OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Schott Speaks
| By kevink on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 09:20 am:|
Schott puts some spin on the A's
By Ann Killion
Mercury News Staff Columnist
Until recently, the sports facility off Hegenberger Road in Oakland was the Clueless Complex, filled with team owners who neither cared for nor understood the value of the positive spin.
Chris Cohan, Al Davis and Steve Schott had rejected any attempt to personally sell themselves or their product to the Bay Area.
But A's owner Schott is learning the value of good public relations. At least in theory.
Thursday, he had one of a series of friendly meetings with reporters, a strategy intended to generate good will toward the A's and help the effort to get a new stadium built.
The A's and Schott have plenty to sell: They're on a pace to draw 2 million fans again, the team is back in the thick of the playoff race, the A's are a model of fiscally responsible baseball, and Schott just signed a new lease to keep the team in Oakland through 2007.
The only thing lacking is the thing all owners want most: a new stadium.
``I'm cautiously optimistic,'' Schott said about the drive for a baseball-only stadium in the East Bay for the A's.
That's what he said. That's the positive spin. But Schott apparently hasn't completed PR 101 yet. Because when pushed, he sounded downright pessimistic.
What are the obstacles? How much time do you have?
There's Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who clearly isn't on Schott's Top 10 Politicians list. ``The mayor expressed that he's not in favor of a stadium. . . . He's not a sports fan,'' Schott said.
Schott is looking for support from an elected official, but his backup plan seems to be hoping that all the East Bay's elected officials retire. He cited a rumor that Brown -- recently re-elected -- may be looking to leave Oakland for a new office before his term is up. That's a pretty thin place to prop your stadium hopes.
Then there's the economy -- with bankruptcies mounting, layoffs escalating and confidence dropping. And there are the millions of dollars Alameda County residents are paying for the bungled Raiders and Warriors deals.
Oh, and there's that privately financed ballpark across the pond. When asked why the A's aren't pursuing the Giants' model, Schott evaded the question before concluding lamely with, ``Location is the key. . . . This isn't San Francisco. It isn't. We all know that.''
Oakland's been trying to spin that since Gertrude Stein was a schoolgirl.
Looming over all the other negatives is the shadow of baseball's labor problems. If there's another work stoppage, the public, investors and politicians will run screaming from baseball as though Rawlings were injecting smallpox into equipment.
``It would be devastating,'' Schott said.
It's enough to make you want to sell your team. But Schott insists that isn't so.
``The team is not for sale,'' he declared. He said a report earlier this month about a Washington investor who wanted to buy the A's was misleading. Schott said he listened to Jonathan Ledecky's proposal only as a favor to Commissioner Bud Selig. ``We talked but nothing came of it,'' Schott said.
Schott did allow that his partner Ken Hoffman, who turns 80 next year, is interested in selling his share of the team. But Schott expects to stay on for many years.
And what about his once hot pursuit of Santa Clara, even if it meant war with the Giants?
``I can think about it, but I'm not so sure that in my tenure that it has a chance or if I want to push it,'' he said. ``There might be a price the Giants would take. But I don't want to push it.''
But, he added: ``From an economic standpoint, the A's would be better off in the South Bay.''
So there's the public spin. Schott doesn't want to sell the team and wants to build a stadium in Oakland. That's despite continued reports that he does want to sell and the belief that the Santa Clara native desperately wants to move to the South Bay.
But a public position is useful. Schott has put the stadium issue in Oakland's lap and now we get to see if officials can do anything with it. And if they can't, Schott can at least say he tried. Schott is trying to tell the public what it wants to hear, to erase the unsettled feeling that has hung over the A's since he bought the team.
Any public position is better than none at all. It's a lesson Schott might want to pass on to his fellow tenants.
Contact Ann Killion at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 920-5805. Fax (408) 920-5244.
| By fanamy on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 10:13 am:|
It's funny how two different reporters who were apparently at the same function see totally different things. Dave Newhouse in the Trib/Review wrote a much less flattering article - which I tend to lean more towards based on previous PR flubs by Schott.
Schott said he listened to Jonathan Ledecky's proposal only as a favor to Commissioner Bud Selig. ``We talked but nothing came of it,'' Schott said.
Does anyone believe this? It sounded like there were more than a few friendly conversations, you know, talking in theory about a sale. A price was set, a deadline for a downpayment was set, and Mr. Ledecky failed to come through. What if he had? There would have been a sale, as far as I understand it.
Sure, the whole thing has the stench of Selig's pawprints on it -- Selig clearly wants the A's out of the Bay Area. But Schott appeared to be a willing party, and it appeared to go further than he's now willing to admit.
Here's my e-mail response to Killion's article and her response to me which means she probably doesn't even read her mail. But at least I'll make it public here for I know many lurkers read our forum regularly.
