Could San Jose A’s and Giants coexist?

The cover story in this week’s San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal discusses multiple scenarios in which the A’s (subscription required, written by Eli Segall), should they move to San Jose, would have to indemnify the San Jose Giants, the High-A affiliate of the San Francisco ballclub. The parent club bought controlling interest in the team last year, which could lead into a handsome payoff just for the minor league team in addition to whatever is agreed upon for the SF team. In the article, Roger Noll estimates that the A’s would have to pay the SJ Giants $4 million, which would be in addition to $20-30 million for the parent club Noll estimated a year ago.

The worry for the “little” Giants is that the A’s will siphon away sponsorship dollars, which in a large city such as San Jose is a goldmine for a mere Class-A club. The rest of the California League cities can’t hold a candle to San Jose in terms of corporate sponsorship potential. Despite the looming A’s threat, SJ Giants CEO Jim Weyermann isn’t worried much about losing attendance since the fan demographics are different, and there’s a chance that sponsors could be retained.

A sidebar mentions the fact that $14.5 million in renovations to San Jose Municipal Stadium are on hold pending the fate of the SJ Giants, which is of course tied to the A’s. Should the A’s move to SJ it’s likely that the SJ Giants would be forced to move. But that isn’t a given as Lew Wolff signaled that he’d be fine with the Giants staying there. Going this route would change the eventual terms of compensation, since Wolff and his partners wouldn’t have to go out-of-pocket for relocation costs. Instead they might have to foot part of the bill for compensation and for renovations to Muni – still not cheap but definitely cheaper.

Last month, Pacific Baseball Partners head Chris Lee made news when he admitted that the SF Giants’ refusal to do anything regarding T-rights has put his ballpark project in jeopardy. After I made my post I got this clarification from Lee:

“…note that the request to the (SF Giants) is not to move their affiliate to Sonoma County, but to relocate some other team, whatever its affiliation may be.”

It is possible that one of the other Cal League teams, perhaps Bakersfield, could relocate to Windsor, though given the circumstances, the frontrunner would still be the San Jose Giants. For that change to happen, the A’s move would have to be the first domino to fall.

If the San Jose Giants can stay in town, great. The parent Giants could choose to keep the team there in order to keep its foothold, though that would work against any idea that they bought into the little Giants to raise potential compensation. Keeping the SJ Giants in town would undoubtedly be the cheapest option for the A’s from a bottom line standpoint. From a strategic standpoint, it would make much more sense for the Giants to take advantage of an opening in the North Bay if the A’s go south. The SF Giants aren’t exactly greatly accessible from Sonoma County, with an hour drive from Santa Rosa to Larkspur just to catch the ferry. Still, it’s not as if common sense has prevailed in these matters so far. Why think it would happen now?

24 thoughts on “Could San Jose A’s and Giants coexist?

  1. The question that needs to be asked is whether or not fans really make a connection between Single A teams and the parent club. Are they truly a marketing tool? With AAA and possibly AA, there is a closer tie as future and former players go up and down. The other question I have is how to the SJ Giants do in comparison to other Single A teams attendance wise?

  2. @Georob. Depends on the players. IIn 2009, Giants fans were coming down to see Buster Posey when he was at San Jose.

  3. A whopping 2300 fans showed up at Municipal Stadium to see the SF Giants World Series trophy.

    2300 fans? Neukom clings to T-Rights for no reason and if 100k in fans showed up in SF and 2300 showed up in SJ…What does that tell you?

    I have lived in San Jose since 1990 with the exception of my college years in Southern California and I have never been to a San Jose Giants game nor could I care less.

    I have been to so many A’s and Giants games that I cannot even give a round number right now.

    No one cares about the San Jose Giants guys, they are a Single-A team that flies under the radar and would anyone care if they moved to Windsor out here??? Nope…I highly doubt anyone would even remember them once they are gone.

  4. I love the SJ Giants. Why?
    a) I get to see incredible talent up close, on their way up, eg. on the current SF 40-man roster Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Darren Ford, Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero and Ehire Adrianza in 2009-2010. In previous years, Sandoval, Lincecum, etc.
    b) The price is right. Ticket prices start at free on merchant nights.
    c) Great family atmosphere. Kids can roam free.
    d) On SF game nights, the games are usually on TV inside, scores are posted on the scoreboard and fans are keeping tabs on their handhelds.
    e) Fun and cheesy promotions, especially the “beer batter.” Sid, you should go just for that.
    I hope they stay!

  5. Once the SJ Giants announced their intentions to fight an A’s move to San Jose, I emailed them and told them I’d seen my last SJ Giants game. Preferring the SJ Giants to the A’s is kind of like preferring a bicycle to a Mercedes Benz. There might be some cost benefits to the bicycle, but that’s about it.

  6. There’s also the beer batter. My theory is half the San Jose Giants fans are just there to get a cheap buzz.

  7. SJ Giants are a minor league team in a major league market. But the SF Giants, so respectful of their San Jose “territory,” still view San Jose as “minor league.” That much is obvious.

  8. Yes– if the SJ Giants can thrive in SJ along side the SJ A’s, great.

    @pjk: I wouldn’t put words in the Giants/Bill Neukom’s mouth. No one is saying San Jose is a minor league market. To the contrary, the Giants likely think highly of the SJ market which is why they haven’t backed down. This issue isn’t with the Giants, it’s with MLB making a decision. It’s very important to remember that.

