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Wolff finally admits inevitable; San Jose is leading contender to land A’s

Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff says San Jose is prepared to host the Athletics and hopes MLB addresses the territorial issue this summer; he once again disses Oakland as a city unsuited for professional baseball.
Lew Wolff sounds like a man who’s made up him mind about the future of the Oakland A’s: he’s now openly calling for MLB to addresses territorial issues this summer as he works on a new ballpark in downtown San Jose. And, accordingly, he’s burning bridges in Oakland, saying there’s just no site in that citty appropriate for hosting professional baseball.

Heck, he’s not even being coy about potentially moving the team to Sacramento or Las Vegas, saying there’s no way he would get on an airplane to watch an A’s home game. Smart move: No one in baseball considers Sacramento a serious content to land Major League Baseball (despite the noise by locals, there’s no way Raley Field is an MLB ballpark in waiting), and there’s just no pot of money in Las Vegas or Clark County waiting to be used on MLB.

That leaves San Jose as the last city standing, and Wolff knows it. He’s so confident about being welcomed with open arms by natives that he’s be willing to put a downtown ballpark to a citywide referendum, something most owners avoid with a passion.

So where will the battle lie? With the San Francisco Giants, who firmly control San Jose and the Valley as their territory.

"Baseball’s constitution defines Santa Clara County as the Giants’ territory. It was on the basis of this that the Giants financed" AT&T Park, Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter told the San Jose Mercury News. "It’s the heart of our fan base in many respects, and our position remains clear on that."

Perhaps. But Commissioner Bud Selig gave Wolff the green light last summer to explore any other market he wanted, a sign that was seen by many as a warning to the Giants to be flexible on the territorial issue. Selig, famous for seeking consensus on controversial issues, has been quietly laying the groundwork for some sort of territorial compromise for months, we’re told; right now there are whispers of financial agreements and territorial swaps (Santa Clara County for Oakland) being prepared.

Still, despite Wolff’s willingness to embrace San Jose as the future of the A’s, don’t expect anything to happen soon. Wolff needs to navigate some tricky courses before any shovels go into the ground in Oakland.

RELATED STORIES: Wolff to Oakland: Drop dead!; Oakland forming new committee to pursue new A’s ballpark; San Jose mayor: We have better than 50-50 shot at landing the A’s; San Jose city committee wants to see poll of residents before moving forward on A’s; Could Oakland Coliseum work as baseball-only venue?Wolff: Goal is team in "Northern California"; A’s officially drop Fremont ballpark plans; Wolff says there’s no backup plan; A’s suspend Fremont plans; will reevaluate future home for club; A’s: No new ballpark until 2014; Wolff: A’s still committed to Fremont ballpark; A’s cancel community meetings as opposition to new ballpark plan accelerates; New A’s ballpark opposed by hundreds of protesters; Oakland admits original plans for Cisco Field are all but dead

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