Dead-market team

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you read USA Today baseball writer Jorge Ortiz’s team capsule of the A’s. And I mean read all of it. There are some choice quotes from Billy Beane, like this one on trading Cahill/Gio/Bailey:

“We’re not doing it to be mean,” says Beane, aware of the trades’ impact on the team and its shrinking fan base. “It’s not like I come into this office like I just jumped off the stage of Wicked with a green-painted face and go, ‘How can I trade my guys?’ We do it because we have no other choice.”

Cue someone in the RF bleachers pasting a giant, green-tinted, smiling Beane face on Elphaba. Or maybe Brad Pitt’s face? It’s hard to tell them apart these days.

Then there’s ESPN Magazine cover boy Brandon McCarthy, who may have displayed a little too much of his trademark candor when he said this about how the A’s operate:

“It makes team-building and the competitive aspect that much harder here,” says right-hander Brandon McCarthy, the A’s likely opening-day starter. “It’s not even being a small-market team. It’s being a dead-market team.”


Later in the article, Wolff provides two crucial pieces of information that I had not known previously.

  • Moving the team to San Jose should increase revenue $80-100 million annually.
  • The TV rights deal with CSN California runs 25 years with an opt-out at 15 (2024).

In last October’s post titled “$230,000,000“, I attempted to estimate what the A’s revenue model could look like if they moved into Cisco Field in 2015. I figured it would be $64 million more than they get currently. Clearly, Lew Wolff is aiming higher, though he may be using a lower 2010-11 revenue estimate of $150 million or thereabouts to make the comparison (which would fall in line with a +80 million target). In any case, he and the rest of the business side seem to have a pretty good idea of where they’re going.

The A’s TV rights deal with Comcast, which unlike most other recently negotiated team TV deals, did not have its numbers or length revealed, is of similar length to others negotiated by the Rangers, Angels, Astros, and Mariners. I hope the deal isn’t a flat, non-escalating deal, because if it is the A’s will surely be forgoing revenue during what should be considered their competitive window from 2015 through 2020 and beyond. The flipside of that is that at least it’s comforting to know that the A’s are locked in somewhere for at least 15 years. That’s a lot of time to build brand equity, and it’s a damn sight better than the broadcast musical chairs the A’s had to deal with during the pre-cable days.

Comparison of current and future AL West TV rights contracts

I had theorized that the A’s were getting $15 million per year via their cable deal, though I’ve been too lazy to actually verify this. Based on the actual revenue the A’s report or the Forbes reported figures, I can’t see how it’d be much higher than $20 million. Either number is a pittance compared to what the division foes are getting, and will be even less competitive once the M’s negotiate a new deal in the near future. While the A’s can’t control what other teams get and appear to be locked in with CSNCA, they should at the very least have the opportunity to get the $80-100 million Wolff claims he can get via a new ballpark. Because if he can’t, Brandon McCarthy will be more correct than anyone would’ve had the temerity to suggest. For all intents and purposes, the A’s will be in a dead market. Or as he said towards the end of the article:

“It’s a major issue,” says McCarthy, who also has pitched for the Rangers and Chicago White Sox. “I think it’s one of those things that’s crippling this franchise. I’ve never seen anything like this where something like that could just become the rolling avalanche of things not being the way they should. A decision has to come.”

No fan wants to hear this type of thing, whether they’re in Oakland, San Jose, or Springfield. It belies the optimism that spring should bring. But whether you believe McCarthy is simply regurgitating the team line or he’s a blunt, independent thinker as he’s repeatedly shown, he’s right. Something needs to happen. Hopefully McCarthy will stay healthy enough to get a nice payday next year, even if it isn’t with the A’s.

P.S. – McCarthy and Dallas Braden were interviewed by The Rise Guys this morning. Good audio.

63 thoughts on “Dead-market team

  1. It’s disheartening to see that the A’s, even if they find great success in San Jose, could be locked into a TV contract that could cripple them against the competition. Why did they agree to such a long term contract? Hopefully there is a provision for escalation and maybe even something tied to an increase if the A’s get a new ballpark inSan Jose.

