For almost 3 years, Major League Baseball has been “studying” whether or not the A’s can move to San Jose. Commissioner Bud Selig has done nothing to move the issue to a resolution, despite the fact that he is the fraternity brother of A’s Managing General Partner, Lew Wolff. Despite comments from Selig that “the issue is on the front burner,” there is no guarantee that the fate of the A’s will be on the agenda at the opcoming Owners Meeting later this month. If past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, it won’t be discussed or acted on.
Fast forward to yesterday: Don Knauss, the CEO of Clorox held a gathering of business leaders to send a message to Major League Baseball, they they want the A’s to stay in Oakland and are willing to commit significant corporate dollars to make sure that happens. In addition to those from Clorox, executives of a dozen Oakland-based companies were in attendance, including Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, Pandora Internet Radio, Cost Plus World Market and Signature Development. Mayor Jean Quan and other Oakland city officials were also on hand for this “public display of affection,” as Knauss called it.
Mayor Quan said that she had had breakfast recently with one of the Giant’s main owners who was adamant (his word) that the Giants will not give up their territorial rights to San Jose. Sounds like a stalemate to me.
Knauss also said that if the current owners of the A’s cant commit to Oakland or don’t want to, a group of investors,(presumably including some in attendance at yesterday’s love fest) would be willing to buy the A’s to keep the team here. He declined to talk about how much such investors would be willing to pay, but some had pledged a total of $1 million to keep the A’s in Oakland in 2009 when Bud Selig first appointed the 3-man committe to evaluate the A’s Bay Area choices.
Lew Wolff has repeatedly said that the A’s are not for sale, that the current ownership plans to remain in place for “at least another generation.” He was recently asked what the A’s planned to do if MLB denies the move to San Jose. He responded, “We are not sellers.” He also has said that, “We have no plan B, but it can’t be in Oakland.”
The latest Forbes estimate of baseball franchise values has the A’s in last place with a value of $321 million, well below the average of $523 million. That is an estimate of what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, and we apparently do not have the latter.
So we all wait with baited breath to see if the A’s future is decided at the opcoming owners meeting, or not. I am keeping my fingers crossed. MLB’s indecision is costing the A’s money (they can’t or won’t invest significant money in the team or stadium until they know where they will be allowed to play), and it is costing them fans, as they have done about everything they can to alienate the faithful short of going out of business. We have very loyal fans, but their loyalty is fading with every day that MLB declines to give the A’s an answer.