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20 March 2006

Oakland: A's not a priority, Wolff: Oakland isn't either

UPDATE: Trib columnist Art Spander fired off an angry column this morning in response to the news.

Out of today's Tribune comes the following quote from Lew Wolff:

"We've spent most of our time focused on Oakland; now the next goal is to stay in Alameda County," he said. "We haven't ruled out any place, but Oakland is difficult because it has lots of priorities that are very important to the community beyond sports."
Oakland officials were apparently taken by surprise (italics are my emphasis):

"He has not told us anything like that," said Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. "Until we are told something different, we are going to continue working. But Mr. Wolff is right, we have many other things on the front plate."

Among those are a rising crime rate, beleaguered public schools and a hot mayoral race in which De La Fuente, the city's lead negotiator in the baseball talks, is a candidate.

"It is very difficult. With all these campaigns going on, our plates are so full," said Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority.
There had been whispers that the A's haven't been a priority for Oakland pols, but this confirms it. It's hard to see a set of conditions under which the A's can stay in Oakland unless all other local alternatives fall apart, leaving the two parties to start from scratch. Perhaps it comes from a collective distrust of Wolff, but if it is, no one has said anything publicly about it.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

Clearly this has ben the big bad Wolff's idea the whole time, to move the team out of Oakland. I feel sorry for my fellow citizens and fans here in Oakland who are loosing our team. Well, at least i'll be saving on season ticket prices because I know I for one won't support an owner who is taking away one of our city's greatest assets historically and economically, and I'm sure I won't be alone. Granted, I know they don't care abou that....but that could be the sadest part of the whole deal. Gloomy day here in Oakland.

Georob said...

Anonymous:

Most fans do not feel the same way you do. I would love to see the team stay within Oakland, but even De la Fuente admits that there are other priorities in the city. And I've said since day one that the city simply doesn't take this seriously.

You can blame Al Davis and the Raiders for this, but it was the city offials who approved the deal that deserve blame as well.

So now you won't go to any more games if the team will no longer be in city limits? And if it is indeed CLEARLY been Wolff's intention to always move the team out of Oakland then show us the proof, because we've been trying to read the tea leaves for over a year without success.

And one more thing, Oakland would be LOSING the A's, not "loosing!"

Rockridge_A said...

georob-

Nice job, kicking a fan in the groin while he is down, then telling him about his misspellings. Well done. In fact many fans feel the way anonymous feels, I feel that way, all my friends feel that way, my parents in Fremont don't feel that way, my brother in Fremont doesn't feel that way, the Oakland city leaders feel that way. All those people attended all those people I mention account for over a 100 seats at the coliseum on a given year. Only these neo san jose a's don't feel that way. I suggest you use a bit of tact when discussing this topic with A's fans. This is a delicate subject with some of us, you may be ecstatic but others are not. Maybe you would like to correct my punctuation while you are at it too, if that makes you feel better. I respect this blog that Marine Layer has put a lot of hard work and energy into this, thank you. Anonymous you are welcomed to the Oakland Athletic Fan Coalition www.oaklandfans.com You won’t be slammed for you feelings.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous ... I'm not renewing my partial season plan this year. Wolff is a true con-man out to make the biggest buck wherever he can make it. He had no intention of staying in oakland ... I think he will ultimately move the team out of the bay area altogether. So why pay him my hard earned dollars to support his ulterior motives? I'm not that foolish.

Rockridge_A said...

Georob-

I want to retract my statement, I am very kneed jerk (maybe just a jerk) reaction today. Today would not be the day to go up to me and say, "san jose a's or fremont a's" I want to apologize. I sent before I read.

Thanks

FreeSanJose said...

I'm sorry, I just don't get where the Oakland anger comes from, other than the seemingly perpetual chip on the shoulder that can explain away everything they say... If you're an A's fan, shouldn't you want what's best for the team, especially if the sacrifice is driving a few extra miles. I can understand the desire to keep the A's in Oakland, but this is a team that has moved twice before and both previous times they moved halfway across the country. Saying you'd never go to a game and calling Wolf a con-man just doesn't seem like rational thought. If MLB were some non-profit organization, I could understand the anger. But last I checked, it's a business and as far as businesses go, moving the A's to Fremont is hardly the worst thing that could happen.

Georob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Georob said...

And let me apologize for correcting Anonymous' spelling.

It's just that I've had it up to here(pointing to throat) with the conspiracy theories that say that Lew Wolff never had any intention of staying in Oakland. I don't doubt that Wolff would prefer to be in the South Bay, but preferring and acting are two different things.

Any good businessman needs to keep several options open, and any move away from Oakland is going to potentially disrupt this team big time and Wolff knows this. So when he says Oakland was his first choice, I believe him.

But if his intent all along was to leave, why in the heck would he waste time talking to Oakland. His Coliseum lease doesn't guarantee the city anything other than rent.

But it's not over yet. Wait until an agreement is announced with Fremont, and Oakland will start talking. What I'm afraid of is that someone will try and play the "race card" to make it look like all the A's want to is go to a more "white" locale.

Ludicrous, you say? I guarantee you a statement like that would earn a lot of votes for whatever Oakland politician uttered it.

Rockridge_A said...

They are going to wrong place if the want to be more white, since Fremont has a very large Indian, Afghani (sp) population. The conspiracy comes from how we (being Oakland) have been treated in the past. 1. We had Oakland based ownership group that headed up by the men warehouse guy and former vp Andy Dolich and the pack and save ceo, who was promising to keep the team in Oakland. Which was shelved by MLB's blue ribbon committee (who Selig & Magownn was part of)The city of Oakland brought Jerry Brown and Barbara Lee to promote this ownership group only to be told to f-off. 2. Then Wolff our savior becomes owner with no problem, rushed right in. City of Oakland welcomes him (can't be any worse than Schott,right) city leaders and corporate leaders come forward to work on a ballpark plan that would benefit the team and the city, Wolff says no thanks we have our own team on it (which he is later quoted that he regrets that he didn't take them up on it). 3. Then comes up with the next to impossible north Coliseum plan, which the city would have to the uncomfortable task of moving 80 businesses that have been there for years. That in a brief nutshell is our complaint or conspiracies against this ownership group and MLB.

Anonymous said...

