So let's see, the last few months have included announcements from Lew Wolff that included him announcing the A's had an interest in acquiring land in Fremont to build a ballpark, village, etc. Then, last week he also announced that the A's are also signing an option to purchase an MLS expansion team contingent on a new "soccer-only" stadium being built in San Jose.
Wait...I can hear (and already have heard) people saying why not just have the A's and the Aftershocks, or whatever you call the team that follows the Earthquakes, play in the same stadium. Lew Wolff must be trying to get the A's into San Jose with this move so they can just use the same stadium, right?
This is more of a marketing decision than it is facility decision.
The challenges of relocating the A's to San Jose have been discussed over and over again. Peter McGowan, Bud Selig, and the rights fees paid to Peter Angelos all tell us that a move to San Jose isn't going to happen.
That's obviously where Fremont comes in. The A's want to get closer to the San Jose crowds, but have to stay in Alameda county due to the territory rights "given" to the Giants when they were trying to move in the 80s. Fremont also gives the A's the land needed to develop more than a ballpark to help finance the stadium, and to make the area more than a stadium. See ARCO arena, Ameriquest Field in Arlington, and even the Palace in Auburn Hills as examples of "outlying" ballparks/stadiums that are sitting in the middle of nowhere, giving the locality only a limited advantage of name recognition.
So, the A's can't go to San Jose, but want to capture more of the south bay. They need land to help build the "cash cow" village to fund their stadium and Oakland doesn't seem to care to help or just feels they don't have land to share. So, assuming they can develop a public transportation plan that works, Fremont is making more sense for the Oakland A's, or San Jose A's or (insert your Angels naming joke here).
Sure one of the motivating factors to relocating closer to the South Bay is to get closer to the largest city in the bay area. But, the largest motivator has to be the South Bay corporate base.
Every major league sports property has a built-in stable of corporate partners. Southwest, or other major airline. Pepsi or Coke. Bud or Miller. Sprint, Nextel, Cingular, Etc. Ford, or another US car dealer. Toyota, BMW, Hummer, or another Car-du-jour.
But, it's the local corporate market that hurts the small market.
The Sacramento Kings are an example to use. It's also the reason the A's aren't moving to Sacramento. The choices, and thus the income, available beyond the major national sponsors are limited in a smaller market. Heck, when the River Cats showed up in town, Raley's (the big regional grocery store) announced they were putting nearly all the ad dollars behind the RiverCats, and pulled out of major sponsorships with the Kings and others. That left the Kings hurting for sponsors. They tried to attract other companies, but there aren't many other companies in the Sacramento area looking to spend that kind of money on advertising. They had to accept a deal from a local mortgage company to be one of their main sponsors. Don't thinkfor a second that the Kings are getting the same kind of money from a local mortgage company as they would be getting from a regional company or from a major national corporation.
Look at the San Jose Sharks games, and you see a huge number of advertisers that only Bill Gates understands. . Seagate, Samsung, Nvidia, Logitech, Brocade? The tech business is all about marketing. It's not about understanding what they do...it's about knowing the name. And who says you even need to know who they are..."The Stanley Cup Playoffs brought to you by Intersil? I've never even heard of Intersil, but they're a big enough company to sponsor a professional sports team.
But where does MLS Soccer fit into things?
What advertisers want is economies of scale. They want to hit as many people with them minimum cost and effort. So, imagine the ability of Wolff/Fisher Sports Enterprises to sell South Bay companies a "package" of advertising with both teams. Not only that, but a San Jose team also helps "secure" the marketing dollars from the high-tech companies they obviously covet.
There are probably multiple other reasons the A's are pursuing soccer. I'm not even going to touch on "non-core" stadium events and the ability to market to two separate sectors with a 35K and a 10-15K stadium. Most concerts don't need 35,000 seats, but some do. And these events end up providing a major economy to stadium owners (which the A's currently don't get).
If Wolff and Fisher buy the Sharks....look out!!