Lew Wolff and Co.’s dream of moving the Oakland Athletics to San Jose is all but over, according to a report from Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
As Kawakami explains in his “Talking Points” blog, the city of San Jose’s lawsuit against MLB has “inflamed” other baseball owners against the move, which means the league has little reason to revoke the San Francisco Giants territorial rights to the South Bay. As a result, Wolff and majority owner John Fisher are exploring a lease extension at the O.co Coliseum through 2025 and could even splash out some cash to upgrade the facility.
Kawakami offered the following on just how unlikely a potential move is.
For months, every credible independent source I’ve talked to about the A’s future has insisted that there’s almost zero chance that a move to San Jose will be approved. Specifically, these sources—all involved with the highest level of the sport—say that the A’s chances at a San Jose move were always distant.
The insistence of Kawakami’s sources reminded me of another story that I’d read from Bill Madden, a longtime sportswriter for the New York Daily News, back in February.
…neither Selig nor any successor is going to take away the Giants’ territorial rights to San Jose (for fear of opening up a pandora’s box on territorial rights everywhere), so the A’s are going to have to find a suitable stadium site in Oakland.
Kawakami and Madden’s reports leave me to wonder if Wolff, the renowned real estate baron, might ultimately change his stance on Howard Terminal, which he has long claimed isn’t a viable site for the club’s new ballpark. The Port of Oakland and the Oakland Waterfront Ballpark LLC, of course, have been aggressively pushing Howard Terminal, which is just north of Jack London Sqaure, in recent months.
There’s also the possibility that the current ownership group could choose to cash out. Wolff has made in perfectly clear in the recent past that he has no intention of doing so. Then again, the numbers suggest that it wouldn’t be the worst idea either. According to Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area, the franchise is now worth $495 million, which works out to a 275 percent return on the ownership group’s initial investment of $315 million nine years ago. That’s a really good return.