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Oakland Athletics Wheel of Relocation


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One thing I've never really gotten a good sense of - is Oakland even a good MLB market to begin with?

 

I don't doubt that the Bay Area in general is capable of hosting two teams, but I get the vibe that Oakland is kind of just an extension of San Francisco in a way. I didn't pay too much attention when I was there, but going from SF to Oakland seemed like going to a suburb of SF. That's not to say Oakland isn't it's own city, but it felt more like how the Rays play in St Pete as opposed to Tampa proper because that's where the stadium is.

 

There seems to be a good deal of civic pride in Oakland (or at least territorial pride of some sort), but is the city of Oakland itself a worthy MLB market? Is it distinct from the rest of the Bay Area? If the Athletics had been in San Jose all this time would that satisfy the Bay Area market? And if the team leaves the Bay Area completely, will the market feel the need for another team? I don't ask these questions so much out of reality (I know they're not moving to SJ), but more out of curiosity about the market. Like, has it been worth trying to keep the team there this long in the first place?

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2 hours ago, Bmac said:

One thing I've never really gotten a good sense of - is Oakland even a good MLB market to begin with?

 

I obviously know nothing about the Bay Area so I'm talking out of my rear here, but I got the sense that Oakland is a lot like Buffalo. A formerly prominent city that attracted teams out of the prospect of future growth that never quite materialized like it was envisioned. 

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12 hours ago, Crabcake said:

Seeing the Rays mentioned has reminded me yet again that I would love a 30 for 30 about Tampa Bay’s relocation madness. Seems to me (albeit I have done little to no research on the matter) that they were constantly brought up as a city for the MLB to move to and seemed to be kind of the #1 option when teams were pursuing relocation/#1 bargaining chip when owners wanted to hold cities hostage for new stadiums. They even had a deal to get the Giants at one point. Yet when baseball finally did get to Tampa it flopped, and flopped hard. 

 

They are probably not the only hurdles the Rays face, but they have a combination of bad ownership, a bad stadium, and bad stadium location.  On top of that, while it's impressive what they've managed to do on the field despite their budget, regularly trading off your best players for prospects doesn't do much to build loyalty.  They have a generational talent that will likely be debuting this year in Wander Franco and it's difficult to get too excited because you know five or six years from now he'll be shipped off for prospects.  The presence of the Yankees in Tampa doesn't help.  One of the local sports radio stations plays coverage of Yankees games at night (or did as of two years ago).

 

If they were owned by Vinick (Lightning owner) and had a more accessible stadium that actually added to the experience of attending a baseball game, they would be a lot more successful.  I don't think it's a guarantee they'd be successful enough, though.

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2 minutes ago, See Red said:

 

 a bad stadium, and bad stadium location.

These factors seem a lot more important in baseball than in any other sport too. Football, it doesn't matter if its -30 in a concrete block, you're there to watch your team brutally slug it out with their opponent. Stadiums a half hour away? No problem, you're tailgating anyway.

 

In baseball though it seems like the stadium experience is first and the game second. Thats not to say there aren't diehard fans who desperately want their team to win, but going to a baseball game seems like the priority is more about hanging out on a warm summer evening. Drink some beers, try the wacky stadium food etc. If the park is a dump and inconvenient to get to, there are lots of other ways to spend your time. Its a lot harder to attract fans with a bad stadium experience in baseball than in other sports.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Walk-Off said:

 

The top answer can be shortened to three words: Portland is richer.

 

Specifically, Portland enjoys a lower unemployment rate and a higher rate of projected future job growth than does Sacramento.  More importantly, Portland's per capita, median household, and median family incomes are all above the US average.  Meanwhile, Sacramento is below the US average in all three of those income categories.  Finally, as best as I can tell, Portland has more businesses that can afford to pay for premium seats at and season tickets to a MLB team's games than does Sacramento.

 

Also, in a way, Portland may be helped by being geographically more isolated than Sacramento.  If nothing else, part of the desire for a Portland team in MLB and particularly in the American League is to create a geographically close rival to the Seattle Mariners, who are decidedly the most remote MLB club at the moment.

