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A proposal to resolve the Giants-Athletics territorial dispute

Jan 11, 2012, 12:50 PM EDT

San Jose postcard

The A’s and the Giants have been at odds over the territorial rights to San Jose for a long time now. In fact, I believe we’re coming up on the third anniversary of launching of the famous MLB study that was designed to solve that problem in the first place.  I’m sure they’re almost done!

In the meantime, Wendy Thurm made what appears to be an eminently reasonable and workable proposal to solve the problem in a single blog post over at SB Nation.  Imagine.

Now obviously people who live in and know the Bay Area — like Wendy — know the dynamics and quirks to all of this stuff way better, but it seems to make sense. The Giants get some extra territory out of this — notably Oakland — and the A’s get to build their new ballpark that, over time, will benefit all of baseball, the Giants included.

So tell me: what’s wrong with this? Why wouldn’t the Giants be interested in such a deal?

  1. owine - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Or the A’s could rescind permission for the Giants to move to SF and send them back to New York. Problem solved.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      The Giants were in San Francisco before the As were in Oakland.

      • clydeserra - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        true, but what ownie is getting at, is the A’s granted the San Jose territorial rights to the Giants in the 90s when the Giants were poised to leave California for St. Pete.

        It was billed as “for Free” and an “effort to keep the Giants in Northern California”

  2. phillieschamps2012 - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    Why does anyone think that San Jose is better equipped to have a fan-base capable of supporting the A’s as opposed to Oakland? Wouldn’t the obvious choice be to just either relocate the team to another state or just dissolve the team outright? Everybody wins in this scenario.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      Do you have any idea how many jobs would be gone if the A’s dissolved? California has people, that’s not the problem – they just need a new stadium in a better nearby location dearly.

    • thomas2727 - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      Anybody that says “dissolve” loses all credibility.

      Where do you even respond to the idiocy of such a statement?

    • 78mu - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      The difference between San Jose and Oakland is immense. In a sane world a metropolitan are the size of San Jose would have teams from all four leagues and not just the NHL.

    • brucewaynewins - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      I believe “phillieschamps2012” is trolling. The two posts in 2 threads I’ve read so far seem like trolling posts.

      First if you’ve read this site before you know contraction will not happen for billion$ and billion$ of reason$.

      Second as the others posted the stadium in Oakland is run down and in a bad spot of town. Oakland has been unwilling to assist the A’s in getting a new stadium in a good part of town.

      San Jose is willing to get them land for the stadium. Good land. San Jose has far more tech companies who can sponsor the stadium and buy season tickets for the company.

  3. dondada10 - Jan 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    “Why wouldn’t the Giants be interested in such a deal?”

    According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in San Jose was the highest in the U.S. for any city with more than a quarter million residents with $76,963 annually.

    In 2008 the median income for a household in Oakland was $48,596 and the median income for a family was $55,949.

    So, the Giants would rather have San Jose for the same reason Oakland would.

    • kopy - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      I like the “If the Giants love so San Jose so much then why don’t they move there, and the A’s can move into AT&T Park!” idea.

  4. - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    I’m not from the area, and I’ve visited once on a business trip. I did hit both stadiums on that trip. Like Craig said, the locals have the best knowledge.

    However, it appears to me that San Jose is a very affluent area with lots of corporations and lots disposible income.

    Trading SJ for OAK would be like trading Boardwalk for Oriental Avenue in Monopoly. If I’m the Giants I don’t like that trade, even after 2017.

