Schott-State of the A's
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well at least it appears the South Bay territory issue has been put to rest.
The State of the A's
Athletics Owner and Managing General Partner Steve Schott and Team President Mike Crowley addressed the media before Saturday's game in what Schott called a "State of the A's" address.
The news of the day was Schott's declaration that the team's rumored continued negotiation with the Giants and Major League Baseball for the Giants' territorial rights to Santa Clara County and the South Bay was over.
"The bottom line is that they have the territorial rights, so it's a dead issue," he said. "We are focusing on a new stadium in the East Bay."
Schott said the first step is agreeing with all parties involved on a site for the facility.
According to Crowley, there are currently four sites under consideration, two on the Oakland waterfront, one in downtown Oakland and one in the Fremont area.
"As soon as we agree on a site, the financing package is the key," said Schott, who noted that finding the right balance between public funds will be a challenge, particularly in these economic times.
Crowley said the financing would have to allow the A's to continue to field a competitive club while not being overburdened with paying off the new park.
"The last thing you want is a new stadium with a bad club," he said.
Crowley said that facility would open in 2006 "at best." In the meantime, the team is in negotiations to extend its lease at the Network Associates Coliseum, which currently runs through 2004.
As for baseball's overall health, Schott weighed in strongly with his opinion on baseball's current labor situation.
"I'm very concerned," he said. "It was devastating the last time. I know the fans aren't going to stand for it.
"All the other sports have a truer form of revenue sharing. Ours is a farce. I hope a compromise can be reached."
Kent Schacht is the editorial producer for OaklandAthletics.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The one item that jumped out at me was Crowley basically saying the club can only pay so much into the stadium, otherwise they can't keep the club competitive.
| By jeffreyb on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 10:11 am:|
that, and the apparent intent to have the final say on site selection, and soon.
Please tell me one thing...
I feel this was the most clueless article written about Schott's supposedly new positive stance in seeking a ballpark in Oakland.
Gwenn Knapp shows she has not done her homework or she purposedly wrote an article sending a clear message that Schott has totally struck out before he even came to the plate.
Please somebody just tell me that I'm just being
negative with no reason. Please tell me that I am wrong in thinking that Gwenn Knapp who is clearly out of touch with anything and everything that has been going on in Oakland re the ballpark was just chosen by the Chron for a reason.
From the article:
"We're by far their best tenant," Schott said, unintentionally explaining why he may never get subsidies for a new stadium in Alameda County.
He also wants a more favorable lease at the Coliseum.
| By bubba69 on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 10:34 am:|
I do not buy any of it!
Stewart is being sucked in to the "Oh he's really a nice owner bullshit!"
To hell with Schott!
Column Last Updated:
Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 9:20:38 AM MST
A's Schott throws pleasant P.R. pitch
Sunday, March 31, 2002 - AKLAND -- Owner Steve Schott held a State of the Oakland Athletics press conference Saturday, and no, that isn't a day-early April Fool's Day joke.
Schott really did appear in the Oakland Room at Network Associates Coliseum, and you better sit down to hear this -- it was his idea. Well, sort of. He at least agreed it would be a good thing, which is enough of a monumental wind shift in itself.
Schott made a set-the-record-straight opening statement. He answered any and all questions about budgets and new ballparks as forthrightly as he could. He smiled and shook hands with media folks he formerly avoided like radioactive waste material. About the only thing he didn't do was break into a Sinatra song, but he might have done that had someone asked.
Welcome to the new phase of the Schott-Ken Hofmann ownership -- at least the Schott part -- where amicability, accessibility and a seemingly committed allegiance to the A's future in the East Bay are obviously getting fresh and refreshing emphasis.
"I think the last time I was in this room was about 61/2 years ago when I was introduced as the new owner of the Oakland A's," Schott began. "So it's been awhile. A lot of things have passed under the bridge."
