The Four Stages of Walkoff: Dombrowski Edition

After I got home from the game I walked around the neighborhood for two hours because I was still on edge. Then this occurred to me:

This is how Detroit Tiger President/GM Dave Dombrowski’s 9th inning went.

News for 10/5/12

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done one of these. Time to catch up.

  • The A’s finished the season with a total attendance of 1,678,913, an average 20,727 per game. Not including the first two home games in Japan, the total attendance is 1,591,295 (20,143 average). That’s an increase of more than 200,000 fans over 2011, and the best number since 2007. MLB’s total attendance rose nearly 2% to 74,859,268, propelled largely by the opening of Marlins Park. If you assume that each ticket costs the FCI average of $27 and comes with $11 in additional spending (concessions, parking), MLB gets $2.84 billion in stadium revenue. If we project $7.7 billion for the 2012 season, then regular season stadium revenue accounts for 36.9% of total revenue. Wendy Thurm from Fangraphs/Hanging Sliders has more in-depth analysis. [MLB, Fangraphs]
  • TV ratings are out too. While the A’s showed marginal improvement throughout the year on CSN California (1.27 rating, 32,000 households), Wednesday’s AL West title showdown pulled an incredible 4.72 rating in the Bay Area (172,000 households), the highest rating since 2008. If the A’s could pull in half that number on a regular basis, they’d be in much better shape financially. [Sports Business Journal/John Ourand & David Broughton, Comcast SportsNet California]
  • Like the A’s and Giants, rivals Baltimore and Washington are also in the postseason. Their rivalry extends to off the field, as their ongoing battle over the Nats’ TV rights value on MASN continues. As part of the deal to move the Expos to DC, O’s owner Peter Angeles was allowed to set up MASN and own Nats’ broadcast rights, to which the O’s pay around $30 million per year. Angelos wants to raise the rights fee to $35 million, whereas Nats owner Ted Lerner is holding out for $100 million, which would put the team among the largest markets in terms of TV revenue. That number may not be feasible without a sizable bump in subscriber fees for MASN, which would get the channel into another battle with Comcast over carriage costs. ([Forbes/Mike Ozanian, Press Box/Tim Richardson]
  • The website UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) did its own annual study of ballpark cleanliness, surveying all 30 MLB ballparks throughout the year. The Coliseum came in 4th worst in baseball (F grade), thanks to those oh-so-charming trough urinals and an embarrassing 56% of men not washing their hands. You people are disgusting pigs. For shame. The best ballpark? Busch Stadium. The worst? Wrigley Field (maybe that’s symbolic). AT&T Park came in 8th best, its only demerit being the composite trough sinks it uses (didn’t realize those were a problem). [UFE]
  • muppet151 sent a well-worded letter to City of Oakland and Alameda County officials asking about cleanup costs associated with the Howard Terminal site. I can’t say I have confidence it’ll be answered, considering how this week the City started limiting access to City Council sessions. We’ve discussed contamination and cleanup at Howard Terminal before. Furthermore, the Howard Terminal Land Use Covenant severely restricts what can be built on the site. Prohibited uses include residences, a hospital, a school or a day care center, or a park or open space (if the ground is uncapped). Here’s some relevant text from the request: [Twitter, TwitLonger, SFGate/Mattai Kuruvila]

A Removal Action Work plan (RAW) was drawn up, and the RAW leads to several questions that have yet to be discussed publically by officials who have spoken in favor of an A’s stadium at the Howard Terminal site, more specifically the role City and County governments would play in regards to the RAW.

The RAW states that should these asphalt concrete caps break, the removal of contamination would cost “in excess of $100 million. It would also require the terminal to shut down for a long period of time.” If the caps were to be broken during the building of a stadium, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say cost over runs could be in the neighborhood of $200 million (contamination removal and stadium building costs), and could delay the opening of a Howard Terminal stadium by at least a year and possibly longer. The worst case scenario being the project being permanently shut down causing the A’s to leave the Bay Area altogether. Such an accident would undoubtedly find its way into a court room as well. 

