Purdy at least doesn't bother to hide the truth.
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| By diamond_lil on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 04:14 pm:|
http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/7276080.htmPosted on Sun, Nov. 16, 2003
S.J. has friend in Wolff
By Mark Purdy
Mercury News Staff Columnist
I have seen the future of major league baseball in the South Bay. And his name is Lew Wolff.
That's a lot of pressure to put on one guy, I know. But Wolff can handle it. He's a real-estate developer. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, people told him he was crazy to invest any money in downtown San Jose and its redevelopment.
Wolff ignored the skeptics. He forged ahead with the office buildings in Park Center Plaza, and later with a couple of hotels. When the Silicon Valley boom arrived, Wolff had already anticipated the fastball. He hit a grand slam.
Now, Wolff has an even more difficult task. In a time of economic ulcers and cynicism, the A's want him to find them a new place to play. The team's co-owners, Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann, brought Wolff aboard last week as ``vice president for venue development.''
In English, here's what that title means: Hey, pal, get us a ballpark, yesterday.
Wolff has agreed to pick up the gauntlet and run with it, well aware of the perils ahead.
``Steve and Ken have run their franchise very well and have given the A's fans some very successful teams,'' Wolff said the other day from his office in Los Angeles, where he also owns real estate. ``What's needed is a great environment where those successful teams can play. Right now, I believe that only one other baseball team shares a venue with a football team.''
Actually, there are two other teams in the A's situation -- Florida and Minnesota -- but Wolff's point is made. The A's need their own facility, or else they will never earn the revenue to retain talent, and will keep losing the likes of Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada to free agency.
``It hurts not to be able to keep players like that,'' said Schott. ``We can't keep doing that forever. My message has always been that I will do what everything I can do, with what we've got. But we need more revenue for us to make it possible for us to keep around the people we want to keep around.''
Where will a new ballpark be sought? On the surface, Schott and other team officials are following the proper diplomatic course. They say that Wolff will check out all possibilities in the East Bay and hope to get something accomplished there.
We all know the truth, though. If the A's have a future as a Bay Area franchise, that future is in the South Bay, most likely in San Jose, preferably in downtown San Jose.
Patience is mandatory. Nothing is going to happen tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow. But something is going to happen. Just watch.
When the A's announced Wolff's appointment, his ties to the South Bay were prominently mentioned. But you should also know about one other important relationship that Wolff has maintained through much of his life. He was a college classmate of Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball. One source says they were good friends at the University of Wisconsin. Another source says the two men were fraternity brothers and that they have a close relationship.
What does Wolff say? Are he and Selig still buddies? And was Selig involved at all in his decision to join the A's?
With circumspection, Wolff admits that he knows Selig, but demurs: ``You should really talk with Bud about anything beyond that.''
A phone call to the commissioner's office Friday afternoon was not returned.
It is obvious, though, that Wolff and Selig have a first-name relationship. In the political world of baseball, that is an immense plus.
Wolff's involvement, then, is a master stroke for the A's. He gives the A's front office something they have desperately needed -- a point man who can work all of the necessary angles to bring a ballpark project to fruition. On the real estate side, Wolff knows how deals are made. He knows how to work with cities, knows how to not waste time with deals that won't pan out, knows how to wait for the right moment to strike with the best plan.
And on the baseball/sports side? Wolff was previously a part-owner in hockey (St. Louis Blues) and basketball (Warriors), so he knows how the professional athletics business works.
Schott and Wolff had known each other socially through mutual business interests. But the idea of combining forces began coagulating last summer. Wolff will become financially involved with the A's, but on a contingency basis and only if he succeeds in the great ballpark hunt. He already has plans for how that hunt will be implemented.
``We're trying not to do the typical city-forms-a-site-search-committee, then-we'll-see-what-happens kind of thing,'' Wolff said. ``Really, this whole thing is 90 percent common sense.''
In other words, rather than dawdle too long with studies and governmental hoo-ha, Wolff will seek out the best do-able deal and see where that deal goes. If that's in Oakland, fine. But frankly, if your city has a mayor who recently decided to build a housing project on the best potential downtown ballpark location (hello, Jerry Brown!), doesn't that tell you something?
