Brian Clark, the former Virgin America exec who is seeking to bring a North American League franchise to San Rafael, is about to embark on a quest to bring a franchise to Dublin. According to the CoCo Times’ Robert Jordan, Clark is working at adding four NAL franchises to the Bay Area, though he hasn’t identified the other two cities.
Independent leagues tend to be more volatile than affiliated minor leagues under the MLB umbrella. However, going Clark’s route may be the only way to sidestep the effect of territorial rights on the Bay Area. As Chris Lee found out in his efforts in Windsor, nothing is happening in the North Bay without the Giants’ approval – even if Lee were interested in a franchise not affiliated with the Giants (which he is).
One effect of this movement is that if Clark got four franchises going in the Bay Area, the appetite for minor league baseball could be somewhat depressed due to a similar product at a similar price point being in place. By this I don’t mean the Giants, per se, I mean the appetite for moving the Giants to another community if the cost is too high or if someone like Lee wanted to bring in a second Cal League team. I think the Bay Area’s small enough that pro baseball as a whole could be oversaturated in the Bay Area. Obviously we have no data to prove this given the historically low number of minor league and independent league franchises in the Bay Area, but it’s something to think about. For many games on the schedule, NAL teams could compete with the A’s on price alone. And really, if the quality of the product matters less than the family experience, the A’s might have to look over their shoulder.
If Clark were to try to find a place for a franchise on the Peninsula, it could get even more interesting. The biggest hindrance there is the lack of available land. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, and if they can pull it off, more baseball is better than less. The Giants are too much of a premium product to be materially affected, but there is room on the Peninsula for a value-oriented product. I’m all for it, Mr. Clark. Let’s see what you can come up with.
Brian Clark seems to be operating under the premis that Oakland A’s will either move to San Jose or leave Northern California altogether. If either case the two under tapped markets would be the North Bay and the San Ramon Valley.
“The key is marketing,” said Bruha, who has stepped away from the Colts’ daily operations and is an investor. “In the minor leagues, you have to have giveaways and a gimmick every night.”
Successful marketing is the key to any sports business. An example of successful marketing is what Andy Dolich did for the Oakland A’s in the 1980s. On the other hand, examples of unsuccessful marketing is what Charlie O’Finley did for the Oakland A’s in the 1970s.
We had the Solano Steelheads here in Vacaville for several years. Lots of good times with my kids at the yard.
With four teams in the area, I could see some advantages. Travel times and cost would be less when you’re playing a series against the other three teams. The Away team’s fans would have an easier time going to those games. Less ‘not sleeping in my own bed’ type stresses for the players. I think the best coverage would be to put one team in each of the Bay’s four corners, but I could also see an avoidance of the San Jose Giants and a team placed in Santa Rosa (or Windsor, though both are less central) or two in the East Bay (Fremont? Antioch? Walnut Creek?).
I would think that they’d want to have a presence in San Jose to get some of the corporate dollars, but having the similarly priced Giants in the area would be huge competition. Also, one thing I noticed on Saturday was that there is only ONE tech company represented in the outfield sponsorship. That one company is Adobe, who has a giant sign above the wall that shows the speed gun numbers. I was kinda surprised that there wasn’t at least a few more, but perhaps there really is a different kind of fan who goes to the minor league games. Some of that money could be going to the Sharks instead, but you’d think that at least some of that would spill over to a sport played on the opposite end of the calendar and with more home games, even if it is less eyeballs overall.
If they’re adding 4 it does seem they’re under the impression the A’s will be leaving the Bay Area in the near future. Otherwise I’m not sure how much success they expect to have. I mean the only time the GBL/NAL have gone up against a city with an MLB team (San Diego) they ended up having to fold the independent team after a few years. And the Bay Area which at least for now already has 2 MLB teams and an affiliated MiLB team seems to have at least twice the problems that the Surf Dawgs did in San Diego.
