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30 March 2009

MLB to create ballpark committee

The commissioner has signed off on the creation of a committee to "thoroughly analyze all of the ballpark proposals that have been made to date, the current situation in Oakland, and the prospects of obtaining a ballpark in any of the communities located in Oakland's territory." Names are named, and the table is being set:
"Lew Wolff and the Oakland ownership group and management have worked very hard to obtain a facility that will allow them to compete into the 21st Century," Commissioner Selig said. "To date they, like the two ownership groups in Oakland before them, have been unsuccessful in those efforts, despite having the significant support of their corporate partner Cisco. The time has come for a thorough analysis of why a stadium deal has not been reached. The A's cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation."
Now, if you really think that this is going to help Oakland, pass the bong please. As benign as the description sounds, this is actually an official "let's delineate all the ways Oakland no longer works" committee. The blockquote above, which comes at the end of the press release, is step #1 in the committee's mission.

Key within this initiative is the appointment of former Giants executive VP Corey Busch to the committee. Busch has been in numerous advising capacities in the years since his Giants tenure, and according to the Chronicle's Susan Slusser, who broke the story, Busch may not exactly be sympathetic to their interests (he left as the Magowan group took over). In the early part of the decade, Busch served as a consultant to MLB's relocation committee (PDF), the one that eventually presided over the complicated Expos-to-DC move. He's no stranger to the process, as he worked almost tirelessly to get the Giants out of the 'Stick and into new digs in San Francisco, Santa Clara, or San Jose. Busch even worked for SF in the 70's and as a consultant to San Jose several years ago as San Jose expressed interest in bringing in a NBA franchise - and the A's - to town.

If Oakland, per its request to Bud Selig, really wants to retain the A's, they're gonna have to get started with new site proposals quickly. I'm certain that the few remaining sites identified in the HOK study aren't going to be deemed sufficient, which will only rubberstamp Lew Wolff's complaints about the City's efforts. We're about two steps from Bob DuPuy flying in to negotiate with whatever City is deemed the future home of the A's.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is great news to finally get this train out of the station--we all know that nothing new will come out of Oakland who already has its hands full trying to come up with the plan and money to keep the Raiders-

Obviously this fits closely with Wolff saying it is in MLB's hands and he hopes to have the green light to SJ sooner rather than later--lets hope it is sooner--time to get this going especially in reading how dramatically construction costs have fallen recently--

jeepers said...

Apologize for the cross-blogging, but my take on this is as follows:

Has Dellums already responded? And if so, has the committee told Oakland to go sit in the corner where they belong yet?

Step 1: Prove Oakland isn’t viable because of corporate dollars (will be interesting to see how they ignore the corporate dollars less than 10 miles away)

Step 2: Prove that everywhere else in the territory is the suburbs, who view ballparks as prisons with higher light towers (shouldn’t be hard, except for possibly Sacramento—why aren’t the Giants making preemptive suggestions that Lew go research Sacramento?)

Step 3: Profit!

Anonymous said...

Lew and MLB know the way to San Jose:

Step 1: build the case why Alamada/Contra Costa won't work.

Step 2: build the case for removing the Giants ability to block a move to San Jose.

Step 3: get the owners' stamp of approval (which will already be in pocket)

T-rights are going, going, gone.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Jeepers beat me to the "steps" approach. Oh well...

Transic said...

Well, I think it's Bud giving some the same people something to do now that the Marlins situation no longer seems front and urgent. It does seem a little quick until you realize that it has been years since the A's started the ballpark site search.

I still think the TV blackout rules are a more pressing issue, not to mention the frustration of many A's fans with their cable providers because they don't know whether they'd be able to watch CSNCA.

FC said...

ML,

As you see it, what are the two steps before things really start rolling?

Jeffrey said...

I have a feeling this is about to become national news, like the kind you read on Yahoo! and such.

I'd love to read what Jeff Passan has to say about the subject, he did such a great job covering TV blackout rules.

Marine Layer said...

Step 1: Publish San Jose's ballpark report (July) and update EIR (Sept/Oct at earliest).

Step 2: Complete MLB's stadium situation report (possibly by midseason owners meetings).

Anonymous said...

We will have to see what Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Barbara Lee have to say when Oakland proves that the Andy Dolich group who wanted to buy the team and keep it in Oakland, were intentionally scuttled by a conspiracy headed by Bud Selig when he formed a "blue ribbon commission" to run out the clock on the Dolich/Piccini group who wanted to purchase the team and keep it in Oakland.

