A’s Ballpark Watch 2013: Unnamed Sources Say Something Might Have Happened, Maybe

Oakland A's logoBack in the day, MAD magazine had a running joke about movie reviews. “This sorry excuse for a film is so awful,” a review would read, “if I had to watch it again and again I’d consider moving or even being so bold as to change my name, or some other creative way that the studio couldn’t find me.” That scathing review would be transformed into the following blurb on the movie poster:

“This film…watch it again and again….moving…bold…creative”.

Twitter, and the general speeding-up of news transmission, can have much the same effect. Case in point: today’s flurry over Bill Shaikin’s story in the LA Times about the latest development in the Oakland A’s relocation saga. In brief, Shaikin said that Major League Baseball has given the A’s a list of guidelines for a future move to San Jose.

Shaikin is clear that this doesn’t necessarily mean the A’s can or will move — even the headline contains the words “tentative” and “potential,” and there’s a big old disclaimer in the subhead. But some people are reacting as if the moving trucks have already pulled up in front of 7000 Coliseum Way.

It’s possible that the guidelines do represent some forward progress in the A’s ownership’s quest to move to the South Bay. Shaikin’s unnamed sources didn’t disclose their complete contents or exactly when MLB might have delivered them (Chronicle beat writer Susan Slusser thinks the team has had them for quite some time), so it’s hard to tell.  They also might represent some new obstacles in the road south, since they apparently include “concerns about the viability of the proposed San Jose ballpark site.” Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig formed a committee to look into the A’s request to relocate four years ago. They’re tasked with producing a recommendation to MLB owners, at least 75% of whom would need to vote in favor of the relocation in order to override the objections of the San Francisco Giants, who currently have exclusive territorial rights to Santa Clara County.

Earlier today, Greg Baumann, editor-in-chief of the Silicon Valley Business Journal summarized the Giants’ fears: “[The Giants] like to see those fans (from the South Bay) come up the 101, or take Caltrain, to AT&T Park. If the A’s move to San Jose and build a state-of-the-art park, a lot of folks are going to choose to break towards San Jose to spend their baseball dollar.”

If MLB gave their okay and the Giants didn’t pursue the matter further, there are still other obstacles: a few pieces of the proposed site are still in private hands, neighborhood groups might try to block a new stadium, and San Jose voters would need to sign off on the deal.

The earliest the stadium could be ready for a first pitch would be the 2018 season.  A’s management is currently negotiating a lease extension at the Oakland Coliseum through 2017 — although even that’s complicated; both parties seem to have some communications issues.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Baumann had an interesting comment about the cities in competition:

Oakland and San Jose have quite a few parallels.  They don’t have some kind of natural, inbuilt attraction that lets them be as attractive as San Francisco.  So towns like that have to fight tooth and nail and do everything they can to create attractions.  San Jose gaining an attraction, in this case, would mean Oakland losing an attraction, and really, Oakland can’t afford to lose many more attractions. That said, there are a lot of things about Oakland that are more vibrant than San Jose.  Oakland’s downtown culture is a lot hotter. It’s got more national recognition as a destination for foodies and people of that ilk; San Jose isn’t there yet, they need something.

The present-day A’s would definitely agree they’re hip: among other things, we learned today that they’ve been named the most metal team in baseball by Decibel Magazine, and have introduced 10 minutes of yoga at the beginning of their spring training workouts.

Author

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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