The never ending quest for a proper home for the Oakland Athletics.
Kansas City Era
October – Descendants of Connie Mack sell Athletics to Chicago businessman Arnold Johnson, who owned both Yankee Stadium and the Yankees’ AAA stadium, Blues Stadium in Kansas City. Yankee Stadium was sold back to the Yankees, while the A’s were moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Blues Stadium became Municipal Stadium, the new home of the A’s. Amidst rumors that the A’s were set up as an extra farm team for the Yankees, the A’s never finished above .500 under Johnson.
March – Johnson dies of a cerebral hemorrhage.
December – Chicago-Indiana insurance mogul Charlie Finley buys 52% of A’s from Johnson’s estate. Finley swears to never move the A’s out of Kansas City. Franchise valuation: $4 million.
February – Finley buys out all minority partners in exchange for waiving an escape clause that would trigger if A’s attendance dropped below 850,000 in a single season. During a press conference Finley “burns” the lease, or rather a fake version of it. The attendance clause remains in effect.
August – News reports emerge of Finley’s interest in relocating the A’s to Dallas
March – Finley applies to MLB for relocation to Dallas twice, is rebuffed.
September – Finley starts discussions with KC officials about a new ballpark and/or additions to Municipal Stadium.
February – Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans (AFL) are allowed to move to Kansas City and Municipal Stadium, accelerating Finley’s desire to leave KC.
Regular season – Finley visits Dallas (again), Atlanta, Louisville, and Oakland in search of a stadium deal.
January – Finley signs 2-year stadium lease in Louisville which is rejected by the American League. League forces him to sign a new 4-year lease in KC while fielding relocation offers from Denver and San Diego
Regular season – A’s sign Blue Moon Odom and Catfish Hunter, two cornerstones of future World Series winning teams
Offseason – Finley invests in upgrades to Muni
September – State leaders and Hunt commence discussions to build separate baseball and football stadia on the outskirts of KC. Finley originally suggested having separate stadia.
May – A’s are reportedly interested in moving to Oakland. Finley is disinterested in the Jackson County Sports Complex proposal.
July – Voters approve the twin-stadium proposal, 69% in favor. Finley gets a proposal from Jackson County while talking with Milwaukee officials about team relocation. Both Seattle and New Orleans make offers but do not possess a major league-quality stadium.
September – KC officials make 11th hour efforts to keep A’s in town. Finley quickly announces that A’s are moving to Oakland.
October – Finley presents relocation options to AL owners, including Oakland, Seattle, and Kansas City. Oakland is approved starting with the 1968 season. Missouri Senator Stuart Symington threatens legislation to break baseball’s antitrust exemption, is promised an expansion franchise for the 1969 season. That team becomes the Royals, owned by local KC businessman Ewing Kauffman. Upon arriving in Oakland, Finley makes similar promises he made in KC – team will stay, he will build a winner, he will move his family to the city. Finley hires East Bay native Joe DiMaggio as a team executive.
March – Finley signs 20-year lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
October – The A’s finish the season 82-80, the first of nine straight seasons over .500 in Oakland.
October – Finley buys the California Golden Seals NHL franchise
October – A’s win West division
June – Finley buys the Memphis Tams of the ABA
October – A’s win their first World Series in Oakland over the Cincinnati Reds
October – A’s win second straight World Series over the New York Mets
January – Finley sells the Golden Seals
June – Finley sells the Memphis Tams
October – A’s win third straight World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. During WS Finley says that Oakland can’t support a championship team.
Spring – Rumors circulate about Finley’s interest in selling the A’s. Finley plays down such talks.
July – MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Finley’s longtime nemesis, is up for reelection. Finley fails to find enough votes within the AL owners to oust Kuhn. Kuhn announces that the Bay Area is not a two-team market, and that either the A’s or Giants will have to leave by the end of his term.
January – Giants owner Horace Stoneham reaches agreement to sell the team to Canadian brewery Labatt’s, who would move the team to Toronto. Bob Lurie and Bud Herseth later step in to keep team in SF.
December – Finley decides to sell A’s to oil billionaire Marvin Davis, who would move team to Denver. In order to allow the Giants to be the remaining team in the Bay, they would have to play up to half their games at the Coliseum for 10 years. A buyout of the Coliseum lease could not be worked out, killing the sale.
Regular season – As Finley sells players to other teams to cover debts and his ongoing divorce proceedings, A’s players start asking for the league to intervene and rescue the team.
January – Eddie DeBartolo, Sr. makes an offer to Finley to buy the A’s and move them to New Orleans. The sale is thwarted again by the Coliseum lease, along with Kuhn’s disinterest in bringing in an owner associated with gambling (casinos and horse tracks). In 1977 DeBartolo bought the 49ers and turned them over to his son, Eddie Jr. In 1980 Eddie Sr. tried to buy the Chicago White Sox and was turned away again by Kuhn. The White Sox were purchased by Jerry Reinsdorf.