  2. I wonder if the TV contract has clauses about a relocation. Perhaps there is something that would allow renegotiation?

  3. I’m not really happy about this. This deal is too long for me. First it should be said that the TV deal should be looked at as a 15 year deal and not 25 years. Given the absurd amount of money in current TV contracts, and the almost assuredly low figure going to the A’s, they will want to redo the contract, which is 12 full seasons away.
    The blog once compared the Athletics organization to the Padres for stadium purposes. The Padres comparison was spot on for another reason – TV. Until this year the Padres and Athletics were the only 2 teams in baseball that had zero equity in their TV contract; not having any ownership stake in the cable channel itself. The Padres made about $30mil last year with 34k viewers per game on average. The Nationals made $29mil with 29k average viewers. The A’s had 31k average viewers; I’m willing to bet they too make in the neighborhood of $30mil per year.
    The biggest difference is the Nationals own 10% of MASN (their TV network) and that is slowly increasing to a maximum of 33%. There are rumblings in the DC metro area that that’s not good enough, but it’s still better than what we have. Yes they have a new stadium with lobbyists buying luxury suites, but I bet they feel more comfortable throwing money at players because of that TV ownership stake.
    The Padres last month cut a 20 year deal with Fox Sports that will give the team a 20% stake in the channel. This leaves the A’s as the only team without an ownership stake. I understand the need for some media stability, but am puzzled they would agree to a 15 year minimum deal. That seems a little long to me.
    But as was stated on a previous thread, the people handling the San Jose issue are the same people who handled the Baltimore/DC territorial rights issue. While a minimum valuation was worked out for the Orioles should Peter Angelos decide to sell, they were awarded 90% ownership stake in MASN to start, that will fall no lower than 65%. MLB put up some of the money to start the network (it might have been most if not all, I’ve read various reports). The TV deal, and majority ownership of the entire network is what made Peter Angelos and the Orioles agree to the Expos move to Washington.
    It’s my understanding that the Giants own 25% of Comcast Bay Area but not Comcast California. I wouldn’t be surprised if in addition to asking for a minimum valuation north of $700mil, and a sizable check to make a mortgage payment, TV rights are discussed. If MLB were to purchase a percentage of Comcast California, then hand it over to the Giants, while the A’s agree to stay signed on to the channel (god forbid the entire 25 years) a deal with the Giants could be struck to give up territorial rights. Given that the Dodgers might be sold for $2 billion, with 25% ownership in 2 separate channels, a beautiful stadium, the size of the bay area, a strong fan base etc., the Giants could become a billion dollar franchise. That may seem crazy but by the time this ownership group looks to sell, I think a billion would be about right. The irony is, if territorial rights were negotiated through TV, the Giants would become a billion dollar franchise by agreeing to put the A’s in San Jose.
    BTW, almost all of that info came from Sports Business Daily. They’re a great resource for TV contract info.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sports franchise with such a negative aura around it as I see now with the A’s. The fan base is split and fighting over team location, casual fans don’t give a flip, the local media routinely dismisses the franchise, next to zero representation in said media, an ownership group that has angered some of it’s core fans, players that always are traded, no real star players, 6 years of losing with assuredly more to come, a local competitor that is grabbing attention/resources, a bum cable deal, seemingly no respect from the rest from the league, rich teams in the division, etc. Man, it’s freaking depressing. The fact the the A’s are 3rd all time in WS wins and a historic franchise only makes this situation all the more painful.

  5. Oh Yeah? Wait ’til 2024! Then we’ll see who laughs last! Go A’s!

  6. This is taking place because the A’s are at a Crossroads. So much of this news is a bit easier to take based on the fact that it feels like the decision is near. There is just too much stuff out there to think otherwise. With every passing day, it gets a bit further from that Nightengale tweet, but on the other hand it’s never been closer.
    My three favorite Elphaba’s – Teal Wicks, Mandy Gonzalez, and Idina Menzel. Beane is more of a Fiyero type. Sorry folks, love me some “Wicked.”

