27 March 2009

Lew: San Jose deserves a MLB team

I'll let the text from David Goll's SV/SJ Business Journal article speak for itself:

Lew Wolff, co-owner and managing partner of the Oakland Athletics, said Thursday San Jose should have a professional baseball franchise, but stopped short of saying his team would fill that role.

At a breakfast reception for the media at The Fairmont San Francisco hotel, which is owned by Wolff, the A's owner said he thinks the Bay Area's largest city "deserves" a Major League Baseball team.

That, folks, is news. A bunch of grousing by the chattering class? Not really news. That said, what happened to your moratorium on speaking about the ballpark situation, Lew?
Update: More articles. First, from CoCoTimes' John Simerman:
"I'm not blaming the community. Even if the market was there, we don't feel there's a physical opportunity for us," Wolff said. "The effort we put into finding a spot in Oakland was tremendous. They're still talking about sites we were studying in 2001. "... We're asking for direction from Major League Baseball. We tried in Oakland, despite the sound bites. Now we need some help."
Next, Eric Young of SF Business Times:
“We’re sort of in the hands of baseball now,” Wolff said Thursday during a breakfast meeting with reporters in San Francisco. The A’s search for a new home “is a baseball issue now more than an A’s issue… Ultimately it has to be determined by baseball, not by me.”
The Lodge works in mysterious ways. Also, Rich "Big Vinny" Lieberman appears to be upset that no one's taking his Coliseum parking lot idea seriously. CoCoTimes' Gary Peterson piles on because of Wolff's "piling on" of Oakland:

You could characterize that as willful ignorance of the economy. You could also portray it as disingenuous posturing in advance of a serious play for San Jose.

It also could be construed as piling on Oakland. For this, Wolff should be ashamed of himself, especially in the wake of the horrific slaying of four police officers that has left Oakland looking for all the feel-good it can get.

I struggled with making any mention of the tragic death of the four OPD officers, two of whom worked at the Coliseum and helped make it a far safer place than the unfair reputation it garnered. (I really didn't want the resulting comments thread to turn into yet another city bashfest.) But for Peterson to link their deaths to the business dealings of a baseball team and try to build a guilt trip - well, not even Mayor Dellums did that.

The Merc's Denis C. Theriault has the last word for the moment, including Wolff apparently shooting down any thoughts of moving to Las Vegas or Sacramento:
"If we want to stay in Northern California," Wolff said, "we don't want to get on a plane and go to another city" to attend games. "I won't name that city."
Wolff goes on to entertain a potential referendum if required in San Jose, or a sale of the team if San Jose Northern California doesn't work out.


Dan said...

Probably as close to an actual admission that SJ is the target you'll get until SJ is publicly announced as the A's target.

Anonymous said...

ML--whats up with the dig towards Lew for responding to a reporters question? Seems a bit petty on your part which by and large you typically have stayed above---

Marine Layer said...

I call it as I see it, anon.

Anonymous said...

btw--there is a much better article by Eric Young in the SF Business Times that confirms that SJ has what Wolff wants in a location but that it is up to MLB to decide--all based upon information from the same meeting-

And sorry---I am not going to ding Wolff for talking about a ballpark during a media session where obviously it is one the foremost questions on reporters minds--

Marine Layer said...

Next time I see Lew I'll be sure to apologize for my "pettiness."

daveinsm said...

BUZZ is a good thing ;)

Tony D. said...

If Mr. Wolff thinks San Jose "deserves" MLB, than I suspect the city of SJ has presented Lew Wolff/MLB with a solid ballpark plan. I'm predicting this will be the next big news story on the A's ballpark front. What will the plan entail? Mello Roos District for Convention Center AND ballpark? Cheap lease on Diridon South? Development rights to Diridon/Arena (R.M. idea)?

By the way R.M., Orioles/Expos/Nationals saga: do you recall what came first; MLB vote to allow Expos to D.C., or the working of the Orioles compensation pachage? If SJ is set free, I would think a deal with the Giants would have to be worked out within the "lodge" before a vote was set with the owners. Just curious.