Regular season – Multiple groups assemble to attempt to purchase the A’s from Finley in order to keep them in Oakland. The subsequent deal to have the Giants play a set number of games at the Coliseum could not be worked out.
November – Finley reaches another deal with Marvin Davis, sale price $12 million. Coliseum officials face another relocation threat when Al Davis looks to move the Raiders to LA. The rationale for allowing the A’s to leave was that money from the Coliseum lease buyout would fund improvements for the Raiders, plus it would get rid of Finley once and for all. The Oakland City Council votes unanimously to keep the lease, wrecking the sale attempt again.
January – Raiders owner Al Davis announces his intention to move the football team to LA. After a lengthy legal battle, the team moved prior to the 1982 season.
August – Frustrated with Oakland and MLB, Finley gives up on selling to out-of-state interests and focuses locally. A group headed by former Levi Strauss CEO Walter Haas, Jr. buys the team for $12.7 million.
October – A’s win West division in strike-shortened season, “Billyball” is fully established and marketed as the A’s brand.
February – The Raiders leave for Los Angeles.
December – Billy Martin is fired, starting the A’s rebuilding efforts.
Spring – Sandy Alderson, who was originally hired in 1981, becomes the A’s general manager.
December – Al Davis signs lease extension at LA Memorial Coliseum through 1991, with extensions up to 2006.
September – Haas and the Oakland Coliseum Commission work out loan terms for improvements to the stadium that would include skyboxes, a seating reconfiguration, and scoreboard improvements.
Spring – Coliseum improvements project completed with replacement scoreboards and new DiamondVision video screen in centerfield
July – Coliseum hosts the All-Star Game
October – A’s return to the World Series for the first time since 1974, lose to the Dodgers.
October – A’s beat the Giants in the “Battle of the Bay” World Series, which was interrupted by the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake.
November – In the earthquake’s aftermath, a ballot proposition to fund another Giants downtown ballpark is voted down (one was previously voted down in 1987).
March – Davis accepts a $660 million offer to move the Raiders back to Oakland. Included in the proposal are $53 million in Coliseum improvements, a $54 million franchise fee, revenue from guaranteed sellouts for five years. The deal falls apart after a voter referendum threat in Oakland.
October – A’s lose to the Reds in the World Series.
June – MLB owners approve Denver and Miami for new expansion teams in the National League for 1993, effectively taking those cities off the “stalking horse” relocation threat list.
August – Lurie reaches agreement to sell the Giants to Tampa Bay interests for $115 million.
September – Haas grants the Giants’ territorial rights to Santa Clara County (including San Jose) upon request from MLB and Lurie. Prior to the request, Santa Clara County was not assigned to either team. The Giants planned to build a ballpark in either north San Jose or Santa Clara. Both proposals failed at the ballot box. The Giants carry the T-rights forward into the next ownership tenure even though they never moved to the South Bay, considering the T-rights part of the team’s value.
November – The owners scuttle Lurie’s sale to Tampa with the help of new acting commissioner (and Brewers owner) Bud Selig. SF interests scramble to put together a new ownership group. That group, at first led by SF mega-developer Walter Shorenstein and later led by Safeway CEO Peter Magowan, buys the Giants for $100 million.
Offseason – As a goodwill gesture to Giants fans, new ownership signs Barry Bonds before the ink is dry on the franchise sale.
May – Haas announces he will put the A’s up for sale for $85 million, provided local ownership is found. The price reflects a 15% “hometown” discount.
July – Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann officially buy the A’s from Haas. The deal takes several months to complete because of extended negotiations over outstanding debt and a promise to keep the team in Oakland amidst football construction at the Coliseum. After debt, the sales price is somewhere in the $72 million range. New ownership signs 9-year lease extension.
September – Haas dies after battling prostate cancer.
November – Schott hires longtime friend Ed Alvarez to run the business side of the A’s. Alvarez is also tasked with looking for ballpark sites away from the Coliseum, including the South Bay. A dispute over a promised ownership stake for Alvarez led to arbitration and later a lawsuit. Friendship dissolved, the two men ultimately settled.
February – Charlie Finley dies.
July – Mark McGwire, the last remaining star from the Bash Brothers era, is traded to St. Louis for prospects.
November – Giants finally win a ballpark referendum, thanks to minimal public investment (infrastructure). The ballpark in China Basin opens in 2000.
March – Schott commissions study on potential move to Las Vegas… Developer Lew Wolff, who is not involved with the team in any way at this point, says about San Jose, “If I was going to pursue a ballpark, I would certainly do it in San Jose, not depend on a vote outside of San Jose, and I would work through the mayor and the Redevelopment Agency.”
September – Schott hires Michael Crowley as President of the A’s, effectively replacing Alvarez.