No, this whole adventure will lead to Santa Clara County, sooner or later. Wolff won't answer any questions about that. But he has always been an advocate of downtown San Jose. Mayor Ron Gonzales has never made a ballpark any sort of major priority, but he and Wolff are well acquainted. And in a fortuitous bit of timing, council member Dave Cortese recently led a move to form a city task force to examine the possibilities of new sports facilities in the city.
There's no guarantee any of this will lead anywhere. But the betting here is, there will be a ballpark pitch here within three years. And we know this much: Lew Wolff can hit the fastball.
Contact Mark Purdy at email@example.com or (408) 920-5092. Fax (408) 920-5244.
| By kevink on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 08:28 pm:|
Purdy touts this guy as a genius for building some things in downtown SJ, but has anyone been to downtown SJ lately? It's a ghost town! Nobody goes there. They keep trying to add restaurants and bars and things and create an "urban" environment but it's been a failure, with the exception of a few places.
Yes, this is no surprise. The most aggravating thing is Jerry Brown will have no problem sitting back and letting the team be taken from Oakland.
| By eyleenn on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:43 pm:|
It turns my stomach to hear Purdy gloat.
| By jayho on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 10:30 pm:|
KEVINK, no lie. No amount of artificially generated excitement can bring vibrancy to San Jose. The city just doesn't have "IT."
| By eyleenn on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:09 pm:|
San Jose is exactly like the suburbs of L.A.
| By chris_d on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:17 pm:|
"But you should also know about one other important relationship that Wolff has maintained through much of his life. He was a college classmate of Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball. One source says they were good friends at the University of Wisconsin. Another source says the two men were fraternity brothers and that they have a close relationship."
Classic Selig. The old boys' club lives.
| By kevink on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:24 pm:|
INTERESTING Chris D. Not surprising either.
Eyeleeenn, not sure I agree with that. I'm not an SJ-hater, I'm just pointing out the facts, that SJ's downtown has never really gotten off the starting blocks. SJ does have a NICE downtown, but it is far from anything to brag about compared with any other big city.
| By eyleenn on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:52 pm:|
Just how many "e's" do I have in my name???
| By deajay on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 09:09 pm:|
Well, apparently, you now have four eeee's.
So deemed by Kevin (only one e, however).
| By kevink on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 10:37 pm:|
I lost count of the e's.
I think the double-n's threw me off!
| By bartender on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 11:10 pm:|
Hey I'm not trying to move the team down here, but some of you need to layoff SJ. It's not our fault Schott wants to bring them here. Downtown maybe quiet, but it's clean, and we don't have 120 murders a year. I live in the South Bay, but I work at the Colesium, and I'll tell you SJ is a lot better, and even with the recession, doesnt have have the social issues Oak Town needs to address before spending 400 mil on a ballpark.
| By mutiny on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 11:15 pm:|
san jose is a ghost town. since the dot.commers left, the city is no place for a new ballpark. hell, they can't even pack the arena for sharks games.
| By chris_d on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 10:56 am:|
San Jose is a fine city. It's just happens to not be the home of the Oakland A's. Oakland is -- for 35 years now -- and the East Bay has done a very good job in supporting the A's and deserves to keep them.
| By okplayer on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 03:09 pm:|
chris d, that's what I'm saying...SJ isn't an A's community, it's a GNats community. The A's were drawing about 2.7 mil in the Haas era. Honestly, though, I'm not an expert on the SJ market potential vs. the Oakland market potential. Is SJ that much more lucrative. I'm w/mutiny, that place is a ghost town and while the town gets a bad wrap from those on the West Bay, it's the second most picturesque city in this area.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 06:22 pm:|
Oakland is the second most picturesque city in the Bay.
Does it have the dozens and dozens of skyscrapers of SF, no.
Does it have SF's world class restaurants, no.
Does it have the world wide acclaim that SF get, no.
Does it have 2 of the most famous bridges near it's landscape, no.
Oakland is a city of blue collar people with a blue collar image and those in the media think it's fun to bash it because it makes SF looks better when compared to Oakland.
Oakland doesn't want 60 story skyscrapers like Transamerica or BOA building dominating it's skyline.
