The Oakland A's wasted little time Monday throwing cold water on Mayor Kevin Johnson's dream of bringing the club to Sacramento.
A team executive said Johnson was told months ago that the A's, who are trying to move to San Jose, weren't interested in Sacramento. A club co-owner chimed in, telling Bay Area newspapers that Sacramento wasn't on his radar screen.
The A's comments came as Johnson unveiled an exploratory effort to bring major league baseball to Sacramento's downtown railyard, with an eye toward luring the A's.
The mayor's team said it wasn't surprised by the A's reaction, saying it realizes the Oakland team's first goal is to find a better home in the Bay Area. Club officials issued a statement to The Bee last week saying their focus is San Jose.
But Johnson wants Sacramento to be ready if the Bay Area options fizzle.
"In the event an opportunity arises, we would want to be in position," said Kunal Merchant, Johnson's former chief of staff and current executive director of his Think Big Sacramento task force.
The task force, which was behind the city's failed effort to build a new arena for the Sacramento Kings, is spending the next several weeks exploring the feasibility of building a big-league baseball stadium. Advising the group is former Pittsburgh Pirates co-owner Kevin McClatchy, chairman of The Bee's parent, The McClatchy Co.
Merchant said baseball is one of many options the task force is exploring to jump-start the economy.
"We believe we are a major league city," he added.
The A's appear to believe otherwise.
Co-owner Lew Wolff told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, "Sacramento is a very nice city, but not for major league baseball as far as our ownership is concerned."
Ken Pries, the team's vice president for communications, said co-owner John Fisher told Johnson "some months ago" that the team won't move to Sacramento.
"I understand what Sacramento is trying to do, but it has not changed our focus and intentions," Pries added.
Sacramento is an unlikely destination for big-league baseball. It has a smaller population and far fewer corporations than the Bay Area.
Another complication: If the A's moved here, they'd wind up dislodging their highly successful Triple A farm team, the Sacramento River Cats, which plays at Raley Field in West Sacramento.