Oakland A's: Assessing the History and Future of the New Stadium
For most A's fans, the A's stadium situation has been nothing more than a headache.
Beginning in 2005 with Lew Wolff's purchase of the team, a new ballpark has always seemingly been a top priority for ownership.
Now in hindsight, there are many that doubt that sentiment. It's obvious to see how someone could consider that notion laughable when looking at ownership's dubious efforts to get a new ballpark deal done, especially when looking to stay in Oakland.
There were even rumors of ownership abandoning Oakland and then purchasing the Dogders. In this scenario, there was also the chance of the A's being completely lost, literally, as a consequence may have been folding.
Without a new ballpark, there's a good chance that the strain between Lew Wolff and the fanbase may never be remedied. Even if a new stadium is one day built, there are still many that would resent Wolff.
One thing's for certain though, if the A's stadium situation isn't settled soon, the team's future will only continue to suffer, on the field and off.
2005: Stay in Oakland
When Lew Wolff first arrived in Oakland, he did so under the notion that he'd try and keep the team in Oakland.
The initial plan called for a new 35,000 seat stadium located just north of the Coliseum and included a retail complex and either housing residences or a hotel that would be able to look down upon the field.
Immediately, many doubters surfaced, questioning the legitimacy of Wolff's sentiments to remain in Oakland. Knowing he'd have to at least appear to make an attempt to keep the A's in Oakland, Wolff and his associates could've concocted this proposal to appease the fanbase.
The plan was met with immediate criticism, doubting just how attractive a new stadium in that area would be to the citizens and potential corporate supporters. Needless to say, the plan didn't last very long, and plans for the team shifted elsewhere.
After Oakland itself was eliminated, Wolff then set his eyes on the city of Fremont.
What was to be a technologically impressive stadium set in a "baseball village," Cisco Field was never able to gain enough steam in the suburban San Francisco Bay area.
Being a real estate developer, in addition to the stadium, a hotel, restaurant, movie theater and numerous parking garages were to be built to complete Wolff's vision. If everything had gone to plan the stadium could've been built by 2014.
Unfortunately for Wolff, however, the proposal didn't sit well with members of the Fremont community. Fearful of bringing in unsavory characters to the neighborhood, the deal was never approved by Fremont City Council.
On February 24, 2009, Wolff though grudgingly, officially ended his plan to build a ballpark in the area.
The A's current plan, and one many people believe was the plan all along, is to move the team to San Jose.
Wolff already has plenty of experience with the San Jose community seeing as how he also owns the MLS San Jose Earthquakes. Actually, being able to move there however is another story.
If the A's were to move to San Jose as they desire, one of two things need to happen. Either the San Francisco Giants need to relent and sign over the territorial rights to the A's, or 23 of the 30 MLB owners would have to vote in the A's favor and force the Giants to give up their claim to the San Jose area.
Coincidentally enough, the area was originally considered A's territory before the team back in 1990 allowed the Giants to pursue a new stadium in San Jose, just as the A's doing are now.
In an attempt to settle this disagreement, Bud Selig appointed a committee to investigate the situation and a decision was expected before the start of the season. Unfortunately for the A's however, as of today, no decision has been made.
If San Jose were to fall through, and I'm sure it would hardly come as a shock to most, then there's certainly the possibility of the team moving to Sacramento.
The A's Triple-A team, the RiverCats currently play in the location, and the team's stadium Raley Field could undergo a major renovation to host a major league team and crowd.
The only problem with Sacramento is just how attractive is the city to another major sports team?
The Sacramento Kings in the NBA aren't exactly flourishing right now, and reportedly, their new stadium deal just fell apart.
Moving to Sacramento would satisfy Wolff's desire to stay in Northern California, but it's just not a very appealing situation anyway you look at it.
Stay in the Coliseum
This plan is really just a last resort, or for that matter, a lack of a last resort. The A's current lease in Oakland ends after next season, so a resolution with the city one way or another has to come soon.
If nothing else, an agreement needs to come just to buy the A's more time to figure out their next course of action. In the meantime, the city of Oakland has suggested various proposals to the A's to remain in the city, including a water-front park located in the Jack London Square area.
Wolff's confidence in working something out within Oakland seems thin, however, rejecting the notion that the team could continue to survive where they currently are.
If nothing does end up happening, then considerable change would be on the way for a team that would have nowhere else to go. You're looking at another roster overhaul—the possibility of Lew Wolff and his group selling the team, or worse, contraction.
If the team can't make money, and it can't go anywhere else to do so, then what other options are there?
The A's need to win again to regain the excitement of their fanbase and start generating more income. It's just hard to imagine the A's becoming successful once more if the team and ownership can't win this battle first.