Boxer advocates for A’s to stay in Oakland, for W’s to leave for SF

Earlier this week, Let’s Go Oakland’s Doug Boxer led the charge to collect 10,000+ names on a petition asking the A’s to take down the tarps at the Coliseum for the playoffs. The move worked insofar as the team announced the takedown for potential ALCS and World Series games. Sadly, we know now that those games won’t be played. Despite that, the petition drive succeeded in getting attention for the tarps and the fanbase, although Boxer’s phrasing the petition as “giving paying fans access to playoff games” was a bit of a stretch.

It’s unlikely that Boxer will be leading any petition drives to keep the Warriors in town, since the San Francisco Business Times and the San Jose Mercury News both report that Boxer, in addition to his LGO duties, is a paid consultant to the Warriors for their waterfront arena project. Boxer is a former Oakland Planning Commissioner and is well connected, making his counsel pretty valuable for getting a complex project like an arena at Pier 30/32 off the ground.

Since the Warriors unveiled their plans in May, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions here asking why keeping the A’s in Oakland is such a passionate movement while the Warriors have gotten a collective shrug, relatively speaking. The A’s have only been in Oakland three years longer than the W’s. The W’s have had much more consistent attendance and TV ratings than the A’s. The answer comes in part from Boxer’s response to the SFBJ when they asked him about his seeming inconsistency in supporting the W’s move while fighting to keep the A’s from leaving.

“The entire Bay Area shares one NBA team, its fans are all over the region, and the best place for it to be situated is right in the middle of the whole region, at a spectacular waterfront location, at Piers 30-32, equally accessible from every city, north, south, east and west,”

It’s a very diplomatic non-answer, but it sheds light on a couple of possible explanations. We already know that the team’s identity is the bland “Golden State Warriors”, a name that has only succeeded in getting fans from other cities to ask where “Golden State” is located. The Warriors have generally refused to take on the Oakland moniker, though I’d heard that when the arena was renovated for the 1997 season, then-owner Chris Cohan was willing to consider the name change in exchange for significant lease breaks. Prior to Cohan, neither Franklin Mieuli nor the Dan Finnane/Jim Fitzgerald group wanted a name change. So while the W’s are literally the only NBA game in town, the fanbase is linked mostly to the W’s regional legacy and proximity rather than a city identity. When the team started marketing alternate jerseys featuring the old “The City” logo nearly a decade ago, the jerseys proved extremely popular.

Jason Richardson and Baron Davis before the “We Believe” season started.

In response to “The City”, “The Town” design clothing started showing up around Oakland. That right there is a microcosm of the issue we’re seeing. With the A’s, there’s a rivalry across the bay, a distinct identity, winning tradition, all things to rally around. The Warriors don’t have any of that. Even the one championship the Warriors got in 1975, the Coliseum Arena was booked for the NBA Finals, forcing home games to be played at the Cow Palace. There’s precious little to get riled up about. It shows in the lack of grassroots or other political movements to retain the Warriors like Let’s Go Oakland. The City of Oakland’s “Oakland Loves Its Sports Teams” recent week of events barely mentioned the W’s at all. There are no websites or Facebook pages devoted to such a cause, no outlets to foment this kind of anger against ownership. Sites like Warriorsworld and Golden State of Mind aren’t terribly concerned with the issue right now. Plus there is a decent-sized contingent of fans who would love to see the W’s in San Francisco to bring SF’s prestige to the team.

Back to the subject of Doug Boxer. How can his inconsistency be explained? He can use the whole “centrally located” line with the A’s just as he does for the W’s. The problem with that is that having two “centrally located” baseball teams in the Bay Area has caused them to repeatedly steal each others customers, as the A’s did in the late 60’s-early 70’s and the Giants did when AT&T Park was built. The Bay Area has grown to the north, south, and east with no proper adjustment by the teams to reflect that change, making it possible that this cycle will continue. Thing is, that’s not LGO’s argument. To Boxer and LGO, the A’s are first and foremost and Oakland/East Bay team. And that’s fine, though Boxer’s stance short circuits at least one of the arguments being espoused by those wanting to keep the A’s in town, including Oakland resident Katherine Brown in the Tribune:

I cannot bear the thought of the hundreds of jobs that people from Oakland could lose if the A’s ventured to another city. I cringe at the idea of a stadium remaining dormant for 9 months out of the year- filled not with thousands of cheering, Bernie-leaning fans, but only with the memories of what was.

