Frustrated after waiting 16 months for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s committee to explore potential destinations for the Oakland ballclub, Reed decided to make a dramatic move. He issued a proposal to put the privately financed ballpark measure on the November ballot, with or without approval from MLB.
Reed’s hopes were that it might nudge MLB if they saw that a ballpark was already approved, and Reed thought it would save the city money putting the issue to voters in November. The nudge worked – at least providing movement from MLB.
Selig expressed disappointment in Reed’s premature proposal since the league has yet to decide whether or not the team can move. Since then, however, MLB officials said they would help cover any costs of a special election, if needed.
On Thursday, Reed provided PublicCEO with an exclusive interview:
In your heart, do you believe the A’s will eventually be in San Jose?
Okay, that’s a good, quick answer.
The economics of the deal are pretty powerful and I think when Major League Baseball owners look at what is in it for them, they will see it is of great value to Major League Baseball.
Right now, the A’s in Oakland are a net drag on Major League Baseball in revenue sharing in excess of $30 million a year. If they move to San Jose, they will be a net positive. So that’s a million dollars to every club basically in revenue sharing differential.
We also have the highest household median income of any big city in the country. We have a great corporate base here in Silicon Valley, a market that Major League Baseball certainly wants to be engaged in. The economics of the analysis are pretty strong.
Is Major League Baseball’s firmness that San Jose should delay voting on a ballpark a good or bad sign?
I read it as a good sign because they offered to help pay for a special election in the spring. That is some movement on their part. I take it as a good sign.
Who in Major League Baseball were the recent conversations with and what’s the summary of how that conversation went?
It was with the President of Major League Baseball, Bob DuPuy. He said that they were very appreciative of the work we have done in San Jose. They appreciate our enthusiasm. But that the commissioner had a sequence and a process that he wanted to follow and the commissioner thought that having the election in November would be disruptive to the work that he is trying to do.
They understand there is a cost factor in having a special election and that is why they offered to help pay for a special election in the spring. So it was a cordial conversation. I decided that the best course would be to honor the commissioner’s request and let him do the work in the order in which he wants to do it.
What is the current dialogue between you and A’s owner Lew Wolff regarding making this happen?
Lew and I talk on a regular basis. His side of the equation is to work with Major League Baseball and my side of the equation is to work here on putting San Jose in the best position possible so when the commissioner is finished with his process we’re able to move ahead.
Are you an Oakland A’s fan or a Giants fan?
I have been a fan of both of those teams but I stopped being much of a baseball fan in the last strike. So for me, I’m not a fanatical baseball fan.
This is an economical development opportunity for the city of San Jose. We’re talking about nearly a $500 million private sector investment. Privately financed, privately built, privately operated investment of $500 million will generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenues for local government. We would love to have additional tax revenues and additional jobs.
How much of an issue is it to MLB regarding the San Francisco Giants territorial rights?
The Giants territorial rights were created in the early ‘90s when the Giants wanted to move to San Jose. The A’s were happy to see them go – because right now they’re five or 10 miles apart.
The territorial rights belong to Major League Baseball and they can be changed by the owners. It takes a ¾ vote of the owners to do that but nevertheless I think it’s in Major League Baseball’s interest to do that based on the economics of the deal. Obviously, it is a big issue and the commissioner is very seriously considering it, trying to work it out.
At this point, what is the biggest question mark for a possible move?
I think the only big question mark is the territorial issue. Waiting for Major League Baseball to decide whether or not to change the territory.
Are you confident that voters will embrace this and want a ballpark?
Yes. As long as it’s privately financed, privately constructed and privately operated, the voters are very enthusiastic about the possibility of having a Major League team in San Jose.
PublicCEO Editor James Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org