The public relations war we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. In a recent article, New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden suggested that MLB was unlikely to grant the Oakland A’s permission to move to San Jose. Baseball officials responded by saying no decision had been made.
Clearly fed up with the process, the A’s released a statement that their hope to relocate to San Jose is not “a move that seeks to alter or in any manner disturb MLB territorial rights.” The San Francisco Giants didn’t appreciate such a suggestion, and the grudge match finally became a public spectacle. Although MLB Commissioner Bud Selig asked the two franchises not to publicly debate the issue, the Giants were intent on “setting the record straight on the history of territorial rights.”
Oakland correctly argues that a move to San Jose would actually place them further from the Giant’s AT&T Park: “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.”
The A’s statement also says that the deal granting the Giants the South Bay territory basically happened with no more than a handshake. The late A’s owner Walter Haas let the Giants assume rights to San Jose as a favor to former San Francisco owner Bob Lurie, Oakland argues, because the Giants were considering moving to Florida: “MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara,” the statement says. “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 were unable to obtain a vote to move and the return of Santa Clara to its original status was not formally accomplished.”
Hours after the A’s released their statement, the Giants came out with their side of the story. “The Giants territorial rights were not granted ‘subject to’ moving to Santa Clara County,” San Francisco’s statement reads. The Giants maintain that the area is rightfully under their control: “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.”
Oakland’s stadium lease expires after next season.