Category Archives: Athletics
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) June 18, 2013
More from ABC 7:
So, the city has hired Peninsula attorney Joe Cotchett to file a lawsuit. “This is all about economics. And, you have a city like San Jose, the tenth largest city in the United States, cannot get a baseball club. I can name you other cities that are pulling for San Jose for the same reason. They want the right and the chance to bring a baseball team to their city, their county, whatever it might be,” he said.
A 2009 study found that a new ballpark for the A’s could pump $130 million a year into the San Jose economy. And, San Jose’s mayor has hinted in the past that he’s considered legal action, but the city has always deferred to the principal owner of the A’s — Lew Wolff.
The City has been talking to Cotchett for a while about prepping the lawsuit. I had also heard that Cotchett may be taking this case pro bono, but I can’t confirm that at the moment. Correction: Cotchett is taking the case on a contingency basis. Cotchett has a ton of experience with antitrust suits and sports, representing the Raiders and the NFL at different times.
The Merc’s John Woolfork also has an article with a primer.
And then there’s this.
— John Lund (@JohnLundRadio) June 18, 2013
The podcast of the Cotchett interview is available here.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s office put out the lawsuit press release:
For Immediate Release:
June 18, 2013
Michelle McGurk, Office of Mayor Reed
(408) 535-4840 or (408) 655-7332 (cell)
City Council Unanimously Authorizes Lawsuit to Allow A’s to Move to San Jose
San Jose, Calif. – The City of San Jose has filed legal action in federal court to eliminate the territorial restrictions that Major League Baseball has used to keep the A’s from moving to San Jose. The complaint was authorized by the City Council during closed session this morning.
“For more than four years, the City of San Jose has made an exhaustive effort to work with Major League Baseball to resolve any concerns about our city’s capacity to host a major league ballclub,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “During that time, it has become abundantly clear that Major League Baseball prefers to use territorial restrictions as an excuse to restrict commerce and prevent the Athletics from relocating to San Jose. This restriction is costing San Jose residents millions of dollars in new annual tax revenues that could go towards funding more police officers, firefighters, libraries, gang prevention efforts, road repairs and other critical city services.”
The Oakland Athletics ownership group has expressed a desire to construct a new privately-financed and privately-operated ballpark in Downtown San Jose. While the City of San Jose has worked with the Athletics to facilitate the construction of a new ballpark, their efforts have been stalled by the San Francisco Giants’ claim of “territorial rights” to Santa Clara County. In 2009, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a special blue ribbon committee to analyze the Athletics’ options for a new ballpark. But after four years, there still has been no decision on whether the Athletics can relocate to San Jose.
According to an independent economic analysis report conducted by Conventions Sports & Leisure International, a new major league ballpark in Downtown San Jose would generate significant benefits, including:
$5 million per year in new tax revenues to the City and other local governments;
$130 million per year in total net new economic output; and
Nearly 1000 new full and part-time jobs.
San Jose has entered into an option agreement with the Athletics Investment Group, LLC, the California limited partnership that owns and operates the Oakland A’s, to purchase property for a ballpark in Downtown San Jose. According to the suit, Major League Baseball is interfering with this contract by refusing to allow the Oakland A’s Club to locate to the City of San Jose. San Jose seeks to restore competition among and between the clubs and their partners by ending MLB’s collusive agreements. The lawsuit outlines several practices that have resulted in an unreasonable restraint on competition, in violation of federal and California law, and constitute unlawful, unfair, and/or fraudulent business practices under California law, including violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Tortious Interference with Contractual Advantage, and Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and for violation of the federal Sherman Act, and violation of California’s Cartwright Act.
The City of San Jose is being represented in this case by attorney Joseph W. Cotchett and the firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP. The firm is working on contingency.
Legal Action filed June 18, 2013: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18492.
Economic Impact Analysis: http://www.sjredevelopment.org/ballpark/EI_Report_09022009.pdf
Ballpark archive, including renderings: http://www.sjredevelopment.org/ballpark.htm.
