I hope everyone’s having a good holiday break. It’s good to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle, which for me includes monitoring and posting on this here blog.
But enough about me. Thanks to GoA’s, who caught the SJ/SV Business Journal’s Q&A with Cisco CEO John Chambers. Chambers was named Executive of the Year by the publication in the most recent issue (subscription required). While most of the interview was geared towards the tech industry and his company’s health, Moryt Milo managed to get a ballpark-related question in the mix.
MM: Let’s change gears. I would like to ask whether we have a chance of seeing a Cisco Stadium with a Major League Baseball team in San Jose.
JC: We want the South Bay to have the A’s. We think it’s important for creating an environment for our children. Not only is it about education, because clearly it is, but it’s about job creation and an environment that will attract companies and individuals to this area. Having sports teams in the South Bay is an element of that, and we very much want to see the A’s here. So we are trying very hard. I think it’s pretty good odds that it will happen.
So far this is the first comment I’ve seen that showed Cisco’s interest in having the A’s local to them in the South Bay. While Oakland hasn’t been shut out – and there’s no reason to shut out Oakland until everything shakes out – Chambers’ affirmation of bringing the A’s into the South Bay fold is revealing. Remember that Cisco didn’t get involved until Keith and Lew Wolff started talking with Cisco about developing the networking giant’s dormant Fremont parcels. When the Fremont plan imploded, Cisco remained committed to the sponsoring the A’s efforts to remain in the Bay Area.
However, there is some question as to how Cisco and Chambers defines “Bay Area.” While Cisco should be expected to retain naming rights whether a ballpark is in the South Bay or East Bay, there is no doubt that Cisco would prefer that its premier technology showcase be conveniently located to its headquarters, and Downtown San Jose is about as convenient as you can get (Santa Clara is close as well). I wonder if Cisco’s eventual naming rights deal may be more lucrative if it’s tied to a San Jose or Fremont ballpark.
That brings me to a tangent. In light of all the threats of lawsuits and bad intent coming from the A’s, there’s one major piece the barristers are missing: Fremont. Even if they were to argue that the A’s were obligated to try for a ballpark in the East Bay, that doesn’t preclude the team from putting most of their resources behind Fremont. You can question the wisdom of the plan, but the fact remains that Wolff/Fisher put tremendous amounts of money and time into the original Cisco Field concept. Nowhere in the Coliseum lease or in any other covenants are the A’s required to try X number of times or put Y effort into Oakland. There’s only a $250,000 fee if the A’s leave Alameda County, which shows that the Coliseum Authority considered the possibility of that happening. Otherwise, why have it in there?
Going back to Chambers’ argument – it sounds like what most boosters of a particular city or municipality would say when trying to bring in a team. The difference between Chambers and other boosters is that he’s backing his statement with nine figures and a company that’s in the Dow. That’s nothing to sneeze at.