Dear Loyal A's Fans:
This letter is intended to offer some information that I believe may be of interest to you.
Since the decision to accommodate the Oakland Raiders in 1995 - ten years before I purchased the A's in 2005 - the condition and status of the Coliseum has been a constant concern for the A's.
As Managing Partner of the A's, I simply want to accomplish two equally important organizational goals:
To achieve these goals, upon purchase of the team I became the first owner in Major League Baseball's history to include our General Manager and President in the team's ownership. Both are among the top individuals in their profession. Both have done and continue to do everything within their ability to produce competitive teams in our market place. Both have been signed to long-term contracts that, to the best of my knowledge, exceed all other such arrangements in Major League Baseball. Further, both have been with the A's for many years and both possess the best knowledge of our market base. In my opinion, retaining these individuals is as vital to the A's as any factor we have under consideration.
We believe we have exhausted the venue options suggested in Oakland and several other Oakland options we explored on our own. It was only at that juncture that we decided to focus our efforts in the city of Fremont. At that time we did not encounter any resistance from those in Oakland who understood the efforts we had already made in the city. After deciding that the Fremont location would not work, and having no further options in Oakland, we requested an adjustment of our territorial rights from Major League Baseball.
As I hope that those interested will understand, we have not sought any type of public bond issue or the like from the cities of Oakland, Fremont or San Jose. Steadily intent on remaining in California, we fully recognize that our efforts to secure a competitive venue must be privately financed. To date, only the Giants and many years ago, the Dodgers have built their ballparks primarily with private funding. This of course differs greatly from all Major League Baseball stadiums outside California, where each team has received significant public financial support.
In Oakland and Fremont, the only way we would have been able to invest in a private ballpark is through the use and value of residential entitlements. Our plan would have called for the use of residential entitlement proceeds to be directed to the public body in order for the new venue to be owned by the local jurisdiction. Under this plan, the A's would have also paid for all operations and would have been responsible for any and all construction cost overages. A January 22, 2006 article in the San Francisco Chronicle identified and explained the critical entitlement concept.
At the time that we wanted to progress in Oakland, and next in Fremont, the residential market for approved entitlements was extremely strong. However under current economic conditions, the residential entitlement concept has been rendered unavailable due to the prolonged recession and sharp decline in demand for residential housing.
During the new ballpark renaissance in baseball, teams have clearly demonstrated that the best and only viable location for a successful Major League Baseball venue is in the urban center of a major U.S. city. You need not look any further than across the Bay at the Giants wonderful AT&T Park for a prime example. The Giants downtown San Francisco location is within walking distance to millions of square feet of commercial office space, extensive residential accommodations and huge amounts of hotel and convention facilities. The aforementioned land use proximity is a key attribute that makes the privately financed Giants ballpark successful.
Unfortunately, an Oakland location similar to AT&T simply does not exist. During our time of ownership, I have never looked towards or alluded to moving outside the state of California. I have not once mentioned or held accountable any public official for our inability to develop a privately financed ballpark in either Oakland or Fremont. Additionally, our long history in Oakland is clearly recognized and deeply appreciated by the team and fans alike. I do not believe a move out of the state is comparable to staying within the Bay Area. I view the need for a new venue, and the implementation of a new venue as the absolute responsibility of our ownership. We want to stay in Northern California and we are totally committed to trying to do so.
Under our ownership, we advanced to the American League Championship Series in 2006. The "taste" of that success-and the fact that we were only one step away from the World Series-lingers long after the last game in Detroit was played.
In 2008, we made the decision to carefully rebuild the A's through the draft and the international player market. Quite frankly we and many other teams cannot afford to enter the free agency market or to retain free agents without suffering significant losses. Our ownership and key baseball executives want to produce a championship ball club, but we need to do so without incurring deficits that cannot be sustained. We devote the majority of our revenues and revenue sharing proceeds to the operations of the club, to our farm system and to our international scouting.
Player moves made last year, although both aggressive and expensive, simply did not work out as we had hoped. Toward the end of the 2009 season, our youth emphasis, particularly our pitching, showed positive signs of life that we hope will benefit us this upcoming season and beyond.
I am very pleased with the team we are fielding for the 2010 season. Our on-field leadership, as well as Billy and all of their key people in our baseball offices, have worked extremely hard to present a winning product this season.
We appreciate your loyal support as dedicated A's fans.
Thank you for listening.