Even more poll dancing

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.

145 thoughts on “Even more poll dancing

  1. Marina there’re nothing to report here.

  2. NO NEWS! FAKE NEWS! NO REPORT HERE! There’re nothing to report here and no need for post on a San Jose A’s unless you’re a Pro San Jose A’s. You post every San Jose story not Fremont and not Oakland. Marnia: There’re nothing to report on Fremont. No News! No Report!

    • has nav returned with a fremont hat?

    • Got a poll to report? How about a land deal? Or EIR progress? That stuff I’ll report on. I won’t report on rumors. Don’t like it? I’ll just point out how Mayor Wasserman ended January’s study session:

      6:13 PM – Mayor points out that the next step will only happen if MLB wants it to happen. If it doesn’t, this will be the beginning and the end.

      When there’s news I’ll report it. BTW, I’d report on what’s happening with NUMMI, but I had already predicted what would happen last July.

  3. What the hell was that FremontA’s? Anyhow, I agree and disagree with you 100% R.M. Your “using political capital for T-Rights” theory is right on, as Mark Purdy alluded to this a few months/years (?) back: Selig has the votes to overturn the T-Rights, but ONLY if a San Jose ballpark would happen as a result. Why go through the trouble of giving the A’s the T-Rights to San Jose if a ballpark wouldn’t happen? Where I disagree with you is on the “precedent being set” theory. If you think about it, the Bay Area already breaks precedent by not being a shared territory like the other two-team markets. If the entire region becomes shared, or at least just Santa Clara County, it brings the Bay Area in-line with LA, NY, and Chicago (is Baltimore/Washington now shared?). And with every MLB team (minus the A’s and Rays) now set in new/improved ballparks, no one’s moving anytime soon (or in this lifetime). Rays to northern New Jersey you say? Definetely not analogous to the Bay Area situation, not even close! I guess you could say every future move would be dealt with on a case by case basis, not through precedence.

    • By the way, awesome stuff R.M.! If the land is given to the A’s at no cost, then yes, I say VOTE. If it is leased or sold at market rate/fair market value then I say NO VOTE; just start negotiating/building! Lastly, Seipel states that there are two parcels left to acquire at Diridon…NICE!

  4. I will never attend the A’s game in San Jose because of the lack of BART. If A’s does move to San Jose , I will be the Giants fans. If A’s does stay in Oakland or move to Fremont, I will continue be a A’s fans. If A’s does move to Fremont, I will buy a season ticket there. If taxpaper in San Jose pay for BART to downtown San Jose, I’ll might reconsidered attending the A’a game in San Jose. Right now. CITY EMPOLYEES FIRST! NO STADIUM in SAN JOSE!

    • Good to know where you stand as an A’s fan.

      Let’s clear up a common misconception here. The money being used to buy the Diridon South site is redevelopment money. By law, it can’t be used for the city’s budget. It can’t be used to cover San Jose’s existing budget gap – even if it did it would only be a 1 year reprieve. This talk about “money better spent elsewhere” is a straw man. Fixing the fundamentals (tax revenue, cost of city services including labor) is the only way to a balanced budget.

    • Santa Clara County taxpayers have already voted to fund BART to San Jose.

      • Not only have the voted to fund it, but the first extension (Warm Springs) to bring it to San Jose is currently being built.

        What Fremont A’s also misses, is that the almost billion dollar cost of this extension, which never gets past the Fremont/Santa Clara county border, is being picked up in part by the San Jose voters through the BART taxes Santa Clara County passed.

        But you know what, I don’t see Fremont A’s complaining about Santa Clara County voters misusing their tax dollars when it benefits Fremont A’s (the person), only when it benefits Santa Clara County voters.

    • Terrible Grammar.

    • It is very clear why the A’s is a good fit for San Jose: large city resource, vibrant downtown, large potential fan base, good synergy, Lew Wolff’s connection, etc. Even the name “San JosA’s” sounds good.
      The Fremont location is the worst among all possible sites, especially when there is no housing incentive for Lew Wolff now. Compare to San Jose and Oakland, Fremont has more local opposition for the stadium and also with too many uncertainties.

      • I’m very familiar with both the Fremont and Diridon site. My Mom lives just a few miles off from the Fremont site and I used to make frequent visits to the Diridon Station. Frankly, I’m surprised Fremont has been considered for as long as it has. It’s suburban location aside, commute traffic on both 880 and 680 is absolutely insane. Should the A’s relocate to Fremont, A’s fans should expect traffic headaches for decades to come. I’m not saying they won’t face traffic congestion at the Diridon site, but considering the Caltrain and VTA are already viable options, for nothing more than ease-of-use, San Jose stands out.

        I know everyone has their own convenience issues when it comes to making it out to the Coliseum, but when I lived in Santa Cruz, I still went to see the A’s several times a season. Now living in SF, I can see them even more. Polls, surveys and politics aside, I’m not shifting my support of a team because of an extra 40 miles.

    • FremontA’s – Fremont is nowhereville, it just a boring stinky city near the bay run by an old fart mayor with a major underbite-

      • Trolling for San Jose like this does not help San Jose, neither does degrading Fremont.

      • Somehow I think A’s to San Jose and FremontA’s are the same person. Obviously someone is in a trolling mood and is using sockpuppets to do so.

  5. Why aren’t California’s congressmen in both parties seeking to remove MLB’s anti-trust exemption over the stupid “territorial rights” issue? If the A’s have to leave California because they can’t build in Alameda County and are banned from San Jose, the whole state loses. Even SF congress people, who stand no risk of losing their own team, ought to get behind an effort to remove MLB”s anti-trust exemption.

    • They have bigger problems than to seek a battle with one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the US.

      • Also, they understand that you don’t get anywhere in negotiations by pissing off the party you want to negotiate with. Strong arm tactics like anti-trust removal only works when the party you negotiate with refuses to negotiate in good trust in the first place (see health insurance).

