San Jose baseball fans were all atwitter with a report that there might be progress on a new Oakland Athletics ballpark in Silicon Valley, but the report was probably not as newsworthy as first assumed.
Bill Shaikin reported last week that the A’s were in possession of guidelines from Major League Baseball that must be met if there’s a chance for a new A’s ballpark in San Jose. That led to other more speculative and opinionated fan outlets to declare the A’s were ready to begin ballpark construction.
Now, it’s easy as a journalist to assume that it’s news because it’s new to the journalist; sources frequently overestimate how newsworthy their information is as well. Happens all the time. But in this case Shaikin may be wrong in assuming that some sort of roadmap for the A’s is new. Indeed, we’ve reported on the presence of a roadmap, as has Susan Slusser with the San Francisco Chronicle, who is also skeptical about anything being new. First, the A’s need to prove that the San Jose ballpark is actually viable, and that’s not a done deal: the state of California has been sniffing around the land put aside for a ballpark (done to avoid a state takeover of local development agencies last year), not all the land needed for the ballpark has been acquired, and a financing plan for the privately financed facility needs to be explained. The impact of the ballpark on the Giants’ bottom line needs to be quantified: surely a new ballpark in San Jose would take money away from the Giants, who claim a quarter of their revenues come from San Jose and Silicon Valley. In addition, San Jose voters still need to approve the plan. None of this is new, and it’s been assumed that these steps had already been supplied to the A’s. This is nothing new.
Still, Shaikin is one of the top reporters in baseball, and if can summon three sources that say something is new, there might be something there. However, our sources at MLB and the A’s say they know of nothing new on the Athletics ballpark front, and even a report from the San Jose Mercury News — a newspaper that’s been an unabashed supporter of a new A’s ballpark in downtown San Jose — is skeptical:
After nearly four years of waiting for Major League Baseball to decide whether the Oakland A’s can move to downtown San Jose over the San Francisco Giants’ territorial objections, city leaders and baseball boosters have little more than cryptic rumors to give them hope that the long-sought ballpark project is inching toward a resolution….
A’s owner Lew Wolff, who was traveling in North Dakota, said he hadn’t seen the Times’ report and had no comment. The Giants also declined to comment. And Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said only that the committee convened four years ago next month to study the A’s options for a new ballpark to replace the aging O.co Coliseum in Oakland “continues to work hard on this very complex, complicated situation.”
“I’m hoping it’s a sign that Major League Baseball is going to make a decision,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “But it hasn’t been confirmed so it’s just speculation. It’s all inside baseball. Until Lew Wolff says something’s happening, I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.”
As an interesting side note: the A’s are in a very minor spat with Oakland officials over a five-year extension to their Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum lease. Doesn’t quite reach the level of fight, but an interesting commentary on how bad things are between the two entities.
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