Lew Wolff was interviewed by Greg Papa in a lengthy segment on Chronicle Live today, and for once just about everyone can find a little bit of hope in what he had to say. Wolff’s folksy demeanor shows up most when he sheepishly admits something, such as when he talked about his “silly tarping” idea (that won’t go over well) or when he didn’t realize that the A’s had the worst attendance in the league in 2009.
Papa did the right thing in progressing the questions from Oakland to San Jose. He asked why Oakland didn’t work and Wolff mentioned his notes, which would take an hour and 45 minutes to go over. I have gotten a look at these notes, and while there wasn’t time to go over everything, it was quite thorough and helps Wolff make his case rather clearly. That said, on two occasions Wolff mentioned that while he felt he was exhaustive in his search, the MLB panel could make another recommendation within Oakland or the East Bay. Whether or not the panel actually does that is another story. Still, it’s a glimmer of hope that the process will give Oakland another shot at getting everything together for a ballpark. (Cue the Oakland preso anytime now…)
When the subject switched to San Jose, Wolff played down San Jose in terms of economic virtues. Instead he framed his argument entirely within the confines of running the club: It’s the only place a ballpark can work now due to infrastructure there, and the concepts in Fremont and Oakland (Coliseum North) can’t work now because of the economy. Keep in mind that in the San Francisco Magazine article, Wolff said that he wasn’t pursuing additional land in the Diridon area, so building a mall or some other fancy development wouldn’t be in the cards.
On territorial rights, Wolff felt that the decision had to be made “in a measured manner,” with neither owner likely lobbying other owners on his behalf.
Among the other tasty tidbits from the interview
- Wolff corrected Papa on the A’s 2008 revenue: not $160 million as Forbes reported, but rather $130 million. That includes the revenue sharing receipt ($32 million).
- A ballpark in San Jose, if all the hurdles are cleared, would take 9-12 months to finish planning and 2 years to build. Wolff did not rule out a 2012 opening, but that’s not likely given that the public vote would likely be taken next November. Even if they break ground a day after the election, they’d still have only 16 months from that point until Opening Day 2012. So dont get too excited about 2012. The Mayans caused enough trouble there.
- Wolff hinted that MLB may have some say in the eventual size of the ballpark – which may be where the 36,000 figure is coming from.
There’s another thing I’ve picked up from these public statements and others from other teams – there’s a palpable sense of kinship between the A’s, Raiders, and 49ers. The A’s, while they’ve criticized the Coliseum for not being baseball friendly, have not directly blamed the Raiders. They’ve said that a shared facility isn’t ideal long term and that’s that. It’s an important distinction, as all three teams know they’re in the same boat and it wouldn’t make sense to attack each other when it’s hard enough to get a deal done. Fans have the latitude to throw blame. Owners, not so much.
Want more? Watch the interview, which is almost 15 minutes long has been broken up into several segments on the CSNCA video section.