Bud Selig gave the Oakland Athletics permission to leave town, and the city of Oakland flinched as a result.
In what those in the know call a surprising turn of events, the A's agreed with Oakland on a last-moment deal to keep the club in town for the next 10 seasons after the commissioner of baseball intervened.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The stunning revelation was made by Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff in a 10 p.m. e-mail to officials Wednesday, in which he wrote: "I was informed tonight that Commissioner Selig, due to the possibility of not having the hearing and vote that we were purported to receive from the JPA [Joint Powers Authority], that we will immediately be allowed to seek a temporary or permanent location outside the city of Oakland."
The e-mail prompted city and county officials to immediately revive negotiations overnight to keep the A's in Oakland, and a new deal was approved by a 6-2 vote Thursday morning by the board of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority.
The deal is essentially the same proposal that the A's and Coliseum board made public on Tuesday - but which the Oakland City Council said it did not support.
That deal allows the team to give 2 years notice of its intent to leave Oakland but requires the team to continue paying the lease for the remainder of the 10-year term. The deal also lets the A's off the hook of making those lease payments if they move to another stadium within Oakland.
The power of Bud Selig. Unlimited power!
Now, this doesn't solve the A's bigger problem of finding a permanent home ballpark that they don't have to pay for themselves out of pocket. And there isn't necessarily a group in another city (in northern California or elsewhere) ready to give them a new stadium, either.
But by Selig putting his authority behind the team, he's bought the A's and Oakland, or the A's and someone perhaps near Oakland, more time to work out a deal. They definitely need a new home — with "need" being used relatively speaking.
Certainly the $8 billion-9 billion Major League Baseball industry could finance a ballpark for the A's in Oakland if it so chose, but that's not the precedent that's been set throughout the league. Most of the stadium deals are paid for, somehow, using significant public funds. California, of course, doesn't have a lot of disposable income right now, so it's been difficult for the A's to find an agreeable solution with government.
Now they have more time to do so before drastic measures — such as leaving town completely — are taken.
Then again, the A's franchise started in Philadelphia and moved to Kansas City before settling in the East Bay. Maybe they got a vagabond nature in their blood.
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