Site control. Oakland has it and San Jose does not. It’s that simple.
Oakland has site control along the waterfront at Howard Terminal because, last month, the Port of Oakland and a major shipping company called SSA settled a lawsuit, which moved SSA to a different port location until the year 2022. In exchange, SSA left Howard Terminal for good, giving the Port and the city of Oakland 50 acres of waterfront property to use for building a new A’s ballpark AND other development, including condos, shops, and maybe even a hotel — all next to Jack London Square.
Do Bud Selig and other MLB officials know this? You bet they do.
So, ‘site control’ means exactly how it sounds. It means that Oakland officials control ALL parts of the ballpark site they are proposing to build on. All they need is a partner — such as, A’s owners Lew Wolff and GAP heir John Fisher — to work with them on it. Unfortunately, A’s owners have been stiff-arming Oakland since 1995, which is the biggest reason why there’s been so little A’s ballpark progress over the years.
So, Oakland has all the land needed to make Howard Terminal the next A’s ballpark site.
Remarkably, San Jose does NOT have site control at the Diridon site, which is Wolff’s proposed ballpark location. Now, we wouldn’t blame you if your response to that is: “That can’t be! Wolff has been talking about moving the A’s to San Jose since 1998. After all those years, you’re telling me that Wolff and San Jose STILL haven’t gotten control of all the necessary land at the Diridon site?”
Yes, it’s true. San Jose still does NOT have site control of the Diridon site. And unless Wolff and/or San Jose buy that land, they’ll never control the land necessary to build a stadium there. In fact, crucial land parcels at Diridon are owned by AT&T. Yes, that AT&T — the company that owns the ballpark naming rights for the San Francisco Giants, the franchise that owns the territorial rights to San Jose and Santa Clara County. Just trying to get AT&T and the Giants to play ball on the Diridon land parcels will take years and probably yet another lawsuit, and there are already three ongoing lawsuits involving San Jose’s plans for a baseball stadium. Good luck with that.
But, wait — you might be asking again — if there are all these complications and uncertainty around San Jose’s ballpark plans, why in the world would Wolff and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed repeatedly say the Diridon site is “shovel ready,” when, in fact, it’s very far from actually being shovel ready?
That’s a great question and one that only Wolff and Reed can answer. It really begs another question: If Wolff and Reed are so inaccurate about such an important part of the ballpark process, what else aren’t they telling us?
In short, Wolff and San Jose aren’t close to having site control for a new ballpark. The issue is years away from being resolved and, in fact, it’s a big ‘IF’ that it ever will be.
In Oakland, meanwhile, there are no ballpark lawsuits and the city has total site control at Howard Terminal. The only thing missing in Oakland is an A’s owner to play ball.