On this Opening Day, let us thank the Giants

Eleven years ago I wrote a small item on this blog titled “One Coliseum, Two Teams.” It mentioned how the Raiders had recently patched up their relationship with Oakland and Alameda County after signing a renewed lease at the venue. The A’s unveiled a proposal to build north of 66th Avenue which went nowhere. A scaled down vision of building at the Malibu and HomeBase lots near Hegenberger suffered a similar fate.

All this time, politicians and civic leaders have been trying to pitch plans in which both teams could happily co-exist within the complex, if not in the same stadium. Nevermind the concerns form the teams about parking, or construction-related upheaval, or how everything would be scheduled – who would get first dibs. This was, in East Bay fantasyland, the perfect solution despite the teams’ misgivings. And yes, the teams would have the finance these stadia themselves, or with third parties who had little-to-no relationship with City, County, or the teams, and little actual experience with projects like these.

Do you see how preposterous that reads? It was completely delusional. And no one truly believed in it, which is why Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf sent a couple letters to the NFL saying We Tried as the owners approved the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. Eventually something had to break up the inertia.

Both the NFL and MLB have been eyeing the Coliseum complex for some time. While it’s not a glamorous location, the Coliseum has just about everything else a team and league could want: lots of parking, great transportation links, excellent proximity to the fan base, and potential as a development site. The leagues carried a sort of gentleman’s agreement about it. They didn’t assail each other or the teams while quietly competing for the space through their franchises. Once the NFL gave up and allowed Davis to leave Oakland, the NFL was quick to blame the A’s for the Raiders’ departure.

How do the Giants come into this? They have control over building a stadium in most of the Bay except the East Bay and most of the North Bay. The A’s have exclusive rights to the East Bay. The A’s tried to argue that since the Giants didn’t build in the South Bay (despite being granted permission by the A’s to do so), the A’s should be granted those rights if they built in San Jose. That was tabled by MLB and lost in court when San Jose sued MLB and the Giants sued San Jose. It was the Giants’ continued intransigence that forced the A’s back to Oakland, renewing the competition for the one known viable stadium site in the East Bay (nothing else has been fully studied).

We saw this happen before in San Francisco, no less. The Giants built their jewel at China Basin with a modest amount of public support, mostly infrastructure. The ballpark’s popularity took off immediately and there’s been no looking back. Debt was retired earlier this year, 20 years after groundbreaking. The 49ers got limited public funding and lukewarm support from the City and then-mayor Gavin Newsom, greasing the skids for their move to Santa Clara.

Oakland’s version of this tale has a major twist in that the Raiders saw the writing on the wall. Schaaf wasn’t going to budge on public funding, and had already talked more favorably about preserving the A’s than the Raiders. The Raiders never signed up to partner on Coliseum City and similar plans, choosing instead to speak minimally about Oakland while fully chasing Carson and Las Vegas. With Vegas approved, the Raiders chose to leave first instead of waiting for the A’s to build first. The ending for both Oakland and SF is the same: neither has a NFL franchise playing within their respective city limits in the long run, and fans heartily blame the teams and politicians for the state of affairs.

It wasn’t that long ago that Larry Baer was happy with the A’s leaving for somewhere else further away – as long as it was Contra Costa County or Sacramento, not San Jose. Now the A’s are firmly entrenched in Oakland. The indirect consequence of the football teams moving away was unintended. The future for the Giants is more intense competition from the A’s and closer competition from the incoming Warriors. The Giants’ hegemony over the Bay Area isn’t threatened. But it isn’t quite the Giants-focused as intended. The Giants are now just like any other rich team to hate.

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P.S. – The two local Comcast Sportsnet regional sports networks have been rebranded NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. Hooray, corporate synergy.

26 thoughts on “On this Opening Day, let us thank the Giants

  1. newbalkpark.org remains the best A’s-related site on the internet. The Giants have influenced the future of every single major sports franchise in the Bay Area. For anyone following this saga, the SJ Sharks, GS Warriors, SF 49ers, Oak Raiders and Oak A’s have all been disturbed by the wake of of AT&T Park and the Giant’s reluctance towards San Jose.

    Life goes on. It’s just a matter of time before the A’s next finest moment happens outside the shadow of the Giants.

  2. I love how Davis cited the three year extention he signed last year with the city/county as the

    “tiping point”,

    As he and the NFL throw Oakland and Alameda county under the bus. I have gone to my last Raiders game…

    I don’t even think I can go to Vagas for a non Raider related event, since staying at a hotel there would be helping pay for their stadium.

    • doesn’t look like your fellow fans are following suit. the owner said in the news conference last week that they would refund any season ticket holders who didn’t want their tickets anymore.

      but only a few days later like only a dozen supposedly asked for a refund.

