SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — Bud Selig is telling the Bay Area baseball teams and their fans to be patient.
The commissioner is still working on the issue of territorial rights and determining whether the Oakland Athletics will be allowed to proceed with plans to build a new ballpark and relocate some 40 miles south to San Jose – into the Giants’ territory in technology-rich Silicon Valley.
Selig said before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday that he has been in regular contact recently with his special committee appointed in March 2009 to evaluate the issue facing Northern California’s two major league clubs. He reiterated the A’s can’t survive in their current venue in the aging Oakland Coliseum and need a new ballpark.
Selig insists the situation is “still on the front burner.” He has spoken recently with A’s managing partner Lew Wolff, Selig’s longtime friend and fraternity brother at Wisconsin.
“I have a committee very hard at work, ongoing with all that, and they continue to work hard,” Selig said. “I’ve been talking to them a lot the last four or five days. There isn’t anything more to say. I know you’d like to talk about it. I’m sensitive to that, I appreciate it. But let’s concentrate on Game 2 of the World Series.”
The City of Oakland still believes it has several suitable locations to build a new ballpark for the A’s. Yet Wolff has his sights on San Jose and has repeatedly said his franchise has exhausted its options in Oakland after years of trying.
Certainly the way the upstart A’s played this season as baseball’s biggest surprise team, they have Selig’s attention. Oakland swept the Texas Rangers in the final three games of the regular season to capture the AL West crown and reach the playoffs for the first time in six years. Then, manager Bob Melvin’s bunch pushed the World Series Tigers to a deciding Game 5 in the division series.
“The way they ended their season was remarkable. They played brilliantly,” Selig said. “They extended the Tigers. They had a remarkable year, a year that certainly nobody forecast. I mean it really was. It’s what made this year I think so interesting in so many different ways. We had teams that nobody thought would win, and the second wild card really produced a lot of things it’s supposed to produce, and that’s interest the last two months of the season, and it did.”
Selig said he still has no timetable for making a decision on whether the A’s can move – and wouldn’t even respond when asked whether it would get done during his tenure as commissioner.
“I don’t think there’s any question that they need a new ballpark. That would not be a shocking front-page story I don’t think,” he said. “I don’t feel any pressure. The only thing that will guide me ultimately on every issue is what I think is in the best interest of baseball. That is the only pressure I ever feel.”