NEW OWNERS NOW! - 03-15-2003
On Saturday, March 15, 2003 – yes, the Ides of March – Steve Schott broke the hearts of Oakland Athletics fans everywhere. Rather than attempt to work out a deal with American League MVP and star shortstop Miguel Tejada, Steve Schott has terminated attempts to sign him, and made this decision quite public. Two weeks before the season starts, A’s fans know that they will lose yet another MVP in Miguel Tejada, just as we lost Jason Giambi before him.
This one hurts more than the loss of Giambi, though. Not only is Miguel Tejada a five-tool player with excellent defense and offense, but this is a man who truly cares about Oakland. Tejada was recently quoted as saying, “I love Oakland. It's a great city, I know everybody. It's like a family.”
This refreshing sentiment is something to which Oakland A’s fans are not accustomed, having endured the stewardship of Steve Schott for the last seven years. After purchasing the team from the Haas family with promises to keep them in Oakland, it seems that Steve Schott has spent the ensuing years as owner doing everything possible to alienate the fans, most notably by exploring a possible move to Santa Clara. In March 2001, Steve Schott said that the A’s "have no future in Oakland," while lobbying the Santa Clara city council to move the team there. Talks stalled with Santa Clara when Schott was rumored to be selling the team (a rumor he denied that was later substantiated . . . a pattern with Mr. Schott.)
The fear of losing the Oakland A’s to relocation or even possible contraction prompted the Joint Powers Authority of Alameda County and the Oakland City Council to explore the possibility of a new stadium for the A’s in the East Bay. To this end, renowned architects HOK Sport were hired to identify and analyze locations for a new stadium. Downtown Oakland (the “Uptown” site) was identified as the best possible location, and preliminary designs were developed. Some members of the Oakland City Council, JPA and other interested citizens participated in a fact finding mission to visit new baseball stadiums in a number of municipalities, gathering information on how to make a public/private financing plan work. People were excited about the prospect for a new stadium. But there was one big problem:
Steve Schott showed no interest.
Neither Steve Schott, nor any member of the Oakland A’s organization, attended any of the meetings of the JPA or Oakland City Council concerning the new ballpark. Not one person.
The same question came up over and over again from the JPA members and Oakland City Council. “Why should we spend more money and energy on this if the owners don’t even show up to meetings?” There was no good answer to that question, so the City Council voted for the Forest City housing development at the Uptown location, and the dream of a ballpark there died . . . for now.
Did I mention that Steve Schott & A’s President Mike Crowley both attended Santa Clara City Council meetings regarding relocation of the team?
Which brings us back to the latest dagger in the heart of fans. Let’s face it – many of us were bracing ourselves for the loss of Miguel Tejada. We have become accustomed to the ways of Steve Schott, and knew it was unlikely he would invest the money in keeping Tejada long term. But I don’t think ANYONE expected that he would announce his intention two weeks before the start of the season. This tells me that either one of two things is happening. 1) Schott purposely wants to sabotage attendance at A’s games to substantiate his case for relocation or 2) he has no idea whatsoever of how negatively this would be perceived by fans, so did not realize how this would damage attendance. Either alternative means only one thing: Steve Schott does not deserve to be the steward of this great and glorious franchise. He has hurt the team immeasurably by his constant threats of moving and bungling of public relations. He has no conception of how his words and actions have affected the fans.
It is time for Mr. Schott to sell the Oakland A’s to someone who has the commitment to keep this team in Oakland. A’s fans deserve an owner who appreciates the fans and understands that it is the owner’s responsibility to strengthen the community’s ties to the team . . . not attempt to sever them at every turn.
NEW OWNERS NOW !
Jen Medeiros is a Board Member of the Oakland A's Fan Coalition.
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