  7. All of this just draws a big red line under the fact that for having allowed it to get to this point with his idiotic and spineless coddling of the Giants and their rights to Santa Clara, Bud Selig is as pathetic a loser as could ever possibly run a major sport. If his job is stewardship of the overall MLB product then he has let a franchise central to that narrative wither and die to the point where even the players are commenting on what it’s like to watch it happen. How does Bud Selig sleep? If he comes anywhere near the Coliseum this summer I will personally call the press and then dress up as Connie Mack and slap him with white gloves as a prelude to challenging him to a duel with pistols in the parking lot. He is a dishonorable dog for letting this happen, a loathesome fool of a man totally unqualified for his position. People talk about him like he’s some sort of savior because the sport makes money but I could care less about that — he’s let this situation spiral into a PR nightmare for the A’s and for MLB and he should resign immediately and let someone with a marginally functional conscience take over. Dog.

  8. The Giants broadcast on KNTV 11 of San Jose. Any ideas if this impacts the A’s non-cable broadcasting revenue?

  9. The BRC process should have taken no more than 3 months, not this ridiculous 3 years and counting. Even after “it’s on the front burner”, we still hear nothing. This taking forever to make what should be an extremely easy decision has absolutely been devastating to the Athletics. It would have been better to get a swift “no”, then this being strung along forever. Even if Selig ultimately gives his “yes”, which a lot of indicators say he will, his 3 year indecision has been an absolute travesty and abomination, and I will never forgive him for it. And I will hate the Giants for all eternity. I hope Larry Baer, and all of the Giants ownership, suffer through season after season of no hitting and abject futility. which, given Sabean’s and Giants management incompetence, is a likely scenario – 2010 was dumb blind luck (Cody Ross a hero?? now that’s luck!) and will never, ever happen again.
    And being that the A’s helped the Giants in their hour of need, and in return the Giants have stabbed the A’s backs and kept their foot on the A’s throats, I would indeed enjoy a bit of schadenfruede if something like, say, a small earthquake in McCovey Cove occurred, and cracked the right field wall, and flooded the park, causing hundreds of millions in damage. I wouldn’t want to see that for the Giants fans, nothing against them, but I’d love to see Giants ownership/mgmnt get stuck with huge, massive, devastating bill. Reason? Simple, this is what the Giants have done to the A’s, and quite frankly, the Giants management deserves nothing less.
    Okay, now with all that venomous hate off my chest (whew! I feel better now – how cathartic!), …

    Regardless of what happens, I still love the A’s, and I’m rather optimistic for this season and forthcoming seasons. I think Beane made some real solid moves, strengthened the farm system tremendously, and still brought in decent pieces for the team now, and totally surprisingly nabbed Yoenis Cespedes (regardless of how he turns out, getting him created a ton of positive buzz). I also think that Moneyball has created a lot of positive vibe for the franchise – it’s kind of the underdog dealing with very difficult circumstances and still managing to compete, or a least make things interesting. Just look at ’em compared to the Giants – yes, hitting sucked last year, and will probably be no better than mediocre this year, but the Giants hitting sucks even worse, and they have more than double the A’s payroll, and rank 5th in total revenue. Take that and suck on it Larry Baer! Larry, you have all the advantages in the world – tons of money coming in, one of the best ballparks in the league, a huge payroll, and your offense still sucks, really really badly, and a healthy Posey won’t be enough.

  10. More optimism-
    Just watched the video of Manny’s first day at the batting cage (from “Inside the A’s” at SF Gate) – he looks like he’s in great shape. Very fit and trim, and still buffed out (even though he obviously can’t be taking PEDs), and his swing looked easy, smooth, and confident.
    Yes more optimism – there is a lot of competition in the OF, at 1B, and DH. This going to bring the best out of somebody.
    Yes, even more optimism – Bob Melvin is a huge stickler for defense (compared Geren’s laid back, almost indifferent approach). Plus, some guys, such as Weeks and Sizemore, have more experience, and should be more comfortable. The A’s were second in the majors in errors last year, and they stand to improve substantially. You can bank on it.

  11. Selig has never hit a timetable if his life depended on it.

    This extra delay does not surprise me considering how long it has taken to this point. It is obvious the Giants are not cooperating and Selig is having issues cutting a deal.

