Nuggets from the Tittle-Wolff interview

Thanks to David for alerting me and others to the Wolff interview on Rick Tittle’s second hour today.

On Lew’s opinion of Victory Court as a site:

I’d like to answer that a little obtuse… With the same kind of detail the committee is going into, we don’t think we have any options available there. It has nothing to do with the fanbase or the City of Oakland. It’s just that our exploration is perhaps deeper than soundbites in the newspaper.

If the A’s can’t move to San Jose, would they move or threaten to move out of state?

I think what we’ve tried to do is to be one of the few teams in the history of baseball not to leverage by “you know we’re gonna move if you don’t do this for us”… So we have not sat around and thought about what our options are. We want to stay in the Bay Area. Our ownership doesn’t want to own a team in Omaha or someplace. We’re gonna make every effort to stay in the Bay Area and truthfully do not measure these other options.

On Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s suggestion that Lew’s in it for an ancillary real estate deal in San Jose:

I haven’t spoken to her – if I have it’s been once in seven years, so I don’t know what she’s thinking – but as far as the San Jose parcel there is no ancillary development right for us. My ownerships in San Jose are a small piece of the Fairmont and one lot where we have a racquetball club. I’m hoping if we go down there it’ll stimulate development but it won’t be our development.

Any updates on the status of XTRA Sports 860 (KTRB)?

We may be – I don’t have the details – the party selected for further negotiations so I think that’s happening right now.

Do you find the tarps have/have not been a success?

I think they’ve worked out fine. Maybe it’s my fault – we still don’t fill out the ballpark… I think the tarps was a plus in terms of obscuring a lot of empty seats. Is it a great thing? No. Is it a terrible thing? I don’t think so.

What are you and Billy referring to when calling the A’s a small market team?

I think we’re referring to revenue. In other words, if we had a new ballpark – I don’t want to use that as the only reason – when you have huge revenues even though you share them as the Yankees and Red Sox do – it takes revenue to pay and retain players. I don’t like the term small market. I just want to be able to have revenues close to the Giants, for example. When you trace the change in the teams from 2000, every statistic we have from advertising sales, sponsorships and so on, we started to fall way behind. Some of it has to do with revenue, some of it has to do with Barry Bonds.

Is it impossible to find that revenue in Oakland as opposed to San Jose?

Nothing’s absolutely impossible, but the answer is that demographics have changed tremendously, the corporation bases. We’re in a region here. It’s not like we’re not moving to another country or another state. If you landed tomorrow from Mars and said, “I’m looking to locate a ball team, where should I put it?” You might opt for the South Bay in the current economic and demographic environment.

On the Quakes stadium and the A’s ballpark being separate or related:

They would both be in separate venues. We don’t think we should combine them. Baseball, which is more dominant (in the US), needs to be in a baseball-only facility.

A very good interview by Tittle in which he asked numerous clarifying questions without antagonizing Wolff (it might help that Wolff may be Tittle’s boss’s boss’s boss in the near future). In any case, it covers a lot of ground that we frequently cover here at the blog, and other than the rather pat answer about Victory Court the answers were reasonably genuine. Discuss amongst yourselves.

92 thoughts on “Nuggets from the Tittle-Wolff interview

  1. Lew, if you landed from Mars, you first would be told the history of this colorful, storied franchise of 43 years in Oakland, the 4 World Championships, the great tradition, the community pride, the last 16 years of carpetbagging ownership and the Territorial Rights the Giants have on the southbay. And it’s not to “locate” a ball team, it’s to “relocate” a ball team, changing names, cities, and the whole look and feel of the southbay compared to the eastbay.
    BTW, Mr. Wolff, why don’t you have a meeting with mayor Quan to discuss options if SJ is passed up.

  2. Oakland’s days as a major league baseball city are numbered – that much is clear. Winning 4 titles decades ago is not going to be enough to keep the team. Oakland expects a free ballpark and no one has come forward to offer those terms. The A’s meet the same relocation qualifications as the Expos – stuck in a football stadium, abysmal attendance and no new ballpark in sight. So if it’s not San Jose, the A’s will be some place far away.

  3. re: you first would be told the history of this colorful, storied franchise of 43 years in Oakland,

    …The Brooklyn Dodgers were beloved and had a long 50-60-year history in the borough. But they needed a new ballpark and it was clear as day that they were not going to get one in Brooklyn. So bye bye they went.

  4. @pjk–teams were leaving left and right in the 50’s and 60’s and it was a shame. Not so bad now, except for the Expos, and hopefully not the A’s. They belong in Oakland and BS should help and make it so. Their days aren’t numbered in the “O”‘ like you keep saying. Why didn’t BS tell the city not to go through with the EIR, but he was irked by Chuck Reed’s ballpark measure to be put on the ballot?

    Speaking of Brooklyn Dodgers, did you see the latest on the Dodgers wanting to wear the retro Brooklyn unis? A lot of the old time Brooklyn fans aren’t too happy about that.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_localnyc/l-a-dodgers-try-to-make-amends-with-throwback-uniforms-but-theres-no-love-lost-in-brooklyn

  5. This is why the Oakland-only crowd is so irritating: the overweening sense of entitlement simply because the team happens, by historical accident, to currently be within city limits. Never mind the complete lack of support since it’s been there.

    Lew’s point is valid: If you were starting with a clean slate and deciding where to put two MLB teams in the Bay Area, no way one ends up in Oakland. It simply is not an economically viable location under modern conditions.

    And if we’re going to locate the team based on tradition, I’ll see your 43 years and 4 World Championships and raise you ten years and one world championship. That’s right, the team belongs back in Philly. A second team in Philly would very likely generate more revenue than a team in Oakland anyway.

