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12 April 2006

Wolff confronts rumor mill

A second Argus article by Chris De Benedetti has Wolff fielding questions about the seemingly endless rumor mill (yes, I'm partly responsible for this) regarding the A's intentions. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty comes to Wolff's defense:
"I don't think in any way are the A's playing us against another community," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Fremont and grew up there. "The Wolffs are genuine people. They're the most sincere people I have ever met."
Wolff tried to quash the rumors as well:

"We don't have any hidden agenda," Wolff told The Daily Review last week. "Anyone who's a sports fan thinks everyone has a hidden agenda. Even if I wanted to go, I couldn't go."

Both Wolff and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, a longtime friend and former college fraternity brother of Wolff's, also have said they have no intention of challenging the Giants' territorial rights in Santa Clara County. But supporters of bringing the A's to the South Bay point out that Wolff has several real estate holdings in San Jose.

The Mulcahy-DiNapoli connection was downplayed as well, simply as longtime business associates:

... the day after meeting with Fremont leaders, television cameras showed Wolff at the A's-New York Yankees game in Oakland, sitting next to San Jose mayoral candidate Michael Mulcahy.

Mixed messages?

"There is no intention of that," Wolff said.

He said there was little significance to their visit during the game, adding that Mulcahy owns A's season tickets near Wolff's seats and the two have known each other for years. Mulcahy's cousins are John and Jason DiNapoli, who own a small interest in the A's and have partnered with Wolff in some San Jose real estate deals.

"I've been a friend and a business partner with Lew Wolff for 30 years," Mulcahy said. "He's a supporter of mine."

Finally, Wolff issues a "firm" denial:

"We really want to stay in California, in the Bay Area, in the East Bay," he said.

"I don't know how many times I have to say that."

So are you satisfied with the responses? I know one thing: when this saga has finally played out and the A's have a new home, this blog will make for some interesting - and at times painful - retrospective reading.

Props to De Benedetti for tackling the rumor mill head-on.

14 comments:

Georob said...

Well, Wolff sounds very sincere, quite realistic and very much like any reasonable businessman.

That means only one thing: HE'S LYING THROUGH HIS TEETH, THAT CONNIVING SACK OF #%&$@ !

I just wanted to get that out before anyone else did :)

gojohn10 said...

Rob-

When San Jose is brought up, Wolff says territorial right prevent them from moving there, but never rules it out as an option. I don't think it's unreasonable for some to think the A's will eventually move there. Didn't a mayoral candidate say a proposed move to Fremont was prerequisite to an eventual move to SJ? In the end, Fremont may end up being the destination for the A's new ballpark, but comments like that have got to raise some eyebrows.

tony d. said...

Well, if the door has finally been shut on San Jose (sigh), then let's make Fremont happen! Enough said.

jrbh said...

If the A's move to Fremont, I'll be reading my old comments at this blog from my laptop at the ballpark in San Francisco.

It's not just that the A's would be leaving Oakland, by the way, or that the A's would be moving to a place with no transportation infrastructure of any kind, a move that ethically it's hard to rationalize here in the very green Bay Area.

It's also that Wolff has bought into the idea that he can make a truckload of money and cater only to wealthy, upper middle class and middle class folks in a new East Bay ballpark. I just don't have any time for that kind of notion.

So, no, I don't think I'll regret my anger about all this, and no, I don't think Wolff has been any more aboveboard than his sleazebag friends in the MLB commissioner's office.

Anonymous said...

M.L.,
In regards to an A's possible move to Fremont; do you think that P. McGowan/Giants would still seek compensation ($) from MLB/A's, even if his "territory" isn't officially encroached on? Seems to me that the Giants will still lose their coveted Silicon Valley fan base/corporate support with the A's in Fremont.

Anonymous said...

jrbh, sticking up for the working man by taking his business to pac bell/sbc/at&t park to watch barry bonds!

you're bringing the laptop to the park?
obviously the wireless access was put in for the benefit of all the poor kids from hunters point that attend giants games due to the affordable tickets.

Marine Layer said...

Magowan might raise a fuss, but what can he do? Selig has shown his support for a Fremont-based ballpark, so Magowan may be left out in the cold. That's the argument that Merc columnist Mark Purdy is using to get Magowan to give up SJ. I had argued with others over a year ago that using that card was entirely feasible. If I were Wolff I'd play it just for leverage.

Anonymous said...

jrbh, if you are taking a laptop to a game then you have no need to go to a game. I'm sure SF will need all the fans they can get once Bonds retires. I bet the A's can outdraw the Gnats (at McAfee) once Bonds is gone.

Anonymous said...

I share a lot of jrbh's unhappiness about the prospect of poor transportation access to a Fremont ballpark.

I've always liked the comparatively diverse demographics of the Oakland crowd. Plus, my A's-fan friends live in the Oakland area, and are less likely to attend games further south.

But this is the trap. It's a bit hard to justify switching teams solely on the basis of transporation access, or the extremely dubious notion that the notoriously corporate Giants crowd will be any sort of an improvement on the atmosphere in Fremont.

I became an A's fan because I moved from Cleveland as a child, and the A's were an American League team. At the time, I lived in the South Bay.

I later lived in the East Bay, so that gave me more to identify with. But that was never my main reason, aside from the ability to attend the games.

