25 November 2009

More media reaction

Joe Stiglich has a follow-up from yesterday's article, consisting of a sitdown with Lew Wolff. Wolff still puts out the 32,000 ballpark capacity (though I have heard otherwise). He refutes much of the criticism he has received:
"It isn't like, if we had a winning team, we would have had double the attendance," Wolff said. "If you trace it back for a long time, we're in a market that's difficult to tap. We're close to the Giants, who have a beautiful ballpark. I don't think the fact that we traded some guys "... When you look back at what we sent out, I think the balance sheet is in our favor, thanks to Billy and his guys."
Whether you buy into that line of thinking depends on your "worldview."

Gary Peterson wants an answer from the ever indecisive Bud Selig, and tries to break down the three possible outcomes.

Last but not least, Zennie Abraham never fails to pimp his software/bona fides every chance he gets, especially at his SFGate blog.


Navigator said...

Lew Wolff has no credibility whatsoever. Wolff's and Fisher's policies are what brought the A's attendance to what we see today.

1) Alienating the fanbase with constant threats of relocating out of Oakland.

2) Closing off the third deck and shrinking attendance against the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, and fireworks nights.

3) Trading away established fan favorites.

4) Lying about working on building a ballpark in Oakland while at the same time pursuing territorial rights to the South Bay.

Oakland fans are not a bunch of naive rubes. The fans realize that this ownership doesn't care about them, doesn't care about the city of Oakland and the tradition and legacy built over 40 years. This is an ownership which had its eye on relocating this team to the South Bay from day one. They lied to the fans. It's no wonder A's attendance is now last in the league.

Wolff sabotaged the organization from within and now points to the paltry attendance as an excuse to leave Oakland. Walter Haas would be rolling over in his grave watching what these carpetbaggers have done to the fans, the city, and the organization.

Also, Larry Stone has the nerve to go on KCBS this morning and state that there is "no support for keeping the A's in Oakland." There are 20,000 fans screaming to keep the A's in Oakland. How many people in San Jose are screaming to have the A's relocate to their city? How many? Two hundred? Five Hundred?

What's in the water in the South Bay that breads such disingenuous comments from Lew Wolff and Larry Stone?

Anonymous said...

Why do you keep ignoring the facts that 1) many of the 20k want the A's in either San Jose or Sacramento and 2) cold cash matters, not Facebook numbers. You need to quit while you're way behind Nav!

Zennie Abraham said...

Hey there. Rather than take an unproductive, hateful tone; why not chime in with a suggestion for a simulation scenario? Happy Thanksgiving. And yes, I'm VERY PROUD of my simulation; you should at least show some intellectual interest in it.

Anonymous said...

because basically Zennie, you use your media attention to promote your business interests, which is against the basic rules of journalism.

Marine Layer said...

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." – John Kenneth Galbraith

Seriously Zennie, I respect the amount of time you've put into your work. I may just run through a few simulations myself during the free period. I just don't think you need to be so shameless in plugging it.

Anonymous said...

In his comments to Stiglich, Wolff offers more evidence that he's not in it for baseball. His logic: we can't compete with the Giants so we traded away our best players. A winning team won't put fans in the seats? Weak.

As a South Bay resident, I say be careful San Jose. You might get what you ask for.

Anonymous said...

"It isn't like, if we had a winning team, we would have had double the attendance,"

Wolff has no credibility here whatsoever, think back to the 2002 season with the 20 game win streak. The coliseum was near sold out often, Saturday day games were always packed. I can remember back to the '90 ALCS sitting in the bleachers as we swept Boston, ALWAYS a packed house.

Attendance in 2008 was a significant decline from 2007 most likely due to the rebuilding project undertaken by Beane. 08 attendance was still better than most of the mid to late 90's seasons when the team also happened to suck. From 88-92 the A's had huge attendance numbers from 2.5 million to almost 3 for several years running, and they just happened to also be REALLY good those years.

Wolff and co. don't want to be in Oakland and it is quite obvious. The only hope that Oakland fans have now is that indifferent San Jose fans reject the stadium in a vote...

Marine Layer said...

