The Big Lew Wolff Interview, Part 5

Part 5 of 5 (Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4)

LW: How about redevelopment? Don’t you want to talk about that?

ML: I’m getting right to that. Actually let’s talk about T-rights for one more question. If there was a dollar value attached to the T-rights here, is that something you’d consider? Is there a threshold or limit for that?

What do you mean, pay for this (Santa Clara County)? We should be paid for what we or the Haas family gave up?

ML: Well, I suppose this is an academic thing.

We’ll leave that up to the commissioner.

ML: Okay. Fair enough. On to San Jose and redevelopment. There are two properties remaining that have to be acquired. We last heard that they were supposed to be wrapped in June but we haven’t heard anything from the City about that. I’m guessing that they haven’t done it because of all the shakeup with the budget and the ending of redevelopment. Now that they’ve filed a lawsuit there’s all sorts of stuff up in the air.

San Jose went and acquired half the property or more, which is good for us because they’re committed. I spent most of my adult life in redevelopment. We’re not looking for redevelopment to hand us a check or a bond issue or anything. That’s true in Oakland too. The value of the land that we think it is, if San Jose needed that money to be paid to be the last properties (we’ll do it). We thought at first that we’d end up leasing land. Owning the land would be better for us. Whether it’s redevelopment, the city, a special district, whatever the hell they come up with, it makes no difference to us because we’re not looking for anything different than we would be normally. So in a funny way it’s a little better for us.

ML: Really?

Well, look. If we’re fortunate enough that they announce that we can go you have to close your eyes and say, “What will that mean?” The whole community is gonna be excited about that. The thing that bothers me is that – even in this economy – we need a ballpark whether the economy is good or bad. Right?

ML: Yeah.

So why should we be holding up jobs and construction and so on over an argument that I think is –

ML: Petty?

Petty. As a percentage of what we’re doing, the cost of the land, I don’t know what it’s going to be, if you’re going to spend $400-450 million the land is not going to be a situation where it costs X percent and it’s too much so we’re not going to build a new ballpark.

I hate to see what’s happening to redevelopment, because I think it’s one of the few aspects of government that has a cost-benefit to it. I’m still surprised – and I like Governor Brown – I didn’t get why he did that. The answer is that I’m sorry about what’s happening to all of these cities in California. We have a real shovel-ready project if nobody interferes with it. It’s not a concern. Your blog talks about it all the time which I think it good but it really isn’t a problem for us. We have one problem, and that’s the decision. Is that clear?

ML: Yes, and it’s somewhat reassuring in light of what we’ve learned in the past 6-7 months.

I didn’t say it was good for all cities.

ML: I’m not going to lie. There are a lot of people on the blog who read and comment who look at this and say, “That’ll be one more thing that eventually eliminates Oakland or some other city because they won’t have the resources to make it happen.”

By the way, they’re right. Not San Jose though – they’ve spent the resources. Their EIR is done. We may have a lawsuit from some phony – you know all that stuff. Starting now, somewhere else? Forget it, it’s not gonna happen. Anywhere.

ML: Did you even conceive that something like this would enter the equation when you started?

No, not at all.

ML: Going back to the first question, so much has changed in six years. 

A lot has changed and sometimes things that look negative may be positive for certain people, and vice-versa.

ML: The last questions I have are more fun stuff. I was considering bringing a book that I bought last year when I visited Target Field.

The Target Field book?

ML: The big book, the commemorative book. 

I have it.

ML: It’s beautiful, covers the entire history of how they got to that point. Other sites that were considered. Politics, and then finally the actual construction. Have you been to Target Field and maybe the Marlins ballpark?

I have been to Target Field but not the Marlins ballpark.

ML: What do you take away from Target Field?

Are you talking about the history of it?

ML: No, just the ballpark.

I think it looks terrific. It’s actually built on a smaller site than we have. It’s cantilevered out over –

ML: Over streets and railroads.

I don’t think we can afford to build that structure in California privately. They’ve had some help there (in Minnesota). What we’re planning to do is this. When you air-condition space like special restaurants and things. Because of San Jose and the economy and so on. We’re gonna have all of the great concessions but we’re not gonna have a stadium club because we want the downtown to provide that. The less air-conditioned space you have the more you can put into the field. Target Field is great. Give it to me tomorrow and I’ll take it in a second.

