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21 September 2008

A little advice to Lew: Change the tone

The Rusty Simmons-penned article about Lew Wolff's Q&A session with the A's booster club and Ray Ratto's follow-up brought me back to the old adage: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. That brings up the following exchange:

Q: What will transit options be in Fremont?

A: Instead of just saying, 'If you don't have a BART station, you can't survive,' we're trying to figure out if we can. If we can, we will. If we can't, we won't. Of course, then we wouldn't be in California any more.

The media and fans have been focused on that last, cringeworthy sentence. It hides a fundamental problem in his response. Assuming that the mayoral race and EIR come through, he's going to build it without an adjacent BART station. It's not a matter of someone telling him the team won't survive without it. There's no way to determine that until the ballpark is built and operational. BART's importance ranks behind the development plan and financing, corporate sponsorships, and ongoing patronage from the existing fanbase, which overwhelming comes by car, not BART.

It really comes down to a few facts about the situation. First, there's nothing that can be done until election day with the mayoral election, which I suspect sticks in Lew's craw more than he's outwardly indicating. Then there's the EIR, which won't happen until late November or December. There's little else to discuss, whether it's a move out-of-state or to San Jose, since massive obstacles confront both possibilities.(FWIW, I haven't seen many yard signs advertising mayoral candidates in Fremont.)

As long as the waiting game continues to be played, he might as well have a more open, ongoing dialogue with the existing fanbase. Explain why the move needs to happen - and yes, that means being truthful about the Silicon Valley overtures. Talk about how the team will make every effort not to abandon the loyal hardcore fan, and then follow that up with action. As alluring as the South Bay is, the South Bay is not enough all by itself. Just as the East Bay isn't enough by itself.

Wolff's been making great strides building good PR in Fremont, but I sense that not enough care and feeding has happened elsewhere. It's akin to the current presidential campaigns, whose efforts are almost entirely focused on a handful of "battleground" states, but not to states where the base is expected to turn out en masse.

Perhaps the most important issue is for Wolff to keep his foot out of his mouth. A couple more comments like that and he'll venture into Jeff Loria territory, and that is truly poisonous for all. Well, maybe not for columnists like Ratto, for whom controversy is their stock and trade.

20 comments:

Jesse said...

Lets hope he reads this?

Jesse said...

speaking of the mayors race there will be a candidate forum tonight at Fremont Council Chamber, 3300 Capitol Ave., and televised live on channel 27 between 8 and 9PM

Anonymous said...

Was at the game this weekend when they introduced 40 yr anniv team ... when wolff's name was mentioned it was amazing to me to hear all the boos resonate through the stadium. This to me is truly indicative of a vey negatively perceived ownership group? This man is perceived to be very dishonest and not at all interested in his current fan base.

Anonymous said...

"I wish I had a lie-detector test. I spent two years making a sincere effort to stay in Oakland, but it was not as simple as I thought it might be. ... When a lot of you sue me for leaving, I think I can win the case because I tried."

liar...liar...your pants on fire!

wolff is an arrogant liar, and the boosters who sat back and watched this happen without lifting one finger of protest, smirking and calling the oafc a bunch of rebel rousers and conspiracy nuts, deserve every bit of what they are now getting from this man.

the montrealization of oakland baseball is well under way, with fremont the stepping stone to wherever selig's clan finds a fit for their extortion campaign.

Anonymous said...

Nothing's changed, 8:51...

OAFC are still a bunch of conspiracy nuts. Wolff has ALWAYS said that the Fremont plan was the effort and last best chance to keep the A's in the Bay Area.

As for Oakland? Puhleeze, tell me, where the effort is, on the part on the politicians to help keep them in Oakland. It was not there for the proposed site next to the colieseum, which was, in fact (as in TRUTHFUL) a bit more complicated than Wolff had hoped it would be.

Couple the fact that many of the property owners there did NOT want to sell with the fact that there was and remains ZERO interest on the part of the Pols in Oakland to keep them there and you have the A's leaving for a site a mere twenty three miles away...

