With a move looming and little support from commissioner Bud Selig regarding San Jose, it's time the Oakland Athletics forget about the Bay Area and look at Sacramento as a destination.
It's no secret—the A's want to move to San Jose. There's just one major problem standing in their way: the San Francisco Giants.
Currently the Giants own territorial rights to San Jose—a large portion of the Bay Area—located just under 50 miles away.
On May 25, Ken Rosenthal wrote that Commissioner Selig will sit down with both parties once more to push a solution. Rosenthal also noted that "the Athletics have no obvious place to move outside the Bay Area."
Why not Sacramento?
California's capitol could work very well.
Sacramento has an enormous sports fanbase.
SactownRoyalty.com lends this stat on attendance:
"The Kings [as of 2010] have had one season in the entire 26 years of their Sacramento existence in which the team was over .500 and ARCO wasn't sold out every game, and that was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season."
Attendance is low compared to other franchises. But outside of the last two years in which the future of the Kings has looked gloomy, the franchise has consistently filled seats.
In the inaugural season for the Sacramento River Cats—the Triple-A affiliate of the A's—the team netted over 860,000 fans, smashing a Pacific Coast League record.
The Sacramento Business Journal noted in 2006:
"Since Raley Field opened in 2000, the ballclub has attracted 5,581,798 fans, or 11,164 per night, topping 223 Minor League Baseball teams during that span. The River Cats' 5 millionth fan walked through Raley Field's gates on May 18. That's believed to be the fastest any Minor League Baseball team has reached that mark."
As of 2010, the River Cats led the PCL in attendance every year since moving to Sacramento.
In the last four seasons, the A's have averaged about 17,000 fans per game—just 6,000 more than their minor league affiliate. Oakland's annual 1.4 million attendance is nearly one million below the American League average.
Oakland would lose their franchise, which is unfortunate.
Luckily, Sacramento is just over one hour away. Fans in the Bay can still make it to a game with ease.
The City of Sacramento is run by former NBA player Kevin Johnson who works tirelessly to keep the Kings in Sacramento.
He understands the importance of having a sports franchise in Sacramento and has shown the propensity to fight for the team.
If he and city were willing to build an arena to keep the Kings, it's possible they would be open to a baseball stadium.
Johnson has stated he's "watching the A's closely" acknowledging Sacramento is "a baseball town."
A little known fact outside the area, the River Cats actually play in West Sacramento—just across the Sacramento river.
West Sacramento's mayor—Christopher Cabaldon—is extremely progressive.
During his tenure, the city has added not only the River Cats but dozens of large businesses, residential housing, and a dual state-of-the-art recreation center and high school which houses the Sacramento Gold FC soccer team and the River City Gators minor league football team.
In a time of economic turmoil, West Sacramento is thriving.
Sacramento and West Sacramento already cooperate to provide a home for the River Cats. Now, they're working on a "Streetcar Project" to connect the two cities even more. Transportation in and out of the area will hypothetically make it that much easier to attend a baseball game.
Similar to the Bay Area's BART and MUNI, fans have options to attend without driving and parking.
Options For a Stadium
The City of Sacramento had a few locations—most notably an abandoned rail yard—available for a brand new stadium for the Kings. The deal fell through with the Kings, but the Athletics could swoop in.
The location is adjacent to downtown—and surrounded by Natomas, Arden and Roseville—all stocked with restaurants, a shopping plaza and a booming nightlife scene.
If a new stadium cannot be built, Raley Field (home of the River Cats) can be renovated.
One of the biggest challenges with Raley Field was parking. In the last year, West Sacramento has revamped the parking lots and roadways surrounding the stadium. They've also added additional seating inside the park.
With the addition of the streetcar, parking lots in Sacramento can be utilized. The stadium itself can stand to have one more upper deck added and the entire outfield re-stocked with three decks of seating to hold more fans.
To go from a capacity of 14,000 to an MLB range of 35,000 to 50,000, work has to be done. But there's space to do so.
Sacramento has the fanbase and the leadership in place to support a Major League Baseball stadium. It also has options for location.
The city scores a second sports team which could help grow the market, the A's franchise finds a suitable home, and Oakland fans' beloved team is just an hour down I-80.
Best of all, the Giants can't hold up the move.