        Multiple articles in the last few days have claimed the A’s are leaning towards San Jose, therefore:

        1) It’s not in San Jose’s best interest to sue.

        2) If Oakland wants to shoot themselves in the foot and annoy the owners by suing let them, it will just benefit San Jose.

        The only party with nothing to loose would be the Giants, and I doubt even Nukem is dumb enough to sue and alienate himself if the A’s get San Jose.

  6. Let’s look at the score here:

    San Jose – spending tens of millions to buy property for a stadium that is supported by the public. Stadium would be in downtown area of major metropolitan city. Take away the territorial nonsense and ground already would have been broken.

    Fremont – A bedroom community with no specific town center, filled with plenty of people who are going to oppose a ballpark. Deliberations on the fate of the NUMMI property might take, oh, 10 years.

    Oakland – did nothing for years to help the A’s; turned a nice baseball stadium into a football monstrosity that is no good for either sport.. Jerry Brown prided himself on keeping the A’s out of downtown Oakland. (We need a genius like this in the governor’s mansion, no?). Oakland has poorly supported the A’s for 40 years.

    I still just want one of these 3 to win but San Jose is the best spot.

  7. re: Rays to northern New Jersey you say?

    Rays have airtight 20- or 30-year lease for Saint Petersburg and the same territorial rights problem in the Bay Area would exist in New Jersey. Only this time, it would be the Mets and Yankees, probably the two most powerful franchises, fighting an intrusion into their backyard.

    • The Rays (or anyone else) could move to Somerville, New Jersey (in the 4th wealthiest county in the US) without infringing on the Mets or Yankees TR’s. They couldn’t move to Newark, Elizabeth, or Hackensack without league intervention. The TR’s include Bergen, Hudson, Union and Essex Counties in New Jersey.

      Not sure that they would want to, and their lease would still be an issue.

  8. You asked for polls, I’ll give you one. Last night I took a robo call poll that I think is being conducted on behalf of the Giants. The poll seemed to be looking into the effect an A’s move to San Jose would have on the loyalties of Eastbay A’s and Giants fans. Among the questions; are you and A’s or Giants Fan, how many games for each do you attend, would you go to more A’s games if they moved to San Jose, If they A’s move would you cross the bridge(this is how I know its a poll of Eastbay fans) to go to Giants games. There were several questions about how much I follow the Giants in various media, TV games, Radio, internet and newspapers. By the way I live in Fremont and identified myself as an A’s fan.

    • I’m and A’s fan. Yes I’d go to more A’s games in San Jose. No I wouldn’t cross the bridge to go to more Giants games. I don’t follow the Giants in any form of media because I hate the Giants, their owners, and their insistence on being a roadblock to the A’s move to San Jose.

  9. Ever been to Somerville or Somerset County? I doubt they would want the traffic of 81 baseball games a year pouring into their small towns. As you noted, these people are wealthy. They could put up one whale of a fight.

    And they’re also generations-long Mets and Yankee fans. Want to know how the Devils and Nets have competed for fans in the New York market for 30 years? Pretty poorly. Empty seats have been prominent at the Meadowlands and now the Prudential Center since these buildings opened. 3 Stanley Cups, even, haven;t done the trick.

    Quote overhead at a Sharks game a few years back, from someone rooting for that night’s opponent, the New York Rangers: “Want to know why we’re Rangers fans? Because we’re from New Jersey!”

    • Yeah, like I said… I don’t know if they would want to but there are areas not far from New York in New Jersey that are not covered under TR’s. I honestly don’t see it happening with any team, regardless of what happens here.

    • NJ is a perfect example of something that could work on paper but not in practice. The biggest problem is that NJ’s biggest population center is Newark, which already is a NYC satellite and has too poor a reputation to attract suburbanites from northern and central NJ unless tenant teams are winning big time. Outside of the Newark area there are no cities that have the political weight to make a stadium deal happen. Both Camden and Trenton have populations under 100,000, and both of their downtowns are practically empty after sundown.
      The cautionary tale for such a move is not so much NJ, it’s the move of the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Coliseum at Richfield, OH. The arena was supposed to be set to capture more fans from the Akron area, which sounds good. Unfortunately, there was little public transit or proper road infrastructure to the arena, which was quite literally set in the boonies. The Cavs and the city of Cleveland learned their lesson, and built Gund Arena. The Coliseum at Richfield was used for only 20 years and torn down 5 years after it closed with nary of trace of it left.

  10. What precedent is that? That territorial rights once given away for free can be held hostage for large compensation packages? Return the counties back to the franchise who originally held the rights in the first place and tell the Giants to sit down and shut up.

    • During Selig’s radio interview, he said that the Giants have the T-rights regardless of circumstances and that was that. The precedent is assigning a monetary value to T-rights, which hasn’t really happened over the last 40 years. Too low and the big market teams feel threatened and get pissed off. Too high and the A’s can’t move south.

      • Seems a rather ridiculous thing, to me, for a league who draws up and issues these rights to say ‘Well that’s just the way it is and that’s that. There’s nothing to be done.’

        As a person who grew up in NYC, I dont understand this conversation about a third franchise in the NY/NJ metro area. I couldn’t even imagine what it would take for a current MLB team to move in to New Jersey, of all places, and try to make a niche for themselves in a market so loyal to either of the two NYC franchises. There’s absolutely no correlation between the bay area territorial issues and a possible issue in the NY/NJ metro area.

      • Do anyone know how the SJ T-rights were resolved during the potential early-90’s Giants relocation to SJ?

      • Although I despise the Giants, it is not true that they got T-rights as part of the effort to move to San Jose in the early 90s, an effort that failed at the ballot box. The so-called rights were not granted until the new ownership came in and pledged to keep the team in the Bay Area. So stupid MLB gave them T-rights to 2 major US cities – SF AND San Jose. Any other team have anything like this? How about giving the Yankees t-rights to Philadelphia?

