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?