Thursday, November 09, 2006
Welcome to the complete corporatization of major league baseball, America. The entire sports climate in this country has been moving in this general direction for the past few years, and now it’s finally here. Cisco Systems, Inc. has reached a deal with the Oakland A’s in which the Northern California-based corporation will build the team a new ballpark in Fremont, a city about 15-20 minutes south of Oakland, depending on traffic, which, no doubt, is about to get a lot more congested in the very near future. The agreement would create a 32,000-35,000-seat stadium, which of course will be named Cisco Field, on a 143-acre parcel held by the company, according to the San Jose Mercury News. If the plan is approved by the city, the A’s could be playing there as soon as 2011. A’s owner Lew Wolff declined to speak to reporters yesterday after he left a meeting with four Fremont City Council members, but you know he must be secretly grinning from ear to ear! The City of Oakland blew it and never built a new stadium for the A’s when they should have done a long time ago. And then they let Raiders Owner Al Davis put that ridiculous wall of stands and luxury boxes in the place, so that now it looks more like an overpriced apartment building than a baseball stadium. I went there 2-3 times this season, and it’s an outdated, uninspiring stadium that can’t in any way compare to the exciting new baseball-only facilities of today. It will be a good thing all away around for the A’s. Maybe now they can spend a little money on players. Even though Billy Beane has done an amazing job getting young rookies through the farm system and acquiring old guys via free agency, it just hasn’t been enough to assemble a team that can get into the World Series. An influx of ca$h from a new stadium will mean Beane can throw a few bucks around to get exactly the type of team he’s looking for without worrying so much about the bottom line. This whole thing with companies owning and operating professional sports teams is the wave of the future, anyway. It reminds me of the movie “Rollerball” where teams are owned by enormous corporations representing entire continents. The only two things to ask now are: Will Fremont okay the deal? They’d be stupid not to. There will undoubtedly be a group of citizens from Fremont who will fight it and say the new stadium will be bad for the city. Those folks always exist. But, for a small town like Fremont to reject a deal like this – one that can bring them so much prestige, jobs and mucho dinero – would be municipal suicide. The other question is: What do you name the team? The Fremont A’s? The Silicon Valley A’s? The Northern California A’s? How about the Cisco Kids!? It’s just a matter of time. I can see it now. The Apple Computer Antelopes. The Hewlett Packard Packers, the Yahoo Yankees and the Google Goblins.