  • Arizona State University is in the middle of the Phoenix-Mesa spring training game of musical chairs. The school is looking for a much larger home than its on-campus facilities, so it is looking to either share the new Cubs’ ballpark in Mesa or move into Phoenix Municipal Stadium if the A’s vacate Muni and move to HoHoKam in Mesa. [Phoenix Business Journal/Mike Sunnucks]
  • Before the end of September, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a series of bills meant to revive redevelopment in one form or another. Brown didn’t rule out some of the ideas completely, giving credence to the notion that some aspects of redevelopment could be restored once the state’s budget shortfalls are resolved after the old institutions of redevelopment are completely eliminated (good luck with that). Meanwhile, the League of California Cities filed a lawsuit challenging last summer’s redevelopment laws. [LA Times/Patrick McGreevy, AP/Bloomberg Businessweek]
  • Tarps continue to be a sore spot, as the A’s refuse to remove tarps for the ALDS and will only consider removing them from the ALCS. Back in 2006 was when I had first heard of a MLB rule restricting capacity. If it’s entirely the domain of the team, then why not just take some or all the tarps off? Who is it going to hurt? Let’s Go Oakland has started an online petition, though that’s not going to actually get the tarps removed. The numbers on the petition will end up on some letter to the commissioner. Frankly, if people really want to get the tarps removed, they should show up outside the Coliseum Box Office/Ticket Services with news crews in tow. Get 2,000 people there who have been shut out of buying tickets. Protest. If you’re going to get ownership to budge or MLB to push ownership, the only way may be to put real pressure on them via the media. Otherwise this is little more than political fodder. [SFGate/Carolyn Jones, Let’s Go Oakland]
  • An rally for the A’s will be held outside Oakland City Hall on Monday at 5:30 PM. The rally will be held despite the fact that Monday is a city government furlough day.
More as it comes.

The 2014 MLB TV Windfall

Today’s report from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand indicates that MLB’s national television deals are just about locked in. We’ve discussed this a couple times now. I’ve done some rough math on it, and the financial picture looks even healthier than I previously projected. Sure, the TV deals will more than double in value, from $660 million to $1.55 billion. But it’s when that figure is coupled with all other sources of national revenue that the picture starts to really brighten.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a single ticket.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a single ticket.

The table above reflects rising revenues from every source except for Sirius XM, whose deal was locked in years ago with the money paid in advance. MLB Advanced Media, the internet and broadcasting subsidiary of MLB, admitted last year that it was hitting nearly $500 million in revenue just for 2010. Combine each team’s share with other non-TV sources (adjusted for inflation), and each team comes away with $31.8 million per year. All told, that’s an estimated $83.5 million per year.

That doesn’t even include the dividend each team ownership group gets as an equity partner in MLB AM.

Every team is going to get this windfall, so it’s not as if the A’s or Rays are getting some great competitive advantage. It will allow both teams to be able to confidently offer FA-competitive long-term deals to their own free agents, though $100 million payrolls are still probably beyond reach. To get $100 or $110 million payrolls, both teams will need new stadia. The impressive thing about these bumps is that the A’s will get $10-15 million more via Central Revenue than they get from playing in the Coliseum. Add in local TV/radio and the usual $30 million or so in annual revenue sharing, and the A’s should net $180-185 million per year starting in 2014. Not rich compared to the other teams, but a far cry from destitute.

Fosse talks ballparks

The highlight of Blog Day may have been a 25-minute discussion with Ray Fosse that spanned all manner of subjects: broadcasting, teams he played on. At one point Fosse started talking, unprovoked, about the need for a new ballpark. As a great player and broadcaster, his words carry far more weight than mine ever will. So here’s the snippet of him talking ballparks, which started as a question about comparing the current team to previous teams he played on or covered. Without further adieu:

This group of guys has a chance to be as good as (the 1989 squad), but the thing they have to do is stay together. There’s free agency and arbitration, and lots of money, the most important thing now is that the A’s somehow get a new stadium. Because as soon as a shovel is in the ground, they can keep all of these guys. Because they know what the revenue stream is going to be. Until that happens, they don’t know.

Q: Would you say you’re in favor of San Jose or in favor of a new stadium?

I’d say a new stadium, wherever it is. I don’t wanna upset people here… but unfortunately that monstrosity (points at Mt. Davis) killed us. If you can imagine when you watched games before, you could look out and see the Oakland hills, see the ivy up there.

