Miley and Reid stir up A’s relocation talk

If you’re Bud Selig or Lew Wolff, sometimes you don’t have to play your own cards when others play them for you. Case in point: Oakland CM Larry Reid and AlCo Supe Nate Miley both brought up the specter of the A’s leaving Oakland, perhaps for San Antonio or Montreal. Nevermind the likelihood of it happening, it’s part of the threat, and the City of Oakland should take it seriously. Even sports economist Andrew Zimbalist says so, though the relocation doesn’t have to be as far as Canada. Zimbalist:

“What they could do is make a short-term arrangement to share AT&T Park with the Giants, and you know that could go on for a couple years until they found an alternative stadium situation.”

MLB wielded the move-to-AT&T card last November and the Giants were mum about it. MLB could move the A’s there temporarily while something was worked out elsewhere. Over the last few weeks I saw some discussion about whether the Giants’s Charter Seat License program could muck things up because CSL holders may have first dibs on any regular season games at China Basin, not just the Giants. I’m not so sure about that, since the license agreement indicates that “Home Games” are specific to the Giants. There’s a gray area in how another home team’s games would be handled, but since there are already provisions for offering and distributing tickets for non-Giants game events (“Classic” events), I figure this isn’t a huge obstacle.

That aside, relocation outside of the Bay Area should be taken much less seriously. Field of Schemes’ Neil deMause lays out the difficult cases for each market and includes San Jose, which has the Giants’ territorial rights claim as its because hurdle. If MLB wants to go through the same charade for the A’s as it did for the Expos, there isn’t a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Oakland is in no position to give up a publicly financed stadium to the A’s. Portland, San Antonio, Charlotte, and Montreal can be best described as mid-level markets, and while some of those cities don’t have problematic stadium T-rights situations to deal with, a relocated team will still be invading existing TV territories, which are arguably just as valuable if not more so. Hell, it’s been a decade and MLB is still trying to unwind the O’s-Nats TV mess.

So for now, there’s nothing to see here. There’s little real action, only theatrics on the part of the JPA and Oakland. If the City calls the Wolff/Selig bluff and sends back a revised offer, then we’ll see the threats fly in earnest. Or not.

P.S. – Keep in mind that until November and last week, MLB has been playing nice with Oakland. They allowed Oakland to entertain the Howard Terminal concept. They didn’t nudge Oakland to choose the A’s over the Raiders. Now all of that has changed. Howard Terminal has been shut down via the lease talks. MLB is waiting for Oakland to partner with the A’s after the dissolution of Coliseum City. If that doesn’t happen, MLB will have a clear indicator of how Oakland wants to proceed.


58 thoughts on “Miley and Reid stir up A’s relocation talk

  1. Quick way to find out regarding the CSL holders – what happened for them when Kal was playing at the Phone Booth while Memorial Stadium was being rebuilt?

  2. MLB could easily put an end to this self perpetuating nonsense by reversing the unprecedented territorial separation division that they unfairly imposed between its two shared Bay Area market teams. By so doing, MLB would then be able to offer to the Giants, as part of a compensation package, to have the A’s move in as tenants at AT&T Park for several seasons until Cisco Field is completed in San Jose. As long as Oakland continues in its belief that MLB is committed to their city, Oakland will put more lease demands on the A’s. We should find out soon enough as to which side is bluffing.

  3. What is puzzling is why an A’s spokesman (Ken pries – who’s that?)didn’t confirm or deny the Matier & Ross suggestion that the A’s could move to Montreal or San Antonio. The A’s need to squash that rumour A.S.A.P.

  4. @duffer- take away your leverage before a final vote on lease is taken- not a good idea. Quan will continue to push that the lease is bad for Oakland so she can point at Kaplan for developing it. Not much more than political grandstanding going on here. I couldn’t even imagine having to deal with these types of buffoons in the business world. Most would have been fired long ago-

  5. Duff, why would they squash that rumor? If anything that helps their position in negotiations with Oakland. And who is to say it’s just rumor. Wolff could very well want to move the team to one of those markets if this nonsense continues and he’s still denied San Jose. He’s a far more patient man than I would have been in the same position.

  6. Anybody want to put money on the notion that perhaps the A’s have already worked out a deal to park the team in Sacramento for a few years if Oakland thinks it has leverage and votes down the lease? Move the team to Sacto, then instruct Oakland to turn over the Coliseum property to the A’s if it wants the team back while the San Jose lawsuit makes its way through the courts. If neither of these options works, then other markets are available. Amazing to watch these Oakland officials act with this “the A’s should be begging to stay” attitude. Um, I was at the stadium a few nights ago – thousands of empty seats for the best team in baseball, which already requires a massive annual subsidy to survive in Oakland. Does Oakland really think the A’s can’t do better anywhere else?

