Oakland A’s may get OK to head south

Under the MLB constitution, the city of San Jose is officially Giants’ territory. However, the MLB served up guidelines this week that could open the possibility for an A’s relocation to the South Bay.

These guidelines are all potential, tentative and don’t guarantee a move any time soon, but their existence means the possibility is out there.

Larry Baer, the Giants’ president and chief executive, declined to comment on the issue Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The A’s managing partner, Lew Wolff (who is also MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s close friend and former fraternity brother), also declined to comment.

The A’s fight for San Jose has been going on since March 2009, when Selig created a “blue ribbon committee” to evaluate the issue of territorial rights and determine whether or not the A’s would be able to proceed as they hoped, moving the franchise to San Jose and building a new ballpark there. Committee efforts continued for the next four years, to no avail for the A’s.

The Giants remain a territorial mother bear, unwilling to give up  Santa Clara County, an area that represents a strong fan base and corporate sponsors. The Giants said in a statement:

“The population of Santa Clara County alone represents 43 percent of our territory. Upon purchasing the team 20 years ago, our plan to revive the franchise relied heavily on targeting and solidifying our fan base in the largest and fastest growing county within our territory.”

In order for the plan to follow through, the A’s need 75% of the clubs to approve it, therefore the Giants could stop the A’s relocation by convincing seven other clubs to vote against the move or by suing.

But if they were to relocate, the A’s would have to meet certain criteria, one of which would come in the form of a paycheck made out to the San Francisco Giants. According to the Major League Rules, the A’s would have to dole out a “sum of money as the Commissioner deems appropriate.”

And money is a concern in this situation.

The A’s have promised to pay for a $500-million ballpark in San Jose. But moving down south means the franchise would no longer be eligible for tens of millions in annual revenue sharing, although ticket sales, luxury seats and concessions would bring in millions of dollars.

Wolff asked Oakland Coliseum officials to let the team stay there through 2017, so it’s highly unlikely a move would happen before 2018.

The MLB only offered a one-line comment. Spokesman Pat Courtney said in a statement:

“The committee continues to work hard on this very complex, complicated situation.”