The Big Lew Wolff Interview, Part 2

Be sure to check out Part 1 of this interview, posted yesterday. You can also get the full interview in PDF and e-reader formats by donating $5 via the PayPal link on the right.

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Part 2

ML: As I understand it, you had met with Mayor Quan in Oakland recently.

I’m actually having lunch with her today. I have not met with her (yet). She has been very nice to make time to see me. There’s no agenda.

[Ed. - I have not heard anything from either camp about what was discussed during that meeting. Nothing to the regular media either, AFAIK.]

ML: Just a chat, really.

What I’m telling you is what I’ll tell her. There’s no magic bullet here. If there was it’s simple. MLB (the panel) would’ve come to me with Oakland and said, “Here’s a suggested financial plan”

ML: Comprehensive.

Remember that they’re the messenger. They’re just doing what they’ve been asked to do and I’m sure they’ve done it three times now. It sort of says to me that nothing has been produced that means anything, to my knowledge. There may be other reasons. The commissioner is contemplating whatever he wants to do. I think we’re getting there soon. I just don’t know.

ML: Okay.

The only thing missing is that I would’ve enjoyed the process of building the ballpark, financing it, and doing all these things. It looks like because of my age (I won’t be able to). So my son (Keith Wolff), who I think is as good or better at this than I am, and he’s a lot more calm than I am. I believe that development – public or private – can’t get done without a sense of urgency.

ML: It sure seems that way.

We have the resources and we have the people. It’s just that I final – I mean I can but I’m the commissioner’s age. I want to be very careful. None of us are going to live forever or be as active forever. I’m lucky, I think baseball’s keeping me active.

[Ed.: I have to point out that he ordered a frittata with fruit on the side, no starches, coffee with no cream. I ordered Eggs Benedict with potatoes, lots of cream with my coffee. Multiple cups.] 

ML: It seemed like that happened with the Marlins, where Jeff Loria fought for years, and when he finally got approval his son-in-law took over.

That’s also true in Minnesota. I’m sad that the owner (Carl Pohlad) didn’t get to see his ballpark. We’re very advanced in our opinion. Why go out and spend $20 million on working drawings if you don’t know you have a site?

So it’s just a matter of waiting for a decision. I’m not a patient person but I’ve become very patient. The thing that makes me most comfortable is that I have a lot of backup to get this done. That’s number one. On the hand this is affecting our whole organization. We’ve got great people – Billy’s been there for fifteen, sixteen years, twenty years for Mike Crowley. I’ve promised them a new, modern facility and I feel responsible.

There’s something I think you’ll like to know. When we bought the team (2005), six teams had payrolls above $100 million. Now it’s twelve or thirteen. While Billy and his guys are fantastic at doing what they do, there’s only so much they can do. We can go and lose $30 million a year like the Haas family was doing but we’re not gonna do that. So if anyone wants me to do that I’m gonna have to say that we won’t.

[Ed. - According to Forbes/Financial World numbers the A's lost $6-10 million per year during the last years of the Haas era, which would be worth $9-15 million now. MLB's stance historically has been to consider Forbes' numbers inaccurate.] 

ML: That’s something I’ve been arguing for years.

And baseball doesn’t want us to do that. All these teams that have spent haphazardly without breaking even have gone and caused problems for themselves and baseball. Remember that baseball is a partnership. The rule of thumb for running a team before you get huge revenues is that if you can keep your MLB salary at 50% of your revenues you’ll probably be at the break even point or make a few dollars. It’s not an internal rate of return 20% or something like that. You shouldn’t be in this business if you want that.

The great thing about Billy and Mike and their people is that they’ve been able to keep us competitive until we get a new ballpark – I haven’t delivered. We’re in a total revenue issue. We just need more revenue and we can’t get it without a new ballpark. We need some scarcity. We can’t have 70,000 seats or people yelling about tarps.

ML: I’ll get into that later.

I don’t have a yacht [laughs] that we’re paying for out of secret proceeds from the ballpark.

ML: We’re talking about Oakland for a little bit. Has anyone presented you with other information about Victory Court, a sales pitch, or anything like that?

Absolutely not. However, gotta be fair. I think Oakland thinks, “We’re not dealing with Lew Wolff. We’re dealing with this committee.” If the committee has done that, I don’t know about it. I think what’s happened is that they’ve discovered what we’ve known. Through no fault of Oakland, the ability to build a new ballpark – well, you know that drawing a boundary around six blocks or ten blocks doesn’t make a ballpark. Is there a soil test? Will you do eminent domain, will you take people’s property? Do the off-ramps have to be replaced? Hundreds of items. And that kind of Socratic discipline – why should a fan in LF worry about that? Those rich owners over there are supposed to do it no matter what.

