Houston, we have a problem

After a lengthy delay and a lot of questions, Jim Crane may be on his way to becoming the next owner of the Houston Astros. Word out of Houston tonight is that Crane met with his board after another meeting with MLB. It’s hard to think that any information about Crane’s bid isn’t already out there for Selig and the higher-ups to review, so this looks like a matter of prepping the transition (which McLane desperately wants). The change would have to be approved at the upcoming owners meetings, along with the CBA and perhaps the A’s territorial rights matter.

Houston realignment to the American League

A key item in that blog link is that Crane is willing to accept compensation in exchange for moving the team to the American League, where it would be part of the West division. My wild guess at this point is that the compensation would be a franchise sale price guarantee as long as Crane’s group owned the team for a significant enough tenure – say five years or so. That would provide some protection for the heavily leveraged Crane group as they “endured” the transition. I’m sure the hardship of trading the Cubs and Cards (25k per game x 15 games) for the Red Sox and Yankees (35k per game x 12 games) will make the other owners highly sympathetic.

The preliminary 2012 schedule was released a couple weeks ago (more on that later this week), and it appears that MLB wants to bake it in ASAP, which would render a 2012 realignment impractical. In theory, it should be easier to make changes to the schedule since starting next year, there will be only one team who has to share a multipurpose facility with another franchise (I’ll give you one guess as to who that is). Another thing to consider is the schedule format, which could continue in the unbalanced method MLB now employs (15-19 games in division, 6-9 outside), or move more towards a balanced format. Some examples are listed in the table below.

Comparison of existing scheduling format vs. three potential realignment formats

Option A mostly retains the spirit of the existing schedule. Option B sacrifices interleague series for more interdivision games. Option C nearly achieves a balanced format, whereas Option D again reduces interleague matchups. Key to this is the question of how many interleague games are truly necessary, especially now that the games will be played throughout the entire season. Another thing to consider is that by starting the season with an interleague series, it gives MLB an excuse to always have an opening series in Japan, Korea, etc.

Astros fans aren’t taking this threat lying down, though one has to wonder how strong the opposition truly is. As of tonight, a petition at SaveOurStros.org has 633 signees. The Keep the Astros in the National League Facebook group has only 50 members. Not that MLB cares about what a few fans think. I’d feel bad for them, but they’re going to have a very strong rivalry with the Rangers in short order, which should be great for both franchises. As for the effect on the A’s, there isn’t much of one. They’d just be trading two opponents in the AL Central/East for one in the Central time zone. No big deal.

There’s also talk of adding another wildcard team for a one-game playoff prior to the divisional series. I didn’t have strong feelings one way or another on the subject until the final day of the 2011 season, in which the action was so riveting that it would be highly anticlimactic to eliminate it by creating game 163.

What are your thoughts on this? Personally, I’m glad MLB is creating an equal amount of interleague games for every team, which IMHO is far more important from a competition standpoint than confining interleague play to May and June. It’s something that has been impossible to address because of the 16-team National League. Now it can be fixed, and baseball will be better off for it.

83 thoughts on “Houston, we have a problem

  1. “There’s also talk of adding another wildcard team for a one-game playoff prior to the divisional series.”
    I hate that idea so much. One game playoffs are totally against the type of game baseball is. It’s way too small a sample size for playoff baseball. I already kind of dislike the 5 game series.
    Also, selfishly, the Giants would kill in that format with Lincecum. I can’t take another 2010.

  2. “As for the effect on the A’s, there isn’t much of one.”

    I’m probably misunderstanding this comment, so I apologize, but I have to disagree. Barring outlier teams that can pay their way to competitiveness every year, teams basically have a 1/n chance of winning their division each year, and n is changing from 4 to 5 for the A’s. That’s NOT good for the A’s or other AL west teams, but it is more fair for the league.

    (this is based on the rough assumption that every team has ebbs and flows in talent over time)

  3. @Otter – Three out of four AL West teams had payrolls over $90 million this season. Both Texas and Seattle have shown a willingness to go well over $100 million when they’re feeling competitive. If there’s an outlier, it’s the A’s.

  4. @ML – not sure what we’re talking about now… I still think that what I commented holds true: having another team in the division decreases playoff chances for the A’s. That’s all I’m saying. If the A’s end up with a good team sometime in the future, they now have to worry about 1 more team possibly being good to compete with for the division

  5. @Otter – I get your point. It’s just selfish to want to retain the four-team division, which you pointed out. I doubt that the AL owners will vote against the change on account of that. This season the Astros played like an expansion team. That should soften the blow a little.

