News for 11/17/11 (Post Owners Meetings Edition)

Time for a recap of the owners meetings.

  • The Astros will be in the American League West starting in 2013. Next up: Figuring out the details of the scheduling format. Despite the grousing from many about the change, a few columnists have written in favor of the move, including ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Newly approved owner Jim Crane was required to accept the move to the AL as a condition of his approval. Crane was unanimously approved.
  • Stark also considers how another change, the addition of two more wild-card teams, could affect the annual playoff chase and divisional races.
  • MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to a five-year CBA. Ken Rosenthal reports that an announcement will occur on Monday.
  • Larry Baer was approved as the “control person” representing the San Francisco Giants at future owners meetings. There may have been more recent instances of this, but one high-profile one I clearly remember is Paul Beeston when he became CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. Howard Lincoln also performs a similar duty on behalf of Nintendo for the Seattle Mariners.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers saga continues, with pre-screening for prospective bidders scheduled to begin soon. That’s a good thing, because as Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reports, the Dodgers are saddled with a whopping $555 million in debt. Another lawsuit has been filed by Frank McCourt against Fox for allegedly trying to “interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.”
  • Nothing on the A’s front, though there are murmurs of something happening in January. Maybe. The wait continues.

In other news…

  • The outlook for the NBA is not good. Dwyane Wade and most of the players rank-and-file believe the 2011-12 season can be saved (as they should since they’re losing paychecks from here on out). Meanwhile, former players union executive director Charles Grantham joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson in voicing their opinion that the players should have taken the last “50%” deal.
  • NHL players are looking at what’s happening in the NBA very carefully, since hockey’s CBA will end next September.
  • Starting Friday, the Florida Marlins will no longer exist. They will be known forevermore as the Miami Marlins.
  • I haven’t posted much on the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium push, simply because it doesn’t seem to have any real momentum or money behind it. The team remains focused on the Arden Hills munitions site in suburban Ramsey County, whereas the City of Minneapolis has sites within city limits.
  • CSN Bay Area’s Nick Rosano has an update on the San Jose Earthquakes’ stadium plans. A permit hearing should be held soon. I’ll attend it if I can.
  • Santa Clara approved the $10 million expenditure for pre-construction work at the 49ers stadium site. $6 million will actually be loaned by the team.
  • MLB is commissioning a study on the economic impact of Miller Park now that the ballpark is well-established and past its honeymoon period. The study will be done by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Institute for Survey and Policy Research. The same group did a study shortly after the opening of Miller Park which fell under heavy criticism. The study is due in the spring and could provide ammunition for either pro or anti-ballpark groups in San Jose (yes, I know that the anti-ballpark folks will trot out a Cato Institute study). Since the study is being commissioned by MLB, I expect it to be somewhat baseball-friendly, though not as much as the previous one.
  • The Financial Times has a Moneyball article featuring both Billy Beane and Michael Lewis. It’s a good read and serves as a nice epilogue to the book and movie. There’s also a discussion of the article at AN.
  • A new article by Carol Rosen of the Almaden Resident (a Silicon Valley Community Newspaper) examines the pro and anti San Jose ballpark factions and their stances.

That’s all for now.

41 thoughts on “News for 11/17/11 (Post Owners Meetings Edition)

  1. So, it’s off to Arlington as well as Houston during the middle of those lovely Texas summers…
    I can only wonder what Bill King would have thought of that.

  2. @crister–i was thinking the same thing! Man, I miss Bill King. Did all 3 sports wonderfully. He was the voice of eastbay sports for years.

  3. There are some major idiots living in my hometown. I guess if you keep repeating a lie over and over again it will eventually become the truth (“more children will go hungry if we allow a $500 million private investment in downtown SJ”). This RM is my fear and exactly why I’ve always been against a referendum. If I was Wolff, even though I wouldn’t have to, I would just pay the city the original purchase amount (for the parcels) just to shut these people up once and for all.

  4. Yes, we’re talking an investment of $10-$15 million(?) by San Jose in return for a $450 million private investment in San Jose, yielding countless more dollars coming into town and into the city treasury. And people are opposed because library hours have been cut. So if SJ takes the $10 mill and spends it on cops and libraries, the funding shortfalls are just going to return the next year. And we’ll have lost a remarkable chance for major economic activity in San Jose. And the ballpark property, with the neon sign with the pig on it, will just sit vacant.