    He has built the consensus needed and now all he needs is a deal with the Giants. Problem is he does not understand no matter what he does they will not budge.

    Wolff may have to call a vote himself and take it out of Selig’s hands. I am shocked actually Schott and Hoffman did not do it themselves years ago when they had the votes secured themselves……Logic would dictate the other owners would not want to piss off Selig and might change their Yes votes to Abstain.

    At this point the other owners are on Wolff’s side as if they were not San Jose would not be in question right now after 3 years.

    The A’s need that extra 100M in revenue to compete in this market with the big market Giants. A new Silicon Valley stadium will allow them to do so.

    Selig has to see this as the only way at this point….Otherwise please will a city with a free ballpark please stand up?

  12. Manny Ramirez will wear number 1 for the Oakland Athletics. Let’s hope his number 1 tests clean and he doesn’t play like number 2.

  13. Not for nothing, but how much TV money would the Giants be able to rake in if they weren’t sharing Northern California with the A’s?

    That’s why The Giants are fighting this thing tooth and nail, standing firm against the San Jose move, etc. If the A’s leave town, they make Angels-style TV money. That is “winning” for the Giants: making the A’s go away.

    I suspect that MLB is weighing how much money the San Jose A’s/SF Giants would make vs. how much the SF Giants/A’s in some other non-Bay Area place would make. And since that place probably doesn’t exist at this point, the equation becomes (Increase in Giants revenue) minus (Contraction fee to A’s ownership). They just need a way to do it without getting sued.

    I apologize for the “sky is falling” rant. I’ve loved the A’s my whole life, and I have zero evidence for any of this. But the longer this takes, the more I think that the worst thing that could happen, will happen.

  14. @Briggs – good one! 🙂
    Wolff indicated he’d do something if the decision doesn’t come soon, and likely that “something” would be to call the vote. Actually, I would not mind that one single bit, because then it would leave the Giants with nothing, or at the very least very very little bargaining power.
    It seems that, in their endless greed and arrogance, the gnats are playing a huge game of chicken with their no negotiating stance. They probably think that the longer they remain resolute, the better deal they can end up negotiating. However, it could totally backfire, because the owners could vote 29-1, or Selig could decide with the “best interest of baseball” clause. In either case, the Giants would have nothing to negotiate with. No power, no recourse, no compensation (unless Selig and the other owners felt charitable). The only thing they could do is sue, or sue by proxy (stand for San Jose bull crap), in either case they’d be taking a huge risk. They could risk the ire of “the lodge” – Selig and the other owners, which could have repercussions (lose franchise, sanctions, whatever – MLB won’t tolerate one franchise suing to get int the way of it’s business interests). Or they risk baseball losing it’s Anti-Trust exemption if litigation gets escalated, in which case T-rights go out the window.
    Here’s hoping this all totally blows up in the Giants face, and they get zilch in compensation. They deserve it.

  15. @Eddie
    The trouble with that is the lawsuits from the players union. The players union won’t allow contraction.

  16. Doesn’t the tv deal mean that the A’s finances, in comparison to the rest of the ALW, will remain moribund even with a move to SJ?

  17. On a 25 year contract, it is a virtual certainty that the A’s either have termination rights, escalation clauses, or some other provision for the explosion in popularity that would follow a San Jose ballpark built into their TV contract.

  18. And I really, really, really think that Selig and the other owners do not want contraction, regardless of how the $$$ add up.

  19. @eb “The fact the the A’s are 3rd all time in WS wins and a historic franchise only makes this situation all the more painful.”
    It really doesn’t. The present is so-so, but A’s fans have a glorious past to reflect on and hope for a bright future if San Jose happens. What do KC or Pittsburgh fans have?

  20. I agree with bartleby. No way the A’s sign a 25 year TV contract without those types of provisions.

  21. KC and Pittsburgh fans have great stadiums, and exclusivity in their respective markets. They just don’t have good management that maximizes value. They’ll never get the big revenue that other bigger city clubs get. But with their excellent ballparks, a bit of savvy could go a long way. Looking at those franchises failures puts greater value on Billy Beane. The A’s are worse off with a horrible stadium, sharing a market with the horrible neighbors, and terrible attendance. But Beane still keeps the team the team interesting and at least hopeful. The other two, decades of futility.

