Larry Baer

AT&T no more, Giants sign 20-year deal with Oracle to rename ballpark


AT&T no more, Giants sign 20-year deal with Oracle to rename ballpark

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have been frustrated by the pace of free agent talks this offseason, but when it came time to negotiate a new naming rights deal, they found a partner willing to move quickly. 

Oracle and the Giants announced a 20-year naming rights deal on Thursday morning that will rebrand AT&T Park as Oracle Park for the next two decades. Team president and CEO Larry Baer said AT&T informed the Giants they would not be signing a new deal when their rights expired after the 2019 season The Giants were given permission to find a new partner a year early. In about a month, they came to a deal with Oracle, one of the biggest tech companies in the world and one that is based in the Bay Area. 

The Giants and Oracle have been partners since 2003, when the suite level at the ballpark was renamed after the company. Oracle has held annual events at the ballpark ever since and the two companies have partnered for community work and the America’s Cup. 

“We feel like Oracle is already part of the family,” Baer said. “An agreement of this nature could not happen if we didn’t have this trust and connection that has been moving forward since the better part of 2003.”

While financial terms were not disclosed, Baer said the deal is in line with the top of the market for naming rights. It is believed that the Giants will receive in excess of $300 million from Oracle, a sum that conveniently fits one Bryce Harper but will be spread throughout the organization. Baer said the financial boost will in part go to the roster, but also noted that the Giants continue to make changes to their ballpark and spread resources to upgrade their minor league system.

At Oracle Park, a new scoreboard is expected to be finished in time for the Bay Bridge Series and the field level food court is undergoing a makeover. Following spring training, the Giants will begin making upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium. In 2020, they will redo their spring training minor league facility. 

A more immediate concern is making sure the ballpark is fully rebranded by the time the team returns from spring training in late March. Baer said all of that work is expected to be done by Opening Day, with the massive signs that currently say AT&T Park among the first items to be replaced. Freeway signs and street signs will also have to be changed. 

[RELATED: Details on Giants' new scoreboard]

There will be changes across the bridge, too. Mark Hurd, Oracle’s CEO, said his company’s deal with Oracle Arena was a deal with the Warriors themselves, and that naming rights agreement will expire when the Warriors move to San Francisco next fall. Hurd said the Warriors move did not have an impact on negotiations with the Giants. 

“That had nothing to do with it. We did this because this makes sense,” he said. “This makes sense for us on a standalone basis.” 

AT&T Park's new 'Giant' scoreboard creates more opportunity for fans

AT&T Park's new 'Giant' scoreboard creates more opportunity for fans

While the Giants roster may not have been subject to a facelift in the offseason, the place they will be playing surely has.

AT&T Park has been hosting construction on a new state-of-the-art scoreboard that Giants CEO Larry Baer compared to "the massive Jumbotron the Dallas Cowboys put up when they built a new stadium."

Baer prefaces that he believes it will be the best scoreboard in baseball. And according to the SF Chronicle, the $10 million project is the most the team has spent on a single capital improvement since the park's opening in 2000.

The new 10,700 square-foot board will be more than three times the original and will be the third largest in Major League Baseball behind Cleveland and Seattle, but the biggest at any California sporting venue. 

(old photo of AT&T Park scoreboard) USATSI

But wait, there's more ...

This unique scoreboard is fit for anyone and everyone. Baer said it was designed to serve different audiences with features for kids that are attending games and still presenting advanced analytics. 

The construction comes on the heels of a season that, to say the least, was not a successful one -- at least not one the Giants organization is used to being a part of. The new addition plans to produce more fan engagement for those in attendance, no matter what type of baseball fan they happen to be.

Giants senior vice president Bill Schlough spoke to Henry Schulman for the article and he talked on the competition for the team. No, it wasn't a National League West conversation about power arms or who has the better lineup, but simply the fact that the games are competing with the household.

"Our biggest battle is with the couch,” Schlough said. “We need to give fans another reason to come to the park when they’ve got an 80-inch TV on their wall. We’ve got to continue to rival that experience at the ballpark as well.”

(Current construction on new scoreboard at AT&T Park) SF Chronicle

It's true. It's unbelievably easy to do nothing but press a button and BAM! -- there's the game. It appears this will be about making sure the park is catered to even those who don't struggle with the fear of missing out which creates an entire baseball-driven experience. Not that AT&T has struggled with this in the past, but any additions to making it easier on those watching the game will always be welcomed.

The combination of clear video, advanced displays of metrics and kid-friendly media will be the perfect excuse to skip a night at home and take advantage of what's happening in San Francisco.

It's a very lucrative investment, but the ROI appears to be on its way to working in the Giants' favor.