That's the major reason why Oakland is now facing the possibility of losing its team. There was collusion on the part of MLB and a conspiracy to make sure that Steve Schott would not be forced to sell the team via a contract and agreement with the City of Oakland. If Bud thinks that it was difficult to sit in front of Congress and mumble about the steroids issue, wait until he gets hit with a lawsuit from Oakland. Bud will be defending why MLB deserves their exemption.

Tony D. said...

Yo Jeppers,
You forgot the most important step:

Prove to MLB that Oaklands kick-A$$ ballpark plan for Jack London Square is a no brainer: 12 acres of dedicated land, development rights to JLS, $120 million naming rights deal with Port of Oakland (Cisco aint going to Oakland), Oaklands commitment to investment in surrounding infrastructure (in this economy), and strong corporate presence within Oakland/northern Alameda County.

Oops, I forgot, the above step doesn't exist...oh well.

By the way R.M., Corey Busch's involvement bodes well for SJ. His 2001 report for Hampton Roads also includes San Jose as a "strong candidate" for MLB relocation. Add this to his workings with Ron Gonzales and (I assume) Susann Hammer in the Lurie years...he definetely knows the way to San Jose! No wonder the Giants aren't that thrilled with Busch's involvement.

GoinSouth said...

If you think Feinstein or Boxer will get involved you're smoking some bad hash. Only reason Feinstein piped up on the Niner's situation was because SF is her old back yard. Oakland by comparison has the political clout of a tuna fish sandwich these days. Especially compared to SF and SJ.

Tony D. said...

anon 4:50,

What B.S.! Feinstein and Boxer represent ALL of California, not just Oakland or SF. They, along with Barbara Lee, aren't going to commit political suicide and go against San Jose/Silicon Valley constituents/political support (i.e. $$$$). We have way more power when it comes to money and politics than the East Bay. Besides, they have bigger fish to fry (did I mention the economy?) than worry about the A's possibly moving to SJ.

Again, if Oakland presents Wolff/MLB with a kick ass ballpark plan that can't fail, they can play ball. If not, shut your trap and stop crying!

reztips said...

First of all, thank your lucky stars that the Dolich group wasn't permitted to purchase the A's as Andy Dolich himself acknowledged in the press that his group wasn't going to spend even in the middle MLB range for its player payroll. This would have meant there would have been no playoff teams that we enjoyed during the Schott/Hoffman era.

And Oakland is going to sue the A's? Gimme a break. Oakland has so many problems that it will NEVER spend the time and money on such a lawsuit. If it did, the public would hand the Dellums Administration his head (although they might regardless).

Marine Layer said...

Dolich/Piccinini were not the saviors you were looking for.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:50, it's already been stated that the pols' leverage is the anti-trust exemption of MLB. If that is wiped out, the A's can go wherever they want. That's only beneficial to Wolff. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Great research Marine Layer. I bookmarked that page. That will come in handy.

There are some great quotes in there from Andy Dolich and City of Oakland officials.

We'll have to see who's telling the truth. Is it MLB, or, Andy Dolich and company.

BleacherDave said...

This is VERY bad news. MLB is going to officially pronounce that Oakland has no future as an MLB town. Let the mourning begin.

I'm just catching up on the blog. Lew's comments in SJ of a couple of days ago foretold this committee.

The Oakland A's are dead. Long live my Oakland A's.

Anonymous said...

Hey, where is Rabbit Ears Ratto in all this. Ray knows this means his analysis about SJ was all wrong. I know Ray tried to call Corey Busch already, but Corey probably saw Ray's number and let it go to voicemail. Wadda say Ray? Let's hear it!

Anonymous said...

Oakland has the political clout of a a "tuna fish sandwich?"

California Attorney General Jerry Brown lives in Oakland. Senator Barbara Boxer lives in Oakland. The Mayor of Oakland is a former Congressman who mentored Barbara Lee. And, Senator Feinstein is a former Mayor of San Francisco with the interests of the City at heart. I think Oakland has a pretty formidable political team.

If I were Bud Selig, Lew Wolff and the Mayor of San Jose, I would think twice about engaging in a conspiracy to steal Oakland's baseball team.

Georob said...

No, Tony. I think YOU are the one that needs to "shut your trap"

I mean, it looks like San Jose is finally going to get what it wants, though I still think it's going to be very long process.

Yet, you and so many other South Bay partisans are just being bullies now. No wonder Lew Wolff told San Jose to lay low.

Show some class, buddy.

Tony D. said...

Rob,
How am I not "showing class" by suggesting Oakland come up with a ballpark plan ala San Jose? Sorry pal, my trap is wide open for the truth.

Paul said...

from the MLB press release Wolff issued a strongly worded statement in response to Dellums' letter, noting that his ownership group -- and previous owners -- had aggressively explored potential stadium sites in Oakland and found city officials uncooperative.


