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Other groups making plays for A’s, new waterfront ballpark?

Proposed Oakland Athletics waterfront ballpark

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.

RELATED STORIES: Wolff warming to new Oakland ballpark?; Business leaders pitch Oakland waterfront ballpark; MLB told A’s no move to San Jose: report; Will numbers work for new A’s ballpark at Coliseum site?; A’s sign two-year lease to stay at Coliseum; Wolff: No move to AT&T Park — yet; A’s to AT&T Park in 2014?; Judge: San Jose has no rights to A’s; Selig: We’ll solve Oakland ballpark issue before I leave office; Selig: Oakland Coliseum a pit, but it’s our pit; Legal settlement could pave way for new Oakland ballpark; San Jose suit against MLB a weak one, saye experts; San Jose files suit against MLB in quest for A’s; Selig to San Jose Mayor: Sorry, no time to meet; Progress on new A’s ballpark? Not likely; Athletics propose five-year lease for Coliseum; What drives Lew Wolff?; Wolff: No more delays on A’s ballpark decisionSan Jose ballpark land deal under formal reviewCould Giants-A’s battle be settled in court?Waterfront site emerging as new A’s homeMLB committee meets with Oakland, San Jose officials about future of A’s; Developer: I can build new A’s ballpark with private financingSan Jose: A’s ballpark land safe — for nowWolff meets with Knauss, has clear message: A’s not for saleGiants: Nothing would tempt us to give up Silicon Valley territorySelig: A’s can leave Oakland — just not for San JoseCal to San Jose: Slow down on new ballparkA’s expected to push for ballpark decision at owner’s meetingsToday’s A’s/Giants update: nothing newWolff: A’s aren’t for saleSuitors emerge for Oakland Athletics


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