08 December 2005

Wolff's trial balloon

There are some mighty eyebrow-raising quotes from Lew Wolff in John Shea's Chronicle report on Barry Zito's status:
The payroll is increasing about 10 percent, Beane said, and Wolff, whose focus is building a new ballpark, confirmed it'll go deep into the $60 million range after the A's signed Esteban Loaiza to a three-year, $21 million contract.

"I'm just hoping we get positive fan reaction with our attendance," Wolff said. "Billy continues to field a fabulous team, and I hope fans who didn't support us in the past will start to. It's a very big goal for me. I've got to find out how strong we are in the local market.

"We're trying to put the most quality team on the field. We just don't want to go to the playoffs."
That sounds like a challenge to the A's fanbase. Not that signing Esteban Loaiza is going to equate to 2,000 extra season tickets, but it looks like Wolff is trying in earnest to get more momentum behind the team before the season begins. Signing Loaiza, keeping Zito (which many don't think will happen), and bringing in a name free agent slugger such as Frank Thomas should create some buzz around the team.

Wolff hasn't shown any Jeffrey Loria-like tendencies, so there's no valid reason to believe that he'll conduct a fire sale if fans don't come or if he doesn't get a ballpark deal. There's always the possibility, and A's fans know too well how good Charlie Finley was at ripping his team apart.


murf said...

Ouch. If ever there was a doubt about Wolff's willingness to flea the market for greener pastures, he just squashed it. I'm not sure if he's calling out the fans, or foreshadowing a possible move to a new market. Possibly both.

murf said...

"We just don't want to go to the playoffs."

I assume that there was an accidental word transposition here, and that Wolff said "We don't just want to go to the playoffs." Correct?

Marine Layer said...

I'm sure that was just a transcription error. Whatever the case, Wolff deserves credit for trying to change the business model for the better.

Kenny said...

A little off topic, but do you think "Garbagegate" will have adverse affects on ballpark plans down in SJ?

Georob said...

Let me run this up the flagpole:

In my opinion, one of the many reasons for the A's attendance problems is the fact that in recent years, they almost always have a slow, if not abysmal start. Which in turn depresses ticket sales early in the year.

I think it's reasonable to assume that many fans make their summer plans during the Spring. Unfortunately, it is during these months that sportswriters and fans often choose to "write off" the A's for the year. 2005 and 2001 particularly come to mind.

Of course, we'll then go on one of our monster win streaks later on, but by then is it too late to get a lot of these folks back? Particularly with how much it costs for a family of four to go to a game these days?

If Barry Zito should stay on for '06(and even if he does not), we're looking at the first A's team in a long time to have very little turnover from the previous year; which in turn should(fingers crossed) result in a much better performance in April and May.

And I can't help but wonder how big of an effect that will have on ticket sales for the year, especially with the third deck closed off for most games.

Marine Layer said...

It'll all really depends if the investigation goes any further. The mayor has indicated that he won't resign, and censure at this point isn't really going to tarnish his legacy any further since it's already been irreparably damaged by the scandals themselves. Censure will sweep the matter under the rug, but it will also allow the city to move forward. There's a fear that pushing forward will paralyze City Hall, and I agree with that to some extent.

The mayor's impact on the ballpark won't be a huge factor. The Baseball San Jose rallies didn't have him on the stage, and that trip to Phoenix with the infamous misspelled sign didn't have much effect one way or another. It also wasn't a BBSJ trip, so it appears that the mayor has been working independently of any boosters. That's probably a good thing for both the mayor and the San Jose effort. The most important thing he has done is that he kept the issue in the news. It will be passed like a torch to the next mayor, who would have the ballpark issue in the forefront after the election for when negotiations are set to begin. I'm skipping over all those other steps like figuring out territorial rights, passing a ballot measure, so there's a lot that has to happen.

I'll take a not-so-wild guess that the ballpark measure won't have commercials featuring the mayor.

Marine Layer said...

I still remember 2002, when the scoreboards didn't show player stats in April because the hitting was so awful. There's no doubt that performance has much to do with early season attendance. Cold weather has an aggravating effect. It's going to be difficult for the A's to sustain any huge per date attendance gains because there are too many games and casual fans. Who knows? Who knows, maybe the response to the new pricing plan and the current TV ad blitz will tighten the demand the curve.

Oakland Si said...

Okay Mr. Wolff, I put my Oakland $$ where my mouth is. I ordered my first ever season ticket, and convinced a friend to buy one with me!

jrbh said...

I've always thought that the A's attendance comes down to four factors:

(1) There's a lot to do here besides baseball (thank god);

(2) The weather is abysmal for virtually all night games, all season;

(3) The A's remain the second team in a market that's small for a two-team market; and

(4) The A's have been owned by four groups. It's too early to tell about Wolff/Fischer, although I think we'd all agree that the signs are ominous, but two of the other three were selfish, dishonest pricks interested mostly in their own personal profit and aggrandizement. It's no coincidence, I think, that the A's had outstanding attendance during the Haas years, and not during the Finley and Schott/Hoffman years.