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In Memoriam: Peter Magowan

San Francisco Giants 2019Former San Francisco Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan, who helped keep the team in the Bay Area while changing the economics of MLB ballpark construction, passed away today. He was 76.

Magowan had been ill for several years and was admitted to hospice care in recent months. He passed away this afternoon at home.

Magowan’s business career began in this family business, the Safeway grocery chain, where he was 1979 until March 1993. He was part of the ownership group buying the Giants for the 1993 season from Bob Lurie, who had sought to move the Giants to St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field in 1992. But the National League blocked the move and worked with Lurie to find local buyers for the team. That group included Magowan, Charles B. Johnson and Larry Baer.

Magowan’s group sought public funding for a Candlestick Park replacement, but after political setbacks the team ownership decided to move ahead with a privately financed ballpark, Oracle Park. That decision was not met with universal acclaim in Major League Baseball, where owners had become used to public funding of new ballparks. And while we still see public funding and financing of new ballparks, we don’t see financial deals like the full public funding for Guaranteed Rate Field, which opened in 1991 as home to the Chicago White Sox. Guaranteed Rate Field was built by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority with state funding. Pac Bell Park opened in 2000 and made an immediate change to the economics of Major League Baseball.

Today, the $350 million the team spent on a new ballpark (plus financing costs, of course) seems like a relative bargain, and the increase revenue from Oracle Park allowed the team to build a winner, fueled by the signing of Barry Bonds. The team appeared in four World Series under his leadership, winning titles in  2010, 2012 and 2014.

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