  6. @bartleby–the Pro San Jose/anti-Oakland crowd irritates the hell out of me: the overwhelming sense of entitlement just because you’re the 10th biggest city with a very low crime rate, and this unproven claim to be this huge sports mecca just because the Sharks sell out. Uh, look at the lowly Warriors and their huge support in Oakland. Only one playoff team in 16 years; the Sharks 13 out of their 18 years in SJ.
    Is there a group wanting the A’s back in Philly? No, not the last time I looked. But there’s one in Oakland who wants to keep the A’s with 45,369 fans on Lets Go Oakland Facebook. And there’s one in San Jose, but with 1% of the interest, with only 428 members. Bud is well aware of this and has been flooded with 1000’s of e-mails from the Oakland side.

  7. The fact is there are no butts in the seats. Who gives a hoot about some stupid Facebook group?

  8. No sense of entitlement here: I believe the A’s should be allowed to go where they will be successful. It just happens, the most promising location is San Jose. Failing that, it could also be Fremont. You didn’t hear me on here bleating when that was the plan, and Fremont is just as far from my house as it is from yours. I’m certainly not advocating the A’s go somewhere they will lose money solely for my convenience.

    You continue to ignore these simple facts: Current management wants to come to San Jose. Their immediate predecessors wanted to come to San Jose. So far, NO ONE in the history of the A’s has shown the slightest interest in building a privately-financed ballpark in Oakland. Not Wolff, Schott, Haas, or Finley. Not the Dolich group, Larry Ellison, or any other mysterious, philanthropic billionaire. Not before AT&T Park existed, and certainly not since. And definitely not since baseball gate revenue has been driven by premium seating which requires a corporate base Oakland does not have.

    Seriously, it should tell you something that EVERYONE with an actual financial stake in this matter believes that Silicon Valley is the more desirable market. That includes both past and present Giants and A’s ownership. You don’t see the significance of the fact that the Giants feel less threatened by a ballpark eight miles away across the bay than one 50 miles away down the peninsula?

    If you were here advocating a publicly-financed ballpark in Oakland, I would say you’re a realist (at least about what is necessary, not what is likely to happen) and would respect your point of view. But at least as far as I’ve read, that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying some philanthropic billionaire owes it to you to build a privately-financed yard where you want regardless of whether he can break even or not. THAT is a sense of entitlement.

    Your comparison of the success of the Warriors with the success of the Sharks is not apt. NBA basketball is wildly popular. NHL hockey is a second-tier sport which has failed or is failing in nearly every non-traditional market in which it has located – except San Jose. The success of the Sharks in San Jose is a very strong indicator of the area’s potential as a sports market. Anyway, we don’t need to extrapolate from the performance of other sports to know the potential of MLB in Oakland: 43 years of history tells us it is poor – and was poor even before the need for premium seat customers became paramount.

  9. Oakland Athletics.
    Current management plays in a league with rules. Those rules, like them or not, limits the A’s options in the bay area.
    I’m so tired of SJ A’s fans bagging on Oakland. We have 43 years of “poor” history? Now, that is a stretch. You don’t have to exaggerate about Oakland to state your case, for a move to municipality near you.
    This may be difficult for some of the people on this board to grasp … businesses open in Oakland everyday. Kaiser and Children’s Hospital are building like crazy. Oakland isn’t Detroit. Detroit is sad. But somehow, they have (4) pro teams!
    Anyway, I like my hometown’s chances to celebrate the Athletics’ 50th anniversary in Oakland.

  10. It will be sad indeed if Oakland celebrates its 50th anniversary in the same old Coliseum. But that is all Oakland has to offer, since the city feels entitled to a free ballpark and no one is going to build one under those terms. San Jose is the best option to keep the team in the Bay Area..

  11. Since we’re now talking about Detroit, let’s look at Detroit’s Comerica Park. It was 38% publicly financed. If Oakland can come up with those terms, we can talk about a new ballpark in Oakland. But Oakland is looking for 0% public financing, 100% private financing and no private entities have come forward to offer that. Remember the last Oakland mayoral race when at least one or two of the candidates bragged about spending “not one dime” for the A’s? Well, that’s a sign that Oakland is not serious about keeping the team.

  12. Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadal referred to Victory Court as a “pie in the sky” project. ‘Nuff said

  13. Oakland is putting together an EIR and a plan to build a stadium near Victory Court. Neither you, nor I, know any of the details. Clearly, the good folks at MLB, are listening to Oakland’s civic leaders. They aren’t listening to Don Perata or Nancy Nadal.

    • Oakland is putting together an EIR and a plan to build a stadium near Victory Court. Neither you, nor I, know any of the details. Clearly, the good folks at MLB, are listening to Oakland’s civic leaders. They aren’t listening to Don Perata or Nancy Nadal.

      “Clearly, the good folks at MLB, are listening to Oakland’s civic leaders.” Really? Can you please provide solid proof of this David (i.e. a link or actual quotes from MLB). Not saying that you’re lying, just that I haven’t seen or heard anything official on this claim (please, no references to Facebook). Thanks David.

  14. Let’s see that plan. All indications are Oakland expects the A’s to privately finance the ballpark and the A’s ownership knows that is not doable in Oakland. Oakland doesn’t even have the money to buy out the businesses on the site and pay for infrastructure improvements, never mind pay for the ballpark itself. The new police chief just tried to leave because of the hopelessly underfunded police department and they’re going to spend BigTime $$ on a ballpark? Not likely…

  15. Please provide a link, where an Oakland civic leader who is working on the Victory Ct. plan, states that they expect the current A’s ownership to pay 100% of the price of a new ballpark.
    Oakland will get 100+million from MLB, if the plan comes together. This blog is all optimism for SJ plan and pessimism for Oakland’s. That’s cool. This site was put together by a SJ A’s fan. Luckily, he deals in fact, more than speculation … pjk – has every vote along the way for SJ been unanimous? Have you noticed ML’s link to ‘Better Sense San Jose’? There are Nancy Nadal’s and Don Perata’s in SJ too!

