Dear Giants: How Much?

I continue to be amazed, and at times, amused by the quality and tone of some of the arguments being made by some politicians and fans wanting to bring the A’s to San Jose.  One of the central arguments being put forward is that the Giants don’t have a “right” to deny the people of San Jose a baseball team.  In fact, they do.  Major League Baseball extended the territorial rights to Santa Clara County to the San Francisco Giants.  That’s a fact, and nothing’s going to change that, unless, and until, the baseball owners change their minds and vote to reverse their decision.  Not likely.

People forget, Major League Baseball has an anti-trust exemption from Congress;  they can essentially do whatever they want.  It’s more a country club than a corporation. Their mission statement probably reads something like this…“Let’s make a lot of money and agree not to screw each other.”  The notion that Commissioner Selig would be able to persuade the other owners to burn the Giants to help out A’s owner Lew Wolff, his old fraternity pal is really a bit naive.  What motivation would any owner have to break ranks knowing that if they did, it could be their turn next time?

The only way that the Oakland A’s will move to San Jose is if the San Francisco Giants get compensated for their territorial rights.  It’s important to remember that the Giants’ stadium was built with private funds.  Any rookie lawyer could win the lawsuit that the Giants would be sure to bring if somehow their territorial rights were removed. The argument being, that the territorial rights were a significant consideration for investors who underwrote the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to build the stadium.

Okay, how much?  How much money would it take for the Giants to surrender Santa Clara County?  My guess is that the number is north of $200 million!  Let’s assume that the Giants draw around 2.6 million fans a year, and that the average ticket costs $20.  2.6 million X $20 = $52 million per year.  Now assume that 20% of the Giants’ fan base comes from Santa Clara County. (the real figure is much higher).  20% of $52 million = $10.4 million.  The Giants could present the case before a judge or arbitrator that they should receive, at minimum, $208 million dollars ($10.4 million a year for twenty years)  as compensation for their lost territorial protection.

Anybody got a loose $208 million laying around?


  1. How about factoring in all of the A’s fans that would rather become Giants fans than travel South to San Jose.  And I highly doubt that they get a 20% draw from Santa Clara.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if their attendance goes up after the A’s move.  They are moving the closest baseball stadium dozens of miles FURTHER away.

  2. Pete – great baseball reality blog

    San Jose’s major league baseball dreamers will not get baseball team until they wake up to MLB facts of life –

    You got to pay, pay and pay big $$$$ dollars to see MLB play in San Jose.  No pay – then A’s in Fremont or Oakland and San Francisco Giants

    Major League Baseball Stadium in San Jose is like most of San Jose’s economic development and jobs plans – smoke dreams by people who do not want to face reality, throw common sense aside and believe politicians or city / RDA highly inflated smoke and mirrors happy talk city benefits

    Real stadium economic benefits will go to millionaire owners and players while San Jose (not baseball owners ) will pay 10’s million in tax subsidies in under-market land, free city services and required infrastructure improvements

    If dreamers believe different – show us numbers not more baseball happy talk

  3. There is no doubt there will be some payout to the Giants as part of any territorial deal arranged by MLB.  But why is it assumed that San Jose taxpayers would be on the hook? 

    The Washington Nationals paid the Baltimore Orioles to slice DC from the Orioles’ territory earlier this decade.  I’m sure that Lew Wolff has factored in some payout to the Giants in his economic calculations in considering the move.  He believes that his upside to being in San Jose would more than make up for whatever he has to pay the Giants.

    Some of the payout to the Giants could also come from MLB, who will make the determination that it is more profitable for all of baseball to have 2 teams in the Bay Area and particularly one team in Silicon Valley that they should compensate the Giants to cede the territory.

    • It’s not like someone has to come up with $200M (or whatever amount) right now.  The hypothetical San Jose A’s could give a percentage of their profits to the Giants for a set period of time.

      The bottom line is there are plenty of creative solutions, and if baseball as a whole benefits you better believe the owners would go for it.  They share revenue, remember?

    • David:
      I’m not assuming that SJ taxpayers would be “on the hook.”  And you’re right about the Nationals paying the Orioles…but, remember that the Nationals used to be the Expos and the Expos had been taken over by MLB.  So, every owner (including the Orioles’ owners) had a stake in the sale and the compensation costs.  (I believe that the Orioles received a premium for TV revenues, etc).

  4. Is it even possible for the Giants to file a lawsuit?  My vague notion of an anti-trust exemption is that it means baseball can basically do whatever it wants from a business perspective.  If they claim changing territory rights is better for the business of baseball, what can the courts do?

    I’m no lawyer so maybe this is a stupid question.

    For the record, I agree this is all very unlikely.  At the same time, like Mr. Campbell said himself: baseball is basically a country club.  The owner of the Giants could puke in the punch bowl at their next party and suddenly find himself very unpopular.

