The Athletics Business Has Been A Baseball Problem For 57 Years

Multiple owners have had problems owning the A’s.

In the 1960s, Kansas City Athletics baseball team owner Charles Finley decided he didn’t like Kansas City and anywhere else had to be better. In 1964, he had a deal to move to Louisville, Kentucky but the American League blocked the agreement. Finley ended up in Oakland in 1968 but would eventually sour on the market. In 1978, Finley could not complete a sale to Marvin Davis who would have moved the team to Denver. More than two decades later, other sets of owners decided anywhere other than the Oakland Coliseum would be better. Lew Wolff tried to move the team down the road to Fremont or to San Jose. Wolff also wanted to build a stadium-village on the Coliseum property.  Wolff looked at San Jose for a solution but San Jose is in San Francisco Giants territory even though Oakland is closer to San Francisco than San Jose. Oakland and MLB have had a tenuous relationship.

The New York Giants franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958 and claimed the territory. Finley then got a slice of the market. The San Francisco-Oakland market struggled supporting two Major League teams. The Giants ownership almost sold the team to Toronto interests in 1976 but that was blocked. Giants’ ownership also was willing to sell the business to Tampa Bay investors. Giants’ ownership failed twice in convincing voters in paying for a stadium in the San Jose area yet Giants’ ownership controls the San Jose territory and has blocked A’s ownership from moving there because of baseball’s antitrust exemption. A court upheld the Giants territorial rights because of the 1922 Supreme Court Of the United States decision that gave baseball an antitrust exemption. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told Oakland officials in the fall of 2019 that without a new stadium, A’s owners could move.

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