New Wolff Interview on AN

If you haven’t seen it already, go to Athletics Nation (Happy 7th Birthday) and read Blez’s interview with Lew Wolff, Part 1. It brings us up-to-date on where we stand and may answer a few – but obviously not all – questions you may have about the process. I prefer to leave the discussion there as it’s already quitely lively, but if you have any questions that I may be able to provide some clarification, shoot here and I’ll give it a shot. Jeffrey’s been in the comments thread there, so have at it.

Speaking of Jeffrey, he recorded a take on the Giants’ WS win for KQED Perspectives. I can safely say that we’re in the same boat, even the Giants fan Uncle Larry part.

Part 2 of the AN-Wolff Interview is up. In it, Wolff addresses whether or not Fremont was merely a ruse, his own performance as owner, and several other topics. Part 3 is tomorrow.

I’m planning on writing a response post tomorrow after Part 3.

62 thoughts on “New Wolff Interview on AN

  1. Fun read. I think Wolff either dodged or misinterpreted the final question on fixing up the Coliseum for the remaining years before a new ballpark opens. I don’t care if it’s just new more decorative tarps, the Coliseum needs a minor face-lift. Something, anything. Pictures, achievements, whatever.

  2. Loved the AN interview. LW talks to almost all the owners? That champagne and brew’s gonna taste mighty good here shortly!

  3. Briggs, I don’t think he dodged it. Just that he sees the only improvements that would really even help the problem as being ones that will cost 10-20 million dollars. And he’s right. The Coliseum is irredeemable at this point, but it could at least have its life extended by fixing at least the lower bowl seating problem. But as Wolff says, it’s a very expensive proposition.

    I mean sure they could buy more decorative tarps, but to what effect? They’d still be tarps and they’d still be derided by most of the fans for some ridiculous reason and would have no real effect on who shows up. As for any other improvements, like statutes or the like… first they’d need the other team’s approvals, and second, it would end up being a waste. They’d only be there for a few more years anyway since the A’s will not be at the Coliseum by this time in say 2017.

  4. The owner of the Rays, Stuart Sternberg, spent $20 million on various improvements to Tropicana Field. Did it help? Nope.

  5. Jeffrey – very well done! I feel very much the same way. Having a lot of friends who have been Giants fans since we were kids (which is a long time ago) really made watching them win an enjoyable experience. Not having Bonds on the team really helped too! I can’t honestly say I was rooting for them — I wasn’t — but knowing a bunch of long-suffering fans who are great people made it a lot easier. My family ties to the Giants are all deceased. But I know somewhere my mother, grandmother and grandfather are grinning ear-to-ear right now. That puts a smile on my face as well.

  6. @Dan: A little feng shui wouldn’t necessitate structural upgrades to the Coliseum. I’m not talking about bringing in the seating bowl, or installing new scoreboards or even a statue. I’m talking small things, things that could help boost fan morale. This is the best analogy I can think of off the top of my head, but think about offices/cubicles at work. They’re all essentially the same and dreadfully dull. Some people choose not to do anything with them and they look like dreary places inhabited by people who just don’t care. Then on the other side, there are people who bring in a plant or pictures or their own clock. They’re not doing major renovations to their office/workspace. They’re just taking a little effort to dress the place up and I don’t know about you, but morale is invaluable—but not quantifiable.


    The Fog Horn was installed at Candlestick in 1993. It was a great little gimmick for kids to look forward to when a Giant hit a homer. You’re never going to get the Coliseum back to its old self, but at least you can throw up some pennant flags along the top of Mt. Davis, or put some banners up on top of the vacant suite windows. Will people care? I bet the people showing up would care and it might keep them showing up until this new ballpark gets built.

