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The A’s to San Jose? Not so fast …

Dec 29, 2011, 1:19 PM EDT

San Jose postcard

On Christmas Eve, while you were all drinking too much and having passive aggressive interactions with your families, Bob Nightengale reported that the Athletics’ long-awaited move to San Jose was finally poised to be approved by Major League Baseball.

Only one problem: no one seems to have informed the Giants about this, and at least one member of the Giants ownership group — former managing partner Peter Magowan, who was interviewed by Susan Slusser — seems to think that Bud Selig will never let the A’s move to San Jose because of multiple promises he made the Giants:

“I’d be amazed that, with all the public reassurances we’ve received from Bud Selig over the years, he would change his mind on this matter,” Magowan said. “He’s a man of his word, a man of integrity, and he has been clear and direct in the past about reaffirming our territorial rights. It’s hard to see how he would not be bound by what he’s said, as many times as he has been on the record in support of those rights.”

I’m sure that Selig just loves to have one of his former owners telling a major daily newspaper that the outcome of all of this is that he is either (a) ineffective as a leader; or (b) a liar.  People in Selig’s position just adore it when people who wouldn’t be where they are now publicly back you into a corner like that.

Anyway, Slusser also reports that the A’s move will not be on the agenda at the upcoming owners’ meetings, so who knows.  It’s unclear whether Selig putting a hit out on Magowan will be on the agenda.

He can do that, right? He’s pretty powerful.

  1. thomas2727 - Dec 29, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Magowan was doing stealth work for the Giants writing notes on napkins to build ammo for a future court case.

    No wonder this buffoon was shown the door by Sue Burns.

    • skerney - Dec 29, 2011 at 7:55 PM

      This buffoon saved the giants from moving to St. Petersburg, built a privately financed stadium that is the envy of most of MLB, and signed the greatest and most productive FA contract of all time.(Bonds: 7 years $49 million dollars) The return on that investment numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Right, total buffoon.

      • thomas2727 - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:07 PM

        Oh how the mighty have fallen in Magowan’s case.

        Say what you want but he sounds like a buffoon when he says he is taking notes over drinks at a hotel bar. Good luck making a court case out that.

        Unfortunately for Giants fans the Burns sisters are going to continue the poverty business model. If they plead poverty drawing 3.3 million. Just wait until the fair weather fans leave and the attendance dips to 2.5 million.

        And who gave the territorial rights to the Giants as a gesture of goodwill?

        The Athletics.

        And to payback the goodwill the Giants are hell bent on running the A’s out of the Bay Area in the hopes of making it a one team market.

        Sorry but it is not going to happen.

      • robnet707 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:14 PM

        The A’s saved that Buffoon’s team from moving to St.Petersburg so get it strait.

  2. hcf95688 - Dec 29, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Magowan. Tool.

  3. clydeserra - Dec 29, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Peter Magowan is full of it. Public posturing to get more money

  4. nomoreseasontix - Dec 29, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    You should be careful with what you say about hits and things like that.

  5. paulsdamnblog - Dec 29, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Magowan may be an idiot, but he totally pee’d on Seligs feet with that one.

  6. imaduffer - Dec 29, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    San Jose will become the new LA Dodgers. No way in hell would I take my family to a game in San Jose.

    • bobulated - Dec 29, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      Because Oakland is so much safer than San Jose?

      • bigdicktater - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        No, he probably lives in Florida.

      • imaduffer - Dec 30, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        Apparently you don’t live in the downtown area of San Jose.

      • bobulated - Jan 1, 2012 at 7:22 PM

        I live on the Peninsula and work in Mt. View; have been to A’s and Raiders games as well as Sharks and Spartan games. San Ho is no worse than Oaktown and I doubt the A’s plan on building their new place in the crummy part of San Ho.

  7. oldson50 - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    So Selig is supposed to play David Stern and favor one team over another? If it’s the Giants area, why did Kuhn allow the A’s there in the first place? Where are all these free enterprise born agains when it comes to baseball? Protectionism of one at the expense of the other is a GOOD thing? I guess the Giants feel like if the A’s are in an awful place, it will keep the SF attendance up. The Bay is a huge market folks, there’s plenty enough to go around if you build winners.

