OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Lewis Wolff
| By eyleenn on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 12:55 pm:|
From today's CCTimes:
NEIL HAYES: TIMES COLUMNIST
A's stadium czar deals only in facts
LOS ANGELES - Lewis Wolff prefers not to do interviews. He's not working on behalf of the A's to generate headlines.
A's owner Steve Schott has said repeatedly that building a new stadium is the key to his team's future. If that's true, and Schott and co-owner Ken Hofmann are relying on Wolff's vision and expertise to build that stadium, doesn't that make Wolff the man responsible for shaping that future?
"Well, I guess that's true," Wolff concedes.
The man who will help decide whether the A's have a future in Oakland works out of a renovated warehouse on L.A.'s West Side. He is a veteran real estate developer and the co-founder of a privately held investment group that purchases luxury hotels. His company's holdings exceed $1.4 billion. He also is a former co-owner of the St. Louis Blues and the Warriors.
He understands what it takes to navigate the myriad of red tape to build things on a grand scale, as the architectural drawings of state-of-the-art hotels hanging in his office attest. He also understands the business of sports and what is required to make a new ballpark a reality.
Wolff, 68, has closed hundreds of deals. He knows an opportunity when he sees one. He can recognize a dead end just as easily.
"I'm at a period of my life where I'm letting facts sway me more than emotions," he said.
It all started with a phone call from an old college buddy. Wolff and Bud Selig were fraternity brothers at the University of Wisconsin and remain good friends. The baseball commissioner invited Wolff to be his guest at a 2002 World Series game at Pacific Bell Park. That's where Selig floated the idea of Wolff becoming a part owner of the A's.
Wolff enjoyed being a silent partner in the Warriors when Dan Finnane and Jim Fitzgerald owned the team. He also liked the hefty profit he collected when the team was sold to Christopher Cohan.
Wolff began his career in the hotel business in San Jose and knew Schott. ("When you get old enough you know everybody," Wolff said.) Schott needed an experienced hand to devote time to the ballpark project. They struck a deal. Wolff will become a part owner if the ballpark becomes a reality.
"I believed the A's needed someone who was more than a consultant to work on a venue," Wolff said. "Steve runs a major business. His focus is on helping the A's win 100 games every year and being successful. I'm on this end of the business. It's a perfect arrangement."
You won't find environmental impact reports littering his desk. He doesn't need to hire consultants to evaluate sites or study traffic flow.
Wolff is not following the traditional process. He's taking an empirical approach. He won't comment on specific sites because there's nothing to comment on. Everything is irrelevant until the financing is in place.
He doesn't speak for Schott and Hofmann. He wants to make that clear from the start. His opinions are his own. He will simply make recommendations to the A's owners. They will make the decisions.
He doesn't believe a ballpark can be built without a combination of public money, corporate dollars and a contribution from ownership. It will take a commitment from all three entities to build a ballpark.
He is focusing his energy solely on the East Bay and will not investigate opportunities outside the East Bay without league consent. He does believe a successful ballpark must serve an urban community, which would seem to rule out a proposed site near the 580-680 corridor near Dublin.
That doesn't mean he won't be following the plight of the Montreal Expos closely. If the league decides to move the team to the Washington, D.C., area, it could open the door for other teams to relocate and might even help the A's dispute the Giants' claims to territorial rights to Santa Clara County.
"Relocation is really not high on Ken and Steve's list," Wolff said.
He hopes to complete the first phase of his ballpark project by the end of the summer and will then make recommendations to ownership. It won't be based on emotions. He's not in this to make friends or steal headlines.
He'll be brutally honest.
| By jesse on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 07:18 pm:|
If relocation is not high on the list for Schott, then why is Schott so vocal about the Giants defending their territorial rights.
because he's a liar and his pant's on fire
No, Lil, that was Jeremy Brown in corduroy pants who was on fire.
Schott wants to fulfill his childhood dream of a major league team in his hometown. Wolff, on the other hand, is Bud's henchman. He is looking for a new owner who is rich enough and crazy enough to buy the team AND build a new park for the A's. If someone does that, he can build the park anywhere he damn well pleases (Emeryville, Vallejo, San Rafael, Lake Tahoe, etc.).
| By washfan on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 01:13 am:|
Might I add that I used to work (Indirectly) for Mr. Wolff in downtown SJ and this little man (Stature) has HUGE power and his daughter is a chip off the old block.
Yes, the A's belong in Oakland but if it came down to either SJ or Dublin/Pleasanton area (Realistic) I'd go with D/P because my son & I could bicycle to the yard and at least they would still be in the East-Bay....even rymes East-Bay A's! Sorry Lil.
Well, it isn't the first time Selig brings in one of his "powerful' friends to influence and work on one of his pet projects, which is to correct the "HAAARABEL" mistake MLB made in allowing the A's move to Oakland. Selig wants the A's out of Oakland as much as Schott wants to move to his hometown Santa Clara...and as much as Magowan wants the A's out of the Bay Area.
