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San Jose is no panacea for the Athletics … how about New York?

Apr 4, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

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The A’s have been waiting about three years for Major League Baseball to clear their way to San Jose. At this point I’m wondering if it will ever happen. But even if it does, Neil deMause explains that San Jose is no pot of gold for the Athletics.

That’s because (a) the A’s would probably have to pay the Giants some $7-15$ million a year in territorial rights payoff money; and (b) because there are limits to how much more revenue a private ballpark in San Jose — on which Lew Wolff would have to pay a mortgage — could bring them:

According to Forbes, the Giants pulled in $230 million in revenue last year compared to the A’s $160 million. Let’s say that the San Jose market is strong enough that the A’s are able to turn themselves into Giants Lite, giving them $210 million a year. That $50 million-a-year bump would be enough to pay off Wolff’s $35 million in annual mortgage payments and checks to the Giants and give him $15 million to spare.

$15 million extra a year ain’t gonna pay for big free agents, which means that the A’s aren’t going to suddenly be a mega-competitive franchise the way some assume the will be simply by virtue of having a new stadium.

So what to do? deMause thinks what I’ve been thinking for some time: New York is the only answer:

New York City is a television market that’s triple the size of the Bay Area, and there are millions more households a short drive away in New Jersey and Connecticut. The New York metro area is the one market where a team owner could build a stadium with all the trimmings and end up with plenty of profit left over, thanks to the inevitable cable riches that would await.

Of course it isn’t happening because of the territorial rights thing. The Yankees and Mets would never allow it.

But the fact is, the territorial rights thing reflects a vastly different baseball economy — and a vastly different United States — than that which currently exist. Unlike in the mid-20th century, there are a not a ton of new cities growing like mad and demanding new teams like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston once did.  The pattern of growth has been existing cities – existing markets — growing ever larger.

The Yankees and Mets play in a city that is way better equipped to handle three teams than some markets are to handle one. Same goes for Chicago and Los Angeles, each of which have huge suburbs sprawling out their sides able to handle more baseball.

Except they’re not allowed to due to anachronistic territorial rights.

  1. mianfr - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Still think Salt Lake City is a great place to put a franchise.

    Interest matters a lot more than city population does, and I would bet on a ton of sellouts there.

    Unless that’s officially in Rockies-land? This is annoying.

    • banksatdixie - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      The Salt Lake Bees (LAA’s AAA Affiliate) struggle to put 4-5,000 people in the seats. The only time the stadium is ever near capacity is when there are fireworks. Having a Major League team isn’t going to magically put 20,000 extra asses in the seats.

      • acerob2002 - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        that’s only because its not a major league team. it has nothing to do with how big of a draw baseball is. I drive all over the west coast every year to see mlb games and would love a SLC based MLB team.

  2. spudchukar - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Send the A’s back to Pheelie. Plenty of Phans there who will Phanatically believe anything, even that the A’s will soon be a competitive team. Plus after the Pheels stumble to a 3rd place, 85 win season 2012, there will be plenty of Pholks who are ready to jump ship.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      You’re talking about the Phillies who have won five straight division titles and a World Series win in the past five years, right? If their fans were to jump ship after a third-place finish, they don’t deserve another team.

    • crisisofinfinitephils - Apr 4, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      That was Phunny. Phillie phans are phrauds. They prepher Phootball and hockey. Which sadly doesn’t have an f.

  3. shawnuel - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I am ALL for a 3rd team in the New York market. Anything to blunt the insane revenue edge the Yankees enjoy over EVERY team in MLB. I think it would be a positive step for baseball. Will never happen with Selig as commissioner.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      At this moment, a third team in NYC probably wouldn’t matter much to the Yankees. It would hurt the Mets quite a bit.

      … says the guy who doesn’t know anything about NYC, roots for the Red Sox and lives in Maryland. But that’s my hunch.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM

        You’re pretty much spot on. The Yankees would only lose a couple, maybe 5%, of their base. The new team would have to charge drastically lower prices, which in turn would mean less revenue for the team, just to get people in the door. Also, where would they put the team? Location will be huge.

