SBD/February 24, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Rumblings Indicate Big-Market MLB Teams Want To Contract A's, Rays

Threat of contraction of Rays could change tenor of upcoming MLB labor talks
There are "rumblings that certain big-market teams want to drop the A's and Rays, even though the idea stands little chance of actually becoming reality," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. Sources said that the MLBPA "would regard any proposal to eliminate 50 major-league jobs as an act of war." Contraction would be an "extreme solution, but one that addresses the big-market concern: Why keep struggling clubs afloat?" Eliminating the A's and Rays, "both of whom face severe ballpark concerns, would remove two leading revenue-sharing recipients, reducing the burden on the big-money teams." For the A's, a "move to a proposed new ballpark in San Jose would rescue the franchise, if only baseball would get its act together and cut a deal with the Giants to relinquish their territorial rights to the area." However, the Rays "have nowhere to go." A threat of contraction "probably would not rally the community to build the Rays a new publicly financed ballpark," but it would "change the tenor of the upcoming labor negotiations, raising the tension considerably." Rosenthal wrote the "answer is to get the A's to San Jose and help the Rays find some better alternative -- be it in Tampa or Orlando, San Antonio or Charlotte" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/22). In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes, "Contraction always has struck me as more of a bluff than a legitimate threat, but it might just work in the Rays' favor as the stadium debate continues to drag on. And, trust me, it will drag on." Relocation "may not be much of a factor" in the Rays' case because of Owner Stuart Sternberg's "previous statements and because there are so few attractive cities available." But contraction "has some appeal for MLB as a threat," and that threat "will continue to grow day by day, dollar by dollar and empty seat by empty seat." Romano: "Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, Tampa Bay is now on the clock" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/24).

CLOCK IS TICKING: A's Owner Lew Wolff said he is satisfied the MLB committee members that for three years have been studying the A's relocation options are "putting their arms around this." Wolff: "I know that we're all -- especially me -- frustrated. But it's important that when a decision is made, that it's a comprehensive decision. A patient account. It makes the path going forward to a new ballpark as easy for us as possible." MLB.com's Barry Bloom noted Wolff "asked MLB in 2008 for permission to move from Oakland 35 miles south to San Jose and Commissioner Bud Selig put together a committee to review the A's relocation options inside and outside the Bay Area." The Giants "have opposed the A's request to move to San Jose," citing their territorial rights (MLB.com, 2/23).
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