Don’t Take Our A’s Away

Clint Donsmore

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On a comfortable summer night in Oakland at an Athletic’s (A’s) home game, fans can clearly see a bright white banner hanging from the bleachers in right field. The sign vividly exclaims “Don’t Take our A’s Away!” and conveys the sentiment of many loyal A’s fans.
Leon, owner and creator of the banner, makes sure that his sign is hanging over the wall at every A’s home game. Leon has been coming to his beloved A›s games since he was five years old with his dad.
“I’ve been coming to games with my dad as long as I can remember it’s been a family tradition,” he said. When asked if he will follow the A’s to San Jose if they decide to move, he replied, I love baseball but if they leave, I won’t support the A’s anymore. They will lose a lot of fans.”
The A’s first became a franchise of Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The A’s had success early on, winning three of four World Series Championships. However, the A’s started having too many losing seasons and then were moved to Kansas City, Kansas in 1955. After 13 unsuccessful seasons in Kansas, the A’s made their final move to Oakland, California, where they currently reside.
In Oakland, the A’s have won four World Series Championships and have retired five Hall of Fame players’ jersey numbers. The A’s have been on and off to the playoffs but have not made it back to the World Series since 1990. The A’s are also the only baseball team still sharing a stadium with a National Football League (NFL) football team, the Oakland Raiders.
The Oakland Athletics are speculating a move out of the city of Oakland and to San Jose. The City of Oakland is fighting back and doing everything they can do to persuade the team to build a new ballpark in Oakland. The move will affect Oakland in many ways; if the A’s move out of Oakland, there will be an estimated 885 jobs lost, $47.1 million in net direct spending lost, and $73.8 million in total output lost according to Gruen Gruen and Associates, (GG+A). The negative effect for Oakland will be devastating, but the move would be a huge advantage for the City of San Jose if relocated. The fans in Oakland have expressed how unhappy they will be with their favorite team and may not be followers of the A’s if moved to San Jose. The decision is in the works with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and the Oakland A›s front office. With Oakland›s unemployment over ten percent, how much more will moving the team devastate the city?
Omar Yuri has been selling snacks and drinks from his cart located at the Coliseum Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station since 1995. “I depend a lot on the A’s traffic and don’t believe I will make it without them.” Omar is one of many small businesses that survive on the extra traffic that the 81 A’s home games bring every year.
According to GG+A, there are 1,047 employees throughout the stadium, holding jobs such as food vendors, ushers, security officers, and maintenance workers. Many of these employees would not travel all the way to Oakland to work. If the A’s were to stay in Oakland but still build a new stadium, those jobs would not be lost.
According to a GG+A study, building a new stadium would be a 3-year process and result in an increase of over 1,600 jobs for construction. The city would also receive a one percent sales tax on all tangible goods used for the construction of a new stadium, which would come out to over $2 million for the three years. The financial impact on the city would be incredibly hurtful if the team moved, but greatly positive if they built a new stadium in Oakland. If a new stadium were to get built then there would be a “spillover development effect,” according to GG+A, which would mean the stadium would encourage people to develop more intensively around new property and that would increase the property values.
“Doug’s #1 BBQ is a must stop before any A’s, Warriors, or Raiders games,” said Doug’s BBQ customer, Alyson Castro. Doug’s is located right outside the stadium’s on San Leandro Street in Oakland.
Owner Doug Spencer claims, “Most of my business comes during game days, and the A’s have the most game days.” The A’s have 81 home games a year compared to the other Oakland teams; the Raiders have only ten home games (including preseason) and the Golden State Warriors play 41 home games, according to Sports Business Daily. Both teams have a higher average attendance than the A’s but the A’s have at least double the games. If the A’s were to leave Oakland, it would affect a lot of these local businesses.
According to the Let’s Go Oakland! (LGO) committee, they identified three new locations in Oakland as proposed new stadium locations. The city of Oakland has purchased a 15 acre site within the Jack London Square (JLS Area). The other two locations are on the waterfront in the Howard Terminal area and the Victory Court area. The proposed stadium will be a baseball only stadium expected to seat 36,000 people.
LGO sensed urgency to conduct this study after the team showed interest in moving to Fremont and San Jose. All three locations are located close to both the BART and AMTRAK train stations. According to GG+A, property values would grow to a difference of $4.7 billion with a new stadium in these areas, as opposed to one not being built. There would be a $514 million increase from property tax revenues (over 30 years) and would benefit the city’s general fund ($160 million), the redevelopment for affordable housing ($141 million), and general redevelopment ($212 million) according to GG+A records. If the A’s stay in Oakland, they will keep their current benefits of the team as well as add 162 jobs, $5.1 million income, $19.7 million in taxes, $8.9 million in Net Direct Spending, and $13.9 million in Total Output according to GG+A.