  16. from East Bay Express:

    Update 3:02 p.m.: The city will pay for the environmental impact report with redevelopment funds. Both Quan and outgoing Mayor Ron Dellums have said they would use redevelopment funds to try to keep the A’s in Oakland — but not general fund money.

    ;;;Let’s see – Oakland has $20 mill in redevelopment money and Jerry Brown wants to kill that whole program. Oakland needs probably two to five times that to move the businesses and pay for infrastructure and we haven’t even broken ground for the ballpark yet. So let’s look at this financing plan: $120 mill MLB loan + $0 from Oakland general fund + $0 from East Bay corporations. Does that add up to the $500 mill needed for the ballpark? (Number of East Bay corporations that have ever bought naming rights to existing arena or stadium: 0)

  17. re: Better Sense San Jose = a screaming mouse. I emailed them and asked why they prefer more empty office buildings for San Jose, pointing out the tall building next to the convention center that’s never been occupied. Their response? Absolutely none at all.

    From Ballpark Digest, May 2010:
    The poll indicates overwhelming support for a plan for the city of San Jose to give downtown land to the Oakland A’s for a new ballpark.

    A poll of San Jose residents indicates overwhelming support for a plan for the city of San Jose to give downtown land to the Oakland A’s for a new ballpark, with 62 percent of those asked approving of the plan.

  18. Better Sense San Jose has a strict DeMauseian view of sports venues. I tried to see their (er, his) viewpoint but was just met with plug-in rhetoric. It will always be a losing venture in some eyes.

    And can we please tone down the intercity antagonism here?

  19. Say what you will about Oakland, but one thing is certain: The Town has a lot of civic pride.

  20. @ David “Current management plays in a league with rules. Those rules, like them or not, limits the A’s options in the bay area.”

    Those rules can be changed at any time in the discretion of MLB without compensation to the Giants. And should be. And, I believe, most likely will be (although with compensation to the Giants).

    “I’m so tired of SJ A’s fans bagging on Oakland.”

    If you think I’m bagging on Oakland, you misunderstand me. I think Oakland is a great town, and have a lot of affection for it. I have personal ties to Oakland (though I choose not to share the details on an anonymous blog). Oakland has shown terrific support for the Raiders and Warriors (under the circumstances), and is a viable site for both the NBA and NFL. It is not “bagging” on Oakland to point out some very simple and obvious facts:

    1. The A’s have never drawn well in Oakland despite fielding championship teams, even in the years before AT&T Park;
    2. Modern MLB gate revenue is driven by premium seating, the primary market for which is big corporations;
    3. The East Bay has very little corporate base;
    4. Because downtown Oakland is functionally the same geographic area as AT&T Park, the A’s would have to compete directly with a much stronger franchise with a big head start for what corporate money exists in that area.

    It is not “bagging” on Oakland to point out that it simply is not a viable site for a 100% privately-financed ballpark under current conditions. Remember, AT&T Park itself was considered a big financial gamble, even though San Francisco has far more corporate base than the East Bay and the Giants had no competition for premium seat dollars.

    “We have 43 years of “poor” history? Now, that is a stretch.”

    Don’t misquote me. I didn’t say the history of the A’s in Oakland was poor, I said the potential for MLB in Oakland is poor, as demonstrated by the history. By which I meant, the business potential of MLB, as demonstrated by the attendance history of the A’s. The A’s have a great baseball history in Oakland, but a lousy history of support, which is the relevant history for purposes of privately financing a ballpark.

    “Detroit is sad. But somehow, they have (4) pro teams!”

    The blindingly obvious reason for this is that Detroit Metro has a huge population which goes well beyond the city limits and none of its four teams must compete with a much stronger rival in the same sport for corporate money. (For the record, the Pistons play well outside the city limits and until recently, so did the Lions).

  21. @Gojohn10 “Say what you will about Oakland, but one thing is certain: The Town has a lot of civic pride.”

    No doubt it does. Again, I’m not one of the people on here saying Oakland is a crime-ridden slum. There’s a big difference between slamming the city and pointing out that for practical reasons, it does not pencil out as a location for a privately-financed ballpark when it must compete with the Giants right over the bridge.

  22. I have pix of the Oakland Zoo on my Facebook page. I’ll take my kid back to Children’s Fairyland probably within a few weex. Jack London Square is great, so is Chabot Space Center. But Oakland as a place to 100%-privately finance a modern MLB ballpark? Not going to happen…

  23. Let me once again ask what I’ve been asking since the beginning of this blog: If it’s so clearly obvious that San Jose is the best place for the A’s to be, why hasn’t MLB let it happen? Lew Wolff wants it, and Bud Selig wants the issue settled before he steps down as commissioner. San Jose appears to have all its “ducks in line” as well as the wealthy corporate support of Silicon Valley. But instead all we have are Tony, Bartleby, and Mark Purdy continuing to “preach to the choir” and no deal in sight………………………….It’s not happening.

    • Let me once again ask what I’ve been asking since the beginning of this blog: If it’s so clearly obvious that San Jose is the best place for the A’s to be, why hasn’t MLB let it happen? Lew Wolff wants it, and Bud Selig wants the issue settled before he steps down as commissioner. San Jose appears to have all its “ducks in line” as well as the wealthy corporate support of Silicon Valley. But instead all we have are Tony, Bartleby, and Mark Purdy continuing to “preach to the choir” and no deal in sight………………………….It’s not happening.

      I would answer your question Rob…if I hadn’t already answered it hundreds of times in previous threads! (“hundreds” was obviously an exageration, but you get my drift).

  24. Why hasn’t MLB let it happen? That’s been discussed in here thoroughly but let’s go through it again:

    * MLB owners, including some of whom have had to be educated about exactly where San Jose event is, stupidly gave the Giants territorial rights to San Jose. (Wolff had to tell at least one owner that San Jose is 40 miles from Frisco, not a bordering municipality)
    * A 75% vote is needed to overturn the territorial rights and MLB has not been able to get this probably because too many other owners fear some franchise might want to locate in their backyard, too. MLB also is probably afraid of lawsuits and the PR hit it would take from leaving Oakland for a more prosperous city to the south. But Oakland has no money for a ballpark so the stalemate ensues.

