11 March 2009

Mark it down: April 7th

San José's Rules Committee just passed a motion to have the A's on the April 7 Council meeting agenda. The timing, as pointed out here and by Michael Mulcahy just a few minutes ago, coincides with the start of the regular season. The preliminary steps will look like this:
The Agenda language for a joint City and Redevelopment Agency item should read as follows:
1. Discuss actions that San José can take to prepare for the possibility that Major League Baseball (MLB) makes a decision allowing the Athletics (A’s) to consider relocating to San José.
2. Direct staff to prepare and return to Council with a Resolution indicating the desire of the City of San José to support the A’s if MLB favors a relocation of the A’s to San José; and, indicating that the City is willing to accommodate the A’s on the site at Park Avenue and Autumn/Montgomery Streets.
3. Direct a team of City and Redevelopment Agency staff to assess what steps may need to be taken to prepare the site at Park Avenue and Autumn/Montgomery Streets for potential consideration, and develop an outreach program to neighboring residents and businesses.
4. Direct staff to provide a status report and recommendations for additional actions that may need Council authorization to the Community and Economic Development Committee within two months of the April 7th Council hearing followed by a discussion at the City Council.
So there's your site and your initial timetable, including a report from CEDC due within two months of the 4/7 session.

The possibility of a public poll has been raised to gauge interest. Vice Mayor Judy Chirco wants no part in the City paying for such a poll, saying that it would be funded with OPM (other people's money). It appears that the poll would be well within the scope of the A's to San Jose Study Group's mission. Mulcahy mentioned that the group has already raised money, though he did not say which specific activities the money would be used for.

I wonder if the Study Group would also fund an economic impact report of the type Mark Purdy wanted last week. After all, outside of MLB, the Study Group would be well equipped as it has access to dozens, if not hundreds, of Valley business leaders. Plus, noted sports economist Roger Noll is up the street at Stanford for consulting purposes - though they may not eventually like what he has to say.

Mayor Chuck Reed, who gave San Jose a better than 50/50 chance to land the A's (I really hate enumerating odds in this manner) re-emphasized the one voice mantra he's been giving, going so far as to say this about territorial rights:
It's up to Mr. Wolff because it's truly a case of "inside baseball." It requires him to take the lead. There may be a role for us to play. He'll happily let us know if there is.
Several speakers were on hand. Most were positive, saying that they fully support the effort as long as no public money is involved. One speaker felt a better deal could be had at the Fairgrounds. Two members of the Shasta/Hanchett neighborhood voiced their disapproval and trepidation, especially when considering the combined effects from construction of a ballpark, underground BART, and overhead HSR. A member of the San José Downtown Residents Association spoke in support of the ballpark. So we may have the Shasta/Hanchett folks on side and the Downtown Residents on the other.

I believe the quiet period starts now at lasts through Opening Day. I'll have posts every few days, probably nothing major.


gojohn10 said...

I would guess that it is going to be difficult for the anti-stadium NIMBY's to gain a foothold if the nearby neighborhoods are not on the same page. I'm not too familiar with the area, but from what I gather from google, the two neighborhoods with opposing stances sandwich the proposed ballpark site (anti folks just west and the pro just east).
This is completely different than the Fremont Warm Springs situation. Not only were all the local WS neighborhoods in strong opposition of the ballpark, but the rest of Fremont residents were pretty indifferent.

Anonymous said...

This San Jose attempted pilfering of Oakland's baseball team is nothing but a distraction and a deterrent to selling tickets in Oakland. San Jose needs to give it a rest and Lew Wolff needs to assure fans in Oakland that this team is committed to eventually building a new ballpark in Oakland.

This is bad for the ticket selling business just before the season starts. After the Fremont deal fell through, I was ready to buy season tickets for this upcoming year. Now, with all of this talk of relocating to San Jose, I'm no longer interested.

Why doesn't Lew Wolff put an end to the constant uncertainty this organization conveys to the fans in Oakland? This is no way to run a baseball franchise.

As evident from reading the comment section of the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the Oakland A's, an overwhelming number of readers and fans want the team in Oakland. They do not want the team in Fremont or in San Jose. When will Lew Wolff listen to his customers?