And now, MLB’s response:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 18, 2013
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STATEMENT
Major League Baseball Executive Vice President for Economics & League Affairs Rob Manfred issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit filed by the City of San Jose today:
“In considering the issues related to the Oakland Athletics, Major League Baseball has acted in the best interests of our fans, our communities and the league. The lawsuit is an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional sports league. It is regrettable that the city has resorted to litigation that has no basis in law or in fact.”
Additional comments from San Jose Councilmembers, who unanimously voted to approve the lawsuit:
Xavier Campos, Councilmember, District Five: “The Mayor and City Council want to send Major League Baseball a clear message that the future home for the Athletics is in San José. The new ballpark will draw more fans and generate additional revenues, and create jobs during the construction phase of the project as well as permanent jobs well into the future. It’s a win for San José and it’s a win for Major League Baseball.”
Kansen Chu, Councilmember, District Four: “I am disappointed Major League Baseball has prevented the A’s from moving to San José. Winning this lawsuit not only will provide a great economic impact for the City of San José but will also benefit Major League Baseball.”
Rose Herrera, Councilmember, District 8: “This is the right step to take on behalf of our residents to get the baseball team that we deserve.”
Ash Kalra, Councilmember, District 2: “Major League Baseball has given the city of San Jose no other option but to turn to the judicial system to have our concerns heard and this matter resolved. The lack of response from Major League Baseball has been extremely disrespectful to the efforts our city and community have made in creating an attractive environment for the Athletics, particularly since the team’s ownership agrees that San Jose, the Capital of Silicon Valley, is the ideal location for their great organization.”
Johnny Khamis, Councilmember, District 10: “I supported filing the lawsuit against Major League Baseball today because San Jose deserves economic justice.”
Sam Liccardo, Councilmember, District 3, “Our Downtown hotels, restaurants, shops, cafes, and clubs and their workers will benefit the tens of thousands of people attending each game at a Major League ballpark,” said Councilmember Sam Liccardo, who represents the Downtown. “Independent experts put the total economic impact at $130 million a year. But the wait staff and cooks at our local restaurants can tell you about the real impact professional sports have on a large-city economy. When the Sharks play, Downtown is packed with patrons. We expect an even bigger impact with baseball.”
Pierluigi Oliverio, Councilmember, District 6: “As the Councilmember representing the majority of the land where a future ballpark would be built, I support taking this action today. San Jose residents need resolution now. We have waited for four painful years, and the area surrounding the future stadium has languished due to years of indecision. In addition to Downtown, surrounding neighborhood business districts like The Alameda and West San Carlos will benefit from the economic revitalization that a major league ballpark will bring to the Diridon Station area.”
Donald Rocha, Councilmember, District 9: “Today’s legal action is hopefully the first step in a process which will bring the City, Major League Baseball, the Giants and the A’s to the table. I firmly believe that there is an opportunity for a positive outcome for all parties, and for too long we’ve all been so focused on our own best interests that we haven’t pursued that conversation.”
Further reading, if you’re interested:
- SF Chronicle editorial – San Jose cries foul over A’s
- SJ Councilman Sam Liccardo (San Jose Inside) – Why San Jose Sued Major League Baseball
- Jeff Passan (Yahoo!) – San Jose lawsuit at least provides some hope in putrid A’s situation
- Craig Calcaterra (NBC Hardball Talk) – The San Jose lawsuit against Major League Baseball should be thrown out of court
- Gwen Knapp (Sports On Earth) – Rotten In The State Of California
- Mark Purdy (Mercury News) – San Jose takes big swing at Major League Baseball
- Ray Ratto (CSN Bay Area) – Is closure coming to the San Jose saga?
- Wendy Thurm (Fangraphs) – San Jose Sues MLB To Get A’s, Charges Teams Conspire To Maintain Monopoly Power In Markets
- Nathan Donato-Weinstein (SV Business Journal) – Why the deck is stacked agaisnt San Jose in MLB lawsuit
- Jill Tucker & John Shea (Chron) – San Jose sues MLB over A’s move
- Karen Gullo (Businessweek) – Major League Baseball sued by San Jose over A’s relocation
- Background: Pumping up the antitrust threat (Newballpark.org)
- Background: Sick’s Stadium and relocation of Pilots from Seattle to Milwaukee (Wikipedia)
Commentary later tonight.
