Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Beginning of the End for Oakland

Last Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors revealed their plans to ditch the Oracle Arena, which has been their home since 1972, except for one year when they played in San Jose, while the Oracle was remodeled. The Warriors are planning on moving back to San Francisco in 2017 and opening a brand new water front arena, down the street a bit from AT&T Park, the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants. This was met with mixed reviews, as to be expected.

The NBA, greater San Francisco Bay Area, and most of the general public welcomed this news with open arms, partly because it's been expected ever since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber took over the franchise.

The East Bay and native Oakland residents didn't take so kindly to being told that one of the most electric atmospheres was leaving for San Francisco. This entry is to tell the fans of Oakland teams that 1) they'll all be gone soon, and 2) it's actually a good thing.

Let's start with bullet point number one: They'll all be gone soon.

The Warriors announcing their plans to depart is just the first step in making this a reality. It's been known for years that the Oakland Coliseum (now called the Coliseum) and the Oracle Arena need upgrades. The Oakland Raiders of the NFL, and the Oakland A's of Major Leage Baseball, have both talked about leaving. The Warriors are just the first team to put their plans in stone and set a final farewell to the East Bay.

For a long time the NFL has wanted a team in Los Angeles, and the Raiders haven't been able to draw crowds in Oakland for almost three years, consistently blacking out the team's home games. Add in the fact that the Raiders already left for the City of Angels once, and it looks to be them or the recently purchased Jacksonville Jaguars that get to make the move. If the Jaguars end up in LA, the San Francisco 49ers are building a stadium in Santa Clara that they boast can house two home teams. Any guess as to who the other home team would be? That's right. The Oakland Raiders.

The A's have been very vocal about wanting to move to San Jose to continue their franchise. They have insisted that they can't gain any revenue at the Coliseum and that the city of Oakland has been very difficult to work with in these trying times. Once you are able to get over multi-billionaires complaining about not having enough money, the A's run into the problem that the San Francisco Giants own territorial rights to San Jose, due to their Single-A Giants team being stationed there. Major League Baseball and the commissioner's office are looking into this, and I'd expect that eventually the Giants will give in and the A's will depart for the South Bay.

If I had to guess, I'd say that by the year 2020, the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena will just be relics of the professional sports teams that used to reside in Oakland, as they slowly collect dust, or are used purely for musical events. The A's will be in San Jose, the Raiders in LA, and the Warriors in San Francisco.

To all of you East Bay people, none of this is bad (with the exception possibly of the Raiders).

For those that don't know, visiting teams in all three sports currently practice and stay in San Francisco. No team stays in Oakland, all of them opting to travel over the Bay Bridge instead. Anyone that follows these teams knows how hard it is for them to attract free agents. Moving to any of the three cities mentioned already drastically improves the chances of any of the team's signing free agents. Also, more people will come to the games overall.

The Warriors may actually take a hit in ticket sales if they don't improve their first or second year in SF, but the Raiders and A's can't get people in the seats now. Moving somewhere that lacks a professional team in that sport, automatically improves the ability to sign better talent, as plain and simple, more butts in the seats means more cash in hand for the ownership group.

While the A's and Raiders would be moving farther away, the Warriors will be exactly 13 miles away from Oracle Arena (pretty much a stone's throw in sports geographical terms). The Raiders leaving would be heartbreaking to the true Raider fans in the Bay but would ultimately improve the NFL by putting a team in LA.

And the A's moving to San Jose would increase their fan base, and possibly allow the A's to up their payroll to contend with the Giants and make it an actual rivalry again.

So while Oakland stands a good chance of losing all of it's franchises in the next couple years, they all stand to gain individually.

Make no mistake about it: Professional sports in Oakland are dead, and that's not a bad thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment