News for 9/22/12

We’ll start with the lede, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler:

A’s owner Lew Wolff said Friday that he believes his team’s quest for a new ballpark will be settled within the next year.

Does that mean a new ballpark is about to rise in San Jose, Oakland or somewhere far away?

Not necessarily.

“I do think this long trek will be coming to an end,” Wolff said, in an interview with CBSSports.com. “I can’t predict the end.”

Wolff did suggest that he has no interest in either taking legal action or doing something that would lead to legal action from the Giants (who claim the San Jose territory). He also said he’s not interested in either selling the team or moving it out of the Bay Area.

“We’re going to persist in the Bay Area as long as we can,” he said. “It’s not a journey we’re going to cut short.”

Wolff’s latest statements he has indicate less confidence in the process that he has supported all this time. Maybe he has the same resolve as ever about San Jose, but the constant drag by the commissioner isn’t helping. Either way it appears that no outcome is certain. At least there will be an outcome, which is better than the team being in limbo as it has the last three years. One thing’s for certain: at least one group of people is going away from this mess extremely unhappy.

Update 10:52 AM – While in New York to catch part of the A’s current roadtrip, Wolff had a chance to explain further to the NY Times’ Tyler Kepner what he’s trying to build in San Jose. In addition to confirming that he and the rest of A’s ownership has the money to build a ballpark, Wolff also talked about how the high-tech concessions stands would work.

“All of our concession signs will be digital, so when you’re supposed to stop serving beer, you just press a button and it disappears,” Wolff said Friday over lunch at a Midtown Manhattan hotel. “And then if you have extra hot dogs, you can reduce the price.

“I mean, I’m being silly about it, but we’ve had plenty of years to think about this. It isn’t like all of a sudden we get approved and now we’ve got to start thinking about how our ballpark’s going to look. We’re really ready.”

Additionally, Buster Olney hears that Bud Selig is working the room to get enough votes to grant South Bay T-rights to the A’s. (via MLB Trade Rumors)

Other news:

  • The Angels denied a report that they were negotiating with Ed Roski’s Majestic Realty for the NFL stadium site in Industry. Whether the Angels were actually talking or not is moot. Industry is now a potential threat, albeit one that’s not very practical. The site had numerous challenges when the plan was for a 10 games-per-season NFL slate, 80-90 games would turn the hillside location into a second Dodger Stadium from a parking/circulation standpoint. The site, near the junction of CA-57 and CA-60, is also situated on a hillside that slopes down from southeast to northwest. That’s a poor orientation for siting a ballpark. [LA Times/Bill Shaikin]
  • El Paso’s City Council approved the $50 million AAA ballpark deal that could bring the Padres’ affiliate to town by 2014. The combination of rent, a ticket tax, and sworn parking revenues should bring in around $500,000 per year, not nearly enough to pay off the stadium on its own. The final say belongs with El Paso’s mayor, who will have until Thursday to approve or nix the deal. [El Paso Times/Cindy Ramirez]
  • After 10 years of abject failure, the “ballpark village” plan next to Busch Stadium is finally a go, thanks to million in subsidies coming from the State of MIssouri. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Elizabeth Crisp]
  • In case you haven’t heard, the NHL is in a lockout. [Yahoo Sports/Nicholas J. Cotsonika]
  • Barclays Center, the first major pro sports venue in Brooklyn since the Dodgers abandoned Ebbets Field, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. {NY Times/Howard Beck]
  • Next Friday the 28th, the hearing to compel discovery in the Stand for San Jose vs. City of San Jose lawsuit will be held at 9 AM at Superior Court in downtown San Jose. I plan to observe.
  • Still awaiting the State Controller’s ruling on the legality of the Diridon land transfer.

That’s it for now.

52 thoughts on “News for 9/22/12

  1. I wonder what will happen to the Angels situation now that it is in talks of having to get out of Anaheim, but IMO, I think that the Angels can generate new revenue in going to LA Live.

  2. Is Selig Newman to Wolff’s Jerry?

  3. I don’t think the El Paso AAA baseball deal is going to be a slam dunk as the El Paso Times is reporting. Most ppl in El Paso want a triple A team in the area, but they do not want to build or buy a new city hall for the town council. Expect to see some lawsuits over the next couple of months to delay the construction of the ball park and city’s attempt to purchase the El Paso Times building for it’s new city hall.