      • kopy - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        If I’m that 3rd team, and I want to succeed against the Yankees/Mets, I’d go to the Jersey ‘burbs – maybe not too far from the Meadowlands if not in that complex. Whether identified as another “New York” team or using the New Jersey angle, I’d probably have the best chance at getting unique fans.

      • schlom - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        I think the 3rd team would be placed in Connecticut so it could also draw fans from the Red Sox area as well.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        There’s not enough people in Connecticut to make a difference. And you’d be inaccessible to Long Island AND northern New Jersey.

        The Meadowlands (or somewhere nearby, preferably with a city) is probably the right place for a team. Is somewhere like Hackensack or Patterson an option? An anchor to a new entertainment district.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:43 PM

        I’m not sure if there’s enough room to do it, but my preference would be downtown Newark, right next to the Prudential Center. Right next to Penn Station Newark, which is 22 minutes away from WTC, 20 minutes away from mid-town, directly connected by rail to the Jersey shore, Trenton and the Raritan Valley, and has a whole mess of other rail lines that would just have to transfer at Secaucus. Of course, I have that area marked out for the Rays once they get out of their lease, so the As have to go somewhere else.

      • bozosforall - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:56 AM

        That crybaby Red Sox fan has no room to talk, given that loservile Boston couldn’t even keep the Braves around. And also lost the Redskins to Washington.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 5, 2012 at 1:40 AM

        Hey, bozo, do us all a favor and shut the hell up.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        No, no — I’m devastated. The Braves drew more fans in their first 8 games in Milwaukee than they had in their last season in Boston. It hurts me to this day, knowing it occurred decades before I was born. The hypothetical pain haunts me, still. And don’t get me started about losing an NFL team at the height of the Great Depression, when no one cared about professional football.

        You win, Bozos. You win.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 5, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        Say, have any teams ever left New York City? Because if they had, that could make a really interesting book. I mean, imagine if the Dodgers ever left Los Angeles — if you can imagine!

  4. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Portland has been a rising hot spot.

    • Gobias Industries - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      You know what they could do to their uniform to spice it up a bit? Put a bird on it!

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM

        …the Oakland Athetic birds? They could have like a (insert name of local bird in Portland here) bird version of Mighty Mouse on the logo.

      • spudchukar - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:47 AM

        No, just bring back the Elephant.

    • thinman61 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:17 PM

      You beat me to it. Portland is nominally Mariners territory, but not really, and it would have the added benefit of closing off a possible relo destination for the Rays.

    • Gobias Industries - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      Portland Thinkers!

  5. blabidibla - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    I think that is underestimating San Jose’s desire to be viewed as a big city. It’s bigger than SF, by a good margin. Population 958,789 compared to SF’s 805,463. And the economy is larger and growing at a far faster pace. I would bet the San Jose Athletics would outpace the Giants’ revenue, especially in the first few years.

    • proudlycanadian - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      Life goes on blabidibla. Bud Lite does not want to know the way to San Jose.

      • blabidibla - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        The odds of the A’s moving to SJ are far greater than them moving across the country to New York. this whole article is a pipe dream written by an East Coast journalist who has no idea of the Bay Area’s culture. Why does he think New Yorkers are going to abandon the two entrenched home teams and follow the newcomer from Cali?

        If you do the math, San Jose, even with the restrictions on the market, makes the team more $$ than Portland, Las Vegas, San Antonio or any other small market under consideration. SJ is the 10 largest city in the USA. and that’s not accounting for the surrounding communities of Santa Clara, Campbell, Sunnyvale, etc which comprise the South Bay.

        The writers last assertion that the commute for East Bay fans would be prohibitive for them to follow the team to SJ is ludicrous. The A’s main fan base is already in the South Bay area and they make the commute up to Oak.

      • jwbiii - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        While Neil deMause is in Brooklyn, he’s been writing about sports stadium and relocation issues for years. He seems to know what he is talking about. Here’s his A’s archive
        http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/mlb/oakland_as/

      • blabidibla - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:48 PM

        Yes, and? Neil deMause himself says the team is never going to New York. Craig says the same. This whole piece is fantasy. He also says San Jose is a better option financially than Portland, Las Vegas, San Antonio, etc… due to the fact it’s a larger market. The only point I disagree with deMause is his idea that East Bay fans wouldn’t make the commute.