Tell us about it. It's tough to figure why it's taken more than a half-decade for A's ownership to introduce itself in a truly proper way. Schott seems like a nice enough guy, and even though we've had to learn it the hard way, he and Hofmann obviously have taught us a few lessons about how to run a business on a limited budget and still be successful and pay the bills.
But Schott also confessed that the two men bought the club in 1996 -- for $95million, he clarified ($72million for the club, plus $23million in deferred compensation), they weren't all that interested in owning a team and "we had no idea what we were getting into ... it's been quite a ride."
Schott appears to have learned some things, too, particularly about the importance of public relations in a very public enterprise. He described himself as less an owner than "a caretaker of a fantastic franchise, a franchise that is rich in history and tradition."
That's the kind of verbal manna people have wanted to hear from Schott for years, and the shame of it is how easy it should have been from the outset. Unfortunately, Schott hasn't demonstrated much trust in the media after getting burned a few times early on, and he also distrusts his own tongue. He's simply not a politician. He says what he thinks and he's uncompromisingly blunt about it.
As proof, Schott relayed just how painful it was in the early ownership days having to watch the repeated shortcomings of failed prodigy Todd Van Poppel, perhaps the only viable pitching prospect in a threadbare farm system that subsequently became ripe with talent.
"Of course we all know that was a disaster," Schott blurted. "Every time I came to the ballpark, I'd say, 'Oh God, not this again ... I'd say, 'Sandy (Alderson), how many times do I have to come up here and watch Van Poppel struggle through the first inning?'"
It was at that time Schott forced a focus for the franchise grounded in pitching at the developmental levels. It was one of the few times he forced a personal philosophy on either baseball or business operations.
"My theory is not to micromanage, because many owners and CEOs get into difficulties by doing that," he said. "So, by delegating a lot of responsibilities to two very good people (team president Mike Crowley and general manager Billy Beane), the organization -- as you can tell -- is being run very soundly and in the right direction."
But Schott's voice is still exceedingly important, because as he stated himself, he pushes the buttons. It is he who will decide if a new ballpark is truly viable for Oakland or the East Bay. It is he, quite likely, who will choose the most advantageous site if it is. It is he who will determine the feasibility of a ballpark financing plan, the single most important hurdle toward getting such a project done.
Before any of that can happen, the barriers of distrust must be completely broken down. No one expects Schott to become Peter Magowan, trolling the stands and the dugouts and pressing the flesh with everyone. That's not Schott's style. But a little more genial openness is critical, so in that regard, his little gathering Saturday was a very positive step, as was his informal dinner gathering with A's beat writers during spring training.
It's a small step, but huge on our acrimonious athletic landscape. Al Davis and the local powers-that-be are at legal loggerheads. Ditto Chris Cohan and the Warriors. The A's maintain they have the best relationship going with local government, and Schott offered a little unintentional levity to point it up.
"We don't have any lawsuits going with anybody right now," he said.
Clearly, Schott is hurt by print allegations that he and Hofmann are nothing more than carpetbaggers, moving in to take advantage of a situation. He appears determined to change that image and enjoy being an owner for a change, and a proud owner at that.
"I was born in San Jose, and Ken Hofmann was born not very far from this stadium here, so we're not carpetbaggers," he declared. "When we bought the team, I never said ever that I was going to move the team out of the Bay Area. I've always said that my idea is to be an owner, stay here in the Bay Area, and hopefully, build a single-use baseball stadium that we could all be proud of."
On that count, Schott seems guarded but game for what will be a formidable challenge. He knows baseball's economic situation is precarious because of ongoing labor uncertainty and inequitable revenue sharing. He knows Oakland has little money to put into a ballpark project that will likely cost $350 million at its minimum. He's wary about corporate backing. But with the San Jose option dead due to the Giants' territorial rights, he's still willing to give it a look.