ML: Let’s move on to this freeway park. It was proposed by an Oakland architect, Bryan Grunwald, who occasionally posts on the blog. 980 Park is a concrete deck over a submerged section of freeway near downtown Oakland. You said that you consider it an A+ in planning and an F in implementation. Care to elaborate?

The problem with that is that talking to you is easy. Talking to guy looking for $2 ticket night on Wednesday is different. I can’t even imagine the cost on that. Forget about a ballpark. Say you’re putting up a hospital there or a park. I think we’re talking a billion – I have no idea. Air rights, we have them all over California. I haven’t seen too many places where they’re building over there – bridges and stuff. Let’s assume that we did that tomorrow. It would take a decade. I wouldn’t know where to start. First of all, we’d say to Oakland or somebody, “Give us the platform and we’ll build on it.” The platform itself has got to be overwhelming. I love those kind of ideas. They win architectural contests, a student gets a master’s degree for doing them, and we do have huge amounts of air rights all over the world. It just will not happen. If that’s the best we can do, might as well forget it.

ML: There are few places where air rights translate into anything. Those are places where the need is great, such as Manhattan.

I just don’t get it. It would be fun to have an architectural contest. But it’s like an iceberg, beautiful at the top, huge (beneath the surface). If that’s the best any of us can do, we have to forget it.

ML: Let’s shift over to San Jose now. You’ve had an ongoing dialogue with the City and Mayor about the Earthquakes stadium. How is that going?

The Earthquakes stadium also has to be privately financed. Certainly it’s a lot less expensive than a baseball park. I think – I don’t have the numbers exactly – they just opened a new soccer stadium in Kansas City. I think it was $150 million or something and I believe every penny of that was public money [Ed.: Cost was actually $200 million, all public]. We’ve worked very hard. What we want in a soccer stadium is a place you can go – we’re not looking to build Wembley Stadium – we’re in the 15-18,000 seat goal in this market. We’ve worked really hard to get the cost down to about $50 million, which everyone in soccer asks, “How can you do that?” Well, people can do it if it’s their own money, it’s not the government. There’s no soccer stadium that I know, except maybe Home Depot Center (that was not fully public).

ML: That was years ago. [Ed.: Columbus Crew Stadium was also privately financed by Lamar Hunt.]

Well they also had a good deal from CSU-Dominguez Hills. I’d like to move it faster but we’re doing it in stages. Right now we’re going through a planning process, not for a building permit but a use permit. We spent money to tear down the FMC building, but we haven’t pulled the string yet to build it because if you look at the economics of it you’re only using it for 19 games or 20 games. The ancillary use of these facilities, which I think is better than what my consultants think, concerts aren’t what they used to be, high school graduations. It’s Silicon Valley, I think you can have product introductions there. A lot of these things that you can’t predetermine. So what we’ve done is that if there are 10 steps to it we’re in step 7 or 8. We’ve spent money to do that but we haven’t pulled the string yet.

ML: On a related note, I went to the game at Stanford against the Red Bulls. I hate to belittle Buck Shaw, but it’s a small venue. Stanford, which was another example of something built with private funds, cost controlled by John Arrillaga. Many people came from down the Peninsula, there were plenty of the existing fan base, locals. For the fans it felt like it was overdue. Did the experience of that game – 40,000 people, the place was buzzing with excitement – change your thinking or reinforce it in terms of what the Quakes need to thrive?

No. Two reasons. One, One of the people at MLS called me and asked if it was it the game or the fireworks. The game was around the 4th of July. If you look at our fireworks games in Oakland -

ML: They’re consistently higher in attendance.

So I said to our guys, “Why don’t we just work out a deal to play at Stanford all the time?” Stanford doesn’t want that. I don’t want it. No, the depth of the market means that except for three cities, maybe, soccer is not profitable. The owners – Anchutz, my guy John Fisher, the Krafts – they love soccer and they’re gonna support it if it takes another decade to get it where it needs to be. We’re the same way. But the market is not for 40,000 people. We wish it was. If we have 15-18,000 fans and they’re really on top of the field – we’re not trying to have private boxes, soccer is a family sport – we couldn’t do Stanford every week in my opinion.

ML – One of the things I noticed from the renderings is that other than the fact that it’s three sides with one open, the design looks like a miniaturized version of White Hart Lane, where Tottenham Hotspur plays. Is there anything to that?

