Bob Lurie spent much of his tenure as San Francisco Giants owner being vilified. After saving the team from moving to Toronto with his purchase of the franchise from Horace Stoneham in 1976, Lurie lost money nearly every year since then, declaring as early as 1984 that he was ready to sell the team. Despite having more competitive teams in the late 80’s, Lurie could not build enough goodwill to pass stadium proposals in San Francisco (twice failed), Santa Clara County and San Jose (once each). So when the 1992 season came and went and the Giants were headed towards a 90-loss season, a deal struck in the summer to sell the team to Tampa Bay interests appeared to seal the team’s fate. The $115 million sale price, which had the blessing of MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent, only required a vote of National League owners to move the team. When those winter meetings came around, the sale was rejected by a 9-4 vote, allowing SF interests one last chance to put together a local ownership group and creating a legal mess for MLB to untangle many years later.
During that ordeal, Lurie famously got the blessing of A’s owner Walter Haas to pursue the South Bay, which was during the late 80’s undesignated territory for MLB. After Lurie twice struck out in the South Bay and Peter Magowan’s group purchased the Giants for a lesser sum of $100 million (including $10 million of Lurie’s own money), the incoming group had South Bay territorial rights grandfathered. For years, the Giants have changed their rationale for keeping the territory, starting with the claimed inability to cover debt service payments on AT&T Park. Now the reasoning has settled with “half of the fan base” coming from the South Bay, or the Peninsula, or something else that sounds good. Lurie had something to say about that as well:
“It is the Giants’ territory, and they’ll certainly protect it. We used to draw at least half our attendance from the Peninsula, and I know the Giants don’t want to lose that association. At the same time, the A’s definitely deserve a much better stadium.”
In Lurie’s advanced age, he’s deserved the right to voice whatever opinion he likes about this and many other subjects, whether he sounds strident or diplomatic. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that he singled out the Peninsula, not the South Bay, which may sound like distinct areas but in terms of mindset have a tendency to blur.
Historically, the definition of the Peninsula begins with the northern limit of San Mateo County (Daly City, Brisbane) south along 101 and 280, past the Palo Alto-Menlo Park border (county line) and down to Mountain View. For many the Valley (somewhat synonymous with the South Bay) begins at Sunnyvale and Cupertino and covers the rest of Santa Clara County. Of course, Silicon Valley has an even more amorphous definition, with some saying it extends up to Redwood City, San Bruno, or even San Francisco. All of this confusion only adds to the sense of provinciality that pervades much of the Bay Area.
Lurie’s quote provides little insight into the inner workings of baseball, except that there’s something to be said for what may happen to your own initiative if MLB decides to wait a while. Perhaps someone at the BASHOF induction ceremony can ask Corey Busch about that. Busch, you may remember, is part of the three-man “Blue Ribbon” panel figuring out what to do with the A’s.
P.S. – Speaking of opinions, Murray Chass has his own about Bud Selig and the mess the A’s are in. (Thanks Tony)
San Jose does not = Peninsula
Yeah I’ve never seen San Jose folded into the peninsula. And at most I’ve only seen Palo Alto and Los Altos folded into it from Santa Clara County. But typically when you’re talking about the peninsula you’re talking about San Mateo County.
That said, he’s not entirely wrong. The peninsula is definitely Giants territory de facto as well as baseball de jure. Hell San Jose is de facto Giants territory today with the vast majority of people being Giants fans in San Jose, Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley no matter how you delineate the latter (and may have been back when Lurie was trying to move to Santa Clara County). But de jure Santa Clara County and San Jose have not always been the Giants territory.
Interesting opinion from the curmudgeon Murray Chass: http://www.murraychass.com/?p=7399
from the Chass article: The Athletics still don’t have a lease extension or a place to play after next season. They can thank Selig for that predicament.
…Yes, they certainly can.
Not a bad article except this nonsensical paragraph:
“On the other hand, the other clubs would benefit economically from having the Athletics play in San Jose instead of Oakland, whose stadium has become dismal and dilapidated. The Giants would benefit, too, by having the Bay Area to themselves.”
Where do some people get the idea that the South BAY is not part of the BAY Area?
If the A’s moved to San Jose no one on the Peninsula would go to Downtown San Jose for games. Why? It is cause of traffic patterns.
280 and 101 South in the evenings are nightmares heading into Downtown San Jose. It is straight backed up from Foothill Expwy to Downtown SJ on 280 on most days at night.
101 South is even worse from Redwood City to 87, where they need to add another lane for the exit to 87 which is not going to happen for a while.
Where is the most convenient to get to San Jose is the evening? The East Bay where everyone is heading the other direction. For Giants to claim the Peninsula and South Bay as one does not make any sense. 680 South only has traffic in East San Jose due to the Capitol Expwy exit being garbage.
880 South you are OK until Montague but you can drive across to 680 on Calaveras and be OK.
This stuff is so basic and the Peninsula will always head to SF over SJ because of this.
Palo Alto =/= Peninsula. The peninsula starts at the county line – everything north is “peninsula”, everything south is “Santa Clara Valley”.
@ Sid – you forget CalTrain, my friend. Big chunk of Sharks fans use CalTrain to go to the games, and if Cisco Field is built at Park/Autumn/San Fernando, you will see a bunch of green and gold on that service as well.
@Turin: I always wondered that too. It’s called the San Francisco Bay Area (referring to the bay itself). And yet some people will try and tell you that the South Bay isn’t part of the Bay Area even though it touches the San Francisco Bay. Meanwhile, you have places like Sonoma, Napa, and Solano Counties (which are considered geographically part of the Bay Area) even though they only touch the San Pablo Bay. It’s just nonsense. The objective definition of the Bay Area includes: Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties.
@Sid: Caltrain goes right to the proposed stadium site in San Jose (even closer than Caltrain gets to AT&T). ON top of the the VTA Light Rail Goes directly to the site, as does ACE Train, and eventually BART will go directly there as well. And even before that leg of BART is complete, people will be able to transfer from BART to VTA Light Rail in Milpitas and get right to the stadium. The public transit access to the site is unparalleled. So (at full buildout of BART), you are looking at direct train access from anywhere in the South Bay, Peninsula, San Francisco, and East Bay as well as all the way out to Tracy, Manteca, and Stockton.
The giants lack of popularity on a national basis is holding true to form for 2014 however – They rank 18th of the 30 MLB teams at road attendance (the A’s rate higher than the giants at road attendance) The giants putrid post season television ratings also support that fact. Giants fans may argue that who cares about national television ratings or road attendance. MLB cares – and the giants bad post season ratings are likely a concern for MLB whether MLB admits it or not (thats likely why the Fox network blasts the giants frequently – Fox lose millions in revenue whenever the giants make the playoffs.
I can’t believe you’re arguing about this. Comments deleted.