Jesse said...

Plus the City Of San Jose will do proper polling and find out how the community truly feels about the prospect before proceeding. Not quite sure how this didnt happen in Fremont, but I'll move on.

Marine Layer said...

A poll was taken in Fremont two years ago. It did not take a Warm Springs alternative into account. I figure a similar soft poll in SJ would yield similarly positive results.

Jesse said...

Any chance that the A's will consider Dublin, Pleasanton or maybe Concord?

Anonymous said...

I like the approach that San Jose is taking--Hammer and Mulcahy should work well together--Mayor Reed has the right headset on letting Wolff focus on the territorial rights issues while San Jose prepares for the possibility by assembling the site and updating the EIR.

You knew that Shasta/Hanchett neighbors would be opposed--just as they were for the arena---but that group needs to recognize that successful measures were taken to protect their neighborhood when the arena was built and would be utilized again to address their concerns about a ballpark---it is going to be hard to block a stadium if 70+% of San Jose residents support it---they should focus their energy on working with the city to manage their concerns rather than fight an uphill battle-

At the end of the day, San Jose is not Fremont--its an established urban center where residents choose to live in a urban core with the energy and excitment that it provides for--a ballpark enhances this experience---

gojohn10 said...


An overwhelming number of fans want to team to stay in Oakland? I would say that based on the numerous in fanposts I've seen on AN (this one being the latest), the support is evenly split at best.

Zonis said...

Anon, I believe the Citizens of Oakland have already spoken, you know, by putting the A's at the bottom rung of attendance for the last 40 years.

Anonymous said...

"As evident from reading the comment section of the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the Oakland A's, an overwhelming number of readers and fans want the team in Oakland. They do not want the team in Fremont or in San Jose. When will Lew Wolff listen to his customers?"

Lew is listening to the green tarps on the upper deck. The SF crowd jumps on any preservation bandwagon there is. The Oakland A's are an anecdote for them. Unfortunately for them, sports are a business and not simply a fashionable subculture.

Anonymous said...

Now here is an interesting quote from one of the NIMBY's in Shasta/Hanchett---at minimum she should at least be properly informed if she is going to make comparisons...."AT&T has destroyed the neighborhood in SF...." I would like to know if she ever has been to AT&T in order to make such a ridiculous comment---here it is

“There’s so much interest, mostly negative,” she said. “It’s the location. From what I’ve seen of the ballpark in San Francisco, it destroyed the neighborhood. A deadening happens. The kind of businesses that come to a ballpark are not what I want to see in San Jose.”

Our first uninformed, clueless NIMBY in San Jose--

Marine Layer said...


I wouldn't rule it out if there were free land available. All of the space in those cities is government land and cash-strapped as they are, they want money for it.

Paul said...

The ballpark in SF has prompted the construction of a supermarket, townhouses, condos, etc. Imagine that - people wanting to live near a ballpark. I work right down the street from the place.

Oakland simply doesn't have the business base to support a baseball team like San Jose does. And yes, the poor attendance for 40 years says it all.

Now, all we need to do is get rid of the idiotic territorial rights issue which consigns San Jose to being nothing more than a minor league outpost for the Giants. It's time for baseball to grow up.

Paul said...

Perhaps Groucho Marx once provided a theme song for the NIMBYs:

"Whatever it is, I'm against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it, I'm against it."

Anonymous said...

SF will not give up those rights without a fight and legal battles if needed against MLB/Selig.

Lew Wolff has been quoted...despite the political headaches, Wolff says he wants to make it work in northern California. "I don't want to wait another two years fighting lawsuits," he says.

I have a feeling that he is referring to the lawsuits which will most likely come up with the Giants if those T-rights are removed. I also believe as much as Lew Wolff has always wanted to bring the A's to San Jose, he is getting too old and doesn't have it in him to wait through all the headaches that lies ahead with fighting for the move to happen. He's already learned his lesson with Fremont. He's 72 years of old and I'm sure doesn't want to continue as the owner for much longer in the event a new stadium never gets built for his team.