  22. @bartleby I suppose that’s one way to look at it. For me, I grew up seeing this franchise being a dominant force in MLB with amazing hall of fame players. It just seems like the possibility of that happening any time soon is very low. Once you’ve seen your team be that successful and respected, it can be even more frustrating when the franchise falls so low. Whereas a franchise that has never won much doesn’t carry those same expectations, they have less of a drop when they fall. Just look at the Warriors and their fans, there is far less agonizing over there struggles than there is by Raider, 49er, A’s fans when they struggle, IMO. I do agree that having a great tradition is ultimately a wonderful thing, I just think it can lead to more pain during down cycles.

  23. Yes, Selig is going to have to realize the Giants won’t budge and impose a settlement. If the Giants keep suing, they’ll be in a position where they’re fighting the rest of the owners. Do they want that? Maybe they don’t care. At some point, Selig will have to tell the Giants to fall in line or sell the franchise. Or have MLB forcefully assume control of the Giants….

  24. BTW, a slight tangent, but A’s ownership should absolutely play up the fact that the franchise is 3rd all time in WS wins way more.

  25. @eb: You should email the A’s PR guy. His name is Axl Rose or something.

  26. Contraction? Whole Bay for the Giants? Really? C’mon people, relax! I want to hear the decision just like the next guy, but please! The sky isn’t falling, and all indications of the past few months is that the A’s will find the way to San Jose. At this point, I don’t see it any other way. (As a quick reminder; the entire MLB universe does not revolve around the rich, selfish Giants)

  27. @Tony
    Thanks for the reality check. There is reason for optimism for SJ.

  28. @jeff-athletic “KC and Pittsburgh fans have great stadiums, and exclusivity in their respective markets. They just don’t have good management that maximizes value.”
    Pittsburgh has a gem of a ballpark, it’s true. KC has a decent ballpark, but let’s not get carried away. It’s probably in the bottom third of modern MLB parks.
    However, both are in small markets that are not likely to get appreciably bigger. Exclusivity notwithstanding, and even with the best management in the world, their ceiling is limited. Under MLB’s current economic system, they can each be expected to lose far more often than they win, year in and year out. With some savvy decisions and a lot of luck, they may string together a few winning years periodically, but neither is likely to challenge for a title very soon or very often.
    The A’s have WAY more upside. With a new yard in San Jose, they could easily jump into the top third of teams, at a minimum. I wouldn’t trade the A’s past or future with either KC or Pittsburgh.

  29. @eb “For me, I grew up seeing this franchise being a dominant force in MLB with amazing hall of fame players. It just seems like the possibility of that happening any time soon is very low.”
    The possibility of that happening for just about any team not named the Yankees is very low. There are thirty teams, and only one can win it each year. That’s just the nature of the beast. I’m just happy my team has been able to beat the odds a disproportionate amount of the time up to this point.
    “Once you’ve seen your team be that successful and respected, it can be even more frustrating when the franchise falls so low. Whereas a franchise that has never won much doesn’t carry those same expectations, they have less of a drop when they fall.”
    Well, I just disagree with this, and I suspect fans of those non-marquee teams would as well. It’s a similar argument to the one Cubs fans and Red Sox fans had, before the Red Sox won their recent titles. Is it better to: (a) triumph, then fail; (b) be good year in and year out, but never quite get there; or (c) to just consistently suck almost every single year for almost your entire history? I’ll take (a) or (b) over (c) in a heartbeat, and if you think about it, I’m guessing you would, too.

  30. @jeff-athletic MLB offers to expand MLB rosters to 27 players, or some other thing the union wants. Presto, the lawsuits go away.

  31. Expanding rosters + contraction means more 3rd-string lower paying jobs and fewer starting jobs. More players competing for fewer starting jobs = lower salaries all around. More bench warmers per squad. Still think the union will support contraction?

  32. Eddie,
    Contraction isn’t happening! Selig said as much a few months back. Yeah, eliminate an entire franchise because another one is run by a bunch of whiny, rich, selfish a$$holes…enough already!