Jesse said...

Sounds like he's saying he has to wait for MLB to decide what they want to do before he can begin negotiating with San Jose. Maybe MLB will decide they want the A's to explore San Antonio or Portland. We'll have to just wait and see.

Jesse said...

I really wish everyone would just put there cards on the table and say here it is, what are you going to do. All this cryptic talk and drip drip drip is ANNOYING

Marine Layer said...

I don't think Mello-Roos will work. The revenue source, hotel taxes, isn't going to be enough on an annual basis if they're going only by San Jose hotels. Maybe it can account for a percentage, but not much.

The Expos were moved prior to the finalization of a compensation deal for the O's. The move was approved during the 2004 winter meetings, 4 months before the compensation deal was announced.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jesse--time for MLB to put the cards on the table and say which way they are going---either out of the Bay Area or give San Jose a try---quoting from Eric Young's article in the SF Biz--Wolff said

“We’re sort of in the hands of baseball now,” he said. The A’s search for a new home “is a baseball issue now more than an A’s issue...Ultimately it has to be determined by baseball, not by me.”

So for everyone choosing to take pot shots at Wolff, your next target might be Selig if he says no to San Jose---and the A's start looking outside of Nor Cal-than it won't matter that Wolff talked about a new park for the A's during his self-imposed moritorium.

Georob said...

When Bud Selig utters those words, then I'll take notice. Both Lew Wolff and Steve Schott before him have made no secret of their preferences for Santa Clara County.

As I've said before, if anyone can get the A's to San Jose, it's Lew Wolff. I'm still waiting.

Oh, and to whoever said six weeks ago that a San Jose announcement would be made in six weeks, you're time is up.

Anonymous said...

The SJ announcement has been made--by Wolff--he has taken the entire east bay off the table, said that Sacramento is out of the question for him as an owner, and said that SJ has everything he is looking for---and that if he isn't successful in SJ that more than likely he will sell the team and where it ends up is anyone's guess.

The city of SJ is assessing status of site and requirements to move forward and should release some of these on April 7th-

MLB is the only wild card---so from my perspective the announcement of SJ has been made---and as Wolff has said...its up to MLB to decide...not him.

L said...

GO LEW! San Jose does deserve a MLB TEAM....the $$$ will be crazy revenue!

Transic said...

Is MLB under any pressure to decide? I think the TV blackout rule is a more pressing issue now, as well as the state of the economy. A lot of folks are livid with the byzantine rules of TV territories. They can't watch their favorite teams even though they live in places like Hawaii, Oklahoma and Las Vegas, places that have no teams. MLB has to realize that it is effecting their bottom line when these people cancel their subscription because their favorite teams are blacked out. What makes it more ridiculous is that they haven't decided what to do this past winter.

Compared to that and the state of economics, do they want to create another inside fight over the A's and Giants? That is the $64,000 question.

daveinsm said...

you guys probably have seen this are some articles quoting LW.

I think he knows the way to San Jose ;)

Paul said...

Now the Giants can explain why they should have the right to deny a major league baseball team to another city because of some outdated territorial rights nonsense. They are going to do nothing but build ill will and resentment toward their organization with this nonsense.

Should be fun to watch all this. It'll be the A's, fans, major league baseball executives, San Jose city officials and the other owners on one side and the Giants on the other.

Paul said...

How about this: If the choice is San Jose or leave the state, get California's senators and congresspesons (all of them, even the ones from SF) to introduce legislation lifting baseball's anti-trust exemption. Get the city of San Jose to somehow declare the ballpark site separate from the county. Tell the Giants to either build a stadium in San Jose and move here within 3 years, or relinquish the so-called rights. Have the city council pass a resolution expressing resentment toward the Giants and urging that the rights be eliminated.

Let's back the Giants into a corner.

FC said...

Is it just me, or does it seem like, outside of a few on this board, there will be great surprise should the A's be granted access to SCC?

