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The A's Want Out of Oakland ... Pronto

The Oakland A's have planned to jettison their locale for a couple of years now, and until last month, their destination of choice was Fremont, Calif. Now, weeks after that proposed move fell apart, Oakland officials are scrambling to find a way to build the team a new stadium in a last ditch attempt to keep it in the city.

There's just one problem: The A's don't want to hear anything about it.

How emphatic are the A's that they won't return to Oakland? Just listen to these quotes, which team owner Lew Wolff delivered in a press release, via the San Jose Mercury News on Friday:

"We have fully exhausted our time and resources over the years with the city of Oakland, dating back to previous A's ownership," he said in the statement. "We recognize conditions have not changed. Letters to Major League Baseball offer nothing new or of any real substance. Outside stimulation to have us continue to play in an aging and shared facility may generate press and 'sound-bite' opportunities, but do not provide any tangible alterations in the circumstances we face.

"Our goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California. That goal has not changed. We have no interest in covering old ground again, as we need to move forward in finding a future home for our team."

So where, exactly, will the A's find a home? The strongest bet, by far, is San Jose, which currently hosts the AAA minor league affiliate of the Giants and have long been the successful home of the NHL's Sharks.

There is one problem with that scenario: The Giants hold "territorial rights" to Santa Clara County, which would -- at least conceivably -- pave the way for them to mount a legal challenge against an A's move to San Jose via Commissioner Bud Selig.

Would such a challenge stand up? Probably not if the A's threatened to move out of Northern California as the other alternative. Say, a proposed move to Las Vegas? That would probably pave the way to the "San Jose A's" (hey, it even rhymes!) within a year.

Thoughts? Will anyone actually bemoan the loss of Oakland's McAfee Coliseum? Given the traffic headaches and blase sight lines it produces, that seems like a stretch. To me, McAfee was the Northern California answer to Shea Stadium, minus the dilapidated charm.

By Cameron Smith  |  March 14, 2009; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  Athletics  
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Maybe the league could compensate the Giants by letting them form a regional sports TV network, and keeping the TV rights to A's games ...
Nah. Nobody'd be dumb enough to fall for that.

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 14, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

First thing I thought was, "Well, I guess pretty soon they'll be the Portland Athletics."

Posted by: gmart68b | March 14, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The only way they would be the Portland Athletics is if it's Portland Maine. Portland Oregon would not build them a stadium which seems to be standard these days.

Posted by: YUTZ | March 14, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

(1) It's Fremont, not Freemont;
(2) San Jose is home to the Giants' A affiliate. The Giants' AAA affiliate is based in Fresno.

Posted by: bsu1 | March 14, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Living out here, I have to mention, it's a heck of a lot easier to get from Oakland to SF than it is to get from San Jose to Oakland or SF. There's the BART (metro) that runs through most of North Bay and is the fastest way to get from East Bay (Oakland and surrounding) to SF. However, it does not run down through South Bay (San Jose and neighboring towns), so you can take a mess of public transportation, but really, you need to drive to get from San Jose to SF. Point being, Oakland and SF are better connected, than San Jose and SF, and swapping territorial rights for Oakland for San Jose, while not equitable (San Jose is far richer), it's really not horrible, as its more or less been shared territory anyway.

Posted by: cbm91 | March 14, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

As long as it means the crowd-based "drum crew" will be left behind in Oakland, I'm for the A's moving anywhere they want. That is THEE MOST ANNOYING fan activity in all of baseball. I'd rather have obscenely fat streakers running across the field every half inning than to ever suffer the sound of those drums again.

Posted by: seve2yoo | March 14, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Baseball walked out on me in 1994. Catch me up: Has anything happened?

Posted by: mattintx | March 14, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

San Jose is out of money and has been cutting back on services and safety. Just the place for a baseball field to go, sure. Fremont rejected the A's because they didn't want to have to deal with the "traffic headaches" and financial problems you mention, and the taxpayers of San Jose will reject the stadium, too. The developers, restaurant owners, and construction unions are the ones pushing the San Jose baseball field; but they're not the ones who will have to live with the consequences, since they don't live here, and don't pay taxes here.

Posted by: whatthe2 | March 14, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Oakland's one of the few municipalities in the country to not give in to the whims of its richest non-citizen. It's nice to see a city council act in the best interests of its majority, and not just that of its richest.