  6. I just realized the A’s outfielders are going to have to play on that stupid hilly area Houston has. Does anyone know if that has ever injured anybody?

  7. I can live with all of the things MLmentioned even if I don’t like them. The deal breaker for me is if they try to impliment the DH in the National League. The differences between the two leagues is one of the best and most unique things about baseball. To do away with that is to kill a part of the game to me.

  8. LOL at the petition numbers and FB members. I’m sure it will grow some by next year.
    FWIW, Lets Go Oakland is at 47,257, and Baseball San Jose has a whopping 561. They’ve grown 80 members in the last year. Must be Tony D’s extended family.There’s just really no excitement for the A’s going to SJ outside Lew Wolff, Chuck Reed and a few on here. Selig is well aware of this as his inbox is more flooded from the pro-Oakland cause than the pro-SJ cause. I know, I know, the 47k should got to games, but most of us are so disgusted in this ownership that we’ve stayed away, and can you blame us?

  9. Jk, what are those 47 k’s excuse when Lew Wolff wasn’t owner?

  10. @jeffrey–please no more attendance comparisons, we’ve done this to death. No need to remind me of the only 7 times they’ve been above the median and they’ve been to the playoffs 15 times. But those 7 times were all under the Haas ownership. Bazinga!!!

  11. I did a little number crunching in dan’s AN post on this…

    The MLB season is between 178-183 days. So, if you ran an inter league series year round, you’d need a minimum of 180 inter league games. This works out to exactly 12 inter league games per team.

    Currently, all teams play somewhere between 12 and 18 inter league games. League wide, there is a total of exactly 252 inter league games every year. If the league wanted exactly 18 inter league games per team, it would 270 total inter league games. This would mean that occasionally there would be three inter league series going simultaneously, instead of always having one.

    The appeal of 18 games is that it would be a three-game series against every team in one division, plus a three game series against your geographic rival every year. In years where the A’s play the entire NL West, they play the Giants six times (home and home); in years where the A’s play one of the other two divisions they only play the Giants three times.

    Anyway, I’m really enthusiastic about it. I

  12. I think my favorite of ML’s schedule mockups is 2013 ‘A’, because it accomplishes all of my schedule objectives:

    1. Preserves the 18 game inter league slate, which means that all teams play each other within a three year time period, and all teams visit every inter league park within a six year time frame. Just the right amount to keep the novelty factor of an unfamiliar team visiting.

    2. slightly reduces the amount of divisional games – 18 games against a non-contending mariners team can be overkill.

    3. Prioritizes divisional play over a fully balanced schedule, which reduces travel for most teams.

  13. I love the 15/league idea, and hope that something along the lines of “option B” is implimented. However, the “Geographic Rivalry” concept should be eliminated in my opinion. Its great if the team has a natural rival ie SF/Oak, LA/LA., NY/NY…..not so much if you root for say the Braves or the Mariners, etc.

  14. Option A– How many games would the central play the east to make it balance out? I don’t see how it’s mathematically possible.

    • @bc – Good point. Not sure about that.

      Changed to 16/8/8 games, which resolves the divisional mismatch but creates a situation in which there are a high number of 2- and 4-game series.

  15. You’d figure that the dh will eventually have to be implemented in both leagues. Imagine all the hand ringing if American league pitchers are pulling side muscles or twisting something on the bases more frequently? Besides, that would mean 15 more jobs for sucky at the end of their fielding days hitters.
    Why not have as a trade off for the dh in both leagues a designated fielder too? I.E. the dh hits in the fielder’s spot.

  16. How about we leave it as is today. Or better yet put the American league back the way it was before Charlie Finley showed up and make those lazy AL pitchers hit.

  17. Plus I’d question why we’d need to implement it if we haven’t already. The number of inter-league games would be comparable to what they play today under any of the reorganization schemes and they’ve gone nearly 20 years without the DH in the NL during inter-league just fine. No AL pitchers to my knowledge have hurt themselves when playing in NL parks.