You can feel the fortitude and resolve pulsing with each mushy keystroke that was pressed to create MLB’s mealy-mouthed, non-committal statement on #SewerGate:
“As we have stated many times, the Oakland A’s need a new ballpark. Sunday’s unfortunate incident is a stark illustration that they need a long-term solution. This industry has a long record of navigating challenging circumstances and finding solutions. The situation in Oakland is particularly complicated, evident through the years of work it has required, yet we remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached so that the A’s can secure the 21st Century venue that the franchise and its fans deserve.”
That, folks, is leadership at its finest. We can look forward to something happening… sometime in the 21st Century.
There’s fifty feet of crap. And then there’s us. – Billy Beane, Moneyball
Figurative turned literal on Sunday, as the A’s and Mariners (and umpires) were forced to vacate their respective clubhouses after the game because of a sewage backup. The backup caused sewage to seep out of the shower drains as players were trying to clean up. Both teams were forced to use the Raiders’ locker room showers, which are located a level up in the old Exhibit Hall.
As part of the 1995 Mt. Davis renovations, the Exhibit Hall was transformed into new football locker rooms, while the A’s clubhouse and visiting facilities remained mostly untouched. As a result, the plumbing in the clubhouses continues to deteriorate and requires constant repairs, which the A’s usually end up paying for during the season. Per the team’s lease, they can deduct the cost of the repairs against their annual rent payment. During the NFL offseason, the Raiders locker room often gets used as an extra staging area for VIPs. As a part of the stadium that was constructed less than 20 years ago, it’s in much better shape than the old baseball clubhouses.
In 2011, I asked Lew Wolff about the state of affairs at the Coliseum. Here’s an excerpt of our discussion:
Wolff: We’re constantly making repairs that are not our obligation.
ML: Really? Like what?
Wolff: Leaks and things. The scoreboard. There are two of them because of football. I think they’re finally going to replace them, but if they don’t there are no more parts. If a light goes out we borrow it from another one. It’s aggravating. But they basically say they don’t have any money. They still have bonds to pay off. The place is old and this is not the time for cities to write a check for sports.
Two years later the leaks have gotten worse and the scoreboard still needs replacement, with funds to make that happen siphoned away to study Coliseum City. It’s easy to make scoreboards a low priority at a decrepit place like the Coliseum since they don’t affect players or revenues. Functional clubhouses, however, are a different matter entirely. It’s one thing if the clubhouse flooding and contamination was confined solely to the A’s clubhouse. This time it affected both teams and the umpires. Now there’s the prospect of complaints being filed by the A’s, Mariners, and the players’ and umpires’ unions. (Susan Slusser noted that the Angels complained about a similar incident in 2001, citing a possible E. Coli threat.) Ultimately the responsibility falls on the Coliseum Authority, the body acting as the landlord for the three Coliseum tenant teams. A Herculean effort by an industrial cleanup company like ServPro should get the place up and running. The structural deficiencies will continue to linger.
I know next to nothing about engineering sewer systems, but I do know that having facilities below sea level (such as the clubhouses) can make it difficult to get a proper gravity-based flow going. The funny thing is that one of EBMUD’s huge sewer interceptors runs right through the Coliseum complex, so it should be easy to get wastewater and sewage out of the complex assuming that the sewer lines and pumps are working properly. Evidently at least one part of the stadium’s sewage infrastructure wasn’t working at all. Think about that. There is a river of shit running right through the Coliseum and somehow it couldn’t be utilized on Sunday.
Some are pointing to the possibility that the sewer system was taxed by large crowds. The A’s drew 171,756 total fans during this recent six-game homestand. Let’s put that in perspective. That’s 28,626 per game, or roughly half the originally designed 1966 capacity of the Coliseum. Even the Sunday sellout was only 57% of the 2012 football capacity. The system as a whole should not have been stressed in the slightest.
