Monthly Archives: November 2009

Matier & Ross unveil Oakland sites

We’ve been told Oakland’s going to release some information this week in conjunction with a renewed show of support from the City of Oakland, business leaders, and fans. Matier & Ross have the sites, two of which are completely new.

  • The current Oakland Coliseum site.
  • Oak and Third streets, just south of Jack London Square. [OFD Training]
  • The old Howard Street terminal on the waterfront, a bit north of the Coliseum and on the other side of the Nimitz Freeway.
  • Howard Street on the northeast side of the Embarcadero.

The fascinating thing is that while many – including myself – thought Howard Terminal would be one of the sites, the group is focusing instead on two sites along Howard Street, near High Street and 880. The area is in the vicinity of the site pitched by Chris Kidd, called Jingletown.

The ballpark in the picture would be shifted towards the upper left corner, on the other side of Home Depot.

I’m looking forward to the official unveiling. Chris Kidd, you may claim your prize at the concierge.

Welcome to the Fabulous Forum

As I mentioned in the last post, we now have a forum/bulletin board on site. The forum can be found at newballpark.org/forum. Four main categories have been created, with others possible as needed. Categories are as follows:

  • Ballpark Sites – Discussion of any and all potential homes for the A’s.
  • TV/Radio – Coverage of media deals and channel availability.
  • The Business Side – Discuss salary cap, personnel, draft, revenue, marketing, collective bargaining – that other off the field stuff.
  • Architecture and Design – Features, façades, field dimensions. You know, the cool stuff.

Now to the poll question. Some blogs are formatted to have comments either directly underneath each post, or in a designated forum, or both. How would like to enter comments? Vote in the poll on the right.

So check out the forum, register, and start your own topics. The more, the merrier.

And now for something new

Many of you provided lots of healthy feedback when the blog underwent a reskinning several months ago. Despite the excellent response, I’ve felt that the Blogger platform was somehow holding the site back. The Thanksgiving weekend seemed like an good time to make another move, and so I’m moving the blog to the WordPress platform. In addition, I finally got a proper domain. The new site is newballpark.org. It’s live and it looks slightly different, but just about everything’s there. I’ve added a discussion forum (under construction) so it’ll be easier to have discussions away from the regular posts. I’ll also add photo galleries and other types of content in the coming months.

Newballpark.org won’t be in some extended beta period. It’s where I’ll be posting from now on, so update your bookmarks and favorites and get the word out. The old site will stay up indefinitely, but there won’t be any new posts and I will be closing out comments on existing posts in short order. Of course, feedback is always welcome, and I appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement you have sent over the years.

Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend,

- ML

More media reaction

Joe Stiglich has a follow-up from yesterday’s article, consisting of a sitdown with Lew Wolff. Wolff still puts out the 32,000 ballpark capacity (though I have heard otherwise). He refutes much of the criticism he has received:

“It isn’t like, if we had a winning team, we would have had double the attendance,” Wolff said. “If you trace it back for a long time, we’re in a market that’s difficult to tap. We’re close to the Giants, who have a beautiful ballpark. I don’t think the fact that we traded some guys “… When you look back at what we sent out, I think the balance sheet is in our favor, thanks to Billy and his guys.”

Whether you buy into that line of thinking depends on your “worldview.”

Gary Peterson wants an answer from the ever indecisive Bud Selig, and tries to break down the three possible outcomes.

Last but not least, Zennie Abraham never fails to pimp his software/bona fides every chance he gets, especially at his SFGate blog.

San Francisco Magazine article on Wolff/Fisher

The media blitz has begun. The Trib’s Joe Stiglich references a feature piece in the December issue of San Francisco Magazine. In it, writer Steve Kettmann, a San Jose native who spent a few years as the A’s beat writer, gets the clearest statements yet from Wolff and more surprisingly, “silent” partner John Fisher. One of the Fisher quotes takes another prominent sports media personality to task:

Fisher and Wolff are a generation apart, but Fisher told me that he considers Wolff “a tremendous partner and friend, who, while he values my input, is the final decision-maker and has been from the beginning-despite what [Chronicle columnist] Ray Ratto may write.
Later, Wolff describes how he came to be involved with (and later own) the A’s:
So 40-plus years later, during the 2002 World Series, (Selig) tracked down Wolff in Paris and asked him to one of the Giants-Angels games. To get there, Wolff enjoyed the first of many police-escorted trips with the commissioner. They traveled from the Mark Hopkins Hotel to PacBell Park. Then, during the game, Selig asked Wolff if he had any interest in talking to the A’s owners, Hofmann and Schott.

“Lewie, would you be interested in buying the interest of one of the partners in the A’s?” Selig asked.

“I thought my role, if I bought in, might be to work on the venue and have a little fun,” Wolff told me.

Soon enough, while investigating the idea, Wolff got a call from John Fisher, with whom he had been a co-investor in hotels such as the Carlyle in New York, the San Jose Fairmont, and the San Francisco Fairmont. Fisher and his father had been part owners of the Giants before largely dropping out in 1995, so Wolff asked about the idea of crossing the bay to buy out the A’s owners. “I think it was around $180 million for all of it, which required about $100 million in cash,” Wolff told me. That was too rich for Wolff’s blood, so “I said to John, ‘I’ll just take a small piece, and I’ll run it. Whatever you want.’ So John called back and said, ‘If you’ll buy 10 percent now and commit to buying another 15 percent, I’ll join you.’

“I said, ‘You know, once you ask someone to run a team, they can’t be removed easily, unless I kill someone or something. So are you sure?’ And John said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve known you a long time.’ “

Wolff told me he now has $15 million invested. “This is a significant investment for me, and it’s not chump change. I think my ownership position is as large as Peter Magowan’s was in the Giants.”
While it may seem like the backstory is the focus of the article, it is just backstory. Still, I put it out there for emphasis. The idea that the ownership situation was ever in flux since the Wolff/Fisher group took control was and is patently absurd. The real thrust of the piece is San Jose, San Jose, San Jose. And no, the fact that it’s in San Francisco magazine is not accidental.

There’s a lot more, including a sadly humorous anecdote about the Coliseum from Billy Beane and Sandy Alderson commenting on territorial rights. It’s definitely a worthwhile read, so head out to your local newsstand/bookstore/library to check it out.

River Cats owner Art Savage dies

Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee reported that River Cats owner Art Savage, who successfully brought pro baseball back to Sactown after a long absence, suddenly died over the weekend. Savage, who was a non-smoker who had successfully fought off lung cancer, was consistently hailed throughout the Central Valley and the baseball world for running the River Cats so well and for providing an excellent product year-in, year-out. The comments to the article bear this out, as there is nary a bad word in Savage’s memory. The article traces his life, from college at Texas Tech to tax accountant to CEO of the Sharks and then the move to get the River Cats started.


In his stint in San Jose, Savage befriended many of the political players who are now aiming to bring the A’s to San Jose, including Lew Wolff. Savage, who was 58, will apparently leave the team to this sons.