Howard Bryant strikes again

Much thanks to Howard Bryant for continuing to publicize the A’s plight. Now he has included Victory Court and the Rays in the situation, pointing the finger at the commissioner and the owners for their collective indecisiveness and greed, respectively. He sums up the state of affairs between Oakland and Lew Wolff this way:

A’s fans will nod, too. Despite Wolff’s protestations that he is not purposely burying his club, the A’s appear to be following the Montreal narrative. Wolff is correct that Oakland has lacked the political leadership to give him optimism — with the brief exception of city manager Robert Bobb. No mayor, from Elihu Harris to Jerry Brown to Ron Dellums to Jean Quan, has used significant muscle to make the A’s a priority.

Wolff has no reason to trust Oakland politicians, not after the city and Alameda County leadership all but ruined the fan experience at the Oakland Coliseum to accommodate the disastrous return of the Oakland Raiders.

But there is another truth Wolff must face: Oakland doesn’t have much reason to trust him, either. Since Walter Haas sold the team in 1995, A’s owners have done everything in their power to leave Oakland, physically and emotionally.

The commissioner’s office, too, is complicit in the sabotaging of Oakland. Bud Selig rightfully lauds his three-person committee assigned to the daunting and thankless task of assessing the feasibility of baseball in the San Francisco Bay Area. But although he interprets the length of time the committee has taken to reach a finding — two years and counting since March 2009 — as evidence of its diligence, Selig is selling a false timetable, for he has actually had the A’s-San Jose relocation question on his desk for 14 years.

Bryant finishes his column by citing the possibility that Wolff could own the Dodgers and a fresh ownership group could come in to hammer out a deal with Oakland. If that doesn’t work out, the stage is set for the A’s to leave the Bay Area completely. That’s what scares me. Because Oakland doesn’t have a great track record of doing things like this well or properly, or as I’ve noted previously, alone. Unless there’s a Coliseum deal (which MLB has already discounted), Oakland isn’t getting help from the county or state. I want to believe that Oakland can pull it off. But if the scenario Bryant describes happens with the A’s being “Oakland or bust”, people (including the owners) are generally not going to lay money on Oakland. We are talking about $400 million for the team and $450+ million in private financing for a ballpark, plus $100 million directly from the city to get the site and infrastructure ready. If it is Oakland only, I’ll get behind it 100% – as should most readers here and anyone else who is for keeping the A’s in the Bay Area.

From a practical standpoint, A’s fans need to have as many options for the A’s ballpark location as possible, especially with the coming demise of redevelopment (which East Coast-based Bryant hasn’t mentioned in his columns). If we are stuck with only one option, heaven help us.

P.S. – One thing to look for in the upcoming CBA – franchise relocation fees. They aren’t in there right now, and with two teams possibly coming into play, could allow the owners to get their greed on once again.

45 thoughts on “Howard Bryant strikes again

  1. …after reading this article, I’m more inclined to feel San Jose ought to go ahead and file a lawsuit. Make Major League Baseball either allow the A’s to come to San Jose or compensate the city big time for blocking it. …

  2. LW/JF buys the Dodgers, put the A’s up for sale to a local group, sounds all good to me.
    BTW1, –Oakland did a great job back in 1980 holding Finley to his lease when he was ready to sell to Denver’s Marvin Davis, and ultimately sold locally to the Haas family.
    BTW2–1999, the city also put the more than qualified group lead by Piccinini/Dolich/Zimmer, but ultimately was shot down by the Lodge. The same Lodge approved the Dodgers sale to McCourt. WTF?
    I think the city can fine a qualified group to buy the A’s yet again. Have to have pretty deep pockets of course for the sale and of course a new ballpark. The interest and the money is out there I beleive.

  3. @jk-usa – It’s easy to uphold a lease. Just point to the language and feign a lawsuit.

    I’d prefer not put the A’s fate on a bet whether Oakland can get it done.

  4. @jk – it looks like your are looking for private financing of the land and stadium for VC (or an other Oakland alternatives)? No public subsidies. Is that a correct statement?

    “Have to have pretty deep pockets of course for the sale and of course a new ballpark.”

  5. @ML– just saw a thing on ESPN on Mark Cuban interested in the Dodgers ( link below). Wish he was interested in the A’s. . This guy is beyond awesome, and even offered to pay for the Mavericks parade.
    Wolff didn’t even know where to hold a parade in Oakland back in 2006 if the A’s won the WS.(Has he even been on Broadway?) He wouldn’t dare pay for a parade, especially for a city he’s ashamed to play in. A San Jose WS parade he’d pay for it in a heartbeat if Chuck tells him “the city’s broke, and I need your help again, Lew.”