    Thusly, all that Silicon Valley $$ ready for the A’s sits on the table.

  25. Of course, the backyard thing is a bit confusing because the A’s would be moving from 10 miles away from the Giants to 40 miles away.

  26. @georob
    “Has not happened” is not the same as “will not happen.” Why hasn’t it happened yet? I am not an insider and so must speculate with everyone else, but my theory is this: It is blindingly obvious that there will not be a privately-financed ballpark in Oakland. Most likely the City will not be able to pull off the land acquisition and EIR in time, and even if they do, there will not be financing to build. Bud thinks it is better from a public relations and political standpoint to allow Oakland to stumble on its own rather than award T-rights to San Jose by fiat. There will be less resentment from the existing fan base in the East Bay if the city has been given an opportunity and failed on its own rather than relying on Mr. Wolff’s say-so that all options have been exhausted. And it smooths discussions with the Giants and other owners if Bud can say, categorically, that San Jose is the only viable option without having Oakland standing in the corner saying “We could do this if you only gave us a chance.”

    In other words, it’s easier for Bud to just give Oakland enough rope rather than implement an execution himself.

  27. “MLB also is probably afraid of lawsuits and the PR hit it would take from leaving Oakland for a more prosperous city to the south.”

    Lawsuits: No way. Some may be filed, but the claims which have been asserted so far are so frivolous they would not even be a speed bump to the project. Even if some of these frivolous claims somehow prevailed, they would result in some incidental costs to the project, not a court order to stop.

    PR: Quite possibly. Thus my theory that it’s easier for Bud to let Oakland try and fail to pull this off, lessening the PR hit and smoothing the way with other owners.

  28. By the way, for Oakland partisans putting a lot of stock in the idea that “MLB must think this is viable, otherwise which would the blue-ribbon commission allow us to proceed.” If you want a look at just how badly a smaller, less economically attractive community can get played in a situation like this, look no further than Hartford, CT and their dealing with the New England Patriots. When Hartford and the State of Connecticut started discussions with the Pats, there was a lot of skepticism whether the Pats would actually leave the Boston area for much smaller Hartford. Connecticut put together an incredible sweetheart deal which, if I recall correctly, included a fully-publicly funded stadium and other sweeteners. Massachusetts, on the other hand, was giving the Pats little love. The Pats went so far as to sign a contract with Connecticut to move the team there, and everyone in the state thought it was a done deal. Then Massachusetts came up with a relatively modest contribution to the project, and the Pats flagrantly breached their contract and built Gillette Field in Foxboro. Connecticut sued, but ultimately settled the case.

    My point: in the end, economics will out. Mark my words, the new ballpark will eventually be built in San Jose, Fremont, or outside the Bay Area.

  29. By the way, hats off to Bartleby for taking people to school on this thread. I salute you brah!

  30. When Willie Brown ran the Assembly, every session started late and bills passed at the last minute when he found one or two tame Republicans to support them. Everyone in Sacramento called it “Willie time.”
    The San Jose approval will come after all the land is assembled, it becomes obvious that Victory Court is an impossibility and he finds one or two tame recalcitrant owners. That will be “Bud time.”

  31. Are Bartleby and TonyD the same person?
    Very similar, long-winded, same old, same old posts, preaching to the choir on here (except for me , David, Georob and a few others)..
    Or maybe it’s actually Lew Wolff, (he just got dial-up I heard) creating a couple of on-line personalities, promoting his Cisco Field and No Way, No How Oakland positions.

    @GoJohn–“The Town (Oakland) has a lot of civic pride.” Yes they do, brother.

    • I find it amusing that last weekend’s thread was a rhetorical minefield while this one is practically no holds barred.

      • I find it amusing that last weekend’s thread was a rhetorical minefield while this one is practically no holds barred.

        It’s on R.M.! ;o) (actually, I’m done on this thread..no, seriously!).

  32. @TonyD-“(actually, I’m done on this thread..no, seriously!).”
    Uh, yeah, right.
    ..and BS will give his decision any day now…
    …and LW will get the Nobel Peace Prize…
    …and the Tea Party won’t carry anti-Obama signs…

  33. no more from Tony? … and this the year Daric Barton goes 20hr 100rbi
    … and Al Davis and Lew Wolff will team up on Survivor East Oakland …

  34. @jk-usa:

    “Are Bartleby and TonyD the same person?
    Very similar, long-winded, same old, same old posts, preaching to the choir on here (except for me , David, Georob and a few others)..”

    If I recall correctly, JK, Bartleby is an attorney. What you found to be “long-winded”, I found to be extremely succinct summaries which insulted nobody, but rather took pains to explain his views.

    I will never understand the Oakland Only crowd, who will somehow feel vindicated if the Athletics move out of the state completely rather than 40 miles away.

  35. “f it’s so clearly obvious that San Jose is the best place for the A’s to be, why hasn’t MLB let it happen? Lew Wolff wants it, and Bud Selig wants the issue settled before he steps down as commissioner. ”

    Because letting the A’s have San Jose now removes using the threat of contraction as leverage in the next CBA talks.

  36. @jk-usa “Are Bartleby and TonyD the same person?”

    Wow, what an insult to Tony. No, although Tony and I are in general agreement on most things pertaining to the A’s ballpark situation, we are in fact different people. I’m a lot more long-winded than he is, and he is more of an optimist than I am.

    But fundamentally, way to completely sidestep responding substantively to anything I said, yet again. All we seem to get from you are pollyanna-ish assumptions that a big pile of money is going to fall out of the sky for a ballpark in Oakland and slurs against Lew Wolff for daring to believe he is entitled to break even on his business.