Let Wolff try to find a city that will build him a half billion dollar playground in this economic environment. And in the meantime, he can continue to use the team as a tax shelter while his team withers on the field.

How long before Billy Beane decides he's had enough? Bard Pitt playing you in a movie or not, a man can only take so much.

Posted by: paddyshap1 | March 14, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

It's Fremont, not "Freemont". Secondly, the reason San Jose is off the table is because the A's had some heart. When the Giants were looking at moving and the A's were on top in the late 1980s, the Athletics gave up the entire San Mateo Peninsula, including San Jose, to the Giants. They've since been asked to return the favor and refused.

Posted by: ajr32 | March 14, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

How bout Sacramento, we have Oakland's AAA team already, a nice place for a ballpark, and some of the league's best attendance.
All we need to do is expand the existing park, get rid of the Kings, and keep dreaming.

Posted by: Matlock665 | March 14, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

The Giants were here first, they've got territorial rights to San Jose, and MLB is immune from antitrust laws, so unless Bud Selig and his minion owners convince the Giants otherwise, the A's are blocked. That said, I'm not sure the Giants should worry about the A's in San Jose. Sure, some casual fans in Santa Clara County might hook up with the A's, but the Giants would take a chunk of the A's base in affluent Contra Costa County, which is closer to SF than to SJ.

Posted by: dlk100 | March 15, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Yup, the days of the A's in Oaktown are numbered.
The writing has been on the wall for quite a while. The first blow came when the city of Oakland, while falling over itself to lure the Raiders back, constructed "luxury boxes" from foul pole to foul pole, now known to A's fans as Mt Davis, (though, to be fair, Al Davis ego is much bigger). To add insult to injury, the boxes were not completed in time for the baseball season and the A's had to scramble for a place to play their home games in April and May of that year. The Las Vegas triple A stadium was settled upon at the last minute and the A's management seethed. So, when Lew Wolfe bought the team he was treated to the kabuki dance that cities do that would really like to have a new stadium if someone else paid for it, and so traveled 40 miles south to Fremont, which is about the size of Terre Haute, but is just 20 miles north of San Jose. Alas the deal just ran into more delays there. Fremont is a bedroom community and wanted to stay that way. Now, already having announced to Oakland that it was leaving, there is no turning back. San Jose would be a good site but they would have to pay the Giants a huge amount of money to get them to waive their rights. The A's would be better served by spending that money on the team, either by way of new ballpark construction or players salaries. One solution might be Sacramento. The A's triple a team plays there in a brand new ballpark and a very nice one near the downtown area. All it needs is the addition of another deck of seats to increase its capacity to major league numbers. And the fans would turn out big time. And, Sacramento has better baseball weather than the bay area. Memo to Lew Wolfe, look eastward (about 80 miles). The saddest thing about the A's leaving Oakland is that they will be taking their 4 world championships with them and the bay area baseball fans will have to count on the Giants to win one and, well, having been in the bay area 10 years longer than the A's, the Giants have a grand total of NONE, NADA, ZIP, world championships, sooooo, I guess, they are, like the Cubs, due. LOL.

Posted by: rkerg | March 15, 2009 1:31 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe the league could compensate the Giants by letting them form a regional sports TV network, and keeping the TV rights to A's games ...
Nah. Nobody'd be dumb enough to fall for that."

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha... sigh

Posted by: mbyrd28 | March 15, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm curious about this. It seems to me like the Giants have every reason to stonewall this. They'll leave Northern California...phhhh...Wouldn't the Giants welcome that possibility?

Its interesting because I actually think the Giants might benefit from the move. A good deal of Oakland residents would find it easier to make their way to SF than San Jose to see games. Pay a fee to the Giants and I think they'd like the move. This isn't at all like Baltimore and DC.

Posted by: jeffreyclarke | March 15, 2009 5:49 AM | Report abuse

This would be the third franchise move for the Athletics (Philly, KC, Oakland), albeit a shorter one than the first two.

Posted by: nats24 | March 15, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The A's staying in No-Cal is a long shot. In this environment I am not sure where the end up, but the same cities that were vying for the Nats are back on notice. The A's look to be pretty good this year, they are gonna need some hype on and off the field to help find a new home.

The club's days in any city may be numbered.

Posted by: dfh123 | March 16, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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