It is reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that the city of San Jose has offered the Oakland Athletics the rights to purchasing land at a reduced price for future use to build a downtown stadium. This discount clearly signals that the city is serious about its wish to have the Major League Baseball franchise move to the South Bay. While San Jose mayor Chuck Reed believes that this proposal could help tip the scales in his city’s favor, there is still a lot more work to do for a move to occur.
Yes, this option provides A’s owner Lew Wolff the right to purchase this land located downtown to facilitate stadium construction. However, it does not assure anything will be done or be decided come the baseball winter meetings this December. All it does is give Wolff another weapon in his arsenal when pleading his case to the other MLB owners, whose votes he needs in order to approve the relocation of the Athletics.
But more importantly, the land purchase has to be approved by the San Jose voters.
Unfortunately for South Bay fans, there is a sense of apathy that may ultimately deter the A’s from finding their way to San Jose. While there are some grass-roots enthusiasts awaiting the A’s move, there is not much fervor over the idea in general by the Silicon Valley community. Though in theory the relocation would be a logical decision financially—for Wolff—there is some hesitation about the financial impact on taxpayers, who would ultimately be affected by the construction of a new ballpark.
It’s easy to simply say out loud that the purchase of this land will be an asset for the South Bay, something that the city of San Jose claims to have always wanted. However, given the economy, particularly in the Silicon Valley, it’s not exactly a sure thing that approval for a new stadium will be swift and painless. Reed pleads the case that building a new ballpark will create hundreds of jobs, thus generating a boom for the South Bay economy.
In the end, the decision will be made by commissioner Bud Selig and the higher-ups of Major League Baseball, who are hell-bent on providing Wolff the best opportunity to move his team if he so desires. Which he does. Unfortunately for Wolff, no city is stepping up to tango with him. The city of Oakland is mired in an economic crisis. Fremont, after an initial proposal, never got itself out of its chair completely to participate and San Jose is struggling to remove the San Francisco Giants’ territorial rights claim in order to formally take up with the A’s.
Meanwhile, the stadium uncertainty provides a major financial hurdle for the Athletics regarding player personnel this offseason. General Manager Billy Beane admits that little movement on the player market will be made until there is a solid resolution to the Athletics' residence plight. This creates a domino effect on the future of the organization as a whole, because certainly the team needs to be focusing on which players they should be targeting this offseason.
It looks more likely that nothing will be concluded this winter. Major League Baseball has many other issues to address this offseason, particularly the ownership status of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Though the Athletics have been lying in limbo for several years, there does not seem to be any urgency from any municipality to solidify their efforts in securing the A’s.
That is until now. San Jose has taken that step to ensuring legitimacy in their interest in the Athletics. But the question still remains, will Wolff be able to truly leverage San Jose’s land agreement?
If not, A’s fans—in Oakland, San Jose or wherever—will be left waiting in the wings with no idea of what comes next for the beloved team. And again, Wolff will be the boy who cried, “Relocation.”