We’re close to them as you know. I don’t think so, except that when you think about a soccer stadium the dimensions of a field are the dimensions of a field. The only real difference to me is if there’s a track, which really screws it up. All we want to do is get noisy and close. I would say that 70 or 80% of them are like that.

ML – The NFL just completed its CBA negotiations after 3 month lockout. MLB has been, as I understand it, having some ongoing discussions with the players union about their new CBA, which is expected to be done by the end of the season – 

End of the year. Or sooner.

ML – Does what’s happening here with the stadium and the unknown that it is right now have any impact with the CBA?

No. However, I believe that, or I hope that we will have a non-confrontational negotiation, which has been ongoing. What you’ll have is, I don’t know the exact term, probably 3-5 years of what we call labor peace. We had that the last 5 years. I think some of the things that both sides are discussing – I don’t want to get into that information – will be beneficial to all of baseball and all of the union. I don’t think it’ll be the threatening kind of thing we’ve seen in basketball.

ML – There’s been almost no media coverage except for the occasional article from a national baseball writer.

I think it’ll get a little more coverage as we get closer to finalizing an agreement. It may not be controversial at all. This is the year to finish that agreement if possible. We’re working on it very hard. It isn’t like one side is screaming at the other.

ML – The players appear to be offering ideas that the owners may be interested in.

I follow it but I don’t want to get into it. The commissioner – you need to give him a lot of credit. His orders, and the head of the union, are we’re in this business together. Let’s work something out. I haven’t heard anything earthshaking.

ML – That’s good to hear.

Usually union negotiations get tougher close to the end. [laughs]

ML – What do you think about talk – and this is coming from national writers who are spitballing – about contraction of the A’s, Rays, or both?

We (the A’s) are against contraction. Nobody’s called us up and said, “We’re thinking about contracting you.” Contraction has a lot more issues to it than just shutting down a team and so on. They’d pay us the value (of the franchise). Then you’ve got minor leagues, places, cities all over the country with ballparks based on our activities, not just Tampa. We want to do the opposite.

ML – Do you think there’s pressure to get this done (a ballpark) so that nobody even has to consider that step?

That’s a very good question. I think getting it done has nothing to do with contraction. Baseball may have as many teams as they need. Some years it’ll be like we ought to contract. I do think that there’s so much going on with the Mets and the Dodgers, you can only address so many things. All of us are multitaskers. I don’t know that it’s so true in baseball. I don’t think it has to do with contraction. But sure, we and Tampa both need viable environments for our fans, or we won’t have any. It isn’t anything against any city.

ML – Do you and Stuart Sternberg (owner of the Rays) ever commiserate at the owner’s meetings about whose plight is worse? 

I’ve decided that mine is worse than his. He’s a good guy.

ML – He’s also a little younger.

He’s got more time. We don’t commiserate so much but we are both concerned. Very concerned.

59 thoughts on “The Big Lew Wolff Interview, Part 2

  1. Wow I must say I’m shocked at his reaction to the Earthquakes v Red Bulls game. He honestly thinks that 30,000 more people than usual came out to see the Quakes solely because of fireworks?

  2. I was at the game at Stanford. Most people were definitely there for the fireworks.

  3. I was at the same game. No way 30,000 showed up for fireworks. If that were the case why don’t the other teams in the region including the A’s get that big of a boost despite cheaper tickets?

  4. re: Victory Court “I think what’s happened is that they’ve discovered what we’ve known. ”

    …sure looks that way. Lots of feet-dragging and stalling on Oakland’s part probably because the site just isn’t feasible.

  5. The A’s also had fireworks the same night as the Quakes at Stanford. Quakes still had better attendance. How sad, Quakes fans been waiting years for new stadium and are going to be waiting even longer probably and it sounds like its going to be a total bare bones half ass stadium. Where is the vision? Sorry ML..I dont see the White Hart Lane resemblance

  6. Dan– Stanford used to have a fireworks show and concert every July 4 (actually July 2 or 3) at Frost Ampitheatre. They canceled it due to fire danger. Redwood City also stopped doing fireworks. Shoreline has them, but symphony concert tickets are expensive and limited. So the Quakes game de facto became the main local July 4 fireworks show. The demand doesn’t translate to other places or times other than July 4.

  7. …It does sound like the Earthquakes stadium will be bare-bones. But that’s what we can expect when there’s no public money available.