  7. @pjk- I would guess LW has 2 options he is looking at- one would be ATT which gints hate (even though they say they want to be good neighbors and support), or temporary ballpark in SJ next to EQ new stadium- land exists, quakes stadium EIR was for 20k – and there would be no CEQA requirements since it is temporary- either way they are playing in SF gints “territory” so the option would be for the gints to pick-

  8. Oakland really does not want the A’s but the critters don’t want to say it out loud. Oakland people want the raiders. A NO vote would be appropriate bcuz it will finally end the charade that been going on for years now.

    Lacob walked away after one meeting with JQ and her people. One meeting.

  9. Wolff has never discussed playing at the gnats ballpark, however has discussed a temporary venue for the A’s. ML has suggested that a temporary A’s stadium is not only feasible but could be profitable for the A’s.

    The bay area total fanbase is 8.5 mil. Montreal’s total fanbase size is 3.8 mil. (MLB has previously failed at Montreal also) Sacto’s fanbase is 2.3 mil. San Antonio’s is 2.3 mil., Portland’s fan base is a similar 2.3 mil. Wolff and co. appear to be anything but dim-witted – it would difficult to believe that they would consider moving the A’s to a small market site.

  10. @llpec: I’m betting that the rest of baseball would throw the Giants under the bus and give the A’s San Jose if it came down to a vote. Why would any of them want their t.v. market ‘invaded’ by another team when right now it’s only a problem for the Giants and A’s? And I agree that the inconsistent territorial division should be abolished and made into the same system used in other 2-team markets.

  11. FWIW, having the best team in baseball playing in a sewage-spewing football stadium certainly puts a damper on any arguments teams might have that “we need to upgrade our facility to be competitive.” Team owners go before city councils and say, “We need $5 million in improvements to our 15-year-old stadium or we can’t compete.” Mayor and council respond: “Those A’s are doing just fine in a 50-year-old rundown football stadium with empty seats all over the place and raw sewage in the dugouts. We think you can do just fine with what you have. Your request for funds is denied.” Team owners unwilling to let the A’s go to a new stadium San Jose because they fear the New Jersey Devils Rays or something need to think about the implications of keeping the A’s parked in a substandard facility. If a new stadium can get done in Oakland, I’m all for it. Anyone have confidence that it can be done anytime soon? Didn’t think so.

  12. @SMG, I think you’d see enough of the established powers vote against ceding TR to San Jose because they wouldn’t want the precedent.
    All the stuff about “hey, we can move at any moment!” is just posturing. In all likelihood, Selig has told Wolff that he’s stuck. Selig will not publicly state that SJ is closed, and will aide Wolff’s negotiating position to get the best deal possible with city officials.

  13. The A’s are in a real catch-22. They want a new ballpark but are stuck in a such a big market that moving to a new stadium in another market does not do them any good.

    MLB is in all the right markets, you have to give them credit on that unlike the NBA/NHL.

    For the A’s to move they would have to be able to make up the TV revenue they get now (45M or so per year) with revenues from a new stadium.

    I believe by moving to a small market like San Antonio or Montreal would be wash and their revenues would only increase marginally and their payroll would be about the same as it is now.

    They are better off staying in Oakland at the dump they call home now and reap the TV and revenue sharing money in a big market.

    MLB would have tried to relocate the team already if another option existed elsewhere if Selig had his wish. But the reality is the A’s are stuck in the Bay Area at the Coliseum unless they want to share ATT Park.

    Selig is too old, dumb, and cowardly to realize SJ is the only way. His glimmer of hope now is the Raiders leave the Coliseum site and he can wash his hands of this mess barring San Jose winning their lawsuits of course.

    Selig wants a handout from someone SJ or Oakland, he is a crook who wants your money. Wolff is more honest than 99% of owners, he wants to pay for his ballpark but in San Jose.

    Selig has always been praying for an “Oakland Miracle”, god damn retard, that could never happen unless San Jose was allowed to compete forcing Oakland to pay up like they did with the Warriors.

    By banning SJ, he screwed all leverage the A’s had over Oakland for a subsidy….Dumb shit that Selig is.

  14. @ Sid
    I could not have said it better myself.

  15. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that Larry Baer or some others in the Giants’ ownership group have already given in the form of private direct reassurances to Mayor Quan and other Oakland pols that MLB would not allow the A’s to move outside their designated Bay Area territory. I base my opinion on the fact that Oakland pols do not appear threatened by the prospect of the A’s moving from Oakland. It also shows itself with Oakland pols unrelenting desire to extract more lease concessions from the A’s, despite an apparent lease deal with the Coliseum JPA.