      • jwbiii - Apr 4, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        Pardon me, I misunderstood your point. With your clarification, I agree.

  6. clarenceoveur - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Would be great to have a team in NJ, takes forever to get from here to Citi. So of course it will never happen. But hey, Selig would give them 6 games a year against their “traditional” local rivals, the Mets,

  7. Old Gator - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    San Antonio / Austin is indeed a growing metropolitan axis, and they were willing to build a stadium for the Marlins not all that long ago. And given Texas’ neanderthal views on gun controllessness and capital punishment, an all-lowbrow designatedhitterball scenario would fit the state perfectly.

    • banksatdixie - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Yeah, that double-switch is really riveting!

    • proudlycanadian - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Hi Old Gator. I know that you have spent time in Texas; however, most recent headlines have been about a vigilante type gunslinger in Florida. How do the 2 states differ?

    • Mohammed Chang - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Without traffic, it’s a little under an hour and half between downtowns, but traffic in Austin is really, really terrible. The population doubled within something around a 20 year period, and if folks from Austin are trying to get to 7 PM games in San Antonio or folks from San Antonio are trying to get to a 7 PM game in Austin, that’s two hours in the car, easy. I don’t know how many fans would be willing to go from one city to the other and if you’d want to consider the two a single metropolitan area with regards to attendance (for TV rights it might be just fine).

      The Round Rock Express draw a little over 8,500 a game, which is good for the PCL. Maybe there’s interested but I don’t see Austin/San Antonio as clearly superior to San Jose.

    • schlom - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      I never knew that neanderthals had views on gun controllessness (whatever the hell that is). Considering that neanderthals disappeared from the fossil record about 25,000 years ago, firearms were invented about 1000 years ago, and gun control in the US is ultimately over 400 years old I find it absolutely amazing that they had views on gun control.

      • spudchukar - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM

        This just in Proper Nouns can be used metaphorically.

  8. scatterbrian - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    San Jose — or any other potential destination — isn’t meant to instantly turn the A’s into a $100M payroll team. But it’s a major step in that direction. As I understood it, the prospective territorial rights payments to the Giants were predicated on their claim that paying off AT&T was dependent on San Jose revenue, and that once the debt is paid off (in 2016 or 2017 I think) the A’s would no longer need to pay the Giants. In other words, the payments subtracted from the arbitrary extra $50M in revenue wouldn’t last forever.

    But beyond that, $15M is about 22% of the A’s 2011 payroll, and that would be a significant boost. If they had that extra $15M this off-season, they may not have needed to trade Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. Here’s Beane a few days before heading to Japan:

    “If we take the three pitchers we traded back then we would’ve had to build an entire outfield with about four million dollars. You’re just not going to be able to do that. We weren’t going to be better than we were last year because of the players we lost. This was the only way we had a chance. Even if we took a step back last year, this was our only way of moving forward. It was going to be so hard to add anyone, because of the payroll issues, to add anything to the club. What we usually do is that any money that we have left over we’re going to use it to try and improve the team. The misconception here is that we’re just taking profits and putting it in our pockets and we’ve never done that. We’ve basically spent what we have every year. That’s why you can’t overreact to things in November and December simply because there’s a lot of winter left. You can’t look at the winter in a linear fashion because it just doesn’t work that way, as it’s an entire process.”

    • APBA Guy - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Hi Brian-nice work. The only thing I’d be careful about is believing Beane’s assertion that “they” have never taken profit and put it in their pockets. As I’ve pointed out before there is significant unaccounted for revenue versus expenses. Normally that’s considered profit. The A’s have some crazy euphemism for it but it’s really the same thing. in truth, the amounts in question would not build a competitive outfield, though.

      Another point is that the A’s have been terrible with naming rights and merchandising. A move to a new venue is an automatic boost to both of those and will help close the gap from their current $ 160M to closer to $200M, though it may then precipitate an offset in revenue sharing. Still, it should be a net plus. The biggest boost to income will be attendance, however.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:34 PM

        Great point about the naming and merch. Like I said, it wouldn’t be an instantaneous fix, but it would put them on the path to compete and to remain competitive.

        I welcome the day when the A’s are required to share revenue.