  8. ML: Let’s move on to this freeway park. It was proposed by an Oakland architect, Bryan Grunwald, who occasionally posts on the blog. 980 Park is a concrete deck over a submerged section of freeway near downtown Oakland. You said that you consider it an A+ in planning and an F in implementation. Care to elaborate?

    The problem with that is that talking to you is easy. Talking to guy looking for $2 ticket night on Wednesday is different. I can’t even imagine the cost on that. Forget about a ballpark. Say you’re putting up a hospital there or a park. I think we’re talking a billion – I have no idea. Air rights, we have them all over California. I haven’t seen too many places where there are building over there – bridges and stuff. Let’s assume that we did that tomorrow. It would take a decade. I wouldn’t know where to start. First of all, we’d say to Oakland or somebody, “Give us the platform and we’ll build on it.” The platform itself has got to be overwhelming. I love those kind of ideas. They win architectural contests, a student gets a master’s degree for doing them, and we do have huge amounts of air rights all over the world. It just will not happen. If that’s the best we can do, might as well forget it.

    BG Response: Lew got it right, capping the freeway is like building bridges with 60′ span–no biggie. In addition most of the cost of the cap is his foundations anyway. All ballparks under consideration require a pile supported foundation and a structural deck (connecting the pile caps)–this is almost the same as capping the freeway except for ventilation, lighting, and ramp relocation estimated at $20-30M. $100M less than the other alternatives under consideration. This could be paid for in either rent or rent forgiveness if the A’s built the freeway improvements. If the City (including adjacent neighborhoods) and its Senator and Congressman got together, it should not take 10 years, I estimate 5. AT&T Park took 10 years from concept to implementation. However, Oakland should get busy on the entitlements, including paying for them; as well as master planning the surrounding area to make it a real entertainment district (building off the Fox and Paramount Theaters).

    At least Lew didn’t say he had studied the site before, as his interview indicates.

  9. …on the Cross Bronx Expressway, motorists can see apartment buildings built over the highway. They certainly don’t look like appealing places to live. Can’t see much of an appeal in building a ballpark under this format, either. Especially in earthquake country.

  10. PJK, The Giants didn’t get a bare bones stadium when no public funding was available. Neither did the LA Galaxy with the privately built Home Depot Center nor did the NY Red Bulls with the also privately built Red Bull Arena (shocked both Lew and ML forgot the crown jewel of MLS stadiums). EP was correct when he asked, “where’s the vision?” We’ve seen what owners with vision (and what that vision needs to be) can accomplish with MLS soccer in Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle. The same could happen here if the ownership and front office showed the same kind of zeal their counterparts in the northwest have shown. But instead the Quakes are going to get a half assed stadium in the apparently fairly distant future and in the meantime will be left to rot away what’s left of the fanbase after the great screw job of ’05 and now 4 years of dismal soccer since they’ve been back, in Buck Shaw Stadium (or as I call it “Porto Pottie Stadium.”)

  11. Whatever, this is about the A’s ballpark. Don’t care one tiny bit about the earthquakes, unless it somehow affects the A’s. I would infer that Lew is letting the soccer thing sit until he gets the A’s stadium rolling. Plus if he goes bare bones with soccer that leaves more money for the A’s stadium, which is far more important. That’s all great news to me.

    On 980, I feel like Lew dismissed that out of hand without really knowing what it would take. I’m no developer but it seems like he should at least have one of his people give it a cursory review before he calls it an “F”. Maybe it can’t work, but he won’t know until he at least checks it out a little.

  12. From reading reaction on other blogs I can see that this interview is not going to change anyone’s minds one iota, not that I didn’t know that going in. It’s a classic case of confirmation bias and it cuts both ways: anti- and pro-Wolff.

  13. Bryan –

    Do you agree with Wolff’s $900M estimate? I know you have designed it but it is one thing to design it and another thing to source estimates from contractors, landowners, etc., and get to a firm number. Just wondering if you have done something like that and if you agree with the price tag.

  14. ML, that’s because people are not hearing from Wolff what they want to hear. Both A’s and Quakes fan bases are tired. These stadium sagas have been going on for over a decade in both cases. And they have no end in sight. On the MLB side it’s a combo of the perception Lew didn’t do enough in certain locations (ie: 980 or VC) and in SJ it’s probably stemming from frustration as to why an owner can’t seem to kickstart his good friend into finishing something that never should have taken 2 1/2+ years to complete.

    And with the Quakes his answers just confirmed what the fan base already knew, that he in fact doesn’t see a lot of potential for soccer here and is going to build a stadium that costs 1/4 the going rate and explains it away essentially saying he can squeeze more out of a dollar than other venues have (despite the fact two private MLS venues completed in the last 10 years in LA and NY cost 150 and 200 million respectively).