...To me, it seemed like Oakland wore its disdain for the A's as a feather in its cap. Downtown ballkpark in Oakland - No way, said Jerry Brown. Didn't he call the A's a "cost center?"

Anonymous said...

cant we all just get along? we re all ONE region! no more sj vs oakland...the good news is that the A's have a great chance of staying in the bay...lets celebrate that !!

Paul said...

re: cant we all just get along? we re all ONE region! no more sj vs oakland...the good news is that the A's have a great chance of staying in the bay...lets celebrate that !!


...I've always thought, "San Jose, Oakland - either is fine." But what has upset me is all the steps Oakland and Alameda County have taken to seemingly run the team out of the Bay Area. I'll repost what I've said in other threads:

* After the A's requested baseball-only improvements to the Coliseum, they were told to get lost and had their stadium instead turned into a football monstrosity. Whenever the movie "Angels in the Outfield" is on, I like to catch it for a few minutes because it shows the ballpark in its pre-destruction state.

* Jerry Brown fired the city manager after the manager sought to get a downtown ballpark. Jerry Brown would have none of that. What a genius. Wouldn't want thousands of people coming downtown to spend money 81 nights a year. We'll have none of that.

* Did not cooperate with Wolff's north-of-the-Coliseum ballpark plan.

But ask Oakland officials who the villain is, and its Lew Wolff, not themselves...

Anonymous said...

I agree...this blog for a little while was going back to the civil days where it was just about a new ballpark for our team, but when ever something positive for the idea of keeping them in Oakland comes out, all the San Jose partisans have to come out and just bash on our city.

I still feel like given all the facts and circumstances, Oakland still has just a good a chance as retaining the A's as San Jose has as taking them away.

"I think they probably are in as good a position as anyone in California," Wolff said. "

The bottom line is that Selig is now willing to help the A's find a new home that still could be in Oakland...so just go with it. Oakland is being governed by different politicians than they were during the Jerry Brown era. Things can get done differently and more efficiently when given the opportunity. You better believe that there is a whole different team of people working on a way to keep the A's at home this time around.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:10--hate to burst your bubble but Wolff said that about SJ not Oakland---if you seriously believe that this effort will lead to renewed efforts in Oakland than you've got some good stuff man--

Selig is doing this for 2 reasons- 1) make the case for removal of territorial rights to the rest of the MLB owners and 2) to make MLB the bad guy in Oakland---and taking the heat off of Wolff for wanting to go to SJ--

I have a brother-in-law like you----just likes to say the stupidest things to get you going---I am alot nicer to you than I am sure some posters will be--

Anonymous said...

"but when ever something positive for the idea of keeping them in Oakland comes out, all the San Jose partisans have to come out and just bash on our city."

The opposite is far more frequent. The "San Jose partisans" here are already fans of an Oakland team. They obviously have little ill will for that city.

Conversely, the Oakland crowd has weaseled in words like "steal," said that SJ should be "ashamed" and tried to turn this into class warfare. That's on top of the same tripe about strip malls, which is ironically just copied from those white-collar San Franciscans.

Anonymous said...

Uh, ML there is absolutely nothing in the article that you linked to saying or proving that the Dolich/Piccinini group didn't have the financial clout to buy the team.

You might want to use another example to prove your point...good luck trying to find one.

Marine Layer said...

There's also no proof that the Dolich/Piccinini group had enough money to make the deal work. You know what I think hurt them? It was the fact that they kept bringing in new minority partners to prop up the ownership group. That reeks of someone not preparing enough at the outset. Heck, maybe I could say I wanted to make a bid and stall until some sugar daddy/mama bought into my sales pitch. Come strong or don't come at all.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:27,

don't you get it?? none of that matters. it's gonna come down to a vote if anything; which in the end won't pass regardless. the only thing oakland has to do at this point is basically put together a kick ass can't fail plan (which i'm almost positive they've already began the process on months ago), and sure enough a new ballpark in oakland is still very much possible.

even if this committee finds that san jose will generate their share of revenue due to silicon valley, they'll still realize that with a new ballpark in the right location in oakland, the market is still very much alive in the east bay. it's not about making the most money in a two team market, it's about being able to compete while "sharing" in a two team market. trust me, the market didn't just go away after all these years...fans just stopped going to the outdated coliseum. negative ownership didn't help with any of this either.

there just isn't any comparison with figures from the current coliseum numbers to what predictions san jose could possibly draw.

hamachi said...