  7. Kick ass Jeffrey. You nailed it.

  8. Briggs, they already have pennant flags flying at the Coliseum. Sure the foghorn made sense at the Stick just as the aircraft carrier horn still makes sense in San Diego. But what would you suggest they use in Oakland? The Amtrak horn they had back in the old days? Sure that would be cute but I doubt it would do much for fan morale just as the foghorn did nothing back in the day for the Giants and the palm trees did nothing at Qualcomm Stadium for the Padres in the 90’s. You’re talking about putting little tiny band aids (you know the finger tip type), on a cute across your femoral artery. It’s a novel gesture but in the end it wouldn’t change anything. The Coliseum needs upgrades the likes of which Busch Stadium II got in the 90’s to be a serviceable venue once again. And it’s not happening with the funding shortage of the city and county and the apathy of their stadium mates the Raiders (not to mention their presence being a disruption to most ideas that would help the A’s make the Coliseum even a tiny bit better). As ML pointed out, it didn’t work in Tampa, and it won’t work here.

  9. I don’t that the Tropicana Field situation is a good comparison in that the Rays are still struggling to establish themselves with a fanbase whereas the A’s have fans, but many are alienated, frustrated and/or apathetic. I think the mentality that it’s pointless to do anything will even worsen the problem. The casual fan isn’t following this new ballpark saga. At best, they gloss over an article here or there, or pick up bits of info around the water cooler. To them, the place is gloomy. There’s nothing really to look at. I think it’s more an issue of who’s going to pay for it. I’m not saying Wolff is abandoning the current fans—but I am saying that a little bit can go a long way if it’s executed well and evokes some positive vibes from the attendees.

  10. ++Job well done Jeffrey, job well done++

  11. Briggs, I’m curious. If you owned the A’s what improvements would you make to the Coliseum then? Keeping in mind you can’t alter the place structurally, and your budget is very limited thanks to the city, county, and neighbors. So all your “improvements” would need to be temporary.

  12. The way I look at the Coliseum vis-a-vis A’s ownership is like me renting a house. I have to live there, entertain there, etc. But I don’t own the place so I’m not going to do anything major to fix it up. I’ll keep it clean, I might paint inside and I’ll certainly work on the landscaping (because I enjoy that). But I’m not going to sink serious money into any of those things unless I own the place. I think the A’s could do more as a tenant to make the place look a little better for their guests. But we’re talking about the equivalent of a crumbling house with a poor layout, too many unnecessary rooms and in need of a new roof. To top it all off, it’s not in a good neighborhood. The A’s can paint the bathrooms and hang some pictures, but it won’t fix the things that are really wrong with the place. It’s not a great analogy because a home is not the same as a place of business. But I’m not a business owner, so I can relate better to a home.

  13. Oh, Dan. I thought you’d never ask! So, this is just off the top of my head:

    Yeah. They’d definitely be temporary and purely cosmetic and primarily geared towards casual fan. Homeruns could have a flashing white elephant neon sign over an A’s logo. It could go someone beyond the fence in a power alley. Franchise achievements like “The Streak,” Ricky’s single-season SB record, Ricky’s lifetime SB record, Perfect games, etc could be on tapestries hanging over the vacant suite windows on Mt. Davis. I think there might a bank of lights along the top of the suits on Mt. Davis, but there’s definitely space for a couple of those suggestions. The A’s don’t currently have star power. However , they have their history, so I would milk it for all it’s worth. Is it tacky or self absorbed? Maybe, but it’s better than nothing and I think all those could be achieved for under $2m, likely a lot less. There’s the question of who’s going to pay for it. Since I’m the hypothetically owner, I guess me. It can’t be any tougher to swing than $25k campaign contribution.

  14. Briggs, while those would be nice touches, I think they’re just that, touches. They’d do very little to entice anyone to want to go to the Coliseum, and if anything given the team’s lackluster performance of late might actually depress current A’s fan (I know it would depress me). I don’t think a few banners would change most casual or even hardcore fans views of the Coliseum. To steal and modify a phrase, “it’s like putting a VERY thin layer of lipstick on a very big disgusting pig.” No one would be fooled by it. At best for a few hardcores that are still aware of the A’s history (unlike most of the press in the region), it might bring up a few warm and fuzzies about the past. And it might even educate a few casuals who live under rocks. But in the end, attendance would still be what it is today…

  15. ” Look, I’m happy to build a ballpark anywhere I can get one but there is much more to doing so than just drawing a line around a few city blocks.”