      • well… shit. If that’s true, disregard my comment below.

        I have never heard your account of the events. Not saying it’s false, just saying I’ve never heard it.

      • Woah woah woah. That’s not what happened. See this John Shea article from last year.

        As Wally Haas tells the story, the A’s were approached by Giants exec Corey Busch requesting exclusive rights to the area before the Giants’ proposed ballparks in Santa Clara and San Jose.

        The A’s said OK, and the transfer became official when baseball owners granted approval.

        That was it.

        “We shared the territorial rights up to that point, the Giants and the A’s,” Haas said on the set of “Chronicle Live” on Thursday. “They asked if we would cede those rights to them so they could go through the referendum, and we felt that was fine.”

        Voters rejected both proposals, but the territorial rights remained. Now they’re a major reason the A’s aren’t fast-breaking to San Jose, because Commissioner Bud Selig – until further notice – stands by current Giants ownership, which had nothing to do with the Haas family surrendering the rights to then-Giants owner Bob Lurie.

        Some key notes:
        • T-rights were shared until the Giants asked the A’s and were granted exclusivity.
        • Corey Busch was present back then and now.

      • I’m hearing two different stories on this, then.

        Either way, it’s obvious the Giants are holding onto the t-rights because they want the A’s out of the Bay Area. Easier to sell a garbage product (0 World Series in 50 years) when there’s no competition.

      • My understanding is that Santa Clara county only became Giants “territory” during the early 90’s because of the Giants’ potential relocation. The fact that Santa Clara county remained Giants territory after the vote to build a stadium in Santa Clara failed is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t imagine such a mistake would be made again.

      • Since the Giants maintain T-rights over San Jose, THEY should built a new ballpark down there and lease it to the A’s. It can be “The San Francisco Giants Ballpark of the Oakland Athletics at San Jose.” See? Everybody wins!


  11. Isn’t it more expensive to spend money on T-Rights when that money could just be spent on building a new ballpark in Oakland? Is it really worth spending hundreds of millions on T-rights. I mean, building a new ballpark ain’t cheap.

    • …a privately funded ballpark in San Jose could be underwritten and made profitable through application of residential and commercial development rights in other parts of San Jose, to accompany the ballpark. This was how the Fremont plan was supposed to work. This same formula is extremely unlikely to work in already-developed, rundown Oakland, thus leaving Lew Wolff with a $500 mill privately funded ballpark to build and no way to make the money back other than trying to sell lots of A’s tickets, something that hasn’t worked out too well in most of the A’s 40 years in Oakland.

      Lew Wolff is not Santa Claus. He is a businessman.

      • I don’t know about you, but Frank Ogawa Plaza looked pretty nice during the Oakland Marathon. Also, I think uptown is developing into something. Fox Theater is pretty nice!

      • There was once a plan for a stadium connected to the Fox Theatre but Steve Schott and Jerry Brown both were pretty uninterested. If the owner of the team and the Mayor of the city aren’t interested…

        There is no plan for any stadium in the vicinity of Frank Ogawa Plaza. Back in 2001 there was a site nearby, at Laney College, that was considered but it was deemed to be the worst of 7 possible East Bay sites by HOK.

      • See FMC and Edenvale development rights/rezonings. Guesstimating rougly 150+ acres for both ballpark and Quakes SSS ;o). Hey, doesn’t Lew Wolff still have Pac Commons in his pocket?

    • Hundreds of millions on T Rights? Where did that number come from?

      There is a huge amount of work that still needs to be done in Oakland to even get to the point of starting to build a stadium. The way you pose this question doesn’t really take that into account.

      The easy answer is, if the same revenue streams that exist in San Jose existed in Oakland, and the stadium could be built for the same cost… Yep, it would make more sense to stay in Oakland.

      The long answer is that the A’s and the City of Oakland both have let the other down over the past 15 years. The CIty ruined the coliseum, the A’s voided their lease and got paid a settlement for their trouble.

      The City out forth a buyer, the league didn’t want them as owners of the A’s. Steve Schott retained ownership, ignored a plan for Uptown that was also dismissed by Jerry brown, and pledged $100 Million towards a new stadium in the Coliseum Parking Lot (the second most viable site according to HOK at the time)… It went no where.

      Lew Wolff took over. Pitched a plan for north of the Coliseum, City Officials seemed excited but then didn’t want to help get the land acquired (admittedly, a huge task). Lew turned his focus to Fremont (the next most viable site according to HOK at the time). The site moved along until there was local opposition.

      Now Oakland is pitching 4 sites while San Jose is far along in the public process needed to actually develop a stadium. So the reality is, the cost to MLB is potentially greater to stay in Oakland than to mitigate TR’s (assuming the price is not too high) if you consider the A’s revenues getting a boost 2-3 years earlier in San Jose and thus reducing the revenue sharing checks headed to the A’s.

      Additionally, there is concern about corporate support in Oakland versus San Jose, which has a bearing on the financial viability of a privately financed stadium. The thought being that more support for business customers in the South Bay will drive more sustainable revenues.

      These last two paragraphs are what I expect the MLB Committee report to address. Maybe they will find that San Jose isn’t what Lew Wolff thinks, maybe they will find that it is.

      • So how much would T-rights cost? What is the price tag if I am incorrect that it could cost hundereds of millions.

      • Andrew Zimbalist, a Sports Economist, puts it at $20 to $30 Million

      • Isn’t that just about the exact sum for the Giants’ remaining debt for their ballpark? Seems like a pretty low sum that would make the big market teams sweat in ML’s scenario.

      • Gammon thinks the poll should be phrased like this:

        “Would you support giving the A’s public land that the city paid $46 million to acquire, plus spend tens of millions of dollars more in redevelopment funds for infrastructure needed for the team’s new stadium — as long as it does not include raising taxes?”