But we will be the closest to the field of any ballpark ever built in baseball, at least in my lifetime. And it’ll be fun. We just want to have fun. We want the fan to walk in and have fun. We don’t need to have a monument or tribute like Yankee Stadium – it’s incredible there, the materials and everything. It’s a $1.5-2 billion or whatever it costs. What we want is for somebody to go and say, “Gee, that was really a fun experience. I felt like I was really close to the player.” Each of our places in the ballpark – and my son can go over this with you – are neighborhoods. So it might be better to be in LF standing up than it would be to be behind home plate.

The average (attendance related to) capacity last year based on our study: 51%. So everybody’s saying we’re making this thing too small. Number one – we’re in a two-team market even though the other team doesn’t agree. [laughs] Number two – we think less is more. We want players to look up and have the stands filled. As much as they shouldn’t care whether it’s one person or 50,000, they do care.

ML: They absolutely care.

And so does the manager and so does the staff and the ticketing group. We have 130 people we employ and deserve to have a proper operating environment.

ML: Okay. Going to the Cisco Field renderings that were released last year by Baseball San Jose. A bunch of us, because we’re stadium geeks, started to dissect the pictures to figure out what’s in there, what’s going on. We were able to divine a few things and maybe some of my guesses were wrong. The first thing that stuck out from a pure baseball standpoint – because that’s what we watch, the action on the field – in RF you have that big wall of something facing Autumn Street. The dimensions of the field –

I’m gonna defer to my son Keith. who lives up here in the Bay Area. I’m gonna have him call you or you can call him, either way. He can sit down and explain this to you. It can be a separate blog time. I like it, but I just don’t have the info.

ML: Is Keith dealing with most of this technical stuff now, nose to the grindstone?

He’s my son so I don’t want to overdo it. He’s a little less emotional than I am. Probably smarter, Harvard MBA and all that. He’s a real estate developer and a good athlete. Billy wants to see more of Keith but Keith’s nose to the grindstone, trying to keep everything going here. On both soccer and baseball plus he has other activities outside of that. You’d get a kick out of talking to him.

ML: I’d love to do that, whether that’s soon or after the decision is made.

The other thing is the architect, who used to be with HOK then left – if the two of them were here you’d get a kick out of talking to them. They’re great people. I’ll work on that.

ML: That’s the stuff that we (on the blog) really want to talk about. You mentioned Billy Beane just now. Do Billy and Keith have an ongoing dialogue over how the ballpark should be developed? 

What Billy wants is to do is be able to walk into an office where he doesn’t trip over boxes and stuff. The answer is that we have Steve Vucinich [Ed.: VOOSE! A’s equipment manager]. He has a continuing list of all things the things he’d like to see in the ballpark. He’s been keeping the list for so long that it’s been getting yellow, he teases me. We will use all of our people – we have already but not to the degree when we start actually determining storage space, down to the details. We have great resources for this. Better than just consultants.

ML: That reminds me of when what is now Chase Field was being planned, they left a lot of the conceptual stuff to Buck Showalter, a manager. 

A manager would like to have more space between the foul line and the stands. We want to have one inch. So we’ll have that kind of battle going.

ML: I like that kind of battle. It’s a good thing to sink your teeth into. One more question. During the Fremont unveiling, you referenced ancillary development items such as the baseball village and museum. What happened to the museum concept? 

We probably don’t have room for it there. My partners, the Fishers, they contributed a wing to an art museum in San Francisco. They talk about a museum all the time. They look at the art of baseball. Or maybe they’re talking about pure art. They’ve also been down here and have had a conversation with the local museum. [Ed. – As we are talking I look out the window at the San Jose Museum of Art, a short throw from where I sit.] They have a great art collection, it’s not necessarily sports-related or sports memorabilia. We haven’t thought about it, but we’re open to those kind of fun things. Right now we don’t know if we can incorporate too much of that into the ballpark because of the size. So it isn’t perfect. If John Fisher were here he’d be talking about bringing great contemporary art to a baseball park and I’d be talking about bringing somebody’s uniform.