Great post Rockridge. A lot of the San Jose supporters don't realize or care that Oakland politicos were pushed away by the Wolf. Dick Spees led a group of Oaklanders that were going to try & find corporate sponsors & a location for a park, but Wolff blew them off. Wolff is a lackey of Selig & is doing his bidding to screw Oakland of its baseball team.

Marine Layer said...

Before everyone starts piling onto the conspiracy bandwagon, consider this:

A year ago, the same Fremont-based group (Wasserman/Haggerty) approached Wolff about Fremont as a possibility. He said, "Thanks but we're not interested." Contact wasn't really made again until last fall when it appeared that the Oakland option was going nowhere. Since then, the process in Fremont has accelerated.

Interpret that however you like.

Kevin said...

I sympathize with fans in Oakland, but I have to say I'm in total agreement with freesanjose. If you are truly an A's fan, wouldn't you want what's best financially for the team? Everyone bitches and moans about losing Giambi, Damon and Tejada, but there's a reason for that. There's a reason why they probably won't be able to resign Zito. Perhaps if the A's could draw better at the gate, or lure more corporate sponsors they could keep more of their FA.

People compare Wolff to Haas. Haas was the owner in a totally different time. He didn't have to compete with a Giants ownership group commited to winning. Or a club that had Bonds and a jewel of a ballpark. The A's need to stay competitive both on and off the field. IMO, both of these objectives stand a better chance of happening if they were to move south.

Oakland officals reacted to Wolff's announcement with surprise. Give me a break. Wolff made it pretty clear that things needed to happen by April 3, 2006. Oakland sat on their butts and now they realize Wolff was not bluffing. Even if the Coliseum North site was not ideal, did anyone from Oakland have any other ideas? Were they proactive? Surely they could see that Fremont was mounting an effort along with SJ. Yet it appears they did nothing.

Oaklander don't blame Wolff for the decision to move south. The lack of fan and political support in Oakland are to blame.

murf said...

I can certainly understand Oaklanders' frustration. What surprises me, though, is the venom being spit at Wolff specifically. Spander's words are awefully harsh and IMO irrational, and do not say much about the political atmosphere in Oak around the issue.

gojohn10 said...

Rockridge-

I agree with you that with the fact that the denial of A's ownership by MLB to G. Zimmer et al. was very strange considering Wolff's groups bid was a slam dumk. However, the real problem is that the city isn't really interested in the A's. I don't think the conspiracy, whether or not it really exists, is at this point the main issue forcing the A's out of Oakland.

Rockridge_A said...

How much more can a fan take? The A's had a systematic dysmatling of it's fanbase as soon as Schott/Hoffman took over. This issue has deep roots, if everyone on this board is judging the current state of this issue with san jose eyes, they are missing the whole point, or evading it for that matter. I could speak volumes how how Schott killed the A's fanbase, from one of the best to the middle of the pack (sorry kids, we aint the worst). So don't tell an Oakland A's fan how they should feel, when we were there. We have seen the political will in Oakland, see Oakland hire HOK only for a no show from the A's. We have seen Mayor Moonbeam (mr. anti sport himself) get stood up for a potiental fly over of ball park sites by Schott. Don't tell me there wasn't political will on Oakland's part, the will wasn't on the A's part.

Jeff said...

This announcement should hardly come as surprising. Lew has been in charge of venue development for the A's for over three years. How can anyone doubt that he has known for a long time what is possible and what is not possible in terms of a ballpark in Oakland? THREE years. In all that time the city has never viewed the threat of the A's leaving very seriously. They have known the final score all along also. Political cover is really their final motive....and now they have it. If Oakland constituents are angry, they would be wise to be just as angry with their leaders as with Wolfe. Perhaps they can keep the Raiders if they make their displeasure known at the polls. Because what's next is as certain as the rising sun in the east. But IT IS going to cost, and it's going to cost the taxpayer. There is absolutely no way around that fact. If you want your teams....your gonna pay. That is sports fact of life.

As for me, I have always been more interested in the next step. I have taken the A's leaving Oakland as a fact for well over a year now. What remains to be seen is if SJ has always been the paramour that gleams in old Lews eyes. If he is serious about Fremont, then things should come together rather quickly. The site is owned by a single entity, which just happens to be a coporate entity. Transferring ownership should not prove to be difficult under these circumstances. There are no significant physical obstacles that prevent actual construction.

If the foot dragging continues on the part of Lew, and "unforseen" obstacles keep cropping up that prevent the Fremont site from coming to fruition, until suddenly SJ is in position to make a counter offer. Then we will know that Lew has been following a carefully scripted buisness plan from the beginning. Especially if he can play Fremont against SJ until he achieves maximum compensation for the privledge of having the team play in your municipality. To the victor goes the spoils.

I personally find the term "conspiracy theory" to be ridiculous. However, I find the term, "sound business model" to be entirely appropo. And I think it entirely applicable in this instance.

To the Oakland supporters out there, I extend my sympathies on the likely loss of the team. I hope that some of the bitterness passes quickly and they come out in force to support the A's once again. I know if it were me, I would be angry also.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone more intelligent could enlighten me on this quandry I'm in ... we've all known that Bud Selig viewed the A's move to Oakland in the first place to be a "huge mistake" since it damaged the Giants franchise. We all know that Bud vetoed a potential ownership transfer to a group (Dolich, et al) that was committed to staying in Oakland. We all know that Bud has stated time and again that the Giants territorial rights to the south bay will not change nor be infringed upon. We all know that the A's moving to the South Bay would further damage the Giants well being (perceived or not). We all know that Fremont is on the border of the south bay. We all know that Wolff is a buddy of Bud's from college and no doubt knew what the rules were prior to buying the team. Therefore, it seems odd to me that people would still hold out hope that Bud would suddenly change his mind and allow the team to move to the south bay. It seems odd that he'd even want them to move to Fremont. It seems more plausible in my thinking that he'd want the A's out of the bay area. Those that speak of potential moves to Sacramento are more in tune with my thoughts.

jrbh said...

For those of us who thought that Wolff was most serious about lining his own pockets with a mega-development, using the A's as an anchor, this is confirmation. Oakland survived one set of greedheads as owners of the A's, but won't survive this one. In retrospect, as someone pointed out, the Dolich sale fiasco, orchestrated by Selig, was the beginning of the end. That, and choosing Chavez over Tejada, which cost the team at least one shot at a World Series, and the focus it would have produced.