San Jose is only wasting time chasing a dream that won't happen anytime soon. If anything they should focus on bringing the Niners to the South Bay first.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. I'm all in favor of a downtown SJ ballpark and very excited about it. But you can't look at past attendance at the Coliseum and make the blanket statement that Oakland is a bad city for the stadium. A downtown ballpark in Oakland would be very successful if it were possible. The problem in Oakland so far has been the facility itself, especially the location. But we can't use that to throw the entire city of Oakland under the bus.

Paul said...

All we need is 3/4 of the owners to dump the so-called territorial rights and those are gone. Figure all the American League teams would already be on board and all we need are 8 or so NL teams. It's doable.

Not to mention the PR hit the Giants will take if they actively try to prevent San Jose from getting the A's. There hopefully would be be a lot of resentment translating to lost ticket sales, lost fans and lost corporate sponsorships for the Giants.

A's - 4 World Series titles
Giants - 0

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:39-

Wolff's comments regarding lawsuits were directed towards challenges in Fremont--not towards territorial rights in SJ---relative to suing MLB--its not the way it works---btw the Giants voted in favor of allowing the Expo's (National's) to move to DC--Baltimore's backyard---as will the owners when it comes to the A's---its about the health of MLB--and getting some of the small market teams off the dole-- which goes beyond the Giants specific requests

Your right about 1 thing--Wolff wants a new stadium in the next 4 years--given that the EIR process is 1-2 years once a new site is found, and that San Jose has a completed EIR, you can understand why San Jose is the primary focus--

Last, the '9ers to the south bay is being managed by Santa Clara--San Jose has no say or skin in the game--other than to hope it happens--

Marine Layer said...

From the ML Constitution:


If there are any disputes or controversies between the clubs, or between club(s) and any of MLB’s entities, and if the resolution isn’t expressed elsewhere in the Constitution, the Major League Rules, the Basic Agreement with the MLBPA, or the collective bargaining agreement with the Major League Umpires, the Commissioner serves as the sole arbitrator. (Article VI Sec.1)

Clubs and Major League entities are not permitted to engage in any form of litigation between each other, but must resolve differences pursuant to provisions within the Constitution. (Article VI Sec.2)

Mike Headley said...

Anon - 3/11/09 6:51 PM

You're going to let a possible move by the team at the extreme earliest in 2012 ruin your enjoyment of season tickets for THIS season? That doesn't make sense.

Anon - 3/12/09 9:39 AM
There won't be a lawsuit. Teams don't own their territorial rights. All of that is granted by MLB, and all it takes is a vote by the other owners to change it. If they see a new stadium in SJ as helping their own clubs then they will vote for it. A new stadium would mean the A's take less or none of the revenue sharing, so I'm pretty sure most other owners are going to approve it.

Anonymous said...


Glad you put that to rest. Not that actual facts will deter the deranged anonymous "Oakland only" posters, any more than actual attendance figures deter them from claiming that Oakland has wildly supported the team over the years.

I am an attorney, and even before reading the section of the ML constitution on arbitration I was having a hard time imagining how the Giants could state a legal claim which would survive summary judgment. As I understand, the mechanism by which the T-rights were gifted to the Giants was an MLB resolution, not any kind of contract with the Giants. The MLB by-laws themselves may or may not constitute a contract with each of the teams. Regardless, if they provide a mechanism for revoking T-rights then use of that mechanism is not a breach of contract.

There are equitable "fall-back" type theories like justified reliance (e.g. "we only built a new park because we knew we had the T-rights"). However, aside from the implausibility of such an assertion, the fact that the Giants paid nothing for these rights, the fact that the purpose for which they were granted was not fulfilled (i.e. a Giants move south), and the fact that the Giants knew at all times that the rights could be revoked by vote of the other owners would seem to seriously undercut such theories.

I don't doubt the Giants would have found some creative lawyers to make something up, but without breach of a contract and without basis for an equitable claim it's not clear what theory the Giants could have relied on to bring a lawsuit with any serious chance of success. Notwithstanding what Glenn Dickey may think (with his years of legal training and experience), "someone else did something which increased competition and thus harmed our business" is not a cause of action under the law. In fact, the reverse is true. But for the antitrust exemption granted Major League Baseball, it would be the A's who would have solid grounds for a lawsuit against the Giants and Major League Baseball, on the same antitrust grounds which allowed the Raiders to move to LA.

