We may have new players in the ongoing Oakland Athletics ballpark drama: three potential new ownership groups, including one that includes Golden State Warriors owners, are interested in buying the team and building a waterfront ballpark.
We already knew that Clorox chairman and CEO Don Knauss and former Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream boss T. Gary Rogers were part of a group interested in buying the team: they’ve both made their intentions clear for several years now they’d love to purchase the Athletics and work out a ballpark deal in Oakland. Not that the team is in play, but it’s being reported that additional potential ownership groups are emerging, including one that includes Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. (Guber, now a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, strongly denies any interest in buying the A’s, which would appear to make sense: as a movie/media mogul, his business interests would appear to be more strongly aligned with the Dodgers.) According to the Express report, all three groups would be interested in a new waterfront ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, as opposed to the huge Coliseum City project contemplated for the current O.Co Coliseum site and surrounding area.
Now, all the names involved here — Knauss, Rogers, Signature Development Group CEO Michael Ghielmetti, Lacob — have the financial resources to buy the Athletics for, say, $525 million, and spend the same amount on a new ballpark. With the money flowing into MLB coffers these days, investments like these could even be justifiable on a long-term payout.
There’s one important factor here to note: A consistent policy from Bud Selig has limited franchise moves, even when it’s apparent a franchise should be moved. (Witness the Montreal Expos fiasco: really, the team should have been moved to Washington, D.C., two years before it was.) Another consistent policy: he doesn’t issue edicts to owners, but prefers to work on consensus. Now, you can argue he moves too slowly, especially for the bar-stool pundits screaming the loudest in the blogosphere and fan-generated sites. But in the real world, $8-billion industries tend to move slowly. There’s no chance Selig ever orders John Fisher and Lew Wolff to sell the A’s: his way would to create a situation where the pair sees that it is in their best interests to sell most or all of the team. A first step to that would be denying the team permission to move to San Jose (and apparently that can be checked off the list), a second would be a public acknowledgement that Oakland did indeed meet the commissioner’s criteria for presenting the A’s and MLB with viable ballpark plans. Don’t be surprised if MLB’s blue-chip committee evaluating the Oakland ballpark situation does that in coming weeks.
Image courtesy MANICA Architecture.
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