14 May 2008

Magowan out? + Aramark responds to violations report

Matier and Ross have jumped on special meeting of the Giants' ownership group scheduled for Friday, during which managing partner Peter Magowan is expected to exit stage left. The rumor, originally reported in a rather innocuous matter by former Merc and now Chicago Tribune scribe Mark Gonzales, has many wondering why. Surely the stress of the Bonds situation and the minute possibility of a world championship could have provoked the move.

The real question is: who will replace Magowan? Matier and Ross point to former Apple/Pepsi CEO John Sculley, who will always have a place in my heart for his championing the Newton. Also mentioned is William Neukom, best known as Microsoft's general counsel during their most predatory, anti-competitive days. As high-profile as both men are, it's unlikely that whoever replaces Magowan will be as prominent as the former Safeway head. Such a role is no longer necessary, considering the Giants' future financial security was guaranteed by Magowan's dealing (China Basin and CSNBA). The Giants are a turnkey franchise with a modicum of young talent. No need to pump things up right now. Also, I don't expect them to do anything in regards to territorial rights. They have a massive competitive advantage over the A's right now in the Bay Area market. Any concessions, including a payoff for territorial rights, would border on charity.

I find this interesting:
Some partners privately complained that Magowan's management style was autocratic - and, indeed, it may have contributed to some early powerhouse investors such as Walter Shorenstein, Don Fisher and Charles Schwab eventually pulling out, observers say.
Does John Fisher have the same aversion to autocratic management styles as his father? Makes one wonder how large Fisher's role is within the A's ownership group. Lew Wolff has always presented himself as a genial consensus builder. Another observation: Look at those names above. Those are some big-time heavy hitters that came in to help keep the Giants in S.F.
On the other side of the bay, there's been a dustup over a Condé Nast Portfolio report about health code violations at major league ballparks. The Coliseum, or rather its vendor, Aramark, came in second worst to Angel Stadium, home of the postgame landfill. When asked to comment, the A's passed the buck to Aramark, who responded in a typically corporate manner:

David Freireich, spokesman for the Pennsylvania-based Aramark, confirmed the company received notice of the 493 violations. He said the violations were corrected immediately and he offered the following statement:

"It's our top priority to ensure the food served at McAfee Coliseum is of the highest quality and prepared in the safest environment possible. We take all violations very seriously and take the necessary corrective action to address the issues identified by the health department."

Aramark is an enormous food service company that is no stranger to complaints about their practices. I can only say that I'm glad I normally bring in outside food and tailgate. Though some of that may have been prepared in questionable conditions as well.


Anonymous said...

If I were the Giants, I'd take "charity" any day for allowing the A's to move to downtown San Jose than take "nothing" for the A's moving to North San Jose (aka Pacific Commons, Fremont).

Jeffrey said...

The Giants have said, nada no way. I remember an article a few years ago with Peter M. saying something to the effect of, "Why not move to Fremont?" in what seemed a condescending tone (as much as you can read tone into a newspaper).

Tony D. said...

Actually, it's always been Magowan who's stated "nada, no way," not the organization as a whole; we have no idea how the other investors have felt about those "rights." Second, Magowan has been silent regarding Fremont and territorial rights ever since Mr. Wolff announced plans for Cisco Field/Pacific Common back in 06 (if anyone thinks otherwise, please site your source). He did say however that he would have no problem with the A's moving to Fremont (Mercury News, M. Purdy), but that was way back during the Schott/Hoffman era (Fremont was no where on their radar, it was Santa Clara/Great America or bust). Look, as much as I despise the man, he is still the Giants owner until at least tomorrow. If in fact Magowan does make an announcement on Friday that he's saying adios, then my eternal optimism doesn't look so silly after all. By the way, and I know this will raise the hairs of many of this site, the Merc stated yesterday (T. Kawakami) that it's always been Lew Wolffs preference to move the A's to San Jose (other forums/news outlets have stated this in the past as well). And just to think, these people have actually spoken to Lew Wolff...hmmm? Things could get mighty interesting after tomorrow.

The Cactus Leaguer said...

I'm a bit surprised that you are dismissing the territorial rights issue so quickly, ML... although, if anything, the most likely impact (if the territorial rights issue is hinted at being on the table) would be to spur Fremont into getting the deal done rather than risk losing the A's to San Jose.

While I agree with you that it is unlikely to come into play, I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes an issue of discussion at some point.

Marine Layer said...

