Wolff meets East Bay officials, Beane indicates he'll stay with A's
OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Wolff meets East Bay officials, Beane indicates he'll stay with A's
| By jenmed on Monday, January 31, 2005 - 06:04 pm:|
An encouraging story out this afternoon.
The Los Angeles real estate developer who is buying the Oakland Athletics made his first public appearance on Monday at the invitation of East Bay officials who will be his future landlords.
Lewis Wolff, whose bid to buy the A's is awaiting the approval Major League Baseball owners, told members of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority that he would comment on plans for a new ballpark for the team once the purchase is final.
Wolff said he was prohibited by his contract from discussing any details until that time, but he has said the team plans to stay in Oakland and is not looking to move to Santa Clara County, where officials are wooing it. The A's lease at the Coliseum ends in 2007 and Wolff previously stated that the team's first choice for a new stadium was in the Coliseum parking lot near Hegenberger Road.
"Obviously we have a lot of things to talk about," said Wolff, 67. "A lot of things are coming together all at once."
Wolff jokingly asked East Bay public officials to call baseball owners and urge a speedy vote on his ownership bid.
"There's regular time and there's baseball time," laughed Wolff, the chairman of Wolff DiNapoli, a Los Angeles firm that owns dozens of luxury hotels nationwide, including the Fairmont hotels in San Francisco and San Jose. The private company's assets are estimated at more than $1.5 billion.
Wolff joined the A's as vice president of venue development in November 2003 with an option to buy the team. With more than 30 years experience in real estate development, he has been working on a new stadium plan for 15 months.
Wolff, a former part-owner of the St. Louis Blues hockey team and the Golden State Warriors, is expected to gain final approval from the owner before Opening Day in April. Terms of the purchase have not been made public but the sale price is believed to be about $150 million. Current owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann bought the team for $85 million in 1995.
Members of the authority, including Oakland City Council President Ignacio de la Fuente and Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, warmly greeted Wolff.
"I think with him as the owner we will sit down and come together with a stadium plan," De La Fuente said afterward. "I feel positive about this. I look forward to serious discussions with him."
Former Oakland City Councilman Dick Spees, who spoke at the meeting, welcomed Wolff and called on the authority to create a committee to come up with financing and development plans for a new baseball-only stadium within the next few months.
"This is something we can't afford to wait around on," Spees said. "With the difficulty of getting public funding, we need to get to work on this right away. There will be some kind of public-private collaboration." Meanwhile, A's General Manager Billy Beane appeared at the meeting and said he looked forward to working with Wolff. Beane said there were "no immediate plans" for any changes at the franchise and dampened rumors that he might leave the team. Beane is under contract until 2008 but has an escape clause with any ownership change.
"I really look forward to working with him," Beane said. "I have no plans to leave. I look forward to a good working relationship with Wolff.
Wolff said he wouldn't talk to news reporters until the ownership switch is approved, citing confidentiality agreements he has signed.
Wolff, who will bring in some partners in his ownership group, also downplayed the possibility of quick changes in team's front office or clubhouse.
"We're lucky enough to be inheriting one of the best-run teams in baseball -- and in all of major league sports," he said.
E-mail Jim Zamora at email@example.com.
| By richochet on Monday, January 31, 2005 - 06:20 pm:|
Just stumbled accross this piece of crap website ...
All they do is bash Oakland and poo-poo their ability to get a ballpark. I'm gonna go in and give them a piece of my mind ...
| By chris_d on Monday, January 31, 2005 - 06:27 pm:|
Everyone's saying all the right things, which is cool. With Beane staying aboard for now and connected private citizens like Dick Spees involved, I think this a good first step that gives a lot of reasons for optimism.
Of course, anyone who still remembers what Selig did to the Dolich/Piccinnini group in 1999 would be wise to be cautious. But, if Wolff is sincere about staying in Oakland, I totally think the East Bay business community and city/county will successfully work with him to get a new Oakland ballpark done.
It appears as if Wolff got his "communicating with the media" lessons from Crash Davis, and not from Steve Schott.
Certainly Wolff will work with Oakland politicos to get a new park in Oaktown. The real question that should be asked is how confident does he feel that he can get a deal to his liking?
Plan B is probably moving the franchise to a city that offers a better deal, most likely Las Vegas. A better deal is one that offers more free money from the taxpayer pockets.
We will not know his strategy until the very last moment. As soon as word gets out that the A's are leaving town, his revenues will plummet (think Montreal). As a businessman, he will not want to show his cards until the day he signs a deal with Vegas or Portland or Podunk.
We will all need to read the tea leaves carefully.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 08:11 am:|
and as long as Schott remains as part owner, there will always be a threat he will keep his Santa Clara pipe dream alive...this article makes it seem Schott will remain as part owner...ugh...
