City leaders against ballpark, Schott says
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Friday, August 16, 2002 - 3:17:25 AM MST
City leaders against ballpark, Schott says
Mayor Brown says Oakland spent large sums on scouting sites
By Robert Gammon
OAKLAND -- Oakland A's co-owner Steve Schott said Thursday that although he is "cautiously optimistic" a deal eventually can be struck for a new ballpark in the East Bay, he believes it will be a tough task because of Oakland's current political leadership.
Schott noted that Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown is "not a sports fan" and that Brown has been pessimistic about the city and Alameda County's ability to help finance a new baseball-only stadium for the A's. Schott also pointed to City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente's opposition to a publicly financed ballpark.
"Until you get elected officials behind it ...they're the individuals who can speak for the voters," Schott said.
Brown responded by pointing out that the city and county hired renowned stadium architect HOK Sports last year to scout and analyze potential ballpark sites in the East Bay even though the A's have taken no formal steps toward a stadium plan.
"The city and the county have spent a couple of hundred thousand dollars, while the A's have not spent any of their own money," he said in a phone interview after being told of Schott's comments. "That's a real problem."
"What it comes down to is (Schott) wants to know how much money taxpayers are going to cough up."
The debate over a new stadium for the A's has reached a near-stalemate, with both the city and the A's saying they are waiting for each other to take the first step toward deciding where a ballpark would be built and how it would be financed.
Schott's comments came during a two-hour luncheon near Oakland International Airport with Northern California reporters and columnists.
Schott, who owns a half-interest in the A's and is the franchise's managing general partner, addressed several hot-button issues involving the team and Major League Baseball, including recent reports of the A's nearly being sold, the controversy surrounding a new ballpark and the current negotiations between the owners and players.
Schott also announced that A's co-owner Ken Hofmann has expressed interest in selling his 50 percent stake in the team. Schott said Hofmann -- who did not attend the luncheon and speaks to the media more rarely than Schott -- will turn 80 this winter and "is concerned about his estate."
But Schott said he would agree to a sale of Hofmann's half-interest to another investor or group of investors only if it's "a good match" and if he maintains his current control of the ballclub.
Speculation over whether both Schott and Hofmann would sell the team outright has been swirling around the franchise since last summer when the A's were almost purchased by Hollywood investors with ties to Las Vegas.
Those concerns were reinforced last month amid reports that Schott and Hofmann nearly sold the team to Washington, D.C., investor Jonathan Ledecky for $170 million.
Schott said his conversations with Ledecky were prompted by a request from the office of baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. The talks with Ledecky never came to fruition because Ledecky's investment team failed to come up with the necessary funds, Schott said.
Schott reiterated Thursday that the team "is not for sale," but he stopped short of saying he would refuse to listen to offers. "If you say the team is worth $150 million to $160 million ... and if somebody comes along and offers me $200 million ... I'll talk to him," he said.
For now, however, Schott said he plans to keep his interest in the team while working to find a new spot for a stadium in the East Bay. He added that he essentially has ruled out any hope of moving the franchise to the South Bay, even though he believes the A's would be better off economically with a new ballpark in Silicon Valley.
Last year, Schott told the Santa Clara City Council he was interested in moving the team there and endorsed a booster club's financial plan for a new ballpark near Great America theme park. Negotiations with Santa Clara, however, eventually unraveled. A major hurdle to any move to the South Bay is the San Francisco Giants' ownership of the region's territorial rights.
In Oakland, ballpark supporters inside City Hall have pushed for a new stadium in downtown, but Schott on Thursday again refused to commit to a downtown ballpark. He also would not rule out any of the other East Bay stadium sites identified by HOK, including Fremont, adding that he wants "to keep our options open."
A high-placed source said Thursday that Schott has said privately he does not want a downtown Oakland ballpark because the team's main fan base is not from the area. Schott wants a spot closer to the airport, the source said, while Hofmann is said to prefer the Oakland waterfront near Jack London Square.
Schott said he and other top Oakland officials are planning to meet within the next few weeks to discuss the new stadium issue. But he said the team needs to find out who in the city "can make decisions," before those talks can become serious.
The A's, he said, would commit "X dollars" to stadium plan, but he refused to say how much "X" represents. In responding to a question about what percentage the team would be willing to invest compared with the city and the county for a new stadium, he said, "I like my percentages a little bit lower and the public's, a little bit higher."
Despite his reluctance to discuss ballpark details, Schott repeated the team's stance that it needs a new stadium to compete effectively against the rest of the league.