      • Yes, your correct it looks like the Raider fans will still come out. Well, to each his own, more power to them every one has the right to make their own choice. They wont see me out there not that anyone will miss me but I am done.

  3. This seems to be a new common view, that the Giants will now regret blocking SJ because the Raiders are leaving and the A’s are going to be 8 miles away forever, with no Warriors or Raiders in the East Bay.

    The Giants are laughing all the way to the bank. The have 3 recent World titles, a beautiful stadium that’s paid off, higher franchise valuation, a better team currently, a higher payroll, and better player development within their org. We have nothing on them right now. Nothing. So we tease them it looks like sour grapes at best and stupidity at worst. And I say that as a lifelong A’s fan who has invest countless dollars and hours at the Coli and in hopelessly optimistic AN fan posts. The Giants ownership and their fans are not worried in the least that we might one day 5 years from now have a stadium in Oakland. They have a wealthier fan base and a one-generation head start.

    • yeah the a’s will always be the second team in this area regardless of what happens. somehow they could win 3 world titles in a row like they did from 1972-1974 but the media here will always take up in the rear from that team across the bay.

      hey at least they have to suffer thru wearing that horrible looking orange as one of their primary team colors.

    • Yeah, I personally don’t care abou all that, because while the San Francisco Giants may not have gotten what they truly wanted (the A’s out of the Bay Area altogether IMHO), they may get what they wanted secondarily which is the A’s in Oakland, and not in San Jose.

      For me the vary fact that the Giants in keeping the A’s out of San Jose, may have been a contributory factor in the Raiders leaving is enough for me.

      I hate the Giants for the way they have treated the A’s, and for there indirect factoring into the Raiders moving.

      • basically wanted the a’s not to get into that silicon valley money.

        i doubt that money will come up from the south bay into an park based in the city of oakland.

        that in return will put more pressure on east bay companies in supporting the a’s even more now than ever when that new park is built wherever it is in the city of oakland.

      • I agree, but the A’s will be the only team in the east bay, so that should help. Don’t have to split the sports dollar with the Raiders, and the Warriors will lose some of their east bay support. And, with Wolff not in the same position they are actually marketing their product, something they did vary poorly in the past.

  4. The outcome is not optimal for the Giants.

    Let’s face it – more than anything, the gnats wanted the A’s to either
    a) move out of bay area all together, or
    b) be stuck in the Coli with the Raiders.

    Yes, they wanted the A’s kept out of San Jose, and they got that. But that was always a long shot anyway.

    But now they get to contend with the A’s in a much, much better situation – having the East Bay (and Oakland itself is very much on the upswing economically) to themselves, with a new stadium on the horizon, and a completely recommitted ownership and management to spend, market, and compete.

    Also, the Giants get to compete with the Warriors, who will have a brand new state of the art arena practically next door, competing for the fickle attention of casual bandwagon fans (a very large portion of their ticket base).

    Oh yes, the Giants will still be in great shape, but now they will have to compete with much healthier, stronger local franchises.

    So the A’s didn’t get San Jose. Not a big deal anymore. Market dynamics have changed drastically from when they first started that process.

    So, f$%# the Giants. 😉

    • NL bases it’s attendance numbers on tickets sold, not tickets used, so they’ll still claim sellouts because tech companies & corporations will still buy blocks of seats and hand them out as incentives.

      A bigger worry for the giants is that the new CBA changed the way that luxury tax is calculated: Instead of actual payroll, it’s average annual value of individual contracts. Backloading and frontloading contracts will no longer be a loophole they can exploit to manage the numbers

      They’re already in a position where, unless they want to hit the luxury tax limit this year, they can’t do any major signings until Cain’s contract is completed, much less sign Bumgarner to an extension.

      Smith, Gillaspie, Kontos, Gerrin, Panik and Strickland are all in various stages of arbitration next year, with club options on Bumgarner and Moore. They’re headed for a big payroll crunch, unless they want to risk depleting a not-good farm system.

  5. how will the attendance be this season with the new optimism and new marketing the team has going for them.

    this rooted in oakland campaign and east fan/oakland fans knowing the a’s will be the only one of the three oakland teams that will not be moving in a couple of years from now.

    a’s attendance has gone downhill the last two seasons after the collapse of 2014 the last two months and then the trade of donaldson which many fans will and have not forgive or forget. a’s were steady increasing attendance from 2011-2014 of about 200k each season from just over 1.4 million in 2011 to 2 million in 2014.

    can this new marketing and knowing the a’s are oakland’s only team a year or two from now be enough to stop the bleeding in the attendance by almost 250k the last two seasons dropping the 2016 attendance figure to around 1.5 million.

    could we even see an uptick in attendance even if the team performs as poorly as many believe they will which is a team that will win maybe 70-75 games this year.

