08.09.12

Henson : Athletics’ Short-Term Prosperity Is Fucking With Lewis Wolff’s Bottom Line

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 3:20 pm by

An unidentified MLB executive calls the A’s current state of limbo, “the most difficult decision in baseball history because of the circumstances,” and as Yahoo Sports’ Steve Henson points out, there’s nothing about Oakland’s unlikely on-field success of late that makes the bigger picture any less cloudy.

Oddly, the A’s outstanding season might work against owner Lew Wolff’s negotiating leverage for the new stadium. When it comes to bringing this to a vote of owners, he wants to cry poor. A pennant race that triggers increased attendance and potential playoff revenues would weaken his case.

Wolff’s status as Selig’s old Wisconsin fraternity brother doesn’t appear to be getting him favoritism. But Wolff is careful not to say anything disparaging about his longtime friend. Getting this team to San Jose would be his crowning achievement, and at age 76, he can’t wait forever.

No other location will do in Wolff’s estimation. He rebuffed stadium proposals by Oakland and Sacramento. If another city in the 50 states could definitely support an MLB team, the Tampa Bay Rays would already have moved there.

So Wolff dreams of the A’s becoming the darlings of Silicon Valley, the team of Google and Facebook and Yahoo! and whoever makes the next big idea a lucrative reality. Securing venture capital for a start-up to sell popsicles online to Eskimos would be easier to accomplish.

The Giants’ territorial claim to San Jose, is of course, Wolff’s perennial obstacle. A while back, Slate’s Neil de Mause argued in favor of the A’s relocating to the greater NYC area, while adding in a reply to my knee-jerk critique of the plan, “an even better solution would have been to just have a third MLB team in one of the existing stadiums while the Mets or Yanks are on the road.” I have to admit, I’m warming to de Mause’s scheme. After witnessing the Mets’ 13-0 defeat to Miami in person last night at a 90% empty Citi Field, I have to admit it’s tempting to wonder how Queens baseball fans would respond to what Fred Wilpon likes to call “meaningful games” in early August.

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