ML: You know what? I went to Cowboys Stadium last year and there were several contemporary art installations throughout. And it’s really beautiful and striking. 

John will be a big influence on this facility.

ML: That’s great. One last thing. When you look at the renderings, I’ve had a few people tell me it looks like a modernized mirror image of Fenway Park. 

You know, I don’t see it that way but I’m not sure. It is small and compact. Again, I’d like to defer that to the meeting with Keith and so forth. I mean, if we had Fenway Park right now I’d be very happy. [laughs]

ML: [laughs] For years, Fenway had 33,000 seats and no one complained.

You gotta always remember we’re in a two-team market. While there’s plenty of baseball, there’s plenty of other attractions in California, in fact there are more attractions than in Boston for the consumer. We gotta be careful about that.

Is that helpful? I’m pleased you were willing to do this. Believe me.

ML: I’m pleased that you had time to sit down and discuss this.

I guess the point is that I keep getting beaten up, and if people feel that way fine. I feel there are areas where we’ve really been diligent that people don’t want to think about.

ML: This was really great. It’ll be really productive when it gets posted. 

[Ed. – I had originally meant to follow up the museum question with one about honoring A’s history but was thrown off by Lew Wolff’s response that I forgot it. We were also heading into a hard stop. I’ll be sure to broach that in the discussion with Keith Wolff.]

64 thoughts on “The Big Lew Wolff Interview, Part 5

  1. Great series! Thanks ML! It would be awesome if you can get the Keith Wolff interview.

  2. Great interview, ML. I can’t say I feel any more positive about Wolff as an owner, but at least this interview helps blow away some of the fog. I hope you get the Keith Wolf interview. Keep up the awesome work!

  3. Good interview ML. Not much positive at all on the Oakland side of things from him (as expected), except that new scoreboards may be coming soon to the Coliseum. Yippee!!
    The gaffes were pretty bad on LW’s part, but I’m use to it with this guy. He’s the Joe Biden of MLB.

  4. I do regret the absence of the A’s Museum. Perhaps one of the ancillary developments could be one? If they could rescue the Philadelphia A’s museum and transplant it to California that would go a long way, right? But also, if a building ancillary to the development was used for it, it could be like 1/3rd A’s, and then 2/3rd’s Baseball in general, and it could try to become Cooperstown West, which would be a huge west coast attraction.

  5. Great series. I kind of read this as an open letter to Selig and rest of owners. He’s being a MLB first guy, the Giants are not. Haas family gave up rights for better baseball and Bay Area, now it’s A’s turn. Time to make a decision and reward him.

    Plus, his point about having a shovel ready project in this economy…. People are hurting… Get it done.

  6. The museum doesn’t have to be in the ballpark. It could just as well be in another building down the street. For that matter, put it downtown near the Art Museum. Fans could go to the museum, have dinner somewhere in town, then walk over to the park for the game. This would be good for the city and good for the team’s identity with the city.

  7. And should the park somehow get built at Victory Court, you could do the same with a museum in JLS or downtown.

  8. A bump for you, ML 😉

  9. A museum on or near the VC/980/new Coli site is a must. Oakland’s great baseball history along with the Philadelphia A’s would be way cool. Having a museum for late comers SJ just isn’t the same and won’t have the same impact. A Cooperstown West in SJ? I doubt it. Unless you have a huge SF Giants wing, you may get some interest.

  10. ML – This blog has been an oasis in the desert. Thanks for your effort and insight, and thanks especially to you and LW for this comprehensive interview.

  11. @ML–Is San Jose going to provide the land and improvements for free or are they talking land rent like AT&T Park?

  12. I love the design of Cisco field at Diridon. Really intimate, fans close to the field/players. Nice view of SJ downtown and hills in background.

    This stadium will be great for the A’s, great for MLB as a whole, great for jobs, and great for the city of San Jose.

    It’s only the stupid, petty, dishonorable, immature, dishonest, hostile, cut-throat Giants ownership that stands in the way (as well as Selig’s overly methodical, spineless M.O.).