I think the whole assumption that they’re assuming the A’s are leaving is premature. Think of it from this angle: If the A’s get a new stadium, prices are going to increase. What better way to take advantage than to have a cheaper alternative? Perhaps the location of the last two franchises would be determined after the A’s situation is determined. Certain market potentials would change whether the stadium was in Oakland or SJ.
It’s extremely premature to think that Clark or anyone else is basing their decision on the A’s fate. Can’t worry about that. A decision on the A’s moving out of state probably won’t be made until 2015 or the end of the next CBA. Will NAL even be around then?
The thought of the A’s leaving the Bay Area is not only premature. Quite frankly its also pretty stupid!
Yeah, let’s uproot an entire franchise, even with a an excellent option existing in San Jose, because an already wealthy franchise (which grows richer by the day) cries about a move over 40 miles away. Like I said, STUPID!
The “little” Giants play in front of roughly 4k spectators. What about NAL franchises? Can’t be more than 4k.
Bottom line is that this proposal doesn’t mean squat in terms of the Big League A’s or Giants for that matter.
Come again? A decision on the A’s leaving the state probably won’t be made until after 2015? Huhh!?
You’re joking, right? By 2015 the A’s should be playing at Cisco Field SJ. Why even consider relocation after that?
(the Giants would luv yah for that comment).
Hopefully by 2015, with a new ownership group intact, the VC site problems will be worked out and hopefully more than shovel ready. Meaning opening day at Pandora Field at Victory Ct. is 2017/18, celebrating the A’s 50 years in Oakland, with the all-star game that year to boot!
@jk-usa – Pandora? Really? Pandora does not have the money now – or in 2015 – to do a naming rights deal, especially with competitors like Spotify on its heels. Chances are good that they’ll be acquired by someone else within the next decade. Kudos to the founders for cashing in when they could.
Not sure where they’d think in the Bay Area they could put the “last two” franchises. Peninsula likely would be useless due to it being too close to SF. South Bay would be suicide with the SJ Giants already taking up that niche. East bay proper was already tried and died on the vine in Newark by the NAL’s predecessor GBL. And they’ve already got the outer east bay and north bay covered by the two announced teams. Perhaps they define Bay Area broader by including places like Salinas and Santa Cruz?
@ML–i know Pandora is a small company and probably doesnt’ have the cash for naming rights, even though they just raised a lot from their IPO, but they sure love being in Oakland, unlike Wolff who wants out ASAP. Chevron, Safeway, maybe Clorox, makes the most sense for naming rights.
Good article on Oakland’s “new economy” in today’s Oak Trib:
–One of the most enthusiastic boosters of Oakland is Joe Kennedy, chief executive officer of Pandora Media, the Internet radio service that just launched a successful initial public offering.
“We are huge supporters of Oakland,” he said. “Our employees love working here. We can’t imagine a better place to be.”—
I think it’s great that Pandora loves being in Oakland…Just like Cisco, EBay, Abobe, Brocade, Wolff etc etc love being in San Jose!
Why does every conversation have to be muddled with comments about how Wolff wants out of Oakland?
@LS–well he does, doesn’t he?
Yes, yes he does. I don’t think anyone is disputing that. However, you still try to sneak it into EVERY conversation. It’s a tired, old shtick.
What Wolff wants is a new ballpark for his franchise and in a position to make real money, real revenue for said franchise/MLB.
That’s all I’ll say about that.
jk, yes he does. Why do you have to point it out in every post? Particularly ones like this that have NOTHING to do with the A’s moving.
Back to the topic at hand. WTF would possess the NAL to think they could put 1to say nothing of 4 franchises in a region already heavily saturated with MLB and MiLB baseball? And where would they expect to put any additional teams beyond where they’ve already indicated in San Rafael and Dublin?
I’d venture to guess they would be looking at places like Concord, maybe further south like Morgan Hill/Gilroy, or north like Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Napa, Fairfield etc.