  5. There is only area where voters approved a stadium and it was for the Giants.

    Yerba Buena and Great America Parkway. I have some details about this though I have never spoken at Council meetings, served in office, or written on blogs.  But the documents on record prove me to be right, as well as some comments made by the Giants in the past couple of years about their willingness to work with A’s if this site was chosen. Irvine Corp has the current lease. Lew would have bargain like an old bazaar seller for this site but when he reads a few files, he will do it.  Best access and best infrastructure:

  6. The problem with the Yerba Buena site is that there is 0 access to public transit there, and 237 in very poorly equipped to handle the traffic the stadium would bring. There is also nothing to do there before/after a game, reducing it’s economic impact substantially.

    The downtown site would be connected to Lightrail, Caltrain, Ace, Capital Corridor, BART, High Speed Rail, and at least 12 bus routes. It would also be accessible by both 280 and 87 which already handle sports traffic very well (i.e. Sharks games). This location is within walking distance to 100+ restaurants, dozens of bars and nightclubs, museums, comedy clubs, and movie theaters. Essentially, it would be possible for someone to make a day trip out of seeing an A’s game.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would be satisfied with the Yerba Buena site and think it would definitely be better than NUMMI… but I still think downtown is the best site.

  7. I keep hearing that this proposed A’s stadium will magically appear downtown without costing the taxpayers a cent. I find this hard to believe; even if the stadium is built with private funds, how about the cost of the underlying land or the opportunity cost of forgoing other uses of the land? Somehow, taxpayers will get stuck with the bill for this. Keep the A’s in Oakland where they belong.

    • Right… it’s a perfect place for more condos.  Those built right across the tracks from Diridon station are selling like hot cakes.  And SF paid a steep price for the Giants stadium.  That area had so much potential, and now it’s just ruined by AT&T Park.

      Why not be honest and admit you’re either a bitter Oakland resident or a hopeful Fremont resident instead of pretending you have a good point?

      • Based on the warped logic of Steve Ly, perhaps we should have built some big-blue Sobrato Tower clones where HP Pavilion now sits (the hell with sky-high vacancies!).  Heck, we should have just left money-making Dowtown Datsun in its place!  HP Pavilion and the Sharks just ruined downtown San Jose.

  8. Joshua

    You are very intelligent.  Though we see things differently. you work to find common ground which speaks to your geniune effort to support South Bay baseball.
    I think we could get the transit link since the original SC report spoke of new transit opportunities. That was 20 years ago.  Let’s see if we could find a way to make it happen.

  9. Dear Friends,

    I just signed a petition to urge Major League Baseball and team ownership to keep the A’s in Oakland. I hope you’ll take a minute to sign it too:

    Let’s Go Oakland! is a group of A’s fans, business people, labor leaders, and government officials who are committed to keeping the A’s in Oakland.

    It’s about much more than just building a ballpark.  As part of a larger plan to build new hotels, restaurants, and cafes, a new destination stadium will attract visitors from all over the region and will also kick start the next phase of Oakland’s successful economic development.

    Please join me.  Sign the petition, and urge Major League Baseball and team ownership to keep the A’s in Oakland!

  10. “Any rookie lawyer could win the lawsuit that the Giants would be sure to bring if somehow their territorial rights were removed.”

    Two problems with that statement:
    1. It’s in the MLB rules that territorial rights can be taken away
    2. No team may sue the MLB or any other team.

    • Let me correct it….“Any rookie lawyer could win the lawsuit that a minority partner/investor would be sure to bring if somehow their territorial rights were removed.”

      • Pete,
        Get this through your thick noggin.  MLB can’t sue MLB!  That includes Giants partners/investors.  When MLB decides that financially it’s in the best interest of the league to move the A’s to San Jose, the move will happen and the Giant’s will be told to hush!  It’s as simple as that.

        And for the record, the Giants “fanbase” to Santa Clara County is 18% (see the Giants website).  While that doesn’t necessarily translate to season-ticket holders from the South Bay (it could mean anything), if it did that would equate to roughly 7,000 patrons at AT&T Park.  That’s 7,000 hard-core Giants fans from Santa Clara County who labor to AT&T Park 81 times per year.  1) Prove to me that those 7,000 fans will automatically become A’s fans when they move to SJ (pss…it doesn’t work that way when you’re a fan of a team) and 2) do you really think SJ should be held hostage by SF because of 7k fans possibly turning to the A’s?.  Couldn’t the Giants get 7K more fans out of Alameda, Marin or Contra Costa County, especially if they’re putting a winning product out on the field?

        By the way, why the sudden defense of SF interests Pete?  Does Neukom/Baer have you on the payroll?

        • Tony D has excellent points.  Pete C is the guy at the party who wants to be the expert, but has no idea what he is talking about.