  6. i hope the A’s and Giants both sell out every game each year once the A’s get their new park. I hope the bay area is baseball crazy and the whole country knows it.

    • probably doubtful the a’s sell out every year. maybe best case scenario in the first year or two of the new park they could sell out most of their home games but for long durations? i’d bet against it even if the a’s are the lone oakland based team.

      hell look at the 88-92 seasons where the a’s went to three straight world series and won the division in 4 out of the 5 years and they couldn’t come anywhere near selling out averaging about just over 30k during the 4 peak years from 89-92.

      now the coliseum back then had a capacity of close to 50k and by all accounts the a’s are going to want a more intimate park setting so they could be looking at a park in the mid 35k-38k range in terms of the park capacity which would still make it one of if not the smallest of the new parks build over the last 2.5 decades.

      both the fremont and sj plans of cisco field was for it to be the smallest park in baseball with a 32k capacity although there were rumors that mlb wanted the sj park to be bigger but that idea and park plan never materialized any further than really those renderings released in the summer of 2010.

      • Oakland was also almost leading MLB at attendance at that time. Teams weren’t drawing 3-4 mil. per year back then (as they are now) An MLB team drawing 3,000,000 a year was a real feat in 1988-92 The A’s could easily do over 3,000,000 a year with a new baseball-only stadium at the Coliseum site, to the point where the Giants implement their plan B – moving to San Jose.

    • Not a bad wish. I concur.

  7. I truly believe that had the Giants not blocked the A’s from moving to San Jose, and with the Warriors well on their way to San Francisco; Oakland officials would have found a way to keep the Raiders with a new stadium deal.

    • Yeah, that’s probably how it would have went. But, if Las Vegas/Nevada comes up with 750 million in free money, which of course they did it really may not have mattered if the A’s got San Jose or not.

      I guess one could assume, that if the A’s got San Jose then Davis would have never talked to Vegas, but Davis always had an ear open for any plan that did not include Oakland.

  8. there was talk about some sort of village for the a’s to build around the park and i brought up levi’s stadium having a village built nearby soon.

    an image of what it could look like.

  9. If and/or when the BART extension reaches San Jose, which would be easier to get to: the Oakland Coliseum via BART or Amtrak’s Capital Corridor or the Gnat’s ballpark via CalTrain or is it a wash? Along with territorial rights, I believe the Gnats claimed San Jose provided significant revenue for the team as a reason for refusing the A’s moving to Silicon Valley. If access to the Coliseum is easier than to AT&T Ballpark, then that would potentially weaken the argument that the A’s would take away a source of income for the Gnats, right or am I just imagining things?

    • I think none of that matters anymore.

      The A’s will be in Oakland. No one is moving to San Jose.

      By 2025, it would probably be easier for a great many Santa Clara County residents to ride BART to an A’s game at the Coliseum site than it would be for them to ride Caltrain to San Francisco.

    • I think it’ll be easier to get to Oakland for pretty much everyone in SJ. Leaving the Capital Corridor out of the equation, I’ll estimate that it would be a 57 minute BART ride each way from downtown SJ based on calculating the mileage proportionally between Warm Springs and the Coliseum, and runs four times an hour (the current Warm Springs frequency, assuming those would go all the way to SJ). To get to SF, catching a Baby Bullet from Diridion is 67 minutes and involves catching one of two Baby Bullets per hour. Then there’s a 96 minute slog back home, and involves either hustling to catch the postgame special train or the less-than-once-an-hour ones. Not to mention that there will be multiple SJ BART stations vs. one Caltrain station.

    • Maybe the Giants can petition MLB to block further BART expansions because they violate the Giants’ territorial rights? A commuter train that goes from downtown San Jose right smack to the Coliseum? Talk about a blow to the Giants t-rights. As it is, the Warm Springs is already a big improvement. It’s gotten easier to get to BART from Santa Clara County.

      • Yes, the Giants will not at all be happy if the A’s build their new ballpark at Laney College near the Lake Merritt BART station. A BART ride between Santa Clara County and Lake Merritt will be a lot shorter, quicker, and less expensive than the BART ride between Santa Clara County and San Francisco. We shall see if the Giants have the same clout with BART as they do with MLB.

    • I find it humorous that folks believe that Kaval, who is an employee of Wolff/Fisher- just as he is with the Earthquakes, is the guy who is going to make a stadium magically appear. He’s a good marketer yet at the end of the day the city of Oakland is going to need to pay their way with entitlements to various pieces of city properties- given the activism in Oakland around any city properties there is no guarantee of this being successful outside of current Coli footprint.

      Tarps removed- great- just what the A’s need is another 12,000 vacant seats- let’s see how much attendance changes at end of year- bet it doesn’t have any measurable impact other than increasing operating costs and thus further impacting the bottom line.

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