  8. APBA Guy - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I’ve commented on the Slusser article in another A’s related piece here at HBT. We can derive 2 things from the article:

    1) McGowan, who is no longer in a power position with the Giants, does reflect their thinking. It’s very similar to Angelos’ thoughts prior to Washington getting a club, when with even less grounds he was able to extract a significant financial concession from MLB and the Nationals.

    2) The A’s no longer care whether they move to San Jose or not. They will be moving somewhere. Personally, I think that somewhere is Las Vegas, but I have no hard information on that.

    All this routine with cutting payroll is all about maximizing profits. That the A’s don’t care about their fans in Oakland and don’t care about winning is not news. They’ve made that abundantly clear since the Haren trade in 2007.

    And maximizing profits does something else for the A’s: it makes the team more attractive to buyers, who then can relocate.

    However, born of frustration as my feelings above are, the consensus view here is that the A’s are moving to San Jose. That it has taken so long is largely due to the minimizing effects on the Giants that delay entails. For instance, the longer the fan base has to rationalize such a move the more the Giants can build towards that day, especially by paying off their stadium debt, which is due to be finally paid off in 2017. Paying off the debt is the biggest hard-dollar risk factor cited by the Giants when pressed for compensation estimates. Their other major compensation category, loss in revenue due to fan erosion, is purely a guess.

    In this consensus view, Wolff’s recent purchase of a downtown SJ hotel is seen as “evidence” that the move is on track. Also, claims that the Blue Ribbon panel report results were released at the winter meetings, claims which I have not seen reported by any major news outlet, are cited as further evidence.

    Thus, the shedding of payroll is seen as purely rebuilding. Instead of following the Angelos way and living in profit via a bad team playing to an empty stadium, the A’s are following the Marlins path, keeping payroll low and building towards that magic moment when the new stadium opens. Hope springs eternal!

    Perhaps because I am now so jaded and cynical from watching this once great franchise being run into the ground deliberately, I’ll stick with my assessment that the team is being prepped for sale and relocation. I hope I’m wrong, but before I admit that I am, I’ll have to see the steam shovels and earthmovers at work in downtown San Jose.

  9. crankyfrankie - Dec 29, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Perhaps they’ll be moving them back to their former home in Philadelphia. They’d probably draw better as the Phillies are already close to sold out for next season. Their numerous World Championships when they were in Philadelphia and how long they were located in Philadelphia is something to build on. Then, perhaps , Cuban can move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn so New York can have a national league team again.

  10. yournuts - Dec 29, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Unfortunately the Giants are going to become a second rate organization because of this issue. San Jose is a much longer drive than the drive to the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, about 40 miles from San Francisco, Oakland is less than half the distance to San Francisco than San Jose now. San Jose is the second largest city in California, bigger than San Francisco.

    All one needs to do is have a winning ballclub in the bay area to have good attendance. The Giants still don’t get it after one of their best , and lucky years of 2010. The history of the San Franciso Giants, not the New York Giants is not as good as the history of the Oakland A’s. World series Champions 72. 73, 74 and 1989. The San Francisco Giants only World Series Championship is in 2010. In the 1989 World Series the A’s played the Giants in the World Series and swept the Giants.

    We can argue who the better franchise is, but the numbers don’t lie. It would be in the best interest of all of baseball, and all the fan base of the Giants, the A’s for the A’s to move to San Jose. The coliseum sucks for watching baseball. It was build for football. The Giants just want more money to pay off their stadium and line their pockets. They don’t care one bit about the fans or the area. It’s all about the Giant greed factor. In no other city that has 2 teams, New York, Chicago, or LA do you have this kind of problem. Why can’t the Giants play ball with the A’s on this? Why?

    • skerney - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:12 PM

      One, your nuts and make zero sense. Also you are talking about things you don’t understand. When the Giants current ownership bought the team it was implicit that the rights to the south bay were theirs. It’s essential to their business plan and mode of operations. What would you do if you entered into a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars and them the party you entered into agreement with changed the financial details of the contract to adversely affect your bottom line? The current ownership of the giants and the city of san francisco put millions on the line, by approving the ATT park, it’s tax abatement, infrastructure improvements to MUNI etc., with the understanding that the san jose territory was theirs. Those rights are going nowhere without an extremely huge payout. The financial structure of the entire enterprise is based on including the silicon valley money that the A”s want to take. The city of san francisco and it’s attorneys have already sent letters to selig warning of litigation in the event of his approval of the A’s relocation. The A’s are not moving to San Jose. They’re going to move somewhere else.

