18 August 2009

Wolff backs off 2012 Quakes opening

The Merc's Elliott Almond interviewed Lew Wolff on the state of the Quakes stadium effort, and the news was not good. According to Wolff, the problem is sponsorship revenues.
"You can't do it out of magic," Wolff said. "There's no sense building a stadium unless you have some flow of revenue."

The club, Wolff said, needs about $5 million a year in sponsorship for a 15,000-seat, no-frills stadium. It has secured 20 percent of that so far.

"We're trying to get to the edge of the diving board," he said. "Before jumping into a pool we want to make sure there is water in it."

When Lew and I spoke earlier in the spring, we spent a little time discussing the Quakes project. Unfortunately, he said many of the same things at that point, which makes it dismaying to know that things haven't improved. We are in a recession/depression/what-have-you, so it's difficult to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

The problem doesn't appear to be the naming rights sponsor. It's more of a problem with the smaller sponsors whose ads appear on rotating and fixed signage throughout the stadium. MLS and the Quakes aren't blessed with rich TV and radio deals, so every bit of sponsorship revenue, right down to the jerseys, is important. Wolff mentioned an unusual financing angle that involved partnering with local building trade unions so that they could get their skin in the game on something they were building. That idea went nowhere.

What makes it worse is that some of the teams who would normally provide some competition locally for sponsor revenue aren't even around. The SaberCats aren't playing this year and may not play for a while, if at all. The Stealth indoor lacrosse team bolted for Seattle. A new women's soccer team, FC Gold Pride, sort of competes with the Quakes but also co-exists somewhat symbiotically.

While the six major sports teams (A's, Giants, Raiders, 49ers, Warriors, Sharks) are reasonably healthy despite the state of the economy, an on-again, off-again team like the Quakes will naturally have difficulty attracting sponsors even if they're located in the rich Silicon Valley. Unveiling drawings of the new stadium, which to date have been a closely guarded secret, should help sell the concept. Really, it comes down to the venue. Seattle and Toronto are cited as new success stories, and both are buoyed by pent-up demand while playing in sparkling new facilities. The Quakes play at the jury-rigged albeit cozy Buck Shaw Stadium, convenient but not compelling. It may be that Wolff/Fisher will simply have to place faith in the fans and potential sponsors to come out of the woodwork when a new stadium opens. It's not the most ideal position to be in, that's for certain.


Anonymous said...

Wolff is obviously trying to Montrealizify the fanbase so he can move the team from Santa Clara to San Jose. Carpetbagger. Major League. Fabric of community. Central location.

Anonymous said...

He should move them to Portland or Vegas or Sacramento. A's fans just don't come to the games here because their fan base is very low compared to the Giants. Even if they were to move to Fremont or SJ, they'd struggle for attendance.

linusalf said...

Its ironic that the 2 reasons why the a's need to move from oakland, attendance and sponsorships, are also 2 things that he is struggling to get for the earthquakes. this leads me to believe that a)the south bay is not the goldmine that everybody here says it is and b)lew wolff really inst that great of an owner. based on what i have seen so far and what he has said in this article he seems to think that he somehow deserves fans just from being there.

Tony D. said...

"...Wolff, who reiterated his desire to move the team (A's) to San Jose".

Music to my ears! Oh, how could I forget; The Merc's Elliott Almond doesn't know what the hell he's talking about and is reporting spin, rumors, and untruths.

R.M., why not make Stanford Stadium-like upgrades at SCU Buc Shaw for the Quakes? Could be a less expensive route than completely new SSS and still be a quality venue for soccer.

Anonymous said...

Can Wolff ever get anything done??? Doesn't look like it so far. Not with any team he touches might want to just stick with hotels buddy.

Anonymous said...

A good owner can do wonders for a city that's trying to get a professional team rolling. Wolff obviously can't get it done. That's why the A's will fail miserably in San Jose especially with mostly Giants fans down there.

I love how people think San Jose is a gold mind for sports due to all the money when none of the teams are even major franchises. Sharks and Sabercats?? Haha...obviously people in the South Bay are the only ones who even cares about hockey or arena football compared to the rest of the Bay Area. Soccer maybe could've been great, but obviously Wolff can't get it done either.

San Jose foks...are you starting learn that your savior Wolff only talks out his ass??

Give up with sports Lew...

Jeffrey said...

the OAFC is here, hooray!

The A's attendance issues way predate Wolff and this season (8 out of 41 years above MLB average).

I love the revisionist view of Oakland sport's history... Sponsorships have ALWAYS been an issue in Oakland and that problem has only continued to get worse as the A's have been competing with a jewel of a ballpark a short ferry or BART ride away.

All that said... Wolff could be doing better. I'd start by hiring a fan to lead the marketing group rather than a video game salesmen.

On an unrelated note, I spent this apst weekend over in JLS. I love what they have done to the place. I still don't see a Ballpark happening around there, but the City of Oakland should be proud of what is going on by the waterfront.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. Maybe getting sponsorships for soccer is hard because soccer isn't nearly as popular as the big sports around here. Yeah, yeah, I know it's huge in Paraguay. But this ain't Paraguay and having trouble getting money infused to a soccer team is a whole lot different than getting it for Major League Baseball. Keep trying though, clowns.