Raiders in San Francisco makes sense -- for right amount of money


Raiders in San Francisco makes sense -- for right amount of money

The hot news dump of the day is that the San Francisco Giants are “considering” the conversion of their ballpark to the home of Black Hole 2.0.

And by “considering,” we mean trying to figure out how much money they can squeeze out of Mark Davis’ claws to let them tear up the ball field 10 times. Or, more practically, whether they can allow the ball field to be torn up a minimum of three times for a ten-figure rent check.

For starters, this isn’t the first time the subject has been broached. The Raiders discussed the idea of playing at AT&T while the Coliseum would have been renovated several years ago, and Davis was considered to be bullish on the idea, according to two sources. Those renovations never happened, as events in Los Angeles and later Las Vegas intervened. It is not known how far along the Giants were in these discussions or whether they were involved at all.

Second, the number of potential options are almost nonexistent, as more than one source has said that San Diego is a complete non-starter in the eyes of the NFL with the Rams and Chargers up the road. Both teams are marketing heavily in San Diego and don’t want their efforts damaged by even a year of the Raiders.

Third, nobody -- including the league -- is very keen on Santa Clara except in a disaster scenario, which a deal at AT&T would avert.

And fourth, Oakland is still considered by most people around the process to be the most viable result, with a bit of lawyering between the city and the team the only real obstacle to a temporary cessation of hostilities.

But if Oakland is truly out of the picture, let’s consider the logistics.

The 2019 regular season will open September 5, a Thursday night which is traditionally reserved for the home opener of the Super Bowl champion. So no Raiders then, we can safely say ...

Thus, the season actually begins on September 8, which means that conceivably the Raiders could play their first three games on the road and then have their “home” opener in either London or Mexico City on the 29th, which also happens to be the final day of Major League Baseball’s regular season. They could also be among the first teams to have their bye week in Week 4, so assuming the Giants are not a playoff team (which is awfully safe even with Pat Venditte), the Raiders wouldn’t have to play a regular season game at AT&T until after the Giants season is over.

In addition, the Raiders could play at least one, if not both, of their exhibition games at neutral sites, which would mean they would only need AT&T for eight rather than 10 dates. That way, their cleats would only foul the hallowed grounds of the National League West’s last-place team twice at most and zero times at best, and Davis wouldn’t have his delicates in a clot over the shame of paying for more infield dirt.
Other possibilities, though less likely, include the Giants and Dodgers swapping their season-ending series so that the Raiders could have their home opener on the 29th, or the Giants swapping their last series with Colorado so that the Raiders could open on Thursday the 26th. Those are longshots, though, and would have to be cleared with Major League Baseball and its players association, if for no better reason than the optic of conciliation.
So that’s the logistics -- maximum money, minimum damage to the pasture of the real cash cow.
Now the psychic issue -- football on said hallowed grounds. Nice try, but no sell. The Giants have taken rent money from Vince McMahon for his XFL team. That means they would take money from nearly anyone as long as the amount meets the current industry standard of “all we can grab.” And the Giants are not averse to taking money.
Finally, there are the aesthetics of Raiders fans at Third And King v. the snobbery of your San Francisco sporting intellgentsia. Again, this is a minimal issue; they can tailgate on the ferries from Alameda and Oakland, or on BART, or if they’re really elitist, on the limo from Concord. There will be Parking Lot A for a precious few, but it might take some convincing just to get Raider fans to give the Giants the money they already are paying to cover Mark’s lease payments.
In short, this is not a difficult do logistically, financially or emotionally, unless the fans rise as one (or, in case there is only one fan left) and say they will not watch the Raiders play as the home team in San Francisco.
But as a cynical matter, Davis surely must regard the 2019 season as something to get out of the way before the fun of owning the team resumes in 2020. In that way, he’ll be a bit like Dean Spanos, killing time as the cost of doing business, only the likelihood of the Raiders winning the AFC West next year is a lot less than that of the Los Angeles Chargers winning it this year. Jon Gruden might complain about a potential competitive disadvantage, but having eight of the last 12 games at home would mean his objections would be effectively muted. That, plus the fact that the team he would bring to bear in 2019 would still be at least a light year from playoff contention, would nullify his objections almost as much as Mark Davis saying, “You make $10 million a year, play with pain.”
So yes, it can be done, for the right amount of money (the Raiders were willing to give $7.5 million to the city of Oakland, so Larry Baer would surely be looking at $10 million as a starting point for negotiations, or in the alternative the parking and concessions, making the Raiders a cash-poor team yet one more year). And if either Giants or Raiders fans find the concept objectionable, well, I think we can honestly figure that if the fans ever figured into this at any point, the Raiders wouldn’t be in the position they’re in today -- homeless, desperate, and willing to take a short-term punch in the face for a long-term home.