Hoo boy, are we really going to argue attendance again? Please see Jeff's post at AN for a rather sobering discussion of it.

Navigator said...


They don't want to here anything positive coming from Oakland. Lew Wolff has basically told the Giants that they can have Oakland and the surrounding communities. He doesn't care that 20,000 people will have signed a petition to keep the A's in Oakland.

We need new ownership. This ownership is tainted. They're lighting every bridge in Oakland on fire. We can propose any site and it doesn't matter. He's a San Jose business man who bought the team as a Trojan Horse owner.

All we can do now is tell the truth of how we got to this point, hope that the Giants retain their rights to the South Bay, and eventually get new ownership willing to invest in Oakland.

I'm not going to allow Wolff to spout off misrepresentations of his dealings, or, non dealings with Oakland. He's attempting to scapegoat Oakland for his sabotage of the franchise. It's not going to work.

Anonymous said...

"Closing off the third deck and shrinking attendance against the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, and fireworks nights."

So you admit that you want average attendance to be skewed by fans of other teams? It seems like you're angry that the statistics are too truthful. That's sad.

"Wolff has no credibility here whatsoever, think back to the 2002 season with the 20 game win streak. The coliseum was near sold out often, Saturday day games were always packed. I can remember back to the '90 ALCS sitting in the bleachers as we swept Boston, ALWAYS a packed house."

So why aren't these numbers more stable? You still need a new ballpark to keep a steady stream in tougher times. The Giants have sucked for more of this decade but fair better at the gates. The problem is that Oakland closed off the prime ballpark location and twiddled to looks busy since then.

Navigator said...

I guess other teams don't have fans from opposing teams coming to their ballpark. Attendance doesn't go up everywhere when the Yankees and Red Sox come to town.

Also, why do people keep bringing up the Uptown site, which Schott,who was owner at the time, showed absolutely zero interest. Wolff is trying to take credit for someone else's lack of interest in a site.

Anonymous said...

So the BRC has been in San Jose this week meeting with city and redevelopment officials. Here's to hoping that they have what they need and the green light will be given to SJ--I am not sure I can handle the rants of Nav and the self-serving Zennie....and they claim Wolff has no credibility??

Anonymous said...

Please everyone; just ignore the BS coming out of Navigators rump! That's all we need is another useless going back and forth.

Anonymous said...

These recent articles clearly demonstrate how Wolff lacks credibility. His claims to have "an hour and 45 minutes" worth of notes to go over on the topic of finding a ballpark in Oakland is in direct conflict with his earlier statement about how he wouldn't spend 5 minutes looking at a city besides San Jose. The guy is purely a San Jose real-estate developer using baseball to further those ambitions.

Marine Layer said...

I spent an 45 minutes with Wolff talking about those notes and we didn't even scratch the surface. That 1:45 time comes from how long it took for him to present that info to the MLB panel. Some of you believe Wolff's besmirched Oakland - frankly he's held back, not wanting to turn it into a mudslinging contest.

Anonymous said...

What mud has Wolff to sling? He's already on record as being 100% behind San Jose; he's reduced the capacity of the Coliseum to the lowest in major league baseball; he's reduced team payroll commensurate with his expenditures on pursuing the Fremont real-estate scam by jettisoing every star player the organization had signed to a good contract; and he's steered the team into the cellar. Attendance is down? Whoa, I'm stunned. Sling away Lew!

Marine Layer said...

12:02 - You really don't get it. Right now Lew's absorbing all of the criticism - which he knew he would. There are certainly other culpable parties, but what good would it be to dig all of that up? It doesn't help build a ballpark, that's for sure.

FC said...

Hmmm, lowest seating capacity in MLB and we still can't sellout a Yankee or Red Sox game. Where are those 20,000 signatures when you need them?

Anonymous said...

It isn't Oakland that is suffering here. It's A's fans. On field performance and attendance are down dramatically because of Wolff's policies. Attendance is the problem he is now trying to fix. What a lucky coincidence for him I suppose, that he has stumbled upon a major San Jose development opportunity that will fix his problem! How many of us get the opportinity in life to royally screw something up, then make a fortune fixing it?

Anonymous said...

