San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross reported Sunday night that the Oakland Athletics may play their home games at San Francisco’s AT&T Park next season if a deal can’t be reached on a short-term lease to keep the team at O.co Coliseum.
According to the report, Major League Baseball would help the A’s play in the home ballpark of the rival San Francisco Giants for two years as what is anticipated would be the first step toward the A’s leaving the Bay Area.
MLB is demanding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority give the A’s a two-year lease. The authority is pushing for a longer term deal, in the range of five to eight years.
A short-term deal would buy the A’s ownership time to swing a deal to move the team to San Jose—as has been rumored for years now—or somewhere outside of the Bay Area altogether.
The coliseum authority board has been engaged in talks for a new lease with the A’s for more than two years, but the board is now under significant pressure with MLB’s decision to intervene in the negotiations.
“Now we have to do this lease quickly because Major League Baseball has injected itself into the conversations,” one board member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Chronicle.
The biggest sticking point in the lease talks hasn’t been the length, however. It has instead been how concession revenue would be divided. Under the expiring lease, the A’s managed concessions for events at the facility—including for the Oakland Raiders—and kept the largest chunk of the revenue. The stadium authority wants that equation to lean in its favor, instead.
So why would the Giants be willing to share their ballpark with the A’s? After all, it’s the Giants who have been the biggest impediment to a proposed A’s-to-San Jose deal as the San Francisco franchise claims San Jose it in the Giants’ market.
If it’s the first step toward moving the A’s out of the Bay Area entirely—leaving the Giants as MLB’s sole representative in the region—it would be worth it to the Giants to share the stadium for a couple of years.
MLB has backed the Giants in the San Jose dispute.
It’s not like a temporary move by the A’s isn’t rife with potential pitfalls—for starters, the teams are scheduled to play at home on the same day nine different times in 2014. That would be a logistical nightmare to get four teams into AT&T Park for two games in one day.
The A’s have played in Oakland since 1968—with the exception of one six-game homestand played in Las Vegas in 1996 when renovations to the Coliseum weren’t ready in time.
But this is certainly not the first time the threat of the A’s leaving the Bay Area has loomed over the heads of fans. The team was actively pursued by officials of New Orleans’ Louisiana Superdome in the late 1970s, but the A’s were unable to get out of their lease and remained in Oakland, with the late Charlie O. Finley eventually selling the club to Walter Haas in 1980.