Bill Neukom will be out as the Managing
Partner of the Giants at the end of the
year, but don't expect the A's to get into
San Jose because of it
UPDATE: Statements from Neukom and Baer added
While clubs gear up for the 2012 season, changes are coming in unexpected places. Word out of the San Francisco Bay Area is that Bill Neukom, the managing partner of the Giants, is going to be retiring. He took over in August of 2008 after Peter Magowan’s forced departure. Neukom will become chairman emeritus. Club President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer will be his replacement. The change will come at the end of the year.
That, at least, will be how it’s portrayed. Word is that the bow-tie wearing, former Microsoft lawyer is being ousted. More than one report is saying that Executive Committee of the Giants – the 10 owners with the largest investments in the club – were upset with how Neukom handled the use of new found revenues after the Giants won the World Series last year. Mark Purdy reports that the Giants are seeing, merchandising revenue alone increasing “by $1.5 million to $2 million per month over previous years. “ The Exec Committee wanted to save the revenues from increased ticket sales and merchandise into a rainy day fund – a fund that would allow them to remain competitive if, and when the World Series revenue bounce disappeared (as of today, the Giants are 7.5 back of the Diamondbacks and 6 games away from being eliminated from the playoffs). The committee reportedly was furious that Neukom made expenditures without the committee’s approval. Purdy reports for the Mercury News that “Neukom, it is said, believed that this was his money to spend as he saw fit -- and he did so, increasing payroll and buying new technology for the baseball department, among other expenditures.”
The Giants had been planning on making the announcement in the off-season, but the leak in the media forced the club to address the matter today.
"I have been a Giants fan my entire life. It has been a privilege to lead the organization and to work with a talented group of individuals, who are devoted to its success on and off the field," said Neukom in a statement through the Giants. "Together we have accomplished a number of objectives -- returning to winning baseball, instituting professional management systems, integrating the baseball and business operations, creating powerful attendance and revenue momentum and, of course bringing a World Championship to San Francisco. In sum, the state of the Giants is stronger than ever. The Giants front office is the best in baseball and under Larry's leadership it will certainly continue to deliver on our commitment to winning."
"The Giants organization and its fans are forever indebted to Bill for his leadership," said Baer. "I am honored to follow in the footsteps of two great leaders who have devoted themselves to making this franchise the best in professional sports. Since this ownership group purchased the team in 1992, we have been fortunate to have remarkable continuity in the group and the front office. As we approach nearly 130 years of Giants baseball, we remain committed as always to winning baseball, delivering to our fans the best experience in baseball and serving our community."
Almost immediately after word got out of Neukom’s ouster, questions began to circulate as to whether there might be some loosening of the Giants’ stance regarding territorial rights that would allow the A’s to move to San Jose. It’s a logical question, but likely unchanged.
As was the case with Neukom and Magowan before him, they are simply the most visible owner. Just as Neukom was to run matters by the Executive Committee of the Giants, surely anything of the magnitude such territorial rights for the A’s would be, as well. Besides, Larry Baer's stance is the same as Neukom's (No).
The only way the territory issue could be possibly addressed is through a lucrative regional sports network that the Giants would enjoy handsome revenues from far above what they might lose in granting Santa Clara Co. to the A’s. That’s something that Bill Neukom’s departure isn’t going to address quickly. In the words of the great baseball scholar David Byrne, “Same as it ever was… same as it ever was.”
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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