This is the last remaining multipurpose stadium in all of baseball. Clay Wood does a great job, but he can only do so much. So to think about minimizing foul territory, which you can do when the pitchers are good enough… You can tarp the upstairs, tarp Mt. Davis, people complain – well you fill it up, and they’ll take the tarps off.

I don’t even like talking about excuses about, “Well, if we don’t leave…” Listen. To me, leaving and going to San Jose, if that’s where they go, that’s not leaving, folks. Leaving is going to another state or across the country. Staying in this area and (going to) a downtown – we’re fortunate to go to Baltimore and Cleveland in particular. Of course Boston’s downtown. Seattle. You get a downtown stadium, and what it does to revitalize a downtown area, it’s tremendous. To be honest, I’ve never been to a Sharks game but all I’ve heard are great things about downtown San Jose when the Sharks play. They support the team, it brings everyone out.

He also talked A.J. Griffin, Yoenis Cespedes, Scott Hatteberg, Chef Rodney, and more. I can’t post the audio here per the terms of the media credential (no podcasts), but these subjects and Fosse’s quotes should elicit a good amount of conversation. I’ll leave it at that.

Radio switcheroo

Adding to the intrigue regarding last week’s reshuffling of 95.7 The Game, several radio announcements have been made in the last week or so. First, KNBR’s Tom Tolbert will contribute a minute-long segment at the top of every hour on CBS Sports Radio. (The segment is much like ESPN Radio’s Sports Minute with Mike Tirico, which is heard in other markets with ESPN Radio stations.) The new network was announced in June and will launch on September 4, anchored by numerous CBS and Cumulus stations, including the two KNBRs.

This CBS Sports Radio is different from the previous one, which was syndicator Dial Global’s (Westwood One) mostly game broadcasts with the CBS brand. The new CBS Sports Radio is a 24/7 sports talk network with no carriage of the four major pro sports at the outset. That’s no big deal for the KNBR twins since they have the Giants and 49ers. They’ll be fine, although I’m curious to see how much ESPN Radio remains in the lineup.

You may also remember that, back in March, Dial Global cut a deal with Entercom to switch its game broadcasts from KNBR to 95.7 The Game, coinciding with the NCAA tournament. Dial Global has the NFL, It’s additional sports programming to help bring in new listeners, though it’s not the same as landing a team like the Warriors or Raiders.

Turns out that Dial Global and NBC Sports are also launching their own network. They’ve announced a flurry of new hosts to fill their talk lineup, including the oft-traveled Erik Kuselias (meh) and former NY Giants (and De La Salle Spartan) Amani Toomer. Toomer’s show will be in the late night Eastern (10 PM – 1 AM ET) slot. Current NFL TV analyst Rodney Harrison will get his own weekend show. The interesting thing about NBC Sports Radio is its launch date: also September 4.

That lines up with The Game’s scheduled programming changes, which have a few details remaining to hash out. For now, Dial Global hasn’t said whether it’ll go whole hog with the NBC branding, but it stands to reason that it will. The name Dial Global has no recognition outside of the radio industry, and NBC has been thorough in having the NBC Sports moniker permeate all of its TV sports properties, from the former Versus network (now NBC Sports Network) to the Comcast SportsNets, which have NBC Sports as part of their tagline with every broadcast.

I’m merely connecting the dots, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Come Tuesday, fifth tier Yahoo! Sports Radio will be ditched for NBC Sports Radio, which has much stronger recognition despite its startup status. Funny thing is that for decades, KNBR-680 was the NBC affiliate for Northern California, a stint that only ended as the station switched to the sports format full time. Throughout the 2000’s the A’s shuffled between CBS-owned affiliates before signing with The Game. Remember how I remarked how cozy the relationship was between The Game and CSN Bay Area/California? That may well have been a prelude to something much bigger. And there’s still the Warriors situation to shake out. September could be a banner month for 95.7, as The Game literally changes.

The Game reshuffles the deck, are W’s next?

95.7 The Game had another of its “blockbuster” announcements today during The Wheelhouse, and for once there was actual news. The lineup is changing from 4 shows spanning 6 AM – 10 PM to 4 shows from 6 AM to 7 PM, starting after Labor Day.