I've cancelled my partial season-ticket plan, too, and I'll scale back the number of games I go to from 45 or so to 15 this year and then probably to nothing after Zito leaves. And I won't be an A's fan if they move to Fremont or San Jose any more than I will be if they move to Portland or Las Vegas.

The notion that Oakland wasn't interested in keeping the A's is ridiculous and kind of willfully stupid; Schott and Hoffman put all their time and money vis. Oakland in trying to hold up the city for hundreds of millions of dollars, and when it became apparent that that wasn't going to pay off, turned on each other and sold the team to Wolff, who has only offered one plan to keep the team here, a plan that it would be too generous to call half-baked.

The one and only thing that is keeping a deal from getting done in Oakland is Wolff's insistence on reaping a huge personal profit from it. He'd rather trash the history of the franchise and the City of Oakland than foregoing that profit. I have to wonder if he'll have the guts to show up at any ballgames this year.

Anonymous said...

I find it sad that people will refuse to go to games if the team moves life 20 minutes south from where they are now. I live in the Modesto area which takes me nearly 2 hours to get to the games as it is. I agree with my wife that it would suck if the A's lost the Oakland but I would rather have that then move out of state where I couldn't see them at all.

Georob said...

Jeff, did you REALLY cancel your season ticket plan today? Over the phone? Online? In person? Or with some homeless guy living under the Hegenberger railroad overpass?

With all due respect, I don't believe you. Especially since you're still going to go to some games "until Zito leaves" If you were truly serious, you'd stop going to games RIGHT NOW.

I said this over on Athletics Nation, and I'll say it here: If playing in Oakland city limits is the only thing that matters to you folks, then you're really not A's fans.

Anonymous said...

Since a post I wrote earlier here on the "anti-conspiracy theory theorists" has now disappeared, I'll pose the question differently. If the A's wind up in SJ, T-rights resolved and ballpark development in place, is it remotely possible that this was Wolff's preferred option all along? I mean, it's a pretty long chain of unrelated coincidences between Selig's SJ visit, Wolff's Dick Cheney-style site search followed by team purchase, Baseball SJ's abrupt shift in approach, the City of SJ's new land plans, Oakland's inability to ante up on demand, and the Fremont affair (slated to end when Wolff asks for a pre-nup).

I'll still be a fan of the San Jos-A's...but I'd never slam other fans for whom the hurt was too deep. That's callous at best.

Marine Layer said...

Yes, it's remotely possible. It would require so many things to fall San Jose's way and in a manner that isn't costly for them that remote is very good description of it. It can't be ruled out.

Jeff said...

Georob,

No, I didn't cancel my season tickets. Of course, I would have to have season tickets in order to cancel them. As I've said before, it makes no difference to me if the A's move to Fremont, San Jose, or Sacramento....as I drive from the central valley to attend games. If, as in a perfect world, I had my way, I would just as soon the A's stay in Mcafee in Oakland. The prices suit me just fine....but thats not an option. I am an A's fan and I will remain one, even if they relocate to another state. I won't be attending many games in that case, but I would still be a fan. I might attend a few Dodger games, namely so I could continue to root against the Giants. But that's another issue altogether. Is it just my imagination, or is there a level of acrimony in your posts? I don't have any axe to grind personally with Wolfe's actions. I understand completely that MLB is first and foremost a business, and as such their first goal is to make as much money as possible. Everything else is secondary....anyone who believes pipe dreams about "loyalty", should really remove the rose colored glasses from their eyes....because they're bound to be dissapointed.

As far as season tickets go, I am still seriously considering at least a partial plan. I am wondering how they would translate into a move into a new park. Do current ticket holders have first rights at renewing their packages in a new park? If so, now might be the time to grab those tickets. I imagine that tix will be easily sold to games one cannot attend in a new park.

Kevin said...

To all the A's fans living in Oakland, I sympathize with what you are going through right now. But let me ask you , If you were the owner or managing partner of the A's what would be your plan to keep the A's in Oakland? Where would you build the ballpark, and how would you finance it? What would you do to increase the fan base and corporate support?

jrbh said...

Some people are loyal to a region or a uniform; I'm loyal to the particular experience, urban experience of baseball in Oakland in general and at the Coliseum in particular.

jrbh said...

Oh, and yeah, I did cancel my season tix. Actually and in person.

Georob said...

I really don't know the answer to your questions, Kevin. But I'm afraid that to many the answer sounds like:

"If I've got the big bucks to buy a team, then I've got the bucks to spend on keeping good players here so that people come to games. And if I still want a stadium, I can damn well pay for it myself."

And the folks that believe that pretty much don't want to hear anything else.

Right, JRBH?

Georob said...

Oh, and my season ticket question was directed at JRBH, not the other Jeff.

Anonymous said...

I just want to make a few points here:

First of all, the Dolich group was a joke. It has been said they would have slashed payroll a great deal more than Schottman did. Not to mention, they had their own GM already in place and Billy Beane would have been let go. Their whole gameplan was to be very cheap until a new ballyard was approved. They would have had more willingness to get the downtown ballpark done, but less ability.

And speaking of the downtown ballpark and the A's unwillingness to attend the HOK briefing on potential ballpark sights, let's not forget to also blame Jerry Brown in that fiasco. Shortly after the downtown ballpark sight was proved to be the best, Brown renewed the sight's development rights to his buddies at the Forest Group. The same group who had the right's to develop the area for over two years previously and did NOTHING. Heck, has anything been done there yet?

I think Wolff gave a semi-honest effort to find something that works in Oakland. But the guy can't wait forever.

And for those of you diehard Oakland loyalists: If Wolff doesn't start to research Bay Area sights beyond Oakland and concentrates on the city, nothing will get done for some time. I don't think Wolff is that patient of a man and the team would likely be sold to outside interests wanting to move the team out of state.

Would the team moving 20-30 minutes away, still being on local broadcasts and Beane able to keep the players he wants, be so bad?

Oh yeah...I remember that some of you would rather have the team move to Toledo than Fremont or San Jose. And this is something that I have never understood and will never want to understand, as a fan of the A's.

Jeff said...