  4. Please, please, please let this be over. I guess I have trouble believing that it will be, we’ve heard the “end is nigh” talk before.

  5. So what happens when Wolff can’t get San Jose? He signs a lease extension at the Coliseum and is done with it? MLB then searches for investors willing to spend $1 billion+ of their own money to buy the team and build in Oakland?

  6. I wonder if this is reopening the door for Fremont – granted, a suboptimal solution but still superior to Oakland. Would be interesting to know if the mayoral candidates have any opinions re a new stadium. Noted from recent Barrons article that bay area cities are among the leaders in projected gains in US real estate values over next three years

  7. Interesting how the CBS piece left out that the committee also met with San Jose officials not once but TWICE. Oh well, otherwise a good article that bodes well for the future. And who really believes Wolff doesn’t know how this will all turn out? “Enthusiasm” anyone?

  8. Wolff in the NY Times today:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/sports/baseball/athletics-owner-see-no-there-in-oakland.html

    “Look, we need a decision, and we need it sooner rather than later,” Wolff said. “It can’t lap over another year. I don’t think it will. I don’t have any date, but not having any decision is worse than having a ‘no’ because you can’t move on to Plan B. And you’re going to ask me what is Plan B, and I’m going to tell you I don’t have one.

  9. Olney’s latest column per MLBTR.

    Commissioner Bud Selig is quietly gathering club votes to help the Athletics as they attempt to move to San Jose. Once they have enough support, MLB will be in a better position to push the Giants to make a deal for their territorial rights.

  10. ,,,if Olney is accurate, then this shows Selig does not believe the Howard Terminal or Coliseum City sites are viable. That there’s no point in anointing one of these as the site if nobody is going to foot the bill and a ballpark won’t get built. But who knows if Olney is accurate?

  11. Interesting Olney tho g, but we have heard this both ways 3,576 times at this point. Anyone have access beyond the pay wall for Olney’s piece?

  12. “We’re going to persist in the Bay Area as long as we can,” . . .
    .
    Well, my opinion of Wolff just improved 100%.
    .
    That Diridon land deal sounds troubling. I didn’t pay much attention to the investigatiion when it started, assuming that the land would get acquired somehow if the team gets the go-ahead to move, but since then I’ve learned a bit about the ongoing process to conclude the dissolution of the redevelopment system in Calif. The Departmen of Finance and, I suppose, the Controller, are taking a very expansive view of their power under the statute. Does San Jose have a plan B?

    • @xootsuit – San Jose’s Plan B is to challenge the decision, and if that fails, Wolff would have to buy the land from the successor agency at market value, an extra $7 million. It’s not a situation where Wolff can never get the land.

      @all – Post updated to include Kepner/Olney/MLBTR stories.

  13. San Jose’s plan B’s: Airport West near Quakes SSS, North San Pedro Square, Berryessa near current flea Market/future BART, or Mission San Jose (aka Fremont). Still hoping for Diridon, but not the end of the world re a San Jose ballpark.

  14. BTW RM,
    If the state seized Diridon, could it possibly make things easier for Wolff and the City of San Jose? I.e. Wolff could then buy directly from the successor agency (SCCO) albeit at market rate. However, then no vote would be needed due to no perceived land discount from the city of SJ.

  15. Oops, you sort of answered my question simultaneously ;) thanks RM.

  16. @xoosuit- San Jose regardless has control of what gets developed on the land. So if the controller takes it over then San Jose has to open bid it out to the public but who would buy the land knowing the city will stop them at every turn?

    Wolff then can buy it through the auction if his land options are deemed not good. All that there is left is push ATT out and the site is complete.

    Far easier and cheaper in a nicer area than Howard Terminal or Victory Court for that matter.

  17. I really hate this ” Wolff’s fraternity brother !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    so what? BS has not done jack for his brother.

    I have no idea why the writers everywhere had to include that.

  18. Zootsuit – I’m sure you are familiar with eminent domain – that would definitely apply in this case. Also, Olney is more credible than other east coast writers – Bill Madden (a giants shilll who suggested the A’s could be contracted), and Jason Stark, etc.

