Angels fan.

If he's an A's fan - lets see him prove it. Let's see him get some talent for the team. Let's see him remove the tarp so that regular bay area folks can go to the games again.

Basically: let's see him restore the team to the state it was in before his consortium purchased it.

While he's off peddling pie-in-the-sky high-tech gated communities, he's selling us damaged goods. Second-rate garbage. Typical of a slum-lord: step one, let the neighborhood decay.

In regards to your post - team marketing - fire every single person currently attached to that concern. Including whatever ad agency is currently milking the account. It's quite obvious, they stink.

We may be watching an AAA team, but the marketing is a joke. I could get better results from a first grader. Even a first grader would know better than to blame such dismal results on the customer - the fan.

But that's all irrelevant, they don't even really care about putting butts in seats.

My hope is that Lew finally gets frustrated and sells the the fanchise back to someone who WANTS it, rather than someone who is just using it for a stepping stone for a land grab, or other such crap.

Watching the remmnants of our "team" in Boston is simply embarrassing. What they've done to our franchise in the course of two years makes me ill.

Marine Layer said...

I understand the frustration but I think your sentiments are misplaced. The A's had an $80 million payroll this year. They've spent more during Wolff's tenure than in the prior 5 years combined. Granted, most of that comes from revenue sharing so it's the least the team can do, but money is not the problem.

If anything there are more problems on the baseball side of the team. It's clear that Beane and Geren are using the last month as a trial prior to spring training for 4th/5th starters, and to round out the pen. The DiNardo/Braden/Meyer troika looks bad, and Gaudin has run out of gas. Where does one begin with the injuries? How much of that can be blamed on Billy's willingness to take on riskier, more injury-prone players? How much is it related to an unimpressive training staff?

Exactly what could have happened at the trading deadline that would have made the team that much more competitive? Deal from the thin ranks of prospects? And what was the team's state before he took over? Mulder/Hudson/Zito? Their post-A's careers largely speak for themselves. Giambi? Dye? One hasn't earned his money in NY while the other experienced and unexpected career resurgence after finally becoming healthy and not being asked to bat cleanup.

Let's see if/when the team gets healthy, then we can judge it on its merit. Blaming Wolff is a red herring. BTW, I don't see Mark Cuban bidding on this team anytime soon.

As for the tarp, consider this: The A's have gone over 30,000 in attendance 14 times this season, compared to 23 times last season. If fans really want to come there are far more than 5,000 seats for just about every game if they want.

Jeffrey said...

Knee jerk reactions abound.

What they have done to our franchise in 2 years is get farther in the playoffs than anyone else has since 1992, and kept enough prospects around to keep the team relatively competitive while cycling through 54 players in a single season.

I don't understand the logic that the A's ownership isn't about winning. What a load of crap. Most of the reason the team is out fo contention is due to injury.

I guess Lew Wolff hit Rich harden in the shoulder with a rubber mallet, gave Esteban Loaiza whiplash, took a jack hammer to Justin the Duke's hip, etc. All in the name of a "land grab." I'd like to watch the world through your eyes, it would be interesting.

58edsil said...

Great response, ML. As for LW Jerk, why the name calling? Someone has a different idea or approach from you and they are wrong. Use the facts, not your heart. The year was lost to injuries, not the owners, GM, or coaches. Plain and simple we have too many marginal players that became injured. There are only 3 division winners and 1 wildcard each year. Do you really expect the A's to win each year? They did not spend $150+ million like the NY and Boston teams.

Upper Deck Tarps: Get over it. Buy a full priced seat and sit where you are supposed to, not the the $2 ticket and try to sit in the MVP section.

Where's Oakland's support? Look around the stadium. Very few of Oakland citizens attend. Just about everyone in my section lives outside of Oakland. The A's have put out good teams year after year and the fans just don't come. It's a new century and the casual fan needs more entertainment. The list of why fans stay away are long and varied. The bottom line in my opinion is the fan experience before, during and after a game is lacking. The on field product can only sell so much. Now place the A's in a bright and shiny new stadium with restaurants and shopping and suddenly you have a plan that should succeed. There are no guarantees in this venture.

Let me know when Oakland wants to really step forward out of their dysfunctional political shells and really work out a plan. The Owners have to foot the bill to make their investment work. After the political bumbling of the Raider deal and the current climate of economics, Oakland can not afford to open their doors to assist the A's. Fremont has the land and political will to get it done.

Finally, I don't need to hear all the negative nancy types spewing out garbage on the transportation or possible flooding in the Fremont area. If Fremont floods, wouldn't ATT Park, JLS and the Coliseum be a problem, too.

Embrace the development process and let's make this work. Nothing is peerfect, but with planning, this stadium and village can be quite successful.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the A's make a statement, and sign a free agent like A Rod to excite A's fans for the new stadium and show that Wolfe is commited to this team. He has the money, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

SIGN BONDS!!

BleacherDave said...

Speaking of red herrings, the argument that most attendees don't live in Oakland should only be a feeble minded refuge for those who drool while gumming their food - at both ends of the age spectrum. Cuz guess what...if they ever get to Fremont, most attendess won't live in Fremont either. Since I see others championing arguments that I spun to the table, how bout we grab this bit o' common sense - areas support baseball teams, not cities.

The foreign free agent angle is tantalizing and one that the A's must exploit before the Giants, or play catch-up for another cycle. This winter holds the best such opportunity to date. The CF from Japan's World Cup champion team. Kutsoke Fukudome. That's right - Fukudome. And he wears #1. I'm getting a Fukudome jersey for whatever team he signs with, and I really hope he keeps the number he wore in Japan. What makes Fukudome possible for the A's? No posting fee to his Japanese team. He's a free agent this winter.
But, then again, how much of an ethnic market would a Japanese player have in the Bay Area? Would he have "crossover" appeal to other Asian nationalities?

