31 August 2006

San Jose: Wolff throws in the towel

When I posted a few weeks ago on Lew Wolff's SJ Chamber talk, I discussed the possibility that he may once and for all eliminate Downtown San Jose from all future discussions. On Wednesday, Wolff finally made it official. Rumors of this were present as early as six months ago, but I wanted to see something official first.

Barry Witt's article in the Merc sheds light on a few new items that fill in the gaps quite a bit:
  • Wolff tried to broker deals to get the rights to Santa Clara County, but Giants ownership was unwilling to give them up.
  • He tried even before he had become managing partner.

This is certainly different from Wolff's "We're focusing on Oakland" stance of April 2005, when he took control of the team. Then again, it's consistent with his statements that he wouldn't challenge the Giants' rights. It's possible that discussions over territorial rights date back to when Wolff was given the VP of Venue Development title.

Chris De Benedetti's wrap-up of the event has a more East Bay-tinged flavor and includes quotes from Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz, Oakland City Council member Larry Reid, and Mike Healy, spokesman for Oakland mayor-elect Ron Dellums.

There have been clues that pointed to this. Chief among them is #1 San Jose backer Mark Purdy's change from Fremont as a negotiating ploy to Fremont as the best alternative given the circumstances. This didn't happen overnight. Purdy's newest article sounds like a sales pitch to the many Baseball San Jose supporters who need to be convinced to support the Fremont ballpark - it won't work financially unless their corporate dollars buy those suites, ads, and club seats.

Purdy dives further into the rumor mill with the following:

"There are plenty of murmurs in Silicon Valley circles that Cisco is smitten with the idea of a partnership with the A's, on many levels -- including naming rights to the ballpark. There are rumblings out of Cisco's offices that concepts for a 'ballpark of the future' have already been brainstormed and game-planned. The project allegedly has support from the highest levels, including CEO John Chambers."

Even though I'm a nerd who works in high tech, I hope "ballpark of the future" doesn't lend itself to dehumanizing the game. All I want is for AM radio reception to work in the ballpark.

I was supposed to attend the event this morning but had to attend to some personal matters. Jay Hipps from Soccer Silicon Valley has audio from the event if you're interested. There is some news from the soccer/Quakes front as well.