The media, Giants fans, A's fans, fans of Spongebob Square Pants, everyone thinks Wolff's desire to be down in SJ is a pipe dream. Now I'm not saying SJ will happen, but why do you think people are so pessimistic. I actually think their chances are pretty good.

SeligMustDie said...

Never underestimate the selfishness of a team straddled by debt. The Giants were given these rights for absolutely nothing because they were going to build a stadium in San Jose. Why should these rights be an issue at all? The rights should be given back to the A's because they're going to build a stadium in San Jose.

Transic said...

Selig might propose a "politically correct" solution (this is wild speculation from me, but knowing what I know about the Nationals-Orioles controversy) and have the two teams share the entire Bay Area, include North and South Bay.

But I keep going back to the issue of what is (or should be) the most pressing issue for the owners right now. The backlash at the TV blackout rules has to be right on the top or near it. That's already affecting their bottom line because that's affecting the rate in which people are subscribing to their online services. That's their next gold rush after the stadia.

Sam said...


All the ideas mentioned would make us feel good, and may be viable as a "nuclear option," but in the situation right now it's better to play politics.

A lawsuit against the MLB could easily cost $500,000 to $1,000,000 or more, and only piss off Selig and the owners so much that when San Jose wins (and they will) that San Jose wont see a MLB team for another 20 years.

Right now I think Wolff's strategy is to not piss off the people who's best interest it is in to let the A's move to San Jose. Currently, the A's are a huge financial draw on the system, and the lower their attendance falls the bigger that draw will be. Both large and small teams want the A's to have a new stadium because that means the A's will ether stop taking money from the big money teams, or set up precedent for the small money teams to start making big money.

The best course of action right now is to tell San Jose so shut it's mouth and not threaten to sue the people out to help them while Wolff gains the 22 votes he'll need to gain San Jose's territorial rights.

Tony D. said...

Hey R.M.,
On various sites/news story's, we're seeing the old, beaten argument rear its head that allowing the A's and Giants to deal SCC would open the door for other MLB territory's being invaded for compensation.

Magowan use to say it best, "This could open the door for a team to locate and build a ballpark across the street from Yankee Stadium." Gee, if an existing MLB ownership group was stupid enough to even consider setting up shop in the South Bronx; how much would that cost again? In this economy? Maybe MLB will allow the Rays to build a new ballpark in downtown Kansas City. The Pirates leaving beautiful PNC Park for northern New Jersey? Yeah right!

Anyhow, enough said on that stupid notion.

El said...

Sam has it right.

The owner's vote will be all about the $$$.

What they'll see is a sports hungry, wealthy fanbase and massive corporate presence just 40 miles down the road.

The Giants 'rights' to San Jose will retracted by MLB the same way they were granted.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait until Lew Wolff vacates Oakland. He has alienated the majority of Oakland A's fans with his anti-Oakland stance. He's burned every bridge out of Oakland. He has just handed Alameda and Contra Costa counties to the San Francisco Giants.

Lew Wolff is a dishonest man who is dangling a carrot in front of a city which is desperate for National attention. San Jose is demeaning itself by salivating over another city's baseball team. Oakland A's fans will not go to San Jose to support a team which has stabbed them, and their city, in the back at every opportunity. Lew Wolff has burned every bridge with Oakland multiple times. He's twisted the knife in Oakland's back on the same day that thousands of people payed their respects to four Oakland Police Officers at the Coliseum.

Oakland needs to show Mr. Wolff the way to San Jose right now. Oakland is losing money by granting this carpetbagger a sweetheart lease at the Coliseum while he uses our city as a stepping stone to somewhere else. It's time to send Mr. Wolff packing to San Jose's minor league ballpark and begin using the Oakland Coliseum for more profitable ventures which actually attract fans to Oakland. I'm talking about international soccer matches, concerts, motocross, conventions, etc.

Having Wolff at the Coliseum in Oakland, is humiliating to Oakland and to everyone that loves the city. Get him out NOW!

Anonymous said...

Navigator strikes again! When will he learn that Oakland cannot host a sports franchise on the civic pride of a few? The city needs to build a corporate base and control crime so it will once again be attractive to owners.

