Staff writers

With Sacramento's plans for a new pro basketball arena on hold, the city on Monday turned its focus to Major League Baseball, providing the Oakland A's another option in the club's agonizing search for a new home.

But just as soon as the River City raised a new opening, A's co-owner Lew Wolff said he's still focused on San Jose.

"We, both myself and (co-owner) John Fisher, have no interest in Sacramento, and our only interest is to remain in the Bay Area,'' Wolff told this newspaper while on his way to baseball's All-Star game in Kansas City.

The A's have been waiting for more than three years for the league to rule on their request to move across the bay to territory claimed by the San Francisco Giants. And Sacramento's interest underscores the notion that, if the Giants continue to resist, the A's only viable option may be to move from the Bay Area, perhaps changing ownership in the process. Sources say the team has grown so frustrated by the delays that Wolff may call for a vote of his fellow team owners at an owners meeting next month in Denver, overstepping the work of the league's committee.

Considering the frenzied movement among other Bay Area teams, observers say the A's have no time to lose.


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The 49ers have broken ground and could host their first kickoff in two years in their new Santa Clara home. The NBA's Warriors announced plans to leave Oakland for a new NBA arena on the waterfront in San Francisco by 2017. The NFL's Oakland Raiders want a new stadium, as do the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

Like the A's, the Kings have been rumored for years to be looking elsewhere, with Las Vegas, Anaheim and San Jose mentioned in the mix.

After arena talks broke down this spring in Sacramento, Mayor Kevin Johnson -- a former NBA star himself -- announced Monday it was time to refocus. The city's Think BIG committee has enlisted former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy -- whose McClatchy Co. owns the Sacramento Bee newspaper -- to advise an effort to bring big league baseball to a 244-acre railyards site once proposed for the Kings new home.

"Sacramento is a major league city," Johnson said in a news release. "We're the capital of the one of the largest economies in the world. We're a top 20 media market. The 2.3 million people in our region have an incredible track record of supporting our sports teams.''

Until Monday, Sacramento had been exclusively focused on retaining the Kings, but the city's plans to build a new arena were upended at the last minute this spring when the Kings' owners, the Maloof brothers, backed out of an apparent deal.

Kunal Merchant, executive director for Think BIG, said Sacramento had no intention of trying to push Wolff into a decision.

"We respect his position and his focus on trying to move to San Jose," Merchant said.

"We just don't want to be caught flat-footed if other events don't work out," he said, referring to the possibility that the A's would have to start looking outside San Jose or Oakland.

Sacramento has funding, land and infrastructure for a new stadium. It wouldn't have to pursue a vote, as would San Jose, to approve the deal.

While Johnson's entreaty to the Athletics may be a genuine move to bring big league baseball to Sacramento, it may also be meant to prod the Maloofs into finally accepting a new arena deal.

Only three months ago, Chris Lehane, then-CEO of Think BIG, made no mention of Major League Baseball in a piece he wrote summing up the failed talks with the Maloof brothers.

"Sacramento remains a viable NBA city that the league clearly respects and has demonstrated a strong commitment to," he wrote.

Rumors that the Kings would relocate to San Jose to play at HP Pavilion again were shot down Monday by Malcolm Bordelon, executive vice president of business operations for the San Jose Sharks. He said that to his knowledge, there have been no discussions with the Kings since 2009.

However, Bordelon said, "We have always been open to the possibility of an NBA team moving to the HP Pavilion.'' He said the team has discussed the option with San Jose city officials in the past.

In the Bay Area, officials in both Oakland and San Jose were unimpressed with Sacramento's outreach to Major League Baseball.

"K.J. should stick to basketball -- that's where he's an All-Star,'' said Baseball San Jose co-chair Michael Mulcahy, who added that Wolff's three-year mantra about being focused on San Jose, repeated again Monday, "should be motivating for San Jose leaders and the community to stay the course.''

Wolff in 2009 said he would pay the $461 million to build a stadium (now likely closer to $500 million) in San Jose. And the city is prepared to sell him about 5 acres of city-owned land on a downtown site for a discount price of $6.9 million.

But Oakland has rallied with visions of a new ballpark for the A's at the Coliseum City site. "We are confident that Oakland presents the best site, transportation and overall plan for the A's,'' said Mayor Jean Quan.

Meanwhile, a special committee appointed by baseball commissioner Bud Selig in March 2009 to study the issue continues to do its work and had no comment on Monday's developments, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said.

"If pregnancies took this long,'' quipped San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo of the long-awaited decision, "the human race would be extinct.''

Staff writer Matthew Artz contributed to this report. Contact Tracy Seipel at 408-275-0140.