Local Oakland Govt. is in shambles right now, I don't think they'd ever be able to get together to create a decent plan to save the A's. and after Alameda county is still paying for Mt. Davis I doubt they'll have any appetite for another stadium construction deal. and Jack London is a non-starter (I live there), just no room to put a big place with all the parking needed. Maybe there would be room downtown after all the car dealerships leave, but I just don't think Dellums would be able to generate any decent plan to build something there.

ML: maybe you can score an interview with Lew now that there is something to talk about! :)

Paul said...

from the LA Times:

"If the owners can be persuaded they'll all make more money if the A's play in San Jose, the Giants can forget about their territorial rights, despite their protests."

...Music to our ears

Anonymous said...

anon 8:27--I get it---not sure you do---amazing how Oakland has had 15+ years to put together a "kick ass" deal and never delivered but now your confident that in the last 30 days they got their shit together---ok--we're all allowed to dream---can't wait to see the financials on this---and Uncle Al is watching with baited breath to see this deal too---

Your right about the market not going away in 3-years---it really never existed---which is why most everyone realizes that it is time to quite the game and move on to a place in the Bay Area that can sustain a team--

Justin said...

This Commitee does seem to be constructed to deliver the death blow to Oakland as a viable MLB city. But if their unstated goal is to convince 20 Owners to revoke the Giants' T-rights they are going to have to make one hell of a convincing case that the A's are a few years from teetering so far over the brink that it would harm the viability of their own franchises.

and the obvious way to convey that sense of doom and gloom is to convince the owners that the A's will become dependent on Revenue Sharing. But I thought there are at least half a dozen other teams that take larger revenue sharing payouts and spend less of it on personnel.

I just can't see the league convincing 2/3s of the owners that the situation is that dire, especially since they will probably be in a conservative mood while they feel out the effect of the economy.

I'd be curious if ML has any ideas how they can make that argument convincingly.

I suspect (admittedly hope) that this ends up backfiring a little for Wolff and Selig, and rather than prove that Oakland isn't a viable MLB town, show that the sky isn't falling and that given time and a clean slate a well crafted plan can be put together, be it in Oakland or elsewhere.

Marine Layer said...

The argument doesn't have to be made the way you are framing it, Justin. It's not about eliminating revenue sharing completely. It's about Selig's and the owners' view of what constitutes leveling the playing field. To them that starts with a new or updated ballpark. To them the A's and Rays are needlessly on the dole when they should be helping themselves out first. Wins/losses, market size - these are factors that can't be controlled. If a team has a ballpark deal and it still needs revenue sharing to some degree that's okay. At least they're trying to pull their weight.

Paul said...

Since all the American league teams are most likely on board already, MLB only needs to convince something like 10-12 National League teams to lift the idiotic territorial rights.

Maybe the Giants should tell us how long they expect to keep those rights. 100 years? 1,000 years?

A report just came out about the positive economic benefits of HP Pavilion. Therefore, the Giants would be depriving the South Bay economy if they block the A's. Not a way to engender good feelings about your organization, I'd say.

Jesse said...

I wonder what Selig's reaction to Wolff was after Wolff made his statement about Oakland. Probably told him to shut his trap and let the men who know how to do this talk.

This statement flies in the face of what Wolff said publicly to Oakland. Its easy to assume this is bad news for Oakland, but maybe not. Maybe the committee will see opportunities that Wolff couldnt or wouldnt see.

Maybe the committee will not be biased towards San Jose, I bet part of what Selig told Baer and Nukom is that they would take a fair honest look at Oakland and Contra Costa first before considering San Jose. Because its not as if anyone is buying the idea that Wolff exhausted all opportunities. No one is buying that.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jesse---Oakland has had a fair and honest look for the past 15+ years---its not new news that they need a new ballpark--Bud already knows what Lew knows but anyone who is in business realizes you need to present factual due diligence in order to move the ball forward. Re-read Bud's comments--he cites current and previous ownership groups that haven't been able to get anything done in Oakland---

Bud knows its San Jose or the A's leave the Bay Area---a report by this disinguished group of consultants will lay to rest any doubt as to why the A's play in a shit hole--because Oakland/Alameda/Contra Costa counties cannot put anything together and are overwhelmed with their current Raider obligations.

Relative to Bud telling LW to shut his trap--seems as if Lew is pretty accurate with his statements--more likely they are connected at the hips as this moves into the late innings--

Jesse said...

The last 15 years the A's have been owned by Schott and Wolff. Both of whom made very real attempts to move the A's south. Thats their dream. I cannot believe that they have tried everything in Oakland.

The great George Carlin once said the people in power want to pit the little people against each other so they are too busy fighting to notice whats really happening.

