Don Knauss has likely killed any remote chance the A's had of relocating
Remember how Lew Wolff and John Fisher were pushing to get a vote on allowing the Athletics to relocate to San Jose at the next MLB owners meetings? They can certainly push to take the vote, but chances seem all but dead that the votes are there. If that wasn’t the case before, it certainly is now the case. A group of Oakland business leaders made sure of that last week.
Ultimately, the San Francisco Giants are the biggest reason the A’s won’t move, but they got plenty of ammo from Clorox CEO Don Knauss who organized the meeting last week pushing to keep the A’s right where they are.
"We want the Athletics to stay in this town," said Knauss, who was flanked by a dozen Oakland area businesses supporting the effort including large brands such as Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, Pandora Internet Radio, Cost Plus World Market and Signature Development.
The collective thud you heard was not only Wolff and Fisher’s heads, but the city of San Jose as their heads hit the table.
The reason is simple: if a discussion does come up at the owners meetings on the relocation of the A’s, the Giants—and other clubs looking to ensure protection of their territory—can point to Knauss and say, “Why should we give up what is ours when the A’s have the ability to make it happen in Oakland?”
But, what seemed like a way to fish or cut bait for Wolff and the current owners of the A’s seems to run deeper. While you could make the case that having the issue of the A’s relocation sitting on the backburner since 2009 would force any owner to finally say, “Enough is enough. Let’s vote so we can either relocate, or sell,” the latter doesn’t appear to be in the cards. When Wolff was approached by the Oakland Tribune about the possibility of selling the A’s to the group of investors assembled that are willing to keep the club in Oakland, Wolff threw a curve ball.
"We are not sellers," he said by phone Thursday to the Tribune, adding that the intention is to own the team for at least another generation, preferably in the Bay Area.
If Selig says no to San Jose, "We have no plan B," Wolff said. "But it can't be in Oakland."
This is where the move to San Jose moves from being one of practicality to what seems as personal for Wolff. If the A’s aren’t moving south, then he intends on holding the club in a sort of hostage while those that seem to have a vested interest in making a new ballpark in Oakland occur. These civic leaders seem, well… invested in the A’s in Oakland, not ones sitting on the clubs waiting till the moon and stars align, or an asteroid strikes AT&T Park. Wolff, who seemed a sympathetic figure in all of this before Knauss held his meeting, now comes off as one that wants the A’s in San Jose and if that can’t happen, he’s willing to hold the club in continued purgatory.
The bottom line is, Knauss provides those owners opposed to the relocation of the A’s with an added talking point on why the move shouldn’t happen. The A’s are in Oakland now; maybe for eternity. You can either thank or hate Don Knauss for that.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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