This is a rather interesting statement issued by the Oakland Athletics today regarding the territorial rights fight with the San Francisco Giants. The A's hoped to build a new stadium in the San Jose area, but they were met with strong opposition from the Giants' brass.
Here is the statement...
"Recent articles claiming that Major League Baseball has decided that the A's cannot share the two-team Bay Area market were denied by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig last weekend.
Currently the Giants and A's share the two-team Bay Area market in terms of television, radio, sponsors and fans. Last year, the Giants opened a specialty store in the middle of the A's market (Walnut Creek). At the time, Lew Wolff commented that he was 'fine with the Giants store and wished there was an A's store in San Francisco.
Of the four two-team markets in MLB, only the Giants and A's do not share the exact same geographic boundaries. MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara. The granting of Santa Clara to the Giants was by agreement with the A's late owner Walter Haas, who approved the request without compensation. The Giants we unable to obtain a vote to move and the return of Santa Clara to its original status was not formally accomplished.
We are not seeking a move that seeks to alter or in any manner disturb MLB territorial rights. We simply seek an approval to create a new venue that our organization and MLB fully recognizes is needed to eliminate our dependence on revenue sharing, to offer our fans and players a modern ballpark, to move over 35 miles further away from the Giants' great venue and to establish an exciting competition between the Giants and A's.
We are hopeful that the Commissioner, the committee appointed by the Commissioner, and a vote of the MLB ownership, will enable us to join the fine array of modern and fun baseball parks that are now commonplace in Major League Baseball."
Are you kidding me?
I think Lew Wolff obviously cares about butting into the Giants' territorial rights. If he was not, then why be so adamant about building a stadium in San Jose?
The argument that the city of Oakland cannot sustain a baseball community just does not fly with me. Oakland not so long ago was a thriving baseball community, producing World Series-caliber teams year after year.
Remember, it was not long ago when the A's were the cream of the crop in the San Francisco Bay Area. Back in the 70s, 80s, 90s, the A's were making those World Series appearances--and winning them--while the Giants loafed around at the bottom of their division.
During the Walter A. Haas Jr. ownership era of 1981-1995, the A's had one of baseball's most successful fan attendances, drawing over 1.9 million fans on average during that era (even with the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons). Their attendance culminated in 1990 when they reached nearly 3 million fans in attendance, which is still the franchise record for single-season attendance.
I'm sorry, Wolff, it is not Oakland that's causing your teams' woes. I don't even think it's necessarily you.
There is only one culprit, in my opinion, plaguing the Athletics' chances of becoming a great franchise. Get rid of them and things will probably be better.
That problem is the Oakland Raiders.
When the Oakland Raiders came back to the Bay Area in 1995, the Oakland Coliseum, which once had a backdrop of the Oakland hills reminiscent to Dodger Stadium, became a concrete structure that was not only unpleasant to look at but also depressing to be in.
Take a look at the Coliseum before Mt. Davis and after. Where would you rather see a baseball game?
|Jordan Klein/Flickr, Creative Commons|
|By Nathan Hughes Hamilton, via Wikimedia Commons|
I think the pictures speak for themselves--same stadium, different look.
Also, if you are concerned about the Giants' dugout store in Walnut Creek Mr. Wolff, why not build one for your team in San Jose or San Francisco? Nothing says you can't own a business.
America is a capitalist country last I checked. If you put up the money, you can build your store anywhere, as long as it's approved by the city and you comply with regulations.
Interestingly, the Raiders have a store at Oakridge Mall in San Jose, smack dab right in the middle of the 49ers' territory, who will have a new stadium in Santa Clara County in a couple of years.
The bottom line is either (a) if the Raiders move, renovate the Coliseum to something pleasant to the eye (like a nice view of the hills a la Dodger Stadium maybe?), or (b) build a waterfront stadium in Downtown Oakland.
In the meantime, another owner or some better team marketing can be of help. After all, the Giants did okay at the much-worse Candlestick Park in the years leading up to Pacific Bell Park after the current ownership group led by Peter McGowan (now Larry Baer) took over the team.
That said, the A's took a step in the right direction for the 2012 season. Give fans a reason to come to the ballpark and they will.
Barry Bonds gave Giants fans a reason to attend Candlestick and AT&T Park. The A's rebuilt their offense by signing Manny Ramirez and Yoenis Cespedes, and fans seem to love a team that could swing the bats.
Perhaps these offensive additions will draw more fans to the Coliseum? We will have to wait and see.
This just in...
The Giants have released a rebuttal to the Athletics' previous statement.
Alex Pavlovic, of the San Jose Mercury's Extra Baggs blog, reported the statement just about an hour ago.
Here is that statement posted on Extra Baggs...
“The Commissioner has asked us to refrain from discussing the territorial rights issue publicly. Out of respect for his request, we will limit our response to setting the record straight on the history of territorial rights.
The Giants territorial rights were not granted “subject to” moving to Santa Clara County. Indeed, the A’s fail to mention that MLB’s 1990 territorial rights designation has been explicitly re-affirmed by Major League Baseball on four separate occasions. Most significantly in 1994, Major League Baseball conducted a comprehensive review and re-definition of each club’s territories. These designations explicitly provide that the Giants territory include Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Marin Counties and the A’s territory included Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The MLB owners unanimously approved those designated territories and memorialized them in the MLB Constitution. Since then, the MLB Constitution has been re-affirmed by the MLB owners – including by the A’s – on three different occasions (2000, 2005 and 2008), long after the Giants won approval to build AT&T Park. Mr. Wolff and Mr. Fisher agreed to these territorial designations and were fully aware of our territorial rights when they purchased the A’s for just $172 million in 2005.
The population of Santa Clara County alone represents 43% of our territory. Upon purchasing the team 20 years ago, our plan to revive the franchise relied heavily on targeting and solidifying our fan base in the largest and fastest growing county within our territory. Based on these Constitutionally-recognized territorial rights, the Giants invested hundreds of millions of dollars to save and stabilize the team for the Bay Area, built AT&T Park privately and has operated the franchise so that it can compete at the highest levels.”
If I were the Giants' front office, I would not roll over either. Why would I want to give up 43% of my territory and make my direct competitors in the market better?
If the A's are better and claim Santa Clara County, that means more fans for the A's, more revenue for the A's, and ultimately, a more competitive and stronger A's team.
Keep in mind one more thing. If the A's were granted territorial rights to San Jose, that would probably mean goodbye San Jose Giants, and perhaps, 70-year-old Municipal Stadium.
Looks like the A's won't have it easy. Stay tuned folks.
Should the Giants give up their territorial rights? Would you want to see more of an A's presence in the Bay Area even if it meant no more San Jose Giants and more A's fans?
What do you think will happen?
Will the A's get a new stadium soon? Will the stadium be built in Oakland or elsewhere? In the Bay Area?
Who is ultimately responsible for the Athletics' financial and stadium woes? Is it the owner? The city? The Raiders? Mount Davis? The stadium itself?
One more question, would you attend an A's game if the Coliseum was restore to pre-Mt. Davis as shown in the picture above?
Post your comments below. I am curious to hear them.
Information from Extra Baggs and SB Nation contributed to this article.
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