The Oakland A’s have seen a decrease in attendance at home games since they announced looking for a new stadium last year. The A’s are averaging only 17,392 fans per game, which is the lowest in baseball according to Forbes magazine. Also according to Forbes, the team revenue has increased from $116 million in 2004 to $160 million in 2009.The A’s are paying their players $47 million which is the third lowest in MLB. Building a new stadium would give the A’s 36,000 seat stadium and a much greater revenue to afford higher paid players according to GG+A. The A’s major sponsors now are PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, Verizon, and Comcast. Current East Bay corporations are stepping in and announcing they too will be sponsors if a new stadium is built. There is already an account put together of $500,000 for sponsorships and luxury boxes provided by 35 major companies like Clorox, Safeway, and Kaiser Permanente according to GG+A. If moved to San Jose, they have a lot more major corporations in the Silicon Valley than Oakland. The City of San Jose has announced Cisco corporation has already claimed the naming rights to the field if built in San Jose.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums wrote baseball Commissioner Selig in an effort to persuade him to consider keeping the A’s in Oakland. The mayor wrote, “We stand ready to take the necessary steps to be your partner in this effort to build a world class stadium for the Oakland A’s.” Dellums mentioned in his letter the importance of keeping the A’s in Oakland financially and the over 40,000 member committee formed on Facebook for support.
San Jose is the current home of two professional teams: the National 
Hockey League’s (NHL) San Jose Sharks and the Major League Soccer’s 
(MLS) San Jose Earthquakes. The City of San Jose has publicly been 
pushing for the A’s to move to the City of San Jose and it seems as 
though the A’s ownership is on board. Team co-owner Lew Wolff praised 
San Jose stating, “I’m grateful that San Jose has shown a gritty 
determination to help us build a new ballpark for our franchise, we 
appreciate the strong leadership of both the mayor and commissioner 
Selig.” The advantage of moving to San Jose would be the corporate 
sponsors of the Silicon Valley and the higher annual income of its 
residents.
However, San Jose also is the location of the San Francisco 
Giants minor league baseball team, the San Jose Giants. The San 
Francisco Giants organization has stated that they are not happy about 
this proposal, according to a recent press release from the team which 
read, “for more than 50 years, Santa Clara County has been the heart 
of Giants territory. The health and competitiveness of our team 
depends on it.” According to the MLB, the giants have the rights to 
Santa Clara County. However, those rights could be given away in a 
vote from the MLB. The vote would be conducted from all 30 teams in 
the MLB and would have to pass with a 75 percent approval vote.
The San Jose location for their $461 million new stadium would be 
located downtown in an area near Diridon station. The proposed site is 
in close distance to Amtrak, Cal-train, and the light rail. The City 
of San Jose owns more than half the land after already spending over 
$24 million. One of the other owners of the land is AT&T. This is the 
same AT&T which the San Francisco Giants stadium is named after.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed will place a downtown ballpark initiative 
in a spring special election in favor of Commissioner Selig, who has 
proposed that the league will pay $1 million for a special election to 
be held in San Jose after a team of analysts confirms that it is the 
best location for the A’s, according to the mayor’s press release. This 
special election will not ask for the opinion of Oakland fans but of 
San Jose residents on whether they want a new stadium and team for 
their city. San Jose Mayor Reed has claimed taxes will not be raised 
but San Jose will have to pay for the land and infrastructure 
improvements for the stadium with city redevelopment money. Another 
concern is the amount of traffic the new stadium will cause downtown 
during game days. If the A’s were to stay in Oakland they would not 
need a vote from the city or league but just the approval of 
Commissioner Selig.
San Jose resident Tom Cavey claimed, “I’m a 
Giants fan and all my friends and family here are Giants fans. If it 
comes to a vote, I won’t want the A’s to move to San Jose.” This is 
not the first time that San Jose has proposed a baseball stadium be 
built in San Jose and left it up for a vote. According to GG+A, San 
Jose denied a vote to bring the San Francisco Giants to San Jose both 
in 1990 and 1992. This does not mean the A’s can’t get voted in but 
according to A’s fans it gives them hope the vote will get vetoed. 
Joey Hernandez, 32, is a lifetime A’s fan. He claims, “San Jose is not 
a baseball town. Oakland has history with four World Series 
championships, a lot of people here in Oakland would be 
disappointed.”
A’s co-owner Wolff discussed in an interview how he wants to build a 
new stadium but stay in northern California. The A’s are definitely in 
the market for a new stadium since first coming to the Oakland 
Coliseum in 1968. The big question is will it be 
approved, and if so, in Oakland or San Jose?
Rick Tittle, the Oakland 
Sports radio host for 860 AM said it best, “Business men are business 
men. They’re cutthroat!” Tittle discussed the current topic of 
Oakland sports and has been overloaded with phone calls from fans on 
this topic since it first arose. “For Oakland fans, it’s not business. 
It’s our green and gold hearts they’re playing with.”