  • The Rise Guys (unchanged): 6 AM – 10 AM
  • Townsend & Steinmetz: 10 AM – 12 PM
  • The Wheelhouse (Lund & Papa, no rotating co-host): 12 PM – 3 PM
  • The Drive (Tierney & TBA co-host): 3 PM – 7 PM

Listeners are asking what happened to The Chris Townsend Show from 7-10. I think the answer is simple. The Warriors have been rumored to be talking to Entercom about switching from KNBR to The Game, so to properly accommodate W’s games and pre/post-game programming they had to move things around. Using the old schedule with Townsend from 6 to 10, he’d be preempted several times a week by the W’s during the fall/winter and then daily with the A’s. The 7 PM slot is plum when it isn’t being preempted, when it is you get Damon Bruce moving to 1050 after years of frustration.

Making Steinmetz a permanent host would seem to be clincher. He’s a good basketball analyst, though unfortunately he’s pretty bad or inattentive to other sports. Having Steinmetz on is good from a “morning after” analysis standpoint, and Townsend can deftly handle the other sports. The curious thing about the change is that the slot is only two hours, which is not unheard of in other markets but in the Bay Area is unusual. Seems like it would make more sense to shorten the morning show to 9 and give Townsend-Steinmetz 9-noon.

The 7 PM slot is a bit of a mystery. I could see rotating shows for the football teams and maybe a college football show, unless the station wanted to go cheap and use Yahoo! Sports programming. It’s also possible that Townsend could do double-duty with the 10-12 slot and night slot since he’s done it in the past. You’d think that if that were the case The Game would’ve announced it. Warriors broadcasts plus postgame will preempt regular programming for at least an hour 50-60 times throughout the season, and if the W’s go to the playoffs that number is sure to grow.

Ratings for the San Francisco market dating back to November 2011

Change is afoot, and Entercom clearly needs to ink deals to lift the station. The Warriors haven’t announced a radio partner yet and we’re only six weeks away from the first preseason game. The next move seems obvious.

News for 8/10/12

We’re overdue for a news roundup. Now seems like a good time for one.

From BANG’s Joe Stiglich:

Last week’s visit to Oakland and San Jose by Bud Selig’s three-man panel foreshadowed this.

Update 1:04 PM – Stiglich has a writeup with quotes from Wolff, such as:

“It’s up to the commissioner’s office,” Wolff said. “… This is a process that unfortunately is taking longer than I hoped, but it’s a fair process.” 

Other news:

  • Janet Marie Smith, who oversaw the construction of Camden Yards and the renovation of Fenway Park, is moving out west to Los Angeles to take a similar role with the Dodgers. If her previous work is any indication, she will keep it classy all the way. [Dodgers press release]
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has set a deadline of September 15 to wrap up labor negotiations before the league imposes a lockout. The NHL and NHLPA are always playing catchup with the other leagues in terms of CBAs. They imposed a 57% player share in the last agreement as other leagues were dropping towards the 50% mark. Now the NHL wants to drop it to 46%. It’s going to be a long winter. [AP]
  • A developer is proposing a ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg, just over the bridge from Tampa. St. Pete’s stance has been to not allow the Rays to get out of their lease at Tropicana Field unless a new stadium were conceived in St. Pete, not Tampa. No financial details were available. [Tampa Tribune/Michael Sasso]
  • The 49ers and the City of Santa Clara settled a lawsuit with a County oversight board. $30 million in redevelopment money was at stake. In order to keep local school budgets balanced, the 49ers won’t get the $30 million for several years. Seems fair. [SJ Mercury News/Mike Rosenberg]
  • Get used to metal detectors at NFL games starting this season. [Oakland Raiders]
  • Speaking of the Raiders, they are using the league’s new 85% measure to determine sellouts this season. The way it works, a team has to sell out 85% of its non-premium seats by the usual deadline (normally Thursday for a Sunday game) in order for a game not to be subject to a blackout. The catch is that any tickets sold between the 85% and 100% marks are subject to higher revenue sharing. Teams like the Raiders and Bucs chose to use the new standard, the Bills and Jags went with the old standard, which required all non-premium seats to be sold by the deadline.
  • The City of Industry approved a deal to buy 600 acres within city limits for up to $26.7 million. The land is where the somewhat-forgotten Ed Roski/Majestic Realty stadium would be located. The parties still have to scramble to find a proper replacement for now-evaporated redevelopment funding. [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Ben Baeder]
  • MLB’s postseason schedule has been released (knock on wood). [Biz of Baseball/Maury Brown]

More if it comes.

