City steps into Giants-A’s territory battle

The City has threatened legal action against a potential move by the Oakland A’s to San Jose, saying it would hurt the Giants and reduce the much-needed rent and tax revenue the team brings to San Francisco.

Oakland has been in search of a new venue to replace the outdated Oakland Coliseum. A planned move to Fremont crumbled in February due to various delays. But last week, the city of Oakland unveiled three potential downtown stadium sites.

On Wednesday, City Attorney Dennis Herrera expressed in a six-page letter to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig “grave concerns” about a plan by A’s owner Lew Wolff to move the organization to San Jose, which is part of the Giants’ territorial marketing area as designated by the league.

San Francisco officials fear the A’s could steal from the Giants’ large fan base in the South Bay if the team were to erect a new stadium in San Jose.

“The Giants have absolute legal standing that you can’t have another Major League Baseball team in its territory,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “For me, [the A’s in San Jose plan] is a nonstarter. To me, this one’s crystal clear.”

An A’s move to San Jose may threaten the viability of the Giants in their waterfront park, Herrera wrote. The Port of San Francisco receives nearly $3.6 million in annual rent for leasing land containing the ballpark and parking lots, the city attorney said.

Additionally, South Bay fans spend money when they visit AT&T Park, and a good portion of those dollars feed The City’s coffers, Herrera said. The letter said San Francisco leaders and the public are heavily invested in the team’s profitability due to the long battle to build what is now a glistening waterfront ballpark.

“We do share [the city attorney’s] concerns and we appreciate his support,” Giants spokeswoman Staci Slaughter said. “The city attorney contacted [us] to express his concern when he heard that the A’s had been meeting with the city of San Jose. I understand that he has followed this issue closely for awhile.”

Every home game, The City receives admissions tax, parking tax and sales tax from the Giants, and also benefits from tax revenue that comes when fans shop at local restaurants and bars or stay the night at a hotel.

The A’s and Major League Baseball did not respond to requests for comment.

What are territorial rights?

•When the Giants threatened to move in the 1990s, MLB gave them territorial rights for five South Bay counties in 1992
•Territorial rights prevent other Major League Baseball teams from actively pursuing moving into that area
•Major League Baseball can grant territorial rights because it has a federal antitrust exemption
•Territorial rights can be terminated if three-quarters of team owners approve the move

Source: Major League Baseballmaldax@sfexaminer.com

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