  19. Sigh if ESPN is saying it it must be true j/k, I have never taken ESPN serious when it comes to reporting any news, too much sensationalism and east coast bias when it comes to reporting anything worth reporting. I do miss the days when they aired USFL football and the tough man competitions.

  20. I miss AWA Wrestling with Greg Gagne, Curt Henning and the Road Warriors on ESPN.

  21. ML — did the RDA own the Diridon properties before the transfer to the Authority? Often RDAs did not take title to real estate, but for a variety of reasons, paid for the land but let their cities (or counties, etc.) take title. If that was the case here, the successor agency wouldn’t have any power to dispose of the property. Maybe San Jose could just sell the property to the A’s? Should be possible, although the process would be a lot more public than the redevelopment decisions related to eradication of “blight” used to be.

    duffer, wtf are you talking about?

  22. I just found your post, ML, from 3/6/11 about San Jose and its RDA forming a JPA to acquire the Diridon properties. So it appears the RDA used its money to fund the JPA’s purchase of the land.
    .
    My view: every city and RDA in the state was scrambling in March 2011 to make deals like that, to issue RDA bonds, etc., before the legislature enacted the dissolution statute (eventually effective near the end of June 2011). The Dept. of Finance (and, no doubt, the Controller) wants to invalidate as many such 11th hour deals as they can. They will take the position that the JPA agreement between the San Jose and RDA is one of those non-arms-length deals between cities and RDAs that the statute, as enacted, declared invalid.
    .
    I wonder how many lawsuits the DoF and Controller, and thus the state of Calif., will face from cities and successor agencies alleging impairment of valid contracts under the U.S. Constitution.

  23. OT: this road trip is killing the A’s! Why can’t we be playing at home against the likes of the Rockies and Padres?… (the Baseball gods obviously like AT&T Park more than the Coliseum)

  24. What xootsuit – you don’t know what eminent domain is? SJ’s mayor Reed obviously does – he has said it would be used if necessary if there are any problems in obtaining the land parcels.

  25. I didn’t know the Road Warriors were on AWA….I do remember mr perfect on there though.. I know you disagree with me Jefferey, but Demolition > Road Warriors :)

  26. duffer, Reed and other SJ councilmembers have said no eminent domain to some of the necessary parcels, maybe to some others, but it’s all speculation. And you have to have to the money to spend to do that. Without the RDA tax increment money, the city may or may not be able to go that route. You’re just repeating fragments you didn’t understand the first time you heard them.

  27. Yeah this road trip sucks two straight extra innings losses at Yankee stadium, sigh lets hope they can turn it around and win the rest of the way. Also I thought the state was going to rule on the re-development agencies on the 15th has anyone heard anything about that.

  28. I meant the SJ RDA and similar projects.. has anyone heard?

  29. OT: ESPN Classics shows Classic AWA Wrestling and Classic UWF Wrestling. Check your listings.

  30. Tony, Airport west is not a Plan B. the area canot support a second stadium of that size, nor would the neighbors allow it.

  31. I’m not sure why you couldn’t build a ballpark at the Industry site with home plate facing north.
    .
    Here’s the terrain of the site from Google Maps:
    .
    http://goo.gl/maps/WRDvz

  32. BTW,
    don’t think it’s a case of BS “working the room” to get votes. Its probably more of a case of “here’s our final decision after three years of study, here’s the proposed deal between the A’s and Giants…HERE’S HOW YOU’RE GOING TO VOTE.”

  33. Larry E, demolition was a road warriors rip off plain and simple :)
    .
    Anyway, in regards to ED… Can a private party pay for the land? Or can a private party give money to the RDA who then turns around and pays for it? I am not that familiar with the nuance of the process.

  34. PS- congrats to my Giants fan friends and the players. Screw you Larry Baer.

  35. Jeffrey, I don’t know if anyone is really “familiar” with the process. The ongoing dissolution-of-RDA process was invented last year, and amended just a couple of months ago. The DoF seems to be making things up as it goes along. (Just a few days ago they issued guidelines for administratively challenging their decisions.)
    .
    As ML pointed out originally, the “successor agency” is generally the entity in the middle. (For SJ, the successor entity is the City, but for legal purposes it is a separate entity, and, thus, *not* the City. Don’t try to overthink that one, as strange as it sounds.) The successor agency, among other things, is supposed to sell off old RDA assets for as much as possible. Whether the land at issue here ever belonged to the RDA I don’t know. Bottom line: there’s no reason the A’s LLC can’t acquire the land eventually. The price and timing of the sale may not be ideal, but it can get done.
    .
    Can’t argue with your response to the Giants 2012 success, btw.