October – A group fronted by former A’s executive Andy Dolich, Joe Morgan, Men’s Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer, and Bob Piccinini, CEO of Save Mart supermarkets, offers to buy A’s. Schott triggers year-to-year clause in lease.
October – A’s post their first winning record in 5 years, ushering in the “Moneyball” era.
October – A’s win AL West.
March – Schott initiates talks with Santa Clara (his hometown) for a ballpark near Great America by getting SC to delay construction of a parking garage. Talks break off several months later when another rumor of a sale to Vegas group surfaces.
December – JPA presents a study from HOK (architects) on the feasibility of ballpark sites throughout the East Bay. The Uptown site north of City Hall/City Center is proclaimed the leader based on various factors including cost and transportation access. The Coliseum is a distant second, while the Fremont (Warm Springs/NUMMI) site runs third. Howard Terminal places fourth. Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb leads the charge for the Uptown ballpark plan, which Mayor Jerry Brown dislikes in favor of new housing to support his 10K initiative.
July – The City of Oakland goes with Brown’s choice, Forest City, to be the developer of the Uptown parcels, shutting out the possibility of a ballpark there. Prior to the action, Schott neglected to attend a meeting detailing the proposal, demurring throughout the summer. Brown fired Bobb in 2003 over Bobb’s insistence in continuing with the ballpark proposal. Bobb later became the City Administrator of the District of Columbia, negotiating a publicly-financed ballpark for the Nationals.
Spring – Wolff offers to split the cost of a study with the JPA for a new ballpark proposal next to the Coliseum complex. The plan calls for the JPA to buy the HomeBase lot along Hegenberger, south of the Coliseum. A ballpark could be built either on that lot or the “Malibu” triangular lot adjacent to the Coliseum. The JPA declines to partner with the A’s on this.
January – Wolff says that he’s focused on Oakland and will respect established T-rights.
March – Wolff exercises option to buy team for $165 million. He becomes the managing partner or control person in the new ownership group. Most of the money comes from John Fisher, the manager of the GAP family fortune. Fisher’s father, Don Fisher, started GAP and once had a stake in the Giants.
August – Wolff presents a plan to build a ballpark and mixed-use development on dozens of privately-owned parcels north of the Coliseum. The 66th/High/Coliseum Drive-In plan (Coliseum North) would encompass 140 acres. Wolff offers up to $1 million per acre and asks for the City to help facilitate the land transactions. Wolff also asked for a BART station, which at the time would have cost $75 million to build. The proposal gains little traction as resistance builds among the potentially affected industrial land owners.
December – A’s close off upper deck to improve ticket scarcity and stadium intimacy, to the displeasure of many fans. New Coliseum capacity is less than 35,000… A lawsuit filed by the Raiders against the JPA over advertising revenue is settled, along with a lease extension for the team through 2010. The A’s also wanted an extension through 2013 but were denied.
January – Wolff offers a completely different, scaled down plan on two different site in which the JPA or City buys land north of the Coliseum and turns it over to Wolff to develop with a ballpark.
February – San Jose releases its Ballpark Draft EIR for the Diridon site next to the downtown train station. City also purchases various properties in order to assemble part of the site.
June – Former House Rep. Ron Dellums is elected Oakland mayor. During the campaign, Wolff tells Dellums “don’t break your pick” on a ballpark plan in Oakland. In hindsight, apparently Dellums took that to mean anything in Oakland, based on his mayoral record.
October – A’s reach the ALCS, only to lose to the Tigers.
November – Wolff unveils plan to build on the undeveloped Pacific Commons land in south Fremont, along I-880. The plan is called Cisco Field, replete with naming rights from the Fortune 100 networking giant. The 240-acre “ballpark village” would be surrounded by housing, retail, and some office buildings. The ballpark would seat 30-34,000. Cisco Systems controlled an option to build on the land as part of their expansion outside San Jose, but chose not to develop there in the end. Talks with originated with Cisco executives and Wolff’s son, Keith Wolff, in April 2006.
December – Wolff and partners start buying up property surrounding Pacific Commons.
Spring – EIR study commences for Pacific Commons. The process is expected to take at least 2 years to complete.
October – With the recession hitting the Bay Area hard, questions arise about the viability of the Fremont plan.
December – A last-minute shift produces the Warm Springs proposal, a ballpark on or near the NUMMI plant on the east side of I-880 and near a future BART station. Residents on the other side of I-680 are surprised and shocked by this change, and vehemently protest the proposal. Regardless of how serious the plan was, the optics from community meetings were not good… News reports heat up about the new focus being on San Jose.
September – Neukom ousted as Giants CEO… Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana hires 2 new assistant City Admins, Scott Johnson and Fred Blackwell. All three would be gone within 3 years, not before Blackwell heads up Coliseum City project… A plan to convert some of the general admission Bleacher seats to reserved seats is not well received, and is quickly taken back by the A’s… “Moneyball” the film is released.