    That doesn’t add up with folks on here who say: “alright Oakland-only folks, who is going to buy the A’s and pay for a stadium in Oakland, if Lew can’t build in SJ?”

  16. Wolff is such a hypocrite, it makes me sick. Wasn’t it him who “drew a line around a few city blocks” on the 66th Ave ballpark village plan, which was a such a pipedream, relocating 120 businesses and an in-fill Bart station a must? His heart was never in Oakland, but always in San Jose. He bends over backwards for SJ and sets too many restrictions on Oakland. He’s hell bent on SJ, the heart of Giant’s country, and ignores a better site at Victory Ct., where his fan base is, where Bart is, where the relocation of businesses is only 12, not 120, and where the A’s will thrive for years to come.

  17. @jk–if SJ is the heart of gint country than why was their parade in SF? Didn’t your buddy Newhouse just indicate that even VC is not viable….come on man…your grasping at straws…LW is not the enemy…the city of Oakland’s ability to lead is

  18. @ML – I don’t think he hates Oakland. I just think he’s in love with SJ and is very dismissive of Oakland (at best). His disdain for Oakland has a lot to do with the (low) attendance.

  19. @GoA’s–i wrote that I disagreed with Newhouse on VC not being viable (it is), and Oak to 9th being not so viable (a little further from Bart). These last 15 years with southbay carpetbagging creeps one foot out the door, yes, they are the enemy if you’re an Oakland A’s fan. The city is showing an interest and if Quan wins, even more so. I’d say, lets give them a shot.

  20. Did you see the WS parade last week jk? That was the “heart” of Giants country! And are you really saying that VC is a better site than Diridon? I guess you’ll tell us next that Roseanne Barr is better looking than Kim Kardashian. Like I said in a previous thread jk…it’s time for you to just let it go….just let it go.

  21. The citizens of Oakland are showing an interest in the A’s by electing Quan? WOW! Just WOW! (LOL!)

  22. @TonyD–Giant’s country in SJ and SC county. The A’s are an afterthought there. The A’s coverage is on page 5 of the Mercury News, the G’s always on the front page. VC and any new park in Oak is better than Diridon because it’s in Oakland, their home for the last 43 years. You guys were saying it’s over for the A’s when Perata was suppose to win. Now that Quan may pull this off, it’s still not good enough for you? You guys simply amaze me!

  23. @jk–isn’t Quan currently a council member? Where has she been in advocating a strong leadership positon in her current role–absolutely amazing….btw regardless of who the mayor is it doesn’t change the economic challenges of privately financing a ballpark in Oakland for all the reasons that have been established thus far….

  24. Jk, come on dude. Really? You have 2 very large (footprint) companies to move. Neither of which want to move. Those guys alone will cost something like $40M to move. That is all on top of acquiring the 12 parcels, which all of that will cost more that $100M. Then, there is no mechanism to fund the stadium. It takes more than a BART station a quarter mile away to make a site viable. There is tons of work ahead to make Victory Court even close to viable. That is the point of what Wolff is saying. Oak 2 9th isn’t viable. JLS West isn’t viable. Victory Court has a long way to go to even be close… None of that is Lew Wolff’s fault. Why do you always have to do this?

  25. Tony D – I’m LMFAO too…Quan = A’s in Oakland
    If the citizens of Oakland showed any interest, then they would attend the actual games /rolleyes

  26. @ST–you Oakland haters kept saying over and over if Perata wins, party’s over. He may lose, so is the party still over? BTW, when you sabotage attendance and have one foot out the door for years like Schotmann and LW have done, it’s hard for fans to stay loyal. I’ve cut down on games big time, I’m so disgusted with these guys. Bad marketing, lame promotions, bad trades, it’s sad. Time for BB to go too.

  27. jk – so you’re saying that IF Quan wins and supports an Oakland stadium, the people are in effect supporting Wolff again?!

  28. Jim, why were the Bay Bridge and East Bay BART stations jam packed on parade day?

  29. “I’ve cut down on games big time, I’m so disgusted with these guys. Bad marketing, lame promotions, bad trades, it’s sad. Time for BB to go too.”
    But all will be forgiven if the A’s stay in Oakland right?

