Merc columnist and all-around San Jose booster Mark Purdy was on the Fitz and Brooks show today (podcast MP3). After a few minutes of figuring out where the Niners’ season went wrong, Bob Fitzgerald asked Purdy about the ballpark situation. At no point was there a mention of yesterday’s news about the Redevelopment Agency’s funding shortage. What Purdy revealed was no less interesting, and I can provide a small amount of additional back story.
Asked about the state of the MLB panel’s report, Purdy said this:
What I know is that Lew Wolff did have a meeting a couple, three weeks ago. (He) came out of that meeting feeling optimistic that the report was gonna be issued soon, and optimistic that it was gonna come down in favor of the A’s at least being able to explore the ballpark in San Jose. I know that.
I also know that another source close to that… they are proceeding down only one track at the moment… they’re proceeding down the San Jose track… at the moment. That’s what I know.
As I understand it, Wolff met with Selig twice in September, once in LA during an A’s road trip and again in Milwaukee, Selig’s home turf. Some time after that, I started hearing that South Bay advocates were feeling pretty good about things. I didn’t get any info then about what they were feeling good about. Apparently Purdy did get it.
If true, there are some major takeaways, which combined with some info we know about the Giants, makes the picture much, much clearer.
- Oakland is not under consideration at this stage, only San Jose is. Note that Purdy did not say that Oakland was completely eliminated, only that it isn’t in the running “at the moment.” If San Jose fails, Oakland becomes a factor again. But only if San Jose fails.
- Something will happen at the owners meetings. Sure, but which owners meetings? The first set is November 17-18 in Orlando. The next set will be December 6-9 at Lake Buena Vista, which is just outside Orlando. As much as the A’s situation continues to linger, the owners will also spend a good deal of time on the lingering fate of the Tampa Bay Rays, who are based only two hours southwest of Orlando.
- Ruling that the A’s will be able to explore building a ballpark in San Jose. This is the one I’m most curious about, because if it’s true, it represents a sort of softening on MLB’s part. MLB generally won’t allow a city to get a team unless there is a signed deal in place. They even left DC hanging while lawsuits and eminent domain proceedings threatened the prospects of what would eventually become Nationals Park. This news indicates that San Jose will have a chance, but will need to get the rest of its pieces in place (land, referendum). That could give San Jose no more than a 6-9 month window – 6 months if land proceedings go smoothly or 9+ if eminent domain is required. Plus you can never tell what will happen on the legal front (Giants or surrogates).
Purdy spends the rest of the segment theorizing what might be happening behind the scenes. As much as it sucks to be kept in suspense, I’d much rather the panel take this time to work out all of the details, than to have Selig and the owners make a decision and then clean up the mess afterward. Even then, it’s uncertain what the Giants will do, since they are maintaining a “no-negotiation” stance. I guess when it comes to dealing with any Halloween-colored team owned by a lawyer, things tend to get messy.