Bud Selig’s Field of Dreams Legacy: Saving the Oakland A’s

It's True: Major League Baseball Has Been Revolutionized Under Selig's Tenure
Say what you want about the highs and lows of Bud Selig's 20 year tenure as the 9th Commissioner of Major League Baseball, but be sure to include the following:

    > he took an economically moribund professional sport and generated a series of monster revenue
       engines that have created financial empires for virtually every MLB team owner;
    > he instituted Wild Card and Divisional play and helped create the World Baseball Classic;
    > he merged the National and American Leagues under the Commissioner's Office and created
       revenue sharing among franchises.  

There have also been missteps, blunders, and negative outcomes during his tenure– like his slow response to the use of performance enhancing drugs by players in the 1990s and 2000s. But stuff is bound to happen in any 20 year reign.

Commissioner Bud Selig has two more seasons left on his contract before he retires after the 2014 baseball season. Having enhanced the economic side of the game, Selig has just enough time to add a real field of dreams to his professional resume: a new stadium for the Oakland Athletic's in the city of Oakland.

Bud Selig and the Chamber of Secrets Relocation Committee
When Lew Wolff's group purchased the A's in 2005, Wolff became Managing Partner. From the start, Wolff's primary business goal was to move the team to a more economically viable location. A bigger market = higher TV revenues, a new stadium = higher attendance and luxury boxes.

Lew Wolff wanted to move the team from Oakland to…  well, just about anywhere else.

At one point Wolff tried to use his superpowers and somehow will the team to move to the city of Fremont, of all places. He actually proposed a $1.8 billion complex, had the plans drawn up and spent $24 million before discovering Fremont didn't want the A's.

Turns out one of Wolff's superpowers is to piss people off, and he's really good at it. 

Other relocation possibilities have been tossed around in recent years, including Las Vegas and Sacramento. Even New York City was suggested as the most economically logical destination for the wayward A's. Ultimately the city of San Jose became Wolff's primary move-to target. 

But Lew Wolff ran into two brick walls: the San Francisco Giants and Bud Selig.

The area around San Jose is surrounded by San Francisco Giant fortifications, entrenchments and land mines since the Giants consider the South Bay Area as part of their territorial empire.

To solve the problem, Bud Selig assigned his personal Justice League to study the problem and come up with a solution. They held their first meeting in an underground bunker about five years ago. The process has gone on so long a number of the committee members have either passed away or left for more promising positions in the aluminum siding industry.

So here's the deal: the Oakland A's will not be moving to San Jose. Or any place else. So take that one off the big tote board and toss it in the trash.

Over 25 years ago Major League Baseball (in a move that will never happen again) granted the Giants in writing "territorial rights" from San Francisco down through San Jose. And there is no amount of money the Oakland A's can come up with that could possibly compensate the Giants for the permanent loss of the San Jose, Santa Clara, and Silicon Valley markets.

But there's hope. This hope comes despite the fact that Oakland's city government is about as competent as North Korea's rocket program.

The Solution to the Oakland A's Stadium Issue Will Take Commitment and Vision

A's owner Lew Wolff is an accomplished businessman and actually a really good guy. He has worked hard to improve things for the team and for A's fans. But if there is no commitment to stay in Oakland, it might just be time to sell to new owners and move on.

Either way, the city of Oakland and Major League Baseball should partner up with A's ownership and build a baseball-only stadium at the north end of Jack London Square in the Howard tract area. Right next to the water.

A Jack London Square stadium will create the same economic super-jolt that rocked the empty, desolate landscape of the Mission Bay neighborhood when AT&T Park was built in San Francisco 14 years ago.

There is already a healthy business and residential footprint in the Square– a baseball-only stadium would pop the fiscal cork in ways that Oakland cannot imagine.  

BART would construct a new Jack London Station at 4th Street and MLK Way. Freeway access, rail and ferry service are already in place. Initial tax revenue generated by the resulting business and residential boom would jumpstart a rejuvenated city of Oakland. The subsequent long-term ongoing public and private revenue streams will absolutely change the city forever.

Bud Selig's Dream
Bud Selig knows all about the emotional and spiritual yearning to keep your home team at home.

When he was a minority owner in the Milwaukee Braves in the 1960s, he fought hard to prevent the Braves from moving away. But move they did to Atlanta in 1966 simply to get more television revenue from a bigger market.

Heartbroken, Selig was determined to keep baseball alive in Milwaukee. He made that happen in 1970 when he purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and brought them to Milwaukee as the Brewers.

Commissioner Selig should direct his blue ribbon committee to shift its focus and immediately work with ownership and the city of Oakland to keep the A's in Oakland and build a dynamic downtown baseball stadium.

Bud Selig's legacy would then have a beautiful, field-of-dreams coda and the Oakland A's would finally have a venue that matches their remarkable and stellar 112 year MLB history– 45 years of that in the city of Oakland.

Richard Dyer

About Richard Dyer

Writer, bass player, carrot juice wrangler. His Twitter following is limited to one person at a time. "My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music." --Vladimir Nabokov