Slanted Orange and Black

During last night’s game I made an observation on Twitter that initiated a robust debate.

That begat the following responses from BANG’s Tim Kawakami:


and a bewildered response from the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser:

Clearly, I wasn’t referring to Slusser, who has been the best in the business for years, and her beat colleagues Joe Stiglich and Jane Lee. I was referring to columnists like Kawakami, or the Scott Ostler column from yesterday. To his credit, Kawakami’s interview with Billy Beane was very illuminating and should answer a lot of questions about the organization’s postseason intentions. That said, such columns are few and far between. What’s more common is the standard tripe proffered by Lowell Cohn or Ostler, who may have confused the column space for a long tweet.

I’ve been following the A’s for more than 30 years, well before the popularity of Sports Talk Radio and the Internet. I was aware as a kid of the coverage inequity between the two teams. It was something I simply accepted as part of the sports media landscape. Fortunately for A’s fans, the expansion of information sources and real-time availability has not only lessened the impact of the gruff, eternally cynical, cigar-chomping (or free-food chomping) columnist, it has made that character a dinosaur. The A’s get better coverage now thanks to the tireless work of the local beats and the added perspective of national writers who, frankly, love Billy Beane (which helps). I’m perfectly fine with that. I no longer worry much about the lazy, often provocative style of the local sports columnist. Well, enough to get it off my chest for two posts, but anyway…

FWIW – Kawakami’s best work was when he was covering the Lakers for the LA Times.

P.S. – If you want to see a lazy, provocative media type get thoroughly destroyed, check out former Merc columnist Skip Bayless shrink in the face of Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s withering commentary.

New National TV deals are the tide that lifts all boats

Come 2014, the A’s will be a much richer team, a team capable of fielding a $100 million payroll. And they won’t have to build a ballpark, negotiate any new local media deals, or raise ticket prices to do it. That’s because new national television deals will be in place for the 2014 season, and they promise to make every team a good deal richer.

A flurry of stories have come out in the last week to trumpet the coming broadcast rights war. All of the current national broadcast deals expire at the end of next season, making this next set of TV rights negotiations a total free-for-all. I’ve assembled some of the articles for your perusal.

Currently every team gets around $24 million per year in national TV money via three contracts (Fox, ESPN, TBS) plus international and digital media revenue. All told, it’s at least $33 million per team per year from baseball’s central revenue, or $1 billion for MLB total annually. According to many industry observers, the new TV rights deals should net MLB around $2 billion per year by themselves, at least doubling if not tripling the amount each team will get. That won’t mean all that much to the Yankees or Red Sox, since they’re often up against the luxury tax threshold. For a team like the A’s, however, it’s manna from heaven. A bump to $2.1 billion (a reasonable guess at this point) will put $70 million in every owner’s pockets, every year.

Let’s look at this at the micro level. Estimates have the A’s 2011 revenue at $160 million, though Lew Wolff will argue that it’s less. With greater ticket sales this year and other incrementally growing revenues, I’d wager that $160 million is a realistic number for this year (Forbes might say that it’s $165 million or more). Now add $42 million in fresh national TV money, and suddenly every team in baseball, including the A’s, is a $200 million revenue franchise. Use the typical 50/50 ratio of payroll to revenue, and the A’s payroll is $100 million. Simple, right? ($230 million doesn’t seem so far away anymore.)

Ah, but there’s more to it than that. Chances are the digital media and international broadcast money will also grow. Several teams will approach $300 million in revenue, which means that $150 million payrolls will become more commonplace. Again, all without raising the price of a single ticket. The A’s will continue to be a have-not relatively speaking, but that extra money should make it easier for ownership to sign a young slugger past arb years, or more than one. While we currently think of $75-80 million as the practical upper limit for payroll when Billy Beane feels the team is in contention, that amount should be the lower limit for payroll in the coming years. Giants ownership grumbled loudly about keeping this year’s payroll to $130 million. That figure should be their lower limit in 2014.