  33. You believe everything Selig says?

    Aren’t ALL the teams run by whiny, rich, selfish assholes?

  34. Fan-made signs larger than 3×6 feet are restricted from the Coliseum now because of their “negative aesthetic impact,” says Bobert Rose. Are the A’s bracing themselves from fan backlash following some up coming announcement? Who knows.

  35. It’s a nice theory but I suspect it has as much of not more to do with the already existing slew o negative signs in the A’s outfield in recent seasons.

  36. OT – Hope all this discussion about Ryan Braun and Piss-gate doesn’t put San Jose back on the back burner.

  37. @Eddie,
    Contraction or relocation out of the Bay isn’t happening for the A’s; I’ll just leave it at that.

  38. For the umpteenth time, contraction is virtually impossible in baseball due to labor issues, scheduling and the likelihood of litigation. On top of the prohibitive costs, contraction makes no sense whatsoever, which is why no one within MLB ever talks about it.
    Relocation outside the Bay Area is more plausible. But that discussion does not even begin until you find another city in the center of a viable market that offers a 100 percent publicly financed stadium. That’s a starting point, and then you have to buy out some existing team’s broadcast rights if it is Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio or most other markets. Very hard to see that making economic sense for anyone involved. If the economy roars back in the tears to come, then maybe. But very unlikely.

  39. @ eb – “Once you’ve seen your team be that successful and respected, it can be even more frustrating when the franchise falls so low. Whereas a franchise that has never won much doesn’t carry those same expectations, they have less of a drop when they fall.” What does this tell us about the city that has hosted that same storied team? Mayor after mayor have only done dog and pony shows after moer than a decade of negligence so the franchise is left to rust in the shadows of the Raiders and Warriors. People should look in the mirror first before crowing about the morbid current state of affairs and who’s to blame. You reap what you sow. If you didn’t see this day coming, you’re either delusional or in denial….

  40. @Anon If you are baiting for an argument, look elsewhere. I have no interest.

  41. @ eb – who’s baiting who giving outlandish, exaggerated comments? You choose to write what you write, and I’ll choose to respond accordingly. Of course, you can always go the way of JK… 😉

  42. @Anon My God, you’re a petty little guy aren’t you? Feel free to swarm around trying to instigate all you want. I understand and accept that the internet gives you a platform for acting out against all of your real life frustrations. Your constant SJ vs. Oakland baiting merely illustrates your mindset, which is something I want no part of. Go A’s.

  43. I often wonder how the thread title will read: “Breaking news!..Finally!..It’s San Jose!..” It’s out there in the near future (hopefully); the thread RM puts together when MLB officially announces the decision for A’s to SJ. Until then, I’ve decided to go on a hunger strike until it happens. Well, no, not really! But I do vow not to post at all until the thread of all threads comes to fruition. I know this will cause a lot of you to loose sleep (sarcasm), but enough is enough when it comes to rehashing the same tired lines, responding to the same ridiculous posts, the speculation, etc. So with that my sabbatical begins, and hopefully it’s not a long one. See everyone on the other side! Go A’s and Go San Jose!

  44. Take the comment for what it’s worth. Shulman’s headline suggests a negative assertation regarding the statement, but Baer doesn’t slam the door shut with a staunch “NO” as has been the norm when asked the question about SJ.

    “As for the A’s bid to move to San Jose, a territory for which the Giants have rights, sometimes a pause is just as telling as the words that follow it.

    I asked Baer if the Giants were involved in negotiations with Major League Baseball to settle the issue. Baer thought long and hard, obviously wanting to choose his words carefully, before answering, “Not necessarily.”

  45. “Not necessarily”. That’s as non commital as can be. Clearly, something’s going on. Regardless of how non cooperative as the gnats are likely being, Selig is at least bugging them.

  46. it’s so freaking insane that one franchise has this kind of power.

    i hope baer, the bowtie, and the rest of those orange/black clowns go rot out in the dessert somewhere. pretty sure they have some cronies who follow this blog to keep up and they can rot in hell too.