FC, the A's did sellout 12 times in '06, the first year with a 35k capacity, and that cost the A's at least 100,000 tickets. Those tickets would have increased attendance that year, instead of decreasing. And Wolff promptly seized on the attendance decline (he created) in his announcement the team was moving to Fremont. So, since then you've got the team dumping it's best players, anchoring last-place, AND leaving town... Not exactly textbook sports marketing.

FC said...

The non-sellouts I was talking about were this year. Not exactly sure what the exact attendance figures were for the Yankees and Sox games, but when you factor in that a good number of those in attendance were actually Yankee and Sox fans, the picture looks even more pathetic. Fail to see how opening the upper deck would have help.

The A's were looking to move years before the upper deck was tarped, so the arguement that they did it just to drive attendance down holds no water. The tarps were put up because the upper deck was a losing proposition for the A's. They were spending more to keep it open than they were receiving in ticket sales.

As far as the dumping of players, I'll agree that it probably hurt interest in the team when it created a disconnect between the fans and the players. This is something which Beane probably didn't see coming. However, the moves were necessary, given that the farm system was in bad shape. I don't think for a moment that it was a plot to intentionally drive attendance down.

Anonymous said...

In the past, A's attendance has not been bad.
Pre- Fremont and Wolff, our average attendance was around 27,000, under Schottman. Our attendance can be good, as long as we put a god team on the field, and an owner that isn't negative.

Navigator said...


There is no defending Wolff. I'd love to see those "notes." The fact of the matter is that the Oakland A's are owned by one carpetbagger from San Jose and another from San Francisco. What chance has Oakland ever really had since Walter Haas sold the team?

This team has been rumored to be moving every single year since Schott bought the team. How do you engender loyalty and long-term confidence from your fanbase while running a franchise with a one foot out the door mentality? They've been to Santa Clara City Hall and told them "Our future is not in Oakland." They've been to Fremont City Hall and spent 28 million trying to build a ballpark down there. They're now basically sleeping at San Jose City Hall holding hands with Chuck Reed and Larry Stone. For Oakland, Lew Wolff has only "notes."

Well Lew, you know where you can put your notes. Oakland A's fans aren't buying.

FC said...

I can't say I have too much of a problem with what Wolff has done during his time of ownership. My only problem with him though is that he's probably not the best person to have out front speaking for the organization.

I think Wolff is better at being a behind the scene type of guy. I don't think he's used to having to deal with trying to please a fan base. His candidness at times gets him and the organization in trouble.

Say what you will about Larry Baer, Carmen Policy and Greg Jamison, but these guys are articulate, and they get/got it done.

Marine Layer said...

You wouldn't believe the notes if you saw them, Nav. Nothing's convincing you and that's fine.

Anonymous said...

Nav--the one thing that you can't dispute is that Oakland has done absolutely nothing to keep the team--no site, no EIR, no political leadership--no nothing---and how many years have passed by?

SJ on the other hand, with no guarantees that they will even be invited to the dance, identified a site, completed an EIR, is acquiring the land, set-up community forums...

So what has kept Oakland from having vision and leadership and doing all the things that SJ has done over the past 10 years? You can't blame that on Wolff or Schott or anyone else---but Oakland itself

Anonymous said...

FC, if you don't have a problem with an owner taking a team from perennial playoff contender to perennial lost cause, and from a steady near-league-average attendance rate down to dead last in the sport, in a scant 5 seasons at the helm, that's fine. You're just different than anyone I know personally.

Anonymous said...

Oakland is much more densely built-up than San Jose! It already has major league facilities taking up land. It has a lake and a bunch of high rises, a bigger airport, port operations, ongoing redevelopment projects, and other things it's trying to sort through to come up with a solution.

A) It's stupid to think Oakland could find unused, underdeveloped land as quickly as San Jose

B) It's equally stupid to think the greater difficulty is a justification to abandon the area

C) The A's could currently be doing much better at the gate, while working on a ballpark solution, if the owner weren't pushing so hard to drive business toward his day job: developing property in San Jose.

Anonymous said...