 

I lived in Portland for 10 years as a business journalist. I can't disagree with most of this analysis, but I have always had serious doubts about the veracity of the corporate support in the city. The biggest corporations there do very little in the way of local branding: Nike doesn't sponsor anything because they don't feel they need to. Their logo is all over the sport without having to send a nickel on marketing. Outside of local health care players, there isn't a deep well of companies waiting to place their brand on sports franchises. 

 

I can't speak toward an appetite for season tickets. I suppose there's enough law firms and banks and accounting firms and consulting firms of a certain size — all industries in which networking is key — to buy up a few luxury suites. But Portland isn't a city like Seattle, which is littered with billion-dollar companies. It's a mid-sized and small business town, with a few notable exceptions. 

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3 hours ago, Bmac said:

One thing I've never really gotten a good sense of - is Oakland even a good MLB market to begin with?

 

I don't doubt that the Bay Area in general is capable of hosting two teams, but I get the vibe that Oakland is kind of just an extension of San Francisco in a way. I didn't pay too much attention when I was there, but going from SF to Oakland seemed like going to a suburb of SF. That's not to say Oakland isn't it's own city, but it felt more like how the Rays play in St Pete as opposed to Tampa proper because that's where the stadium is.

 

There seems to be a good deal of civic pride in Oakland (or at least territorial pride of some sort), but is the city of Oakland itself a worthy MLB market? Is it distinct from the rest of the Bay Area? If the Athletics had been in San Jose all this time would that satisfy the Bay Area market? And if the team leaves the Bay Area completely, will the market feel the need for another team? I don't ask these questions so much out of reality (I know they're not moving to SJ), but more out of curiosity about the market. Like, has it been worth trying to keep the team there this long in the first place?


Oakland has its issues currently, but there was a point when it absolutely could hold its own. There was a time there where the Oakland port was one of, if not the very busiest shipping hubs in the entire country (I think it’s still like 5th) There are several factors and a good handful of missteps that led to its somewhat recent decline, but there was a point not that long ago where Oakland may have been the most important city in the Bay Area. 
 

A’s for the A’s, there were many years where they outdrew the Giants so significantly that the Giants were ready to abandon the market entirely (that’s kind of the other side of these stadium issues). The A’s drew so well at one point that they were the first team in the market to host 2,000,000 fans in a season. Oakland has definitely seen better days and those days where quite a long time ago, but comparing it to cities like, say, Buffalo (which I saw above) doesn’t quite feel right. Oakland has ALWAYS had a much larger profile than any of those rust belt cities. 

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1 hour ago, gosioux76 said:

 

I lived in Portland for 10 years as a business journalist. I can't disagree with most of this analysis, but I have always had serious doubts about the veracity of the corporate support in the city. The biggest corporations there do very little in the way of local branding: Nike doesn't sponsor anything because they don't feel they need to. Their logo is all over the sport without having to send a nickel on marketing. Outside of local health care players, there isn't a deep well of companies waiting to place their brand on sports franchises.

 

Point of order: these were pretty sweet:

https://www.archpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/27801808084_76c5762bd3_k.jpg

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With the Coliseum, most games require you to take I-880 at rush hour, which is a parking lot and doesn't really have another option other than taking I-580 and taking surface streets.

 

But even though there's BART access, there's still this narrow pedestrian bridge to cross that has a choke point in the middle with a metal post that bootleg t-shirt sellers usually clog up.

 

 

And that's not addressing the stadium itself, with the sewer issues, the leaks (I went to a game with a paper soda cup duct taped to the ceiling) and it being just a giant lifeless aging concrete monstrosity.

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With Oakland, isn't it as much about all the East Bay communities forming the market, with Oakland simply as the hub?  It's all technically the SF Bay metro area, but having a team on that side of the bridge makes it easier for people from Berkeley, Fremont, and elsewhere to attend, no?

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59 minutes ago, DG_ThenNowForever said:

 

Point of order: these were pretty sweet:

https://www.archpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/27801808084_76c5762bd3_k.jpg

 

True. Those were pretty cool. But that was less a sponsorship as much as it was a charitable contribution. 