  47. @ eb – typical sensitive response resorting to personal attacks without ever giving any input besides emotional responses (you need to take your schizo meds more often bro). i can’t wait until the a’s flourish in SJ to see the likes of you and other lgo cronies disappear….speaking of which, another reality check for you: SJ starts work on the A’s ballpark roadways (

  48. The way takes Baers comment, it definetly sounds like giants budging finally.

    “I’m going to be respectful of the process here,” said Baer to reporters (including’s Chris Haft) when asked about the Giants potentially relinquishing territorial rights to San Jose, allowing the Athletics to move. “You know, I think that’s really important. The game is bigger than any internal machinations.”

  49. bartleby
    February 24, 2012 at 2:50 PM (Quote)
    “Pittsburgh has a gem of a ballpark, it’s true. KC has a decent ballpark, but let’s not get carried away. It’s probably in the bottom third of modern MLB parks.”

    KC just spent $250 million on a massive renovation, it’s got that new ballpark smell again. I can think of 10 current parks I’ve been to that I consider inferior to Kaufman, putting it into the middle third (but probably not the top half.)

  50. @Mark (TOO) I’ve attended an MLB game in 25 out of 30 current MLB parks, and have visited 3 of the remaining 5 without attending an actual baseball game. I’ll admit, Kauffman is one of the two current MLB parks I’ve not seen personally to date. My present opinion is based on pictures I’ve seen and commentary I’ve read (, but I’ll have to reserve final judgment until I visit in person.
    However, I will point out that Kauffman sits on a freeway far several miles from downtown. Obviously, ballpark rankings are inherently subjective, and everyone will have slightly different criteria. But for me this single fact makes Kauffman unlikely to make my top 20, no matter how well they executed the renovation. It is the reason why Philly’s park, though a gem in every other respect, does not crack my Top 5.
    I am curious though, which are the parks you’ve visited that you consider inferior to Kauffman?

  51. @Anon I have to stick up for eb here a little bit (not that he needs any help from me). His factual assertions on this thread are pretty hard to dispute, and nowhere does he use the words “Lew Wolff” or specifically lay blame. (I don’t doubt that he does blame Lew Wolff to a degree, but that isn’t what he’s saying here).
    I tend to disagree with his comment that losing is tougher just because your team has a proud history. But I understand where he’s coming from, and it doesn’t seem a particularly inflammatory opinion.
    Overall, I think it’s unfair to lump eb together with the lunatic fringe. He has his hopes, but he’s pretty consistent in distinguishing wishes from facts and acknowledging reality.

  52. @ML I recall when you originally posted that. I don’t doubt it’s a great building, but these days, they almost all are. When it comes to ranking a venue against other parks, the competition is stiff.
    So location is a big differentiator. For me personally, this is a HUGE factor. I have driving to sports venues, and don’t do it unless I absolutely have to. Not being in an urban area is a big negative right off the bat. Not being convenient to transit makes it even worse. At least places like Citizens Bank, Citifield, and U.S. Cellular are convenient to transit.
    As I said before, I’ll reserve final judgment until I get there. But when you write something like “You want in, you gotta drive,” and when I consider the stiff competition, I still have to say it’s a longshot to crack my Top 20.
    Out of curiosity, where do you rank Kauffman among MLB venues you’ve been to?

  53. That should read, “hate driving to sports venues.”

  54. Making a actual list (rather than off the top of my head), of the stadiums I’ve been to, I would rather see a game at the new Kaufman Stadium than at:

    Angel Stadium
    US Cellular Field
    Citi Field
    Rogers Center
    Turner Field
    O.CO Coliseum
    Dolphins Stadium
    Minute Maid Park
    Chase Field
    Great American Ballpark

    I have not been to Tropicana Field, but I could safely put it on that list. Obviously, Dolphins (whatever name it’s using this week) will be retired soon.

    Not to say that all of those 10 are bad by any stretch, but that the new Kaufman is really good–suburban location or not. I’d put Kauffman in a group with Yankee, Nationals, Progressive, Dodger, Citizen’s Bank, Miller Park–nice places but short of my top 10.

    Still haven’t been to Rangers, Comerica or Target (going there in June.)