  5. Tony. Those people live in SJ. You live in Gilroy.

  6. Tony D and pjk—need to take a deep breath—to expect that there will be unamious support for any project of this nature is unrealistic…and the media loves to give the platform to a vocal minority…much like they did in Santa Clara for the ’49ers–listening to the media reports you would have thought the approval was in jeaporady–and it won by nearly 60%–

  7. @DrJ,

    SJ is still my HOMETOWN, regardless if I’m living in Gilroy or Siberia. (I may soon be a full SJ resident again due to the housing crisis, but that’s another topic for another blog)
    I’m all for debate and fairness, but most importantly I’m for the TRUTH. The lies being put forth by opponents are sickening, and I’m going to fight them all the way.

  8. @GoA’s,
    I hope you’re right brah.

  9. @Tony D. – Could you stop talking about the “truth” as if you or the pro-ballpark group are the only people who wield it? Like it or not there is some point to the NIMBY arguments. The best way to combat it is to campaign effectively, which the boosters are champing at the bit to do. Your complete inability to debate the anti-ballpark group without foaming at the mouth is, frankly, pathetic. Settle down Beavis.

    And for the pro-Oakland crowd out there, including Stanley Stanson – do you really believe the Mayor Quan and the City Council have the wherewithal to craft a ballpark deal that doesn’t put Oakland at great risk? Exactly what have the done in the past several years to display even a fraction of the competence required to do that? You don’t think Oakland voters should have a crack at it? Well then, you deserve what you get.

  10. I’m starting to get a bit pessimistic, after being rather optimistic. The ownership meetings just got a lot done, actually – new CBA, Astros sale and move to AL west, two more wild card teams, and Dave Baer as Giants head honcho. But they still didn’t address the A’s situation. All the info is in, after the 3 year BRC study, and there is nothing to ponder or debate over at this point. And the Dodgers sale should have nothing to do with the A’s situation. If they can do a new CBA, the Astros to AL, and add wild card teams, and decide on Dave Baer as Giants head honcho, all while dealing with the Dodgers situation, they can certainly decide on SJ.

    Now we’re told that an announcement won’t come until January, at the earliest. Again, the Dodgers situation has nothing to do with the A’s situation and it can be done easily in parallel. They’re (well, “he” – Bud Selig) are just stalling, and coming up with excuses.

  11. I’ve asked the Mercury News, since they quote “Better Sense San Jose’ in every article about the ballpark, if they can fill us in on: How many people are in this group? Are they funded at all by the Giants? Did this group’s members oppose the arena and do they think the arena is a failure? No response from the Mercury News.

  12. re: No A’s announcement. Maybe they want to give Oakland a full year to report something, anything, on the VC EIR. We’re about 40 days shy of a year. If the rumors are true that the EIR process never started, then we’ll hear something in December or January, I suppose. Selig can then get up and say Oakland has had all the time it needs to come up with something and it’s now time for MLB to move forward.

  13. @ML – That’s a great question to the “Pro-Oakland” crowd. My answer is I doubt a stadium in Oakland, or San Jose will benefit the city to the extent it will benefit the baseball team. I don’t care what anyone on any side says … these deals are not “win-win” situations!

  14. @jeff-athletic- I am with you 100%. This is a paradox and a half. It seems Selig just does not care. He did not even use the Giants change in ownership as leverage…..I knew Purdy was way off on that one a few months back.

    To take 3 years to decide whether to let a team move 35 miles south in the same market they have resided in for 44 years is a paradox and a half.

    That is Bud Selig for you….Although I wish it and hope for it…I just do not think Selig will ever let the A’s into San Jose. He needs to leave MLB and we need the next guy to help us out.

  15. I have no faith in Selig…..Ann Killion said it the best on Chronicle Live last year.

  16. jeff-athletic – I got to that point about a year ago! They can tackle any subject at these owners meetings except the A’s. It leads me to believe MLB jut doesn’t care about the team. I know that sounds ridiculous, but what else are we left with when this just shouldn’t be that complicated to solve? Every other two-team market is shared and this one should be too. Just add a caveat that the A’s can’t build in SF proper. That’s all the protection the Giants need or deserve, and it’s better than any other team in a two-team market has.

  17. MLB has to know by now that a new ballpark in Oakland is not going to happen without several hundred million dollars in public funds for construction, and that’s a bit more than the $0.00 Oakland is willing to contribute to the cause. I am hopeful that by the end of the year or early next year, when Oakland has had more than a year to show something, anything, with its EIR, that MLB can conclude that after three years of investigation, the A’s simply cannot get a new ballpark in their current territory and must be allowed to move to San Jose.