  16. @Dan: According to that breakdown, it looks like the case. However, I thought the A’s and JPA were on the same page. Which side did the JPA approve last week?

  17. The JPA approved the A’s side, on the left. The city is the one trying to change things even as it pertains to the JPA apparently.

  18. If there is someone out there- willing to pay 2B for the A’s- like Ballmer did with the clippers- then why would LW/JF care where they moved to? They would take their profit and the new owner(s) would have to figure out the finances. MLB would be fine with the gints being the only Bay Area team- gints revenue stream would increase and so would revenue stream of new market- it’s a win win for all. Key is LW has said they don’t want to do that but you know- if SJ lawsuit doesn’t move forward and Oakland pols continue to act like they have- what would you do? I would take the money and run-

  19. @RU155: Why would other teams want to deal with the possibility of the A’s invading their tv territories when they can contain them within the Bay Area while still moving to a city and facility where they won’t be a welfare case? And allowing teams to move into the territory of others has already been done on more than one occasion.

  20. That looks like a $12 million dollar swing there. They’re adding $6 onto the lease itself. Then they’re asking for $5 million if THEY (JPA) terminate the lease early and on top of that they’re asking for all non-baseball ad revenue that the A’s are paying half on to go the JPA. Somehow I don’t seeing the A’s agreeing to these changes.

  21. Oh. Dan. This is from 7/3. A lot has changed since then. So who knows where the city actually stands now. But you can probably see why Wolff put his foot down and why MLB got involved if these were the proposed last minute changes.

  22. The A’s would be a welfare case if they were to move to San Antonio or Montreal. Even in Oakland – with a new baseball only stadium at the CC site, the A’s would likely consistently average over 25K, (a mid-market level) their $45 mil. annual television rights contract is also respectable. They would also likely overtake the giants eventually again – and average over 30K per game. If they moved to a small market site – they would not be able to achieve those figures at a consistent level. The more successful MLB teams enjoy the whopper tv rights deals – the small market teams receive revenue sharing.

    Does Wolff, or a prospective MLB owner, wish to move to a small market city and likely be less successful – or does MLB need to add another charity case franchise? – it’s doubtful.

  23. Well, MLB already has decided to leave millions of dollars in Silicon Valley money on the table just to satisfy the Giants and keep the A’s out of San Jose. Don’t be so sure that 2+2 always =4 when it comes to MLB. The A’s are kept on league welfare and even San Jose suing MLB hasn’t resulted in any changes.

  24. pjk said: “FWIW, having the best team in baseball playing in a sewage-spewing football stadium certainly puts a damper on any arguments teams might have that “we need to upgrade our facility to be competitive.””

    Of course, the City of Oakland wouldn’t repeat this, but any team can have a good three year run if they time their prospects right and spend wisely on the free agent market. Beane is going all-in this year. Even with a World Series win or two in the Coliseum, they’re still going to have a problem when their stars get expensive and the minors are bare. Maybe those WS wins make the following lean years worth it? I would do that trade.

    But man, it sure would be nice to be a contender year-in and year-out for more than just a handful of years at a time.

  25. It’s unlikely the A’s could outdraw the Giants even in a new stadium. The only plans we’ve seen for stadiums are all in the ~ 32,000-36,000 seat range. Let’s split the difference and call it 34,000. If every game were sold out, that’s 2.754 million fans per season attending. If AT&T sells out every game in a season, that’s 3.395 million fans attending. So the Giants could run at 81% capacity and still match A’s attendance in that scenario.

    Now a new stadium would obviously help the A’s draw a much higher per game average than they do now, no question there. But to say they’d overtake the Giants in total attendance assumes that they’d either build a much larger stadium than has been mentioned before and/or Giants attendance falls precipitously, which is very unlikely.

  26. It would be naive to think that MLB would only look at those TV market numbers when deciding on how to handle franchise locations. They’re a solid start, sure. But they only paint a very small picture. Even just looking at the bay area and suggesting that’s our true market would be wrong. You have to account for all the other franchises in the area and how much they may take away from the audience and corporate dollars. You have to account for all the other activities that people may do instead of focusing on baseball. How many businesses are out there who may be willing to work with the team and how much competition for their dollars there is. Yes, both Montreal and San Antonio are smaller markets. And yes it’s probable that the A’s would still be on revenue sharing. But depending on the situation and the deal, it’s also possible that they’d require less to function and be successful. And it’s possible one of these cities would be willing to shell out more to build them their stadium as well. And guess what. It wouldn’t be adding *ANOTHER* charity case. It would be the same one they’re currently dealing with.

