Wrapping Up Our A’s Ballpark Series

The third and final part of our radio series about the Oakland A’s’ search for a new home focussed on the appeal of the proximity of corporate tech titans in the team’s preferred city of San Jose…

The owners of the Oakland A’s would like them to become the San Jose A’s, [a relocation] inspired not so much by the fan base or the availability of land, but by the proximity to corporations who are an increasingly important source of revenue. Baseball is changing from an escape from the workday world to an extension of the office. Jeffrey August works in network engineering for Facebook. “I get asked to come to meetings that include a Giants game probably at least once a month during the baseball season,” he said. “Since 2006, I think I’ve been to a total of two meetings at the Oakland Coliseum.” (Read more here)

Although we spent a lot of time on the stadium topic, there’s even more to say about it.  We didn’t go into the issue of territorial rights, which is the immediate roadblock to the San Jose move that A’s ownership wants to make. The rights to Santa Clara County are currently assigned by Major League Baseball to the San Francisco Giants. For the A’s to get them, either the Giants have to be persuaded to relinquish them or MLB has to take them away.  (A diarist at Athletics Nation just did a much more detailed history on the territorial rights issue, if you’re interested.)

We also didn’t discuss the importance of broadcast revenues in baseball economics. Hypothetically a new stadium leads to a better team with better attendance, and then a better broadcast deal, and then more revenues to put back in the team, and even better attendance, and so on. This virtuous cycle is a very big factor in the success of big-market teams like the Yankees and the Angels. Not so for the A’s.

Our last segment began with a quote from the film version of Moneyball — “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” We feel that as fans, of course, but we also know that there are unromantic business decisions behind what happens on the field. We didn’t find answers to any of the questions about the A’s future. What we did find, in the course of 18 interviews and a few community and city council events, was genuine concern for the best interests of the team on the part of everyone who chimed in.

MLB owners have a scheduled meeting in mid-May; the question of the future home of the A’s may be on the agenda, or it may not. 

Meanwhile, the A’s return to the Oakland Coliseum on Friday for a six-game homestand that will include a celebration of Oakland’s first World Series victory, in 1972.

(Parts one and two of the A’s ballpark series here.)

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Nina Thorsen

Nina Thorsen is a radio producer and director, and frequently reports on sports issues.  Previously, she produced and co-created KQED's "Pacific Time" and was the deputy foreign editor for "Marketplace". Thorsen began her public radio career while a student at the University of Minnesota, as a ticket taker for "A Prairie Home Companion".

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