          Baseball fans are, as Tony D, explains are not easily dissected.  There are many variables.  Campbell is notorious for looking at numbers, scrunching his nose, and expressing a paragrah of nonsense, the wisest fool in San Jose.

  11. Pete “Benedict Arnold to San Jose” Campbell,

    You should just quit while your way behind, because you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.  It’s that anti-trust exemption that MLB enjoys that makes an A’s move to San Jose very possible.  If MLB views an A’s move to San Jose as benefiting the league as a whole (i.e. gets A’s off the revenue sharing, welfare dole), then they can alter those “rights” and the Giants won’t be able to do anything about it.  They can’t even file a lawsuit!  Will the G’s get compensation?  Perhaps, but it won’t be the extortion that you’re putting out.  And tell me how an A’s move to San Jose will “hurt” the Giants?  You know what, you can’t, because 1) that rationale is false because 2) no hard-data exists for such garbage.

    Two things for you to consider Pete: 1) Prior to 1992, Santa Clara County was open territory for both the Giants and A’s, 2) The Giants exclusive territorial rights have existed since 1992 ONLY for the sole purpose of the Giants themselves moving to San Jose; guess what, that never happened! 3) Prior to 1958, the Bay Area was the territory of the Boston Red Sox (SF Seals of old PCL were a BoSox affiliate).  Altered to allow then NY Giants to relocate to SF.  See, territories can change if MLB wills it!

    Pete, I suggest you do your homework on this subject before you write about it again, and stop being a “Benedict Arnold” foot-soldier to Frisco interests.  Have a little San Jose pride!

    • Tony D:
      You appear to be one of those people who have to rely on insults to strengthen their arguments.  Pretty weak.  If I were on Neukom/Baer’s “payroll,” I would have disclosed that. For the record, I’m in favor of the A’s moving to San Jose.

  12. By the way, the MLB committee created by Bud Selig to find a solution to the A’s stadium quest in the Bay Area has already met three times with San Jose officials…THREE TIMES!  It appears that MLB itself views this whole territorial situation a lot differently than Pete Campbell (Oh the shock!).

  13. Gentleman, this is an RDA win-win. Their primary motive has always been to extend downtown which always faded out at 4th St and Almaden,  from 101 to Bascom. The pavilion is not downtown (I know, such heresy) and the neighborhood has been impacted severely by it, as will an A’s stadium send it in the toilet. RDA with marginal legality is feverishly setting up land deals as we speak that will be used for their agenda (dense housing and shops at nauseam) if the stadium does not go through. SJ has no respect for St. Leo etc. and is willing to sacrifice it to add a few restaurant jobs. Remember, Giants stadium was a no brainer, no neighborhood impacts on unused industrial dumping grounds.

  14. 20% of fan base from Santa Clara County?  No.  The distribution is more like SF/San Mateo County, 35%; Alameda/Contra Costa/Solano, 20%; Sacramento/San Joaquin, 20%; San Jose/Santa Clara, 15%.  That’s right, folks, more fans come from the Central Valley than come from San Jose/Santa Clara.  Baseball is not king with the tech sector, and the A’s promised land is more like an occassionally moist desert.

    • Good point Bakers!  This is completely different from when we got the Sharks.  The only reason they’re successful is that hockey was already huge in San Jose.  It was kind a no-brainer with all the ice rinks, local kids teams, and public viewings of the Stanley Cup playoffs on big screens downtown.  We were already Hockeytown of the West Coast.  We just needed a team.  Baseball doesn’t have anywhere near as much support as hockey did.

  15. Pete,

    The large % of South Bay baseball fans are currently lifelong Giants fans. Do you actually believe the majority of these fans will suddenly stop going to ATT Park just because the A’s moved to their city? That won’t happen. South Bay Giant’s fans will continue to go to ATT park to support their team.

    • Good for the lifelong Giants fans.  Do you really believe without a majority of lifelong Giants fans in the south bay switching to the A’s the stadium won’t get high enough attendance?  This is silly.  When a team gets a new stadium and moves closer to a big population center, it picks up many new fans.  The Sharks are a perfect example.  People couldn’t care less about hockey here before 1991, and now the Sharks sell out every game.

      There are really only two decent anti-stadium arguments:
      1. Traffic.
      2. The city should be spending RDA money on other RDA projects instead of land and improvements for the stadium.

      We can argue about those.

      Arguments that don’t make sense:
      1. The city shouldn’t be spending money on this when we’re reducing library hours, laying off teachers… etc. (RDA money must be spent on RDA projects.  It’s prevented by law from going anywhere else).
      2. The stadium won’t be successful (see my first paragraph).

      • I think many south bay Giants fans WILL convert, and every game will likely sell out much like the Sharks, do to it’s proximity to the largest population center in the Bay Area as well as the fact that it will be the smallest pro stadium in the US.

        Screw the Giants… they already had their chance to come to the South Bay.

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