The A's maybe already on their way to another state because its better for both MLB organizations. San Antonio is available right now and they even have a dome to play in temporarily until a new park can be opened. The Marlins move attempt sort of gave the MLB two things, leverage with Miami Dade Cty, and a look whats available if MLB needs a new site. San Antonio is the 7th largest market in the country. YEP 7th.

We better put down the put downs and the bong and hash jokes and hope that there is more than one option available in the bay, because building a new stadium in any economy is HARD to do.

Oakland Si said...

"Lew Wolff and the Oakland ownership group and management have worked very hard to obtain a facility that will allow them to compete into the 21st Century," Commissioner Selig said. "To date they, like the two ownership groups in Oakland before them..."

Schott/Hoffman was the Oakland ownership before Wolff/Fischer...but before them was the Haas family. I'm not aware that they were also trying to build a new ballpark.

Is that simply a careless error?

Justin said...

ML: That makes sense as a justification for the pursuit of new ballparks in general, but it that enough of a concern for a large enough group of owners to Revoke the T-Rights of the Giants over their objections? It seems to set a bad precedent of the league office revoking their own protections ( a precedent much more concrete than Letting the Angels use the words Los Angeles).

Part of my skepticism is from comparing the Giants T-rights with those of Orioles during the Expos move. My understanding is that the O's rights were respected as valid, but they were able to convince the owners to generously compensate Peter Angelos because the league's ownership of the Expos was expensive and anti-competitive. In other words the pressing need to make a deal.

I don't see the same sense of urgency with the A's situation. I also don't see why all of teh AL teams would necessarily be okay with flipping off the Giants as Paul suggested.

Paul said...

Because the other AL teams, and NL teams too, all stand to make more money if the A's can move out of the revenue-suppressing Coliseum.

When the A's moved to Oakland, SF and Oakland were the Big 2 cities in the Bay Area. Now, San Jose is #1. With lots of families, corporate headquarters and a fervor for sports, it makes no sense for baseball not recognize the New Chain of Command in the Bay Area. It's like building a highway that is restricted to horse-and-buggy traffic, only.

Anonymous said...

Not a matter of flipping of the Giants as far the other owners are concerned. Why does it seem more reasonable to screw the A's rather than the Giants? The other owners are going to view the Giants with a skeptical eye. It's not like they aren't already in head to head competition with the A's. It's also not like the A's are taking something that wasn't originally theirs to begin with.

The other owners are going to vote their pocketbooks. It's really that simple. Are they better off collectively with the A's in SJ or not? Pretty simple conclusion that they are. As with all things, one need only to follow the money to reach the heart of the matter.

El said...

I also don't see why all of the AL teams would necessarily be okay with flipping off the Giants

Please pay attention. It is the same answer every time - MONEY.

Please try to keep this one simple thought in mind while trying to divine what the MLB owners will do:

They will act in their own financial interest.

This will be on the test.

Jeffrey said...

The deal with the Orioles had three key components- Media revenue (by way of a controlling ownership in a new regional sports network to broadcast both Nat's and O's games), guaranteed annual revenue, and guaranteed franchise value.

I imagine the Giants would probably settle for numbers 2 and 3 and some sort of lump sum payment towards debt obligations.

Marine Layer said...

Justin,

Contrary to popular belief, the O's did have a case against the move based on a technicality. Rule 52 of the ML Agreement stated that no team could play within 15 miles of another team's defined territory, and much of northeast DC was within that range. When the move was being discussed, there was no consensus on where a new DC ballpark would be located, though the Navy Yard site was in the lead and RFK Stadium was to be the interim venue. RFK Stadium is perhaps a football field's length outside of the 15-mile buffer, so the question is Did Angelos have a case since portions of DC were within the buffer, or did he not have a case because the stadium sites were not within the buffer? In any case Angelos did not sue, was compensated, and still voted against the move anyway.

I have no idea if Rule 52 still exists, but I imagine it's gone in the current agreement. I vaguely remember Peter Magowan bringing up the possibility that Fremont might be out of bounds based on the rule.

Selig may be slimy, but he has done a better job of building consensus within the owners than any commissioner ever. If the consensus this time is that giving the A's Santa Clara County is good for the overall health of MLB, you can bet that he'll have enough votes to get it passed. It's not about screwing the Giants or the A's. It's about the league. At some point MLB has to decide whether the T-rights as a whole is still effective, or as I've argued, it has been surpassed by cost as the biggest barrier to entry.

As Transic alluded to earlier, the bigger battle for the owners is TV rights and blackout rules. That's another bastion of inequity that needs to be addressed. The owners would be best served saving their bullets for that battle.