    • jkcalhoun - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:00 PM

      For one thing, New York, Chicago, and LA are all much larger markets than the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s also quite likely that the dynamics are different; that those other markets are not divided into assigned territories is more than enough to suggest that unique forces are at work here.

  11. tn16 - Dec 29, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    The blue jays should be in this

  12. roycethebaseballhack - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    You know what has me baffled about this? Looking at a Bay Area map, it seems to me that Oakland is dramatically closer to downtown San Francisco than San Jose is. Lots closer. Hell, I bet you can see Oakland from the top row of AT&T Parks outfield bleachers-just shoot over the bridge and you’re there. I know very little about the regional culture of this area, so Oakland must be much further, culturally, than I’m seeing from Rand McNally.

  13. simon94022 - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    It’s true that no other 2 team market has the territorial division the Bay Area has. But no other market has the popularity division that the Bay Area does either. The Cubs are far more popular than the White Sox, but they don’t dominate Chicago the way the Giants dominate Northern California. The A’s might as well be the Sacramento River Cats. People enjoy them when they build a great team, but most of the time are barely aware of their existence.

    Naturally the Giants do not want this to change, unless change involves the A’s leaving the region altogether. The Giants look south and see the post-McCourt Dodgers poised to become the Yankees of the West Coast. And that means to compete the Giants’ model has to be the Red Sox. And the Red Sox have total control of New England, and will never give that up.

  14. simon94022 - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    You have to be pretty naive to think that the A’s gave the Santa Clara county rights to the Giants two decades ago as a “gesture of goodwill.”

    First off, the A’s never had any rights to the South Bay. It was unclaimed territory, populated almost entirely by Giants fans.

    The A’s were thrilled at the possibility of the Giants moving there. That would have meant two teams on the periphery of the Bay Area and neither one called San Francisco. In other words, the A’s might have finally approached long term parity with the Giants in the marketplace.

  15. yournuts - Dec 29, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    I am not a A’s fan, I have season tickets to the Giants, but I am a devoted Yankee fan, always have been always will be, A’s fans and Giant fans are completely different. It will not change the dynamics of the fan base of either organization. You are either a fan of American league or National league baseball. it will change the way that the A’s will be able to compete in the running of their baseball operations. Corporate sponserships will be more available for them. The bay area is huge, the A’s will actually be moving further away from San Francisco than they are now! at least twice as far. The A’s play in a different league than the Giants. It would be sad for them to move away from the bay area all together. The bay are can easily support 2 teams. People and families do not want to go to Oakland to watch a baseball game, it is the murder capital of the US. The area around the stadium is very dangerous. The way that the A’s compete is having promotions such as $1.00 hotdogs Wednesday’s games. The Yankees and Red Sox fans come fill the stadium when they come to town, otherwise the Stadiun supports 15 to 20 Thousand each game. The A’s deserve better, they are a classymajor league team with a long history of greatness. They should be celebrated for their history and be able to compete with the other teams in the league. People from the South Bay want them to move there, they want this wonderful piece of history in their backyard. A problem that I see is the Giants have a minor league team there called tha San Jose Giants.

    The population of the City of San Jose is about 1million. That is in the city center. Add another 1.5 million in the burbs, It is the third largest city in California. Behind LA and San Diego. Parts of it are very wealthy and parts are very poor. It is a perfect fit for the A’s to go to.

    In Response to skerney:”The current ownership of the giants and the city of san francisco put millions on the line, by approving the ATT park, it’s tax abatement, infrastructure improvements to MUNI etc., with the understanding that the san jose territory was theirs. Those rights are going nowhere without an extremely huge payout. The financial structure of the entire enterprise is based on including the silicon valley money that the A”s want to take. ”

    The Giants were awarded many tax breaks and Muni paid for their own improvements to entice people to see the Giants. The Giants were at Candlestick Park, and it is my opinion that in order to move to China Basin in Downtown San Francisco. The Giants were a dying team playing in Candlestick just like the A’s are a dying team playing in Oakland Alameda Coliseum. The Bay area is better, richer, more competitive when you have two teams that are doing well so their rivalry will not only survive but flourish.