Could Oakland have a huge towering buildings in downtown, yes, but that's not what the city is about.
Could Oakland have the waterfront near JLS be filled with huge shops and condos, yes, but if you go to the planning commision or city council meetings, Oaklanders don't want them because it's not the image we want for this city.
This is city is not going to compete with SF for scenic views of downtown or try to sway tourist to Oakland from SF.
Oakland wants to be a world class city but it not going to the length of SF with the bells and whistles that city has.
Oakland has the great places to visit and go to in JLS and the hills.
It has a nice scenic areas like the Oakland hills, the downtown landscape, and the beautiful Lake Merritt espeically when it's dark and you see the ring of lights.
Oakland has it's problems like many cities have. I'm not disputing that but it's not the crime invested place people think it is.
| By bartender on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 10:00 pm:|
No one likes to invest in crime. Hey look, I could never imagine calling them anything but the Oakland A's, but unfortunately Oakland does have worse civic problems than most other cities. I love how everyone thinks Silicon Valley has gotten worse since the dot com crash. Traffic has gone back to normal, and you don't have to pay $1500 for a studio. Say what you wan't, but SJ is by far the best city in the Bay. The Sharks sold out for years as the doormats of the NHL, and now just because you can't name a player on the team, and attendance has dwindled slightly, you think they arent being supported. I love the A's, but the Sahrks never had 60% capacity playoff games.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 10:17 pm:|
Yeah, but remember the Sharks ratings during television are the worst in the Bay.
The Trib has a special section in Page 2 that shows the local teams' rating and the Sharks highest rating was against the Avs a while ago.
Only 35k in the entire Bay Area watches the sharks and that's the highest rating.
The Warriors usually draw an average of 120k and their the second worst out of the 6 major sports.
The rest of the Bay doesn't care about SJ sports. Sorry to tell you that. Nobody knew that the Sabercats won the AFL, the Quake won MLS, or the C-Rays won the WUSA. Nobody cares about the Sharks other than the south bay.
And yes, I do care if the Sharks win but it's not like I live or die with them like I do for the A's and Niners. Hockey won't be a success here in the Bay, even if it was in SF or Oakland.
I can name a few Sharks:
Ricci, Nabakov, Stuart, Marleau off the top of my head.
I'll tell you one thing, the Sharks should've never let go of Sutter and Lombardi ruined that team.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 10:24 pm:|
As for your remark on the A's playoff attendance last year against the Twins, you can blame the Schott for outpricing the fans out of tickets adn MLB for scheduling games in the afternoon.
People can call them excuses but it's the truth.
I'm not saying if the A's move out to SJ they would lose A's fans but the majority of A's fans live in Alameda and Contra Costa and why move a good 30-45 minutes away from your core fanbase.
Imagine the freeway nightmare there would be if the A's moved to SJ during night games.
| By bartender on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 10:53 pm:|
I grew up here in the South Bay. I have always been an A's fan, and have never minded the drive (45-50min). I just want whats best for the Oakland A's. I dont want them to be called the San Jose A's. Thats Absolutely horrible. Unfortunately Oakland is far from having the means, or even the right to spend this kind of money on the chance of getting screwed by another sports franchise. I just dont see a new stadium in the next 15 years in Oakland. I really like the waterfront idea, but I dont want to wait til 2014. I really wish there wer more options for Fremont or Hayward. 880 is bad enough all the way to 66th, let alone 5 more miles to the Embarcadero.
| By oaktownfan on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 11:02 pm:|
Well, it's fine that you and hundreds of A's fans make the trip here to see the A's, it's another when tens of thousands of fans here in Alameda and Contra Contra Counties go to the South Bay during 7 pm games. The nightmare it would cause is imagineable. It's already bad now, what would it be like with hundreds of more cars on the freeways.
Uptown is the perfect site. Easy freeway access and many bart stations near where the park would be.
| By diamond_lil on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 09:06 am:|
I think Chris D. said it best. All other locations can be fine and beautiful, but it just so happens they are not the home of the Oakland A's.
The East Bay and Oakland residents have been supporting the A's through the good and bad times and they do not deserve to lose their team.