Anonymous said...

the baseball was not the subject soccer was-----

Dan said...

Why is everyone talking about baseball in a topic about soccer?

Fact is it's not surprising Lew is having trouble getting the Quakes stadium done right now. The economy is in the can right now which means sponsor dollars just aren't there. Particularly for a privately financed stadium like the Quakes new venue. It has nothing to do with being soccer or San Jose, to steal a phrase, "it's the economy stupid".

Anonymous said...

Dan- what about Seattle is making soccer so successful---third time around in SJ and it still doesn't seem to catch on--feedback I hear is that MLS is a minor league compared to Int'l soccer---may never stick in an area like SJ that tends to be more into major league sports v. minor league.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 8:20 except for the comment about San Jose being more into major league franchises. Maybe you're referring to the Sharks, but what other city in the entire Bay Area even gives a crap about them? Other than that, I don't see San Jose as a "major" sports town.

People always try to talk abou how successful the Sharks are in the South Bay. The truth is you can't compare that to SF or Oakland because they are the only NHL team in NorCal. Comparing attendance figures for the NHL is not even in the same picture as the NBA, NFL or MLB. Especially here in the rest of the Bay Area when EVERYONE else knows the Sharks are nothing compared to the three "major" leagues we all share.

When the A's gets a new ballpark built in Oakland somewhere near JLS and next to the will be beautiful, convenient enough for everyone to attend from all over, we'll get plenty of sponsorships and the people will definitely come. San Jose is just still in denial with all this.

The easiest thing to do is to keep the team where they've been for 40 years without causing problems with other owners/teams, legals battles, cities, and especially the fans.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:44-what you can compare is that the Sharks average more per game than the A's do in Oakland---so if the Sharks/NHL are pathetic in your eyes what does that make your city of Oakland for the A's--a "minor" league sport outdrawing the MLB? Gotta be because of location--imagine what would happen with the A's in San Jose--

Anonymous said...

Again, I don't understand why everyone keeps trying to compare the two. The "Shark Tank" is still relatively new and is still considered a favorite arena to some. It's also hardly considered one of the worst in the league. The Coliseum on the other hand is definitely considered one of the, if not the worst ballpark in the game today. So of course more fans will come out to a Sharks game versus an A's game. And on top of that...AGAIN, the Sharks are the ONLY NHL team in Northern California versus the A's being one of two MLB teams in NorCal.

Is anyone paying attention?? Quit comparing the two when it's clearly apples and oranges. At least wait till the A's play in a new facility in Oakland and then lets compare attendance figures. Even then would it never be the same to compare given the capacity of an MLB ballpark versus an NHL arena.

Anonymous said...

I can imagine that the A's wouldn't do as well as everyone thinks given all the Giants fans that are already currently located in the South Bay.


Dan said...

Anon 8:20, what is making soccer successful in Seattle are several things. One, they've got great support, particularly from the media up there unlike in SJ where the only time the Earthquakes are mentioned by the media is to mock them. Second, Seattle is a fresh market where they had 2 years to build up hype and support before they'd ever played a game vs SJ where the market was destroyed by the previous owners leaving the current team to try and pick up the pieces (which they've done a fair job of so far though they still have a long way to go). Third, Seattle had a huge gap in their sport scene that had just opened up with the departure of the Sonics, along with the Mariners, Seahawks, and Husky's all being bottom feeders. There is not much competition for the sporting dollar right now up in Seattle. Also both teams have great home stadiums to play in and have had them since day one, there is currently no venue that fits that bill in San Jose right now. All the points can be said for the Toronto market and their team's success. And finally in Seattle, the Sounders ended up having a winning first season back unlike the Quakes, and winning always helps at the gate.

That's not to say SJ can't succeed in MLS, but it's going to be harder and take more time, particularly with the burned fan base after 2005, struggles on field, and no real home stadium until the new one is built.

Anonymous said...

Why do you allow all this garbage from Oakland partisans, yet when SJ partisans and those who deal in reality start responding, you shut down the threads?
Look, Oakland (pop. 430k) had its chance with the A's and blew it! It's now San Jose's (pop. 1,000,000+) turn to shine! And for the record, a lot of Sharks fans come from Fremont and the Peninsula/south SF (from their early days at the Cow Palace).

Anonymous said...

I'm a lifelong San Jose resident and obviously a big time Sharks fan, but I also do agree with anon 10:51 and 10:54. The rest of the Bay Area population really doesn't seem to care about our hockey team. I guess it's because they have the Warriors which pretty much plays parallel with the Sharks during the regular season.

I'm also personally a die-hard Giants fan and don't see how well the A's would do down here in our territory. I don't mind the 40+ minute drive I make to see my team play in SF when I can make it to a game. It's part of the reason that makes me a "real" fan. I just go and don't complain about it. I'll tell you for a fact I wouldn't even consider switching teams just because they moved that much closer to my area.

Anonymous said...

