Gearing up for the San Jose A’s

The idea of bringing the A’s to San Jose is quickly moving from thinking out loud to formal campaign:

The campaign to bring the Oakland Athletics to San Jose will be launched at the April 7 City Council meeting, city officials decided Wednesday.

Speaking before a crowd of 40 plus representatives from TV and radio stations at the city’s rules committee meeting, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said the city has a second chance to bring baseball to San Jose now that Lew Wolff, owner of the baseball team, has given up on Fremont.

“All right, it’s time for baseball. We know we have a great market for professional sports and we have a site identified,” the mayor said referring to the property assembled by the city on Park Avenue and Autumn/Montgomery streets. “Although the EIR is done, it’s not 100 percent ready. But we can prepare ourselves.”

Not that everyone is on board:

In the crowd were several people who spoke against the idea of building a stadium near downtown, including one man who hoisted a sign that read “A’s OK in San Jose But Not Taxes.”

Kathryn Mathewson, a representative of the Shasta Hanchett neighborhood, said no other issue has raised as much interest among her neighbors as reopening the discussion of whether to bring the A’s to San Jose.

“There’s so much interest, mostly negative,” she said. “It’s the location. From what I’ve seen of the ballpark in San Francisco, it destroyed the neighborhood. A deadening happens. The kind of businesses that come to a ballpark are not what I want to see in San Jose.”

“A deadening?” Is that really true? I’m no expert on San Francisco history, but my understanding was that the South Beach neighborhood — where AT&T Park sits — was basically homeless encampments, dilapidated warehouses, grown-over storage yards and rusty piers. Sure, the kind of development seen around the ballpark there comes with its own set of concerns — pricing out lower income people and businesses chief among them — but we’re not talking about an even arguably vibrant working class neighborhood, are we?

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Comments

  1. crowhop said...

    General question for the board here…

    From a business perspective, historically, has there ever been a pro-sports franchise that has been as bad as the A’s?
    They couldn’t pay the bills in Philadelphia and moved to Kansas City.  They lasted twelve years in KC, but couldn’t pay the bills and moved to Oakland. 
    And that is only the beginning.  They traded Jimmy Foxx at the age 28 while in Philly, everyone they had to the Yankees while in KC, and the term “fire sale” was coined because of them in the 70’s.  And God only knows how terrible things would be for them right now if it weren’t for the genius of Billy Beane. 

    At what point is it no longer a “market” problem?  History suggests they will fail no matter where they move.

  2. xeloi said...

    Baseball owners didn’t get to be baseball owners by making bad business decisions. Many are simply trying to maximize the value of their teams, both in terms of yearly income and resale value. If the A’s will make more money and be worth more in San Jose, they’ll move there if they can. That’s a sound business decision—and it’s probably what has been behind their seemingly-strange personnel and relocation decisions over the years, chasing ever-changing demographics.

    There’s a lot of money in the San Jose area, more than there is in Oakland. Makes sense for them to move to me, if they can.

  3. Keith Law said...

    It’s disappointing that, even with mountains of data arguing that public funding of sports facilities is a bad investment, an anti-stadium activist decided to ignore the data and lie to a reporter to state her POV.

  4. Mark said...

    You know, there was a very good reason that the land in China Basin was even available at all for the Giants to build their park upon. The “deadening” happened long before the first shovel ever hit the ground. At least now, if you were lost in that part of town, you would have someone to ask for directions.

  5. Rob Moore said...

    In 1993 I lived for about a year around a block from the eventual home plate in SF.  There was practically no neighborhood there then, unless she’s talking about the one big yuppie condo development about a block further north.  I have no idea what its like now.

  6. Ken Arneson said...

    The “deadening” comment is laughable.  That neighborhood is a fifty gazillion times more vibrant now than before the ballpark was built.

    That said, the ballpark can’t take all the credit.  The dot-com boom happenened as the ballpark was being built.  Dozens and dozens of old ugly warehouses were converted to shiny office lofts to meet the demand for office space during the boom.  The whole area got a total facelift, but the ballpark cachet was only a fraction of the cause.

    But that’s probably when these ballpark projects actually create a positive ROI for the community—when they’re part of some larger project which is not dependent on the ballpark alone.

    In San Jose’s case, the proposed site is in an upcoming transit hub neighborhood, which will create growth all by itself.

  7. Chris H. said...

    crowhop: I don’t understand your point.  Are you suggesting that there’s something inherent in the franchise that makes it doomed?

    That’s not terribly rational.

  8. crowhop said...

    @ Chris H….

    It is not rational at all.  That is why I do not understand how the franchise, in existence since 1901 with a tradition-rich history of four different “dynasties” and countless stars, can’t get it right.  They have had several different owners along the way, yet remain in the constant state of fiscal strife it has been in since inception.  One would hope with each change, one would improve, but the A’s seem to be exactly where they were in the 30’s. 

    I understand it best to view the present primarily in light of the current situation and in each previous move, moving might have been the best business decision to make.  Perhaps my question is more about the irony of it all as much as anything else and a move from Oakland to anywhere is probably, from a business perspective, the right thing.  But looking back at it through the scope of time, it does seem quite odd, no?

  9. Nick said...

    @ crowhop:
    your logic seems inherently wrong; b/c they are still in existence, for over a century,  it seems to show that they have gotten it right.  plus your facts are just wrong.  they’ve been in existence since before 1901 (but that’s irrelevant).  and as for being in constant fiscal strife, does that mean a team that continually makes a profit year after year, all the while the value of the team continues to grow.  I would love to deal with that sort of fiscal strife.  ever since their move to Oakland, the business of the A’s has been profitable, except for when it was under Haas ownership during the ‘80s and early ‘90s (a time when the team was very successful on the field), yet Haas came away with a huge profit when selling the team.  the owners have largely been more concerned with profits than performance over the years, and they have done quite well for themselves.

  10. APBA Guy said...

    A couple of points:

    - if you want to see for yourself what the neighborhood around China Basin used to look like, watch the original “Dirty Harry”. Numerous scenes were filmed there. Just look for the sign that says “China Basin” as cars are whizzing by.

    - the current neighborhood around AT& T does owe a lot to the dot com boom. A better example of what SJ is likely to experience is when DC opened its basketball stadium on 7th St. It took a while for the neighborhood to transform, but every year it got a little better. IN SJ, with the planned transit hub, an A’s stadium will accelerate that process.

    - Since the Shott ownership, the A’s have been very profitable. And the Haas ownership prior to that pursued a deliberate strategy of annual losses leading to a team sale payoff. Indeed, that was the primary business strategy pursued by clubs in that era. Since Finley sold the team they have been sound financially. Their current facility limits their ability to pay free agent prices. This makes it less likely they can go deep in the playoffs, even with Billy Beane. They want to rectify that with a new stadium in a more prosperous area.

    - Keith Law’s point is on target, as usual. The detractor, in lying about the neighborhood situation in SF, weakens an otherwise appropriate concern about how the stadium will be funded, along with the capital improvements around the stadium. However, given the visceral opposition to any proposal out here, someone else is sure to make the point with more validity.

    - Speaking as one fan of the beloved A’s, I’d be thrilled if they got a new stadium I could take the train to. There are two positives about their current mausoleum. Easy access, including the train, and fabulous lemonade. Trust ne on the latter point, you never appreciate it it so much on a mid summer afternoon game.

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