    Even though the A’s may not have had the rights to the South Bay when these lines were drawn up, the dynamics have changed drastically. If you look at New York, or LA or even Chicago, the two team, two league system works really well there. People do not change preference to what team they cheer for because a team move 30 miles away. Yankee fans aRE ALL OVER THE US, RED SOX FANS ARE ALL OVER THE US, GIANT FANS ARE ALL OVER THE US. I think you understand my point? We are talking about a new stadium, new jobs, more money, safety, and a real baseball experience for the fans. The Giants benefit also because the people who live in Oakland that can’t or wont travel to San Jose can take bart directly to AT&T park. This benefits the whole Bay Area. More jobs, construction, transit, the A’s will actually be further away from San Francisco. Makes sense to me. What about you?

    • ceadderman - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:26 PM


      The Giants have their minor league team out there. Dropping an MLB team there would most certainly impact their minor league revenue and require the Giants to move them for the upstart Athletics who were 20 years behind the Giants in the Bay Area.

      Are we kidding or what? Take that Green and Yellow Phlegm Farm team somewhere else. Like say SACRAMENTO?

      What happened to Fremont? The A’s would be a great fit for Fremont. Or even Hayward?

      The A’s gave the Giants the rights? Are we kidding or what. The A’s never held the rights to give away to begin with. I grew up in Palo Alto, Mt. View and Fremont as a kid. I’m a lifelong Giants fan. I’ve seen A’s games of course when we lived in Fremont cause we could take BART right to their door. But no way in hell I want the A’s to choke out the Giants from what is legitimately Giants territory. The A’s can go back to Philly for all I care.

  16. pkdryan13 - Dec 30, 2011 at 2:35 AM

    Regarding the ubiquitous fan populations of certain teams (such as the aforementioned Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs) it was roughly two decades ago when the A’s we’re a perennial juggernaut (in Oakland of all cities) and had the highest payroll in Major League Baseball year after year. They had good attendance figures, and made the World Series three consecutive years. Sandy Alderson described watching his A’s on the road as “similar to watching the Rolling Stones go on a stadium tour” referring to all the A’s fans that attended away games.

    What happened since then?

    Even in their good seasons since the Alderson era (99′-06′), the Athletics put up unimpressive attendance figures, and payroll was always near the bottom of MLB. Why? Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman, the ownership group that followed Walter Haas and preceded Wolff & Fischer, did not want to spend more money than they made. Walter Haas, however, did. And that’s actually not atypical – believe it or not, the Yankees haven’t profited since 2002 (they generate more revenue than anyone, but also spend even more). Obviously, most owners want to make money, and they do, but not all view baseball as an investment that needs to generate more money than they spend.

    Many are shocked to find that teams like the Marlins (not the new ones) are among the most profitable teams year in and year out. That’s because some owners are businessmen, such as Jeffrey Loria, and some are baseball men, like the Steinbrenner family.

    The 2010 season, according to Billy Beane, was the first time the team failed to make a profit in decades (a reflection of ownerships financial approach). But I’m not blaming the A’s failings on their owners at all; with each new stadium that opens each year, the relative depreciation of the Oakland Coliseum is magnified even more. People don’t want to go to the Coliseum when they can watch baseball at AT&T Park and realize how much better the Giants are because of it.

    Do fans migrate? Yes! All the time! The Coliseum used to be the nicer baseball stadium in the Bay Area, and the A’s attendance compared to the Giants’ attendance was a reflection of that. Dedicated fans will always be dedicated fans, but AT&T Park isn’t filled with 42,000 DEDICATED fans every night – no MLB stadium is (except for probably Fenway). A few thousand die-hard fans populate every MLB stadium;

    ***the people who would show up to watch the 60-102 team will still show up to watch the team that’s 102-60…but only a fraction of all the people showing up to watch the 102-60 team will watch the 60-102 team***

    While all the die-hard Giants and A’s fans will certainly stay the same, the tenth-largest city in America (San Jose) is populated with indifference regarding baseball, and MLB cannot ignore the potential target market.