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Getting John Fisher to sell the club would be the best option. There are few groups with deep pockets in the Bay Area that would buy the team in a instant and build their own ballpark.  

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On 5/13/2021 at 3:46 PM, beachperroAZ said:

Why have the A's not tried other Bay Area municipalities in the East Bay?  They can't revive the Freemont project from 2006?

 

From all that I have read on NewBallpark.org, a blog that has been chronicling the Athletics' quest for a new stadium since 2005, widespread "Not In My Back Yard" sentiments among residents and businesses across Fremont (particularly with regard to possible increases in road traffic) forced the A's to abandon their plans for "Cisco Field" (yes, naming rights were already sold) in that municipality.  By all appearances, the A's wanted a Fremont ballpark because, with the Giants still claiming exclusive ballpark construction rights in Santa Clara County, Fremont was the closest place to Silicon Valley where the A's could play while staying in Alameda County.  A desire for a maximum ability to tap into the wealth of both businesses and residents in Silicon Valley, which seems to be mostly in Santa Clara County and completely outside of Alameda County, is a very likely reason why the Athletics' ownership (then led by Lew Wolff, just as was the case during the pursuit of Fremont) tried and failed to prod MLB and the Giants into letting the A's move to San José, why the A's have appeared to act reluctantly in their attempts to get a new venue in economically weaker Oakland, and why the A's have shown no sign of trying to get a new ballpark in any East Bay locale other than Oakland or Fremont.

 

On 5/13/2021 at 4:17 PM, Wings said:

Getting John Fisher to sell the club would be the best option. There are few groups with deep pockets in the Bay Area that would buy the team in a instant and build their own ballpark.  

 

While the Bay Area may have plenty of groups (or even individuals) who are wealthy enough to buy the A's, how many of those groups or people are willing to accept MLB's mandate that Alameda County and Contra Costa County be the only places in the Bay Area where the A's may play home games, while the Giants keep enjoying an MLB-endowed exclusive right to play home games in pretty much all of the economically strongest counties in the Bay Area?

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27 minutes ago, Walk-Off said:

while the Giants keep enjoying an MLB-endowed exclusive right to play home games in pretty much all of the economically strongest counties in the Bay Area?

 

Is it really an "MLB-endowed" right when the A's ceded it 30 years ago?

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@BBTV, yes, the A's gave Santa Clara County to the Giants back when the latter team wanted to move to that jurisdiction.  However, the fact that MLB has let the Giants keep Santa Clara County all to themselves well after the Giants exhausted all efforts to get a ballpark in that county, and especially long after the Giants built and moved into their current stadium within the city and county of San Francisco, suggests to me that the "MLB-endowed" label fits quite well after all.

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A big part of the fault for that lands on the A’s shoulders too, though. The problem is the owner of the A’s gave up those rights free of charge for the “betterment of the league”, which, in hindsight was a really bad idea to begin with. But they also had a full decade to claim those rights back without issue, and just never bothered filing the paperwork. In the meantime, the A’s owner died and the team was sold, and then sold again. The Giants were also sold (I think) twice in that time span, and the current owners bought the club with those rights built into the valuation. It’s a crummy situation for the A’s, but the Giants reasons for keeping that territory are, I think, justified. And had the A’s not gotten themselves into this whole mess in the first place, I would probably feel a lot more sympathetic. 

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This isn’t even the first time the A’s have been outclassed in their market by their National League counterpart after long overshadowing them to the point they want to move. Same thing happened in Philadelphia. 

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On 5/12/2021 at 10:18 AM, DukeofChutney said:

Just a curveball question - what location would be the biggest surprise for the move?

 

Doesn't have to be one of the locations already mentioned. I'm thinking Seattle Pilots level of unexpected here.

 

 

Well the Regina Red Sox summer collegiate team have recently submitted plans to the City of Regina for a new stadium and the City of Medicine Hat started three million dollars worth of renovations to the baseball stadium there a couple days ago. The Medicine Hat A's were Oakland's Rookie League team for the 1977 season (before they switched affiliation to the Jays the year after) so there is a history there...

 

I think either of those would be pretty surprising and unexpected.

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