  37. @plrraz Thank you for your kind words. I actually feel I struggle to be succinct at times (logorrhea is an occupational hazard of the legal profession), but I try to avoid name calling. I do have little patience for arguments which are based on emotion rather than logic and common sense.

  38. @Nathan “Because letting the A’s have San Jose now removes using the threat of contraction as leverage in the next CBA talks.”

    This certainly another plausible theory. I’m personally a little skeptical of this one, because I don’t think the contraction threat is credible and question whether whatever incremental leverage could be gained is worth the risk of losing all viable ballpark options for the A’s by dragging things out too long. But maybe.

  39. @David–i did see that article. It’s nice to see an outsider like Lark see it the way we do, not dismissing a bad ownership like the 95%ers on here do. The A’s belong in Oakland, plain and simple. Too much history and community pride to throw away on a move down south. The baseball Gods are on Oakland’s side, I know it. This ownership has the money to make it happen at VC. MLB, LW and the city should make this a reality ASAP.

  40. @bartleby–you being a lawyer, i find it amusing that you consider any lawsuits on a SJ move “frivolous.” Tell that to Neukom, Herrera and Russo. This is serious stuff here, with much merit and far from frivolous, and BS knows it, that’s why he doesn’t know what to do at this point.

  41. I guess Daric Barton will have 20 jacks this year and Mr. Wolff will win the Nobel! Every time I try to get out, “they” drag me back in.
    Why would any lawsuit brought on by the Giants or SF be “frivolous”? Because 1) MLB teams aren’t allowed to file lawsuits against fellow clubs per MLB Constitution,
    2) MLB is immune from contracts between municipalities and parent clubs and 3) it’s impossible to prove the A’s in San Jose will hurt the Giants or city of SF (unless of course they employ legions of mind readers to help bolster their case).
    In short, lawsuits aint happening fellas! Whew, glad I got that off my chest. Last post till next thre….Oh never mind!

  42. @jk-USA – I wanted to beat them to the jump… Where’s the shining knight with 500 million going To come from? Lol. You notice what happens when you spend money on better players? I just read that season tix are up 50 percent.

  43. @TonyD–lol.. you crack me up. You deserve an award for the biggest San Jose A’s booster on here, bar none.
    @David–yeah, that’s good news that tix are up. If they announce Oakland is given a shot, they’ll sell even more tix. They had to bolster the roster with all this attention on the G’s. If no WS win, it would be business as usual for the A’s.

  44. @bartleby–Geez, talk about a Debbie Downer. Do you have ANYTHING positive to say about the A’s in Oakland?

  45. @bartleby, St. Louis was 4th in attendance for 2010. 40,000 a game. Are you going to tell me that St. Louis has a larger corporate base than the East Bay?

  46. @jk-usa Any claims Neukom, Herrera, or Russo might bring would be frivolous. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve explained in detail previously just why these claims would be frivolous, but here again is the Reader’s Digest version:

    Neukom:
    – As Tony notes, the Giants are forbidden from suing MLB.
    – The Giants have no breach of contract claim. The MLB constitution expressly provides for adjustment of territories by 3/4 vote of the owners. Termination of rights in accordance with a contract provision which expressly provides for termination of those rights is not a breach of contract. If you know another legal theory on which they can sue, please let me know.
    – Even if the Giants could establish breach of contract, it would not entitle them to block the move. Rather, it would only entitle them to recover economic losses they could prove resulted from the breach. Which they’re going to get anyway if MLB approves the move.
    – The Giants attempt to block the A’s from moving would likely be an antitrust violation itself but for the MLB antitrust exemption. Antitrust violations may result in treble damages and other serious penalties. The Giants have much more to lose than the A’s if the A’s were to counterclaim and succeed in knocking down the AE (assuming the two teams were able to sue each other in the first place). Even if the AE protected the Giants from a counterclaim, a court will look with disfavor on their anticompetitive conduct and they will have an uphill battle in establishing any claims.

    Herrera:
    – His claims are the most ridiculous. He’s basically saying, as the Giant’s landlord he’s at risk of not getting his rent payments if the A’s are allowed to move.
    The reasons this is ridiculous should be obvious even to a layperson. First of all, the A’s move may in fact damage the Giants economically. This is the way things are supposed to work in a free market system. Our legal system is not set up to protect monopolists, its set up to favor competition.
    But does anyone really believe the A’s move will damage the Giants to the extent they will be unable to make a $3.6 million rent payment? Basically, they would have to go bankrupt. It’s actually questionable whether A’s to San Jose will adversely affect the Giants at all, but does anyone seriously believe they’re going to go bankrupt over it?
    Second of all, let’s say a McDonalds moves in next to a Burger King, and BK goes out of business. Do you really think our legal system would allow the BK landlord to sue McDonalds? Our economic system would not function if it allowed people to bring claims for economic losses resulting from lawful, free market competition.
    Further:
    – He has standing problems.
    – He has ripeness problems.
    – His claims are based on implied contract theories which are very difficult to prove.
    – Even if somehow, he surmounted all these obstacles and established a claim, and the Giants did in fact go bankrupt, he would not be entitled to block the move. He would only be entitled to recover his proven economic losses, which would be noise level in a relative sense.

    Russo:
    – I’ll give Russo credit for having a bit more dignity than Herrera. So far as I’ve read, he’s not blowing smoke claiming to even have any claims. He’s just made vague statements like “We will read the lease very closely” or “we have read the lease and are prepared to move quickly if appropriate.”
    A lawyers translation: We have already read the lease closely and know we have nothing.

    Bringing a lawsuit is one thing, but surviving summary judgment is another, and winning is another thing altogether. JK, if you think my legal analysis is off, you tell me where I’ve gone astray. Just spare us the arm-waving about how MLB is shaking in its boots because Bill Neukom is some supposed superlawyer who can win any case even when the facts and law are against him.

  47. “Geez, talk about a Debbie Downer. Do you have ANYTHING positive to say about the A’s in Oakland?”