Until then, cities like San Jose, who have done that groundwork, will lobby for business to come into town. It's merely coincidental that this business is a sports team and that it's currently in Oakland. Chuck Reed and company would be ambitious just the same to bring in a bank from New York. I doubt it's personal.

Paul said...

re: I cant wait until Lew Wolff vacates Oakland. He has alienated the majority of Oakland A's fans with his anti-Oakland stance. He's burned every bridge out of Oakland.

...Was it Lew Wolff who:

* turned what was a nice baseball park into a football monstrosity after the A's had requested modifications for baseball-only?

* fired the city manager who had the gall to devise a plan for a downtown ballpark for the A's?

* Didn't cooperate with Wolff's plan to build a new stadium north of the existing coliseum site?

Let's be correct about who's burned bridges here. Oakland has done less than nothing to help the A's get a new park. This latest Dellums end run around Wolff and going straight to MLB is just grandstanding.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how Oakland gets to claim only the corporations within its city limits, while everything within 20 miles of Silicon Valley is a "San Jose" corporation. Using your logic Oakland gets to claim Walnut Creek, Tri-Valley, and San Francisco for potential corporate support.

Also, Oakland cant have a baseball team because Oakland has crime? Why don't we go tell that to Saint Louis, Detroit, Washington DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City. etc.

Paul, do you think people in Oakland just fell off the turnip truck? Wolff tries to take credit for Steve Schott's so called "attempt" to build a ballpark in Oakland. Wolff attempts to go back to 2001 when Steve Schott owned the team. This is the same Steve Schott who left Robert Bob out to dry by showing absolutely no interest in the "Uptown" site. The same Steve Schott who went before the San Clara City Council and uttered these infamous words, "Our future is not in Oakland." This franchise has been leaving Oakland since Steve Schott purchased the team. You need to get your facts straight before you dump the blame on Oakland.

Also, the Oakland A's said NOTHING about the remodel of the Coliseum. They were happy to take 50 million form Oakland while getting 40,000 new seats, two new clubs, and over one hundred luxury boxes. Again, get your facts straight before you spout your revisionist history. Oakland fans aren't buying.

Lew Wolff is a dishonest man. San Jose will be soiling its reputation by dealing with this man.

Marine Layer said...

I suppose San Jose's reputation is already filthy since they've been working with Lew on and off for 30+ years.

Paul said...

In its NFL-or-bust pursuit of the Raiders, Oakland and Alameda County ruined what had been a good baseball stadium. The A's had asked for baseball-only modifications and instead had their ballpark turned into a football mess filled with never-sold luxury suites for football. The A's couldn't even get an indoor batting cage out of their landlords.

Which city is more desirable for cash, etc? It's San Jose. I'd be happy to have the A's stay in Oakland but it looks like that ship already has sailed so San Jose is our only hope to keep the A's in the Bay Area.

And, as it's been pointed out, Oakland and the East Bay have consistently left the A's (voted Best Organization in Baseball time after time, winners of four World Series titles, six pennants and dozens of division titles) at the bottom of leaguewide attendance.

The A's deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Paul, By undermining Oakland all that Fremont and now San Jose are doing is just getting on Lew's check list out of the Bay Area. Lew keeps expanding the boundaries until Bud Selig corrects to "horrible mistake" which brought a second team to the Bay Area and "hurt San Francisco." I wonder if Bud Selig believes that a ballpark in the South Bay "hurts San Francisco?"

We are watching the slow death of American League baseball in the Bay Area. If you think that building a ballpark in San Jose in these economic times with NIMBY's living near the proposed site is a done deal, you're sadly mistaken. San Jose is in the process of being used as another excuse to get rid of competition for the San Francisco Giants. Let's see Oakland check, Fremont check, San Jose?

Anonymous said...

Nothing more funny than ignorant comments from Oakland about stealing another city's team. I guess they don't teach geography in Oakland schools since no one in that town has ever heard of Kansas City or Philadelphia.