Actually what is stupid is to continually be the victim--and not hold your leaders accountable. Other more densely populated cities than Oakland have come up with ballpark solutions in a much shorter timeframe--the Colisieum is and has been the worst venue in baseball since the return of the Raiders in the mid-90's--that was 15 years ago and still no realistic identified site--

Implying that Oakland should have an open ended pass on finding suitable land--now that is stupid!

Navigator said...

Oakland has had two owners from the South Bay who have publicly stated that they wanted nothing to do with Oakland.

Schott told the Santa Clara City Council, "Our future is not in Oakland." Wolff, has told Oakland to get lost because we're too close to the Giants.

You want Oakland to deal with an owner who isn't interested? Then you ask "What has Oakland been doing?" Oakland has been trying to no avail. The Oakland Fire Training Center, Howard Terminal, Oak to 9th, Coliseum South, all have been dismissed by Wolff. Oakland even paid 200,000 for the HOK study and architectural drawings. Again to no avail.

The Oakland City Council has taken Wolff on tours of various sites. They've stated that the man showed no interest. It's much easier to develop a plan when you have an owner whispering sweet nothings into your ear, instead of an owner who gives the City of Oakland and 20,000 Oakland fans the back of his hand.

If Wolff thinks "4,000 fans" is bad attendance, he needs to wait and see what the Coliseum will look like for at least three years as he plans his San Jose ballpark. There hasn't been a gathering of 2,000 people at the Oakland Coliseum since Charlie Finley was the owner. This guy is worse and we'll see record low crowds for a lame duck franchise.

FC said...

Anon 10:16

Okay, it's easy to criticize, let hear what you would have done.

You walk into a situation where you obviously need a new ballpark. You historically have some of the lowest attendance figures in MLB, yet your ticket prices are already on the low end of the scale. You never know what your attendance will look like on any given night because your walk up fans are unpredictable. As a result, you have to staff a section of the ballpark, hoping that you will breakeven on the cost.

Add to that, you have to deal with a farm system that because of poor drafting, has fallen on hard times. You can't afford to go out and pay for high priced free agents, because you simply don't have the revenues to compete.

Oh, and BTW, you are in a two team market, where the other team just built a gem of a ballpark, and they control something like 6 out of the 9 counties in your area.

How are you going to boost your attendance and revenues in order to compete? How are you going to increase your corporate support? Where are you going to build your ballpark without alienating any part of your fan base? Are there any cities within your territory that have the political will to get a ballpark built in a location which will be successful?

The floor is yours.

bbison said...

Anon 10:40-

SJ pop density = 5758/sq mi.

OAK pop density = 7126/sq mi

Much more densely built up? Debatable--both are built up at the city core. The easily developed SJ space is on the fringes--where no one is looking to build a ballpark.

Quan said...

I don't know if it's been posted yet, but here's a link to the entire SF Mag article:

Interesting read.

Anonymous said...

Nav--do you seriously think that if Oakland had done what SJ has done, find a great location for a ballpark, acquire the land, conduct an EIR and assemble community forums that MLB would have established a blue ribbon commission to look into the situation--who cares what Wolff says--had Oakland done this there would be no way in hell that Wolff or any other owner could even consider moving the team--to continue to blame Oakland's predicament on Wolff, Schott or anyone else is inane---

Anonymous said...

"Alienating the fanbase with constant threats of relocating out of Oakland."

You seem to think that the residents of Oakland make up the A's "fanbase".

Bt that logic, the far more numerous residents of San Jose (about 2.5x as many as in Oaktown) would create a much larger fanbase for the A's.

I'm not saying this is necessarily true, just pointing out the foolishness of your Oakland-city-limits provincialism.

Anonymous said...

"You never know what your attendance will look like on any given night because your walk up fans are unpredictable. "

"Add to that, you have to deal with a farm system that because of poor drafting, has fallen on hard times. "

FC - Do you even follow this team?

a) walk up fans are unpredictable because most of them have no idea who is even playing on the team anymore. Casual fans are the first to check out during a rebuild.

B) The only positive to trading away the few good players fans actually know, is that our farm system is now loaded.

It's obvious the A's chose to rebuild during a time when the stadium issue hit the table, if this came up during a pennant run there would be zero discussion on SJ. Don't believe the hype because I think the A's are going to intentionally be mediocre for years to come or at least until the stadium issue is resolved...

