SBD/Issue 132/Facilities & Venues

Lew Wolff Voices Strong Bias For New A's Ballpark In San Jose

Wolff Says San Jose "In As Good A Position As
Any City In California" To Be A's Home
A's Owner Lew Wolff Thursday "gave the clearest signal yet that San Jose would be his preferred choice for the team's next home -- and he came closer than ever to ruling out every other rumored suitor," according to Denis Theriault of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Wolff during a wide-ranging chat with reporters said of San Jose, "From a preparation point of view, they are in as good a position as any city in California." However, Wolff "stopped short of endorsing the city outright, noting that San Jose remains firmly" in the MLB territorial rights of the Giants. Wolff noted altering the territorial rights is up to MLB, and said a decision from the league could come "by the end of the season, maybe sooner." Giants Senior VP/Communications Staci Slaughter noted MLB's "constitution defines Santa Clara County as the Giants' territory," and it was "on the basis of this that the Giants financed" AT&T Park. Slaughter: "It's the heart of our fan base in many respects, and our position remains clear on that." Wolff Thursday also "lamented the demise of his efforts" to build a new ballpark in Fremont, and he "repeated his recent contention that the team has no options left in Oakland." Wolff downplayed "recent whispers that Las Vegas had emerged as a candidate while also apparently dismissing Sacramento" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27). More Wolff: "We are really saying that we'd love to stay in Northern California, and go to San Jose." However, David Chai, Chief of Staff for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, said that the city is "fighting to keep the team." Dellums has sent a letter to MLB, and Oakland city officials are "contacting the Bay Area congressional delegation for assistance." Chai: "We believe the A's should stay in Oakland. We believe there are a number of different options that have not been pursued" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/27). In California, Gary Peterson writes with “every discussion about the things [Wolff] wants but can’t have, he undermines what he’s got.” You could “characterize that as willful ignorance of the economy. You could also portray it as disingenuous posturing in advance of a serious play for San Jose” (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 3/27).

I CAN FEEL THE EARTH MOVE: Wolff Thursday also confirmed that his development partners for a new 15,000-seat soccer-specific stadium for the MLS Earthquakes, which he also owns, have asked San Jose to "accept a lower price for that stadium site because of the cratering economy." Wolff hinted that a "failure to reach an agreement could doom the city's immediate chances for a soccer stadium." The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS' Theriault notes the soccer stadium proposal already has been "scaled down and seen its luxury boxes stripped out to reduce construction costs, now expected at less" than $100M. While Wolff indicated that he is in "active discussions with potential naming sponsors" for the stadium, plans to "build hotels and office space on another part of the site have been placed on hold" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

STRIKING OUT: In San Jose, John Ryan notes the A's and DirecTV still have not reached a carriage deal for the team's games on CSN California. Also, "contrary to earlier indications, it appears there's no agreement with Dish Network either." The lack of the carriage deals "leaves hundreds of thousands of Bay Area households in the lurch" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/27).

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