Perhaps Boxer should discuss what will happen to the jobs that normally service 44 Warriors games at Oracle Arena, or the memories of the “We Believe” season or Run TMC. I’ve personally asked Boxer on several occasions to write a post here, on this blog. I promised that it would be unedited and that it could run without comments if he requested it. He came close to doing it once, but so far has chosen not to write a post. That’s fine, but I think he owes an explanation to a lot of people about this inconsistency – and it doesn’t have to be here. Doug Boxer is a genial guy. Jeffrey and I had lunch with him a while back and it was nothing but pleasant. Other than that experience, there’s a specific observation I can make about Boxer. About a year ago at what was probably the unveiling of the Coliseum City plan I talked to him at City Hall after the press conference. He told me that there are no innocents in this franchise politics business, and I agreed with him. I just didn’t realize back then that he was Exhibit A in showing how conflicted this whole mess is.

27 thoughts on “Boxer advocates for A’s to stay in Oakland, for W’s to leave for SF

  1. Not only that but also the lack of effort on the part of Quan and others in the effort to keep Warriors in town seems pretty crazy. The arena is probably the one thing that can make the most money given the even dates the Warriors fill, plus the duel role the arena fits in hosting concerts. Don’t fans speak up about this?

  2. So to summarize an excellent post by RM: Doug Boxer is full of feces. (That was easy)

  3. Doug Boxer is just another shill for the Giants. Its such a bummer that there’s A’s fans out there who want the team to stay in Oakland. There’s simply not enough to keep them there, and SJ is right down the street. i’m no Johnny-come-lately fan, Ive gone to 1 game at the Coli every year since 1986, but…the place is a dump and the team deserves better. The fans are among the best in the game in terms of knowledgeability, coolness and sense of place in baseball, but holy crap, does the Coli ever blow compared to pretty much every other stadium in MLB. The Giants don’t want the A’s to move to SJ, in fact, they want them to move out of the Bay Area, which is what will happen if they don’t move to SJ. SJ just makes so much sense, I urge all A’s fans to swallow the nostalgia pride and look at the facts and realize that the evil Giants are winning this battle, and SJ must be the new home of the A’s if you want them to stay in the Bay.

    But if you need more proof, the bottom line is simply, this:

    San Jose, 2011, 967K population
    Oakland, 2011, 396K population

    SJ deserves a team because they simply have more people there. Its gross that they don’t have the A’s. The A’s would flip the script & become a juggernaut if they moved there.

  4. Nico, reason fans aren’t speaking up is most W fans I’ve talked to don’t seem to mind the move at the very least. And a large segment of the fan base (possibly even the majority) are actually looking forward to having a waterfront arena in SF. This could be for several reasons, not the least of which is the perception that this move could significantly improve what has usually been a struggling team at best. But it’s also because the bulk Warriors fan base is from the entire Bay Area, not just Oakland and the east bay. I think the Warriors were quoting as saying their season tickets literally come 50/50 from the east and west sides of the bay.

  5. San Jose has the corporate dollars to get a privately funded ballpark done. Oakland does not. Expecting the owners to make up the corporate shortfall in Oakland by draining their own personal bank accounts is not realistic. There is also no site in Oakland; San Jose has a downtown site selected, with an EIR done.

  6. “But if you need more proof, the bottom line is simply, this:
    San Jose, 2011, 967K population
    Oakland, 2011, 396K population
    SJ deserves a team because they simply have more people there. Its gross that they don’t have the A’s. The A’s would flip the script & become a juggernaut if they moved there.”
    A simple use of rhetoric that SJers blame the Pro-Oakland camp of using. The East Bay has around 2.5 million people. Plus, for the A’s to succeed anywhere they will have to draw from ALL of Northern Ca, like the Giants do.