    Sure. The A’s have had a glorious history in Oakland. I’ve enjoyed going to many, many games there for a long period of time. I think it’s great season ticket sales are up, it may make it more fun to go to games this year. I love the city of Oakland, and wish it well. If the city were willing to invest public funds in a new ballpark, I actually think it would be a good investment for them and would be supportive. It’s just pretty obvious that’s not going to happen, and a ballpark in Oakland is not going to happen if it does not.

  48. “St. Louis was 4th in attendance for 2010. 40,000 a game. Are you going to tell me that St. Louis has a larger corporate base than the East Bay?”

    Let’s not confuse subjects. Attendance and corporate base/premium seat revenue are two separate issues.

    St. Louis is a legendary baseball town; it has always had great attendance. Oakland is not a baseball town, it has always had poor attendance relative to the quality to the teams there.

    As far as corporate base, I’d have to do some research to do a direct comparison between St. Louis and the East Bay. However, I strongly suspect St. Louis does in fact have more corporate base. Missouri ranks 16th among the states in the number of Fortune 500 company headquarters with eleven, ten of which are in or near St. Louis. Regardless, one thing I do know is that the Cardinals do not face a stronger competitor only eight miles away with a stranglehold on local corporate support.

  49. I am in agreement with bartleby on his assessment and I disagree with the article JK posted.

    Lark does not point out the past mistakes of the City of Oakland and how they are just as responsible for not getting a new stadium done.

    The A’s were so close to remodeling the Coliseum for baseball only but then the City and County back stab Schott and Hoffman by putting up Mt. Davis. Then they had to pay Schott/Hoffman 16M in a settlement for breach of contract.

    Al Davis who is from Piedmont has stated the Oakland area is depressed and the fans simply do not have the $$.

    Why would any owner regardless if they can afford it or not themselves build in Oakland without a public money or privately with a weak corporate base?

    Simple economics state San Jose is the best place for the team and they are far ahead of Oakland in the game right now.

    Oakland cannot publicly put $$ up for this and I ask Pro-Oak fans how does this not equate in your own minds?

    If Oakland was willing to put $$ up then your arguments would hold validity. But as it stands right now Oakland is on its last leg and unless MLB subsidizes the ballpark in Oakland the A’s are long gone….Even then the other owners would have a cow and force the Giants to sell their T-Rights or vote them off the island.

    If the Giants still persist the City of San Jose will sue MLB and kill their wrongfully awarded AE that was given to them in the 1920s….Bartleby being a lawyer can attest that MLB would lose painfully in court in that scenario……San Jose A’s coming in 2015.

  50. Also I think Selig is delaying to give Oakland one last chance and also to use Oakland as a possible contraction candidate along with Tampa Bay when the CBA expires this year.

    That and Selig is a moron on top of all of this! Ha!

  51. getting back to the Tittle/Wolff interview, I have this to say about Wolff’s responses to Oakland/Victory Court/Quan: he makes it clear that he has no interest in Oakland, yet he repeatedly said that before Victory Court became Oakland’s location of choice…along with its multi-public transportation choices besting those of SJ’s sight. Caltrain troubles, anyone?? Wolff talked about a baseball “village”, yet he acts clueless that the built-up Jack London District and approved Oak 2 9th developments are within walking distance of the ballpark.
    Along with the other good things about VC’s location, Wolff’s evasive response makes it _seem_ clear that he hasn’t looked at or studied a single rendering of VC– perhaps under the impression that its out on the Army Base. Oakland has had 2 places in mind for a stadium since 2006, according to Ignacio De La Fuente (I talked with him about this) not including the Coliseum parking lot, and as many as 3 a little over a year ago, mentioned in this blog.
    Eventually, Mayor Quan is going to have to find a way to have Wolff at least listen to what she has to say about VC. Oakland will have to of course find ways to get the needed money. If Dellums was able to lobby for over 200 million for various Oakland projects, Quan and others can probably find a way to get big money also. Whether it be through bonds, or another way, is yet to be seen.

  52. As long as Oakland expects a free ballpark, the city can start counting down the days until the A’s departure from Oakland. Officials there have made it clear they won’t spend general funds on the A’s, which basically means the city is not serious about keeping the team.

  53. Pjk. I believe all cities should have free stadiums. Why should the public pay for private enterprise?

  54. You may believe that way and I do too. But pro sports teams have had enough cities willing to build ballparks and stadiums for them. Why don’t baseball and football teams etc build their own facilities? Because they don’t have to. How did the Ravens move from Cleveland to Baltimore? Because Baltimore promised to build a new stadium when Cleveland would not. How did the Oilers end up in Nashville? Same reason. If Oakland refuses to build a ballpark with public funds and no one else wants to build one privately, then its bye bye A’s. Suitors will surely emerge (if San Jose can’t have the A’s) such as San Antonio, Vegas, etc.

  55. Oakland’s stance on refusing to use general funds is equivalent to my walking into a Mercedes Benz dealer and telling them, “I’m a dedicated individual, I’ve worked hard all my life. I’m owed something for my troubles. Now give me the keys to one of these babies and I’ll be on my way.”

  56. @David “…before Victory Court became Oakland’s location of choice…along with its multi-public transportation choices besting those of SJ’s sight. Caltrain troubles, anyone??”

    Sorry, VTA/Caltrain/ACE/Amtrak/BART/High Speed Rail beats BART/Amtrak. As for Caltrain, it’s a popular service and I fully expect its problems will ultimately be solved. Even if there are service cuts in the short term, by the time a ballpark is built the economy should be better and service restored.

    “Wolff talked about a baseball “village”, yet he acts clueless that the built-up Jack London District and approved Oak 2 9th developments are within walking distance of the ballpark.”

    The main point of the ballpark village was as a financing mechanism for the ballpark. Mr. Wolff is well aware that VC would allow amenities within walking distance.

    “Along with the other good things about VC’s location, Wolff’s evasive response makes it _seem_ clear that he hasn’t looked at or studied a single rendering of VC– perhaps under the impression that its out on the Army Base.”