    • @Dan – I know a lot of Palo Alto/Menlo Park residents who went to that game. They went for the rare fireworks show. They weren’t Quakes fans. Anecdotal, I know. I should’ve followed up by asking if 20-22,000 was a better target.

      One thing I got from that section is that Fisher’s the true soccer aficionado. The Wolffs are fans but perhaps not nearly as fanatic as they are about baseball.

  15. @Dude and BG–if the fundamental challenge in Oakland is how to pay for the construction of a privately financed ballpark without being able to leverage entitlements than what does it matter if its VC or 980—maybe the city of Oakland would benefit because its cost of land acquistion and infrastructure improvements would be less but it doesn’t change the fact that there is not sufficient financial support to rationalize investing $500M into a ballpark at either site.

  16. I’m sorry, but Lew Wolff really stuck his foot in his mouth with his statement about Oakland losing half its population. Even the most ardent San Jose supporters would have never said something like that.

  17. Maybe Lew was thinking of the Black population of Oakland, which was 46% in 1980 and has dropped to 27% in 2010. Oakland used to have well over 200 murders a year in the ’80’s. That number has halved as well. One murder is too many, but long time Oakland residents have seen things much, much, worse than they are today. I am actually proud of the slow, positive changes i’ve seen in my city. Lots of work yet to do, but things are going in the right direction.
    data: http://www.theblackbottom.com/?p=11176

  18. PJK, The Giants didn’t get a bare bones stadium when no public funding was available.

    …actually, if you check out the width of the concourses in ATT Park vs the ballpark at Arlington, Texas, there’s no comparison. Much wider in the publicly built Arlington ballpark.

  19. @David The crack epidemic was the factor behind the violent 80’s. It was a plague that hit many urban areas during that period. I am glad the numbers are better now, but as you said, one murder is too much.

  20. pjk, Arlington also wasn’t constrained by the surrounding topography (in fact it was the most remotely built of all the new ballparks much to its detriment).

    ML, if fireworks were their real reason for going then why even buy a ticket? The show was visible for miles around the stadium for free. And indeed many people did just sit around outside the stadium doing just that.

  21. @Dan – PA/MP is one of the wealthiest areas in the nation with lots of disposable income. For many, the game was a nice night out, a novelty in two parts: soccer match and fireworks show as the nightcap. Someone from MLS thinks it’s the fireworks and hardcore fans deny it. The truth is in the middle. Is it not possible that it’s both? I opined at the time that cheaper ticket prices were also a factor. No need to overthink it.

  22. @Vivek–I didn’t see Lew’s estimate of $900M for a freeway cap. But the city of LA hired engineers to estimate the cap for the 44 acre Hollywood Freeway and it came in about $1B or $500/sf including the park. The cost of the park is probably more than half the cost, based on the recent cost of the New York Highline Park built on an elevated railway line. It was $152M for 1 mile, for the first phase Don’t know the exact area, but if it were 100 ft. wide the would be about $275/sf. So I will use $250/sf for the park. So if the cap were $500/sf and you deduct park landscaping at $250/sf the resulting cost is $250/sf. The ballpark site including 2 acres for the garage is a total of 10 acres. So $250/sf times 10 acres (435,600sf) =$100M for the freeway cap and ramp relocation. Of this cost $20-30K would be ramp relocation cost the remainder is foundations to support the ballpark.

    By the way the cost of the ballpark is estimated by Lew to be $400-450K including foundations. Foundations and structural deck for the ballpark on a difficult sites like either SJ or VC would be 15- 20 percent of the total construction cost or $60-90M.

  23. Oh I agree it was likely that the truth is somewhere in the middle. But even if it was, that means that half of the 30,000 more than normal crowd was there for soccer and half for fireworks (approximately). That means at least 25,000 were there to see a soccer match. And that tracks with the other times the Quakes have played in large venues with some promotion. Which is why it baffles me he doesn’t see more potential beyond 15-18,000 when events his own front office have held show that there’s a much larger potential there if he’d just have some vision and market the team.

    Your interview was outstanding and was rightly A’s centric, but I really hope he’ll gives one of the Quakes bloggers an interview as well as the soccer fan base has some serious questions in response to his answers. Both in terms of why he doesn’t see more potential here when they’ve done nothing to tap the potential that their own occasional one offs like the Stanford game have revealed. And to answer your anecdote above, yes a follow up about a 20-22,000 seat stadium would have been helpful.