  36. A person of my acquaintance who is in a position to know tells me that Selig has been moving like a slug on San Jose because of two reservations: the seating capacity of the stadium and the uncertainty of fan support in San Jose.
    .
    The first is a reflection of how out of touch Selig is with the economics of the game these days. Baseball is primarily a TV event rather than a ticket to the game event, with most fans watching nearly every game on the tube while attending a handful of games per year. Instant replay is important because dominant audience has it already, so we all have contempt for the ineptitude of the umps. It’s hilarious that Selig has allowed his game to fall behind tennis in the use of technology to prevent bad calls by officials and the corrosive effects of complaining on the progress of the game.
    .
    As silly as that is, Selig’s fears about fan support in San Jose are even more hilarious. Direct fans support is nice, but it ebbs and flows, so it’s even more important to have corporate support for a base level of season tickets year after year. There are no real businesses in Oakland of any importance from the standpoint of luxury boxes, as the Raiders have proved, but there are tons of potential clients in Silicon Valley.
    .
    This suggests to me that the primary mission of the A’s ownership over the last four years with doofus Selig has been about bringing him up to speed on the fundamentals of baseball economics. It probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the owners have seen fit to employ a Forest Gump to fill the Commissioner’s seat at their meetings these past years. An empty suit is just what you need sometimes.

  37. I am beginning to wonder if Selig isn’t finally acting to give the Giants the proper incentive to reach a deal with the A’s before one is imposed on them. Quite frankly, the status quo suits the Giants just fine. Why should they deal when they can just stall and hope that the A’s quietly go away? If they suddenly feel that the vote will go the A’s way and under less than favorable terms for them, then they will be motivated to strike a deal. It’s not as if they can argue to the other owners that they haven’t had time to prepare for this eventuality.

  38. I expect a Baltimore like process (assuming Olney is right). An owners vote that paves the way will happen prior to a settlement between the clubs. The league will have all the leverage and will still give the Giants favorable deal.
    .
    Local media will be stunned when they see that the Giants only legal move was already employed (suing San Jose through a third party).
    .
    On a side note, after watching the Raiders game on TV, I really hope that the team and the city find a way to keep the team in Oakland. I don’t think much of us are very realistic about how stacked the deck is against Oakland, regardless of how vociferously Oakland proponents may argue against that characterization. Is Oakland going to give the Raiders a deal like what the 49ers got in Santa Clara? While I hope not, it may be the only way to keep the team in the Town and of all teams the one that most feels “Oakland” is the Raiders. The joint was hopping yesterday. I think Dave Stewart said it best when he opined, “Oakland is a football town.”

  39. Mossback wrote: “It’s hilarious that Selig has allowed his game to fall behind tennis in the use of technology to prevent bad calls by officials and the corrosive effects of complaining on the progress of the game.”

    Just heard an interview with Joe Torre, who mentioned that technology similar to what tennis is using is currently in place and being tested at the NY ballparks. To paraphrase what he said, it’s not quite ready yet.

  40. @Mossback, despite Selig’s many shortcomings, he is hardly an “empty suit” when it comes to baseball’s fundamental economics. On the contrary he has spearheaded the greatest revenue boom in the game’s 140 year history.
    .
    TV revenues have skyrocketed on Bud’s watch. But for all that, ticket sales and the ancillary revenues that come with attendance remain the most important driver of each club’s financial success. It’s easy to forget that when Selig became acting commissioner in the early 90s, annual attendance of 2 million (25k per game) was still considered an elite level. 1 million or 1.5 million was perfectly acceptable.
    .
    In MLB today, 2 million annual attendance equates to a marginal franchise — not terrible if you are having an 2012 Astros year, but unacceptable for any reasonably competitive team. And tickets sold today bring in many times more revenue than tix to the pre-Camden Yards parks did.
    .
    The claim that baseball is becoming just a TV game was very common back in the 1960s. When Branch Rickey wrote his memoirs in 1966, he predicted teams of the future would all play indoors in gigantic tv studios and stop selling tickets altogether. That turned out to be completely wrong, and it’s not the way anyone thinks about the game today.