As the investigation into the cause of the incident continues, it will occur against the backdrop of ongoing lease negotiations. Previously it was assumed that the Authority would have a good deal of leverage because the A’s have nowhere else to play in the Bay Area post-2013. Now the tables have turned, as it can be argued by many parties that the Coliseum is unfit to host MLB games until the clubhouse sewage problem and other deficiencies are addressed. MLB could even step in to make preconditions on the JPA prior to further lease talks. That would put the JPA in quite the pickle. How can the JPA recover more money from the A’s towards Coliseum debt service if it has to fund additional, costly improvements at the Coliseum? If the JPA wants to lock the A’s into a deal longer than 5 years, how much money is the JPA willing to put up to make it worth the A’s and MLB’s while? And how does that coincide with any requests the Raiders are making for their lease extension?
Prior to this incident, Lew Wolff offered to continue on at the Coliseum for five years with the current use terms, rent TBD. He could and should demand infrastructure improvements, but he and Michael Crowley could be enticed to stand pat and maintain the status quo since it would be less complicated. It would be hard for the A’s to make any leasehold improvements without prior approval of the JPA, and since they’re not bound by the lease beyond December there’s no immediate incentive to do so. All they’ll probably do at the moment is make necessary repairs, clean and disinfect the place, lay down some new carpet in the affected areas, and hope for the best. While that should be enough to get through the rest of the season, imagine another sewage incident occurring during the postseason. What kind of PR disaster would that be for Oakland? And I can’t image naming rights sponsor O.co is thrilled to be associated with this debacle. It’s bad enough that from afar the stadium resembles a toilet.
Three weeks ago Jon Heyman incurred the wrath of A’s fans over his snide tweet comparing AT&T Park to the Coliseum. He mostly stayed away from any remarks this time around, except for a retweet of Slusser getting a David Rinetti (A’s VP of stadium operations) quote:
Vice president of stadium operations David Rinetti said the Coliseum has problems with sewage on a regular basis but this is worst ever.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 17, 2013
Smart move by Heyman to stay away from this mess, though I wouldn’t blame him if he gloated in private. Trololol.
The A’s, of course, have tried to bolt town for the last five years. The San Francisco Giants won’t share their territory and permit the Athletics to move to San Jose. Major League Baseball, which hoped the A’s and Giants would somehow reach an agreement on their own, finally got a resolution from their blue ribbon committee. The committee submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the requirements, a move could soon be underway.
Wolff won’t talk about the guidelines. Neither will the Giants. Or even Major League Baseball.
Well, since the NSA isn’t sharing any of Wolff’s telephone conversations with Commissioner Bud Selig, it’s fair to say that if Wolff agreed to the parameters, he’d have a shovel in his hand today digging into the San Jose soil.
Wolff denied the February report in last week’s radio interview. Clearly something isn’t meshing here. The two short-term decisions at the moment are the lease and the S4SJ lawsuit. It would make sense to wait to announce something until both of those issues are resolved.
Update 2:30 PM – Amazingly, Lew Wolff is pulling his punches, at least according to a new Carl Steward article.
“What it says basically is that it’s a deteriorating facility,” he said. “I think everybody is aware of that, even the people who run it. We’re sort of all in this together, so it isn’t something I would use … we just have to solve it right now.”
Wolff downplayed that this might be the kind of incident that would give him extra ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A’s situation, which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess the team’s options.
“Even if they said tomorrow, `OK, you can have a new stadium,’ we can’t do it in one day,” Wolff said. “We’re still going to have a plumbing issue.’”
Of course, Wolff isn’t going to stop the M’s, other teams, MLBPA, or WUA (umpires) from filing their own complaints. Those may have more bite. On the other hand, Billy Beane’s comments were a little more pointed.
“Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time,” Beane said. “Our employees are impacted by this. I was the first to see the manager’s office (Sunday), but we see it all the time, and this is not unusual. I don’t blame them (the Mariners) for reacting, but we have to live with it on a semi-regular basis.