Anonymous said...

FC, apparently you missed the memo on how the A's can compete. In baseball jargon, it's called "Moneyball".

FYI, the A's did compete from 2000-2006, and had solid players like Haren, Swisher, Blanton, Harden, Street, locked up in good contracts, and guys like Cahill, Doolittle, Desme, Weeks, Suzuki, Buck, Bailey, in the pipe (or soon to be drafted). Every one of them but Haren homegrown. You make it sound like the A's were in a state of disarray at the time Wolff began damaging attendance at the start of '06, and accelerating the pace each year since. Of course that's how Wolff and Beane have described it, but the truth is obviously that payroll had to be cut to fund the departure to Fremont.

And now that the roster and attendance have been reduced to this point, and the team will focus on funding San Jose the next few years, don't expect to see anymore respectable teams for a while. I sure hope that one day, they will get out of this loop of sucking the life out of "baseball" operations in order to fund "real estate" operations, but I'm afraid Mr. Wolff will need to be out of the picture for that to ever happen.

Navigator said...


This is what I would have done.

When I purchased the team, I would've come in with the understanding that I purchased the OAKLAND A's. I would have realized that if I wanted a ballpark for THE OAKLAND A's, that I would have to build that ballpark in Oakland. Period!

Wolff bought the team with the idea that it could be relocated. He bought it as a commodity to be relocated at his whim. That's his first mistake. When you come in with that mentality, eventual failure in the market place is the only option.

Also, I would have started by nurturing my existing season ticket holders. I would have promoted my team as a fixture in the community, reached out to corporations all over Oakland, the East Bay, and San Francisco. I would not have denigrated my venue or my home city. I would have worked with the City of Oakland on finding a site for my ballpark. I would have been excited to contribute to the economic growth of the city, realizing that it would benefit the Oakland A's in the long run.

I would've gone to schools in Oakland and the East Bay and promoted the team to youngsters in the community. I would've also lowered ticket prices for kids and seniors and allowed them to sit in the third deck.

Unfortunately, Wolff and Fisher think that baseball belongs to the wealthy and to the corporations. Baseball needs to come back to the people. Families, students and seniors need to be valued and cherished. People become fans as kids. Their first impressions at the ballpark is what will make them a fan for life.

To be successful, you listen to your customers. You have to be loyal to your customers. The customers are telling this ownership that they want their team to remain in Oakland. So far, Lew Wolff thinks he's above the wishes of his customers. This is no way to run a business, or a baseball franchise.

Lew Wolff's and John Fisher's biggest mistake was coming in with the idea that this was a commodity to be relocated. This is the essence of what has gotten us to this point. This is a mentality which has destroyed one of the better franchises in baseball. This negativity has to end.

Happy Thanksgiving Oakland A's fans!

Navigator said...


The idea here is to have the team be lousy in Oakland as they rebuild for a ballpark in San Jose.

They want the Oakland fans to pay to watch mediocrity so that the corporate types in Silicon Valley can have a winning team waiting for them. Think about how humiliating that is Oakland fans. Think about how much Lew Wolff and Billy Beane value you as fans. They're willing to use us while they tinker with the product for the benefit of the South Bay.

Anonymous said...

For the last time:

1. Wolff is from Los Angeles, not San Jose. He does business in San Jose because it's good for doing business. Go figure.

2. He was using the peripheral developments to fund a Fremont ballpark, not vice versa. He currently has no plans for condos at Diridon.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone has missed it...but Lew Wolff and John Fisher have NEVER lost any money since they've had ownership of the franchise. This is a known fact. This is why they have such a sweetheart of a deal with with the lease at the Coliseum, the MLB revenue sharing, parking, concessions (including raiders games I believe?) and soccer games.

They're obviously just lining their pockets with more money rather than investing back into the team itself to put quality back out on the field. Doing so would attract more fans and so on and so on....

This is why Lew Wolff has NO business what's up ever owning a baseball team. He's clueless on how to run it. On top of that he just looks like an evil man with his fraternity "lover" selig. Now is this the face of a man you think you can trust???