The San Diego problem

I frequently look to San Diego for inspiration, whether for the weather, the beer, my brother’s wonderful Rottweiler, Jojo, or major league baseball. No, I’m not saying that the Padres are baseball’s model franchise. Instead, San Diego – the market – is a good comparison to the way the A’s are situated in the Bay Area. Consider the following:

  • With a population of 3 million, San Diego is slightly larger than the East Bay’s population.
  • The gross metropolitan product (GMP) of San Diego is slightly larger than that of the South Bay. (The East Bay is considered part of the San Francisco region from a Census perspective).
  • San Diego has a broad economy, from the military and government services to healthcare to technology.

San Diego will never be able to have a large share of the Southern California television and radio market because of the presence of the two Los Angeles teams. That hasn’t stopped the team from inking a 20-year TV deal with Fox Sports, worth $25-30 million per year. It pales in comparison to the Angels’ new deal and the upcoming Dodgers’ deal, but it’s still a major improvement over the $15 million per year the Padres were getting from broadcast station Cox-4. The deal starts in April.

Of course, this is MLB, where any snag that can be hit will be hit. Commissioner Bud Selig tabled the sale of the Pads from John Moores to Jeff Moorad as other owners raised numerous questions about financing that weren’t satisfactorily answered. Both Selig and Moorad say the snag won’t jeopardize the sale. It sounds like Moorad will take Jim Crane’s recently vacated hot seat, as the sale gets dragged on for several more weeks or months while outgoing majority owner John Moores stews.

According to this summary from Gaslamp Ball, Moorad has all of his money lined up, including the last $100 million of cash in escrow. That’s somewhat impressive, given that Moorad was given an unusual five-year phase-in plan to acquire all of the team. Moorad sold his minority stake in the Diamondbacks, got Bob Piccinini and others (many of whom are Modesto based) in a 12-member investor group, and seemingly got the money three years ahead of schedule. Yet there remain questions about what debt instruments Moorad used to raise the capital, and perhaps additional questions about where some of that TV money is going to go when the Padres start getting paid (some of it may go to pay down debt instead of the team). All of this harkens back to the McCourt debacle, where Frank kept borrowing against the team and related properties to fund an extravagant lifestyle for him and his ex-wife. With new debt rules in places thanks to the new CBA, Moorad’s group may be Exhibit A in ensuring that teams, especially mid-markets, stay true.

A decade ago, Piccinini-Dolich group experienced similar troubles when trying to buy the A’s. They brought in numerous new partners over several months, trying to appease Selig and the owners. Whether you believe they were shafted or there were lingering unanswered questions about how the group would finance and run the team, their bid was denied. Though it’s interesting to consider for a moment that with the makeup of the Padres’ investor group and Moorad’s place as the managing partner, it’s not hard to see that had things turned out differently, Moorad might be the A’s owner now, perhaps phasing out Dolich over time. Would the group have been so steadfast to stay in Oakland, or would Piccinini have become a Ken Hofmann-like weak supporter of the East Bay? Would Moorad, smelling the money in the South Bay, have gotten his agent juices flowing again and pushed for San Jose? We’ll never know. If you want to see how the Piccinini group would’ve operated the A’s with limited resources (like those in San Diego), all you need to do is see what Moorad does in the future with the Padres.

20 thoughts on “The San Diego problem

  1. Isn’t Petco Park part of the inspiration for you? That stadium, combined with the location on the edge of the Gaslamp District, is fantastic.

  2. Monte Poole on with Michael Urban on 95.7 right now…spewing the same misinformation from his column.

  3. Monte can spew all he wants- MLB isn’t listening as they are well aware of the facts-had Monte been honest and called the Oakland politicians out than maybe this wouldn’t be happening today-

  4. What are the chances that the Piccinini group, already viewed as under-financed, would have built a $500 mill ballpark in Oakland on their own dime? Very little chance, I’d say

  5. Will the same columnists that have spewed venom all over Wolff and Fischer now be turning their anger toward Mark Davis and the Warriors owners for also wanting to leave Oakland, even though both of those franchises got hundreds of millions worth of facility improvements in Oakland in the past 15 years compared to the $0.00 that the A’s got? Didn’t the Raiders already get their new stadium in 1995? The Warriors a total renovation? What’s their reasons for wanting to leave? Nope – its the A’s owners who are called “slumlords” and liars.