  55. @the other mark. ive heard nothing but great things about kauffman stadium. whenever the A’s play there ray fosse and kuiper always gush about it and say how its one of their favorite ballparks.

  56. @Mark TOO I mostly get where you’re coming from; Your bottom 10 list looks similar to mine, although I quite like Citi Field (more than Yankee Stadium actually, in spite of the giant sea of parking around it).
    From the fact you put Chase and Minute Maid on there, it looks like you may also share my ambivalence about retractable roof stadiums. I find them kind of barn-like, and not really equivalent to a true open air ballpark. Though I would probably rate Chase and Minute Maid higher than Milwaukee (again, largely on location).
    Again, I have to reserve final judgment until I actually get to Kauffman. But no matter how nice a park it is, I am skeptical it would beat Great American, Chase, Minute Maid or Turner on my personal list just because of the location issue.

  57. @ML Are those the only three you haven’t been to yet? And what would be the rest of your top 10?

  58. @bartleby I’m not completely against retractable roof stadiums, I really liked Safeco. It’s just Chase Field seems too big and warehouse like, and Minute Maid is contrived and goofy. Skydome is old Busch Stadium with blue seats, a roof, and a hotel in the outfield. But given the weather in those first two markets, it’s a necessary evil. Maybe they’ll grow on me after a few visits, like Petco Park did.

    I can’t downgrade Milwaukee just based on location–they’ve been playing baseball on that site for over 40 years; it works, and on-site tailgating is a vital part of the Milwaukee experience. It’s a town with a limited mass transit, if they had put the ballpark downtown, you’d still drive to it.

    By 2013 I’ll have hit all 30, and half again that many defunct ones.

  59. I really enjoyed Safeco Field. The roof was open during my visit and I didn’t have a problem with shadows or agoraphobia. My visit of Chase wasn’t during a game, so the empty seats really added to the air hanger sensation. I know it’s unlikely anyone on the 360 Architecture crew that designed Safeco is still on for Cisco Field, but it’s reassuring that 360 Architecture has a stellar ballpark to their name.

  60. @Mark TOO If I lived in Phoenix or Houston, I’d definitely want a retractable roof park. I’m a bit less sold on the necessity for Seattle or Milwaukee.
    I actually like all four of those parks, but with the possible exception of Safeco, they probably all fall in my middle third of ballparks. All other factors being equal, for me an open air ballpark is going to beat a retractable roof ballpark just as a downtown ballpark beats a suburban ballpark.
    As far as Milwaukee goes, I just can’t agree on the location. For me, football is about tailgating; baseball is about going to bars and restaurants in a vibrant nearby neighborhood (which MIller Park does not have). Plus, I’m fairly unlikely to tailgate on a road trip to another city.
    Maybe the locals are stuck driving either way, but if they had put the ballpark in downtown Milwaukee I would definitely not drive to it. When I take a baseball trip or go to a new city for the weekend, I stay downtown and won’t even rent a car unless I really need it for whatever I’m planning to do.
    I really, really hate driving to giant sports or entertainment venues (or malls, for that matter), and do it only when I absolutely have no choice. I loathe inching around giant parking lots trying to park, and despise sitting and waiting to get out of them after a game. Plus, it becomes an issue if you want to have a beer or two at the game.
    Location is a big differentiator for me between ballparks. AT&T is a nice but relatively ordinary ballpark in other respecs, but cracks my top five because it has unparalleled views and is walkable both to SOMA nightlife and transit. Conversely, Miller Park was one of the few times I’ve been forced to drive on one of my baseball weekend trips, and it really detracted from the experience for me in a big way.

  61. If you go to Miller Park and don’t tailgate, you’re doing it wrong. Period. Been that way since before I first went in 1973. But if you have to do the bar scene first…it’s not Wrigleyville, but there are nearby bars within walking distance and a couple bars inside the park.

    The ballpark wasn’t built for the once every five to ten year visitor who might fly in and go carless, it’s for the locals and those who might drive in for a weekend series. If Milwaukee had even a St. Louis type light rail system, downtown and car-free might make sense. But they don’t. So you drive or use the express busses (that link to the park-and-ride that you drove to anyway . )

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