If any other lawyers out there have creative ideas on how they would assert a claim if they were representing the Giants, I would be curious.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you say Mike,

But if all it takes is a vote by the owners to change it, then it would've been done years ago. I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not as easy as you think it is. T-rights is a major hurdle to cross that won't go away so easily.

Jeffrey said...

Does this mean Glenn Dickey is full of crap about territorial rights and lawsuits? Color me shocked....

Mike Headley said...

Anon - 3/12/09 12:26 PM

There wasn't reason for it to be done years ago. Once the A's officially make San Jose their target and move the process forward, there will be a reason.

I think Anon - 3/12/09 12:16 PM states the whole thing pretty well.

Marine Layer said...

IIRC any vote would to relocate and overturn T-rights would have to be 3/4 approval of AL owners and 2/3 approval of NL owners. Though it's Selig's MO to get a consensus and limit to dissent to 1-2 votes at most to show unity within the ranks.

Jeffrey said...

Hey, Ron Dellums and Jane Brunner wrote a letter!

Supposedly there will be a group of civic leaders working on a stadium deal.

Anonymous said...

Actually the relevant portions of the MLB Constitution are:

Article V, Section 2 (b) of the Major League Constitution states in pertinent part, “The vote of three-fourths of the Major League Clubs shall be required for the approval of any of the following:
3) The relocation of any Major League Club;
8 The involuntary termination of the rights, privileges, and properties of a Major League Club pursuant to the procedures of Article VIII hereof.”

Anon 9:39A
Baseball has an anti-trust exemption granted by Congress which allows them (the owners) to do whatever they want to each other; even things that would otherwise violate federal and state law - exemption "GET IT!"

Anon 12:26P
Wishing thinking. Things have changed. Right now 29 of 30 owners are in Bud's pocket and are urging Wolff to move to San Jose "It is in the Best Interest of Baseball."

Obviously Bow-Tie Nuke-em ain't one of them. MacClownan and Baer-Brains should have taken the money on the table that was offered to them a few years ago. That pot-o-gold ain't so golden anymore.

Awe, the vicissitudes of life.

Anonymous said...


Oh, so Dellums got out his crayons and scribbled on some construction paper and made his x-mark at the bottom eh.

Maybe he will use Raider seat license revenue to start a marketing campaign and conduct a pool [sic] like the San Jose Study Group?

No dice!

bartleby said...

Anon 12:26,

You are seriously underestimating the important role MLB politics play in all this. All it takes is a vote to pass a California budget, and look how painful that process is.

Bottom line, Selig needs to be convinced MLB as a whole will be better served by having the A's in San Jose than by any other feasible option. Death of the Fremont plan eliminates a feasible option and therefore seems to bring us closer to that point.

The Giants may or may not be hurt economically by an A's move to San Jose, but the A's would go from being a welfare recipient and drag on MLB's bottom line to a healthy contributor, expanding the market for baseball overall. It is hard to imagine any harm to the Giants that would not be offset tenfold by the benefit to the A's and to MLB overall.

If Bud throws his support behind the idea, the rest will happen fairly quickly. And if Bud can be convinced that a San Jose plan will actually happen (and therefore that he's not riling the Giants up for nothing), I believe he will throw his support behind the idea.

Jeffrey said...

No need to disparage Ron Dellums. Honestly, I like a fair fight. It will be fun to see if Oakland city officials put up or shut up.

And if they put up, and I am sitting in a brand spanking new stadium that didn't cost Oakland much by way of public money and it is in a nice locale (of which there are plenty in Oaktown), that is just as good as a downtown stadium in San Jose to me.

