Citing an unnamed source, City Bright’s Zennie Abraham claims Major League Baseball is about to issue an official recommendation the Oakland A’s pursue relocation to San Jose, CA, an edict Abraham takes considerable exception to.
The reasons why MLB would pick San Jose over Oakland will be listed in the report set to be released within three days (unless MLB elects to delay the release of the report after this blog post). But the array of information required and the template that information fits in is not complex or vast. One can guess that San Jose has a more complete stadium development plan. But if Major League Baseball even uses the term “marketing” or “ticket sales” as a San Jose advantage in the report then the stadium committee itself doesn’t know what it’s talking about.
Let’s be more clear. If the stadium committee mentions that San Jose, which is just 30 miles from Oakland and in a smaller population center of the Bay Area (remember, Oakland is at the center of the East Bay, which has 3 million people), but still in The San Francisco Bay Area, and competing with the SF Giants Fan base for ticket revenue, is better for selling tickets, then this blogger will assert that Major League Baseball itself does not understand marketing a stadium product in the 21st Century.
The Oakland A’s fan base is really Worldwide. It just hasn’t been tapped by the Oakland A’s. The Athletics best marketing partnerships are with air travel agents, airlines, convention and visitors bureaus, and hotels. Getting tourists to make baseball-special trips and taking advantage of business travelers who will want to go to MLB rivalry games is the base for ticket sales. It’s as important as local sales. Luxury boxes should be considered as right for a national market, where people in Boston can buy part of an Oakland luxury box for Red Sox games. Multiply that approach times the teams in Major League Baseball the A’s will play and there’s a submarket to go after.
If the key to generating revenue is tourism and “rivalry games” (and I’m pretty sure the A’s have no trouble selling tickets to Red Sox or Yankee games at Network Associates Coliseum), how could any team in MLB be having trouble? Or more to the point, can Abraham name one single baseball fan interested in purchasing a time-share on an out of town luxury box? Deftly dodging Abraham’s somewhat insane argument, Field Of Schemes’ Neil de Mause describes Zennie’s scoop as “barely rising above the level of a rumor”.
That Selig’s Gang of Three would recommend San Jose as an A’s destination, if true, wouldn’t be surprising, given its further-ahead stadium deal and relatively untapped market; the bigger question remains what price Selig will make A’s owner Lew Wolff have to pay to the San Francisco Giants if he wants to get a deal done. Is Rob Neyer right that the commission report won’t be released until Selig has worked out a deal acceptable to all parties? We could maybe find out this week ” unless, as Abraham insists, “MLB elects to delay the release of the report after this blog post.” It takes a clever blogger to take credit for predicting things that don’t happen…
(3/30/10 ADDENDUM : Abraham was previously credited in this post as a SF Chronicle contributor. This was an error on my part ; Abraham’s blog is hosted at SFGate.com but he’s not a Chronicle employee, nor are his posts subject to the Chronicle’s editorial control. Sincere apologies to the SF Chronicle for my suggesting otherwise.)