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Turf wars rage again in Bay Area: A’s say San Jose move doesn’t infringe on Giants

Oakland A'sA move to San Jose wouldn’t really infringe on any territorial rights held by the San Francisco Giants, according to A’s officials who continue working on a new-ballpark plan.

Last week saw a lot of speculation about whether or not the A’s would be allowed to build a new ballpark in downtown San Jose, which is considered to be in the territory of the Giants. On the one hand, a privately financed ballpark from A’s owner Lew Wolff would certainly be good for the game: it would decrease Oakland’s reliance on revenue sharing and it would boost a struggling franchise. But territorial issues are taken very seriously by most MLB owners, who fear interference in their own territorial rights. It’s why you’ll never see a New Jersey or Connecticut MLB team: the current holders of the territories would never, ever allow another competitor.

In response to all the rumors and public inactivity, the A’s put out a statement stating team ownership view of thing. The short version: the Giants were never meant to retain Silicon Valley as part of its territory, so the A’s should be allowed to move.

Here’s the full statement from the A’s:

“Recent articles claiming that Major League Baseball has decided that the A’s cannot share the two-team Bay Area market were denied by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig last weekend.

Currently the Giants and A’s share the two-team Bay Area market in terms of television, radio, sponsors and fans. Last year, the Giants opened a specialty store in the middle of the A’s market (Walnut Creek). At the time, Lew Wolff commented that he was ‘fine with the Giants store and wished there was an A’s store in San Francisco.’

Of the four two-team markets in MLB, only the Giants and A’s do not share the exact same geographic boundaries. MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara. The granting of Santa Clara to the Giants was by agreement with the A’s late owner Walter Haas, who approved the request without compensation. The Giants were unable to obtain a vote to move and the return of Santa Clara to its original status was not formally accomplished.

We are not seeking a move that seeks to alter or in any manner disturb MLB territorial rights. We simply seek an approval to create a new venue that our organization and MLB fully recognizes is needed to eliminate our dependence on revenue sharing, to offer our fans and players a modern ballpark, to move over 35 miles further away from the Giants’ great venue and to establish an exciting competition between the Giants and A’s.

We are hopeful that the Commissioner, the committee appointed by the Commissioner, and a vote of the MLB ownership, will enable us to join the fine array of modern and fun baseball parks that are now commonplace in Major League Baseball.”

Truth is, speculation like this pops up because there’s no clear path for Bud Selig and MLB to take; chatter and speculation rise to the level of information because a) media abhors a vacuum and b) the baseball industry is a fairly gossipy one. When something important in MLB is scheduled to happen and doesn’t, it usually means there’s no consensus, and one thing about Bud: He does indeed seek consensus, no matter how long it takes. Any decision about territories has ramifications: there are eight teams playing in four territories, and the other teams who play by territorial rules will be closely watching to make sure baseball’s territorial rules stand.

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