Bay City News -- Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff said today that his team needs a new home in the Bay Area and that San Jose is the best option.
"The only site we could locate (in) is downtown San Jose," Wolff said at an economic conference in that city sponsored by Comerica Bank.
Wolff said the A's had tried to move to Fremont and had lost about $24 million on an investment of $80 million in real estate in that unsuccessful effort.
"Fremont has not been in the running for a few years," Mayor Bill Harrison told Patch. "After the housing market collapsed the ability for the A's to pay for the stadium went away."
Wolff said the A's have turned a profit in Oakland each of his nine years as an owner by sticking to a rule of spending no more than 50 percent of revenue on player salaries, which reached $65 million last year.
But the competing San Francisco Giants have built-in advantages over the A's.
"We are assigned 2.5 million people, the other is assigned 4.2 million people," Wolff said. "We have two counties assigned to us, there are six counties assigned to the other team."
San Jose city officials have made no secret about wanting the A's to move south and the city has a stadium site picked out near the Diridon Caltrain station west of San Jose's downtown core.
But any move by the A's to San Jose would have to overcome hurdles starting with opposition from the Giants, who claim San Jose as part of their fan territory under the rules of Major League Baseball (MLB).
To have any hope of overriding the Giants' territorial claim Wolff would have to persuade at least 75 percent of team owners and Commissioner Bud Selig to let the A's move to San Jose.
Wolff seemed to be laying out his case this morning.
Of the 30 cities with MLB teams, 19 have populations smaller than San Jose, which has more than 1 million residents, he said.
"Just in terms of size, it works out for baseball," he said.
He said other Bay Area sports teams are in newer venues, including the Giants and the San Jose Sharks NHL hockey team.
He noted that the San Francisco 49ers will soon be moving to a new $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara.
The San Jose Earthquakes pro soccer team -- which Wolff co-owns -- will move in 2014 to a new playing field near Mineta San Jose International Airport, Wolff said.
Even the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University are investing in new sports venues.
But the A's and the Oakland Raiders continue to play in the aging Oakland Coliseum.
"We are the only (MLB) team to share a venue with an NFL team," , Wolff complained, adding, "The entire Bay Area has (new) venues."
Patch editor Tom Abate contributed to this report.