“If we say anything, we’re told we’re being opportunist,” Beane added. “I wish these were working conditions we didn’t have to work with. When it affects somebody other than us, it becomes a story. I’m used to it. I deal with it.”
Doesn’t get more Oakland than that.
Well, not you, Gentle Reader. Lew Wolff and Larry Baer, to be specific. Both respective team head honchos were interviewed on The Game as part of the Newsmakers week of sitdowns with owners. Baer talked mostly about the Giants’ franchise, but was also asked (by Bucher & Towny) about their apparent cockblocking of venue efforts by both the A’s (San Jose) and the Warriors (Piers 30/32). Baer indicated vague support for both teams’ efforts, but would not comment further on what that meant.
Then on Tuesday, Lew Wolff had an absolute disaster of an interview, one where he hesitated, fumbled, and dodged. By the end, everyone including the interviewers were clearly frustrated, Wolff even half-jokingly saying that he wanted the A’s PR department to get him out of the interview.
Wolff’s prior-held opinions on Oakland and San Jose were repeated, but it took only 30 seconds for Wolff to give the first of an endless stream of “No Comment” responses to many of the solid, pointed questions that were aimed his way. “No Comment” has come about because of the gag order imposed by Bud Selig over Wolff and Baer, who had been previously sniping and using the media to their own ends at regular intervals.
Beyond the ongoing rejection of Oakland having any viable sites, Wolff also repeated the mantra that he has been guided to put baseball first, team second. That means no antagonistic PR battles or lawsuits, no waging the territorial rights war. What it also means is that the A’s will continue to be in limbo, at Selig’s and The Lodge’s behest, until Selig or his successor deems the A’s dilemma important enough to resolve in a meaningful way. Lew has always painted himself as a go-along-to-get-along guy, even if the scope of that philosophy is limited to baseball and alienates A’s fans everywhere, along with friends in the South Bay.
Lew is clearly grateful to Bud for bringing him into the Lodge, that much is clear. Thing is, now that he’s in, it’s hard to get him out. Besides the ownership group or individual partners going into bankruptcy (no sign of that happening), there’s little anyone can do in The Lodge or outside it to force anyone out. Lew knows this and has tried to work the process (calling for a vote, etc.) to no avail. It wouldn’t hurt to fight for the franchise instead of always taking one for The Lodge, as is happening now. If the idea is to curry favor with the other owners for something down the road, there’s no indication of such a deal.
I think we’re seeing a repeat of what happened with the 49ers and the Yorks, where Dr. York spent a few years fumbling around as the head before handing the job over to the more media-savvy Jed York. Lew’s son Keith Wolff has had his hands full taking care of the Earthquakes stadium, and may be wary of absorbing the arrows anew with the A’s after having completed an arduous, albeit smaller, task for the soccer franchise. Nevertheless, if Keith is up to it, he’s the guy to smooth things over. Even then, nothing can actually be smoothed over until Selig provides better answers and more information. As the team gets further into the season and off-season without an inked extension for whatever length, this is only going to get weirder and uglier. And as long as the gag order is in place, there will be no point in having additional interviews like Tuesday’s.
While we’re watching the A’s fight for the division title this summer, we’ll also watch the Giants and A’s duke it out in court. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Joseph Huber has released a hearing schedule for the Stand for San Jose-vs.-City of San Jose trial:
- June 6 – Petitioners Opening Brief
- July 8 – Respondents & Real Party Opposition
- July 29 – Petitioners Reply
- October 4 – Hearing on the Merits
Unless the sides decide to settle out of court, chances are that the case will drag on through the end of the year.
The flights for the Chicago-Milwaukee trip have been booked. Barring any unforeseen changes, I’ll be flying in Wednesday evening, June 5th, coming back June 9th. Here’s the game itinerary:
- Thursday, June 6, 7:10 PM - Phillies @ Brewers. Promotion: Harley Davidson Crew H-D night.$18 upper deck ticket + free admission to Harley Davidson museum.
