OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — Athletics general manager Billy Beane expects to hear “very soon” from Commissioner Bud Selig about whether the club will be allowed to move south to San Jose and build a new ballpark.
The reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants currently hold the territorial rights to San Jose and technology-rich Silicon Valley in Santa Clara County, where the A’s hope to build a new ballpark and then relocate some 40 miles south of their current home.
“We’ve been told a number of times a decision was near,” Beane said Thursday. “Over 2 ½ years we’ve been told it a number of times. This time I’m going to believe it. … We expect some resolution of the situation very soon. That certainly would be helpful from my standpoint and everybody else’s on the club to determine what direction we’re going.”
It’s something owner Lew Wolff, Beane and the rest of the brass believe could transform the blue-collar franchise into a bigger spender based on increased revenue. San Francisco likely would fight to protect its turf, too, if Selig gives the go-ahead.
Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said the commissioner’s office had no further update or comment at this stage. The Giants declined to comment as Selig has asked the two clubs not to publicly debate the issue.
“We hope the term ‘very soon’ is how we interpret very soon,” Wolff said in a phone interview. “Sometimes Commissioner Selig’s definition of very soon is different from Billy’s and mine. We think we deserve a decision—even one we don’t like—as soon as possible because it has affected our whole organization. It permeates all the plans. We need to know in our minds where we’re headed.”
Beane said the decision on where the A’s play in the near future would affect how he approaches free agency this winter.
Also Thursday, Beane put to rest any speculation that he might depart for the Chicago Cubs’ vacant GM job, saying, “I have a little trip planned but I will be here.”
Beane signed manager Bob Melvin to a three-year contract last week.
“I certainly plan on being part of that commitment because I’m the one who gave it to him,” Beane said.
Beane, the central figure in the current “Moneyball” movie starring Brad Pitt as the innovative GM, enters the offseason following a fifth straight year without a winning record or playoff berth by the A’s (74-88) since being swept in the 2006 AL championship series by Detroit.
Ideally, Beane would hear a decision from MLB sometime in October before the start of free agency. It’s unclear whether that will actually happen.
“If you know you’re going to be building a new stadium in four years, it’s one thing that nobody’s shown better than what the Cleveland Indians did at the beginning of the ‘90s, the key to having a successful opening is to have a great team,” Beane said. “If you’ve got a stadium in four years you probably would do everything you can to put yourself in position to have the best possible team, not just for one year but for a number of years going forward.”
Wolff has been waiting for more than two years for longtime friend Selig to give him a yea or nay on whether he can go ahead with his proposal.
Selig appointed a committee in March 2009 to evaluate the issue facing the Bay Area teams, yet he has provided no timetable for when he might announce a decision. Thus far it appears Selig doesn’t want to make a decision that would anger the A’s or Giants.
“We’re in a little bit of a flux right now,” said Beane, who has five potential free agents including the entire starting outfield of slugger Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus.
For now, Wolff is pleased to hear about one decision: Beane’s choice to stay put despite the restraints that come with running the A’s. In his years as a successful real estate developer in Los Angeles, Wolff said he has never tried to hold back an employee.
“There’s probably serious thought not just with the Cubs opening but also others,” Wolff said. “I want what’s best for Billy. I’m hoping Billy will continue here for a long, long time. I think Billy’s done such a magnificent job and he knows the odds of the position he’s in. We’re challenged until we can get revenue. I hope Billy will stay the course.”
Beane would be thrilled to see this project that is the A’s through to a new ballpark.
Wolff, a friend of Selig’s dating to their days as fraternity brothers at Wisconsin, is ready to break ground on a ballpark projected to cost between $400 million and $450 million—if and when he gets the OK to relocate. There are working drawings of the venue and an architect has been chosen. Wolff expects getting building permits to take about nine months, then the actual ballpark would require another two years to complete.
The 49-year-old Melvin grew up in the Bay Area and isn’t going to complain about the aging, rundown Coliseum, a shared facility with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
“Lew won’t want to hear this, I kind of like the place,” Melvin said. “I grew up here, I went to concerts, it’s well-documented. I know that it’s outdated and we need a new place.”
Melvin took over for the fired Bob Geren in June and went 35-35 after the All-Star break and 47-52 overall while dealing with key injuries to the starting rotation. He expects changes on his coaching staff looking ahead to 2012.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to address that sooner than later, and that’s something we’re working on as we speak,” Melvin said.
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