  27. Sigh

    Oakland Raiders get Coliseum to themselves
    Oakland Athletics build a temp ballpark on the Coliseum parking lot…

  28. It would be very naive for MLB to add another small market team. Even at the CC site, with a new baseball only ballpark – the A’s would likely be, worst case scenario, a successful mid market team. It’s doubtful they would achieve that at smaller market cities. However, as pjk suggested, 2 + 2 may not = 4 in the MLB world.

  29. duffer, again, they’re not adding a small market. They already ARE a small market. Furthermore, you’re defining the market size based on a singular criterion. And currently at CC they’re nothing. And if they’re expected to play by Oakland’s rules they’re still going to be small market because they’ll be deep in debt, still be lacking heavily in corporate partnership, and still be second tier in terms of fandom.

  30. dmoas: your corporate sponsorship as a factor is overrated. (The potential corporate sponsor loss also frequently used as an excuse by the giants owners to justify their false claim to San Jose) For example, the 2013 Giants media rights revenue was $84 mil., their revenue from corporate sponsors was $28 mil. The 2013 A’s received $65 mil. from media rights revenue, $16 mil. from corporate sponsorship. Corporation sponsorship is a small piece of the pie concerning MLB franchise revenue – not a big deal and not a factor when considering possible small market MLB franchise locations.

  31. @duffer- it’s much more important than you state- to build a ballpark someone needs to buy suites and naming rights and PSL’s- and that typically is corporations- it’s not just about signage

  32. @GoA’s: Corporate sponsorship is a small percentage of MLB franchise income – media rights, gate receipts, and even concession revenue are way more lucrative. The giants – for example, would likely lose $5 mil. in corporate sponsor revenue (worst case scenario)if the A’s move to San Jose. $5 mil. will barely cause a dent in the Giant’s overall revenue – and hardly cause the franchise to swim in red ink.

  33. Duffer, you’re not even talking about the same thing. The Giants particular stance is flat out BS. There’s no question there. But to say that concessions are more important than the corporate dollars over all is flat out wrong. The corporate dollars are what FUND the private portion of stadium costs. Oakland/East Bay lacks that base because SF is way too close and siphons off too much of what is in general small to begin with. There’s little doubt moving out of the East Bay (whether it’s the small bit from the Giants in the South Bay or out of the Bay Area altogether) that there are places with a stronger *AVAILABLE* (i.e. untapped) corporate base to work with. And a few of those locations may very well outweigh the overall loss in market size compared to what the A’s are able to utilize (which isn’t the same as total size) in their current situation.

  34. @dmoas – wrong answer. Here is the breakdown of the 2013 Giants revenue:

    $300 mil. total
    $126 mil. – gate receipts
    $26 mil. – concessions
    $28 mil. – Corporate sponsors
    $88 mil. – media rights
    $9 mil. – parking

    The giants corporate sponsor revenue is only 9.3% of their total revenue. Their potential loss of income from corporate sponsors (if the A’s move to San Jose) is likely only $2-3 mil. max – yet another example of the giants exaggerated claims that the A’s moving to San Jose would cause the giants to go bankrupt.

  35. Duffer –

    Where are they hiding the other $23M? (your numbers don’t add to 300)

    Also, are you really assuming the only corporate contribution is through sponsorships? I bet somebody has studied how much of that gate and concession revenue comes both directly and indirectly from a strong corporate base…It can’t be 0. Which is why the A’s want access to a stronger one than Oakland, no?

  36. @Kevin: it can be – the giants claims are complete b.s. The $28 mil. from corporate sponsors is accurate – and the giants would prevent the A’s from building a new ballpark in Oakland if they could. The giant’s goal (as most readers of this blog know) is to drive the A’s out of town.

  37. @Kevin: (Also the missing $21 mil. is the giants contribution to MLB revenue sharing)

  38. I’m well aware of the Giants’ goal, and I agree their claims to SJ’s money are complete BS, but you’re underestimating the importance of a corporate base.

    Both things can be true: the Giants can be lying about how much of their money comes from SJ corporations AND corporate money can be really important. It’s about waaay more than sponsorships.

  39. @ duffer

    Still trying to figure out your math when it comes to the Giant’s paying 21 million to the MLB revenue sharing. If my math was correct the Giants contributed approximately 9.4 million to the pool according to the data you provided. The Yankees and the Dodgers were the only teams that got hit with luxury tax fines in 2013. There is still a shortfall of 12 million dollars that you said the Giants contributed? How did they pay more to the system than the Yankees or Giants? Please explain. I used the info from fangraphs as my refernce tool.