Let's hope he soon realizes that a move to Santa Clara is just a pipe dream and takes his money and runs. He can spend his days marveling at the Schott Stadium sign on campus back home.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 09:12 am:|
It was recently reported that Hofmann refused to sell his shares as long as Schott remained as owner. However, I was told recently from a reliable source that Hofmann has accepted to sell all his shares. Now there is a suggestion at the end of Witt's article that Schott may stay as part owner of the team. THAT is not good news.
| By simplefan on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 09:21 am:|
The Oakland Tribunes take on it..
| By tekgraf on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 05:26 pm:|
"Now there is a suggestion at the end of Witt's article that Schott may stay as part owner of the team. THAT is not good news. "
The oakland trib article said that he (schott) would stay on for a while. Probably for transitional purposes. I think the A's are here to stay and that Mr. Wolff and Dick Spees will get the financing for the ball park. Either at the coli or downtown oakland where JB is planning a small community.
| By deajay on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 09:19 pm:|
I'm not at all upset that Schott will remain for awhile. I suspect this is in part to help with a smooth transition. After all, we have an out of the area owner (well, except for the "Gap" guy) and I suspect that through the transition process Wolff feels comfortable with Schott staying on awhile, he being in this area and all. I really see no "threat" with that situation.
Good points, tekky and deajay. We only know and see the public Schott. Since Stevie is active on a day to day basis in running the organization, Wolff needs to determine what still needs to come to him for decisions and what can be delegated to Mike Crowley. Or, he may decide to bring someone else in. Time will tell.
| By rono on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 12:08 pm:|
Selig has already said that Wolff needs to see this ( the Oakland Stadium issue)through. What this means is that they need to go through the motions like they did with the Piccinini deal. I would not take Wolff seriously as a fan. The city and county must take him seriously. They will only do a deal in Oakland if there is no deal in Vegas. Our officials need to bet on the come that Vegas will not come through. San Jose and Santa Clara are dead. That deal could have been done easily a long time ago assuming Magowan would take a reasonable buy out of his rights. San Jose/Santa Clara do not have the will to come up with the money for a stadium let alone a payoff of Magowan. Magowan is probably betting on the come that Vegas will come through.
| By tekgraf on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 06:12 pm:|
Let's make this perfectly clear, VEGAS IS NOT AN OPTION!!!
It's been said time and again, that vegas can not support a ML team nor does it have the population or t.v. revenue to do so. So, lets stop bringing vegas in like some cheap whore.
| By rono on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 06:33 pm:|
Exactly who said it is not an option. The city has the population and the money and the will to build a stadium. They are opening one new school per month in Las Vegas while we are closing some down. It is a small media market but the interest in sports is high. What counts is not how many people you have but how many will go to sporting events or watch them on TV. The percentages are higher there than in the Bay Area. Don't get me wrong. I hate Vegas and love Oakland, my home town, but we must be realistic. It is a strong competitive alternative for Wolff.Iwish we could just keep the Coliseum, but that won't work. Beware of the competition and hope Las Vegas stumbles.
"The Interest in Sports is high"
RONO, I am a respecter of all opinions, and while yours is no exception, I must disagree. How can you say that "the interest is high" when the only one that seems to be interested is Las Vegas' mayor? Las Vegas' population is basically made up of people who are not actually from the city, and they won't hold any emotional tie to a team in Las Vegas. For the most part, new residents are probably more interested in the casinos and entertainment more than sitting 3 1/2 hours in a baseball stadium. As for tourist, you can't rely on them much because going to a baseball game will more then likely never be on the to-do list while visiting Vegas. Sorry, but you just can't make any city a sports city. Las Vegas is known for it's entertainment and i'm sure nobody but maybe Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman and Bud Selig is really that interested in changing that.
Las Vegas is trying to become a more family oriented vacation destination and a MLB attraction would seem to help. So there's a legitimate theory that tourist attendance would inflate the population base.
I think the reality is few tourists would actually put MLB high on their Vegas list. The Devil Rays and Marlins attendance wouldn't suggest much of a tourist bonanza for MLB in Florida.
| By eyleenn on Wednesday, February 02, 2005 - 10:41 pm:|
I think Vegas would be a huge gamble for MLB (pun intended). Tourists may be interested in seeing historic stadiums, but not some concrete domed park. There are also a lot of retirees in Vegas. Will they buy season tickets? I doubt it.
There are many millions of retirees in Florida...it seems they aren't supporting the Devil Rays or Marlins enough to make a difference.
| By deajay on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 10:05 pm:|
"There are many millions of retirees in Florida ...."
The problem is. No.1 -- well, the Devil Rays; No 2 ... no a/c enclosed stadium in Miami. Personally, I can't understand the attraction in Florida ... it's so damn hot and humid, it's nearly impossible to get out and enjoy.