The Merc’s Tracy Seipel just got wind of a new poll conducted by SJSU’s Survey and Policy Research Institute. This time, the poll doesn’t ask a fuzzy “Do you favor the A’s moving to San Jose?” question, it asks if voters would approve giving city-owned land (Diridon South) to the A’s for their privately financed and operated ballpark.
The stadium poll question — posed by San Jose State University’s Survey and Policy Research Institute on behalf of the Mercury News — found that 62 percent of those surveyed favored the idea while 23.5 opposed it; 13 percent didn’t know and 1.5 percent refused to answer.
Cheered by the A’s and city leaders, the result is one of the first indications of how San Jose voters are leaning on the ballpark question, which the city hopes to put on the ballot in November — if Major League Baseball graces the move by overriding the San Francisco Giants’ claims to Santa Clara County. The A’s are anxious to move from the aging Oakland Coliseum and have said they cannot find a suitable home elsewhere in the East Bay.
In all of the recent run-up to the report that still hasn’t appeared, local and national writers have been speculating what exactly the MLB panel, Bud Selig, and his constituents, the owners, have been thinking. The near consensus has been that prior to any decision being made, MLB needs to square away the T-rights issue and compensation.
I don’t think that’s really the case. Instead, I think MLB is more afraid of using political capital for a T-rights negotiation without knowing where San Jose stands regarding the A’s. Now that two polls have shown the proponents of a move with a clear advantage, MLB may finally have traction to move ahead. It could easily present the recommendation, have Selig present the case to the owners, vote on the move, then negotiate the finer details over the next 2 years, until the next CBA is in place. Of course, Selig would have to make the case that this move doesn’t create a precedent that potentially harms the big market teams, which is no small feat. To that end, there would have to be language that indicates that the Bay Area situation is not analogous to any other move, which is at least true based on the history of T-rights here. It is that language that I believe is the biggest difficulty. Chances are that there would be a sunset clause in case of a failed vote or the A’s failure to get a ballpark built, which would be a correction of the last T-rights change for Santa Clara County.
If you’re all about free markets or unshackling Santa Clara County or Alameda County from T-rights, I doubt you’ll be happy. Chances are that this won’t go nuclear, it won’t even reach a public debate in the media. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.