  6. @jk-usa – I hope that other Oakland supporters aren’t as fixated on fantasy-not-gonna-happen owners and ridiculous trivialities such as parade routes as you seem to be. There are bigger issues at stake.

  7. didn’t mlb tell sj not to hold fall election last year and that they’d pay for a special spring election this year?

    yeah, that tells you all about mlb right now about playing with the emotions of the city and fans who’ve waited patiently for two plus years for two years. gutless bastards.

  8. @ jk – thanks for reaffirming my notion that you favor only private support for an Oakland stadium. It’s no wonder you are so jealous of SJ: support from from the city government, corporate SVLG backing, and LW hinting at acquiring parcels of land for Diridon if necessary. That’s a trifecta that Oakland wishes it had…but that’s even asking too much when you don’t have an EIR in place.

  9. @ML–trivial to you, but I’m just pointing out good ownership (Cuban) and not so good ownership (the A’s), and that means a lot in the big scheme of things.
    @Anon–sorry to say, but SJ’s Trifecta’s not going to pay off. It’s not looking too good right now for them..

    • @jk-usa – Just so we’re clear on this: Cuban invested a ton of money in the Mavs and stayed in because he made tons of money on top of that. Wally Haas invested a ton of money in the A’s and bailed out because he lost a ton in the process. The fact that one team was in Dallas and the other in Oakland probably had something to do with that.

  10. @jk – I guess you’d have to consider Neukom and the Giants ownership group as being pretty crappy too. I don’t think they paid for their WS parade.
    You make it seem like Oakland would have no problem finding new owners for the A’s. You have to remember times have changed. The Giants fan base has grown over the last 12 years, and they no longer play at Candlestick. Even with a new ballpark, any new ownership group would have to determine whether they could be financially competitive with the Giants. Given the lack of a sizable fan base, and the lack of a corporate presence, my guess is that finding new owners willing to plunk down $800m – $900m would be harder than you think.

  11. I honestly believe it when Wolff says he doesn’t want to own the Dodgers. After all, that’s not where the big payoff is. Say the Dodgers are sold to Wolff for $600M, then he stays as owner and the Dodgers are sold by him for $750M. That’s a $150M profit for him plus the $180M or so he would profit from selling the A’s.

    Selling the A’s with a stadium that he owns coupled with the rise in franchise value irrespective of stadium would yield more like $450M net assuming a new group assumes some but not all stadium debt.

  12. The Bryant article has me feeling the end is near for American League baseball in the Bay Area. Selig and the other owners are prepared to leave millions on the table rather than let the A’s go to San Jose, as dumb as that is. And nothing is ever going to get done in Oakland. So where does that leave us?

  13. @pjk – Sadly, I got that feeling too.
    One has to wonder where all of this stadium talk would have been if Perata had won the election.

  14. I don’t see anything in there that suggests he knows anything about the internal dynamics and San Jose.

  15. If franchise relocation fees were a part of the new CBA and the A’s moved to SJ, would they be required to pay? I would think no.

    • @gojohn10 – It all depends on how the territories are (re)drawn in the next CBA.

      @bc – Bryant’s first column covered San Jose. This one should address those who felt Oakland wasn’t covered enough then.

      @tony d. – It’s all opinion and as such should be taken with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, it’s plausible if not altogether likely.

  16. Its amazing what one man’s opinion has done to some on here. Just the slightest mention of Wolff “possibly” owning the Dodgers (even after he said he wouldn’t) has you running for the hills (LOL).
    Overall the opinion of Bryant is good, but again its just that…an opinion. And how exactly are things not looking good for San Jose? Land acquisitions nearly complete, financing in place, corporate support at the ready, etc.

  17. @BC,
    You hit the nail on the head. My thoughts exactly.

