When asked to help the A's build a new ballpark, Oakland dithered and whined. San Jose organized and acted. Simply put, that is why the team should end up in San Jose, whenever Major League Baseball finally gives the proper nod.

If anyone believes any other version of the story, that person either has not studied history or chooses to ignore it.

I understand the desire for Oakland politicos and loyalists to concoct other conspiracy theories. They want us to think A's owner Lew Wolff (and his financial partner, John Fisher) have been James Bond villains, meeting secretly and implementing a subversive master plan to dump on the entire East Bay.

That's not true. But it's always easier to accept a blithe conspiracy theory than to carefully revisit the facts as they have spun out over the years.

Look, this has nothing to do with the city of Oakland. It has problems, but what city doesn't? The people of Oakland are by and large wonderful people. One of them is my daughter, who lives there and teaches there. I enjoy visiting her, walking the neighborhoods, dining in the new wave of downtown restaurants. I just can't figure out why all these wonderful people put up with their dim-bulb city leaders and keep electing them.


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Because those leaders blew it with the A's. Going back to 1995, they blew it. When the power elite of Oakland had a chance to help the A's stay, those politicos (A) rejected the idea the team would ever move and did nothing or (B) decided to pay more attention and financially satisfy the Raiders or the Warriors.

The conspiracy theorists never bring up that part of the equation. They point to a quote from Wolff in 1998, when he was not the A's owner but a real estate developer doing consulting work for the team. In a newspaper interview, Wolff opined that if he had to pick a place to build a new ballpark for the A's, his first choice would be San Jose.

Well, duh. In other words, at that period in Bay Area history, Wolff made a statement that any other intelligent observer of sports would make. San Jose has more than twice the population of Oakland, with five times as many Fortune 500 companies. If no major league teams existed in the Bay Area and you were asked to locate two of them wherever you wished in terms of being profitable and geographically sensible, where would you choose? San Francisco and San Jose.

However, that is not the case. Two teams are already here. The Giants came to San Francisco in 1958. Oakland became the A's home in 1968 when its population was roughly equal to San Jose's. Oakland had possession of the A's. Oakland could have kept the team forever if the city had shown the proper respect for the franchise.

But let's examine what occurred instead.

In 1995, after previous A's owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann studied newer major league ballparks and proposed remodeling the Oakland Coliseum into a gorgeous baseball-only facility, they met with the Joint Powers Authority (with both Oakland and Alameda County representatives) to discuss the plan. Schott and Hofmann were told to forget it because the Raiders were moving from Los Angeles back to Oakland, and $190 million in bonds were being issued to remodel the Coliseum for the NFL team. Those bonds still cost taxpayers $20 million a year. Oakland also paid for the Raiders' move and their new training facility. The A's were saddled with an ugly baseball venue, a cramped locker room and a gouged-up outfield during football season.

If you were the A's, how would you feel about that?

In 1996, with Schott examining other Oakland ballpark scenarios and failing to gain the city's attention, the Warriors squawked about their outdated arena, and the Coliseum authority immediately dropped more than $100 million worth of bonds into the NBA team's lap to help renovate the building, now known as Oracle Arena.

If you were the A's, how would you feel about that?

In 2005 after Wolff and Fisher bought the team, Wolff proposed building a new ballpark north of the Coliseum that included a residential and retail development but required the city and county's help in acquiring property and moving a BART station. The city and county told Wolff that his plan was unworkable. He outlined another ballpark idea for property south of the Coliseum and requested that the A's and the public entities split the cost of a $500,000 feasibility study for that project. His request for the $250,000 was turned down.

If you were the A's, how would you feel about that?

In 2006 after Oakland had thwarted Wolff's plans, he struck a deal with Fremont to construct a "ballpark village" in the East Bay city. However, after Wolff purchased property adjoining a proposed ballpark parcel owned by Cisco Systems, citizens and politicians there rose against the proposal and told the A's to get lost.

If you were the A's, how would you feel about that?

Cities make choices. Oakland, for reasons I still don't understand, chose to put the Raiders and Warriors ahead of the A's.

If Oakland and Fremont made those choices, why wouldn't the A's choose to search for a more cooperative business partner?

When the A's showed interest, here is what San Jose did: The city bought up parcels for a ballpark, completed an environmental impact report (EIR), addressed a state redevelopment money takeway with an alternate strategy that allowed Wolff to buy the property (at a discount) and pay for the ballpark, too. Mayor Chuck Reed is prepared to campaign for a ballot proposal to approve the plan.

And what of Oakland? In the past few years, the city has outlined various ballpark ideas but has not completed any EIR, has never purchased property for a proposed downtown site and has never explained in detail how a new proposal at the Coliseum site would be financed.

San Jose never sought to "steal" the A's from Oakland. San Jose saw a jilted lover walking down the Nimitz Freeway and tried to find the jilted lover a new home. If you were the A's, how would you feel about that? What's your dream date? Someone who dithers and whines? Or someone who organizes and acts? Is it even a serious question?

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5092.