  24. The reason why it’s upsetting that he denies the truth about the Stanford game is that it showed that major league marketing + major league stadium = major league attendance. Yet he sweeps it all under the rug by attributing it all to the fireworks. Of course some of the people were there for fireworks but not all of them. 15 guys from my stanford pickup soccer group came out to the game. Most have only been to 1 or 2 games at buck shaw ever. They all had seen the advertisements for months in advance (as opposed to having to hear about normal quakes games from me word of mouth) and new stanford stadium was a nice major league stadium as opposed to porta-potty field in santa clara.

    Right now the Quakes have the worst stadium in MLS and the worst marketing in MLS. Wolff seems to indicate he is only going to improve the stadium from horrific to average and his attitude suggests NO change whatsoever towards trying to market the Quakes in a major league manner.

  25. ML – thanks for the interview…outstanding job! Would you be able to have a podcast on it (if you recorded it)? Especially for the ones that donated? I’m curious how LW sounded through most of your interview, especially with the tougher questions. I’ll hold off on the comments until Friday, when the last piece is up.

    • @Anon – I did record it, using the raw audio to transcribe the conversation. It’s a mess right now so I’d have to edit the audio to remove some of the extraneous stuff. If I have time I’ll see if I can do it.

  26. @ Bryan

    Actually I got confused, he said a billion, not 900 million “I think we’re talking a billion”

    But that includes air rights and assorted other crap.

    Although he qualifies that statement with “I have no idea”

    Other than the highway fumes I think it’s a very cool idea and certainly would have AMAZING views if done properly.

  27. I feel for you ML, having spent so much time editing LW’s foot-in-mouth statements. Haas losing $30 mill a year? Along with his stupid popluation gaffe, where the hell did Wolff pull that $30 figure out of? Forbes’ financials are more accurate than MLB would want you to believe, and 8-10 mill loss is about right. Haas still kept a high payroll, trying to win and not trading fan faves, but the team dived in the standings and at the gate unfortunately. Forbes shows the A’s averaging a profit of almost 20 mill/year the last 5 years, but Wolff said that they broke even last year, where in truth they made about over 23 mill. These lying owners are repulsive. I don’t have a problem of them making money, but don’t lie and say that you’re not. The Giants are the same way. They said they just broke even on the regular season last year, but the playoffs/WS made them a little money. lmao!

    And LW’s sucking up to his frat bro is another joke. Calling for McCourt to sell the Dodgers. How about you selling your team, Mr. Wolff? Kettle calling pot black there, Lewie
    And to top it off, Wolff ‘s quote of the week:
    “Bud’s done so much for baseball. I feel very strongly that he’s the best commissioner in the history of baseball.”
    Apparently Wolff doesn’t know the history of baseball, and the stupid things BS has done during his regime.

  28. JK – “but the team dived in the standings and at the gate unfortunately“。。。I’ll remember this quote from you ever ytime you try to cite how the team attendance tanked with LW.
    “they broke even last year, where in truth they made about over 23 mill. ” – since you know the “truth”, please publish all the financial records of the a’s in detail with gross revenues, expenditures, etc.
    Funny, you call out LW belittling his intimate knowledge of menial things, but don’t question his logic on the real issue at hand: feasibility of a privately financed ballpark in a “depressed area”.

  29. Anon with a hard right to jk and he’s down for the count! Outstanding reply anon.

  30. Anyone who relates any team to what is going with the Dodgers clearly has a bone to pick or doesn’t understand what is going on with the Dodgers.

  31. @Anon–ooh, remember the quote and bring it up anytime you want on here.. lmao. I can give a ratz ass. The A’s could be drawing more now if they had an owner who wasn’t always bitching and wanting to leave, but still at 19k/game which isn’t too bad, but ranked 29th.
    I’m using Forbes’ figs, which are estimates, but i’d trust them more than the owners and BS figs. So you believe Wolff and Neukom when they said they broke even last year? If you do, you’re way more naive than I originally thought. Teams aren’t just “breaking even” and then paying Selig 19 mill, which is about the average profit for each team the last 5 years.

    • Re: financial losses – I wouldn’t be surprised if both figures were correct, one for MLB’s GAAP accounting and the other based on Forbes’ best available info. Either way, as a percentage of revenue ($100-120 million per year back then) the losses are enormous.

      @GoA’s – Cost to rebuild Stanford Stadium was $100 million.