        Gammons leaves out the fact that SJRA already sold $89 million in land to the A’s, from which the proceeds will help fund the remaining land acquisition and infrastructure costs. He also neglects to mention that infrastructure will be shared among the ballpark, arena, and high speed rail project. It’s also interesting that no one in Oakland has dared venture into taking a poll of Oakland residents – how would Gammon spin the results of that?

      • Bogus article about the poll. Seriously… The infrastructure improvements will be done regardless of a baseball stadium.

        But whatever…

      • I guess Gammons also thinks AT&T Park has been a bad deal for San Francisco as well. He should also do his research next time before looking like an idiot on newsprint (or on the web); Redevelopment funds used for land-banking and infrastructure improvements ARE EXACTLY WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE USED FOR!

      • I would love to the same poll in Oakland. Garnering the support of the residents of Oakland for a new ballpark scares the hell out of me.

      • The thing to remember here, is that every market is different. The compensation for territory in the Bay Area should not be confused with what compensation would be in New York. The same as buying a house in Montclair is different than buying one near the Coliseum.

      • I think the A’s should pay back the Giants exactly what the Giants paid them to get the T-rights in the first place, and in exchange the A’s should agree to build their new stadium no closer than 47 miles from AT&T Park. This seems fair to me.

  12. I think we can both say that Oakland and San Jose don’t have downtowns that are as vibrant as San Francisco’s. I wouldn’t say Oakland’s downtown is rundown like say Detroit, and I wouldn’t exactly say that San Jose has bustling retail downtown either. But I have noticed that Oakland’s downtown is getting better with places like the Fox Theater, Flora, Somar, and Cafe Van Cleef. Here is a guide to downtown Oakland


    I know downtown San Jose has the Fairmont, Original Joe’s, Ill Fornaio.


    Obviously a ballpark would enhance both cities. I just feel that Oakland is easier for fans from Contra Costa like me whether it is driving or taking BART. Also, I just feel Oakland has a more natural urban feel and that is the trend to build ballparks downtown, not in suburbia. I think people forget, a lot of folks from Contra Costa love the A’s and we enjoy going to Oakland. Even our magazine Diablo, celebrates the great things happening in Oakland!

    • As a frequent visitor to both Downtown Oakland and Downtown San Jose, I can say… they are pretty comparable.

      I agree that an urban stadium is the way to go. That goal can be met in either Oakland or San Jose. Not sure if you are new to the site, but we have profiled all of the sites proposed and super imposed a mock stadium to give an idea of what they might eventually look like.

      Here is Jack London Square
      Here is Victory Court
      and here is San Jose

    • You’re dead wrong on Detroit. The rest of the city is falling apart, but downtown Detroit rocks. (I was just there for a guys weekend last year). It has three major sports teams, several entertainment zones (including Greektown and Foxtown), the Fox Theatre, Second City, movie theatres, hotels and 3 or 4 casinos. They’ve done a great job filling in where the dark scary empty places used to be, and it’s very lively (at least on the weekend).

    • Your point about CC County is exactly why I want Fremont, its accessible to everybody.with a bart station and two major freeways.

      Getting to downtown SJ is painful coming from the East Bay, we all know that. And some people dont like pub transit.

      • You tout Fremont for having a BART station yet go on to say “some people don’t like pub transit”? Huhh? East Bay A’s fans who don’t want to drive to SJ (like we’ve been doing for decades), just take Capitol Corridor/Amtrak to Diridon.

      • its a much easier drive for me though.

    • The only definitive opinion I have of SJ is this — it wouldn’t seem so out of place if it was three hundred miles to the South.

      As Jeffrey and I started talking about on AN, the stadium proposal is itself going to be interesting. If the magic number is 3-million in attendance, the suggested capacity of 32-36,000 isn’t going to reach it. On the off chance, a 36,000 seat stadium sells out every single game (highly doubtful), it’ll get close; but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

      Average MLB stadium capacity is 44,234. I don’t see MLB allowing a stadium to go forward that’s between 8,000-12,000 seats below average. Wolff is going to have to come more in line with the average — 39,000 to 41,000 is my guess. Adding 6 to 8,000 extra seats at some later date is dubious; construction costs alone would make it prohibitively expensive. Which is part of the reason why I find Wolff getting readily impatient — he’s recognizing the opening to cut down on construction costs. If the market changes substantially, stadium costs are likely to become prohibitively expensive.

      I also asked the rhetorical question: What will season tickets cost the fan in a stadium with this small of a capacity? Yes, all new stadiums come with a bump in ticket prices, but the fan who doesn’t want to spend all their discretionary income on tickets seems to be at a distinct disadvantage.

      For comparison: Los Gigantes start at $672, $840, then $1,260. Fairly reasonable? Sure. With $500-million plus in debt service, ticket prices aren’t going to be that enticing without a bump in seating capacity.

      re: the barbecue rooftop. There will have to be significant rooftop space to even begin considering this as a viable alternative/option. If I remember correctly, there are only about 4,000 seats spread across 17-buildings. That doesn’t seem like an option when glancing at the Didiron site.

      • That should be 14 buildings, not 17. A few do not allow rooftop seating for anybody other than tenants.n

      • A few things though, what is the point of building all that extra capacity if hey couldn’t fill it? Making the stadium smaller also makes the light/noise/height impact smaller, making it much more likely that the neighborhood would approve of it.

      • It’s slightly disingenuous and unrealistic to propose a smaller stadium just to have the “neighborhood approve it” when business realities seem to dictate otherwise. Imagine the uproar if Wolff suddenly wants/needs to slap a second or third deck on Cisco Field a few years into the deal.

        Will a 36,000 seat stadium ever host an All Star Game? Maybe. Trends seem to indicate that MLB favours stadiums with higher capacities, though. Especially in the past decade — average seating capacity is 43898.8. Glancing at stated capacity, PNC Park is the smallest at 38, 496. Even Kaufmann Stadium (a possible future site) is gradually increasing seats. (39,000 for 2010 up from 38,177 in ’09.)