  18. …if Oakland’s ballpark plan is that some magical, philanthropic billionaire magically appears to give a new ballpark to the city, that certainly is no plan at all….I hope the players union during the next negotiations brings up how the owners obviously have too much money, since they are turning aside all that Silicon Valley cash that’s theirs for the taking…

  19. Wolff to the Dodgers seems far-fetched for at least two reasons:
    (1) the Dodgers are a total mess, with parking lots, TV rights, all future ticket revenues and other assets carved up and now owned by legally separate companies and given to banks as collateral to secure Frank and Jamie McCourt’s enormous personal debts. Even if MLB takes control of the team itself from these disgusting crooks, the legal wrangling to get all the assets back together where they can be sold to a new owner is likely to take years rather than months.
    (2) Wolff is a real estate guy, and I think his fundamental interest in the A’s is simply to build the ballpark in San Jose. If and when that’s done, he’s likely to move out of the picture with a massive return on his original investment. The Dodgers don’t offer that kind of opportunity, short of a really grandiose and unlikely plan to replace Dodger Stadium and build new baseball and football stadiums simultaneously. So I think it’s San Jose or bust for Wolff. If he doesn’t get the go-ahead for San Jose from the Commissioner, he’ll eventually cut his losses and just sell the team.

  20. Wolff may say that he’s not interested in the Dodgers, but if his frat bro BS says “Hey Lewie, I need your help with the Dodgers, just take em off our hands, you’ll make out in the long run, I guarantee it, and save on commuting costs to the bay area since you live in LA anyways,” he couldn’t resist.

  21. re: Wolff may say that he’s not interested in the Dodgers, but if his frat bro BS says “Hey Lewie, I need your help with the Dodgers, just take em off our hands, you’ll make out in the long run, I

    …so Wolff takes the Dodgers, and the A’s are put for sale. Buyers then emerge to move the team outside the Bay Area. People ought to be careful what they wish for. Wolff wants to keep the A’s in the Bay Area. Highly unlikely another buyer emerges who wants to do the same without massive public assistance (which won’t happen in either San Jose or Oakland)

  22. @pjk–we shall see. In the meantime “Go A’s”. Game starts in an hour.

  23. …putting the team up for sale and hoping some saint appears to give Oakland a new ballpark is not a gamble we should want to take.

  24. Oakland has to pick its poison and that has been the Raiders and always will be.

    The Giants would negotiate San Jose if an Oakland stadium was feasible as far more season ticket holders come from the East Bay than the South Bay. It would ruin the Giants far more to have an Oakland ballpark built than one in San Jose.

    In the end 2 things are going to happen

    1. A’s are sold and moved out of the Bay Area. Selig has already known for 14 years Oakland is not feasible since Oakland and the County reneged on a deal to renovate the Coliseum for baseball only. The 16M won in court by the A’s after killed all future ballpark deals with both entities.

    2. San Jose sues the living hell out of MLB like Vincent Piazza did and takes Selig to the cleaners much like Frank McCourt is about to. That Anti-Trust exemption will go down in flames by the California Supreme Court much like Florida ruled in Piazza’s case.

    Option 2 is the only way the A’s are getting to San Jose. Selig needs to be put in his place and if he will not help out an old “frat buddy” to move 35 miles south then who else will he help?

    The end is near as if 2012 comes around with no resolution Wolff is going to sell or San Jose is going sue….For all Bay Area A’s fans pray San Jose sues….Otherwise the team is gone.

  25. RM,
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but “altogether likely,” are you suggesting that Wolff indeed will be forced to pursue the Dodgers and MLB will declare for the A’s “Oakland or bust”?
    I don’t disagree with you often RM, but if this is the case than respectfully disagree.
    Again, the whole Dodgers thing and “Oakland-only” theory suggests that MLB favors the already wealthy Giants over the revenue sharing A’s in the Bay, and that is 100% incorrect (fact, not opinion).
    The financial stability, health of ALL MLB, not just the SF Giants (fact, not opinion).

    • @tony d. – I wrote “plausible if not altogether likely.” No, Wolff will not be forced to buy the Dodgers. He may decide it’s a bad idea, or that Selig has screwed around with him long enough. There’s always choice in matters of spending up to $1 billion.

  26. this is the pro-Oakland part of the series? Its a good piece, put hardly pro-Oakland. Personally, I don’t want to be spoon-fed propaganda. I prefer facts.
    “No mayor, from Elihu Harris to Jerry Brown to Ron Dellums to Jean Quan, has used significant muscle to make the A’s a priority.”
    Its hard to “muscle” a plan when Wolff tells you: “…don’t break your pick on this one…”, as he instructed Dellums. Trying to “buy” Perata, didn’t help the trust between the parties. But that is water under the bridge and I hope someone picks up the phone.

  27. David: What about Jerry Brown firing Robert Bobb for suggesting a new ballpark? What about canceling the baseball-only improvements in favor of Mount Davis? All this happened long before Wolff showed up on the scene. Exactly what is it about Oakland that makes all the A’s owners want to leave, dating back to the 1970s? If it’s such a great market for Major League Baseball, why do all the owners give up on the place?

