Wednesday, May 23, 2012

East Bay Too Poor for A's, Warriors

What does the Warriors possible move mean for the A's? Plenty. Consider this. The Warriors, despite having some very mediocre at best teams, have been in the top 15 in attendance in the NBA since 2009. There can be no question that the team is supported at the gates.

The Warriors are the eighth most valuable in basketball according to Forbes and has are seventh in operating income.

Meanwhile, the A's have been scraping by at-or-near the very bottom of MLB attendance over the same time period.  According to Forbes, the A's rank dead last in terms of franchise value and 13th in terms of operating income.

The picture of the less-than-half-filled Coliseum juxtaposed with the almost-always-packed Oracle Arena is striking and makes the Warriors desire to bolt that much more callous.

The Warriors have no cover, they want to move for one thing only -- money. They can't say its about butts in the seats. They can't say that people won't come to Oakland.

What they won't say is that the closer to San Francisco and the Peninsula/San Jose, the greater the corporate and personal riches.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the nation's highest median incomes were in the South Bay and the SF/Peninsula corridors. The East Bay, while trailing these areas, was still in the top 10 nationally.

Median Income -- 2006-2010

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. -- $69,800 (#1)
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. -- $64,820 (#2)
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, Calif. - $57,000 (#9)

We all know the plethora of tech concerns that dominate San Francisco and Silicon Valley. (While the East Bay has a growing number itself, it honestly does not stack up to these corridors.) Make no mistake, the East Bay certainly has a robust corporate base. But, given the W's free reign over the region, why not be greedy?

Keeping the Status Quo

From a business perspective, positioning an arena in San Francisco makes the Warriors -- arguably -- more accessible to the South Bay, especially in light of the proximity of Caltrain and the pending Transbay Terminal. It also further protects the team from a Larry Ellison-led South Bay NBA invasion. They can employ the Giants argument that a South Bay team would erode the team's corporate base. Have you heard that argument somewhere else?

The Giants/Warriors posturing, while independent of each other, stands to cement the populous South Bay as a suburb of San Francisco, in this case by depriving it of major league teams. The Sharks are an exception of course, but who's to say the Warriors -- in a gleaming and expensive new arena -- don't make a run for them as well?

This current A's ownership, especially in light of comments indicating that Oakland will not be considered, would not be moved even if the Coliseum was as full, in relative terms, as the Oracle Arena is for the Warriors. A packed -- and untarped -- third deck would not produce enough revenue  for ownership to be able to raise payroll significantly and reach whatever arbitrary profit level they have set.

Think about Lew Wolff's recent comments for a minute. Plan B can't be Oakland. The real reason for this is that they are convinced the East Bay has neither the people, nor the big name corporations to make the level of money they desire.

Greed is good. (For team owners)

What About Us

Where do the fans come into these debates? They don't. Both the A's and the Warriors have surely weighed out fans that will be lost and determined that the money they will make from these new locations will more than make up for the revenue sacrified.

Sports are a business, and sometimes fans are just a necessary casualty.

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