        Part of the idea appears to be that Oakland is tapped out. The immediate market is saturated; you can’t squeeze any more people out of the city because the population base isn’t there. SJ is roughly double the population, and if you can’t average, say, 34,000 the move is… meh. Increased seating capacity and slightly more reasonable ticket rates will go a long way towards keeping that average attendance up.

        Across the Bay Los Gigantes have averaged 39, 092.6 over the past decade. Attendance has been in steady decline, but if they get a couple more sticks in the line up, I expect it to jump up again.

        I forget where ML posted it, but I believe the Athletics are hoping to average 25,000 in a normative year. You’re going to spend $500-million to get a jump of less than a thousand people (over the average attendance in the past decade)? Good thing it’s not my money.

        A smaller stadium benefits exactly one person — the owner.

      • You’re assigning arbitrary standards to properties like the All Star Game, which unlike the Super Bowl, doesn’t have a minimum size standard. The only published standard for a MLB stadium is that a city holds at least 30,000, and that dates back to the 50’s.
        I’ve written about debt service and revenue projections in a 2007 post. While it’s nearly three years old, the fundamentals are still there. Debate that if you want. When I spoke to Wolff, he talked about how many teams would prefer to “right-size” their ballparks. Coors Field (50,000) is a perfect example. If the Giants have to go into a protracted rebuilding phase, they have over 2,000 temporary seats they can easily pull out to reclaim the original 40,000 capacity. The A’s will probably have the same flexibility. Does this benefit the owner? Of course! But when the difference between a small and medium-sized stadium is $100 million (third deck), it’s enough to give any owner pause.

      • Based on the Fremont plans, the outfield looks like it could be easily reconfigured; it doesn’t look like they have any seats in center field. Is that supposed to be a giant restaurant?

        “Right sizing” stadiums is an interesting topic — Coors Field and Turner Field both over estimated demand. It also goes back towards the downward trend in attendance, and what’s going to happen when all those television contracts need to be renewed. Is there going to be another billion dollars to be had? Probably not. Revenues are going to have to come from somewhere, and if that’s on the back of an already shaky fanbase what then?

      • You’re really not getting it. Who ever said 3 million was some kind of magic number? Attendance is a means to an end, not an end itself. The goal isn’t attendance, it’s REVENUE. Look at Boston’s ranking for gate revenue.
        Capacity 32-36,000 = almost certain, constant, 81 game sellouts. That’s far better than a 41,000 seat ballpark which draws 15,000 for weeknight games (which is the situation in most markets which have them).
        The constant sense of scarcity sells tickets. You forego the extra 8000 tickets for the 6 or 8 games the Yankees or Red Sox are in town. Instead, you sell an extra 10-15,000 tickets for each of the 20 – 30 weeknight games some hapless opponent like the Royals, Indians, Mariners, Pirates, Padres, etc. are in town.
        Plus, you save big bucks on the cost of building an extra deck (which has the highest cost of construction of any section of the ballpark and the lowest average ticket price). And if demand outstrips capacity, you simply raise prices. This is part of the reason Wolff wants to be in the South Bay: Relative price insensitivity (at least compared to the East Bay).
        From a business perspective, it’s a no-brainer.

      • I haven’t found concrete numbers yet, but you’ll also note that Boston has increased its seating capacity over the years. More than likely to keep ticket prices from being completely ridiculous.

        I am aware of the goal of increased revenues. I don’t see that much more being made than is currently available.

      • I doubt Boston built more seats to prevent ticket prices from being “completely ridiculous.” Ridiculous prices are only a problem for the team if they can’t sell them, which is not the case in Boston. In any event, prices have only gone up since they expanded.
        More likely, they just realized they were in a position to modestly increase capacity and still maintain their perpetual sellouts and pricing power.
        As far as there being “not much more [revenue] being made than is currently available,” the math does not bear this out. The Red Sox currently average over $50 per ticket (and I don’t think this even counts suite revenue). I haven’t seen this year’s figure for the A’s, but I believe it’s in the $25-30 range. So if the A’s successfully implement the Red Sox model and get perpetual sellouts at 32K in San Jose with an average ticket price of over $50, plus suite revenue they would not get in Oakland, they will more than double their gate revenue. I believe a big part of the reason they want to be in San Jose is because they believe Silicon Valley will support $50 average tickets while the East Bay will not.

      • Why not drop the capacity to 16K and have tickets that average $100?
        1) Because more people means more money made on concessions, etc.
        2) Because a bigger crowd raises the excitement level of the game, which makes the game more enjoyable, which makes fans want to come back for more.
        3) Because at some point even the most loyal fans will get turned off and will find an alternative form of entertainment (i.e. stop following the team, even on TV). Even potential new SJ fans might disparage the park as being too exclusive.

      • “Why not drop the capacity to 16K and have tickets that average $100?”
        I assume your question was rhetorical, but I’ll answer it anyway.
        Obviously, there are limits to what the market will bear. If you were to draw a graph of price versus attendance it would presumably be a bell curve. My guess is at $100 per ticket you would no longer get consistent sellouts even of a 16K ballpark. At 41K you probably wouldn’t get consistent sellouts, either. The sweet spot is probably somewhere in between – you want to hit the top of the curve.
        You’re right that concession revenue should be factored into the calculation. However, two things to consider: (1) If you’re looking at going into 40K territory, you’re talking about adding cheap upper deck seats. These seats bring less concession revenue than the premium seats, so that will factor into the curve; and (2) at some point adding more seats has the perverse effect of DECREASING overall attendance. The goal is to sell lots of season ticket packages – so you’re selling tickets to lower demand games which would otherwise go unsold.

      • “a bigger crowd raises the excitement level of the game, which makes the game more enjoyable, which makes fans want to come back for more.”