My point is: What's in it for the Giants? Within in the Bay Area, the Giants are clearly in a hegemonic position economically. Why should they change any of that? Why should they take a short term cash infusion when they clearly don't need the money? They are profitable. They won't have trouble attracting a new partner to take Magowan's place or invest Magowan's share. Should they cede t-rights to San Jose, they cede their negotiating leverage within the Bay Area.

As for Fremont, they can't accelerate the process. It has to run its course. There's no immediate stalking horse in San Jose because it'll take a while for a plan to be constructed there - though they do already have a certified EIR.

FC said...


Assuming "hell freezes over" and the Giants cede their rights over to the A's, do you think the A's would seriously consider SJ given all they have invested in Fremont? With a certified EIR, would that mean they would only have to go through the public comment phase before starting construction?

Marine Layer said...

They've already done the public comment phase. I was there for much of it. They conceivably build once they acquired all of the land and moved the PG&E substation - no small obstacles due to the cost involved.

Jeffrey said...


I am not arguing that Lew Wolff prefers Fremont to San Jose.

There is nothing, from a business perspective, positive for the Giants in giving Santa Clara County to teh A's.

Anonymous said...

The Cisco Field Ballpark Village is all about lining the pockets of the Fishers ( retail/real estate) and the DiNapolis ( real estate including many projects with Lew Wolffe) - both Bay Area families who are co-owners of the A's but keep a low profile for their front man LW, the " Magowan " of the A's. The Fremont stadium is the draw, but the retail and the housing is why they have already spent $200 million ,peak of the market, for 200 + acres of surrounding properties in Fremont's Pacific Commons . They are there for the long haul for the big payoff 5-10 years down the road.
Why sell this land at a loss to build a stadium in San Jose that will not give anywhere near the total return on investment , which is the bottom line - not which town the sales taxes go to.
Plus, as much as the A's may covet San Jose/Silicon Valley corporate sponsorship dollars run by CEOs who are not Bay Area natives , everyone knows that generations of San Jose /south Bay natives have grown up hard core 49er/Giants fans -not Raiders/A's fans . So Fremont is perfect locale : close enough to get Silicon Valley corporate bucks , yet still geogrphically in the " east Bay " /Alameda County where the generations of harder core A's fans are , while attracting new fair weather fans who grew up elsewhere but just want something to day on a weekend.

Tony D. said...

I (the Giants) think I'd be better off with $50 million in my pocket than with NADA. I (the Giants) also think I'd be better off if the A's stuck with CSNBA after 2010. Anon 1257, there is no doubt that Pac Commons is all about a real estate deal. And if San Jose becomes a reality, two things happen: 1) LW, Fisher, and the DiNapolis STILL have Pac Commons for retail, housing, and office. Despite what many think on this site, Fremont officials have never stated they wouldn't approve a development without a ballpark. They would be stupid to pass up a sales tax generating, destination for their city; even if it means no sports venue. 2) The Diridon "ballpark village" would be much more lucrative to LW, Fisher, DiNapoli's, and even Tom McEnery (former SJ Mayor and good friend of all the above); especially with excellent mass transit, including possible High Speed Rail, VTA Light Rail, Caltrain, ACE, Capitol Corridor/Amtrak. In closing, the Downtown San Jose scenario (as well as Pac Commons, IStar/FMC for soccer) presents the ultimate real estate scenario for LW and A's. lastly, Lew Wolff's preference (as I've stated previously) was to build in downtown San Jose vs. Fremont...enough said.

Anonymous said...

It's clear from the statements of Fremont officials that no stadium means no (profitable) housing rezoning since the latter is very expensive in terms of city services but politically sellable to voters from a trade off for national recognition and prestige of having a ballpark and associated community outdoor gathering place /plaza sequeing from beyond the center field two-sided scoreboard that could be used for other events . They may approve the high end retail only , but that then leaves the LW group with 160-180 acres of raw land and old industrial sites bought Not Cheaply in the past 18 months from surounding saavy owners such as Cisco ( who is the biggest winner so far ) .
Sitting on that land bank would make it harder to self finance a SJ Stadium and would they then ask SJ taxpayers to help make up shortfalls at a time when city home owners will soon have to pay for sidewalk tree service? What next -charging for a pothole repair if it's within 20 ft of your front curb ?
Why would SJ voters be so hard up for name recogintion that they would help finance the stadium , when a Fremont deal costs SJ taxpayers nothing , and the team may still have a potential official name "SJ A's at Fremont " , later media shortened to just SJ A's ?