Asked about the Oakland Athletics’ green-and-gold bus stop at Eddy and Cyril Magnin in downtown San Francisco — some 1.3 miles from AT&T Park — the San Francisco Giants CEO waves his hand and lets out a laugh.
“It’s all fine,” Larry Baer said. “Look, from our standpoint, we’ve got more baseball fans here. We’ve had 489 consecutive sellouts, plus postseason. We don’t take anything for granted, but I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. We have 31,000 season ticketholders. We’re going to be fine.”
As Dave Kaval sat inside Shibe Park Tavern — the brand new brick-walled club behind home plate at the Coliseum — the Oakland Athletics’ upstart president wouldn’t say whose idea it was to drop an A’s ad squarely in Giants’ country.
“It was a team effort,” Kaval said, beaming. “I have one of the best marketing teams in the business.”
Playful jabs aside, both execs agree Kaval’s club is following the same blueprint that has served the Giants well since Baer helped spearhead an ownership group in 1992 that rescued the club from exiting The City.
“Honestly, they’re doing a lot of what we did at Candlestick when we took over the team,” Baer said. “And they’re trying to tell people that they’re trying to rehabilitate the Coliseum — from a brand standpoint — as much as possible on the road to a new ballpark. And that’s what we did in ’93.”
“So, I think it is the same playbook,” Baer added. “And I think they’re smart for doing that.”
The tenets of that playbook are to embrace the team’s home city and the legends who came before.
While the Oakland Raiders were fleeing the East Bay last Monday, Kaval was hoisting an A’s flag atop City Hall, alongside Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The president has also added Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley as special assistants.
Since assuming his post in November, Kaval, who has yet to take a day off, has been a ubiquitous presence in the A’s universe — similar to Baer, a fixture at Third and King.
Calling his new job the culmination of his career arc, Kaval has focused heavily on whittling down the list of four stadium sites. While he wouldn’t offer many hints — the team is considering the Coliseum site, two locations near Lake Merritt and one at Howard Terminal — the latter three appear the favorites, as Kaval is intent on building a vibrant ballpark village.
“We are laser-focused [on the stadium project],” Kaval said. “Everyday I wake up and I’m like, ‘How are we going to drive this forward more today?’”
As the A’s attempt to execute their ascent into the same stratosphere that the Giants occupy, the Bay Area’s more recently successful club is far from threatened.
“For baseball’s sake, you don’t want a team that’s struggling,” Baer said. “So, if they can get people excited, that’s good.”
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