Georob,

No problem, I thought perhaps you were referring to someone else, but I didn't care to make assumptions as you directed the post specifically to me. Out of curiousity, why the venom over the stadium issue? Have you been badgered that ruthlessly on AN? I have followed what I assume are your posts based on usernames/style of writing. I'll admit that I don't quite understand what you believe will happen....you seem to vaccillate between a sudden resurgence on the part of Oakland when the chips are down to overt passivity concerning the teams ultimate destination. Your absolute correct in stating that the hand writing has been on the wall for quite some time....and the Oakland city council has been acutely aware of that fact. That they don't seem overly concerned should have served notice to all that they are ultimatley indifferent to the A's. I should think that fact is fairly obvious at this jucture. While I believe that some were very interested in keeping the franchise, there were other matters that carried signifcantly more urgency. That's life. The A's came up short in Oakland politics. So what. There is opportunity for both the A's and the fans. I say enjoy the ride, and hope for the best, that being that the A's remain in the immediate area.

Anonymous said...

Just because my wife left me & changed her name when she remarried, doesn't mean she's gone does it? After all, she only married the neighbor coveting her for years down the street. To me it's the same as the Oakland A's changing their name & moving to Fremont/San Jose...it's over, good riddance!!!
Sigh...how I long for the Haas days

Anonymous said...

Just because my wife left me & changed her name when she remarried, doesn't mean she's gone does it? After all, she only married the neighbor coveting her for years down the street. To me it's the same as the Oakland A's changing their name & moving to Fremont/San Jose...it's over, good riddance!!!
Sigh...how I long for the Haas days

Georob said...

Jeff

What makes me angry are the conspiracy theories. Because it takes the discussion out of reality and forces us to give credibility to shit people make up like:

"It is SO CLEAR that Wolff intended ALL ALONG to leave Oakland"

At worst we don't know what Wolff wants, and at best we take him at face value. The fact is that the citizens of Oakland will be upset no matter HOW the A's leave(if they do) Therefore, why would Wolff waste time and effort teasing the city if he had no intention on staying to begin with?

Anonymous said...

PR georob is why...the A's attendance for the next two seasons, would drop considerably if fans knew he never planned to stay in Oakland.

Anonymous said...

The sadest part of this all is that for us who actually live in Oakland, and especially us downtowners (Jack London Square here) if the A's move to Fremont or San Jose, the GIANTS will be closer to home then the A's!!! By a long shot. And especially with the lack of BART at any of these proposed southern locations, if we want to see a ballgame here, SBC park is just 12 minutes away across the bridge.

Anonymous said...

Downtown Oaklander...selfish thinking.

What about all the loyal A's fans who live on the peninsula? We've always been in closer proximity to the Giants. At least you won't have to pay a toll to go see the A's play ball in Fremont!

Sure, it's not the greatest thing in the world to happen to you but it certainly beats the team moving to Vegas or Portland.

FreeSanJose said...

Do people really think that George zimmer and co. would have really been any more capable of keeping the A's in Oakland? People with enough money to buy a MLB team are usually pretty high business acumen. People with business acumen understand that if most MLB teams play in publicly financed stadiums, their best chance at competitiveness is to have one themself. The city of Oakland is not going to publicly finance a stadium, nor should they. Add these things together and what you have is the exact situation we face today. Conspiracy theory or not, Oakland is no longer a viable MLB city. (And contrary to Mr. Spander's rambling, it is not an urban setting in the classic sense)

Before we get all up in arms about the previous ownership, let's remember that they were the only local buyers even remotely interested in the team. If not for them, Haas would have been forced to sell to some group that would have immediately moved them. As far as I'm concerned, Schott and Hoffman bought the Bay Area about 15 extra years to figure out an acceptable stadium solution. The Haas family just wasn't going to keep losing money and didn't have the will to do what was necessary (slash payroll at the risk of losing some fans) to keep the team viable. Schott-Hoffman did, hired Beane and revolutionized baseball.

As for Wolff's intentions... they are to make money, win a world series and enjoy the perks of being a MLB owner. In that order, and I bet 75 percent of pro sports owners fit that profile (with the other 25 percent flopping money and perks) Doing it for the fans isn't on anyone's top 3.

Do I want the A's in San Jose? Of course, and my reasons are rooted in selfishness. But I will remain a fan, just like I have been for the better part of my 28 years, regardless of where they play whether that's in Oakland or San Jose, Portland or Las Vegas.

I married the A's when I started rooting for them 20 years ago. I don't remember marrying the city of Oakland.

Anonymous said...

freesanjose...so which A's team did you marry...the Pleasant Hill A's? I root for the Oakland A's, you know, the team that's won four world championships in the last 34 years.
Andy Dolich was part of the Zimmerman group & he was a marketing guru that was instrumental in raising the Oakland attendance after Finley had soured fans with threats to move & underpaying star players.
San Jose's urban density is LESS than Oakland's, so based on your analysis where else in NorCal can you find high urban density other than SF?
Billy Beane was hired under the Haas ownership, shortly after his playing career ended, with SAndy Alderson grooming his for GM, so you're wrong about Schott hiring him too. Haas also paid 12 million for the team & made money when he sold it, despite years of revenue losses, his family did very well.
Wolff is making money, the A's don't even factor in concession & parking lot money when they cry about gains vs losses. Schott made money every year & won too, all of this in OAKLAND!!

jrbh said...

It's worth noting too that in all this talk of a new stadium, we've accepted Wolff's premise that such a thing is necessary, and that when it's built, ticket prices will dramatically increase and senior citizens, fixed income folks and those who aren't in heavily renumerative professions will be frozen out of the ballpark.

If that's what it takes to be competitive in the current major league environment (another premise I don't accept, by the way), then I'm not interested in being in that environment, in Oakland or anyplace else.

Marine Layer said...

Question for jrbh:

Can you define the "urban experience of baseball in Oakland in general and at the Coliseum in particular?"

This is what I have trouble with. The Coliseum is not in an urban environment. It's decidedly light/heavy industrial. It's a concrete bowl with landscaping in a sea of asphalt parking lots. There's a BART station - not right next to the stadium, but close - but that's it as far as an urban feel. Prior to Mt. Davis, the view was not of the downtown Oakland skyline, it was of Leona Quarry and the hills. The Coliseum has many positive attributes, but "urban experience" is not one of them. Simply having the stadium in Oakland does not qualify it as urban as there are plenty of neighborhoods in Oakland that aren't urban.