He and team President Mike Crowley said it is imperative that the ongoing talks between baseball owners and players result in a plan to level the financial playing field between low-revenue, small market teams, such as the A's, and high-revenue, large-market teams, such as the New York Yankees.
| By tekgraf on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 11:29 am:|
what a bunch of horse shi... Steve Schott makes me want to vomitt. I think the city of Oakland should never have let him out of his ten year lease in the first place. What gall this guy has blaming the politicians for all this. If anything he and the jackasses that run this city are both to blame for all this nonsense. Lets play ball and get a fuc... ball park built so that I can sleep better at nights.
| By eyleenn on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 09:03 pm:|
Schott's arrogance is mind-blowing. I think he's sadly mistaken if he believes the Oakland politicians are going to make any concessions to him unless he commits to a downtown park and agrees to put up substantial bucks, i.e., more private than public money.
It's all a set-up for when he sells to out of town owners or lets Selig contract the team.
| By bubba69 on Saturday, August 17, 2002 - 09:07 pm:|
The City of Oakland owes the A's the ballpark. Just look at all the good Schott does for the city...oh wait...never mind!
| By beng87 on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 12:07 pm:|
First of all, to give you a bad impression of the man before I talk about what he does wrong, Steve Schott is cousins with the most notoriously racist and anti-semitic person in political baseball, in fact she is barred from the Red's clubhouse which she used to be the most important figure in. Steve tried to move the team to the South Bay, and if he could succeed he would still be trying. Now that he sees the east bay is almost inevitable, he has changed his views, but he even says that he would still rather to see the A's in the South bay. He claims to be fighting for a new stadium (which he has to be interested in after how much he wanted to move the A's), but if you were Brown or De La Fuente, how seriously would you take plans for a new stadium if the scumbag owner of the team (Schott) won't say, or even hint, about how much "X" dollars is.
Oakland is a financially struggling city, a new stadium in a revitalized downtown area could help the city's economy in the long run, but Schott has not said anything about how much the A's will spend on the project. The city council and mayor are supposed to just follow through with a very expensive plan when they have no idea how it will be financed. If Schott came up with a financial plan, saying we will spend X amount (and have X actually be a number, preferably with 8 or 9 digits) and ask the city to spend X amount, and we will do this which should attract X more people to come to the stadium, and after X years the X more fans at the game will have paid the price for the new stadium and then profits will increase, then maybe they would listen to him.
The downtown plan, if followed through with, could help Oakland's economy with a better stadium (more people would come) and a cool shopping area around it. If Schott would hire a couple of experts to analyze the increased profits and how to pay for the new stadium and downtown area, and told these plans to the city council and mayor, then maybe the plan would be more appealing to them and give them a better idea of what they would be voting for. Schott should not blame them for not supporting an economy boosting plan, when he has not given them a secure plan as to how much it will help the A's and the economy of Oakland nor how much the city must do and how much he is willing to do.
Even if Schott is not willing to chip in much, I think the city council will at least have an idea of the details of the plan before they vote against it. To say it again, Schott should not expect a city council to support an expensive plan that does not have simple details such as how much the city will pay and how much he will pay, or how much increased profits they hope to get with the new stadium and revitalized area.
I don't think we should condemn Steve for any relationship to Marge. There's enough to dislike about him even with no relationship to Marge.
| By ronc on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 04:11 pm:|
I think you'll find it's a different Steve Schott who is related to Marge's husband.
I agree. There is no evidence that, even if Steve Schott was related to the ex Red's owner, that he would necessarily be anti semitic or anti any particular ethnic group.
| By bubba69 on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 09:07 pm:|
He is just anti fan.....
| By kevink on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 09:09 pm:|
Steve Schott of the A's is not related to Marge Schott.
Is there any truth to the story that Schott actually didn't want the uptown site but still wants a waterfront ballpark near JL Square?
I heard that Hofmann was the one that wanted the waterfront. And I heard that Schott simply doesn't want to stay in Oakland, period.
| By kenarneson on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 09:25 pm:|
That's the impression I've gotten from Schott; that he wants something on the water like Pac Bell.
I'm probably dreaming here, but I think the A's should look into the former Navy land right across from JL Square in Alameda. The "Northern Waterfront" land is (a) free, (b) undeveloped, and (c) right on the water.
View from that location would include the estuary, JL Square, the Oakland skyline, Lake Merritt, and the Oakland hills. Everything that's great about Oakland would be visible from a ballpark located there.
Catellus, who is developing the land, was planning going to put office space there, but the demand for office space is now so low, that they're looking for alternatives. They're exploring retail, but that's not looking so great, either.
The downside is that you'd have to build at least some kind of pedestrian drawbridge, so people can park in Oakland and walk over to the park. Alamedans won't want all that traffic in their city. I don't know how much a bridge like that would cost, but it might be cheaper than the current Port of Oakland plan.
OK, Ken, now dream on...
| By eyleenn on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 09:48 pm:|
Even if the A's Schott were related to Marge's husband, (1) that's not his fault and (2) he wouldn't be related to Marge-the-bigot by blood, but to her husband.
As Greg said, there are plenty of valid reasons to dislike Steve Schott, but any alleged relation to Marge is not one of them.