  18. @ JK – You seriously need some haterade….”LGO @ 47K members”, yet not one meaningful proposal without unicorns and planetary alignments involved? I’d take the 561 who actually do something instead of the passive, sensitive, and bitter sideline “cheerleaders” anyday. If LGO lead the American revolution, we’d still be colonies under England still. And then attacking “Tony D” on top of it? As I’ve said time and time again, you always answer with either a) an attack on LW/BS/others or b) “woe is me and my city” rant. Instead of floading emails to Selig, why don’t you guys actually message JQ and ask her about VC or DB about financing plans or the city council on public subsidies? And it’s also interesting you continue to omit that the A’s this year still outdrew Haas in his last year even in today’s antiquated Mausoleum. As I said, the more you spate the same old rhetoric, I will continue to call your BS out everytime.

    @ ML – I guess CO or AZ wont budge on going to the AL? Imagine the Rangers at Mile High every year….Wow, talk about offense! CO is a perfect team for the AL IMHO. Houston will always be an NL team to me from the old days….

  19. The DH thing, I really like David Pinto/Tango’s idea:

    Let the home team choose whether or not to use a DH.

    This completely takes away the factor of blaming MLB or Selig for a decision, or even a non-decision. Let the people on the field decide what is optimal.

    It would add an element of strategy, and I think ultimately would lead to us watching less bad pitcher at bats. If Dontrelle Willis or Micah Owings is on the bump, his manager lets him hit that day, because he has a big advantage on the opposing team’s pitcher in terms of hitting ability. And that’s cool for us as fans, to marvel at a guy who is a pitcher who can hit THAT good. But otherwise, you go with your DH. And every team would simply carry a DH, because he’d end up getting to start 140+ games.

    Maybe even some interesting brinkmanship when the Red Sox or Yankees play on the road, and the home team has a much worse DH than them comparatively, so they let pitchers hit to suppress those explosive offenses a little bit.

    The Players Union should be in favor of this. They always prioritize their older membership at the expense of their young (arbitration that suppresses salary, etc.) If 30 teams were in the market for DH’s, their market value would shoot way up.

  20. It was interesting in Dan’s thread on AN about this Astros move that a few people were howling about how unjust it would be to have both Texas teams in the AL. I don’t get it.

    Fort Worth and Houston are like 4.5 hours away. Most Texans already were only getting to see one league, anyway. Very few people would say that they lived in proximity to attend either an NL or an AL game.

    It’s not like the Bay Area, Chicago, New York, or LA/Anaheim, when they absolutely must be in separate leagues because the two teams are within an hour drive of each other and the local populace should have the variety of being able to see both leagues.

  21. @anon – there is no popular support for an A’s move to the South Bay. I suspect you 500+ pro-SJ, A’s fans are going to be sadly mistaken when the Winter Meeting comes and goes without a change to SJ.

  22. I think the six divisions, 30 teams format is rock solid for the next 15-25 years.

    The A’s will get a stadium built somewhere in the Bay Area and will remain in the AL West, and that leaves only the Rays…but regardless of what the Rays become in the next 25 years (Montreal Expos II, Monterrey, Puerto Rico, Cuba(!)*, or a new home in downtown Tampa, they are stuck in the AL East for good. No team would ever, ever agree to a move to the AL East at this point, even with an extra wild card. Undeniably it’s the hardest path to the playoffs for the foreseeable future.

    That’s part of why this Astros thing, and the potential schedule changes, and the additional playoff entrant are so interesting to me…I think they might literally be the last major structural changes that I see to MLB in my adult lifetime.

    *If the Rays can’t build in Tampa within 20 years, I think they are going international. Otherwise they would be cannibalizing some other team’s lucrative TV market. Maybe Cuba will be more liberal in 20 years, maybe Monterrey will be safer, maybe Puerto Rico will be wealthier…

  23. If the addition of 2 WC’s was in affect this season, the Braves, Cardinals,Red Sox and Rays would of all been in the playoffs as WC’s and those last 4 games that presented all that drama on the last day of the season would of been meaningless, except for maybe HF adavantage in a 1 game playoff concerning those 4 teams! Adding 2 more playoff teams is a bad idea!!

  24. @ David There is plenty of support for A’s to San Jose. The nature of human psychology is, people tend to irrationally value a small loss over a huge opportunity. For example, people will hang around a job where their career has plateaued for fear of losing a small number of stock options, rather than going out and finding a great new job. So, it’s completely predictable that passions will be more inflamed on the side where there’s a perceived loss than on the side where there will be a large gain. That’s all the Facebook numbers show.
    But there’s a lot of excitement down here already about the possibility of getting the A’s, and frankly most people don’t even realize it’s close to happening. As soon as there’s a formal announcement, you’ll really see it.
    But you go ahead and keep telling yourself it’s not going to happen because economics don’t matter.