Anon 854,
You're more than entitled to your opinion, but I know a lot of Giants fans who wholeheartedly disagree with your point of view.
While loving their Giants, they think (rightfully) that the TRights are BS and that SJ is a major league city worthy of its own ball club.
And just like you have no problem making a 40 minute trip to SF, true A's fans from the east bay and Tri-Valley won't have a problem going south to SJ to catch an A's game.
Go A's and San Jose!

FC said...

Anon 8:54

Please don't make it seem like San Jose owns the Sharks. The Sharks are no more a San Jose team than the Warriors are an Oakland team. They are both Bay Area teams.

Anonymous said...

I live in the north bay and love the Sharks, as do many of my friends and neighbors. I would also be just as likely to go to an A's game in SJ as I would in Oakland. Why do the Oakland partisans feel the need to make things up to support their positions? I guess when things like reality and facts are all lined up against you, it's all you've got.

BTW, what happened to the potty-mouthed Oakland power-broker and insider who is going to make the Coliseum a great destination with the world's largest Denny's (or whatever his hare-brained idea was)? He blew in here, called everyone an idiot then vanished -- just like Oakland's chances of building a new stadium in the next 100 years.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:54,
If you're really a SJ resident, you should be utterly ashamed of yourself with your opinion.
You're a Giants fan and good for you. But have a little SJ pride and want what's best for your city: free to pursue Major League Baseball right in our downtown! As an American city, we should be able to do this.
You can be a fan of BOTH the Giants AND your hometown!

Anonymous said...

Well I also live in the North Bay and I personally can care less for the Sharks or hockey. To be quite honest, most of my neighbors, friends, family and employees who also live out here would much rather watch the Warriors and basketball rather than hockey.

I support the A's staying in Oakland and would hate to see them move to any other city in the Bay Area, it just wouldn't be the same without them. Plus the Giant's/A's rivalry has so much history that a move to San Jose would change all that...probably forever.

The Oakland partisans in my opinion have every right to say how they feel about another Bay Area team trying to "lure" their team away.

Anonymous said...

I also love the battle of the Bay rivalry that the Giants and A's have shared for so many memorable years. Moving the A's to the South Bay just wouldn't be the same and could never be called, "Battle of the Bay" in my opinion. It just wouldn't be the same.

Keep the A's in least the East Bay!!

No offense South Bay, but you guys are just a little too far from the actual Bay...

Anonymous said...

There are lots of posters here who if addresses were checked probably wouldn't live up to their annoymous posts of where they live.

At the end of the day the 100 or so bloggers opinions here don't matter--including my own--what matters is the opinion of the guy with the money and the city with the means to support building a major league ballpark--and we all know the answer to that-San Jose--

For the A's to stay in Oakland you will need to find a group of investors who will be willing to take a financial hit for the good of the community (not likely in today's economy) or you will need Oakland/Alamdeda County to fund a new ballpark---hardly likely when they have a $20M annual rent payment already and the Raiders considering leaving to Santa Clara unless a new stadium is built in Oakland.

You guys might not like it--but its reality--the guy who controls the dollars wants to build in San Jose--not Oakland--

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:00--actual bay comes down to San Jose--in fact San Jose used to have a port---which they are considering restoring to provide additonal transportation options which would be a ferry from San Jose--things change over time---and the nor cal freeway series will be a just as exciting as the battle of the bay--

Anonymous said...

The NorCal freeway series??? Um, no thanks. I don't like trying to be like the "other" two SoCal MLB rivalry. Battle of the Bay is just another unique way of that differentiates us from the other MLB rivalries in the league.

FC said...

This is just getting ridiculous.

Now we're saying San Jose is too far from "the bay" therefore it wouldn't be a good fit for the A's? Is there some kind of magical powers that are derived from the brown bay waters? I guess the Niners ought to reconsider that move to Santa Clara. Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

My a good friend of mine works for the Sharks. He says the strongest fan base for them is San Jose up to San Francisco. He says there is a some Alameda support but that costs tend to be prohibitive for many fans in that East Bay and so the richer counties tend to form the base.

Anonymous said...

Nice to know you and your friends are closed minded hicks, 7:40. But it doesn't change the fact that the statement "no one in the North Bay cares about the Sharks" is patently and demonstratively false. Perhaps you live out in the boon docks. Here in Marin, your type are few and far between.

BTW, the phrase is I couldn't care less. Try learning the language and someone somewhere might actually listen to you.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the Sounders/TorontoFC and the Quakes is that the Quakes are still trying to get by on the mid-90s formula of catering to soccer moms and little league soccer kids. Meanwhile, they split the two supporters sections and try to tuck them into the furthest part of the stadium. It's completely anathema to pro soccer.

You see a Sounders game on TV and they have soccer moms too, only these are completely decked out in Sounders paraphernalia plus holding up their Sounders scarves and taking part in the supporters chants, right next to the die-hards. Right off the bat the Sounders have fostered a genuine pro soccer environment.

I was a Quakes season ticket holder their first year back, but I just can't get excited in the environment they have created at Buck Shaw.