    Which leads to this. I’ve always, in the past, supported both the A’s and the Giants, with the A’s being by far my favorite. But I always thought it was cool to have local NL team to support. So I always “kinda” liked the Giants, and even went to a number of games over the years at Candlestick. I jumped on their bandwagon a bit last year, because they really were a Cinderella story. They were way out of the race, but the Padres tanked and the Giants went on a tear, and they beat favored Atlanta, Phillies, then the Rangers, with great pitching, great defense, and timely hitting.

    But until this stadium / T-rights issue is resolved, due my love of the A’s, I cannot in good conscience even remotely support the Giants right now. I’m bitter and resentful towards their ownership and management – not towards their fans, their players, or Bruce Bochy (one of the finest managers in MLB). But the organization itself, they can totally stick it. In fact, this season I am pulling wholeheartedly for the Arizona Diamondbacks (particularly since they now have Ziggy, who I like, and we got Brandon Allen in return). Call it Schadenfreude if you will …. but …. GO DIAMONDBACKS!! 😉

    Now, once this stadium / T-rights issue is resolved, in the only fair, reasonable, good for baseball, way (which is the A’s get their stadium in SJ), then I can go back to “kinda” liking the Giants. After all, my brothers, and a bunch of my friends and work associates, are Giants fans. I can’t hate on them. But Baer and Neukom, well, here’s hoping an SF streetcar lands right up their ass.

  13. Cliff Lee just blanked the Giants at AT&T yesterday.

    As Nelson of “The Simpsons” would say …… HA-HAH!

    To Neukom and Baer paying $20 million /year to sucky Zito …. HA-HAH!

    Okay, Okay, I’m being petty.

    At the end of the day, it really seems the only logical choice for Selig is A’s at SJ.

  14. ML – This blog has been an oasis in the desert. Thanks for your effort and insight, and thanks especially to you and LW for this comprehensive interview!

  15. @Bryan Grunwald – Originally the City was going to lease the land at “market value.” Now that Wolff is hinting at buying all of the land it changes the equation a bit. There are still $7+ million in improvements to cover. That may be the sole focus of a referendum, unless Wolff pays for that as well.

  16. Yup, outstanding job ML, both for this interview with Lew Wolff, and for the excellent quality and content of this blog. Keep up the good work. I’m so impressed that I finally decided to donate, even after the completion this week of the 5 parts of the interview.

    Thanks for the great work!

  17. Great idea jeff-athletic – my donation just sent.
    $pend it well ML!

  18. @bg – My bookie is forever grateful, as are my kneecaps. 😉

  19. RM,
    Could 1) the Diridon Authority issue bonds for the $7 million in improvements or
    2) could the city use proceeds from Diridon land sale; I.e. Sell the land to LW for $40 million and use $7 million for improvements?
    Also looking forward to your Keith Wolff interview and the official particulars of Cisco Field.

  20. @tony d. – They could, but why? There’s enough in the landbanking scheme to make it work.

    • @tony d. – They could, but why? There’s enough in the landbanking scheme to make it work.

      Thanks RM. That’s good to know.

  21. Doesn’t have to be on the premises. There’d be plenty of space for a museum across the street in the development planned by SJ for the parking lots between Cisco Field and HP Pavilion.

  22. @ML–yeah, i hope you asked Keith what the hell is that in right field.
    From an SNL skit with Steve Martin and Bill Murray, circa 1979:
    What the Hell Is That?

  23. Great 5-part series ML….Well done.

    @jeff-athletic- I have been a lifelong Giants fan but I am from San Jose and the A’s are my second team.
    I cannot stand the management above Brian Sabean and their selfishness and greed. They want to keep my hometown (which is larger than SF) a minor league city.

    I still root for the team as always but it makes me sick seeing them stop the A’s from getting a new ballpark in a city where it actually makes sense to build. San Jose would adore the A’s like they do the Sharks. This plus the fact the A’s gave those rights to SF for nothing and now the Giants don’t have the decency to sell them back even for a fair price…..Inexcusable.

    All the local bars, restaurants, newspapers etc….their coverage would flip to the A’s. Right now I can agree with the Giants that the South Bay is 2/3 Giants fans 1/3 A’s fans. But it is so far away from SF it is not practical to get season tix to the Giants, despite their great ballpark.

    In any event I have no faith in Bud Selig to “do the right thing”, He will do the cowardly thing as he always does and that does not bode well for the A’s staying in the Bay Area.

