SBD/Issue 123/Facilities & Venues

A's Owner Lew Wolff Rejects Oakland's Overture, Wants Move

Wolff Says A's Season-Ticket
Holders Continue To Decrease
A's Owner Lew Wolff Friday in a statement said that the team will "continue to pursue a stadium location in Northern California -- but not in Oakland," according to Meredith May of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Wolff in the statement said, "We have fully exhausted our time and resources over the years with the city of Oakland. We have no interest in covering old ground again." Wolff's statement came the day after Oakland city leaders asked MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to "name a point person to work with City Hall to help the A's stay in town." May noted though the A's plans to build a ballpark in Fremont, California, have fallen through, there is "no way the team is going to stay in Oakland, despite overtures from city officials." Wolff in the statement noted Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum "continues to cost the city of Oakland and Alameda County millions of lost dollars per year." Wolff: "Sadly, the business and corporate base of the city of Oakland was very limited when we purchased the team and has eroded since. Our attendance and low number of season ticket holders (both one of the lowest in Major League Baseball) also continues to decline; even when our on-field performance produced playoff participation." David Chai, Chief of Staff for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, in response to Wolff's statement, said that the city is "going forward with plans to keep the A's, and will approach lawmakers with their plea." To the team's argument that it "can't make enough money in Oakland," Chai contended that in "tough economic times, everyone needs to concede a little" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/14).

WILD PITCH: In Oakland, Cam Inman wrote under the header, "A's Alienating Fans With Threat To Leave Oakland." The A's are "whining about their poor little park, and they're threatening to take their ball and go home, wherever that might be." The A's are not "willing to play nice anymore." They "want to bully their way to San Jose or whichever city will lavish them with rubies" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 3/14). In S.F., Ray Ratto wrote, "The A's don't have a way out of the Coliseum for now, period. That's nobody's fault. ... Let's just not endure the pretense that there is a useful alternative available, or that this is the fans' fault, or the media's fault, or anyone else's fault" (SFGATE.com, 3/13).

A GIANT ROAD BLOCK: In S.F., Henry Schulman reports Selig yesterday met with Giants Managing General Partner Bill Neukom and President Larry Baer. While Baer did not discuss the meeting, he indicated that Selig "affirmed his public stance that he will not allow the A's to breach the Giants' territorial rights to San Jose." Baer: "From what we could tell, there is no change in his position" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/16). Also in S.F., Matier & Ross wrote the "spotlight is on San Jose to see if it can swing a new A's ballpark next to HP Pavilion, now that the team has scuttled its Fremont plans and told Oakland it's not interested in staying." However, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) "could make life difficult" for MLB by "raising the specter of hearings on its antitrust-exempt status." Also, Giants sources said that Neukom "won't let the A's move into Giants land without a fight, even if it means going to court" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/15). The S.F. EXAMINER's Artie Gigantino wrote, "Lew Wolff: For the last time, forget about San Jose, Fremont and all the other stuff that we keep hearing from your office about relocation and a new stadium." The team should "go to Sacramento" and "add 20,000 seats, luxury suites and a new press box" to the city's Raley Field, currently home to the Triple-A PCL Sacramento River Cats, an A's affiliate. Gigantino: "What a wonderful setting for the A's to call home. Is it me or does this make too much sense? Great location on the water, ballpark already in existence, enthusiastic fans and an area with only one pro team and no big time college sports" (S.F. EXAMINER, 3/15).

TAKING A GAMBLE? In Las Vegas, Norm Clarke reports Selig yesterday reportedly met with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and A's execs. However, Las Vegas spokesperson Jace Radke said that he was "not aware of any meetings" yesterday (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/16).

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