  40. * I meant Yankees and Dodgers*

  41. @Mike2 – those figures are from Bloomberg’s MLB team valuations.

  42. Here’s their full letter:

  43. So the developer doesn’t want the A’s to get a lease extension even though there is just a wee bit of a $500 million funding gap for a Raiders stadium, maybe even more than that. This article drives home the point that there is not enough land to go around for ancillary development that would make both baseball and football stadiums profitable. So Oakland is going to have to make a choice. But Oakland won’t make a choice. A choice will be made for them when either the NFL, MLB or both throws in the towel on Oakland. How can Oakland justify choosing a 10-days-a-year football stadium that costs $1 billion over an 81-days-a-year baseball stadium that costs half that much?

  44. Those quotes from the city council make it sound as if Coliseum City is dead. They’ve clearly lost confidence in the BayIG group. If that’s the case, I don’t see why they’re fighting the A’s so hard on this. There’s no Raider deal without BayIG and BayIG may be on the outs. Delaying a yes vote and trying to get more concessions from Wolff feels more like an attempt from everyone not named Kaplan to win political points.

    A lease extension is the first step to possibly and finally developing east Oakland – while keeping the A’s no less. That should be a bigger priority than $6-12 million dollars. But if the council think negotiations are tough now, wait until the negotiations to actually buy the land and develop it.

    That said….the developer letter asked that they be given until October to meet its obligations. Given Oakland’s history of kicking the can down the road, I wouldn’t be surprised if the vote gets tabled now. A degree of cover has just been provided to do exactly that. I hope I’m wrong.

  45. Or better yet, they could lose both teams and then plan development without sports venues, the way it should be in Oakland.

  46. @muppett- doesn’t the new lease require approval by 7/31? I agree that I could see Oakland pols wanting to wait until October but from the A’s perspective that would be a loss of 3 important months to begin planning alternatives if the lease is not approved-

  47. Is it too late for the 980 ballpark idea..also again I’m sure if City of Oakland chooses the Raiders/development team…there has to be a clause which allows some land saved for a temporary or new ballpark for the A’s….because Raiders are loaded this year…Reggie Mckenzie like Billy Beane…spent crazy in free agency and drafted well (Mack, Carr etc.) that minimum Raiders would have to make the playoffs which would rival a Oakland Athletics world series win…the Raider nation is much stronger so Quan most likely with get elected again

  48. Well now we know why Quan has been stalling. They’re fast heading toward decision day and she doesn’t want to make the call. They sign the lease with the A’s and this is the Raiders last season in Oakland.

  49. @GoA’s- Tabling it is the same as voting no without actually having to vote no. I don’t think pols really care about the A’s perspective too much. Playing tough while “protecting the taxpayers”, true or not, is probably the smarter political move.

    If the teams leave, as SMG alluded, I’m sure there are people in City Hall who know that developing without sports could provide a better tax stream. If the teams are going to walk, better to have them walk without having to actually (officially on the record) telling them too.

    But we should know more in the next few days as the CM’s respond to the developer letter a little more in depth than what we got tonight.

  50. Oakland should give up already. Both the A’s and Raiders can stay til their lease expire then after that, no more sports teams in Oakland. JQ or whoever the leader of the city should end the charade. Use the land for new development or whatever the city want to do with it. Clearly, Oakland can’t afford to keep even 1 team. End the charade now.

    The end is near as The Chairman Frank Sinatra used to sing.

  51. @daniel: Sinatra, in that same song, also said “I did it my way.”

    The thing is, Oakland’s way is dog shit.

  52. @dan
    I’m sorry but if I was a developer I would be hesitant on buying the Coliseum land from Oakland. If other developers are having issues with the Coliseum land including our sports teams so will the new guy. 1995 Oakland bet the future on Mount davis…live with it…let the Raiders have priority on the Coliseum

  53. Harry, nothing you just posted makes any sense. Please formulate an actual thought before posting.

  54. @Dan

    I did. That is why I corrected u. Dan…u got to be more humble when others are trying to give u insight. Stop being soo damn salty. City of Oakland ain’t voting because they want to side with Raiders… stop it

  55. Harry, Wolff seems keen to use that land, and he’s a developer. Seems to me Oakland has two choices, a developer with a baseball team who wants to build (and then host 82 games a year minumum on the site to drive traffic) who needs much less money to build since he’s only building a 400-500 million dollar ballpark. Or they go select the hesitant developer working with a football team that is lucky to play 8 games with any kind of attendance each year driving traffic and whose team has already abandoned Oakland once.

    This wouldn’t be a hard choice for anyone but the idiots who claim to be running Oakland.

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