  28. @pjk – I’m not playing the blame game. I want a stadium in Oakland. Jerry Brown was a great disappointment to me, on many, many, levels. I didn’t vote for him as Mayor or Governor.

  29. …I’d like a stadium in Oakland, too. But given current economic conditions and the inability of either San Jose or Oakland to help pay for a new stadium, then San Jose becomes our best bet for keeping the A’s in the Bay Area.

  30. Thanks for correcting me RM. Adding to the aforementioned, the Dodgers/Oakland-only theory also suggests that Selig favors one of his junior owners over a long-time friend and someone he personally invited into “The Lodge.”
    Dodgers, “Oakland or bust” aint happening fellas!

  31. @ML/RM–Wolff won’t be forced to buy the Dodgers but will do it in the best interest of baseball if BS asks him to. He wouldn’t have the team if it wasn’t for his buddy BS. He will go along with the deal. A storied franchise like the Dodgers in the 2nd biggest market in the US is a no-brainer, no matter how messy the sorting out will be. Jeez, I can’t wait. I’ll help him move. Oh, wait, he already lives there.

  32. the a’s (as in a daze) are stuck in a one franchise sized market.
    the gi-ants own it and call the shots about it with mlb, wolfe is an afterthought.
    the typical oakland politician doesn’t want to give corporate welfare to a professional sports franchise because that would cost them their jobs at election time.
    face it – for mlb the bay area ain’t big enough for two franchises, which leaves wolfe & co. stuck because there isn’t another mlb sized (population/corporate & tv $$$’s) sized market left to use as leverage to get their mallpark.
    as stewart symington said when charlie o. moved the franchise in ’67 – “oakland is the luckiest city since hiroshima…”

  33. w – your west coast/bay area inferiority complex is showing…

  34. @jk-LW’s kids and grand kids live in the south bay and he spends most of his time up this way so he can be actively involved in the A’s and Earthquakes- while the rumor about the Dodgers is plausible it is not even remotely probable

  35. Other than adding to the air of distrust, anything that happened with any Mayor but Jean Quan is irrelevant. Firing Robert Bobb included.
    People who want to get things done don’t worry about things that irrelevant.
    Lew Wolff should call Jean Quan.
    Conversely, Jean Quan should call Lew Wolff.
    I wouldn’t expect anything new to come out of such a meeting, and if it happened I wouldn’t expect to hear that it did (so maybe it has) for political reasons, but they should both be willing to at least talk and cut through the bullshit.

  36. How about this for a conspiracy theory: Wolff gets the Dodgers, then sells Dodger Stadium and the surrounding land (which is much more suitable for football anyway) to a relocating NFL franchise, and builds a new ballpark in downtown LA?

    Meanwhile, the A’s get bought by MLB (a la the Expos), then flipped to the highest bidder, who takes them to North Carolina, Mexico or wherever?

    How does my tin-foil hat look?

    • @Ed – That’s problematic in that McCourt may only be forced to sell the team and not the ballpark or surrounding land, making the Dodgers less attractive. Same situation occurred with Tom Hicks and the Rangers. No doubt McCourt structured things this way on purpose.

  37. Had to post this because it’s just too funny. Someone actually asked the following question on the CSN A’s chat:
    Comment From SouthPaw 
    Has Lew Wolf considered giving Al Davis some money to move back to LA and leave the Coliseum to the A’s?

  38. @Jeffrey,
    Lew Wolff would call Bob Wasserman way before even thinking about calling Quan.
    Alas, I don’t think will have to visit such hypothetical (patience brah!).

  39. Wasn’t CT going to interview LW in person soon- been traveling so long lost touch as to when this is supposed to happen

  40. On what delusional grounds would San Jose be able to successfully sue Major League Baseball? There is absolutely no reason why MLB has to allow a franchise to relocate, and even less reason why any specific team that doesn’t have an MLB franchise is “entitled” to one.

  41. All A’s owners did not want to leave Oakland. Walter Haas only sold the team because of his failing health. He passed away shortly after selling the team. My mother worked for Walter Haas so I had a first hand view of what was going on. A’s fans need to support their team regardless of Wolff’s intentions. What the fans need to know is that teams play so much better when they know that the fans are supporting them. Take a look over the years of players who have left Oakland and gone on to other t eams to have successful careers. And how about players who have been successful before coming to the A’s? Mark Ellis is hammering the ball at Colorado not because he has finally found his stroke but because he is playing in front of 40,000 fans every night. Players do react positively when they know the fans care.

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