    History has shown Selig to be an idiot and if history holds the A’s will be playing San Antonio with Wolff getting the Dodgers.

    I will forever hate baseball if this happens.

  24. ML – Did I hallucinate at 12:30 a.m. last night, or did I see a Barry Zito post as well that has since been removed?

    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks (ok, hopes) that your idea hit too close to home and one of your powerful friends kindly asked you to remove it. 🙂

  25. Yep, I’m an idiot. You merely re-ordered it to the bottom of your five LW interview slices.

  26. @nsj – It has not been removed. WordPress allows for specific posts to be “sticky” or stay at the top of the page. I stickied the interview posts so that readers could go through the whole thing on the home page without interruption. The Zito post is now below Part 1.

  27. ML great job on getting this interview. Thanks for sharing it and too bad the other bloggers aren’t giving you the props you deserve.

  28. @Sid

    I agree with you about the Giants. While I’ve always been more of an A’s fan, I do have a history with the Giants (really liked the Roger Craig era). I don’t wan to hate them, I want to like them, and be back to my second favorite team. And I still like Lincecum, Cain, Posey, Wilson, and Bochy. But I just can’t pull from them right now, due to the un-mitigated greed and pettiness of Neukom and Baer, and the A’s getting royally screwed over as a result.

    I gotta say though, I have to admire Lew Wolff’s, and John Fischer’s, and the Mayor of SJ’s, patience. They’re all trying to go about this the nice, don’t rock the boat, good for baseball, way.

    If I were in any of their shoes, I’d be very tempted to sue the Giants for the cost of the territorial rights, extreme damages to the A’s business, and anti-trust violation, to the tune of $100-200 million (to cover the cost of T-rights, as well as damages). I’d say, “sure, great, have your T-rights. Now pay up buddy!”

    The city of San Jose, in particular, has serious grievance against the Giants organization. The Giants are holding a city back from creating jobs and stimulating its economy. No organization has the right to tell the citizens of a city that they have to support that organization. It’s a free country, and we’re supposed to have free markets.

    Another thing I’d love to see, since the Giants claim they get major support from Silicon Valley corporations, is those corporations pulling out (since many SV corps CEOs signed the letter to Selig to bring the A’s to SJ).

    In other words, hit Neukom and Baer where it hurts, their wallets.

    Selig and the Giants are very lucky that the A’s have a nice, cooperative, and patient owner like Lew Wolff.

    Now, just imagine the A’s had a not so nice owner, like say …. um … well …. Larry Ellison.

    Yes, Larry – Prince of Darkness. If it were him, the above lawsuit would ensue, in a New York minute, and he’d already have broken ground at Diridon, saying to Selig and the Giants “just stop me”.

    Now, I really do hate Larry Ellison (he’s from the same cloth as Bill Neukom). But just imagine.

  29. I enjoyed the interview series. It was informative. I remain solidly “pro-Oakland”. While this interview touched on several subjects, the point was the ballpark. In the future i would like to here/read Wolff’s opinions of Oakland, as a city. The little stuff that he is charged to “care” about. The team does a lot of things in the community. i believe Wolff has really failed at taking care of the high profile things like: fanfest, access to players during the holidays, billboards, etc. But, the team does do things under the radar, that are very useful to the community. The radio guys, Clay Wood, some of the players .. they help out in Oakland. That stuff can never be replaced. Lew is so focused on SJ, he never takes the time (not that i’ve noticed) to just speak about “the town”. The kids during little league day. The passion and spirit of the 19,452 that are at the stadium, on any given day. The nice people who work around the Coli. Look how much love Lacob/Gruber has gained in a short time. I could say more, but i’ll leave it there.

  30. @David–I couldn’t agree with you more on your recent post. The jury’s still out on the W’s owners though. I know they’re trying to make things better with their contract with season tix holders and all, but I’m still not sure about these guys. Picking Mark Jackson was an interesting choice and it may work out.. Changing the team’s name to Oakland would be a start in the right direction. I do like what bartlbey suggested a few weeks back: if VC falls apart for the A’s, maybe the W’s can check that site out for a new arena down the road. Still would have to deal with the owners of the properties, infrastructure, parking, etc.., but a willing owner with an open mind (and wallet of course) would make it much easier than one who adamantly wants no part of any site–good or bad–in the Town..