Marine Layer said...

Note on Andy Dolich: He was hired to be President of Business Operations of the then-Vancouver Grizzlies one year before they moved to Memphis. He was charged with making that transition as painless as possible, and to build up corporate support for when the new Memphis arena (FedEx Forum) was completed. That's paid off well.

Knowing Dolich's business acumen, there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't have been more aggressive in targeting the South Bay, especially considering the timeframe - the halcyon late 90's dot-com boom. If Dolich-Piccinini had taken over instead of being blocked by Selig, they would have quickly pushed for a downtown Oakland ballpark. Would they have succeeded? That depends on where you feel the blame lies. Robert Bobb was doing his best to get it done despite the political problems he faced. Jerry Brown would still be the major roadblock. There would've been a question of financing the project, and there's a question of how much they would've been able to contribute towards a ballpark. Would having Reggie Jackson onboard cause strife, especially if Vegas interests were whispering in his ear? In the end, local loyalty could have lost out to the reality that baseball's changing economic model created. There was no way for Dolich to sustain what Haas was doing. We can paint a happy face on something that never happened, but it neglects to mention how static the Oakland situation was while the rest of baseball was evolving.

jrbh said...

For me, the "urban ballpark experience" involves a centrally located ballpark with a number of transportation options (in the case of the Coliseum, car, BART and bus), a diverse crowd economically, racially and socially, and people filtering into the ballpark from local community spots and out of the ballpark into local community spots.

In terms of transportation, the Coliseum may actually be the best such situated park in the entire country; I can't think of another one that has all the same advantages. The crowd is diverse, because seats are affordable for all parts of the community, although the A's have never made what I'd call a serious effort to involve the Black and Latin communities in the Bay Area, and while the local pre- and post-game action isn't what it could be because of the Coliseum's location, it's still pretty damned good in Jack London Square, and some other locations around Oakland, too.

Vis. the City of Oakland's efforts to keep the A's, my recollection -- I'm open to being corrected -- is that the best offer Schott and Hoffman made was to put up $100M and have Oakland take care of the rest. It simply wasn't a serious negotiatiating position and the city was right to ignore it. Then Wolff and Fischer come in and put together a plan which required the approval and sale of over 30 different businesses, then didn't apparently do any actual work on it. When it failed, as of course it had to, they pronounced Oakland a non-starter. I just don't see how *any* of this is the fault of officials in the City of Oakland, and trust me, I think Ignacio de la Fuente is The Dumbest Elected Official in America. I'd be *delighted* to pin this on him if I could.

Finally, about Jerry Brown: he's taken a lot of shit from baseball fans about steering the North Oakland site to a real estate developer. While I would have *loved* to have seen the site work for a baseball stadium, Brown had the whole city to think of; faced with a developer who was ready to go with jobs and a lift to the tax base, vs. a developer who was looking for hundreds of millions in city handouts, I think Brown did the only responsbile thing there was to do.

Anonymous said...

jrbh...wrong on Jerry Brown.

Jerry's political backers at Forest Construction had the rights to develop the downtown sight for over two years before HOK announced it the most suitable ballpark location for Oakland. They let it sit those two plus years doing absolutely nothing. Jerry then renewed the Forest groups rights. Has anything even been done to develop the area yet?

There was some minor talk that the Forest Plan might include a ballpark but the sight simply wasn't big enough and everyone knew that.

On another note...

I also find it funny how Fuente at the time seemed very much against a new ballpark and now he's one of Oakland's last hopes on the issue.

Trust me...I'd love to see a ballpark near Jack London Square with a possible bay view and the night life there would be great after games. It's simply impossible at this time. And time seems to be the issue.

C'mon Wolff! Get the deal done in Fremont! It will work!

jrbh said...

Dear anonymous,

Brush up on your reading skills, dude. You said I was wrong about Jerry Brown, then provided an explanation that doesn't actually contradict anything I wrote.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:55: Brown's pals at Forest City had no irrevocable rights until granted them by the City Council less than a year ago. Prior to that they had a series of ENAs providing negotiations. Oakland could have walked numerous times along the way. While it was Jerry's favorite project to be sure, none of it happens without numerous Council actions. Which means none of it happens without Iggy, who can get 5 Council votes for any issue any time.

The Council and Iggy get at least as much credit/blame as Jerry. But jrbh is right, the pols had to think on a different scale than just baseball. Whether a ballpark or the FC housing-retail project would've better spurred Oakland's downtown we'll never know. And BTW, about 4 big city blocks of buildings have now been crushed into dust on the site, so stuff is happening.

Jeff said...

I have a hard time understanding the Oakland ballpark supporters who keep faulting only Wolfe. Why do the not seem to understand that if they want their teams, they are going to have to contribute to their cost? It's the rare stadium/ballpark that is purely privately financed. I see poster after poster faulting the A's varying ownership groups and yet they praise the city leaders for not working agressively to assist in the financial details. You can't have it both ways. If you want the teams.....it's going to cost you, the taxpayer. If not, then there are other municipalities who are more than willing to step in. It's truly that simple. How bad do you want the A's? Oaklands' answer has been, "not that badly". That's fine...they choose to use their resources elswhere. Oakland decided what it values and the A's weren't it. Get over it. Thank the team for the good times and the memories and let it go. At least they are not moving across the country ala the Brooklyn Dodgers circa 1958 thanks to Mr. Moises and W. O'Malley. There is still a substantial chance that your team will be right down the road. You can take your kids and build new memories. And Oakland is free to pursue its agenda without the distraction of the A's. This benefits the city too.

But all this talk that the owners owed it to Oakland to build their park in Oakland and to bear all the burden and risk is irritating. It's like the old saying, "you get what you pay for". You pay for nothing, you get nothing. I don't mean to be antagonistic, but these are the realities in which we live. Deal with it.....it's not that bad.

Anonymous said...

OK jrbh, I see I have to actually draw a picture for you...

You stated:

"Brown had the whole city to think of; faced with a developer who was ready to go with jobs and a lift to the tax base..."

Hello? This developer had two plus years to "go with jobs and a lift to the tax base" and did nothing prior to the HOK efforts paid for by Oakland.

The Forrest developers weren't actually ready for squat, were they? They weren't ready to lose the rights to develop on the sight and clearly pressured Brown into shifting things their way.