    C’mon, seriously? You think Wolff thinks VC is at the Army Base? This is his business, he knows exactly where it is.

    The problem with VC isn’t the site itself; the site is fine, considered in a vacuum. The problem are the practical considerations which guarantee a ballpark will never be built there, namely:

    – The fact it has many long entrenched businesses which would need to be moved, which will certainly be more time consuming and expensive than projected (the same problem which killed Coliseum North).
    – The fact the City of Oakland has other pressing problems and no money to buy land or relocate businesses
    – Most importantly, the fundamental problem that the site sits in an area which has no corporate base and is only eight miles away from the Giants, guaranteeing that it would not generate enough revenue to pay off the note on a ballpark.

    The last problem is not solvable. Wolff doesn’t need to spend a lot of time talking to Quan to understand VC is not a viable site for a ballpark. It’s the same reason he wouldn’t need to spend a lot of time talking to the mayor of Merced to understand why that would be a bad location for an MLB ballpark.

  57. Did David really imply that VC had better transit connectivity than Diridon South?
    Please tell us you’re joking David. If not, WOW!

  58. I really have to wonder if/when the A’s announce their departure from the Bay Area, the pro-Oakland crowd will take solace in San Jose not getting the team. Obviously, Neukom knows San Jose is a far far better place for the A’s than Oakland.

  59. My car is parked at Diridon right now. Even without BART, the station has CalTrain, Ace trains, Amtrak, VTA Light Rail, buses, taxis and probably a few services I don’t even know about. All within a few yards of the ballpark site.

  60. @pjk — Didn’t Lew say he and Fisher weren’t interested in owning a team outside of the bay area? Voctory Court area has BART, Amtrak, golden gate ferry, buses and gondola service from Lake Merritt.

  61. Victory Court also has 16 businesses that have to be moved and requires some heavy-duty infrastructure improvements, no? Who will pay for this? Oakland, which has laid off dozens of police officers and has a police chief that sees the hopelessness of the situation? Maybe the bankrupt federal or state governments can pay for this? Or are we still holding out for some benevolent billionaire to come to the rescue and run the franchise as a money-losing charity?

  62. Diridon will also have BART and two high-speed rail line (mainline LA-SF and Altamont). Did you really say gondolas David!?

  63. @TonyD–Bart near VC trumps anything near Diridon at this moment, and that’s why VC is still in the hunt. It may be 10 years minimum before Bart comes to DT SJ.
    @David–a gondola ride to the ballgame would be he coolest!

  64. VC is still in the hunt because MLB stupidly locked itself out of Silicon Valley and is stuck in the less-prosperous East Bay. Only an artificial constraint keeps Oakland in the game, but the lack of available public $$, corporate $$, etc seems sure to do Oakland in as a MLB city in the not-too-distant future. If Oakland can get it done, I’ll buy tix to the first game. But I’m not holding my breath…

  65. “If the Giants still persist the City of San Jose will sue MLB and kill their wrongfully awarded AE that was given to them in the 1920s….Bartleby being a lawyer can attest that MLB would lose painfully in court in that scenario…….”
    .
    I’d love to get bartleby’s take on SJ suing MLB. I personally feel that this is a bunch of BS. Having a baseball team is not a right, in Oakland or SJ or LA or New York.

  66. I like the idea of SJ suing MLB, but can the courts really force MLB to make sound business decisions instead of stupid ones, like locking itself out of lucrative Silicon Valley in favor of the economically struggling East Bay? If MLB wants to turn down all that Cisco and other high-tech $$ because it’s terrified of the Giants, can the courts do anything about that?

  67. Look at the NFL, NHL, and NBA….They have all lost numerous times trying to get an Anti-Trust Exemption from the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court ruled in the 1920s that baseball was a game and not 30 separate businesses. Since then the Supreme Court has ruled in all cases by the major sports teams outside of MLB that in fact they are 30 “separate” businesses and not a “game”.

    If the City of San Jose sues MLB challenging their AE, San Jose can easily use all the precedents in the past where the other pro leagues have failed. Most notably the American Needle case vs. NFL just last year.

    The NFL argues they are a unified league while the Supreme Court ruled otherwise that each team is its own business owned by an individual. If the NFL/NBA/NHL franchises were owned by the league itself in that case they are a “single entity” but we all know that is not true.

    The Supreme Court has overturned previous decisions numerous times that were made at a different point in time. The 1920s were a long time ago and MLB has been fortunate that no one has challenged their AE to this point.

    Selig is on a slippery slope right now and San Jose will sue as the lawsuit itself would be worth it because of all the tax dollars at stake not only from the ballpark itself but also all the new ancillary development that would occur around it….The lawsuit would be an “investment” in itself for greater tax revenues down the line essentially.

    If MLB says no to San Jose this will go the Supreme Court next year and I truly believe “it is only a matter of time” before the A’s move to San Jose either by MLB blessing it or by a Supreme Court ruling.

    • @Sid – In what world does San Jose have enough in its sagging budget to cover a multimillion dollar ongoing lawsuit, one that would somehow make it all the way to the Supreme Court in only a year? Not this one, that’s for sure.

  68. sid the notion of SJ suing MLB is as silly as Oak or SF suing. No city is “entitled” to have this team. its all business. It is in LW’s business interest to move to SJ. thats it. sometimes its doesnt work out.

  69. I like the segment of the interview where Tittle asks about the status of the KTRB acquisition. There’s a real complex dynamic going on there. BTW, I’m gonna sue if anyone brings up suing again.

  70. It’s true no city is “entitled” to an MLB team. However, it must be remembered that the A’s WANT to move to San Jose. There’s a huge difference between trying to force a private business to stay in a city against its will and simply welcoming its relocation. What MLB, the Giants and SF are doing is restraint of trade, and if it were not for the antitrust exemption the A’s and San Jose would have very strong claims (which could result in treble damages).