  25. @ David – ” there is no popular support for an A’s move to the South Bay. I suspect you 500+ pro-SJ, A’s fans are going to be sadly mistaken when the Winter Meeting comes and goes without a change to SJ.“ From what data point did you make that assumption? Is it from a parade downtown (/rolleyes) or some anecdotal data derived from actual attendance demographic? WOuld you also say that there was no support for the Expos in DC as well, with Baltimore right by? But look how that turned out. And as for your last assertion, yes I would be disappointed if the A’s didn’t move south, but not for the reasons you are probably thinking of. I would be bummed out because my beloved A’s team would dwell in crappy stadium in a city that treats it as the ugly red headed step child and continual to be the Bay Area’s 2nd tiered team to the Gnats. WOuld I still support them and see games at the Coliseum, as i do every year? Absolutely…..

  26. I agree with hecanfoos, we should get rid of those Interleague geographical rivalries. That is what I think is so unfair about interleague games.There should be a rotating schedule(if we have to have them in the first place)For example…Have the Mets play the Yankees ..every 3 to 4 years like the rest of the NL does, instead of every year.I know the Mets like the added revenue,but on the other hand their schedule may be harder than a NL team that doesn’t play the Yankees every year..1 or 2 games can make a difference when teams are battling for WC births. At least rotate the schedule so it evens out over a period of time.

  27. @Anon – T-Rights will not be changed (in my opinion). I haven’t seen a shred of evidence that suggests that it will. SJ, hosting the A’s is a pipe-dream. Also, you keep lumping all the Pro-Oakland folks together. We may want the A’s to stay in Oakland, but we are different guys with different views.
    The Oakland folks are not presenting anything publicly. MLB put in a gag order. I appreciate my civic leaders for respecting that order. You guys can speculate to the cows come home, but a gag order is a gag order.

  28. San Jose has not had much enthusiasm for the A’s (although polls have shown 60-40 in favor of a privately built stadium) because SJ hasn’t had anything to get excited about yet. Right now, we’re banned from ever hosting MLB. Get those bulldozers in and watch the stands rise alongside a “Future Home of the A’s” sign and watch the excitement grow. FWIW, it doesn’t seem like there’s much enthusiasm for the A’s in the East Bay. Ranked dead-last in attendance despite numerous giveaways and the best valued tickets in major professional sports. Mostly empty seats at A’s games.

  29. re: MLB’s so-called gag order. Did that cover Wolff’s detailed conversation about the ballpark issue during one of the last games of the season? Guess not….If the T rights are not changed and Oakland will never get a new ballpark, which seems to be the case, then San Antonio, Portland, Las Vegas or some other faraway city is going to get very lucky pretty soon and host the A’s….

  30. @ David The “evidence” you seek is called “economics.” Mark my words, in the end, economics will out.
    And so far as I know, MLB’s gag order does not purport to apply to the City of Oakland, it applies to the A’s and the Giants. MLB doesn’t have any actual authority over the City of Oakland. If the VC effort were anything other than a stalling tactic or political show, excluding the ownership you depend on to make it happen would be – frankly – unbelievably stupid.

  31. Re: gag-order; There is a gag-order requested by MLB that someone in Oakland (Kaplan, Quan, don’t remember who) made it clear sometime at the beginning of 2011. I can’t find it right now but I believe it said something like “We have been requested to not talk to the media about our discussions and we are respecting MLB’s request.” As far as Wolff’s open comments about the stadium I can’t speak to that other than to ask didn’t the SJ mayor go against BS by attempting to push through a vote and BS was very upset? Is it possible LW received a gag-order but is not sticking to it 100%? I don’t know. I am pro-Oakland but I don’t think there is enough factual evidence at this point to make a determination either way. In other words, I can’t say for certain T-Rights will or will not be overturned because there is too much unknown information. Pro-SJ can say that their economic logic will win out in the end and that’s fine. I’m unwilling, however, to submit to that unless we know all of the facts, which we don’t at the present time. That is, of course, assuming someone in the pro-SJ camp doesn’t have inside info from the top and is not revealing it. That would be a game-changer and might explain the overwhelming confidence. Note I’m not accusing anyone of this I’m just saying that inside info would be a wildcard that the rest of us, especially the pro-Oakland crowd, would clearly be at a disadvantage. Kind of like stock inside info, i.e. those in the know keep the info close to the vest and profits while everyone else loses money.