  32. @TonyD–maybe you and your buddy Anon (aka ST) can go out and get some beers. Oops, I forgot, he’s only 8, not legal for another 13 years. He’s by far the biggest, most childish jerk on here, and I’d recommend you staying far away from this dude. Even though we disagree a lot, you seem like a decent guy. But please quit the constant sucking up– it’s embarassing.

  33. @Q&A Fan–average attendance in MSL is just over 17k—10 of the teams average at least 16k—help me understand what is wrong about what LW is proposing–more than likely the new EQ stadium will be about 18k—creating an intimate, lively experience is what it is all about—also–as an FYI–the rebuild of Stanford stadium was considered to be done very cheap–as I recall just over $50M—its luxury boxes that add significantly to expenses and LW is not planning to have those at the EQ stadium–makes sense to me–

  34. @GoA’s–$90 mill to rebuild Stanford Stadium back in 2006 I just read. Not bad, no frills but they did a good job. Cal’s renovation will be $321mill. Wow!

  35. Well not a good comparison. Stanford’s rebuild was a complete rebuild from the ground up building a simple stadium in the space where the old one stood. Memorial Stadium on the other hand is being preserved as it’s being heavily renovated. And all that is being done on a site that straddles a very dangerous fault zone which is another thing Stanford’s designers didn’t have to contend with.

  36. ok–but stanford stadium holds 55k in two decks—equivalent for 18k or so in a single deck would be around $50M–right

  37. @ JK – “Oops, I forgot, he’s only 8, not legal for another 13 years. He’s by far the biggest, most childish jerk on here”…When you can’t outsmart them, resort to personal attacks….typical JK response.

  38. GoA’s said: “@Dude and BG–if the fundamental challenge in Oakland is how to pay for the construction of a privately financed ballpark without being able to leverage entitlements than what does it matter if its VC or 980—maybe the city of Oakland would benefit because its cost of land acquistion and infrastructure improvements would be less but it doesn’t change the fact that there is not sufficient financial support to rationalize investing $500M into a ballpark at either site.”
    .
    That’s all well and good, but I’m not arguing for the 980 site or Oakland or anything else here. I just thought Wolff’s response to that was a little short, whereas in the rest of the interview so far he’s pretty thoughtful. Even if his honest belief is that no place in Oakland can possibly ever work, he could have given a better answer than what I considered somewhat condescending to Bryan’s work. And it’s not the courtesy that really bothers me. I’d really like to know what a developer with his experience thinks about that idea, but I’m left with the impression that he hasn’t thought about it at all, really. Just found it a bit disappointing.

  39. @Dude–once again LW is held to a higher standard than the city of Oakland which has dicked with the A’s for years–they have indicated they have no interest in 980–so why should he when once again…its not financially feasible–

  40. I don’t know how much more clear I can say it: my comment has nothing to do with this city or that, or what any city’s politicians have done or not done in the past. The only standard to which I’m holding Lew is to be a reasonable owner of my favorite team (I have no huge complaints there) and as a developer whose experience I respect. In that second aspect, I was disappointed in the answer.
    .
    You seem to have mis-read me as an Oakland-only partisan, which is hilariously inaccurate if you knew my posting history on here. Your responses have nothing to do with my comments and everything to do with your viewpoint that nothing in Oakland can possibly work. I think we all understand your position on that. Now, if you have anything to say about my actual comments, I’m all ears…err…eyes.

  41. … can’t wait to get details from the Quan/Wolff meeting.

  42. I didn’t misunderstand you as an Oakland or SJ supporter–you were disappointed with his answer about 980—which you thought was disrespectful—and I will re-iterate—why should he put any effort into exploring what is perceived by many as pie in the sky—-and not supported by the city leaders of Oakland—and shown by ML to be inadequate footprint for what is proposed—should LW be accountable to responding to everyone’s whim about where a ballpark could go….I don’t think so–

  43. If San Jose’s only place for the A’s near the downtown core was a decking of a freeway, would Wolff pursue it, because after tall, it is rich San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US and not Oakland, a depressed rustbelt town west? I’d say yes. It’s thinking outside of the box, cutting edge stuff, and sometimes you have to just go for it and take chances. On the flip side, you can have a 20 acres in Uptown already shovel ready and he’d probably balk. Need more land for a village, condos and stuff to make it more feasible. He will downplay any Oakland site, and make SJ work no matter how many obstacles.

  44. @jk—quite possible because his premise is that SJ can support a privately funded ballpark while Oakland cannot–to date no one has proven his premise wrong—

  45. Lew asked for the interview, so he asked to be asked about these things. And any of us can be disappointed in any of the answers. Having him give a cursory review to one of three options being discussed (it’s in the EIR after all) is hardly making him accountable to everyone’s whims or asking him to put in a bunch of effort. Hell, I didn’t even say I expected him to examine it in any huge detail. Just wished he had more to say about it.