  9. jerseydevi1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    I think that if you were serious about putting another team in NYC, it has to go in Brooklyn. I have family who live in Brooklyn and love baseball, but refuse to go to Citi Field or Yankee Stadium until there is a team back in Brooklyn, and there are alot of people there that feel that way. The people who won’t refer to the LA team as the Dodgers. Not sure how the logistics would work out, but if you but it just on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano, I bet you get a lot of Staten Island and the NJ fans there, since it would be easier for them to reach than Citi or Yankee Stadium, plus tap into the Long Island market. Kinda like the Mets did with the Cyclones.

    That being said, I think that it wouldn’t hurt the Yankees at all, AL or NL team. Put an NL team in Brooklyn, and the Mets have problems, however.

    • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      Well, that’s quite correct, however lower Brooklyn would not be easier for the Bergen-Westchester fans.
      Remember how the tri-state is historically- 1 AL Champ, two NL afterthoughts. A re-creation would not do too much good.

      • jerseydevi1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:09 PM

        I know there would be some who wouldn’t like it in those areas, but I know I would love to see the Yankees playing the Brooklyn Bridegrooms? Grays? Superbas? Robins?

        With some support, they could be the NY team to challenge Philly for the NL East, and set up a long gone Bronx – Brooklyn World Series. THAT would make the city rock and roll.

      • DJ MC - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM

        Just to make a slight revision to your history, in the 58 years of the modern NL where both teams were in New York, one of the two won the pennant 23 times. So referring to them as “NL afterthoughts” makes you sound like a bit of a Yankee fan who fears losing an edge.

      • yankeesfanlen - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:28 PM

        And during the time frame you mention, the Yankees won 17 pennants.
        There’s no edge to lose here.

  10. marinersnate - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    With every other team owning territorial rights to the rest of the country there seems to be only one real option: The Fairbanks’ Athletics! (Lew better be thinking non-retractable Dome).

    Now that I think about it, Alaska may well be within the Mariners territorial rights. Hmmm. The Hong Kong Athletics?

  11. bisonaudit - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    1) The territorial rights thing is only as big a deal as people want to make out of it. The Expos moved to DC and they worked out a deal with the O’s over their rights.

    2) In any given year there are somewhere between 5 and 7 Premeirship teams in the greater London area. NYC can clearly support at least a third MLB franchise.

  12. catamount1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Raleigh, NC. Nearest teams…. Both National League…. Nationals (4.5 hours) and Braves (6 hours). Nearest American League team….probably the Baltimore Orioles (do they still count?) at 6 hours.

    We could put the stadium on the southwest side of the city (think Pittsboro) and draw from Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and even Charlotte. Better weather than Austin, TX. Better weather than NY, NY. As one of the most desirable places to live in America today we continue to offer a growing economy.

    Bring my A’s to Raleigh. PLEASE Lew!!!!!!! Please?

    • snowbirdgothic - Apr 4, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      I’m not willing to trade the Bulls and Mudcats for the A’s.

  13. pantherpro - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Any jersey with Oakland on it is trash! Raider fan are you listening. Both teams finish last in attendance and first in killings!

  14. footballisking - Apr 4, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    @ the post about a minor league team in salt lake not getting people in the seats…

    I am clueless if salt lake could or couldnt support a major league team because I have never been anywhere near salt lake city….but tons of people will go to major league games in any market as opposed to hardly any people attending a minor league games in that same market..comparing a minor league to a professional league is apples to oranges

  15. nflinla - Apr 4, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    A’s to Brooklyn

  16. leftywildcat - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    A’s back to Philly as sooon as possible!

    Put them in the far Northeast, next to the Amtrak station along I-95. They’d be 20 miles from where the Phils play. They’d draw the South Jersey and Central Jersey crowds easily, and maybe some of the North Jersey crowd. Probable sell-outs when the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, and Angels come to town. Phils sell out all the time anyway.

  17. The Wizard - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    can anything be done to destroy this territorial rights contraption?

    if MLB loses its anti-trust exemption would the territorial rights thing become illegal?

  18. jarathen - Apr 6, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I imagine a future without territorial rights and blackout rules that take two states without any Major League franchises but blocks them from watching 20% of the teams on MLB.tv.

    It is so bright that I must wear shades.

    A’s should go to San Jose.

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