With Fremont out, A's should turn to Portland

February, 24, 2009
Well, it's official: the A's aren't moving to Fremont. Owner Lew Wolff's official statement:

    "After much consideration, today we informed Mayor Wasserman and City Council members that the Oakland Athletics will cease efforts to relocate our franchise to the City of Fremont.

    "I expressed my regrets and gratitude, especially to those people who shared our vision and spent endless hours in support of our proposal. However, it became increasingly clear that our ballpark project faced significant delays ahead and I could not, in good conscience, continue to lead our team down this path.

    "My focus now is on baseball with Spring Training and the opening of the 2009 season. I am extremely excited about the team's prospects this year.

    "My goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California. This goal has not changed."

This is huge news, right?

The Coliseum isn't the worst place to see a baseball game … but it's far, far from the best. I suppose this is good news for the taxpayers in Fremont and it's good news for all the A's fans who didn't want to schlep all the way to Fremont without even a BART stop at the end of their journey.

By my count, after the Twins move into their new palace next spring, only the Dodgers and the Red Sox will play in older homes than the A's. But Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park are both baseball-only cash cows, while the A's are sharing with the Raiders, and nobody shows up even when they're winning.

So what's next? As Neil deMause notes, there doesn't seem to be a Plan B, with the best course looking like this:

    Wild speculation aside, what seems most likely is for Wolff to lay low for a year or two, while working behind the scenes to put out feelers for a new site, and wait for the economy to perk up a bit. Though given recent reports, he might not want to hold his breath on that last one.

I feel sorry for everyone involved, and I wish to extend a heartfelt invitation from the good citizens of sunny Portland, Oregon.


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