For now, the A's are trying to nail down a lease extension through at least 2006 with the city and county that will enable the organization to work more diligently toward the nuts and bolts of a new baseball park. That, along with the more open public posture, is a nice start. On our part, perhaps we need to be more understanding of the A's financial limitations and believe that Schott's goals are noble and trustworthy.
In the end, we may find that we all like and trust one another and can get this monster erected. But the wall has to come down and stay down, or this ballpark dream -- and the long-term solvency of baseball in Oakland -- is nothing more than a fantasy for fools.
Carl Steward can be reached at (510) 293-2451 or by e-mail at
Yeah Bubba, but he is the only one we have and we have to hope the Oakland politicians can overcome their resentments and sit down at the table with a clear and positive attitude.
Schott wants to change his image? Very simple. He will be my hero the day a stake is put in the ground for a new ballpark in Oakland. I'll personally send him flowers with a huge thank you note.
| By jeffreyb on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 10:59 am:|
you pay no rent, you get parking, concessions, and ad revenue. pray (prey? :-) ) tell, what makes you "thier best tenant" ????
| By debbiet on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 12:42 pm:|
This appeared in last Sunday's paper--I'm not sure when it was originally published.
| By debbiet on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 12:48 pm:|
oops, sorry--the file was taking way too long to upload. Lil, I'll try to send you a copy of the comic (it makes a reference to selling/moving baseball teams).
| By eyleenn on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 01:14 pm:|
Gwen Knapp's column's always have a negative bent to them. I don't think it's necessarily a plot on the part of the Chronicle although it's easy to believe that in light of the poor coverage of the A's over the years.
Question: How much more favorable than *free* can a lease be???
| By bubba69 on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 01:26 pm:|
Lil, When that happens and I mean when I will send him a 5lb box of See's.....with a note..
You are my hero!
| By chris_d on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 11:26 am:|
Gwen Knapp's column was a joke. I agree, it's clear she hasn't been following the A's ballpark issue closely -- or not at all! All her info was either rehashed or innaccurate.
I thought Carl Steward's column was a hundred times better and it's nice to see him embrace the ballpark idea, which is in contrast to his first take on it almost 2 years ago. And as aggravating as the whole situation can still be, Steward is taking the right approach -- I think, anyway -- in accepting the olive branch. Even if it is being awkwardly and calculatingly extended to the press and fans.
| By eyleenn on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 01:49 pm:|
Here's another good article from today's Chron front page, quoting Mr. DeBenedetti (way to go, Chris).
Oakland's downtown field of dreams
Love of baseball propels city manager's plans for new stadium
Janine DeFao, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, April 1, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle
When Mark Mulder throws the first pitch of the Oakland A's season tonight at Network Associates Coliseum, City Manager Robert Bobb will be cheering from the packed stands.
Next door at the Arena, Paul McCartney will be playing to a sold-out crowd.
"There will be thousands of people in the Coliseum complex," Bobb said, "and downtown will be a ghost town."
It's the issue at the heart of the baseball dream Oakland's city manager has been pitching for the past 18 months. A new downtown ballpark for the A's would execute Bobb's ideal double play: keeping his beloved sport of baseball in Oakland, and adding some much-needed vitality to its streets.
"We have the ability to bring 3 million people (a season) into the downtown area who are currently not here. That generates a lot of excitement," Bobb said.
So far, however, Bobb's excitement has been matched only by the fans. The mayor is cool, the City Council president is openly skeptical, and A's owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann are playing a cautious game of wait-and-see.
Bobb hopes to win over the detractors and fence-sitters with a whirlwind tour of downtown ballparks later this month. While there's no technical deadline, he has set the end of April as a "drop-dead date" to get the rest of the players on board or abandon the idea, knowing he can't win this game alone.
Bobb's passion for baseball began during his childhood in Southern Louisiana. He graduated from T-ball to Little League to Sheriff's League, idolizing Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson.
His high school had no baseball team, so Bobb instead played pitcher, catcher, second base and, his favorite position, third base, on the sandlot team his father organized.