"montrealization" of oakland baseball is NOT happening. A shiny new ballpark in the same farking county is hardly the equivalent of moving from Montreal to D.C., unless, of course, you are an OAFC koolaide brigade member...

Anonymous said...

Just to point one more thing out, 8:51 is none other than Diamond Shril Lil herself, as she copied this from her own website...

"By diamond_lil (201.19.198.214) on Sunday, September 21, 2008 - 07:53 am:


I wish I had a lie-detector test. I spent two years making a sincere effort to stay in Oakland, but it was not as simple as I thought it might be. ... When a lot of you sue me for leaving, I think I can win the case because I tried.

liar...liar...your pants on fire!

wolff is an arrogant liar, and the boosters who sat back and watched this happen without lifting one finger of protest, smirking and calling the oafc a bunch of rebel rousers and conspiracy nuts, deserve every bit of what they are now getting from this man.

the montrealization of oakland baseball is well under way, with fremont the stepping stone to wherever selig's clan finds a fit for their extortion campaign."

Diamond Lil, who lives in Marin County. Diamond Lil, who has been screaming that the sky is falling for five or six years now...

Diamond Lil, who has stated she'd rather see the A's leave the Bay Area altogether, rather than relocated to Fremont...

Diamond Lil, who censors and stifles debate on her site, yet comes here to try and fan the flames...

Diamond Lil - the EIR is almost complete. You, Diamond Lil, as well as most of the press, do NOT understand the development process. It is a stultifyingly slow process.

Anonymous said...

I'd boo him too. How dare he build us a brand new stadium without asking for any taxes or other public contribution. And he's keeping them in the East Bay too, the jerk. I can't believe he took extraordinary steps to keep a top notch GM happy by giving him an ownership stake and total control over the baseball side of the house, including an unusual amount of control over the budget. Too bad we don't have a good owner like Steinbrenner.

Anonymous said...

Hey lil, I'm curious. Were you trying to say his pants (plural) are on fire and just forgot the "are" or are you saying his pant's (singular) on fire and just forgot the apostrophe? This is important because maybe Wolfe doesn't actually put his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. Maybe he just slips his singular pant on in one fell swoop. He's a witch! A witch I say!

Georob said...

"As alluring as the South Bay is, the South Bay is not enough all by itself"

That sound you heard was Tony throwing his Macbook out the window :)

Anonymous said...

dear anon 6:15 ... come clean lew ... pretty pathetic you're defending yourself here.

- Timmy

Tony D. said...

R.M.,
Back on the Mainland. Wearing my Pacific Commons Hat, here's my take. Lew Wolff/A's controls the land a Pac Commons, has their "Sugar Daddy" in Cisco Systems, has Silicon Valley corporate support through the SVLG, has an alternative financing plan in place separate from housing sales, has many of us in the South Bay waiting patiently to buy season tickets, the EIR process is moving steadily....WHERE'S THE PROBLEM?! BART doesn't even serve San Jose (not yet at least), yet most people I talk to will attend games at Cisco Field regardless. With the exception of those who don't want the A's to leave Oakland city limits, I just don't see a problem with the current plan.

Marine Layer said...

Someone actually thinks Wolff or some other part of ownership actually comments here? Get over yourself.

Jeffrey said...

Timmy... can't argue with the logic of the post so you go ad hominem? That's even more pathetic than thinking Lew Wolff posted on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I know ... I don't think anyone from ownership would even read this crap, let alone post!

Anonymous said...

Tony -

"alternative financing plan in place separate from housing sales" ... source please (other than lew saying it's so

"has many of us in the South Bay waiting patiently to buy season tickets" - who? you and your brother ... source please?

"the EIR process is moving steadily" again, source other than sweet lew?

come on people, just saying it's so won't solve the problems not being addressed.

LeAndre said...

anon (11:30),

I've never seen a poll that said Oaklanders don't want to keep the A's in Oakland, if there is one please show the link...Every person I've talked to from Oakland, including myself, are devastated about the possible departure and that with the A's leaving is like a piece of us going along with it...not trying to sound mushy here, but a poll of the such would be shocking news to me...

the only poll I can think of resembling that would be if Oaklanders would want to public finance a new ballpark...given that Oakland has a lot of immediate needs, its understandable why they wouldn't want to do that...