- Friday, June 7, 1:20 PM – Pirates @ Cubs. Promotion: Cubs floppy hat (fishing cap), first 20,000 fans
- Friday, June 7, 7:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: Fireworks
- Saturday, June 8, 3:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: 1983 White Sox T-shirt, first 20,000 fans [I loved the old logo BTW]
- Sunday, June 9, 1:10 PM – A’s @ White Sox. Promotion: N/A
It’s sure to be good times. If you live in either the Chicagoland or Milwaukee areas or happen to be passing through, let me know and we can have a chat over a beer (or several).
Coliseum City strikes me as the City of Oakland’s equivalent of playing a big lottery like Mega Millions or Powerball. The chances are infinitesimal at best, yet they can’t win if they don’t play. So they’re putting in a few million dollars to get some studies done in hopes of a lot of circumstances falling very neatly for them to keep the three current tenants at the Coliseum complex.
- 68 – 72,000 seat NFL stadium with 1.8-2.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.6 acres
- 35 – 39,000 seat ballpark with 1.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.3 acres
- 18 – 20,000 seat arena with 850,000 square feet space, covering 5 acres
- 14 million square feet of office, R&D, commercial, and retail space
- 6,370 housing units
- 15,000 parking spaces at Coliseum site (mostly through garages, existing site has 10,000 spaces)
- A new transit hub, including a widened, more pedestrian-friendly bridge from the BART station to the stadium complex
- Two additional bridges that span I-880 to the arena and greater development west of the freeway
- An elevated, landscaped public space that connects everything
- A revitalized Damon Slough
- A new water inlet leading from San Leandro Bay to the arena
- Many new garages
The Raiders and A’s share a stadium. Now they’ll also share a radio station. It took a couple years, but the Silver and Black will finally start having their games broadcast on 95.7 The Game starting with the upcoming 2013 NFL season. It’s a move that has been speculated since the station launched as the A’s flagship.
While the Raiders’ coverage will decrease in comparison to former home KSFO on the AM side, the sports radio station’s programming is far and away more compatible, especially because play-by-play man Greg Papa is already a fixture in The Wheelhouse’s noon timeslot. Non-game coverage will expand, with the Raiders displacing the 49ers in the Monday themed day, good for armchair QB-ing and GM-ing. Previously the Raiders’ day was Friday.
In the event of a conflict with the A’s, Raiders broadcasts will be on 102.1/98.5 KFOX, home of the Sharks and Entercom stablemate. KFOX has a better coverage footprint than KGMZ (The Game), which leads me to think that the Raiders actually negotiated this provision knowing that it was available via Entercom.
Potential for some conflict is high, though not so much in head-to-head timeslot situations. Mostly it’s a case of an A’s game finishing just before the start of a Raiders game during preseason or early during the regular season.
Since the Raiders are expected to have full pre and postgame coverage for each game, it’s likely that all of the weeks above will be on KFOX, with the exception of the 8/29 game against the Seahawks.
Eventually, fans may clamor for more games on KFOX due to the better distributed signal. Of course, that will run into further conflicts with the Sharks, whose season starts in October as the baseball season ends. The 2013-14 NHL schedule, which will be the first under the new realignment scheme, has not yet been released.
Conflicts or not, it’s good that the Raiders are back on a sports station, which they haven’t been since they left 1050 years ago. Whether this will turn The Game into a proper East Bay-focused station is up to Entercom, whose station management has been careful to cater to all Bay Area fans much to the dismay of A’s and Raiders fans. In turn, the Raiders may have to beef up their affiliate network to compensate for The Game’s less signal.
To kick off the new relationship, Raiders draft day coverage is being held today on The Game.
The City of San Jose and the A’s received another legal setback this week, as their Motion to Disqualify Counsel, namely Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, was denied by Judge Joseph Huber.
I’m out of town right now, so I don’t have the ability to view the judge’s order. When I get back I’ll take a look at it, but honestly, it was easy to read the way the judge was leaning with this ruling and the one from September. Now the City/A’s and Stand for San Jose can move forward with the trial. Lawyers for both sides are in the process of preparing briefs. We’ll be following this one closely. I expect that MLB will too.