The teams would split the gate proceeds after the game and go out to celebrate. But, as the team's youngest member, at 16, Bobb would get stuck "sitting on the bus and waiting for everyone to return from the bars," he recalled.
During his 11-year tenure as city manager of Richmond, Va., before coming to Oakland in 1997, Bobb helped build a stadium for the Richmond Braves, Atlanta's Triple A team. He watched players come up, including new A's outfielder David Justice.
Bobb's days as a player ended years ago when he separated his shoulder sliding into second base. At 56, he now plays golf and runs marathons instead. But he has never lost his love of the game and attends 25 to 30 games per year with his 15-year-old son, Patrick.
It's no surprise the city manager sees a downtown ballpark as a win-win for the city and the A's.
"This issue would be dead in the water without Robert Bobb leading the charge," said Chris DeBenedetti, chairman of the Oakland A's Fan Coalition, which rallied at a recent council meeting -- at Bobb's invitation.
But others have been harder to convince. The skepticism stems from the city's rocky relationships with its three pro sports team, particularly the 1995 deal to bring back the Raiders. The deal continues to cost Oakland and Alameda County $23 million annually.
"One would expect a very high level of prudence and circumspection before embarking on any similar ventures," said Mayor Jerry Brown, who has avoided staking out a position on a stadium.
The A's have made it no secret that they have been unhappy in the Coliseum since it was remodeled for the Raiders. And baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said earlier this month that the team cannot survive in Oakland without a baseball-only ballpark, now standard in the league.
SEVEN SITES STUDIED
Consultants HOK Sport, architects of Pacific Bell Park and many other new baseball stadiums, have studied seven sites and whittled the list to four: the first-ranked Uptown area near Sears in Oakland; the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal, near Jack London Square; the Coliseum parking lot and a Fremont site.
Bobb is pushing Uptown or Howard Terminal, but Brown is still pursuing a huge housing development for Uptown.
Meanwhile, county Supervisor Scott Haggerty, president of the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, has his eye on Fremont.
A's leadership has not commented on any of the specific sites, though President Mike Crowley recently said the team "strongly supports a new baseball-only stadium (and is) very encouraged by our early discussions."
A key question that remains unanswered is who would pay for the stadium, which HOK estimates would cost anywhere from $385 million to more than $500 million.
Bobb plans to present public funding options later this month. His staff so far has identified $135 million in financing, including redevelopment funds and increased hotel and rental car taxes.
But Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said he wants a stronger commitment from the team before he considers pitching in public funds or even land.
"I want to see the people who will benefit more than anyone else -- the owners -- put their money where their mouth is," said a "super skeptical" De La Fuente, adding that the A's public statements thus far fall short.
Bobb sees himself caught in the middle of a "chicken-and-egg situation where the team is waiting for the political muscle of the city to come forward,
and the political muscle of the city and county are waiting for the team to come forward," he said.
"At some point, we need to get everyone in a room and say, 'Is this something we all want to engage in aggressively . . . or do we just want to cut it off now and save ourselves a lot of energy?' "
Bobb thinks that critical point will come at month's end, following a weeklong tour of baseball stadiums across the country.
He hopes to take city leaders to see new stadiums and the impact they have had on their surrounding areas. It's important, he said, to talk to detractors as well as fans.
Brown and De La Fuente have yet to commit to the trip.
But the baseball-loving city manager holds out hope of convincing the doubters that a new ballpark would be worth the fight.
"If we lose the A's because we sat back and did nothing, that is a huge failure," Bobb said. But "if we lose the A's and we fought like the dickens . .
. you can say, 'I didn't just sit on my butt. I fought like hell.' "
Which is what the OAFC has been saying all along...
| By chris_d on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 03:35 pm:|
Thanks, Eyleen. I'll see ya' tonite at the Coliseum (or sometime this week)!