    Attendance figures also heavily depend total capital, while the varying degree of corporate investment can also produce a network effect – when more companies distribute tickets, usage frequency increases, and more individuals want the product being distributed.

    It’s naive to believe that Selig’s word is truly the issue at hand. Giants ownership understands that the team faces a total value loss that’s been estimated anywhere between $50-250 million, while the A’s have a similar range in value to gain. Economically speaking, the Giants have monopolized the Bay Area MLB market, and you can’t blame them (what firm wouldn’t take advantage?). The issue for MLB is, HOW CAN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL MAKE THE MOST MONEY. If that also seems shallow, I’m sorry, but it shouldn’t; these aren’t pennies on the dollar – we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in potential gains or losses over the next few decades!

    Here is why, for MLB at least, OK’ing the move San Jose makes sense economically – while the Giants potential devaluation may be an immediate appraisal anywhere between tens or hundreds of millions of dollars less following the A’s move to SJ, the A’s total increase is almost sure to exceed the Giants decrease in value, which means more money for Major League Baseball.

    In other words, the Giants have much less to lose than the A’s have to gain by such a move, which is quite attractive to Major League Baseball. The reason is, the Giants will still be popular, they will still sell out AT&T park, and they will have just as many corporate investors as they do now. Their problem is that, with an almost-equally-attractive investment opportunity existing in the South Bay in the form of the San Jose A’s, demand won’t be as high. So instead of selling luxury box packages to the highest bidding corporation to finance their beautiful ballpark, Larry Baer will be forced to sell at a slightly smaller price, knowing that if the price gets too high, corporations will be headed to Silicon Valley.

    Now look at it from the A’s perspective: they go from last in attendance (few thousand partial season ticket holders and minimal corporate sponsorship) to instantaneous unprecedented demand. They’ll still have to keep prices lower than the Giants, but they’ll be much closer, and they actually have a substantial flow of cash. The potential loss for the Giants pales in comparison to what the A’s have to gain.

    This isn’t about one team being favored over another, that’s ridiculous. This is about what’s best for baseball. And moving the A’s south definitely is.

    I’m not saying that just because MLB stands to benefit from it, it’s going to happen. But I never thought two MLB franchises would exemplify reciprocal altruism the way the Giants and A’s are about to in the coming months.

  17. simon94022 - Dec 30, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    This is a fight over Silicon Valley dollars. AT&T Park is located in China Basin partly to make it convenient for CalTrain, which links the lower Peninsula and South Bay to the City.

    The biggest swath of corporate and personal wealth in the Bay Area is this region from Redwood Shores in San Mateo County south to the Silicon Valley towns of Santa Clara County.

    These towns are not suburbs of San Jose. In a sense, SJ is a suburb of Silicon Valley. But the Giants for more than 50 years have had close to 100 percent market share in this region. Bringing the A’s into San Jose obviously jeopardizes that, and increased market share for the Giants in the East Bay is not a substitute.

    I expect the A’s will eventually be allowed to build in San Jose, but it is perfectly reasonable for the Giants to insist on significant compensation.

  18. 24may98 - Dec 30, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Some points overlooked:

    The legality of the the so-called “territorial right will be subject to a rule of reason analysis; hence not an easy win.

    Moreover, ill the voters of San Francisco support the cost of a lawsuit to help the Giants, when they repeatedly voted down a new stadium? It’s a mistake to conflate San Francisco voters with Giant fans.

    The Giants will inherit the East Bay: Oakland, Alameda and Contra Costa County, which all served by BART (San Jose is not served by BART, but by the Souther Pacific railroad – not nearly as convenient as BART), which should more than compensate for any loss of fans from the mid-peninsula towns. Also, those mid-peninsula fans are going to lose parking at AT&T if or when the Giants build an arena for the NBA in what is now the parking lot regardless of the A’s move.

  19. simon94022 - Dec 30, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    The acquisition of SC County territorial rights happened under Bob Lurie and had nothing to do with saving the Giants from going to St. Petersburg.

    That was prevented by (1) the emergence of an exceptionally well capitalized local ownership group led by “that Buffoon,” and (2) the National League’s understanding that the Giants had a stadium problem not a market problem.

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