  31. @jk – I think there’s a better chance of the name being changed to San Francsisco Warriors.

  32. @fc / jk
    I heard they want to move the team to SF and have all of their press conferences there.

  33. I’m curious – what would the reaction be if Lew Wolff said he loves Oakland, wished it could have worked there, great city, and the like? Would pro-Oaklanders say, “Gee, I feel for the guy.” “I really wish that the city would have done more than it did in 16 years.” Highly unlikely. At this point, Wolff couldn’t say “Hello” to a reporter without people going nuts telling him to shut up.
    @fc – sadly, you’re right. It bugged me to see one of the new alternate logos with an SF on it, to recognize their brief 8-year history in San Francisco, but nothing that says Oakland and their almost 50 years and a championship.

  34. @fc–sadly, I think you’re right on the W’s. That won’t hurt as much as the A’s with San Jose on their jerseys and/or a SJ on their caps.

  35. @ daveybaby At this point, I feel like Oakland A’s fans, those who want them to stay home, would feel like any positive Oakland talk out of Wolff would be purely fluff. Look, it’s all about how you present a situation. Lew has not handled the gloomy outlook of building a park in Oakland with much sensitivity, plus you compound that with an attempt to rip the team out of its community and the bottom line is people are going to be upset. He may be a great grandpa and a decent man, but, right now he’s not gathering many popularity points as an owner. It’s true that Oakland politicians haven’t been very accommodating, but in this scenario the owner of the sports team in question is going to get the limelight.
    Interesting point on the Warriors, BTW. When you compare the numbers you presented it’s eyeopening and kind of bizarre.

  36. Great job ML! Have you asked Wolff or have a sense that Ratto’s contention, that Selig’s delay is due to Wolff not having the proper funding set for a new ballpark, is incorrect?

  37. @ML
    A great job as always. This is the best interview piece on Wolff I have seen. I have seen him regularly at the ballpark and while he seems approachable, I have never wanted to bother him. No matter what the critics say, it’s nice to have an owner who goes to the ball games and makes himself accessible.

    I caught a quote from part 5 that interested me, “Each of our places in the ballpark – and my son can go over this with you – are neighborhoods. So it might be better to be in LF standing up than it would be to be behind home plate”.

    We have seen Huntington Park in Columbus in reference to right field. Maybe there is more incorporated in Cisco Field than just the collonade. Watch the video…

  38. Awesome interview – the most telling part is LW’s quote: “We should be paid for what we or the Haas family gave up?”….wow! Zito for TR…forgetaboutit! I think both camps have dug in and none are letting up waiting for the BS to decide.

    Jk-usa: we hardly agree on anything, but the whole “The City” jerseys also ticks me off as well….I always wondered why the W’s were called G.S. instead of Oakland or SF or something to identify with a city. Everytime i see the new jerseys with the bay bridge, i always associate the old SF Dons jerseys….give me the Thunderbolt theme over it anyday!

  39. I think folks in the pro Oakland camp need to recognize that the City of Oakland, while an objectively badass place, doesn’t have much (if any) value as part of a brand. In fact, for many it has negative value. Pointing this out doesn’t mean the name Oakland has no value for me, it is simply accepting things as they are.
    The Warriors will never be the “Oakland Warriors.” That would be like having one basketball team in New York City and calling them the Brooklyn Knicks. A single football team in the Los Angeles area called the West Covina Rams. A single hockey team in the Chicago area called the Evanston Blackhawks…
    After reading the whole interview, I feel more frustrated with the whole thing. If Bud says it has to be in the A’s existing territory, then how? The lack of RDA and no budget to replace it makes Victory Court longer than a long shot. I infer, from Lew Wolff’s statements, that Bud is trying as hard as he can to find a way to do something in Oakland. I don’t feel like that is really bad. That is how it should be.
    The problem is that at this point, there are no new stones to be uncovered. It is what it is and there is more than enough info available to say one way, or another, what the future of this franchise is. Somebody please explain how it is going to happen in Oakland. I know you all are reading this.
    I don’t want a statement explaining WHY it SHOULD happen in Oakland. I want an email saying HOW it WILL happen in Oakland. If you can’t do that at this point, please step aside.
    That is the crux, for me. I have heard from folks in the San Jose “movement” explaining how it will happen if they are given the chance. I have only heard why it should happen in Oakland from Oakland proponents (and I am not talking about you guys that post comments here).
    Somebody build something somewhere soon. Please.