  6. I agree the location of Petco is awesome- incorporating the western metal building in left is very cool- seems like they are trying to do something similar at Cisco-the park outside of center is well done- not as much of a fan of the limestone- seemed a bit too much for me- agree that the brick is pretty common these days- but it is timeless- a big part of Cisco Field will be what dvelops around it and how it compliments whatever style they choose-

  7. Sandstone… My bad

  8. The Padres really are an inspiration to me as an A’s fan. So much so I adopted them as my NL team shortly before I moved to San Diego. Their organization tries to do the most with their limited resources on field not unlike the A’s. They play in what to my mind is the nicest venue in MLB at PETCO Park, the kind of park I hope the A’s get and that they and we deserve. And the Padres organization off field is amazing. From season ticket holder benefits that make the A’s look like shlubs, to the daily honors for the military, to their promotion schedule, to their honoring their history and former players…

  9. Yeah the Sandstone would seem out of place in SJ or Oakland but it fits perfectly in SD. It’s the exact same color as the Coastal cliffs just north of town which it was designed to emulate. And where a brick pr plain steel stadium would look freat in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t have looked as good down south.

  10. I’m the one guy who doesn’t see what’s so great about Petco, apparently. Too many lower deck seats in the shade, upper deck is too high, concourses are awkward, the whole thing feels HUGE (as big as Qualcomm with 27,000 less seats), the metal supply building looks good in pictures but in person is dwarfed by the size of the stadium. Just not a fan.

  11. Brian, perception does not equal reality in this case. Petco’s upper deck is lower than Qualcomm’s and closer to the field than even AT&T’s (in fact the entire grandstand is closer to the field than the ballpark in SF). As for having more seats in the shade, why is that bad? It is warm and sunny all year in SD. Giving the crowd an option at a respite from the sun is a plus. As for the concourses, they’re very wide which allows the quirks and oddities while still having far better circulation than most parks. Not to mention ty’re the most open concourses in baseball. They make AT&T look dark an dreary like AT&T makes the Coliseum’s look.

  12. Limestone in the stadium- ha! Now THAT would be iconic!

  13. I hope they bring something back from Shibe Park. Don’t know what it might be, but that would be fun to have a replica of something unique from the original yard.


    It would also be cool if they had the mechanical rabbit bring balls to the ump from the ground behind homeplate.

  14. Petco is awesome. The park at the park is all I need to say that.

  15. San Diego confuses the hell out of me. Even with a new stadium and a population that is larger than that of the East Bay, the A’s have had a higher payroll for 5 out of 8 seasons since the Padres moved into Petco in 2004. It actually makes me worry a bit since I’d hate to see the A’s get into a similar situation of building a new stadium (Oakland, San Jose, the moon) but not commit to building a winner.

  16. Bleach, two words explains the reason the Padres payroll has remained so low since PETCO opened… divorce and court. John Moores fooled around on his wife and ended up in a nasty divorce proceeding right as the new park opened and the park itself was dragged through 2 years of nasty court proceedings that halted construction 15% into building it and ballooned costs. Both of which took their toll on Moores wallet and his desire to own the team which is why he’s been in the midst of selling the Padres to Jeff Moorad’s group for 3 years now. He thought he was finally out going into this week’s owners meetings and instead Selig has delayed the ownership transfer to Moorad longer which pissed Moores off so much he was the 1 in the 29-1 vote who voted against Selig’s continued tenure as commissioner.

  17. Also Brian, and anyone else interested, if you want to see how much smaller PETCO Park really is than Jack Murphy (Qualcomm) Stadium or any other side by side comparison of stadiums I’d highly recommend Andrew Clem’s website. He goes to painstaking lengths to make sure his dimensions are accurate and everything is properly represented in his stadium diagrams.

  18. Bartolo Colon? Didn’t see that one coming…

  19. Shouldn’t surprise anyone. A largely washed up vet with an over 4.00 ERA and some major injury issues of late. He’s the perfect kind of cheap player with name cache that a team that largely consists of players in diapers needs. I don’t expect much out of him and I doubt the A’s do either. He’s just getting one last paycheck before the end and gives the A’s someone to put on posters and billboards people might recognize.

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