  18. So if the objective was a newballpark in 2015 what has been lost by waiting? I can think of lots of things that have been gained- and there is still a good likelihood of a park in SJ by 2015

  19. @RM,
    Beavis? :(. Will make for a good nickname when we all see each other at Cisco Field 😉
    I hear yah on the 2015 thing. Groundbreaking at the latest doesn’t have to happen until the spring of 2013 for an Opening Day 2015. I’m betting on an announcement this January. “Patience is a virtue often rewarded.”

  20. I guess the only legitimate excuse for the ongoing delay is giving Oakland every chance it can to get it’s act together (which ain’t happening, unless any effort has been completely clandestine).

    But, on the bright side both Beane and Wolff have seemed relaxed about the whole thing, plus things have been moving on the SJ side of things.

  21. I still say the Coliseum site will come into play if VC falls apart, regardless if MLB said they only want a downtown park. The Raiders joining the 9ers will likely happen and you’ll have an empty Blow the sucker up and build the best 40k ballpark in the majors. No 32k Cisco with all the suites. More capacity, less suites means more for the 99%ers for the 1%ers. Remember, this is Oakland, not SJ.

  22. oops……less for the 1%ers.

  23. Fewer suites? Who pays for it? Oh that’s right – it would be a charitable contribution by a benevolent billionaire owner. OK. The 99ers can already get into A’s games very cheaply and they haven’t been going. $2 tickets, free parking, free hot dogs, dirt-cheap tickets overall – the 99ers don’t go just the same.

  24. “I still say the Coliseum site will come into play if VC falls apart, regardless if MLB said they only want a downtown park. The Raiders joining the 9ers will likely happen and you’ll have an empty“ LOL – another “reality be damned” post….”who cares what LW wants” – he’s just he owner. “so what if MLB wants a downtown park” – they’re just a league. “No 32k parks with suites”, let’s just make bleacher seats throughout the ballpark and not worry where the revenue would come from. Laughable really. And on top of that, had to throw in the “this is Oakland, not SJ” mantra as if there was something special with Oakland supporting the notion that it is a depressed area unable to support itself and needs charitable owners and handouts in order to survive….glad it’s not SJ! LOL

  25. I know – just build a 15,000-seat ballpark in Oakland to accommodate the amount that go to the games now. The A’s could pay players salaries the way always have – through meager ticket sales and revenue-sharing. With 15,000 seats, the place would be sold out, well, most nights.

  26. @jk–don’t forget their is still a $150M hangover on the coli that your propose to blow up from the last remodel—unfortunately you cant blow up that debt with it–

  27. @jk You do realize an upper deck is a money loser, right? Most expensive section of the park to build. Lowest price tickets. Highest average vacancy rate. (For the vast majority of games at most parks, only a small percentage of the upper deck is filled).
    The only reason there are as many upper decks in MLB as there are is most ballparks were publicly funded. If all ballparks were privately funded, the majority of them would be in the 32,000 seat range.
    Your argument for Oakland is basically, “Don’t worry if we lose money on every seat sold, we’ll make it up on volume….”

  28. @bartleby: MOST MLB parks would be in the 32,000 range?!? Be serious. That will be far and away the smallest capacity in the league, below Fenway and Wrigley. Even Montreal’s ill fated ballpark plan was for 34k.
    The Bay Area is the 4th largest market in the country, and the Giants fill their 41k ballpark all the time. I don’t think they regret having the extra 9,000 seats.

  29. Everyone knows A’s attendance will spike for several years no matter where a new ballpark is built. What no one knows is what happens after that. Throughout the club’s 44 years in Oakland, the A’s have been the region’s second team, as measured in revenue and radio and TV rights. For a very few years at the height of the Haas era, they were a close second to the Giants, thanks to championship teams, a better and more accessible ballpark, and a broadcast team of Bill King and Lon Simmons. Most of the time they have been a distant second in popularity. In recent years, all but diehards have been oblivious to the team’s existence.
    The big question facing MLB: is this an Oakland problem or an A’s problem? Or put another way, will a move to San Jose enable the A’s to relaunch what is (let’s be brutally honest) a failed brand in the Bay Area? Will large numbers of non-baseball fans and casual Giants fans embrace the San Jose Athletics as though they were a brand new franchise? If so, allowing Wolff to pay for a new stadium — obviously not an attractive idea to MLB in and of itself – makes a lot of sense.
    But if the result is 4-5 years of capacity crowds, but continued small market broadcast ratings, and then attendance settling down to 20k per game, that’s a disaster from MLB’s point of view. My guess is they’re taking their time trying to figure out which outcome is more likely.