    • TV revenues have skyrocketed on Bud’s watch.But for all that, ticket sales and the ancillary revenues that come with attendance remain the most important driver of each club’s financial success.

      @ Simong – Where did you get this statement from? Did you see the Forbes valuation assessment for teams like the Rangers, ChiSox, Mariners, etc. who have paltry gate-receipts percentage as compared to its entire estimated net revenues?

      • @all – For some of the poorer teams or teams without big ticket sales, stadium revenue may only be 35% of total revenue. For rich teams the number may be as high as 65%. Successful teams hover at around the 50% mark. A similar range (20-30%) comes into play for TV revenue per team when accounting for both national and local TV. Come 2014 that share will shift to 25-35% because of the new national TV deals.

        The A’s yearly revenue sharing receipt accounts for as much as 20% of the team’s annual revenue.

  41. Somewhat OT: I went to Great America last Saturday (has it really been 31 years since I herded people in and out of the Pictorium?), and got a couple of shots of the new Niners stadium.

    From the parking lot

    From the Sky Tower

  42. I have to agree with Simon here. By any objective criteria, despite any emotional animosity towards Bud, his tenure as Commish will be remembered kindly by history. Most likely, in terms of effectiveness, his tenure will easily eclipse that of Landis. Lets not forget that he strode onto the scene in the midst of years of bitter labor strife with the players union. He has managed to achieve a period of labor peace and prosperity for both the owners and players. A player strike these days is an absurd proposition, which is no mean feat cosidering the mess he inherited. Also, if Selig is successful in placing the A’s in SJ, he will have assured the future of the franchise for the next 50 years. No matter how you feel about him personally, the game is far better for him having been involved. The only other person who will come close to his level of accomplishment will be Marvin Miller.

  43. ML, thanks for the data.

    I should add that I do not quite understand Selig’s concern about potential attendance in San Jose (if that report is even accurate). If you consider the Bay Area a single market, then over the long term attendance should not be much different whether the stadium is located in Oakland, SJ, Fremont or some other town.
    .
    My view is that the A’s will receive an enormous attendance boost due to the fact of having a new ballpark, wherever it is. San Jose has a larger corporate base than Oakland but you can’t count on specific corporate support over the long haul (other than the naming rights deal). San Jose’s advantage is simply that if T-Rights are resolved, it will be the easier place to build.

    • My view is that the A’s will receive an enormous attendance boost due to the fact of having a new ballpark, wherever it is.San Jose has a larger corporate base than Oakland but you can’t count on specific corporate support over the long haul (other than the naming rights deal).San Jose’s advantage is simply that if T-Rights are resolved, it will be the easier place to build.

      By your logic, San Jose still would have an advantage in corporate support, being that there are more Fortune 500 companies in the SV then the East Bay. Since “you can’t count on specific corporate support over the long haul”, the smaller corporate base would dry up much faster, whereas the larger one will have a bigger pool to replenish from. So SJ’s advantage is 1) EIR in place 2) land purchased 3) political backing 4) owner support, and 5) corporate base so yes, it will be built faster and endure corporate support longer.

  44. Santa Clara County is home to more Fortune 500 companies than the rest of the Bay Area counties combined. There’s no corporate base to speak of in Oakland.

  45. How do you think Oakland and Quan proponets will react, once the Lew Wolff move to San jose is really a Go ahead…. do you think Quan will make Oakland a SF giant supporter by allowing the giants more advertisment and dare i say… a store actually in Oakland??? i think mlb should consider this as more compensation for the giants , and the a’s should get a better deal to attain san jose? what u cats think?

  46. Also i like Jeffs comment on the city of Oakland just focusing on the Raiders… i do beileve that because Mark Davis has been in a good relationship with city of O, that i beileve they will take care of Davis in a few years on a funding plan to build the Raiders a new stadium/convention center. Oakland is a football town, and im not mad the the A’s and Warriors are spreading out the market to more corners of the bay with money. Oakland can still be a proud city, with the Raiders and a new Raider stadium and the hate toward San Jose and the A’s will eventuallly wither away.

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