Exploding TV money will have one other important effect on teams: franchise valuations and sale prices should continue to grow. The Padres sold for $600 million plus $200 million for their share of the new Fox Sports San Diego network. I figure that puts the A’s at $500 million now, and that’s without the benefit of the new TV money. In 2014, the A’s should be worth $600 million easy. Knowing the gravy train that’s coming, Wolff/Fisher would be crazy to sell the franchise anytime soon, regardless of what happens to their San Jose ballpark pursuit in the near term. On the flip side, the growing franchise value will only make it that much more difficult for an outside group (Don Knauss & Co.) to buy the franchise and finance a stadium, soon to be a combined $1.1 billion price tag. If we’re looking for an event to burst the valuation bubble or dissuade Wolff/Fisher from continuing to own the team, the new TV contracts definitely aren’t it.

The most fascinating part of this will undoubtedly be the negotiations. When the last rights were negotiated, baseball was considered a sport on the decline among the networks, best relegated to regional sports networks and ESPN. Since then, NBC and CBS have launched their own sports network competitors to ESPN. Fox may convert Speed to all sports instead of just motorsports, the same way NBC converted OLN and CBS did CSTV. All three would want baseball as a tentpole for their fledgling networks and for their cable bundling efforts, the better to wring ever higher subscriber fees from consumers.

  • Today’s youth probably have no idea that NBC was once the network that carried baseball, with Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola announcing Saturday’s Game of the Week. The peacock has now gone over a decade without baseball, and their desire now is hot and heavy. Baseball is just what NBCSN needs to gain traction among viewers, in addition to the Game of the Week. Keep in mind that because NBC’s big tentpoles are Sunday Night Football, the Olympics, Notre Dame football, and the NHL, there are huge swaths of weekend daytime programming for NBC that have no pro sports at all. That might lead people to think that when it comes to sports, NBC is out of sight, out of mind. Is NBC/Universal/Comcast will to spend money on MLB the way the company never would under Jeff Zucker? We’ll see. Pros: Better integration with Comcast Sportsnet properties. Cons: An even larger Bob Costas soapbox.
  • CBS has rarely had MLB on TV over the last few decades, the exception being a financially disastrous gig in the early 90’s (thanks, Toronto Blue Jays). The Tiffany Network also owned the Yankees during the 60’s. That was about as far as they went. CBS likely has the same motivations as NBC. Under Les Moonves, the network has tended to stay away from baseball, so either they saw the light if they’re interested or it’s purely a carriage play. Pros: The unlikely yet possible resurrection of the MLB on CBS theme, which had a “The Natural” 80’s-style majesty. Cons: Potential re-teaming of Sean McDonough and Tim McCarver, one of the worst announcing tandems in broadcast history.
  • Fox is the incumbent, and frankly, they’ve been shit the entire time. At the outset, Fox declared war on ESPN, claiming that its “tribal” approach to sports by grabbing RSNs would allow it to integrate well with the national broadcast. That never happened, and Fox has only retreated ever since. Not that I liked the now-discarded theme song, but to replace it unceremoniously two years ago with the NFL on Fox theme clearly showed where the network’s thinking is. The move to 4 PM broadcasts this season is a good one because it opens the afternoon slots for teams, but I can’t help but think Fox just did it because they didn’t have any primetime programming on Saturday nights for the East Coast. Pros: Can’t think of any except maybe Ken Rosenthal. Cons: Fox may get even lazier in its handling of MLB.
  • ESPN may have the most to lose. They absorbed the hit that came with the launch of the MLB Network (not part of the conversation BTW), and focused on making sure their web and news coverage stayed solid in the face of new competition, though they let go of quite a few talents along the way. They still have Sunday and Wednesday night games and little good to replace them if they lost those properties. Try as it might to jam as much NFL news into its summer programming, ESPN can only go so far with football. The network has reduced the number of games per week it broadcasts. It may be forced to bid to broadcast more games per week if the other cable sports networks are willing to do the same. Pros: Webgems. Cons: Chris Berman.
  • TBS will probably get outbid on its little property, Saturday Night Baseball. They tried to transition from the Braves to all teams using all of their Atlanta-based talent and production and have generally done poorly or have been ignored in the process. Handling of the playoffs, which Turner tried to do similarly to the way it handles NBA games, was confusing and  generally abysmal. Clearly, national baseball broadcasts weren’t in Turner’s wheelhouse. Pros: Eck in studio. Cons: Dick Stockton.