    • A simple use of rhetoric that SJers blame the Pro-Oakland camp of using. The East Bay has around 2.5 million people. Plus, for the A’s to succeed anywhere they will have to draw from ALL of Northern Ca, like the Giants do.

      This has been hashed and rehashed several times here. The proximity of a ~10-20 mile radius from the site matters more. Now unfortunately for Oakland, that would overlap SF as well. But, the more glaring support (or lack thereof in case of the the EB) would be from the corporate base, which SJ/SV readily trumps. And no, SVLG companies haven’t condone an Oakland effort to date FWIW.

  7. Fascinating about Boxer- his prerogative but it shows how logic allows him to support a W’s move to SF while emotion is driving his move to keep the A’s in Oakland. As much as we hate bs he isn’t driven by emotion. It is unfortunate that Oakland didn’t prioritize the Raiders and actually get something done for one of their teams- I hear from a reasonably good source that the Raiders are as good as gone to LA- initial thinking was that Marc Davis wanted to wait since his mother lives in the east bay- but he lives in LA and loves it there and has said Al never wanted to leave- bottom line it tells me that Oakland can’t pull off the Coli City idea because of finances-

  8. @ GoA’s – I don’t think Raiders to LA is a slam-dunk — see NFL relocation fee. That serious type of scratch would likely force Davis to sell part of his ownership, which I’m not sure he would want to do. According to CSLI, teams relocating to LA are facing annual losses for years. Obviously long-term things should become very profitable. Is this something Davis is willing to incur? Perhaps. I’m not so sure though that it’s as obvious as people think it is. IMHO.

  9. FWIW, I think Quan kind of telegraphed that things weren’t going well with the Raiders when, right after the recent meeting with the NFL, we had another pep rally and Quan handing out A’s and Raiders signs. Not seeing how a Raiders stadium gets done if the Raiders, who are used to having things handed to them (Irwindale money, Oakland coliseum renovations), are now expected to finance their own $1 billion stadium. I think I read somewhere that whatever team relocates to LA will see its franchise value double immediately. Yes, there might be a relocation fee, but I’m sure that can be handled with broadcast revenues and contributions from whatever partners participate in an LA relocation….The ideal would have been for the 49ers to move into the Coliseum with the Raiders and have the two teams share half a new stadium along with the other half that was built in 1995. But that ship has sailed. When I drive by the Santa Clara site, I’m amazed at how fast that thing is going up.

  10. @Columbo-Your right- Marc Davis doesn’t have alot of cash- which makes it near impossible for him to do anything at CC-question is does Marc Davis really want to continue to own the Raiders- I’m guessing not- at least not majority shareholder- we shall see- my point being is Oakland has spread itself too thin trying to be all things to all people- they should have focused on one team- bottom line even if the city could afford to give any dollars to a stadium it would have to be split by both teams which makes it even less feasible-

  11. Hey ML why am I blocked. I have not been spamming. Relax dude.

  12. Well im prepared to be a 49er fan if the Raiders EVER DARE try to move to L.A AGAIN. Just move to Santa Clara with the 49ers and give Oakland 5 years go come up with some funding for a future Raider stadium in the 2020’s. A’s to San Jose is fine unless city of Oak can do something about Howard Terminal, and I agree that the Warriors are a shared NBA team and either pier 30/32 or Mission bay site. But u know Oracle is not a bad venue and if Oakland was smart when the warriors leave , Oak should try yo see of there is enough fan and coporate support to lure a NBA team to Oakland like maybe the Bucks or Timberwolves

  13. I know this is off topic, but I thought the NFL considered LA as part of the Chargers TV territory. I read an article somewhere that they could get first dibs in LA if the team decided to move there.