        I really doubt there’d be a noticable enough difference between a 36K ballpark and a 40K ballpark to influence how often fans attend games. If anything, I think a 36K ballpark which was constantly sold out would have a higher excitement factor than a 40K ballpark with only 36K people sitting in it.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the discussion here, but frankly I wouldn’t get too caught up in the capacity right now. The only important thing about a stated figure right now is the environmental impact. Now that we have a frequently quoted estimated of 36,000, it’s more likely that we’ll use wiggle room from that (+/- 2,000). The big factor is the height of the stadium, as the FAA rules make it so that a large three-deck model is not really feasible. It’s also much more expensive.
        What I expect is that the “upper deck” will be built primarily out of steel and aluminum as opposed to concrete. A similar technique was used at Stanford Stadium and Red Bull Arena in NJ. That should allow for cheaper, quicker expansion or reduction should it get to that point.
        BTW, SF’s 1996 Prop B, which paved the way for the ballpark in China Basin, had a 45,000-seat stadium in its ballot language. The A’s have years to tweak and eventually lock in the final capacity.

      • Based on ballpark capacity numbers from Wikipedia (which still lists Boston as 37.4K), a new A’s ballpark with a capacity of 32K would be 2.5 standard deviations from the mean and a full standard deviation below the next lowest capacity ballpark (a tarped-over Tropicana field). That’s an outlier, and I have a major problem with that.

      • 36K is pretty close to Fenway. 32K may be an outlier. So what? Why does the size of other ballparks make a difference? If anything, the evidence suggests most of them are oversized, since there are relatively few teams that consistently average over 40K. Most of them could probably reduce capacity a few thousand without hurting overall attendance (and possibly increasing it).

      • Looking at last year’s attendance data, only 11 teams averaged over 32K (and the Rockies were just barely over). Most of these were in larger markets than the Bay Area, single team markets, or both.
        By contrast, half of MLB teams averaged 60.5% capacity or below.
        In all of MLB, only four teams achieved over 90% capacity.
        Conclusion: The vast majority ot MLB parks are too big.

      • The majority of ballpark are too big, but 32K is too small. Let’s compromise and say 36K is just right. I’d prefer 38K, but 36K is fair.

      • Nearly all of the new seats built at Fenway were premium seats, whether you’re talking about the Monster seats, the redo of the .406 Club (now EMC Club), or the rooftop club areas down the right field line. The only favor done for the proletariat was that the grandstand seats were refinished and slightly widened. The Sox didn’t spend $100 million to help out the guy paying $12 a pop.

      • I got a chance to tour Fenway prior to the 2006 season. It’s a fascinating place, not just for its age but also the Red Sox’ ingenuity in cramming new amenities into the building. The upper level was completely stripped during that retrofit. Incidently, I think the Fenway may be replaced before the A’s play their last game at the Coliseum.

      • The key point is perpetual sellouts. It’s the perpetual sellouts that generate season ticket sales, advance ticket sales, and people buying tickets for weeknight Royals game because they couldn’t get tickets for the Saturday night game against the Yankeees. So, the right number of seats is going to depend on the team and the situation, but you’re better off having less seats than you can sell than more. (This is basically the NFL model, but applied to baseball).
        The Red Sox did increase seating, but only by a few thousand, and only after they were already in “perpetual sellout” territory. But they did not build an upper deck, and their current total of 37,402 is only slightly higher than the projected tally for Cisco Field. If 37K is the right number for a passionate, single team baseball town like Boston, 32-36K is probably the right number for a casual fan, sports saturated, two MLB-team market like the Bay Area.
        The A’s are better off building 32K and finding they need more than building 42K and finding they need less.

  13. Like Tonaras above, I took an automated poll this evening. Questions included whether I was a Giants or A’s fan, how many games have I attended (for both teams) in the last 5 years. Did I own any Giants apparel, do I watch any Giants highlights, read Giants recaps in the paper. No questions relating to the A’s moving to SJ though.

    I live in San Mateo County. Wonder why all the recent polling? Will the results have much of an affect on MLB’s decision?

  14. I gotta say, 32,000 is really low capacity for a ballpark. I would go for at least 38,000 which is similar to PNC in Pittsburgh!

    • Last year PNC averaged 19,479 fans a game.

      • Seating capacity has never been the name of the game. Otherwise the Dodgers would’ve remained in LA Memorial Coliseum; the Rockies at Mile High and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium I. I can only speculate as to why 32k is the target capacity. In any case, seating expansion is likely an option at a future point.

  15. Bringing the A’s to San Jose will bring more crime and chaos with 36,000 regular event-goers, extra 32,000+ cars will bring worse traffic congestion, the stadium will take money away from our city services, and upfront $$$ million in public money for land and infrastructure.

    The City of San Jose is spending taxpayers money on a ridiculous A’s Stadium when Giants owns the territory rights. Instead, the City of San Jose should spend money keeping the city staff and service. How can we trust San Jose Leadership when they are spending money on a stadium when they are laying off staff. I feel very sorry for the staff.

    San Jose faces big cuts in staff, services


    • How much crime and chaos do the Sharks bring to San Jose? How about none? Why would the A’s be any different?

      I know, why don’t we run Adobe, the City Hall, the downtown residents, the Sharks, etc out of downtown San Jose because after all, they cause traffic congestion and require city services. Let’s turn the downtown into a desert.

      And staff layoffs are happening because San Jose unionized employees refuse the modest pay cuts that the rest of us in the private sector have had to endure.


    • Ha Ha, I get it. April Fools.

    • Please find another forum, Mr Neukom.

  16. Let the A’s stay in Oakland or move to Fremont where they belong. A’s belong in the East Bay not San Jose.


  17. re: Bringing the A’s to San Jose will bring more crime and chaos

    …Reminds me of a story I once heard about a major, major foods company trying to move to a small town in New Jersey. They were told to come on in, as long as they: generated no garbage for the city landfill; put no cars on the roads, put no kids in the schools. So the company instead located to another nearby city, which has reaped the benfits of jobs and tax revenues ever since.