A pair of Oakland A’s fans and longtime readers of this site have started a site called Oakland Fan Pledge. The purpose is to gauge interest in tickets and different seating options at a hypothetical Oakland ballpark, either at the Coliseum complex or Howard Terminal. Results of this survey may be shared with MLB, public officials, and the A’s if the team ever decides to stay in Oakland.
This new effort follows similar campaigns in Sacramento and Seattle to build interest in a new arenas in those cities. Sacramento’s Here We Buy has received more than 11,000 season ticket pledges so far. A similar drive in Seattle claimed more than 44,000 season ticket pledges and 268 suites. Obviously a pledge is not the same as a binding contract to purchase tickets, but as long as people are being honest about their levels of commitment, the information gathered from these kinds of campaigns can be useful. Interestingly, because Seattle and Sacramento were so public about their efforts, it’s likely that Oakland Fan Pledge may be compared to the cities fighting over the Kings/Sonics, however unfair that may seem. Here’s the press release from the group.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2013
Oakland Baseball Fans Launch Campaign for New Stadium
April 22, 2013
Oakland, CA – Baseball fans who want the A’s to stay in the East Bay have a new way to show their support: pledging to buy ticket plans at a potential new baseball-only stadium in Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge (www.OaklandFanPledge.com) is a new independent website created by A’s fans to show Major League Baseball, A’s ownership, and Oakland city officials that local fans will support a new ballpark in Oakland by pledging their dollars to buy tickets.
On the website fans can choose from various ticket plans and pricing levels at a hypothetical ballpark. While no monetary transaction takes place, those who pledge are asked to be realistic about what they could afford if a new stadium were to be built. Ticket prices are based on averages of other recently-opened stadiums throughout Major League Baseball (MLB). Premium seats include a separate fee for ‘seat rights,’ similar to what was done for the Giants’ opening of Pacific Bell Park in 2000, a standard for a privately-financed stadium. The full list of tickets and money pledged will be continuously updated on the site and shared with MLB, city officials in Oakland, and the A’s. If the time comes that the current, or future, A’s owners commit to a stadium in Oakland, the site’s owners plan to share their list of pledges.
Oakland city officials have identified two possible sites for a new baseball stadium within city limits: one at the existing Coliseum complex and another on port-owned land near Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. Oakland Fan Pledge provides a clear way for A’s supporters in the region to weigh in. By committing to buy ticket plans at a new Oakland baseball stadium, fans can rally around keeping their team in town by sending a clear message. “The A’s owners have told the team’s fans for years that the A’s are as good as gone from Oakland, and it’s frustrating,” says John Jackson, a lifelong fan who is helping to organize Oakland Fan Pledge. “There are tens of thousands of fans that would open their wallets and buy ticket plans if a long term commitment to Oakland was made and a new stadium was built.”
Oakland Fan Pledge began as a grassroots response to frustration around the team’s uncertain future in Oakland and lack of progress in building a new stadium for the team. Major League Baseball has spent over four years reviewing potential Bay Area stadium sites without making a decision. Meanwhile, the A’s ownership has alienated much of the team’s local fan base by repeatedly expressing their desire to abandon the East Bay for Santa Clara County, which is currently under the control of the San Francisco Giants through MLB territorial rights.
“Oakland Fan Pledge is more than a way for A’s fans to show a financial commitment to their team and to Oakland,” says John Hansen, another organizer of the site. “It gives fans a way to move beyond being told their team is done in Oakland, and visualize a new hometown stadium the team’s current owners have tried to convince them isn’t possible. We believe not only is a new stadium in Oakland possible, but that local fans are ready by the thousands to fill it up. Through Oakland Fan Pledge, we look forward to sending this message loud and clear to Major League Baseball and the team’s owners, and dispelling the myth that Oakland is anything but an extremely viable home for the A’s for decades to come.”
I’ll be sure to fill out my survey ASAP.