Bud Selig’s blue-ribbon panel met with officials in San Jose and then Oakland this past week to discuss the possibility of a new A’s stadium in the Oakland area, according to the Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Yes, Selig (or at least the Blue Ribboners) actually did something. The timing was interesting, to say the least.
Ironically, the San Jose visit came just as state Controller John Chiang dispatched a team of auditors to determine, among other things, if the San Jose Redevelopment Agency properly spent $25 million last year to assemble an A’s ballpark site after Gov. Jerry Brown had ordered such agencies disbanded.
If auditors determine there was any wrongdoing, San Jose could be ordered to sell off the ballpark property to the highest bidder – which would be a real curveball to any A’s move.
Add the ongoing territorial battle with the San Francisco Giants, and San Jose is looking less and less like a possible home for the A’s. Nonetheless, Wolff has said he has no interest in moving the team out of the Bay Area. Which brings us to the meeting in Oakland…
Those in attendance included Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana, City Council President Larry Reid, Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley, County Administrator Susan Muranishi, plus a delegation of high-profile ballpark boosters led by Clorox CEO Don Knauss and developer Mike Guilmetti.
For months, Quan and company have been publicly touting the idea of building the new ballpark next to the Oakland Coliseum as part of a huge sports, housing and retail complex.
But this meeting focused on a waterfront ballpark – most likely at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.
The idea would be for the cash-strapped port to sell the land for a badly needed $40 million – a move Quan might now be able to swing after her recent appointments to the Port Commission.
Although not stated at the meeting, the message was that – contrary to what A’s managing partner Lew Wolff says – the town does have a viable plan and site, and if he is not interested in staying, then the team should be sold to someone who is.
Oakland hitting the panic button
The meetings were timed well with the investigation into the San Jose land, so this is a perfect opportunity for those who wish to keep the team in Oakland to make something happen.
In Wolff’s 2010 letter to the fans, he stated that “We believe we have exhausted the venue options suggested in Oakland and several other Oakland options we explored on our own.” That may have been true two years ago, but with San Jose presenting issues of its own for Wolff, Oakland may be his only option is he wants to keep the team in Oakland.
A waterfront park in Oakland has potential, but perhaps not as much as a ballpark in the heart of downtown San Jose. San Jose offers established entertainment and dining, whereas a Port of Oakland venue would have to be the catalyst for the area around it.
The fact that the committee is actually out doing work is encouraging, but it’s still been three years since the committee was formed and much hasn’t happened other than a silent dog fight between the Giants and A’s over territory rights.