San Francisco Bay Area Sports Territorial Rights Make No Sense

Strange rules indeed.

One of the most eyebrow raising parts of the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis’s road to finding a 2019 home field was Davis possibly butting heads with San Francisco 49ers owners to use a sports facility in San Francisco. It seems that despite the fact that Jed York and the 49ers ownership departed San Francisco for Santa Clara after failing to get a San Francisco stadium, York and his co-owners still control the San Francisco market. The question of how can that be is pretty simple. The NFL, like other sports leagues, assigns team owners territories even if there are two teams in the market. In 1966, the AFL’s Oakland Raiders ownership gave San Francisco 49er owners a check for $8 million for invading the 49ers territory as part of the National Football League-American Football League merger. Apparently that meant Raiders ownership didn’t get the whole territory despite paying to be a part of the market. Ironically, the Oakland Raiders American Football League franchise played its first two seasons in 1960 and 1961 in San Francisco in the city’s new municipal stadium sharing the place with Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants.

The New York Giants franchise moved to San Francisco in 1957 and claimed the territory. Kansas City A’s owner Charles O. Finley moved his team to Oakland in 1967 and got a slice of the Bay Area market. The San Francisco-Oakland market struggled supporting two Major League teams. The Giants ownership almost sold the team to Toronto interests and almost left San Francisco. Finley almost sold his team to Denver interests who wanted the A’s in Colorado. Giants ownership failed twice in getting stadiums in the San Jose area yet Giants ownership controls the San Jose territory and has blocked A’s ownership from moving there because of baseball’s antitrust exemption. Some territorial rules make no sense.