  5. normcash - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I live in the Bay Area, on the peninsula, about 45 miles south of San Francisco and 15 miles north of San Jose. The reason the Giants are adamant about keeping territorial rights to San Jose is simple:
    They would dearly love to see the A’s leave the area for another region so the Giants could have the Bay Area all to themselves. If the A’s moved to San Jose, they would be established in the third-largest city in California and be in the midst of one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Moreover, the weather in San Jose is much better for baseball than it is in Oakland which, in mid-summer, is frequently chilly and uncomfortable for night games. What makes the Giants’ claim so galling is that they were given these rights as an inducement to remain in SF at a time when they
    were thought to be close to moving to Florida. I don’t know whether the then owners of the A’s
    supported giving those rights to the Giants, but clearly the original justification is by the boards now that the Giants have a new ballpark downtown—-and 10 miles farther away from San Jose than Candlestick Park is. If MLB wants the Bay Area to be a two-team region, they should approve the A’s
    move to San Jose. This three-year “study” is pure nonsense—the issues are clear and have been from the beginning. The hold-up is that the Giants want an advantage they no longer need and are using the gift they got years ago to make the A’s economically untenable in the hope that they will
    leave and create a MLB monopoly for the Giants. Period. Full stop.

    • thomas2727 - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      Bingo. SJ territorial rights were given as a gesture of goodwill by the A”s to keep the Giants in the Bay Area.

      Now the Giants are doing everything in their power to run the A’s out of the area.

      I think the writing is on the wall as far as San Jose whether the Giants like it or not.

      • Loren - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        The current Giants owners make the argument, and I think it’s valid, that when they bought the team they paid for those territorial rights even though the rights had been freely given to previous owners. When Peter Magowan built the park at McCovey Cove, the Giants took on debt that they might not have otherwise if they couldn’t count on support from Silicon Valley.
        This is not as simple as, “The A’s gave it to the Giants for free so the Giants should be cool and give it to the A’s.”
        And I’m saying this as someone who would really like to see the A’s move to SJ.

    • SOBEIT - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      You forgot to mention that when the A’s gave the Giants the south bay to SJ, they did not care about the territory because it was cow pastures and farm land. Silicon Valley was not around then. The median income in SJ was lower than Oakland is now. Also, Oakland was a booming city back then. Over the past 30 years, Oakland has gone backwards in almost everything while the SF Bay Area and South Bay have exploded with success. It’s like the Jersey to New York. But now that the SF Bay Area and South Bay are so hot because of things like jobs, median income, ammenities, etc, now the A’s want the territory back.

      The A’s snoozed and lost. They did not cherish what they had.

      • normcash - Jan 11, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        This is laughably untrue. The territorial rights were granted in 1990—long after Silicon Valley was well-established! The Haas family (owners of the A’s at the time) agreed
        to the arrangement out of sense of public-spiritedness, for which they were well-known,
        to help keep the Giants in the Bay Area. The Giants churlish attitude today just goes to prove the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

      • jkcalhoun - Jan 11, 2012 at 11:55 PM

        With a move to San Jose, would the A’s have not benefited from the opportunity to increase their following in Marin County and in San Francisco itself? You portray it as an entirely charitable gesture and the Giants’ attitude as churlish, but those are one-sided characterizations. You say “public-spirited”, but the A’s saw the opportunity that could result from their generosity and acted both in self-interest as well as, I grant you, in cooperation with the Giants’ ownership group at the time; you say “churlish”, but the Giants are only acting in similar self-interest, not to grab for new opportunity, as the A’s did, but to preserve the conditions under which the current ownership group established their business plan and took on the debt of a privately financed ballpark.

  6. somekat - Jan 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    The plan in the article linked above make a lot of sense, and it is exactly why it won’t happen. Bud “Who’s my favorite” Selig is going to royally screw the A’s (This is the same guy that makes the Dodgers sell, because they might not have the money, and watches the Mets get run in to the ground because the DON”T have any money, and does nothing). San Fran will either get everything they want, or most of it. If they don’t, the A’s will pay an uncomparable relocation fee

    • Loren - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      A’s owner Lew Wolff was Bud Selig’s frat brother and they have been buddies for a long time. If Bud screws the A’s, he’s definitely not playing “who’s my favorite”.

  7. merkleboner - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    Does anyone else think this territorial stuff is all BS? Most people in the Bay Area (and New York, Chicago and LA) just picks one team when they’re young and sticks with it. Often, if one team is doing better than the other, there are converts. I grew up in the Giants’ “territory” and there were plenty of kids who were A’s fans. You can watch every game on TV for both teams. Moving to San Jose will not change that. I just do not get it.