Let me ask once again. Has anything been done with the sight? If so, how long did it take for something to be done with the sight and what was it?

I haven't exactly been keeping track. Last I heard, the sight would be used for affordable housing...just what the city of Oakland needs. Give me a break!

The responsible thing would have been to do everything in his power to get the downtown ballpark sparkle like never before.

Jeff said...

Georob,

I am not quite sure I follow you on the "conpiracy theorists". The standard definition of a conspiracy is when two or more people conspire to defraud another of what is rightfully theirs. I don't think the ownership has ever egaged in a scheme to steal anything. On the other hand, what they do with their own property is their business.

Now as for speculating on the owners business practices....well, that's a different matter. Did Wolfe intend to move the A's out of Oakland all along? I don't know. Neither does anyone else who is not privy to inside access to the owners group. But, do I think that the group just decided one day to buy the team and let the chips fall where they may? Absolutely not. To my way of thinking the owners have assessed all the possibilities thouroughly. I personally believe that they knew that a park in Oakland was not very likely. The reason they engaged in the effort was dictated by necessity. You can't just walk into an owners meeting and announce that your moving your team outside your market. There are rules in place which dictate that you first must try to secure a viable venue in your own market. Your right when you state that the A's are working on an Oakland park for a reason. Whether that effort has a chance at fruition in Oakland is another matter. The search in Oakland is dictated by necessity.

I believe part one of the buisness plan is now complete. The owners will now progress to the next stage of their plan. Everything they've done to date has been strictly by the numbers. That's why I can't wait for the next formal public announcement by Lew. What he says next should shed light on the events of the last few months and provide fodder for speculation of the future. Good time to be an A's fan.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:26...

Oakland couldn't have walked away and Forrest City knew this. Why? Because Brown wouldn't let Oakland walk away.

The bottom line is Forrest City could have agreed to what Oakland wanted, but this didn't work for them. Instead, they waited until Brown had a better option and then "reminded" him that the project was their own.

I just found that a groundbreaking was done in December of last year. This seems like slow progress to me. Although, I could be wrong.

Still even though this may be good for the community, it's a joke compared to what a ballpark would have been to downtown Oakland. Especially, the jewel that would have been developed at the location.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37: You're making yourself look foolish. Corrections:

--It's Forest City Enterprises, not Forrest Construction

--They weren't allowed to begin any site work whatsoever until 6 months ago. They actually began site work 4 months ago.

Believe me, they were very ready to begin as soon as the ink on the deal was dry. All delays through the ENA period were of the City's making, not FC's. And in fact, once allowed, they probably rushed the initial work to break ground while Jerry was still in office.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it's about 80-90% market rate housing, with a 10-20% affordable housing set aside (which BTW is not the same as low-income housing). Oakland very much needs affordable housing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and yet another thing: until razed, those blocks were chock full of actual businesses owned by real people paying genuine tax dollars to the City coffers. They were not just empty lots contributing nothing, in dollars or human terms. Google "Revelli Tire" to learn part of the real score.

Anonymous said...

Whatever...I'm going off of what I recall from a few years ago. I remember it as Forest Construction. So shoot me.

Another thing, they could have started construction much earlier in the decade. The delays were certainly Forest City's fault. They were even uncertain on the success of the project, despite having plotted it out themselves.

And I just looked it up...it's 25% affordable housing. A fourth of the housing is still too much. 5% would be tolerable for a brand new downtown project. At 25% it's almost a joke.

Bottom line is Jerry Brown and Forest DEConstruction (as I now like to call them) ruined the downtown ballpark sight before it was even given a chance. Fuente didn't help matters by being a sniveling idiot and Robert Bobb found out the deck was stacked against him after the city of Oakland spent 100K(?)on the HOK study. Another great use of money under Brown's fruitless watch.

FreeSanJose said...

Jeff,

Just wanted to acknowledge that you said it perfectly.

Personally, I'd love for the A's to remain viable, stay in Oakland, heck even play at the Coliseum where I can show up at game time and buy a $5 ticket.

I also understand that they aren't going to do this if better options exist. Personally, I'd love for them to move to the South Bay. And while I'd whole-heartedly support a federal ban on publicly subsidized major league parks, I also understand the utter unliklihood of that happening.

That said, can we really be pissed at the A's for looking for the best deal possible? Isn't this the exact way that they've rebuilt to the point they are today?

I am starting to understand that certain people love the A's ONLY because they are in Oakland. I can understand that sentiment. I just don't share it.

Georob said...

Please note that JRBH's tome describing his "urban ballpark experience" says nothing about watching and rooting for an exciting baseball team.

Frankly, I think you can boil it all down to three words: RESISTANT TO CHANGE. And all his lofty prose about cultural and economic diversity is just posturing designed to make any opposing viewpoint look selfish and disrespectful.

Marine Layer said...

Rob, I think you're being a bit harsh, but you're entitled to your opinion.

jrbh, what you described is not an "urban baseball experience." It's an egalitarian baseball experience. Those aren't interchangeable terms these days. Location isn't the major factor for what you desire. Price is. The trend now is the more urban or metropolitan the environment, the more expensive the tickets. Nothing wrong with your vision, I just think it's more idealized than it what it really is.

Georob said...

Again, I am sick to death of the theory that Wolff had a very carefully planned agenda of pretending to work with Oakland when his intention all along was to move to San Jose.

I'm usually intent to let people have their say and move on, but sometimes you have to call their arguments for what they are: BS!

I guess this is why people listen to talk radio, so they can scream back and forth at each other.

Maybe it's theraputic.

peanut gallery said...

Clearly emotions are high on this issue. I have no desire to stir the pot or take sides. In that spirit, I must say to jrbh, all the elements you desire in a ballpark are equally or more attainable in downtown San Jose than the Coliseum location.

In terms of transportation, there are buses, light rail, CalTrain and freeways all right there. The diverse crowd issues are the same, as a segment of the population is going to be priced out no matter where the new stadium is built (even the Coliseum parking lot).

As for people filting in and out of local spots, there are many more of those in downtown San Jose than around the Coliseum.

For the record, my preference in order is: stay in Oakland (I was really hoping for downtown or JLS), stay in Bay Area, stay in CA, stay in the West. Beyond that, I'm not sure I could still follow the team.