  32. @Columbo – thanks for that reminder. I hope our resident Attorney will stop using words like “stupid”.

  33. My guess for the other multi purpose stadium team is the Blue Jays.

    What do i win?

    • @Ed – Nothing. Here’s why:

      A few years ago I was doing some business in Calgary. One of my contacts was also a high school football coach. He invited me to a game. Out of curiosity I asked him if his team played American or Canadian football. He laughed and said, “American, of course.”

  34. @David – No problem. I wish I would have saved that article at the time but I clearly remember a gag-order was cited by Oakland leaders and that they were not going to reveal anything to the media under any circumstances. IMHO, all of this bickering back and forth is useless without all available information revealed. Again, with the caveat that someone doesn’t have inside info already, which is possible.

  35. I’d vote for option C because it is the closest thing to a balanced schedule and I like the idea of a playing a different interleague division each year. I like the idea of eliminating interleague altogether better, but it looks like that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
    Also love the idea of letting the home team decide whether to implement the DH for that game.

  36. @ David – The biggest evidence is already there and has been vocal – Lew Wolf himself. As he has stated before, MLB can tell him where he can’t go, but not where he should go. The article about him acquiring about the final parcels at Diridon reinforces this notion. As far as “pipedreams”, i think the odds of the A’s moving to SJ are much better than 1) Oakland getting a new stadium and 2) Keeping the status quo for years to come. However, as i have continually stated, because I am an engineering, I am not saying that SJ is a foregone conclusion and would like to see a contingency plan in Oakland. But unfortunately, with the issues surrounding oakland and its defunct government (your great civic leaders /rolleyes), i think the A’s moving out of the Bay Area would be more likely if it ever came to that doomsday scenario. As far as classifying pro Oaklanders, sorry but you have all shown the same emotional exuberance without anything substantial to back it up besides wishful thinking and a “how do you know this isn’t happening” attitude. I tend to be a realist and see things that have already happen (SJ EIR, land acquisitions, owner support) to draw my conclusions instead of speculating things that I would like to happen. What i find more in common is that anything that is said to refute your theories and opinions are typically ignored (e.g., emailing Quan as opposed to BS) and redirected to some other insignificant or speculative tangent. I’m sure you’re already do the same about us “SJ guys”, so as they say ….what comes around, goes around…..

  37. As far as T-Rights go… We should all have learned by now not to expect anything. I am not really expecting anything to come out of the owner’s meetings, but will be glad if something does. Because, really, no matter what MLB announces (or doesn’t) there is still a lot of hard work in front of either city. I’d like for one of the cities to actually get moving on the hard work with the confidence that when they complete it, this is all over.
    I don’t really care either way about the schedule. I don’t mind interleague… It really isn’t all that different to watch the A’s play the Pirates as it is to watch them play the Royals (well except for that 70’s night a few years ago. That was some epic uniform awesomeness on display). The DH has been around as long as I have and I don’t expect it to go away or be altered in any meaningful way. I particularly loved going to the Coliseum for the 3 A’s/Giants games this year and seeing the electricity in the stands (and talking mad amounts of crap to the Orange and Black panda wearing crew).

  38. @David I didn’t refer to any person on this board (or in fact, any specific individual) as stupid. I said that, if VC advocates are serious about getting it done, excluding the owner from the discussions is a stupid strategy. I’m sorry if you were offended, that wasn’t my intent. However, I stand by the substance of my comment.

  39. @gojohn10–I agree with you for a vote on Option C. It looked like the fairest, balanced schedule over the others. Was never crazy about Interleague in the first place, but it’s here to stay so lets make the best of it. As for the extra WC., I don’t like the one game playoff. Need at least 3 games, but it would extend the season even longer. How about a couple double headers or a shortened season instead? That would never happen, costing revenue, and a shorter season, say 156-158 games, would throw the stat heavy sport into a tizzy.

  40. The A’s in San Jose would have a payroll that would compete all day with Houston, Texas, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

    Houston to the AL West is a good move by MLB. The AL West having 4 teams and the NL Central having 6 teams never made sense to me.

    Houston now will have to travel a bit more to Seattle, Bay Area (SJ or Oak), LA but will have a nearby rival with the Rangers which will be very good for the state of Texas as a whole.

    I have been adamant of late that Selig will never let the A’s into San Jose unless “all options have been exhausted”.