  30. @Simon94022 – if you are trying to cite revenue generation, the question isn’t about attendance, far from it. It is corporate support from advertising and luxury boxes that matter in this day and age. No one wants to see another rendition of Jacobs field happens, so most new stadiums are now after the big money guys (see the Niners and their suites). In that area, it is clear that large corporations would rather support the A’s in SJ (see SVLG letter again).

  31. @Simon,
    The big question facing MLB? Where did you get that from? Look, Wolff is attempting to relocate the A’s 35 miles south of their current location. If that doesn’t answer MLB’s, I mean YOUR question, then I don’t know what will.

  32. don’t know why the csnba chron live page doesn’t have the video from slusser’s time on tue so everybody could see the segment when they talked about the a’s possible move to sj.

  33. @simon “MOST MLB parks would be in the 32,000 range?!? Be serious.”
    Yes, MOST, and I’m deadly serious. That “extra 9,000 seats” is basically the difference between upper deck and no upper deck. Only 12 teams this year averaged more than 32.6K, and some of those are just riding a wave of current success. Only a relative handful consistently average in the high 30’s or better, year in, year out.
    And even if you are able to consistently fill that upper deck, that doesn’t mean it’s wildly profitable to do so (at least, if you’re paying the freight yourself). If I remember correctly, ML or Jeffrey did a post on the cost of the upper deck showing it was proportionately a lot more than the rest of the ballpark. When you consider an upper deck seat probably brings in 25% (or less) of the cost of a lower deck seat on average, IF you can actually sell it (because again, these are typically the least used seats in the park), it would be a no brainer for most teams: If you’re paying for it yourself, don’t build it. There’s probably only eight or nine teams for which building an upper deck would even be a consideration, under the current economic structure, knowing what they know now, if they were paying for it themselves.
    A 32K stadium drives season ticket and advance ticket sales, helps upsell customers into more costly seats and less popular games, and creates scarcity that makes consistent sellouts self-perpetuating. Fenway’s tiny pre-remodel size may well have been a big factor in creating the demand and momentum they’re still riding today, even in the (slightly) larger current version of Fenway. It’s a brilliant business strategy.
    As for the Giants, yes they’re filling the upper deck, so that seems to have worked out for them. But that could very well be a break even proposition; for most teams, the high risk of not drawing 40K per game would easily outweigh the modest reward if you did.

  34. Here were the quotes regarding the price of adding a 3rd deck to the Cisco Field plan.

    “@Bryan Grunwald – While Cisco Field/San Jose is certainly inspired by Fenway, it isn’t a duplicate in the least. The two-deck design dates back to Fremont and is a cost-saving decision, not an aping. A real third deck would cost an estimated $100 million to implement, not a smart move given the fanbase. I’ll write more about this Sunday.”

    “$100 million is an estimate for a full third deck with approximately 10,000 seats and a full concourse and amenities. The “third” deck at Cisco Field doesn’t approach the scope of that estimate.”

    good stat by the way that only twelve teams drew more than the max capacity of the proposed 32k cisco field. still honestly would rather see the capacity bumped up a few thousand into the mid 30k range athough anywhere from 34k-37k would be okay. the latter figure which at this time is the smallest park capacity in all of mlb for three teams and now the marlins new stadium being the newest park build in the past 20 years with now the lowest capacity “besting” that of pnc’s which i’ve said before is imo the best mlb park bar none.


  35. @bartleby and letsgoas, I am not advocating a third deck, and yes, the corelation between attendance and revenue is not exact. But 32K is an exceptionally low capacity, a level that no other franchise except the Expos has considered. Making that work assumes the SV companies will buy up all the high end seats. No one doubts that will happen in years 1-5 or so, but it has to be sustained beyond that, even if the A’s are not competitive on the field.

  36. @Tony D. – obviously it’s MLB’s decision. We all know what Lew Wolff wants to do, but that fact by itself hasn’t been enough so far to persuade MLB to give him permission, has it?

  37. How do we know permission hasn’t been given to Wolff? Does Wolff commit to buying Diridon land if not given tacit approval by his frat brother? Just asking and we’ll see.

  38. Lew Wolff hasn’t actually committed to buying anything. Not saying that he won’t, but he has just negotiated an option on a portion of the land needed in the event MLB, and San Jose voters, approve. I think of this more as a PR move to show Bud Selig that he has control of the land (Chuck Reed pretty much said this exact thing).
    Rumblings are out there that in January there will be a definitive statement. I don’t think we have long to wait. The bigger issues are just about done (Dodgers, CBA).

  39. The CBA has the minimum salary go from $414k to $480k, a 16% increase. Not too shabby. My job I just took a 9% pay cut and a wage freeze for the next 4 years.
    The MLB minimum over the years:

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