Saying that Oakland doesn't want to keep them there, and Oakland can't afford to pay for them are too totally different things...

FWIW, I'm in favor of Fremont if its the only way the A's can stay in the Bay, but a lot of you have to understand the frustration fueling a lot of fans, hence the booing that had to have sent chills down Wolff's spine...

He became owner in April, 2005 and "officially" announced that he would pursue Fremont in November, 2006...saying that's 2 years of trying to stay in Oakland is a bit generous...

While proposing his ballpark village in Oakland he said, he would need public financing, and when Oakland understandably says they can't afford it...he moves to Fremont, seeking no public financing...reeling in private financing and "other" sources...

While keeping the team in the East Bay, he has said he has no real desire to include Oakland in the city title, and in the meantime he still hasn't said what he will officially call the team leaving it up to our imagination...

This, and rising ticket prices, a losing team due to ridiculous trades, covering cheap seats with generic tarp, no improvement on food or concession ignoring the poor ratings and high demands to do so, and more I don't feel like typing has let to built up frustration...

how some of you aren't understanding, relating, or acknowledging this I just don't get...personally I'm glad that we have a owner that is dedicated to getting the A's a well deserved ballpark, but I also want an owner who will do whatever it takes, even if it means losing a little bit of his/her money (which some owners have done) to get the best possible outcome, if it means fighting for more than two measly years to do it, I can wait ...I don't want an owner making threats when asked only about "transit options" of leaving the entire state...like I said I'm glad were getting a new ballpark, but some of you guys really need to ease up on the Pro-Fremont attitude, some of the remarks you make are no better than the OAFCers you hate so much, who also need to stop the immature comments...

just thought I should add my 2 cents to this collection plate...

Marine Layer said...

Wolff was initially brought in by Schott/Hofmann as VP of Venue Development in November 2003. It came out later that he also had an option to buy the team. During that period as VP, he did engage with Oakland officials about sites. There is some question as to how much he pushed the agenda, since during that period several sites started to disappear, such as Howard Terminal and Uptown.

Wolff's remark is not being read correctly. Understand the sequence of events. What he is saying is that he will build without BART being available. If that ballpark does not succeed after several years of operation, then he'd consider a move. That's a situation that wouldn't occur until well down the road, after it has been proven that BART indeed is essential - which is arguable at best based on the numbers.

Jesse said...

Here is a complaint from Vinnie Bacon running for City Council in Fremont. He is one of 10 people running for 2 spots. He expressed these views during the candidate forum on Tuesday.


Bacon said the A's plan has no viable transit options and would cause massive traffic jams on game days. He also said that because the project is in a redevelopment zone, most of the revenue would go to the city's redevelopment agency, which can't use the money for police or fire services. Stirling said the city would end up having to finance the stadium and predicted relations with the A's would sour once the team moved to town.

Anonymous said...

"ZERO interest on the part of the Pols in Oakland to keep them there and you have the A's leaving for a site a mere twenty three miles away..."

Leandre, 11:30 here. Pols, in this case is short for Politicians, NOT Polls.

I typed out Politicians in the first paragraph, and used the shortened version in the second.

Anonymous said...

As ML pointed out, Wolff worked on Oakland for 3 years. Besides, where else would you have him look in the city of Oakland? Where is there a good, available location that meets the needs of the stadium experience and funding mechanism? Also, I don't recall Lew saying he needed public financing at the flea market site. As I recall, all he asked Oakland for was help in getting the property owners together to sell to him. We all know how that went.

Most of the rest of your complaints are the same all over sports: all fans want cheaper prices, better food, more amenities. That's life with professional sports. The only valid complaints against Lew are the tarp (which really doesn't matter since they can't sell out as it is anyway, but I do understand that some people just can't let that go) and the edict he gave Oakland that BART must be included at the flea market site, then suddenly dropping that as a requirement at Pacific Commons. He really should explain himself on that one.