    Lew Wolff would not buy land in downtown San Jose unless he knew “what was coming”….He lost 30M non-recoverable in Fremont and for him to sink another 25M-35M does not sit well with most businessmen unless it was almost a for sure thing.

    Tampa Bay’s owner’s statement of “hook and crook” is very telling as well. He knows it is coming as well.

    We can thank Frank McCourt for standing up to Selig, it derailed Selig’s plans on moving the A’s and handing the Dodgers to Lewie.

    Now there are no “other options”…..Wolff buying the land 1 month before the meetings tells you something very distinctly…..It is just a matter of time.

  41. re: Lew Wolff would not buy land in downtown San Jose unless he knew “what was coming”

    …exactly. He’s not doing this in a vacuum. He knows this is a critical step to get SJ done.

  42. But Lew would buy land adjacent Diridon under any circumstance, wouldn’t he?
    Stadium or no, that place is slated to be a pretty large development, no?

  43. Lew’s plans for the site have been for a ballpark. He has no designs on putting hotels, or empty office buildings or anything else there as far as anyone knows.

  44. Sure, but he is a developer. Just saying that is a desirable piece of land even if he isn’t allowed to do what he really wants with it.

  45. @ Jeffrey – Admittedly, I have not looked at the original Diridon EIR in depth. Does it specify a fallback plan if the stadium does not materialize?

  46. Let’s say Wolff always wanted those parcels, why would he negotiate before MLB says no?

  47. my sense is he is buying them to free up some capital for the city to pursue the final 2 parcels–either via purchase or ED proceedings. Once the city acquires these parcels than he would need to buy them also. I doubt he has any guarantees from MLB but of course he knows that there are not many options where he can build a privately financed ballpark. If MLB says no than my theory is that the A’s will at some point leave the Bay Area–which by the way was also Piccinni’s premise–that the gints were trying to force the A’s out of the Bay Area…

    • @all – City has been consistent in saying that they will not pursue anymore land acquisitions until MLB rules on T-rights. There is little reason for Wolff to pick up an option unless that happens. Even if any developer (including Wolff) were interested in the land for something other than a ballpark, it would be foolish to buy it now with the amount of upheaval that’s due for the area long into the future. SJDDA met earlier today so there may be something that came out of that closed session, but we probably won’t know for a while.

  48. not to further speculation but to illustrate that we don’t know what is going on… all the data that was used in the ballpark study could be used for a similar in scale entertainment/retail complex (if one isn’t included in the ballpark EIR, it has been a long time since i read it). Wolff could be looking at this as a no lose situation… It can help him convince MLB to let him build in SJ, but if that fails he can still develop to land that he is about to buy at a lower value than the City did or flip it to other developers for a profit. He is certain something will happen there.
    We just don’t have any idea what is coming next, that’s all.

  49. Mr. Wolff could always develop Diridon with residential/commercial/retail along with Barry Swenson and build a ballpark at North San Pedro/Brandenburg ;o). Sorry R.M., NSP/Brand is my personal version of the 980 freeway floating ballpark.

  50. @Tony D. – That ship sailed a long time ago. Fat chance.

  51. That’s exactly what I was getting at, you would wait the whole situation out before making a deal.
    Some can hedge their bets, but I’m extremely confident that the A’s are going to get the OK to move to Diridon. There is just too much noise pointing that way without a reciprocal response from Oakland, as what happened when Dellums introduced the Victory Court project. Was that not the same period the infamous gag-order was ordered yet Oakland still spoke out a year into it?

  52. It would be interesting if we had something like the “how are you feeling about the Athletics?” poll on the front page of AN that would indicate the aggregate level of sentiment that San Jose will/won’t happen. I would set my pointer at 60-40 that MLB will grant approval, and 50-50 that a move actually occurs.

  53. Lew sure likes collecting acres of dirt. The Fremont site will take decades to develop; the SJ site not as long, but a nice mid-sized strip mall would fit rather nicely there. Gotta have a Starbucks, a Jamba Juice, a Quizno’s, a Curves (for the ladies), a beauty/nail salon, a sushi place, a Panda Express, a Trader Joes to class it up some, a donut shop for the cops, a CVS for all your personal needs, and a Mattress Discounters.

  54. There was another Diridon area plan before the current one. The original one did not have an A’s stadium nor did it have High Speed Rail but it did have BART.