But in reality, the "territorial" rights they keep talking about here is not the same territorial rights that prevents the relocation of an AL team into Peter Angelos territory.
The reality is that Selig made a deal with the Giants investors that if they built a privately funded ballpark, he would not allow any team to move to the South Bay where their corporate support came from and still comes from...
That is why Selig said it was up to the two teams to "work things out"...that is why it is just a matter of Schott and his partners dishing out to the Giants the amount of money they consider a good return on their investment. And that means a little contribution to the debt service they have to deal with every year.
So, getting the money for a ballpark for Schott is just the tip of the iceberg.
| By deajay on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 08:51 am:|
And, considering the Giants ("competitive") team is in decline. Those south bay territorial rights are going to become even more precious to them.
| By goldtymer on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 07:30 pm:|
Amen. and lil...the pants on fire thing made me laugh out loud!.
| By rono on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 01:53 pm:|
The territorial rights issue will never holdup in court, but Schott can't really go after it until he has a deal in San Jose to fight with. You can't go there if there is no there to go to. We thought Oakland had problems.
As far as I know MLB decides where teams relocate and are exempt from antitrust laws, remember?
| By rono on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 11:41 pm:|
They don't have to challenge the rule just the decision. The Giants were allowed to move to the detriment of the A's but the A's are not allowed to move. Al Davis would have sued by now and won. Thankfully he is not the owner of the A's. In other words the A's could say they were damaged by Baseball's unfair applicaion of the rule.
Rono, the A's were the ones who gave permission for the Giants to consider the South Bay as their territoty. And they never asked for compensation as far as I've learned.
This was when the Giants were trying to build there.
Selig gave the Giants the guarantee they would not lose that territory once they went ahead with the privately funded ballpark in esseff.
The Giants would probably accept to give back that territory if they receive a compensation for what they would consider their losses.
| By simplefan on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 02:08 pm:|
As the saying goes:
Money Talks.. Bullshit Walks...
I would like to see the verbage of the "Agreement"
I like what the NY Teams put in theirs:
Major league rules prohibit a team from locating in the southwest corner of Fairfield County due to the proximity of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The rest of the state is open, although if a team set up shop within a 55-kilometre radius of New Britain, they might have to work out an agreement with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats.
Does this verbage exsist for the Giants?
| By nickb on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 04:03 pm:|
Magowan has stated a couple of times that he's NOT open to a one-time cash payment to give up the territorial rights. There's no way in my opinion that MLB let's the A's into the South Bay as it would open up other territorial issues.
| By jenmed on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 04:50 pm:|
How about that crushing debt service on Pac Bell, oops, SBC Park that has contributed to the pitiful team they are fielding right now?
I think for the right amount of money, Magowan gives up the territorial rights in exchange for the rights to the East Bay.
| By eyleenn on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 05:12 pm:|
Isn't the debt service $20 mill A YEAR? Doesn't seem to me the A's would ever be in a position to make a dent in that amount of debt.
| By kevink on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 08:03 am:|
The new stadium panacea is over.
I don't want a new stadium. Of course, if it's the differnce between the A's staying or going, I'm for it. But I see a lot of reasons NOT to do it, (i.e. the Giants crushing debt service, the Breweres fiasco, all the teams that built a new stadium and are still struggling at the gate).
What I would REALLY be up for is a renovation of the Coliseum making it more baseball and A's-friendly.
Just bring back the old bleachers and build in some seats closer to the field where the foul grounds currently are.
We don't even have to tear down Mt. Davis!
Of course we would have to come to an agreement with the Raiders which is not easy, but it would eventually make everyone happy.
| By rono on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 03:33 pm:|
The permission was granted by the A's and the rest of the league for the Giants to move to San Jose so they could build there which they did not do. Selig has agreed to protect EVERY ONES territory. His guarantee means nothing in court.The A's have an outstanding argument. The Giants fraudently got the south bay territory by promising to build there and then used their territorial rights to move closer to Oakland.Schott has been holding back because Selig saved him from the Piccinini deal and he has no deal to move to the South Bay. If Wolff (nee Alverez) ever gets a real deal, you will see the fur fly AND the A's will win. Fortunately the A's are not capable of making such a deal unless smarter and gutsier people are brought in.
| By rocket on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 04:50 pm:|
Schott would not risk going to court.
MLB is a good old boys club, and he loves being
one of the boys. He would be an outcast he if went to court. He has been part of many of
the back room deals that are constantly made
in MLB. No chance of him going to court.
| By rono on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 01:52 pm:|
Schott had Ed Alverez ,a friend since childhood working on new stadium sites. When he did not produce, Schott reneged on his promises to him and they ended up in court. He is not afraid of court if it means bucks to him.
| By eyleenn on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 02:28 pm:|
But Alvarez sued Schott, not the other way around. And MLB was not involved.
| By rono on Friday, May 28, 2004 - 11:52 pm:|
Suffices to say he was willing to screw an old friend. He would go to court with the gold old boys too.
| By eyleenn on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 09:32 am:|