The Oakland Athletics have been nestled in the eastern metropolis of the San Francisco Bay since 1968. They have been the green-and-gold standard of Bay Area baseball for several decades, winning four World Series titles, six American League pennants and 14 AL West division titles. The organization has reared several Hall of Fame players—names like Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Dennis Eckersley.
But for all the successes and all of the elite offspring in nearly 44 seasons of baseball glory, the past few years have seen a strong desire by the current ownership to skip Oaktown and head south to San Jose. The ownership group, led by John Fisher and Lew Wolff, has had its sights set on relocating to Silicon Valley since acquiring the team in 2005.
However, there has been a significant roadblock that has prevented the franchise from making its way down Interstate 880, namely baseball’s bureaucratic legalese such as territorial rights and redevelopment agencies. For several years, Wolff and the team owners have practiced an excruciatingly high level of patience, awaiting a decision by Major League Baseball to determine whether the A’s can indeed relocate. Time and time again, that decision has been set aside and left clogging up the inbox of MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the committee that was created to evaluate this unresolved item.
There has been no signal from the MLB, despite positive actions made by the City of San Jose to warmly welcome the rehousing of the Athletics in Silicon Valley.
With all signs pointing the way to San Jose, it’s assumed that the A’s will eventually pack their belongings in Oakland and head south. It’s not a matter of if, rather a question of when. Wolff made an appearance on Wednesday in San Jose to plead his case to the public. And it’s quite clear: It’s either a ballpark in San Jose or the team will leave the Bay Area altogether.
It seems interestingly appropriate, then, that the City of Oakland takes a lengthy seven-step drop and heaves a Hail Mary attempt to keep the Athletics in the East Bay. In an eerily timed announcement that coincided with Wolff’s mini-publicity tour, Oakland has proposed to offer $3 million to finance a redevelopment project of a new baseball-only stadium in the same location as the current O.co Coliseum.
The city has chosen HKS Inc., the same architecture team that built the Indianapolis Colts’ home football field, to collaborate in designing a new stadium that would sit in the site of the Coliseum.
What does it all mean? Not a whole lot, really. It is an incredibly long-shot effort—one that makes little sense given the "too little, too late" mentality that the Athletics' front office has. After all, Wolff is fairly clear that Oakland can no longer house a baseball franchise.
So not only is the idea of staying in Oakland absurd, but the proposal of remaining in the exact same location (just tidier digs) will drive Wolff crazy.
However, Oakland has no choice but to at least try to care about retaining a sports team that has been woven into the fabric of the city for over 40 years. Though it is likely a wasted effort, the attempt of keeping the Athletics in Oakland is important. For a town that has had a tremendous amount of chaos, holding on to the A’s would make it all worthwhile.
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