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Thursday, April 02, 2009
The Giants mark their territoryBack when I was in private practice, I represented a park district that wanted to turn some old railroad lines in the middle of nowhere into a bike trail. They built about 85% of the trail, but the last little stretch was held up by this group of Mennonite farmers who lived next to the right-of-way and claimed the land where the tracks used to be was theirs. "How could that be," I wondered? The railroad had tracks on that property since the 19th century, and they gave the tracks directly to my client. The Mennonites, however, had all manner of questionable and ancient legal documents which they claimed their great great great something or other had reserved the rights if the railroad ever left, yadda, yadda, yadda. I read these things, quickly figured out that, while it could be a pain, we could get that land for the bike trail if we were determined enough to do it.
Right before I filed my lawsuit to quiet title, the Mennonites parked a mobile home on the right of way and claimed they were home schooling a bunch of Mennonite farmer kids there, which immediately turned us into the bad guys and complicated my little lawsuit. Five years later, and I think the Mennonites have moved on to consulting with the San Francisco Giants:
Amid a threat to their territorial rights in Santa Clara County, the Giants are moving to fortify their baseball outpost in the region.
Lots of great reporting in this one, including the mayor of San Jose snubbing the Giants' little news conference tomorrow and some choice quotes from a San Jose city councilman (a) noting how curious it is that the Giants care about San Jose all of a sudden; and (b) why, if the Giants truly had planned on making this investment for years as they claim, they allowed the city to pony up for renovations to San Jose's stadium before buying into the team. Are the Giants calculating or are they cheap? Maybe both!
My guess: the Giants are doing whatever they can to bolster their claim to the territory in advance of the report from Bud's Magic Oakland Committee. Maybe not with an eye towards ultimately blocking the A's from moving to San Jose -- I can't exactly see how they legally and/or practically could do that -- but to maximize the payoff they'll get from Selig and the A's when they ultimately drop their opposition.
Will it work? Well, in my case we got the Mennonite "school" off the property and there's a bike trail there now. But I gotta tell ya: it was a hell of a lot more protracted and expensive an experience than anyone thought it would be.
(thanks to reader Ed T. for the heads up)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:00am
Sim, I see what you’re saying. Like I said, I agree with the fact that a large sum of money will probably have to change hands for this to happen…I guess I just stubbornly don’t see the point of it. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they put it to a vote and got the necessary 3/4 in favor. The only reason it would be questionable to pass is because it would set a future precedent. Though I can’t imagine there are that many other locales that would be worried about a second (or third) team wanting to move into town, which is really the only reason owners wouldn’t want to set a precedent.
As to MLB playing San Jose…to a certain point I suppose that true in any situation where a team talks about moving. It’s even the situation when players are trying to find new homes. Having lived in Vegas (and seeing what’s going on there economically now), I could see the casino owners wanting a team there, and could even see the team being moderately successful. Not from a home fan’s standpoint, really, but from a fan of teams coming into town. Think of how easy it would be to get five to ten thousand Yankee fans in town for a three game weekend series in June. It would give fans from other cities a reason to take a vacation to Vegas, which is all the casino folk need to make their money. That being said, I don’t see the A’s necessarily being the team to move there. I think what upsets me most about the situation is that my hometown of Fremont was too dumb to realize what having a pro sports team could have done as a whole for the city. I think they just saw the undesirable parts that they see when they unfortunately go to a game at the cement donut and assume that’s exactly what things in Fremont would start to look like. Not to mention it was even more embarrassing to me that the city decided to listen to business owners at Pacific Commons who didn’t want the team to be at the original location. Why the city even cared about what Costco/Lowe’s thought is beyond me.
So it’s probably that anger (and years of going to Sharks games where I can see how the city of San Jose can support it’s home team) that forces me to latch on to the idea of San Jose being a viable option.
Posted 04/02 at 05:44 PM
A South Bay stadium deal won’t get ANY votes, and Selig won’t even present it to the Exec. Committee, unless it’s accompanied by some kind of a deal that makes the Giants happy.
And with San Jose offering no significant public money, I can’t see how that’s possible.
SJ is being played by MLB. And the sure sign of that is MLB’s consistent “no comment” on the territorial rights question. MLB wants San Jose to believe it’s in the picture, so the pressure stays on Oakland. Or, better yet, they’d LOVE to see San Jose offer a 100% public financed stadium deal, a la Washington. Short of that, though, they’ll never open the territorial rights question. Too expensive.
Posted 04/02 at 08:13 PM