It's Opening Day 2015, and a maximum capacity Cisco Field cheers on the newly-minted San Jose Athletics. With each passing day, the dream inches ever so closer to becoming a certainty.
After years of failed bids and rejected proposals, the Oakland Athletics (for now) organization might have finally turned the corner when talking about future plans. Lew Wolff's perseverance and resolve are finally showing signs of fruition.
While A's fans patiently wait for the teams departure from O.co Coliseum, the only home they have known since coming to Oakland in 1968, they look optimistically to a move to the more innovative, Silicon Valley-inspired Cisco Field. With a seating capacity of 32,000, the lowest in the majors, and smaller field dimensions, the A's are assured of having one of the coziest, most intimate settings in the majors.
Located adjacent to the HP Pavilion, home of the NHL's San Jose Sharks, and the Diridon Rail Station, the ballpark would cost approximately $400 million-$500 million using money through debt and equity, and most importantly, no public financing. Although the public's money will not be used for construction of the ballpark, the initiative must be voted on by San Jose residents, with potential tax hikes to cover the expenses of city improvements to accommodate the Athletics.
Toward the end of 2006, while looking intently at potential options in the Fremont, Calif. area, the A's organization sold the naming rights to the new stadium. Cisco Systems, headquartered in San Jose, signed a 30-year contract at $4 million a year for the exclusive rights. Since then, and most recently, 75 Silicon Valley CEO's have signed a letter urging Bud Selig to put the relocation to vote before the league's 30 owners, after being assembled by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, as well as the City Council, have also gone on record supporting the move.
The only thing left standing now between the A's move to San Jose are the San Francisco Giants, their Bay Area neighbors, who hold the territorial rights to Santa Clara County, or more notably, San Jose. In 1992, before AT&T Park was built, the A's gave up their rights to Santa Clara County so the Giants could explore a potential move to the South Bay. However, that move never happened, and 20 years later we have come to the same situation, with only the roles reversed.
Giants owner Bill Neukom, who was not the primary shareholder when the original deal was done, has stated very intensely that his team has no desire to give up the rights, and will fight as long as he can to prevent the A's from moving to San Jose.
The San Francisco organization also has investments in the city, owning a 55-percent majority stake of the San Jose Giants, a minor league affiliate.
In the end, the decision for the Oakland Athletics potential move will come down to Major League Baseball. If no resolution can be found, overriding of the territorial rights the Giants own will be put to a vote before all 30 owners and, with 75 percent, or 23 owners, will pass, denying the Giants proprietary rights to the region. Under this circumstance, Major League Baseball would then compensate the Giants, and most likely very favorably.
Once those pending issues are concluded, the league will be able to turn its attention to the Oakland Athletics stadium situation, and hopefully find a viable resolution to the stadium issues. Get ready San Jose, here we come.