    The spark for the area to be developed in the original plan would be BART. The reason that BART is so important is that an underground station needs to be planned for when developing the parking lots just south of HP Pavilion. Currently there is a project schedule for BART to Berryessa Station in San Jose. There is no schedule yet for the part to Diridon and then Santa Clara. I think development would be scheduled for the Diridon area to be completed about the same time as BART. The area nearest HP Pavilion would be built first with the area south of that being done as demand requires.

    Now that High Speed Rail and the A’s stadium may be built in the Diridon area, a realistic scheduled completion date for any one of HSR, BART, or the A’s stadium would cause the whole area between the A’s stadium, HSR, or BART to start to be developed. I don’t consider any of the 3 guaranteed to happen. BART to Diridon may never be built. HSR may never be built. A’s stadium may never be built. If all of these 3 things never happen, San Jose may just sit on the other Caltrain parking lots until downtown San Jose expands to that area. That is why it doesn’t make any sense for any developer to purchase any of the San Jose land because there is too much uncertainty at this point.

  55. @jk–is it any wonder that people trash you with your constant slams to SJ—grow up man—and for once post something of substance here

  56. @JK-usa- Hahah! I love the comments, that made my day. CVS? That is a good one! 🙂

    @Jeffrey- That area is not slated to be developed for years to come. Hence why the city will not use ED on the ATT parcels now.

    If it was to be developed in the near future the city would use ED on ATT now since a train station is considered something for “public use” much like a stadium.

    ED would not work for shops, office buildings, etc….since those are not considered for “public use”. SJ would be kicking out one private business for another…..not going to work, ATT has deep pockets and would have a good case in court.

    Stadiums are a rare exception to the rule and ATT would lose hands down on that one as there is precedent across the country around that.

    Therefore for Wolff to buy those pieces of land now before MLB rules is quite frankly a “huge risk”. He must know something we all do not as for him to sink another 25M-35M on top of the 30M he is sitting on in Fremont does not make sense.

    Especially without the ATT parcels included. ATT could easily hold up any development in the area since a new EIR would be needed for any new development other than a ballpark at this point.

    ATT is half of the 14 acres alone, without those pieces he is just buying small areas around them, Wolff in order to do something special with that land (ballpark or no) would need ATT to move.

    I ask why not wait another month? It is not like it would make a difference in the grand scale of things considering how slow MLB has been thus far.

    Wolff is jumping the gun because he knows San Jose is about to be opened up. Otherwise he would sit back and relax.

    I do admit, you could be right and he may have ulterior motives besides the ballpark. But it just does not make sense even if the land was cheap with ATT sitting there taking up such a huge chunk of the area.

  57. One more note:

    My guess is Selig gave Wolff a “verbal go ahead” on the land so that MLB can hit their 2015 deadline.

    By moving now, MLB rules in November/December. ATT is forced out in the new year, 6-9 months to get the site ready and get permits.

    Then break ground in January 2013 for a March 2015 opening.

    It is a theory but Wolff starting now on the land pieces tells this theory might have something to it.

  58. @ Sid “ED would not work for shops, office buildings, etc….since those are not considered for “public use.”
    I believe you are mistaken. “Public use” is typically construed very broadly. In Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the authority of governments to take non-blighted private property by eminent domain and transfer it to private developers solely for the purpose of increasing municipal revenues. Since then, there have been two ballot initiatives in California two limit this power, but both failed. To my knowledge, there has been no other California legislation since then limiting this power (though I will admit I am not an expert on eminent domain law).
    In California, my understanding is that a property must be “blighted” to be subject to ED. However, again, the term is construed very broadly. Being located in a redevelopment zone constitutes being “blighted” by definition. “Economic underutilization” is another grounds for being considered “blighted,” even for thriving businesses.
    The vast majority of challenges to ED actions fail.

  59. SJ City Council approves a series of economic development areas of focus including pursuing development of baseball and soccer stadiums- significant? Only in the sense that it continues to show political will to make this happen


  60. SJ City council is the reciprocal of Oakland’s. Glad our leaders have the vision and foresight to attack issues for the city and its people, and not their own political agendas! Nice catch there Go A’s!

  61. @Bartleby- Yes, I agreed with you that ED is very broad and can be used for multiple things.

    The difference is stadiums are 100% considered “public use” by the Supreme Court hence ATT in this case would have a hard time in court if San Jose uses it to remove them for one.

    That was the point I was trying to make as across the country ED has been used for stadiums in several locations as ML has pointed out.

    Plus the fact for Wolff to buy all that land around ATT without them leaving does not make sense and it would prohibit Wolff from taking full advantage of the land.