There’s a decent chance that MLB will structure bidding so that a network can bid on a specific league, the way the NFL splits broadcasts for its two conferences. That would be an interesting twist, though it would create an inherently unequal situation due to the popularity of the Yankees and Red Sox. I’m certainly not digging the idea of AL nights and NL nights. Digital carriage also has to enter the picture. Streaming of national games may be part of every deal, though you can bet that they’d still be subject to those frustrating blackout rules.

How do think this new windfall will affect the A’s in the future? How should broadcast rights be distributed? Do you have a favorite channels on which you’d like to see national broadcasts?

News for 6/21/12

Good stuff in this edition.

  • Save Oakland Sports is having one of its regular meetings next Monday, June 25 @ 6 PM, at the Red Lion Hotel, 150 Hegenberger, Oakland.
  • CBS Radio and Cumulus (parent of KNBR) announced a new sports radio network that will launch in January. The network is expected to feature talent currently on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network. A key talent on the latter is Jim Rome, whose daily TV show launched in April. Rome’s radio show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks (a News Corp. subsidiary), so there’s some natural friction there. I have to think that Rome came to CBS-SN with the idea that he might jump to this new radio network too at some point, though at some $30 million per year, his radio persona doesn’t come cheap. Both of the KNBR stations were identified as future network affiliates for the CBS Sports Radio, which creates a bit of a juggling situation for Cumulus. Will Cumulus continue to pay decent money to be an ESPN Radio affiliate and carry some Fox Sports Radio programming on the side? If not, does that free up ESPN Radio to move to The Game? And how does an ESPN Radio relationship conform with The Game’s cozy relationship with Comcast Sportsnet? Fantasy radio operators, start your typewriters.
  • Oakland’s City Council approved a $1 billion plan to finally remake the Oakland Army Base. Unlike some of the more glamorous or controversial plans that have been proposed (movie studio, casino, big box retail, auto row), this one will stay true to the base’s largest neighbor: the Port of Oakland. The plan will include new infrastructure, warehousing by ProLogis, and a logistics center. Every so often the base has come up in discussion here as a potential stadium site, but it’s an idea that’s never had legs within City Hall.
  • Greg Jamison’s quest to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes has hit a big roadblock in the form of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute. Now there are questions as to whether Jamison, who is not a billionaire, can pull off the acquisition without the sweetheart deal approved by the City of Glendale that would subsidize the team’s continued operation at Arena. The franchise, which is owned by the NHL at the moment, is being forced to lawyer up to complete the sale. If that can’t happen…
  • The City of Seattle and Chris Hansen are getting ready to finalize their new SoDo arena plan. Hansen would pay around 60%, with the remaining 40% coming from public sources. The political minefield is being negotiated right now, as the City Council doesn’t want the plan to come to a public vote, and the Port of Seattle is objecting because it fears that the arena will adversely impact port operations. Any team (NHL, NBA) that relocates to Seattle would play temporarily at Key Arena while the new arena is being built.
  • This week’s cautionary tale about public stadium financing comes from Chester, PA, where not only has a MLS stadium not been a development catalyst, the stadium tenant Philadelphia Union missed a $500k PILOT payment in 2010.
  • The BCS will have a four-team playoff starting in 2014. Semifinal games would rotate among the four current BCS sites, with the championship game going to the highest bidder among them.
  • Jim Caple has another one of his ballpark column series, this time an elimination tournament of all 30 MLB parks. In the tournament, fans can vote online for their favorite ballpark in each matchup. We’re at the semifinal stage, with Fenway Park (seeded #2) facing off against AT&T Park (#3) and Camden Yards (#4) vs. tourney Cinderella Miller Park (#24). The Coliseum was seeded #28 and lost in the first round to Target Field (#5) by a whopping 91% to 9% with over 60,000 votes, which is about right. Don’t feel bad though. New Yankee Stadium also lost in a landslide. The Coli’s Mt. Davis was also awarded Worst View. Finally, Caple gets a shoutout to Shibe Park, which ended up #8 in his list of places he wishes were still around.

Happy reading.