    Unfortunately, the AE does exist. And although it originated in a (poorly reasoned) Supreme Court decision which is inconsistent with other precedent and might not hold up against challenge, it has since been implicitly endorsed by Congress. At this point, it is probable that Congressional action would be needed to get rid of it.

    Even if the Supreme Court could do it on its own, getting there takes time and persuading the Court to overturn its own prior precedent is always a gamble, at best. So I agree with ML that for practical reasons this seems an unlikely path for San Jose or the A’s to take.

    However, it should still be remembered that what the Giants/MLB are doing is generally disfavored under U.S. law, and a Court is likely to take a dim view of their side of things should other, ancillary disputes end up in court.

  71. Fellas please, the Sun is bright and hot, not dark and cold! So let’s stop with this nonsense that VC has better transit connectivity than Diridon South, present and future.
    By the way, all THIS is about the future of the A’s right. Diridon South, with HSR and BART, will be ALL about the future in mind.
    Re lawsuits, won’t be necessary because this thing will be settled the right way…MLB’s WAY!

  72. @Bartleby: while I respect your opinions and feedback, I you that you took my Army Base mention too literally; it was intended as exaggeration by the nature of Wolff’s responses; that, in the sense that there is no public transportation heading there except maybe an AC Transit bus line at best, sometime in this decade. Speaking of p.t., I was talking about such that will be available for either city’s proposed sight by 2014 or 2015 when the park should be done in either city…not 2018 and later. It will take at least until ’18 for BART to reach that part of SJ, and HSR seems to be getting delayed further every year. As for the other ones you mentioned, SJ has more ground rail lines, true, although that is a slow, expensive, and sometimes unreliable way to get travel; I will add that much. Victory Court/Jack London station has Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin and the less-frequent Pacific Coast Starlight (LA to Seattle). There is no ferry service to SJ, and we will have to hope that Jack London still does by then, as it does now. Both have reliable bus service. Victory Court’s main attraction, once the 12th St. project is fixed, will likely be a waterway transportation from the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Merritt. Providing such shouldn’t be expensive, and the new channel from the Lake to the Estuary will have Victory Court (park) as the “crossroads”.
    So, I am not trying to argue with you, yet find that not having BART for at least 7 more years, puts SJ at a bit of a disadvantage. So many cities are on the BART lines, where A’s fans could or would come from, to Oakland or SJ for a ballgame, leads me to my opinion on that.

  73. pjk, you may eventually be correct with alot of what you say. However, I see it differently for Oakland’s chances for the better, as long as we don’t hear anything from MLB. If they recommend SJ, so be it. However, if Oakland had no chance because of lack of effort, MLB would have told them not to bother try. Better late than never, regarding the EIR, and what may still follow. Let’s just see how it plays out, before ruling one city out completely, shall we? SJ’s budget problems are getting so bad so quickly, that if they do get the nod, are they truely in a position to benefit and fix their budget mess at the same time?

  74. If Oakland doesn’t want to spend any money and no one else does either, then Oakland’s chances are zilch. I believe Oakland is getting to do the EIR just to confirm what everyone already knows – a new, privately funded ballpark in Oakland is never going to happen and Oakland is unwilling to spend big public dollars on the project.

    San Jose’s budget problems don’t really mean much. Most of the ballpark site is acquired, Wolff can buy the rest and build the ballpark, having already lined up big backers like Cisco Systems. Done deal.

  75. If Oakland is unwilling (which I have not read anywhere yet since Dellums took office) why are Quan, Boxer and co. so determined to make it happen? The only money Oakland has mentioned not wanting to use is the money that is used in the general fund: public safety, parks, rec, and other things that make the city function aside from a baseball stadium. I am not saying that redevelopment alone will get the job done without enough of it of course; more needs to come from somewhere and fast. The A’s already own the land without a vote necessary, while SJ still has to…and so far hasn’t [voted]. Negotiating with the business owners will be a challenge, but not impossible.

  76. Oakland is doing wheels-spinning, waiting in vain for some Knight in Shining Armor to spend $1 billion on the A’s. But if Oakland is unwilling to spend general funds, and no private interests are willing to take on the project, I am at a loss as to how the ballpark gets built in Oakland. Kind of a like a guy working at McDonald’s putting up eloquent arguments about how his $8.50 an hour salary really is enough to make the monthly payments on a $500,000 house.

  77. @pjk – how many times can you write the same thing? The analogy at the end is “new”.

  78. How many times do pro-Oakland backers need it explained to them that Oakland is not a viable place for a new ballpark, unless the city is willing to spend BigTIme $$, which it won’t? Oakland supporters ought to just get behind the San Jose effort instead of refusing to acknowledge the realities of the situation.

  79. ML and all– sorry, I meant that _Oakland_ owns the land…didn’t catch the typo. it was mentioned several months ago that the city owns the land that Victory Court itself, and the potential park would be built. Unless that was reported incorrectly (do let me know if so), that is why no vote is necessary. I am waiting to see when SJ finally has their vote, but have heard nothing about that yet.
    PJK– we definitely have different views of Oakland’s chances, although I won’t be surprised if they don’t get the nod from MLB. Other cities do not tap into their general funds as well, so Oakland isn’t alone there. Until Oakland is in a position of generate more tax revenue, which is happening too slowly, I don’t see them using the general fund towards the stadium.

  80. Also, PJK, despite my last post, I still feel that “getting behind a SJ effort” is premature. The SJ budget, as I have mentioned before, is the craps right now with lots of layoffs going on, or very soon. Victory court is a viable place for a ballpark if it can be made to work. The effort and compromise needs to be there, and Oakland should have acted faster by the EIR, but progress is going on. I am not saying that it is good progress, but none the less.

  81. @DavidL — The city of Oakland would have to buy out the existing businesses. They don’t own all that land.

  82. @David: thanks for clarifying; it wasn’t reported too well long before the talk before the business talk came up in more detail.

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