  40. Anon, why would the new Bay Bridge jerseys make you think of the Dons? That bridge didn’t even exist back then?

  41. “I think folks in the pro Oakland camp need to recognize that the City of Oakland, while an objectively badass place, doesn’t have much (if any) value as part of a brand. In fact, for many it has negative value. Pointing this out doesn’t mean the name Oakland has no value for me, it is simply accepting things as they are.
    The Warriors will never be the “Oakland Warriors.” Tat would be like having one basketball team in New York City and calling them the Brooklyn Knicks. A single football team in the Los Angeles area called the West Covina Rams. A single hockey team in the Chicago area called the Evanston Blackhawks…”

    How are you measuring value? Unlike New York City and L.A., the Bay Area doesn’t have a blanketed identity. San Francisco, while being a cultural focal point, is really an insular type city. Both the East Bay and the South Bay don’t consider themselves to be under the SF umbrella.

  42. @Jeffrey – “I don’t want a statement explaining WHY it SHOULD happen in Oakland. I want an email saying HOW it WILL happen in Oakland. If you can’t do that at this point, please step aside.” I hear crickets chirping…. :X

    @Dan – go look at the SF Dons logo…the ugly green thing with the bridge…yes, it’s not the same bridge but the design itself seems to almost mimic it.

  43. @Jeffrey & Anon – How is it going to happen, crickets chirping, Oakland wants a free ballpark, Oakland wants an owner to donate their own money, etc. This is getting very old. How is it going to happen? That is a valid question………but you’re asking the wrong people. I am pro-Oakland but I am not employed in the city gov’t nor am I part of the decision-making process so clearly it would be impossible for me to know what is happening behind closed doors. For all I know nothing is happening. On the other hand maybe there is an awesome proposal in the works with naming rights already nailed down. I don’t know and I’m sure most of the other Oakland people don’t either. It’s ridiculous to keep asking us these questions when you know what the answer is. These are loaded questions with digs coming right behind. Birds chirping? I’ve read this no less than 3 dozen times on here. Enough already. I can’t speak for all of the pro-Oakland folks but I can say I don’t know how it’s going to be completed because nothing has been released publicly. Is this a sign that nothing at all is in the works? Perhaps it is. The last I heard Oakland was working directly with MLB and that’s all I know. As far as I’m concerned anything beyond that is pure speculation. You get a rise with the digs and it’s getting old. We should step aside if we can’t give an answer as to how Oakland is going to pay for a ballpark when we are not part of the decision-making process? Really? Uh, o.k. then. You guys have an advantage because the owner and most of the higher-ups want to move to your city. They give you information, interviews, etc. We, on the other hand, are not privy to anything on the Oakland side so what do you want from us? Maybe all we have left is the nearly 44 completed seasons in our city as our history, which is completely an emotional thing, hence the WHY the park should be built here. Can you not understand that? Is it so hard to understand that this whole thing feels like a theft of the team that we have followed for so long? This whole thing is just completely reprehensible when A’s fans are battling over territory and there’s a team across the bay who is dominating the entire area.

  44. @Anon–we agree on something again! I liked the Thunderbolt theme a lot. There’s this guy at my job who has one of those City W’s jersey’s, that he thinks is so cool and badass. No thanks. The worst for years was the California logo with the star over the bay area. Ughh!!

  45. “This whole thing is just completely reprehensible when A’s fans are battling over territory and there’s a team across the bay who is dominating the entire area.”
    Yes, exactly. This franchise and its fan base is akin to a broken mirror. It’s sad.