Dear Ann Killion,
Excuse me if I sound rash and please don't take this disrespect
to you as writer. I have always enjoyed your fine reporting of
facts in the past.
But you state in your article:
>>But a public position is useful. Schott has put the stadium
issue in Oakland's lap and now we get to see if officials can
do anything with it. And if they can't, Schott can at least say
he tried. Schott is trying to tell the public what it wants to
hear, to erase the unsettled feeling that has hung over the A's
since he bought the team. <<
THAT is the most preposterous conclusion to come up with...
and if it was the message Schott conveyed to you, where have you
been for the last two years? Why didn't you ask him to tell the OTHER
side of this story? Since when a reporter has to tell only one view of
Have you not followed Oakland's efforts in hiring consultants and
forming a pro ballpark committee, taking trips around the country
and finally developing a Master Plan for a downtown ballpark? Did
you not notice how Schott played hard to get and played dumb throughout
this process, ignoring all the political struggle and fight many of
us took part in at every step of the way?
Schott looked the other way and ignored all of this when he
should have been pursuing it along with the civic leaders and ballpark
proponents from all over Oakland, East and North Bay. Why didn't he show
an interest or at least show up like he did at the Santa Clara City
Council meetings? If he really wants a ballpark in Oakland, he sure
had a funny way of showing it. And notice I said "had" and not "has".
Ann, you completely left out Oakland's side in your story. Why?
Have you been out of the country all these months which culminated
with the huge disappointment to all of us on July 23rd; when the City
Council finally had to admit the A's had no interest in the downtown
Oakland and Alameda County have done EVERYTHING they had to do and
SCHOTT never bothered to show up publicly or privately to show his interest in
what the city officials had to say. Robert Bobb had a financial package
which was shown to him and he never came up with even a counter offer to the plan.
Robert Bobb finally had to say, 'you can lead a horse to the water but
you can't make it drink the water"...'it's hard to champion for a cause
when the interested party doesn't want to participate' (paraphrased)
Please! Don't come now saying: "put the stadium
issue in Oakland's lap and now we get to see if officials can
do anything with it."
Schott is very mistaken if he thinks people will not hear the other
side of this story. Perhaps you're not willing to tell it since you work
for a South Bay newspaper, but there are plenty of voices who are ready
to speak out loud and clear on what really happened between Oakland and
the A's ownership on this ballpark issue.
Schott and Bud Selig will not be allowed to use their usual threats and spin
by shifting the blame to the politicians this time. They will not be able to pin
that on Oakland's lap. There are plenty of us ready to call off his bluff
on this one.
Thank you very much for your time,
Thank you for your email. Because I get such a high volume of email, I cannot reply personally to every message sent. However, please be assured that I do read all of the email that I receive. I appreciate your input and the fact that you took the time to write.
San Jose Mercury News
btw, I have sent a copy of my response to Mike Crowley for possible delivery to Schott's PR guy.
| By kevink on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 01:23 pm:|
I wonder why Ann Killion doesn't have time to respond to email but most of the other writers in the Bay Area get back to emails pretty quickly?
I got back from the game and found an email response from Ann Killion:
Thanks for the email. You make some very good points and you're right - I probably didn't do a good job of presenting the other side of the issue. But Robert Bobb isn't an elected official and he seems the one most interested in making it happen and the elected officials seem ambivalent at best and hostile like Jerry Brown at worst. I don't believe Schott wants a park in Oakland. My point was (and perhaps I didn't make it well) was that he's trying to present a public posture. If things don't work out (and the odds are that they won't - we both know that), he'll say he tried. And then he'll sell the team or try to move it. Thanks again for writing.
| By eyleenn on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 12:12 am:|
"If things don't work out (and the odds are that they won't - we both know that), he'll say he tried. And then he'll sell the team or try to move it."
Lil, I believe you made this point already. Schott is positioning himself to be able to say that "he tried" (same as he said with the Giambi non-signing) and pin the blame on someone else when a stadium cannot be built in Oakland. However, those of us who were there know the truth and we should make sure that as many people as possible know it, too.
| By diamond_lil on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 12:28 am:|
Eyleen, that is exactly why we should keep the media informed and remind them of all the work and effort many civic leaders put into the ballpark plans.
Ann Killion of course mentioned that Robert Bobb is not an elected official, but Dick Spees, Jane Brunner and Larry Reed were very much in support of the ballpark. And even though Jerry Brown is not a sports fan, Robert Bobb and his staff would not have gone through all that work and the consultants would not have been hired had it not his approval.
The entire Oakland City Council and Alameda Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of the HOK and Horrow consultants. Presentations and plans were there but Schott never showed up.
What about Mike Crowley's letter stating that extensive work and discussions had taken place behind the scenes? What can Schott say about that?
They kept saying that only the lease extension was signed they would come forward to talk publicly. So this is what Schott calls talking about the ballpark? All a bunch of BS.