    The Giants are probably just afraid that the A’s will build a nice new stadium, getting more revenue and forcing the Giants to compete for fan interest. As a Giants fan, I’m all for it. The Giants could use a kick in the wallet after this horrendous offseason.

    • normcash - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      The Bay Area has so many transplants, the NY and Chicago analogies don’t hold. I’m quite sure that a nice ballpark in San Jose would attract many Giants fans who would appreciate the chance to see MLB in nice weather without having to drive 50-60 miles to downtown SF…not to mention all the folks out here who really don’t have a settled rooting interest in either team—a
      very large group.

  8. sisqsage - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    What kind of a solution is this?
    Oakland doesn’t even like their hometown A’s (bad attendance for years), so why would they like the Giants? Oak hates everything about SF (obvious inferiority complex). Wendy’s an A’s fan. Admit it.
    Between Wendy’s and Craig’s views, there’s nothing in this for the Giants. Here’s the solution: you have to give the Giants something worthwhile. Hasn’t happened yet, so it will be tied up in court until SF gets satisfaction. It always takes a judge to figure that out.

    • jwbiii - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      You’re right. If I’m the Giants, I demand a 15% annual return on the money I paid for the territorial rights to San Jose and not a single dime less.

      • clydeserra - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:53 PM


    • hangingsliders - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Look at my twitter handle. I’m a crazy Giants fans and have been for years. I’ve been a Giants season ticket holder since 2003.

      What’s in it for the Giants is that the territories are divided by MLB rules, which can be changed by vote of 3/4 of MLB owners. If they wanted, the owners could amend the rules, give Santa Clara to the A’s and be done with it. The threat of litigation is what makes parties come to the table. Just trying to propose a solution that works for everyone.

  9. Old Gator - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Why don’t we just all sit back, relax, and let plate tectonics work its magic? In a few million years, the Giants will have to explain what they’re doing in the Mariners’ territory.

    • normcash - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Or vice versa! 😉

      • Old Gator - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        Well maybe – but the smart money says that even Peter Magowan’s descendants will have lost their tails by then.

  10. bobulated - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Since there is precedence I think baseball should handle this the way they have solved other problems; a winner take all exhibition game. Just like the all-star game but have the rights to San Jose at stake in a 7 game series between SF and Oak.

    • ireportyoudecide - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      This time it counts!

    • - Jan 11, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      College Football does this too.

  11. uyf1950 - Jan 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    As an outsider looking in. Why does MLB have to offer the Giants anything? What MLB giveth it can take away. Simply by that all encompassing clause “In the best interest of baseball”. Problem solved.

  12. castillo_ken - Jan 11, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Let them relocate to Sacramento. It would be far enough from San Francisco yet still close enough to Oakland plus they will probably have an added population that spans the 5 & 99 freeway corridor from Chico down to Modesto

  13. jkcalhoun - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    Twenty-plus years ago Giants’ ownership gave up on building a new stadium in the team’s home city of San Francisco to replace their aging and largely unloved home at Candlestick Point, tried but failed to move the franchise to the South Bay, and ultimately sold the franchise to another ownership group — that in fairly short order succeeded in building a new stadium in San Francisco.

    Now, the story has repeated, up to a point, across the Bay. The Athletics’ ownership has given up on building a new stadium in the team’s home city to replace their aging and wholly unloved home adjacent to Interstate 880, has tried to set in motion but has so far gained no traction for a move to the South Bay, and….what’s next? I would suggest to Lew Wolff that the next logical step is to cry poor and cash in, just like Bob Lurie, to another ownership group that wants to try harder, on the side of the Bay where the team already resides. That would be the best resolution for the entire Bay Area.

  14. cogitobaseballergosum - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    I’ll trade you two counties, three cities, and a suburb to be named later….

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