SBD/May 4, 2012/Franchises

Local Businesses Make Plan To Keep A’s In Oakland; Wolff Again Denies Team Is For Sale

If A's co-Owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher “can’t commit to Oakland or don’t want to,” there is a group of local business leaders who “are willing to buy the A’s to keep the team here,” according to a front-page piece by Angela Woodall of the OAKLAND TRIBUNE. Clorox Chair & CEO Don Knauss organized Thursday's gathering of “executives from a dozen Oakland-based companies” including Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, Pandora Internet Radio, Cost Plus World Market and Signature Development. Knauss said that Oakland’s business leaders "are eager to work with Wolff and Fisher” to keep the team in the city. Woodall notes some of the companies “had contributed to a $1 million pledge made in 2009” when MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a “three-man committee to evaluate the A’s Bay Area choices.” Thursday’s gathering was “clearly intended to open up a new channel with him and send a signal to Selig in advance of the May baseball ownership meeting, where the A’s future home could be a topic for discussion.” But Wolff said that the A’s "are not for sale and that no one has approached him about buying the team.” He added that his intention is to "own the team for at least another generation, preferably in the Bay Area” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/4). Knauss said, “We want to make clear that Oakland and the East Bay business community are ready to step up to the plate to help ensure the A’s stay home where they belong in Oakland.” CSNBAYAREA.com's Nate Stuhlbarg reported the local business coalition has “plans to secure the funds” through initiatives including ballpark naming rights, signing new sponsors and attracting additional "regional sponsorships from other parts of Northern California.” They would also like to pursue “specific industry anchor sponsors such as airlines, health care, car manufacturers, beverage and food companies, energy companies and consumer companies.” A new ballpark in Oakland is “expected to cost somewhere between $400 and $500 million” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 5/3).

WHAT'S THE PLAN, STAN? San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy said, “Just because you have a press conference and one guy from one company stands up and says, ‘This would be a really great idea,’ doesn’t mean you’ve got a real ballpark plan.” Purdy said there were “about eight CEOs that have signed on this” and the difference in San Jose is “you’ve got about 50 CEOs behind that” ballpark plan. Purdy: "Baseball follows the corporate money” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 5/3).
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