Others will make different choices, and I'm not going to criticize anyone whose interest in the A's plummets because of the owner's desire for a high-priced ballpark in the suburbs.

That said, it's not my choice. The A's will be my team as long as they are in the Bay Area. I'm still angry at Oakland's politicians for choosing the Raiders over the A's. That was a monumentally stupid decision, and it was all theirs.

bear88

jrbh said...

Perhaps one should consider the possibility that my laptop comment was made using literary license; I don't *actually* bring laptops to ballgames. (Although maybe I'd consider it if somebody could achieve the holy grail of computer programming: a box score program that's as good as a pencil and a piece of paper.)

More literary license: I'll be typing on my laptop on BART on my way to Giants games while A's fans are stuck in horrifying traffic on 880 or 680.

By the time the A's are in Fremont, Bonds and most of the rest of his team full of hapless and/or lying/cheating geriatrics will be gone, and the Giants will be trying to goose attendance by offering deals like the ones the A's are offering now. At least I hope so, anyway.

bear88 is completely right that the Giants crowd as it is presently constituted is no bargain, figuratively or literally. I have never been to a major league ballpark -- and I've been to more than 30 of them -- with a more homogenous crowd.

I also agree with bear88 that when we look back on this, the decision to go with the Raiders over the A's will be the dumbest sports decision the City of Oakland ever made, and that's saying something.

Kenny said...

Personally, I'm tired of the whining done by Oaklanders and Alamedans about how they won't follow the A's if they move to Fremont.

This whining about a potential lack of transit is sickening. Do you really think that somebody would build something of the magnitude of a ballpark without builing some transit links in the Bay Area?

The Great Mall was built in Milpitas and the buses and light rail followed.

I live in Fremont, it usually takes me 45 minutes to get to a game driving or BARTing (it accounts for traffic, platform waiting time and walking from car/BART). A 45 minute commute has never stopped me from going to an A's game and there are plenty of fans that come from places much farther than Fremont.

Hell, if I was a Giants fan it would take me a little over an hour just to BART/Muni over to AT&T Park. And I wouldn't bitch about the hour it takes for me to go to the ballgame, because I don't bitch about that hour when I go to the city for other things.

Seriously JRBH, cry me a river. I commute to go to school, work, see a ballgame or do anything of cultural value. Your cries fall on my deaf ears.

jrbh said...

Hey, kenny, if you have deaf ears, how do you know I'm crying? ;)

The transportation problems at the Fremont site are of a much more serious nature than you're letting on. It's a five-mile jaunt; there will be no light rail, not unless you have a couple of billion lying around you'd like to donate to the cause.

Unlike Phone Company Park in SF, which you can reach directly on public transportation by rail from the peninsula, by light rail from SF, and from the East Bay on BART and then either light rail, a bus or walking, the Fremont site will have one (1) method of public transportation: buses. My guess is that the situation won't be too bad getting to games, as long as you don't have to take a bus on the freeway, but getting out of games will involve a trip into a transportation hell the likes of which the Bay Area has only rarely seen.

Alternatively, of course, you can drive: that'll involve a traffic nightmare, especially for the weekday evening games, and of course will add the cost of gas and parking ($15 at a Pacific Commons lot? $20?) to your trip.

So my transportation objections aren't about having to spend a little extra time getting to an A's game. They're about the nature of public responsibility, the environment and the liveability of the Bay Area. A ballpark in Fremont is a completely irresponsibile idea environmentally, socially and logistically, all for the financial benefit of the small handful of people who now own the A's. I just don't want to have anything to do with that kind of garbage.

One other note: I assume that Wolff, et. al. will sign the now traditional thirty-year lease when the A's move into their new park. Given the lead time for major transportation projects -- 2020 to get light rail or BART out there? -- you'd have to be crazy to invest public money for something that could be obsolete in thirty years, when the A's demand a new ballpark to replace broken-down old Chevron Park in Fremont.

Anonymous said...

Yea I agree with the above poster. People are under estimating the transportation factor in Fremont. I'm from Oakland, and I want to keep the A's out here. but I wouldn't even be for an A's ballpark if they built it at the Oak-to-Ninth project out here in Oakland. That isn't all that good of a site for transportation either and possibly has the 5 mile (or more) walk from Lake Merrit Bart to that site as does Fremont. So wherever the A's plan to build, whether it be in Oakland, Fremont or Jamaica, I hope they have a good transportation plan.

Anonymous said...

What was said, "I'll just take BART to SBC" "no Transportation options" in Fremont. I'm going to guess that the nearest BART station to SBC is about a mile. Coincidentally, just about the same distance the Warm Springs BART station will be from the proposed ball park site. BART owns the right of way, that plot of land is basically empty, and BART has said they are going to build to Warm Springs (it's about the money). Further, have you seen the 880 improvements happeneing around that area? The idea that "transportation" would be why you wouldn't like it is laughable. You don't want the A's leaving Oakland. That I understand. This whining, infantile foot stomping, I'll go somewhere else, is lame though. Getting to SBC park will be more difficult than getting to a Fremont Ball Park period. There are so many upsides to a Fremont location, if SJ is really out, it would take an hour to list. Suffice it to say your foot stomping, I'll go somewhere else ain't gonna change that. Why? Cause if they move to Fremont or SJ, they'll be too busy selling tickets to even notice you don't like the "transportation" options.