Georob said...

You know, I have predicted over and over that once Lew Wolff formally (which hasn't happened)announced that he was leaving, that Oakland city officials would end their collective apathy.

In a way, we're seeing that play out here. Most of the posts on this blog over the past few months have been focused on the South Bay, be it Fremont or San Jose. As a result, we've pretty much taken for granted that Oakland was done. Now we're seeing all the Oakland supporters come out of hiding, and they're not taking this lightly.

And though it may be too late, I think you're going to see the same come out of Oakland City Hall. Oakland will put up a fight in the media once they realize this is for real. And it won't be pretty.

Anonymous said...

I was talking to people about the A's moving last night at a party. Over the course of the evening, I talked to over a dozen people who have been season ticket holders for years. They and I all agreed that we would no longer attend A's games were the team to leave Oakland. Today, at work, I started asking around, since there are about 45 people (out of 60) at the office, who buy full season ticket packages every year (mostly to take clients out), and every one of them said that they would no longer attend games if the A's left. At least half of these people live in San Francisco or in the suburbs. I really think that moving would rob the A's of a huge chunk of their fan base. Also, the A's fan base that resides in suburbs is far more heavily concentrated in the Walnut Creek/Concord/Richmond area, than in the San Leandro/Hayward/Fremont area. The consensus of everyone I've talked to is that it will simply be WAY too far to go to a baseball game. I really hope something can be worked out in Oakland, because losing the A's would break my heart.

jrbh said...

Any half-bright, non-corruptible civic official would have chosen what Brown did vis. the North Oakland site. (See how I cleverly leave room for de la Fuente to disagree? ;0 )

In terms of some other comments:

-- San Jose is just too difficult a trek for most East Bay fans. Ask the Warriors about their experience the year they were in San Jose, or ask the Sharks how many season-ticket holders they have from Walnut Creek and Concord. Or Marin. The A's would essentially be cutting themselves off from a huge percentage of their fan base. Whether they'd make it up in San Jose is anybody's guess, but I have to think that it would be a problem, at least at first, and that it's even possible that moving to San Jose would put the team even deeper in a competitive hole vis. the Giants.

The Fremont site is too far from BART to make that an option for most fans; given that and the horrifying and brutal nature of 880, my guess is that the northern half of Contra Costa County would be cut off from the A's, all of San Francisco and Marin, and anything north of the Bay Area.

-- The "urban ballpark" experience I was describing is not egalitarian, but rather inclusive. I'm not opposed to selling the best seats for, say, three or four times as much as the good seats, and I'm not opposed to luxury boxes. But the new stadiums all have two things in common: very high ticket prices for most decent seats, and designs which make the cheaper seats a completely crappy baseball experience. I simply don't want that, in Oakland or anywhere else.

-- peanut gallery is correct that the "urban ballpark" experience could be more or less replicated in San Jose, albeit without most of the same fans that currently experience it in Oakland. The Sharks have a nice thing going that way. In Fremont, however, the "urban ballpark" experience would be utterly lost. It'd be just like Anaheim.

-- I think Jeff nailed it: Wolff had to walk through certain, pro forma steps to satisfy MLB PR requirements and to avoid a pre-move attendance collapse in Oakland. While I think it would be unfair to Wolff to say that he planned to leave Oakland all along, it's also now plain that he was never serious about staying here, either. That's why people are so angry.

And speaking of being angry,*damn right* this is emotional. The A's in Oakland is what I grew up with, what I know and love. I have always considered baseball more than a business, more than a game; it's a part of the fabric of my life and the fabric of my community. It's part of the heart and soul of how millions of people in the Bay Area live, and the attachment to it is deep.

If you want to mess with that, you better have a damned good reason. Selling more luxury boxes and developing a shopping center and in the process realizing obscene personal wealth: *NOT* that reason. Building a monument to Selig and Wolff that their ancestors can point to and say, "Hey, we did that": *NOT* that reason. Pocketing an extra $10-$20M a year in franchise revenues: *NOT* that reason.

Kevin said...

jrbh,

"-- San Jose is just too difficult a trek for most East Bay fans"

What do you think the rest of us A's fans (not living in Oakland) have been doing all these years? I live on the peninsula and I make the drive over to the Coliseum to see an A's or Warriors game. What about the fans who live in SJ and make the drive up to the Coliseum now?

I too am a full season ticketholder and I have been selling some of my tickets. I have buyers as far north as Ukiah and as far south as Santa Cruz. I also have a guy buying a bunch of tickets from me who lives in Modesto. I realize having to drive down to Fremont or SJ will not be as convenient as the Coliseum. But I have to question your loyalty if you are going to quit supporting the team you grew up with just because they moved 25 miles to the south.

Anonymous said...

You last couple of sentences Kevin is what I have been trying to say. My wife and I were partial season ticket holders last and would love to do it again. Keep in mind we live in Modesto and it takes us 2 hours to get to the games. It pisses me off when people say they will never go to a game again if they move a mere 25 miles or so away.

Jeff said...

Rob may have a point when he says the city of Oakland may react now that Wolfe has their attention. The city appears to have a history of government by crisis. But one has to make the assumption that Wolfe and crew are satisfied with Oakland as a potential revenue source. The question would seem to me to be, given his drathers, which would he choose? Oakland, or a location more convenient to SJ and the south bay? If one reads statements he has made in the past, the answer to that question is a no brainer. The next question would be, has anything changed in the last few years that would cause one to think Wolfe has significantly altered that opinion? At least the waiting is almost over....if Wolfe is true to form he will stick with his deadline date and make some sort of announcement. I personally give him credit for being transparent in his dealings. I believe that if a feasible Oakland site could have been identitifed, he would have attempted to follow through. I also happen to believe that he knew all along from his market research that no such site existed which would satisfy the A's requirements.

I wouldn't worry too much about the East bay fans. In time, they will adapt to the idea that there team plays a little way down the road. Time heals all wounds, or so they say. Besides, how many fans in Brooklyn would tell the east bayers that they don't know how lucky they are? Remember, any physical move is years down the road. At any rate, a fan of the team will not long begrudge them their desire to compete at as high a level as possible. Face it, the Coliseum is holding them down. If the A's could have kept the core of their players of the last few years, we would be speaking now of an A's dynasty and dominance. The Yanks and Red Sox would be decrying an "unfair" money ball advantage enjoyed by the team. One can dream.....

jrbh said...