  46. @JK, Taking a chance with $500mm to anywhere up to $1bn is easy to say when it isn’t your money. As it is, your question is pointless & unnecessary bc SJ already has a site which is supported by a completed EIR, the backing of the SVLG and a naming rights deal amongst other reasons. Wolff is also confident a plan for servicing the debt is attainable, which judging by the corp-backing & other facts, seems reasonably possible. He’s even got pictures of what Cisco Field will look like.
    .
    The 980 site has gained traction bc the VC site has made no progress besides the line drawn around city blocks and the funding of an EIR back in December. Right now there’s just not enough information for either Oakland site on the cost/challenges (besides what ML has been able to provide us – – thank goodness we have ML to educate us) or how those will even be dealt with which can only lead us to assume that there isn’t a plan to address those and that there hasn’t been much progress in figuring out how to address them (not saying Oakland can’t do anything SJ hasn’t already done, but so far, they haven’t – – which is what matters).
    .
    Whether they’re right or wrong, Oakland has chosen not to include/deal with LW, but they’re also left the rest of us in the dark too. Add to that, they don’t seem very interested in the 980 plan either.
    .
    It’s obvious you aren’t a fan of LW. That’s fine and it’s your right, but it’s my opinion that Pro-Oaklanders should start holding their city accountable too and start demanding some progress/answers/transparency. At least some pictures of what the stadium would look like.

  47. At what point can we start to think that the VC EIR is never coming out? They are required to get public input… how many days do they have to keep it open before they can move on to make it final?

  48. Here’s yet another little article about Wolff getting the Dodgers. Doubtful this will happen, but this scenario is pretty popular everywhere but the pro-SJer’s here on this blog
    I love the ending though: “As for the A’s, MLB would likely assume control as they look for a deep-pockets owner to instill some life into the franchise.
    Hmmm? Mark Cuban has deep pockets.”
    I only wish.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/lew-wolff-purchase-los-angeles-dodgers-2011-8

  49. Wolff and MLB have repeatedly stated he has no interest in the Dodgers. Just because the press keeps rumor mongering makes it no more true than it already isn’t. Frankly I think the press is misreading Wolff’s intentions behind his comments. He’s not trying to get the Dodgers, he’s trying to get them to finish up the Dodgers situation so they can move on to his team.

  50. @Dan–i think you’re right, that LW/JF won’t buy the Dodgers but this whole ordeal is so surreal, nothing will surprise me how it all ends up. I honestly think SJ is out of the picture because of the pesky Giants not backing down and BS not having the votes. It appears that this lame offensive team (the G’s) will drop in the standings and won’t make the playoffs, and will in no way be willing to negotiate with the A’s, fearing of not packing the place in the coming years. Sabean said if they dip to 2.5 mill fans, they’re in trouble. That’s 30k a game. I think he’s full of it, just like Wolff saying the A’s are just barley breaking even every year. Thye’re all a bunch of lying snakes, and think the fans don’t know how they’re all making money hand over fist.

  51. @jk-If San Jose is truly out of the picture, why then hasn’t Selig made an announcement? I would comment further, but my comments involve what Wolff says in Part 3, which is due out in about 45 minutes.

  52. jk-usa – ever so predictable:
    – “JK-USA would respond by citing that it was LW’s fault and wish he would go for a factitious philanthropic owner riding on a winged unicorn! ”
    – “As for the A’s, MLB would likely assume control as they look for a deep-pockets owner to instill some life into the franchise.” Hmmm? Mark Cuban has deep pockets.””

  53. whose plight is worse? What the hell? in this economy with real people, a lot of whom read this blog you just asked a rich guy if he asked another rich guy, whose plight is worse?????? WTF ???

    • @Jesse – Good lord, are you simply looking for something to get angry about? Wolff addressed your point by saying that no matter how good or bad the economy is, the A’s still need a ballpark. I asked the question inferring the two owners’ situations in baseball. No need for the vitriol there.

  54. “The great thing about Billy and Mike and their people is that they’ve been able to keep us competitive until we get a new ballpark “. the A’s haven’t had winning seasons since 2006, and Billy has traded away good prospects constantly and wasted million on injured free agents every year since Wolff bought this team. If that doesnt tell you fans that this is completely and totally FULL OF SHIT, I dont know what will. Shut your mouth old man.

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