Much thanks to Howard Bryant for continuing to publicize the A’s plight. Now he has included Victory Court and the Rays in the situation, pointing the finger at the commissioner and the owners for their collective indecisiveness and greed, respectively. He sums up the state of affairs between Oakland and Lew Wolff this way:
A’s fans will nod, too. Despite Wolff’s protestations that he is not purposely burying his club, the A’s appear to be following the Montreal narrative. Wolff is correct that Oakland has lacked the political leadership to give him optimism — with the brief exception of city manager Robert Bobb. No mayor, from Elihu Harris to Jerry Brown to Ron Dellums to Jean Quan, has used significant muscle to make the A’s a priority.
Wolff has no reason to trust Oakland politicians, not after the city and Alameda County leadership all but ruined the fan experience at the Oakland Coliseum to accommodate the disastrous return of the Oakland Raiders.
But there is another truth Wolff must face: Oakland doesn’t have much reason to trust him, either. Since Walter Haas sold the team in 1995, A’s owners have done everything in their power to leave Oakland, physically and emotionally.
The commissioner’s office, too, is complicit in the sabotaging of Oakland. Bud Selig rightfully lauds his three-person committee assigned to the daunting and thankless task of assessing the feasibility of baseball in the San Francisco Bay Area. But although he interprets the length of time the committee has taken to reach a finding — two years and counting since March 2009 — as evidence of its diligence, Selig is selling a false timetable, for he has actually had the A’s-San Jose relocation question on his desk for 14 years.
Bryant finishes his column by citing the possibility that Wolff could own the Dodgers and a fresh ownership group could come in to hammer out a deal with Oakland. If that doesn’t work out, the stage is set for the A’s to leave the Bay Area completely. That’s what scares me. Because Oakland doesn’t have a great track record of doing things like this well or properly, or as I’ve noted previously, alone. Unless there’s a Coliseum deal (which MLB has already discounted), Oakland isn’t getting help from the county or state. I want to believe that Oakland can pull it off. But if the scenario Bryant describes happens with the A’s being “Oakland or bust”, people (including the owners) are generally not going to lay money on Oakland. We are talking about $400 million for the team and $450+ million in private financing for a ballpark, plus $100 million directly from the city to get the site and infrastructure ready. If it is Oakland only, I’ll get behind it 100% – as should most readers here and anyone else who is for keeping the A’s in the Bay Area.
From a practical standpoint, A’s fans need to have as many options for the A’s ballpark location as possible, especially with the coming demise of redevelopment (which East Coast-based Bryant hasn’t mentioned in his columns). If we are stuck with only one option, heaven help us.
P.S. – One thing to look for in the upcoming CBA – franchise relocation fees. They aren’t in there right now, and with two teams possibly coming into play, could allow the owners to get their greed on once again.