  30. @NamTurk–mainly bandwagon fans who want to be part of history. Where were they back in 1975 when they drew 522k, with 7 crowds under than 2k, one at 851?

  31. @fc–I wish they would change ownership, but I will support them if they stay. Wolff will hate staying and may sell if forced to build at VC or wherever.

  32. Please tell us your secret to distinguishing easily-convertible bandwagon fans in the East Bay from A’s-hating diehards in the South Bay.

  33. @JK, so your support is based solely on where they play?

  34. Jeffrey and ML have gone through the scenarios and it does not make sense to build JLS West, VC, or Oak 2 9th in Oakland regardless of funding or who owns the team.

    Pro-Oak supporters blame the owners when in fact the City of Oakland and Coliseum Authority are the ones to blame. They are the ones who turned their backs on Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman when they had an agreement to renovate the Coliseum for baseball only to lure the Raiders back in the mid 1990s.

    They are the ones who shot down Schott when he offered to pay $100 million for an Oakland ballpark but his offers came upon deaf ears.

    They are the ones who have given up and refuse to call Lew Wolff on if they found anything that he in fact missed. Oakland knows full well there isn’t anywhere viable to build nor do they have a funding plan of any type.

    Fremont and Oakland were based on the same fundamental of selling Residential Entitlements of ancillary development in order to fund the stadium privately. A colossal recession hit and those options are no longer viable.

    The A’s need a built out Downtown site (Diridon is not “suburban for the last time) with a flush corporate base and affluent fan base in order to build it privately.

    San Jose, Oakland, nor Fremont will put in public $$ outside of redevelopment funds that are a small fraction of the cost.

    At the end of they day a ballpark is about dollars and sense and right now Oakland knows full well the A’s are gone regardless of what happens in San Jose.

    Otherwise what is stopping them from calling Wolff?

  35. @Sid – Woah there. We haven’t said that it doesn’t make sense to build in Oakland. We’ve cast our doubts on the viability of a ballpark based on what limited information we have. That doesn’t mean that something can’t be worked out. It means that it would take the kind of creativity and political will that Oakland hasn’t shown thus far.

  36. Oakland-is-victim proponents have their story they are sticking to it. Doesn’t have to be true but it fits the narrative they want – that poor, poor Oakland is being abused here. They don’t want to hear about all the things Oakland has done to chase the A’s away.

  37. Didn’t Jerry Brown himself, while still major of Oakland, make a comment to the effect that “Fremont has the land” for the A’s, implying Oakland did not?

  38. For the umpteenth time, if Oakland is such a great place for a new ballpark, why aren’t wealthy entrepreneurs lining up to express their interest in spending $1 billion to buy the team, buy the land an build the ballpark in Oakland with no corporate support?

  39. TB: If you would look at it from the Giants’ perspective, obviously one of the things, at least from a layman’s perspective that makes San Jose so appealing to someone like yourself, and even to the Giants, is that obviously there is a lot of Silicon Valley money there.

    LW: If the Giants want to move there, we’ll take their ballpark as is right now (laughing). It’s a two team market

    I just became a Lew Wolfe fan.

  40. …or however you spell it.

  41. @Hecanfoos–going back to 1998, before he was even associated with the A’s, Wolff said ” I wouldn’t spend five minutes on any other city besides San Jose.” Shows you where he’s coming from and wants to go to.
    And he’s pretty much stuck to that 12 years later, with a little detour to Fremont, and a half-baked plan in Oakland, but not really that into it, with way too many restrictions in Oak compared to Fremont and SJ…
    I will never be a Wolff fan.

  42. I appreciate the questions TB had for LW concerning the upcoming Moneyball movie. For all the A’s fans panicking about the Giants gobbling up all the casual fans, if this movie is a hit, I really expect attendance to rise. I’m not predicting 3m but I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s returned to 2m in 2012. The A’s are in desperate need of someone to tell their story. Each team has their own story. The Giants have great media presence to tell their story. I think more fans would pay attention to the A’s if they knew their story and this is an opportunity for that.

