As Major League Baseball’s executive leadership torch is passed from Bud Selig to Rob Manfred, the A’s quest for a new ballpark remains an unresolved issue.
In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Selig reflected on his 22-year run as baseball’s commissioner and touched on the A’s well-publicized need for a new home. He also shared that the committee he formed in March 2009 to study the A’s ballpark options has “pretty much disbanded.” Bob Starkey, who was head of the committee, is now serving as Manfred’s chief financial officer.
“The committee was very useful, very constructive,” Selig said. “But I would think they’d maybe do a different mechanism.”
Events involving the A’s stadium search have played out regardless of the committee’s activity (or lack of it). The city of San Jose has filed an antitrust suit against MLB regarding the right to lure the A’s to the South Bay. That effort took a major hit Jan. 15 when San Jose lost a decision in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The city is now aiming to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, though a victory there appears a long shot.
The A’s have expressed their desire to move to San Jose, but it’s appearing more likely that their only chance to move there would come through baseball channels rather than the legal system. The Giants own territorial rights to Santa Clara County and are strongly opposed to the A’s moving there. Will there ever be a vote of MLB owners on the issue of overturning those rights? Could a financial settlement between the A’s and Giants ever be negotiated to allow the A’s to move to San Jose?
Or do the wheels finally start turning on a new ballpark in Oakland? A’s co-owner Lew Wolff has said he’d prefer to build on the current Coliseum site as opposed to elsewhere in the city. And local government leaders are trying to negotiate with a development team that has plans for a massive “Coliseum City” complex that potentially could include new homes for both the A’s and Raiders, though that idea is still far, far from reality.
As Manfred takes over in the commissioner’s office, the question for the A’s is whether Major League Baseball can finally facilitate any movement on the ballpark front.
“I often said to Rob I want to leave him with a clean slate, and I’m leaving him with a pretty good slate,” Selig told the Chronicle. “But this will be one that needs to be addressed. He has all the knowledge, and we just have to work out something that frankly is a rational, constructive solution for all parties concerned.”
Selig added that he never thought the A’s ballpark issue would still be unresolved nearly six years after he formed his committee.
“But there are so many different complications. I wish we could have done it a little quicker, but there are some other things that came up,” Selig said. “There was litigation, which didn’t help. There’s no question we spent a lot of time on the Oakland-San Francisco situation. Rob has been heavily involved. Am I confident we can work our way through a constructive solution? I am.”