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Sacramento: Forget NBA, let’s woo MLB

Major League BaseballFresh off a failed attempt to build a new arena for the Sacramento Kings (NBA), Mayor Kevin Johnson says the city should be looking at building a downtown ballpark for a Major League Baseball team.

Johnson, the former NBA star turned politician, been discussing MLB with former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy (publisher of the local newspaper) and come to the conclusion that the downtown site once eyed for an NBA arena would be a fine site for a MLB facility. It’s debatable whether the city has the money to build a new ballpark, and it’s certainly not clear whether someone like Lew Wolff would want to sink any money into downtown Sacramento.

“Sacramento must seize control of its own future,” Johnson told the Sacramento Bee. “We cannot rely on others, or wait for something to come along.”

One thing to consider: the A’s are making money. They could stay at the Coliseum forever using a business model based on young, low-cost talent, a decent TV contract and MLB revenue sharing. Given the small size of the Sacramento market and the lack of larger corporations based there, it’s not clear whether a new ballpark there would be a better economic proposition than the status quo in Oakland.

A casualty in all this would be the Sacramento River Cats (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), one of the most successful teams in Minor League Baseball. Raley Field isn’t under consideration for an MLB team — and expanding that facility to MLB specs probably isn’t financially feasible, anyway — and we’re guessing the River Cats aren’t too worried yet.


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