58edsil said...

I guess that "Feeble minded, gumming food comment was for my response. I don't need to insult others, but since the door was opened..

The Oakland area has shown poor attendance in most years at the Coliseum. The debate can be: Is that related to the venue, the owners, the perception of the owners, the media or just apathy?

Bottom line, since 1968 the A's attendance has been low to average except for a few years the Haas family owned the team. Please remember that the Giants were not too good then and were still playing in Candlestick. Since that time, the Giants have been able to consolidate their hold on the Bay area radio and TV market. Though I am not a fan of ATT Park, it does draw them extra fans, the casual fan. Without increased revenue, interest and access to media the A's simply can't compete.

Therefore, I applaud the effort of the team to be proactive in searching for a new venue with a larger stream of income.

SexFlavoredPez said...

dave,

I'm almost positive you've been to a game when the Mariners visit. This is why your comment here about how much appeal a Japanese player would have in the Bay Area makes me scratch my head. Lots of folks come out to Oakland just to see Ichiro.

Also, we've already had asian imports on this team. Noone noticed cuz they weren't any good. Remember Yabu? Do you know who Tadano is? Everyone forgets Suzuki cuz he was born in Hawaii. This upcoming season opener in Japan will open more doors for the A's overseas. If Tampa Bay can afford to post a fee to get a Japanese player I would like to think the A's could...

BleacherDave said...

I've seen the mania at the Coliseum over both Ichiro and Matsui, but Fukudome is not in their class; thus my question. Is he like a Yabu, that won't register? Clearly, Japaneseness by itself is not enough. It's no longer enough to be a Japanese novelty with orange wrist bands - star power is also requird. No posting fee for Fukudome - he's a free agent.

Don't take it personal, Edsil. It's a premise I've heard too much, and I'm sick of the old, tired BS. As Friedman said, the Common Wisdom is nearly always wrong.

Anonymous said...

seems others have concerns over traffic, environment, etc (check out merc column - don't suppose you were planning on posting it)... too bad it never gets aired here. what a joke this site is - a blind cheerleader for the con-man wolff.

Anonymous said...

This thing is far from a done deal: Check out today's Chronicle/SFGate, "Fremont not ready to declare proposed A's 'baseball village' utopia." Didn't have time to write down the link, so go over to SFGate.com for yourself.

Jeffrey said...

What this site isn't:

Blind cheer leading for Lew Wolff.

What this site is:

Objective analysis on the potential future for an A's stadium in the Bay Area. If you don't believe that read back to posts from before the Fremont site was proposed.

What anonymous posts from OAFCers are:

Annoying and laughable. Considering the high level of objectivity that exists at that site.

Anonymous said...

58edsil, your arguments don't hold water.

The reason the A's haven't been as successful in attendance as perhaps they should have been considering their play on the field, is directly attributable to the anti-Oakland ownership.

From the very begginnig when Schott purchased the team from Walter Haas at a significant discount, and with the promise to keep the team in Oakland, his very first action was to look for venues in Santa Clara County.

Subsequently, even when the A's were drawing relatively well, (27,000 plus per game and 18th in MLB, as apposed to 23,000 per game and 26th presently) Schott would thank the fans by, hinting at relocating the team, denigrating the venue, and complaining about attendance.

Wolff, bought the team from Schott after being his director of venue development, AND, after Bud Selig stopped the sale to the pro-Oakland group led by Andi Dolich and Robert Piccini who were very much in favor of building a ballpark in Oakland.

And you wonder why there aren't more Oaklanders at A's games? The fact that Schott, and now Wolff, have always been looking to find a way out of Oakland, and the fact that Oakland has a population of 400,000 residents, compared to 7 million in the entire Bay Area, should tell you that the odds of finding someone at an A's game that isn't from Oakland are pretty good.

And yeah, Oakland is dysfunctional. Read the October issue of San Francisco Magazine, "It's Oakland's Turn" and you'll see that the city is booming. It seems that every developer in California is building in Oakland without any problems. There is ONE developer who follows the mantra of his former boss, (I'm speaking of course, of the, "Our future is not in Oakland" mantra which Wolff's former boss, Steve Schott, was very fond of using in Santa Clara) who is conspicuously missing.

And you wonder why attendance has plummeted from the Walter Haas heights of 2.9, 2.8, and 2.6 million, to the current 1.9 million fans? It's called being non-committal to a community. It's called always having your eye on the neighbor down the street. It's the denigration of your venue. It's the constant hints of relocation. It's stopping a deal for a pro Oakland ownership group in an underhanded manner. It's pretending to try to make something work in Oakland while working with Fremont, in order to have plausible denial for your season ticket holders.

Also, your theory about the on field experience not being the factor is full of holes. How much has "a shiny new ballpark" helped the Pittsburgh Pirates? How about the Cleveland Indians when they were lousy in their "shiny new ballpark?" The Indians were drawing crowds of 16,000 to their ballpark when they were losing. Now that they're winning, everyone is back on the bandwagon. Look at dumps like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park which are always packed. Look at the dismal attendance for the Baltimore Orioles in their new ballpark.

The two things that matter most to a franchise is the product on the field, and having a commitment to the community to the extent that you are ingrained in the fabric of that community. Lew Wolff fails miserably on both counts. And so do your arguments!