I can root for both horses in the race.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Oakland and San Jose lies in what has happened over the past 3 years while Fremont was being pursued. San Jose quietly got its ducks in a row--purchased nearly all of the ballpark property and completed their EIR for a ballpark even though they were being lambasted in the press for wasting $500k on a pipe dream that would never happen--

What has Oakland done over the past 3-years---hummm---a letter from Delums to MLB today to please work with us!! Shows real leadership there!! I can only imagine the eye rolling going on right now---Oakland has had its chance---and unfortunately could do nothing with it---its San Jose's turn---and if they fail---then Oakland be ready with more than Dear Bud letter...

JT said...

"A downtown ballpark in Oakland would be very successful if it were possible. The problem in Oakland so far has been the facility itself, especially the location. But we can't use that to throw the entire city of Oakland under the bus."

Yeah, right. I'm old enough to remember Oakland A's playoff and WS games in the 70s not being sold out. The people and the politicians of Oakland have never supported what turned out to be a very good franchise. Oakland fundamentally invited the A's to leave when they signed up for the disasterous deal to get the Raiders back and then rendered the Coliseum unfit for baseball. I would like to see the A's stay in Oakland and once wondered why something couldn't have been done to get the team down near Jack London Square. The area around the Coliseum is blighted and unsuitable for modern high dollar professional sports activities, but Oakland has not been interested in doing anything to address that. That's fine. It's their city and they can run however they want. I'd say, however, to you Oakland sports fans, that the meter is running on the Raiders and then the Warriors leaving town. This is inevitable because Oakland has long been a dysfunctional city, with problems far greater than worrying about professional sports teams.

I hear all of the raving from the die-hard Oakland sports fans and I harken back to when I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles. We got the Dodgers and San Francisco got the Giants, not just because it was time for a westward expansion. We got the Dodgers in L.A. because those "great" Dodger fans in Brooklyn supported the most successful National League team in the post-WW2 era with crap attendance. The unfortunate fact is that those fans in Brooklyn, who've become legend, did not actually go out there and spend money to support the Dodgers. The same was true with the Giants, who, although they hadn't been as successful as the Dodgers in the post WW2 era, ranked with the Dodgers and St Louis as the most successful NL franchises of all time.

The Dodgers moved to L.A. They built their own ball park. The rest is history. San Francisco built Candlestick (ugh), and now the Giants built their own park. The A's will have to pay to build a park in San Jose. They're willing to do so. Fremont was always a stupid idea. San Jose could be the promised land for the franchise. If the A's don't get San Jose, you can bet they'll be out of California entirely. This will work to the detriment of baseball and the Bay Area in particular. The Giants' territorial rights are a chimera. Because of baseball's BS antitrust exemption, there can be no legal action from the Giants. And one thing that MLB's lawyers may be telling the rest of baseball is this: a 1922 Supreme Court decision is a thin reed to rely upon for a multi-billion dollar industry, especially when one realizes that a simple act of Congress can revoke it.

I view the A's as an organization very much like the Brooklyn Dodgers. Great baseball, no civic support. The people and the politicians in Oakland blew it with the A's. If you want to keep them in the Bay Area, the only thing that makes sense is for the team to move to San Jose.

Brian said...

/\/\/\ In the 19 years prior to the move, the Dodgers led the NL in attendance 10 times, finished second 5 times, third once, and fourth 3 times (including the last year when the impending departure was already common knowledge). Doesn't sound like crap to me, particularly for a team that played in the third-smallest stadium in the league (in the days when teams depended on big crowds on weekends and doubleheaders more than they do now).

JT said...

Point noted, Brian, but you need to delve a little further into the statistics. In 1956, the world champion Brooklyn Dodgers drew 1.2M fans to a old park with a capacity of about 32K. Do the math. It's about 16K per game. Across town, the Yankees drew about 1.5M. The Milwaukee Braves drew more than 2M. It should also be noted that the National League average attendance (8 teams) was a little more than 1M, which means that the team that had been the best in the league for ten years drew just a bit over the league average.

I see some parallels between the Dodgers and the As. The Dodgers actually first tried to get a new park in Brooklyn, but were rebuffed. So they made the sound business decision. Sound familiar?

The other thing that needs to be kept in mind is that Brooklyn was old and decaying. Los Angeles was new, vibrant and fertile territory. See any more parallels here?