  14. Getting off topic – here is an example of why the Giants organization and some of their fans are such pompous A-holes: (From Friday’s A’s site at the Chron):

    “lanceyoung 3:08 PM on October 13, 2012
    Santa Clara County is on the peninsula, not the east bay. Fremont we’ll give you. There was no reason in Haitis that the A’s should’ve been allowed to move to Oakland in the 1st place. Ridiculous. A’s should’ve moved in 68 to Seattle but there was a “multi-purpose” stadium already there. STAY EAST OF THE PENINSULA!!! GO TO SACTO!!!”

    What an arrogant idiot – The guy is wrong with his facts also (so typical of many giants fans). Palo Alto, possibly is considerated the Peninsula – south of there definitely is not. Also San Jose is nearer to Oakland( 41 miles) than SF (48 miles) Lanceyoung also does not point out that no other professional sports organization claims territorial rights for specific counties – only the giants are attempting to do so. (And some giants fans are puzzled why some A’s fans depise the Giants organization and some of its fans)

  15. If someone thinks SJ/SCCO is on the peninsula, then they have problems beyond just being an asshole. Don’t sweat this sucker to much duffer. FWIW, I know not one Giants fan down here who thinks that way.

  16. True, not all the gnats fans are butt-heads, some certainly are though.

  17. …Pretty bad day overall today for fans of the two Frisco teams.

  18. Wasn’t half bad for those of us who couldn’t care less about a certain Halloween themed baseball team.

  19. I wonder what Oakland is going to do with an entire empty coliseum complex in 2018? My guess is either a maybe a new eastmont mall, or maybe section 8 housing, or they can save the land for an industrial business to move in. What u guys think?

  20. I had a vision that Oakland could be the San Antonio of the baseball world. It doesn’t seem like Oakland could satisfy everyone, and with the Raiders likely requiring the most money to satisfy – with the least amount of return on investment in terms of jobs and stadium use- and the Warriors as good as gone, If Oakland was able to focus on a great solution for just the A’s, perhaps they can flip the market for the A’s in Oakland and provide an excellent fan experience. For the last couple years I was beating the San Jose drum a little bit, and it was getting louder each day. But since the end of the season run and the playoffs, through which I went to 8 games from August – to game 5 of the ALDS, I got a whole different idea of what the preservation of the A’s in Oakland could mean. As I was sitting in the parking lot watching the fans tailgating and having a great time I couldn’t help but think that the powers that be just aren’t being creative enough to reach the fans.

  21. BTW> Speaking of the W’s, supposedly they are releasing sketches of their arena today?

    On the ball: The Golden State Warriors plan to introduce the first drawings of their proposed San Francisco arena Monday – and it’s sure to be a talker.
    Sources who have gotten a sneak peek say the 135-foot-tall arena would be placed at the far outer edge of Piers 30-32, in hopes of making it appear smaller and creating more of a sense of open space.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Port-official-blows-4-500-at-strip-club-3948621.php#ixzz29P0WiOTq

  22. @Anon – Renderings are up. Post coming later.

  23. I had read previously that they were supposed to release preliminary sketches on the 16th (tomorrow). Perhaps that changed or M&R just got it wrong. Either way, I can’t wait to see them.

  24. It’s… interesting. Design wise I’m not sure what they’re going for, but it’s a bit too… metal for my taste. But then again, it could be a rust heap like that POS they just opened in Brooklyn so it could be a lot worse. Also interesting they’re downsizing so much. The SF arena would likely be second smallest in the NBA with only New Orleans smaller if they stick with the 17,500 capacity (note I’m assuming Sacramento will be gone by then but in the off chance they aren’t then Arco is also smaller).

  25. Why hasn’t the 49ers move to Santa Clara gotten as much controversy? Because they said from the get go that they’d keep the “SF” name. As for the Warriors? They’re “Golden State” and will remain so, As for the A’s, a good deal of the acrimony here and elsewhere is rooted in the uncertainty of what the city name in front of “Athletics” It may be petty, but it’s why most people follow teams. Because it’s THEIR teams, THEIR identity.

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