  18. By Fizlur Lawn:

    The City Council of San Jose and the San Jose Chamber of Commerce were planning and conspiring for the last 12 years to get the rid of the San Francisco Giants to give the excellent Real Estate to A’s owners to be multi millionaires with high paying jobs and lucrative contract for loyalty. They stabbed into the stomach of hundred of thousand of the city Employees. blades. They turned the fools day into the biggest tragedy Fremont and Oakland has ever experienced. Let us all pray for them to get jobs, earning capacity and welfare of their families.

    The land may be utilized for smart economic development to create at least 12,000 jobs by developing a Smart Green futuristic City for excellent schools top research university, play grounds, parks, community health center, swimming pool and community garden and mixed used development by calling an international plan for the site that attract high speed ridership.

  19. Excuse me No Stadium in Fremont!!!!!

  20. If the A’s do get San Jose, what is the best way for a Contra Costa County fan to get to a game down in the South Bay? I really don’t enjoy traffic. I would rather take BART, but there’s no option to San Jose for that. And in Walnut Creek, there’s no Caltrain to go on. Any suggestions? Do the A’s care about the Contra Costa fans? I do want the team to get a new ballpark.

    • I would think 680 to 101 or 87, but I don’t know how traffic is. 60-90 minute drive maybe?

      • Well, if I had to choose, Oakland is a lot easier from Contra Costa County. I think my counterparts in the North Bay would have a hard time getting to a game on a weekday from say Vallejo or even Sacramento!

      • And how do you think it is for South Bay fans trying to get to a weeknight game right now?

    • BART to Fremont then connect to the VTA 181 to Diridon Station. Or drive since at that time it’s mostly counter-commute to San Jose from Contra Costa County.

  21. I hate to say it, but I think we can’t underestimate the impact of public transportation! I think Wolff needs to consider the transportation needs of the A’s fanbase from farther places like Sacramento or Contra Costa County!

    • Diridon is going to be the main public transportation hub for the entire Bay Area, with all six major rail systems intersecting there (CalTrain, Light Rail, ACE, Amtrak, and in the future BART and High Speed Rail). It will ultimately be far more transit friendly than Oakland. And fans in Sacramento will eventually be able to get to San Jose on High Speed Rail more quickly than they can currently get to Oakland.

    • That would have a significant effect on the A’s should they move down to SJ. I’d opt to take the train vs. drive.

    • I will be watching the Giants situation to see if a team-subsidized train for
      game service is a possibility, should the A’s move to SJ.

  22. Tonite’s game says it all about why the Giants want the A’s out of the Bay Area.

    A’s – 9
    Giants – 0

    $20 mill-a-year Barry Zito is shelled by his former team.

  23. NUMMI has finally closed

    Sharks join chorus of groups concerned about plans for ballpark in downtown San Jose  

    Great News!!! Once Sharks sue the A’s and the City of San Jose, the A’s are prevented them to build a stadium in San Jose. Today no more NUMMI and is gone forever. Toyota will never come back. The only option or the A’s is Fremont or Oakland or leave the Bay Area. Major League Baseball we want you to choose Fremont and bring the A’s to Fremony at the NUMMI Plant

    • You’ve completely misinterpreted the purpose of the letter. It’s all about protecting HP Pavilion’s parking, as it has always been. Right now City hasn’t said where any parking would go, they haven’t even committed to having additional parking built even though they have a contract to provide a certain amount in the vicinity for all events. In this case, City needs to step up and decide, because the impact is different depending on the choice. There will be a post on this in greater detail this weekend.

      “It’s not a comment on the A’s proposal,” Gralnek said. “This is about trying to protect our customers’ experience at the HP Pavilion.”

      On a housekeeping note, that’s three different handles you’ve used for the same IP address, FremontA’s. Stick with one or you’re banned. This is your last warning.

      • wasnt one of the reasons the coliseum site was a no go was due to similar complaints by the warriors?

      • there is not much overlap between the Sharks and A’s seasons. The A’s start playing April, The Sharks flop out of the playoffs a few weeks after that.

      • There is not much overlap between A’s and W’s seasons either, yet coflicts with the warriors was mentioned several times by lew wolff and this blog as one of the reasons a ballpark at the coliseum lot was impossible.

      • i’ve been reading this blog for about 3 years now and I’ve never heard anyone say the Coli parking lot is impossible.

      • It’s not impossible. It would require a significant amount of negotiation to preserve parking capacity or mitigate its loss. However, parking was one of those “down the list” items, next to the presence of the power transmission lines in the south lots and the sewer interceptor running underground, right down the middle of the complex.
        The A’s and Sharks seasons don’t overlap much, but there are perhaps 100 additional events at HP Pavilion, many of which could conflict with A’s games. That’s the problem that needs to be solved. Again, analysis coming soon.

      • Can someone explain this part?

        “Krutko’s office said the HP Pavilion provides an annual economic impact of $254 million and generates about 5,000 full-time jobs.”

        Really? 5000 F/T (or even FTE) jobs? How is that possible? Seems like half of the concession workers on a given night are working for a fund-raising group and not even employees.

        I worked in a mid-sized arena in the Midwest for years, we had about 40 F/T and a couple hundred P/T employees. How do you spin the indirect effect up to generating 5000?

      • ML, any estimate on when the EIR will be certified, could the Stand For SJ or SVSE hold up that process for a significant amount of time?

      • Will you people just stop! For crying out loud, the A’s and Sharks/SVSE are partners! They’re practically in bed for the Earthquakes venture and will be fully engaged with the A’s as well. The Sharks do have legitimate concerns regarding their needs (parking, rare same-time game situations, etc.) and they WILL be addressed. There’s no story here, despite Seipel’s sensationalism and attempt to stir shit up.

        Look, if Cleveland can do it with the Indians and Cavaliers, San Jose will do it with the Sharks and A’s. Next story!