  9. The SJ Giants attendance has been one of the best in the California League year after year. They averaged 2,837 in 2010 which was second only to the Lake Elsinore Storm in the CAL league and 128th in MiLB out of 334 teams. Overall San Jose is the top attendance city of the current and past Cal league cities overall with over 5 million fans through the turnstiles at Muni Stadium.

  10. Briggs: The Giants want to make sure San Jose never gets anything more than minor league baseball. That much is clear.

    SJ Giants out-attended by Lake Elsinore (population 50,267) and ranked 128th out of 334 in attendance nationwide. Forgive me if I’m not impressed by SJ Giants attendance.

  11. The Storm also play in a stadium that’s 50 years newer and play in an area that is bigger than just Lake Elsinore. There are close to half a million people in the immediate area around the small city of Lake Elsinore. And being ranked 128th is VERY good for a class A team. Other than the Storm there were only two Class A teams I can find out east with higher attendance, which puts the SJ Giants easily in the top 5 out of all of their peers (Class A-Adv, A, A-SS). The rest of the teams with higher attendance were higher level AA and AAA teams and the comparison to them isn’t really valid since AA and AAA teams are a both a higher level of ball, that play in larger stadiums than the SJ Giants.

  12. pjk – I don’t think I’ve heard of any SJ Giants fan saying they prefer the Giants farm team to the A’s. We would like to have our bicycle and our Mercedes too, and this article is the first I’ve seen that mentions that possibility.

  13. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the A’s described as a Mercedes…

  14. @pjk: The issue is whether the A’s are granted permission to move to SJ and ultimately how the Bay Area territory is appropriated (Shared, sectioned, etc.). SJ remaining MLB-less is a consequence if the Giants sticking to their guns, but it’s not the ground they’re standing on in their argument. The SJ Giants’ attendance figures aren’t as relevant as their mere presence.

  15. What’s funny about these comments about the SJ Gnats is that the tickets are readily given away freely at hardware stores (OSH), corporate sites, etc. and still the attendance is pretty lackluster for a team in the heart of a city of 1 million people. More interesting is Sid’s comment of 2300 people showing up while the SF fanfest was a sellout. Hm…And yes, I’ve attended a SJ Giants game (for free of course), when A’s were in town.. 😉
    @Wendy – Are you a SF Giants fan?

  16. ST: That’s correct. Last time I went, I think it was with free tickets from Orchard Supply Hardware. Before that, heavily discounted discounts from a newspaper coupon. Minor League Ball + Major League City = Minimal Demand. Neukom and the Giants want to keep San Jose minor league forever; Selig and owners too cowardly or just too dumb to do anything about it, leaving all that Silicon Valley $$ on the table.

  17. @Wendy- I see you have a “nostalgic” view of the SJ Giants and that is OK.

    I am looking at the bigger picture of a MLB team in San Jose that would drive 35k of fans and corporations to the stands on a nightly basis.

    Not to mention it would put San Jose on the “map” to most people in the country who don’t know San Jose is larger than San Francisco.

    I would rather drive to Oakland and watch the A’s in the Coliseum than go to a minor league game.

    I have been to Lake Elsinore on a golf trip and the course was right next door to the Stadium where there team plays and that place is far nicer than what the SJ Giants play in by far….Forget the fact the city itself is a dump…LOL.

    I’m with pjk and his assessments….MLB is too cowardly to do anything and it will end up in a lawsuit by the City of San Jose in 2012 challenging the MLB Anti-trust exemption.

    The Supreme Court has been known to overturn past decisions and with the numerous cases where the NFL, MLB, and NHL have failed in anti-trust suits MLB is the next to fall……Selig going down in shame! I like the sound of that.

  18. Maybe its me (and Wendy) but I am just fine with having the SJ gints as well as the San Jose A’s—from my perspective the fan base is mutually exclusive—

  19. I’d agree with that. For the most part I think the fans who go to SJ Giants games are looking for an easy, local, cheap alternative to the A’s and Giants. While the local advantage the little Giants currently enjoy would be gone if the A’s move just up the street in downtown, the little Giants would still be easier to go to (particularly for families with little ones) and would be even cheaper than they are comparatively to the A’s today. And that doesn’t even get into the whole “fan” aspect where a “fan” of the SJ Giants or the Giants organization in general won’t necessarily be wanting to go to an A’s game even if closer.

  20. I wouldn’t say they are mutually exclusive, but only because I am already a fan of both 🙂 And the Stockton Ports and the Sacramento Rivercats.
    Of course, guys like me (Who go and catch Stanford games just to see some baseball) are the exception and nto the rule. So most fo the two fan bases would be different. It would be similar to the Brookyln Cyclones and New York Mets. St Paul Saints and Minnesota Twins… Baseball rules for some of us. No matter what level/affiliation.

  21. If the SJ Giants stay and the A’s move to SJ, the A’s might get outdrawn in attendance just as they were outdrawn by their own Sacto RiverCats. Yes, that’s a AAA team vs the single A SJGiants, but anything close would be pretty embarrassing.

    It’s Oakland for the A’s or somewhere with no territorial rights issues. SJ should focus on the niners instead.

  22. Why would the city of San Jose focus on the Niners? They’re moving to Santa Clara…

  23. How would they get outdrawn? Cisco stadium would have a 30K capacity and would likely be sold out for at least the first season, likely more.

  24. Late response to ST: I am indeed an SF Giants fan, and even a baseball fan. We attend one SF game, one A’s game and at least 15 SJ Giants game per season, because that’s what we can afford in time and money. My wishful thinking is that the A’s and SJ Giants could co-exist. Off topic, I just got tickets to an SF Cactus League game during a week that I will happen to be in Phoenix! Woohoo!

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