Friday, January 7, 2011

Whose Territory Is This?

It seems territorial rights in San Jose aren’t just a Major League Baseball issue, but an NBA one too. If you haven’t heard, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently tried to purchase the New Orleans Hornets and speculation was that if successful (the NBA actually ended up with the winning bid) he would move the team to San Jose.

This however didn’t sit well with Warriors owner Joseph Lacob, who as you might recall along with Peter Guber last year, paid $450 million for the team out bidding Larry Ellision. As the San Jose Mercury News reported yesterday:

Lacob also seemed to suggest that he would not be eager to share that market with another team. "We bought the Golden State Warriors; that is, the NBA team of Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco, the Bay Area," he wrote.

"We feel that we paid a full but fair price for THAT opportunity."

No doubt Larry Ellison wants an NBA team and usually what Larry wants Larry gets, which is pretty easy for a guy worth $28 billion. So what exactly would it take for him to get his hands on an NBA team and then move them to San Jose?

Well, despite the New Orleans Hornets having been bought by the NBA the expectation is that they will sell the team again, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be to a local ownership group. No doubt the NBA would like to make some money on their investment and who better to tap than the sixth richest person in world. Not to mention the team in New Orleans just isn’t pulling the expected attendance and is facing a dire need to generate revenue to cover long-term debt of $111 million, it seems a change of venue might be just what’s needed.

Now of course even if Larry were able to buy the team, he still would have to deal with a less than enthusiastic Warriors ownership concerned with sharing the Bay Area market with another team. Not to worry, as it would only cost Larry a $150 million “relocation fee”. If taken off the price paid last year for the Warriors, it seems that paying $300 million dollars for an NBA franchise would be a bargain.

We will just have to wait and see how the drama unfolds, which at Baseball San Jose is something we have become accustomed to so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

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