      • Good lord, Tony. Seipel’s a reporter, not a columnist. Have some respect.

      • My bad R.M. No disrespect intended. I just didn’t like the way she suggested with her opening that “Stand for SJ” and ballpark opponents had a “powerful new ally” in the Sharks/SVSE. Say what you want but that’s classic media sensationlism. Oh well, I guess it worked because it got my attention.

      • By the way R.M., when you do a post on this over the weekend, perhaps you could use the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex in Cleveland as a case study of how things could work out for the Sharks/A’s at Diridon.

      • Actually pretty disappointed in SVSE—seems to me this should have been taken care of privately not publically—as a season tix holder of the Sharks I won’t be happy if they try and screw with the ballpark—already disappointed that they have had the Giants dropping pucks before some games—suprises me with McEnery involved that this became public–

      • Agree GoA’s,
        I was scratching my head on this also. I can see Lew Wolff conference calling as we type: “Greg (Jamison) and Tom (McEnery), what the hell was that all about!?”

      • By the way, “Stand for SJ DOESN’T” stand for San Jose and are totally irrelevant to this discussion. The only thing they “stand” for is San Francisco and the MLB Giants. The TRUE “Stand for San Jose” are the 62% who want the A’s in SJ. Enough on that.

  24. Pingback: SF Update: San Jose Wants A’s With No Strings Attached | Sports Fans Coalition, Inc.

    • This piece was totally uninformed. “San Jose County”? “Freemont”? The assertion that members of this blog have picked apart the San Jose State poll? The assertion that San Jose somehow bludgeoned Wolff into agreeing to pay for a ballpark (as opposed to a fundamental part of his proposal from the very beginning?)

  25. So, this is just pure speculation, but I can see why Haas ownership would allow the Giants to pursue a ballpark in San Jose in 1991/1992. By the Giants vacating SF, the Athletics would’ve been closer to SF than the Giants would be in 1992. Even though SF would still be Giants territory, that relocation could’ve favored the A’s partially. I can understand the Giants argument now that relinquishing SJ would devalue the franchise since the SJ T-rights are built into the assets and ultimate value of the team to their shareholders and corporate investors. While the A’s potential revenue from operating in SJ could be a very good thing for them and ultimately MLB, it’d be a hard sell for MLB to come in and strip the Giants of their SJ T-rights. From an operations standpoint, I can’t see team owners feeling that comfortable with that.

    Does anyone know if the regulations between individual franchises and MLB is posted publically? I wonder if it’s anything like the relationship between State and Federal law.

    • Briggs,
      I say if you make Santa Clara County a SHARED territory, the Giants still retain whatever value is based on “their” territory. Also, as part of a deal, MLB could always gaurantee franchise value much like they did with the Orioles.

      • Did the Nationals exchange for their broadcast rights for exclusive DC territorial rights or simply to move in? Regardless, the A’s aren’t entering a new market as the National did. Existing Comcast and KTRB deals would have to be settled if the Nationals/Orioles agreement is used as a template. Striking a settlement between the Giants, A’s and MLB is going to be a world of hurt in itself. Bringing in Comcast and KTRB would appear to complicate the issue further. So, I can’t see the O’s/Nats agreement applying here.

      • The Orioles didn’t control DC before the Nats moved there.
        The Orioles dispute with MLB was about media revenue and season ticket holders, not territory.
        That said, the objections of the Giants are similar to what the Orioles complained about.
        MLB guaranteed franchise value for the Orioles, guaranteed revenues for the Orioles and to address the television situation they created a regional sports network to broadcast both teams games and gave the Orioles controlling interest.
        The first two actions by MLB could easily translate to the A’s and Giants. The third one, not so much. But If the A’s work to pay some portion of the Giants mortgage for any seasons that the Giants have one while the A’s play in San Jose that should fix it.
        There is a deal to be struck that can work for the A’s, Giants and MLB.

      • Damn straight Jeffrey! ;o)

      • I understand MLB intervening to ensure the Giants’ revenue remains consistent. However, it’s not just an issue with revenue. It’s also growth. If the O’s didn’t control T-rights over the DC area, then they couldn’t legally argue that the Nat’s would cut into their projected growth. Sure, he could’ve argued it, but unless DC fell under the Orioles territory, there wasn’t much he could do. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’d love to see come references because I can’t find much on the internet regarding DC’s territorial status prior to the Nat’s relocation.

        Since the Giants possess SJ, it’s legally their asset. It’s a resource that could potentially generate enormous growth over the next several decades and that’s what their investors are concerned over—not that their annual revenue is maintained with a 2% annual growth (approx annual GDP inflation). I know we’re talking baseball and not iPads, but growth is always desired from investors—in the same way the A’s are going to pitch their growth to prospective investors once they relocate. Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but the only leg the A’s have to stand on concerning SJ is that SJ wants them as well. Should the Giants change SJ’s tune somehow (i.e. subsidize to-and-fro ridership to AT&T Park from Diridon), the A’s are potentially gone from the Bay Area. I don’t believe this will happen, I’m just saying it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities and the Giants wouldn’t employ and extreme measures like this unless MLB award SJ to the A’s.

        But that’s my point: Simply awarding SJ to the A’s isn’t going to be easy and the Nats/O’s situation wouldn’t apply if the O’s didn’t already possess T-rights over DC. I’d love to see the A’s in SJ. Of the 3 Bay Area options, it’s my choice as a fan. The MLB assessment can’t come soon enough.

      • What if MLB cannot guarantee revenues for the Giant;s. IS the BRC trying to estimate how this will truly hurt or help BOTH teams before making their decision?

  26. “The big factor is the height of the stadium, as the FAA rules make it so that a large three-deck model is not really feasible.”

    What is the FAA height limit in feet at the ballpark site?
    I think the lights would be the limiting factor, not the upper deck or roof height, which shouldn’t be much more than about 110′.

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