  43. Briggs,
    You bring up a good point of Moneyball bringing interest next year in the A’s. Brad Pit as BB?
    Say what you want about the man, but he’s a heck of an actor and the women love him; it can only help the A’s cause.
    New ballpark/city on the horizon and major motion picture; its not winning the WS but could be the next best thing.

  44. @Tony D.
    I hope the nail that heartwarming angle in the Moneyball movie. Fans love the underdog and now that the Giants have won their World Series, I think there’s gonna be a few casual fans that check in to see how the A’s are doing these days. If the stars align and the movie is a hit, they get a new ballpark and they become serious contenders, I think it would be a really exciting time to be an A’s fan—especially for those of us who’ve sat through Tuesday night games with barely 10k in attendance. I’m all for Brad Pitt. I think he’s one of the finest relevant actors alive. He grabs people’s attention. I bet a lot of A’s fans will come out of hibernation to remind people of the A’s fanhood during those “Moneyball years” too. It’d be amazing if the A’s could ride a hotstreak right into Cisco Field the same way the Giants hit full bloom just as AT&T Park was opening.

  45. Briggs,
    If I were the A’s, when Moneyball opens, I’d set up “shop” in major theaters of the south and lower east bay”s: Cisco Field renderings, ticket info, team/movie merchandise, etc.

  46. Mayor Quan! Its official!!

  47. @Oakland boosters– I like what LW suggested to those who don’t believe that he has done his due diligence in Oakland–contact the property owners and 1) ask them if they are willing to sell and than 2) ask them at what price. For jk and others who are touting VC where even Newhouse says it is not feasible you would at least have clarity for yourselves and maybe you could stop bashing LW for Oakland’s shortcomings…

  48. Congrats to Jean Quan.

  49. @David–yes, she did it!! Finally some good news to come out of Oakland. A great grassroots campaign beat out the tons of money the sleazeball Perata spent.
    @GoA’s–I will never stop bashing LW. He makes me yearn for the days of Charley O, and that cheap bastard was pretty bad, but the crazy, meddling nut was a winner and put some colorful teams on the field.

  50. and jk there lies the problem–you refuse to take any responsiblity or accountablity for determining if LW is correct but rather prefer to trash someone even though the facts dont support your rants….in my book that is about as low as it gets…you play the victim role exceeding well–

  51. @GoA’s–and you guys give LW a free pass, like Fox News did with George Bush for 8 years.
    If he gets his little park in SJ, don’t expect much increase in payroll. They’ll still play 2nd fiddle to the G’s in attendance, payroll and probably wins. Might as well stay in Oakland, where your true loyal fans are, where Bart is and have such a rich history.

  52. whatever jk—you’d make an interesting study…

  53. @GoA;s–yeah whatever..tell me where I’m wrong?

  54. Congrats to Quan. I will give Oakland this, at least the hammer hasn’t fallen on that particular nail in the coffin… yet.

  55. “Tell me where I’m wrong?” An interesting study indeed! “Might as well stay in Oakland, where your true loyal fans are.” Not this crap again?! By the way jk, YOU don’t even live in Oakland, so I guess by your own definition you’re not a “true loyal fan”?
    Congratulations from myself also goes out to Jean Quan. Doesn’t mean anything in terms of the A’s and a ballpark, but perhaps Oakland will now be on the right path for its citizens and overall well being.

  56. Actually, it does mean something in the ballpark situation. If she can make an effort to keep the team in Oakland.

  57. Her priorities were stated on TV last night and I didn’t hear anything mentioned about the A’s.

  58. re: @GoA’s–and you guys give LW a free pass, like Fox News did with George Bush for 8 years.

    I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about politics in here? I could go on and rant about MSNBC, CNN etc in response but I won’t.

  59. Part 3 — Lew gets pissed…

  60. @gojohn10 – When I read that end part initially, I didn’t think he was talking about Fremont. I think he was referring to an unnamed Oakland official and his/her comments. It looks like he conflated the two.

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