Jeff, you just stumbled into one of my pet peeves: I think it's quite likely, given what's occasionally leaked out about A's finances, that they *could* have kept most of their players together the last few years; what kept them from doing so was the desire of Schott and Hoffman to make a lot of money every year and then make even more cashing out.

And don't get me started on the choice to keep Chavez vs. Tejada. It probably is the single most destructive player personnel decision any team has made in the majors in the last ten years.

Jeff said...

I am not one to disparge Miggy because I loved the way the guy plays the game. He plays the way someone is suppose to play. But I can't fault the A's for signing Chavez over Miggy. First and foremost, Miggy was replacable. Crosby was waiting in the wings and has stepped in nicely. No such replacement existed for Chavez. And besides, Chavez is a known quantity. If his birth certificate says he's 27 years old, then you can be reasonably sure he is in fact 27. Not so much with Miggy. Chavez is a gold glove 3rd baseman with huge offensive potential. While I'll be the first to admit that he hasn't produced at a level equal to Miggy, the potential is there. Besides, Chavez may just break out this season. I realize all this has been said before, but even if it doesn't, he's still not exactly what I would call a scrub.

I loved Miggy's style, but in the end, Crosby has stepped in nicely. He has the capacity to be every bit the offensive player Miggy is. I also think that the fact that Chavez's contract is so back loaded speaks volumes about the wisdom of the A's decision. Chavvy will probably be traded long before the big bucks come due. We get the best of his playing years and don't have to pay full market price. Hopefully, someone in our farm system will soon be designated as his heir apparent.

jrbh said...

You know, I think it's possible Crosby is going to be a good major league shortstop. But it's a fiction to say that he's "stepped in nicely" or even adequately so far. He played a full season in '04 and was mediocre with the bat: a godawful batting average and OBP, but with some decent pop. He was, in particular, overmatched at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Tejada, with the Orioles, was hitting .311 with 76 XBH.

Their fielding stats were about the same.

The A's finished one game out in '04. Do you have even the tiniest doubt that the A's would have made the playoffs with Tejada at SS, rather than Crosby? (And I don't buy the replacement argument, by the way; Crosby could easily have been moved to third base to replace Chavez.)

In '05, Tejada again hit over .300, this time with more than 80 XBH. We all know about Crosby's hard-luck season. (One of the less-remarked upon aspects of it is that his glovework declined sharply and bears watching in '06.) The A's finished 7 games out, fading at the end after being at or near the top of the division in August. I'd argue again that Tejada's presence, in place of Crosby, would have made the difference.

The real difference to look at, I guess, is between Tejada and Chavez, because if you take my position, you have Crosby in the line-up anyway, albeit at 3B.

In '04, Chavy missed 40 games and managed 27 fewer XBH than Tejada. Having Tejada at SS and Crosby at 3B would have won the division for the A's.

Chavy played more in '05, but had his worst statistical year in the majors since his rookie year, nowhere near the year Tejada had, and is primarily responsible for the unbelievable April-May A's funk. I don't know if the difference between him and Tejada would have been enough in the end, but I sure would have liked to find out.

There's also this: Tejada is an intense, active, sparkplug of a guy, a man whose competitive fire burns as brightly as anyone in baseball. Chavez seems to be drifting in a haze, one that would seem harshly familiar to Giants fans from the '80s. I'd rather watch Tejada play, and I think he has a much more positive impact on the guys around him.

Jeff said...

JRBH,

I have to agree with a lot of what you posted. I don't have it in my heart to knock Miggy. I loved watching the guy play. But to be fair to Crosby, he didn't have near the protection in the lineup that was afforded to Miggy. The O's had some pretty decent hitters around him. In defense of Crosby, he did pretty well for a player in his sophmore year. Batting third in the order is no mean feat. At this point in his career it would appear that he has no where near the resiliency of Miggy.

I have to agree that Crosby could have easily been moved to third. But you also have to consider that the front office may be privy to information that is not generally available to the public concerning their personel. That's all I am going to say about that....at least with Chavez, there's never been a scintilla of rumor that he is artificially enhanced.

Beane has proven that he adept at player moves/evaluations. Until he really screws up I feel that he should be extended the benefit of the doubt.

But I sure as hell miss watching Tejada.

jrbh said...

It's always possible that picking Chavez over Tejada will work out long term, although Chavez's general attitude and chronic sore shoulder make me doubt it.

Also, the decision to pick Chavez is already two years in the hole: it cost the A's the playoffs in '04 and may have in '05, too. Which means that the soonest the decision could even possibly work out as a positive for the A's is '09. That's a huge deficit to come back from, especially given the consistent nature of Tejada's play.

Vis. the implication that Tejada is juicing, I guess we'll see this year. (Testing for amphetimines might have an impact too, especially given Tejada's insistence on playing every single day. I'm guessing he takes a few days off this year.)

(We're assuming a major league testing program that's comprehensive and honest; I was surprised -- man, how many times are these guys going to pull the football away from me before I catch on? -- to hear the Olympic doping guy say that MLB lied to him and didn't test for HGH and a couple of other things during the World Baseball Classic. I'd consider the whole testing thing suspect at this point.)

Jeff said...

JHRB,

LOL, you might want to get used to Lucy pulling that ball away. Way to much money involved for doping to ever be eliminated as a factor in any sport. I have issues with folks who bash MLB mercilessly over the whole thing. Do they really believe that the NFL, and the Olympics for that matter, are really chemical free? What really intrigues me are the new methods on the horizon. Consider genetic manipulation, or substances that morph into something else once ingested. The curve is far to steep, the tests will never be able to compensate for new methods of enhancement. It's a brave new world alright. One day soon we may long for the good old days of steroids....wouldn't that be ironic?

peanut gallery said...

jrbh - totally agree with you on Fremont. Even though that would be much closer to my home than SJ or Oakland, I'm not excited about a ballpark out in Warm Springs. "Ballpark village" would just be a euphamism for "strip mall." There are enough of those in the world, thank you.

But if that turns out to be the only way they stay in the area, I'll take it.

peanut gallery said...

Shoot, just noticed the typo on euphemism. Oh well, I'm sure everyone knows what I meant.