The A's ownership, John Fisher and Lew Wolff, might be starting to wonder about the true motives of the San Francisco Giants. For years, the Giants have had a consistent business stance regarding the Oakland Athletics' desire to pursue a new ballpark in San Jose. The stance basically boils down to this: No way, no how, no chance.
It's because of the Giants' contention that they possess territorial rights to the Santa Clara County, affirmed by Major League Baseball. The Giants' ownership believes those rights are part of the franchise value and that the team would be harmed if the A's moved to San Jose because the Athletics could tap Silicon Valley sponsorships and corporate support. However, Giants president Larry Baer said again last week that the franchise supports a new stadium -- with conditions.
"We would like the A's to have a new state-of-the-art ballpark," Baer said. "We are in favor of that."
It's just that the Giants want the A's to build their new ballpark in Oakland or the East Bay, not in San Jose or the South Bay. The A's, however, have been frustrated in efforts to assemble viable ballpark proposals in both Oakland and Fremont. In essence, say the Athletics, the Giants' stance is preventing the A's from proceeding with their only viable option in San Jose. This leaves the possibility that with no other options, the A's might be forced to leave the Bay Area.
Does A's owner Wolff believe that is what the Giants want?
"I don't know," Wolff said last week. "But anytime I could be the only team in the market, I would love it."
He declined further comment.
The Giants' territiorial rights could be overturned by a three-quarters vote of the MLB owners. However, MLB commissioner Bud Selig does not wish to call for such a vote until there is unanimous consent for the A's move by all 30 teams, including the Giants.
Here's why: Any ballpark proposal in San Jose must have a positive result in a special public ballot referendum. Selig has promised San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed that MLB will help pay for any such special election. However, even if three-quarters of MLB owners approve the A's move over the Giants' objections, the Giants could then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat the San Jose referendum -- while the A's are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to pass the referendum -- in an election being subsidized by Selig's promised funds. This would clearly put Selig in a bad light. He wants no election in San Jose unless the Giants sign off on it.
Thus, the stalemate continues.