    Another theory I have is even with ED SJ cannot buy out ATT because they are broke.

    Therefore by selling the other parcels to Wolff the city will then take the 20M from that and use ED on ATT, then buy them out with that money.

    Then in turn sell the ATT parcels to Wolff and walk away with some cash in their pocket for the state raid on RDAs.

    Wolff then in turn would own all the parcels.

    @ML- If Wolff owns all 14 acres why would there be a need for a referendum? I read the previous posts but I am confused since if it were an office building going up for example no referendum would be needed.

    It is not like San Jose is “donating the land”…..They are selling it off to Wolff.

  62. @Sid My point was the Kelo decision established that taking property and giving it to private developers for things like shops, offices, etc. could be a “public use” just as much as building a stadium. That’s why it was such a controversial decision.

  63. All this talk about ED isn’t very stimulating 😉

  64. @Bartleby- Yes, but ED is far less likely to succeed with offices, shops, etc….A stadium would be much different.

    @ML- We would need a referendum for the ED part itself on ATT? Or one for the A’s to actually build a stadium?

  65. @ML- Nevermind….It is both.

  66. ED talk is monumentally premature. Whatever Kalra was spewing in SD was loose talk without much substance. That, most likely, will be borne out fairly soon.

  67. Actually even LW has intimated that ED may be required-

    ML- any idea I’d ED can be initiated before MLB gives the ok to SJ and any referendum is complete- or does it need to await the outcome of these actions before the city can proceed?

  68. @GoA’s – I doubt it. As I said before, the likely course of action will be to get the green light from MLB, then make one last offer and provide the threat of eminent domain. Then we’ll see how intransigent they are.

  69. @Sid “Yes, but ED is far less likely to succeed with offices, shops, etc.”
    What is your basis for this statement? 99% of all ED challenges fail. I believe this was true even before Kelo, and Kelo dramatically lowered the bar.

    • @Eric19 – I addressed the RFP in Friday’s news comments thread. Once a firm (or firms) is chosen to do the work, we can study it in kind. I’ve read the RFP and it’s fairly standard language for this kind of project. One of the alternatives being requested involves what to do if the A’s leave the Coliseum.

  70. @Eric19 – Go Oakland!!

  71. Not to hijack the thread back to the topic, but in any of those scenarios ML listed above, I’m sure the interleague schedule would include the annual regional matchups (i.e. A’s-Gnats, Slegna-Bums, MFY-Mets). That puts the schedulers in an even tighter box, doesn’t it?

  72. @Eric19&David–Yup, Go Oakland!!!

  73. Very interesting; they’ve made the leap towards what would really be necessary to make any new site at that area work. If anything, this sort of project is for the Raiders though as focusing on one team and making the hub to which they build off of is the only way that area can be revitalized.

  74. Sorry for the misplaced link and not reading the another
    post about it. So the Astros are going to the AL and there will be an interleague series throughout the season. Add that Instant replay is being expanded. Hmmm. To me the appealing aspects of MLB was its resistance to change and appreciation of i tradition. With that in mind Bud Selig will definitely give the go ahead for the A’s move to San Jose.

  75. @bartleby- ED has been used for ballparks across the country on several occasions. If you are right then the city would have used ED already on ATT.

    Why haven’t they? Because they cannot justify it without MLB giving permission for the A’s to move to San Jose.

    But ML makes a great point….ATT will get one last offer from the city before it goes down that path.

    My guess is ATT once MLB gives the go ahead will see the writing on the wall and bounce but are stringing this out in hopes they can stay.

    Wolff without ATT leaving would be stuck with a bunch of land around them that would be tough to develop as ATT would fight tooth and nail to stop it.

  76. Who is compensating the Astros for the move to the AL? If it is MLB, I would imagine a better use of such funds is to compensate the Giants for the T-rights.

  77. @ Sid “ED has been used for ballparks across the country on several occasions.”
    Yes. It has also been used in furtherance of other private projects.
    “If you are right then the city would have used ED already on ATT.”
    This does not logically follow. They haven’t used ED because they don’t have an imminent need. This doesn’t mean that need would have to be for a ballpark.
    “Why haven’t they? Because they cannot justify it without MLB giving permission for the A’s to move to San Jose.”
    Again, they need some imminent need, not necessarily a ballpark. Also, don’t overlook the difference between what constitutes “justification” from a legal standpoint and what constitutes “justification” from a political standpoint.

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