It’s OK to pity Oakland, a beleaguered and maligned city whose greatest achievements were earned on the field by its World Championship sports teams. But now those storied franchises are fleeing like refugees from a war-torn nation.
San Francisco, which just lost the 49ers to Santa Clara, replaced that lost income last week by stealing the Golden State Warriors from Oakland. In economic terms, The City lost 557,886 patrons in 10 dates at Candlestick and replaced it with 766,398 patrons over 41 dates by landing the Warriors.
Moreover, the Warriors expect attendance to rise and the location downtown is a better fit for the local economy than Candlestick, which sits on the southern end of the city. Like AT&T Park, it will be an economic boon for the City.
Santa Clara gets the Niners, and if the Raiders are smart, they will make a deal to share the new stadium with their San Francisco rivals. The Raiders’ fan base comes from San Jose and southern Alameda County.
And if Bud Selig ever has the good sense to allow the A’s into San Jose, Oakland would also lose its baseball team.
While only the Warriors are a done deal, the Oakland to South Bay migration of makes economic sense for both football and baseball. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and an enlightened business and labor community have come together to pitch the A’s. Santa Clara has already proven it has the political will to accomplish the task of landing the Raiders. (In the case of the Warriors, strong political leadership by Mayor Ed Lee helped net the franchise.)
All of this leaves poor Oakland Mayor Jean Quan holding a potentially empty bag. For instance, it’s hard to imagine Don Perata, Oakland’s 2010 mayoral race runner-up, fiddling while Oakland’s best public relations assets leave town. It seems the biggest beneficiary of Instant Run-off Voting, the real reason for Quan’s ascension and Perata’s defeat, might be the South Bay.
Ever since Gertrude Stein uttered the phrase, “there is no there, there,” which would forever define Oakland as a less than second-rate city, it has fought an uphill battle for self-esteem. The fight won’t get any easier with the exodus of their sports teams.