Oakland A’s Never Coming to San Jose?

Protracted negotiations and court battles have delayed any decision on the Oakland A's coming down to San Jose. But one local columnist says that not only will the team never come to San Jose, it hardly ever stood a chance in the first place.

"The A’s dream of moving to San Jose is all but barricaded, at least for the foreseeable future," Mercury News scribe Tim Kawakami wrote in his column Monday. Kawakami cited several unnamed league sources. "The votes aren't there. The lawsuit filed by the city of San Jose against Major League Baseball [MLB] has gotten no traction and in fact has only inflamed the other owners against the idea."

For five years, A's owner Lew Wolff has eyed San Jose as a new home, having suffered through sluggish ticket sales and dilapidated facilities made worse by sharing the Coliseum with the Oakland Raiders. But for five years, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has refused to let the A's move, citing the San Francisco Giants' claim to territorial rights, which were gifted by late A's owner Walter Haas in the early '90s.

Meanwhile, San Jose's land option for property across from the SAP Center expires in November. A lawsuit filed a year ago by the city challenging MLB's antitrust exemption and claims of economic damages is currently in the appeal process.

The lawsuit's core argument centers on the league's antitrust exemption, which dates back to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1922. No other business in the nation enjoys such immunity. San Jose's lawsuit also challenged MLB's meddling in the contract between the city and Wolff, who shelled out a $50,000 deposit on the proposed ballpark site.

But U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte ruled back in October that, despite the antitrust exemption being illogical, it would take legislation—not litigation—to annul it. In January, the city challenged that ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Wolff told downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo last summer that he never wanted the city to sue his colleagues—other team owners—in the first place. Kawakami suggested that Wolff has set his sights back on the old stadium once again.

"The move to San Jose—as it stands now and probably for at least as long as [co-owner John] Fisher and Wolff own the A's—is not happening," Kawakami wrote. "Which means that Wolff and Fisher are now seeking a lease extension with the Coliseum through 2025 and offering to sink many millions into stadium improvements."

A blog dedicated to covering the Oakland-to-San Jose A's move finds the notion of the A's staying in Oakland problematic. On NewBallPark.org, the writer notes that if the team privately finances a $500 million stadium, they'll be liable for $30 million a year in debt for three decades sans revenue sharing to stopgap any shortfalls.

"Plus they won’t have nearly the kind of corporate revenue to cover a large percentage of the loans the same way a ballpark in San Jose or San Francisco would," the blog continues. "Is the Lodge ready to approve such a deal? Or would they rather extend revenue sharing to provide a cushion for the A’s? If they do, the M.O. would belie those previous criticisms. Yet it would be the easy way out. Just treat the A’s like a small market team forever, and let the sleeping dog entrenched interests lie. Yep, that sounds a lot like MLB, especially under Bud Selig."

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

14 Comments

  1. Liccardo’s hope that the A’s would be a centerpiece of his campaign is clearly not working out. Getting in front of the public safety issue would have been much smarter.

    Liccardo and the others can claim that they were half right and fix the problem of police recruitment and retention. They don’t have to do anything for fire, because there’s no recruitment and retention problem with fire.

    • Wait until you see the fire department hire it’s first academy under the current police tier 2 retirement, couple that with the disability provisions that held up in court, the only thing that did from Measure B, and the fire department will be a revolving door. What’s knowing as a training department personnel will be hired stay a year or two and be out the door just like our new SJPD officers. Oh, the city will be out hundreds of thousands of dollars for each employee that leaves.
      Thanks Mayor Reed and the current council that created this mess. I guess I’ll hold off wearing my SJ A’s tee-shirt for awhile……chalk that up to another Reed “victory”!

    • No problem with Fire? None that you know of? Or are you priveleged to information that us Firefighters dont have?

      • No offense, but if you’re in law enforcement, you’re a hot commodity. I really don’t see the other municipalities falling over themselves to hire our firefighters. When that changes, I’ll be the first to say that firefighters should be paid more.

        • Well, they cant…really. Unlike Police Officers, there is no uniform training (like POST) that Firefighters can take. the California State Officers Certifications are a good start, but any firefighter who decides to go elsewhere….has to start from the bottom. What you also get is a longer reaction time to personnel leaving. It takes MUCH longer to train, equip, promote or otherwise make a Firefighter ready for the job as compared to a Police Officer. So shutting down 5 engine Companies, 2 Truck companies, and browning out 2 engines per day is not hurting anything? Then why the uproar over turnout times? Why are we blaming the Fire Department? Why dont we blame the Cops for being late to calls, or just not responding at all? The answer is because of what you have been led to believe. For example…if your neighbor gets robbed, you are VERY concerned that it could happen to you. You become proactive to the POTENTIAL of someone robbing YOUR house. But if your neighbors house burns to the ground because the Fire Department was delayed, or the neighbor dies from his Heart Attack because the nearest engine was browned out…..we like to say “oh well, at least it wasnt me”, and then proceed to slam the Fire Department for being late, fine them for late response times, etc. Dont fool yourself, its there….it just hasnt impacted YOU…..yet.
          And by the way….the new firefighters here? They probably have 4-5 years on….and San Francisco is waiting for them.

        • S Randall –

          No offense taken. For the reasons that BOHICA stated, the fire department “mass exodus potential” is different than that of the police department. Where you will see the impact at the FD that will result in costing the SJ taxpayers “millions”, will occur over the next few years and into the future. Senior firefighters will not be leaving in great numbers. Newly hired firefighters (Tier 2/new disability plan) will leave in droves, for greener pastures. San Jose will hire them, train them and equip them at great expense and all the while, these same firefighters will be testing for jobs at other departments who will gladly swoop them up,
          as they are already trained and experienced. Much like the PD’s staffing problems that were predicted when Measure B was passed, I can guarantee that you will see a similar, delayed exodus away from the SJFD.

          Despite any of the politics and bad treatment from the City as well as a perceived lack of support
          from some of our citizens,
          those of us remaining are proud to serve and you can count on us take care of you and your loved ones.

    • Just so you know… Having the A’s provides more $$$ on top of government salary, pension, benefits to police officers since MLB ownership must contract out safety officers from the ranks of SJ Police Department. The A’s will directly hire SJ police officers to direct traffic, provide public safety late at night during games, providing an opportunity on top of their day job (keeping SJ safe).

      If you’re representing the SJ Police Union, you should be fired because the policies you’re advocating do not help them.

      • How much money was spent on the downtown car races? How much of that did we get back?

        At least we won’t have to worry about soccer fields here in San Jose. The City has already taken care of that. We won’t have to depend on a major sports franchise to make good on its promise to our kids.

      • Stephen even if the A’s come (but they won’t) SJPD will have to do what Santa Clara is doing, hiring officers and retired officers from other departments to do security because they don’t have enough to cover all the security issues. Hell, we don’t have even to protect this city. And yes the POA is doing what is right. What is wrong is Chuck, Sam, PO, Pete and what’s her name. And the money you are talking about will be a wash for all the money and land chuck want to giving away.

    • you are sadly mistaken if you think SJFD is not losing personel . its just not on the level of SJPD .

  2. Looks like Liccardo is losing on both fronts. No, A’s and the best the city could do was recruit 29 potential candidates for the next academy. Sad but the writing is on the wall no one wants to come here under the Measure B restrictions.

  3. The a’s have very few fans in the Bay Area – they should move to Sacramento where they’d have a region to themselves

  4. If and when the A’s move to SJ, they should change their name to the Sharks and their colors to Pacific Teal so we don’t have to get new gear!