  46. @ Columbo : “You guys have an advantage because the owner and most of the higher-ups want to move to your city.” Incorrect statement (albeit maybe true). SJ has the advantage because 1) It has a plan 2) It has most of the land acquired 3) It has an EIR in place and 4) It has the support of its local government and businesses. Sorry, but you will continue to hear the same ol’ rhetoric on here until there is actually a HOW and not a WHY as Jeffrey poignantly stated. Maybe a good start is instead of ragging on the owner, how about challenging your civic leaders what they’re doing or have been doing for the past 16 years? I’ve outlined my plan for how an Oakland plan would be feasible, instead of pleading ignorance, why not throw something out yourself instead of banking on smoke and mirrors? /rant off

    @JK – I had fond memories of those California state jersey, if only because it represented the good ol; days of RUN TMC (gawd i miss Hardaway and his killer crossovers), my first exposure to the W’s. For some reason, I really like the recent alternates of those in the yellow colors. Must be an East Bay thing with the yellow theme….a’s, warriors, bears, etc.

  47. @Anon–except for the Raiders: Silver and Black. Not really my favorite colors but fans love it. We have 2 guys at work and that’s all they wear is all black all the time, and they’re huge Raider fans. I love the Raider logo though. Color scheme and logo haven’t really changed in their entire history.

    Interesting side note: back in 1960 the Oak Tribune had a contest to name their new football team and Senor’s won. It was the butt of local jokes and the name was changed 9 days later to the 3rd place winner the Raiders.
    And the Sharks had a similar contest to name their new team, and the name Blades won out. The negative association with weapons made the owners picke the runner up, Sharks. Raiders and Sharks, both good choices.

  48. Columbo, as I clearly stated… I wasn’t asking you. No disrespect intended. You are an intelligent guy with a passion for the A’s. I have nothing but respect for your opinion.
    eb, it’s your world, go ahead and live in it. If you don’t think people from Concord, Crockett, Cupertino and Cordelia say they live in the “San Francisco Bay Area” that is your business. If that is the definition of “cultural center” then we are on the same page, partially. If you don’t think people from those same places (right, wrong or otherwise), have a negative view of Oakland (more than have that perception of San Francisco) you are disconnected. I am not saying they are right, but Oakland falls into three buckets from outsider perspectives. 1. Gnarly (I am in this bucket), 2. A gang infested war zone (I feel sorry for these people and their ignorance), 3. No opinion either way. 2 of those 3 are bad for business.
    The message I posted above is posted for some very specific people. They know who they are. They aren’t Columbo, David or JK. Or A’s Observer. Or anyone who posts here on a regular basis. It is time to show the cards or fold. And I prefer card showing.
    Last, I am so tired of this ridiculous bullshit back and forth. I am all about the A’s… Oakland, San Jose or Gulala. We all should be.

  49. With the Warriors. Yea the new owners do want to be in S.F. They have already had talks with the Giants owners about joint effort in building next to At&t.

    The new Sf logo was hated by a lot of the fan base, but don’t blame the new owners for that one. The logo package was the old owners group doing and submitted a year before it came out. It was funny how pissed I found out the Warriors were for me leaking the new logo everywhere. But in the end it also worked out for them. Yea it killed their plans for a reveal. But after they had the online contest to see the new logo. They got national credit for using new media to reveal it since they had to change their plans because of fans leaking it as ESPN said. (Still laugh at that)

    The comment about the Golden State name. They use to play all over the state in just one season. They had games in SF, Oakland and even Bakersfield. So they were called Golden State since they had no one true home. The name then stuck. I remember back in the early 90’s the news did a walking poll in Oakland asking where Golden State was and where the team played. There were some interesting answers. The Colorado guess still sticks out.

  50. @Jeffrey–the good gnarly, like funky, cool, rad? I’m with you on that one. It’s a cool city and I spend a lot of time there. I requested to have my census training there last year at the plush Federal building. What a view! I use to work part time in production at the Trib in the late 80’s and I loved it over there. One funky, gnarly building, and nice people to work with. I’ve talked to Dave Newhouse a few times about sports.( This is when he still had his radio show on KNBR). My wife was raised in Oakland and has family and friends still there. I’ve served on 2 juries the last 15 years there, and would hit a new eatery every day, or hang out at the gnarly library. You can row boats with your sweetie on Lake Merritt, it’s so calm and quiet on the lake, with an awesome view of old and new buildings alike. (I love the architecture of about 80% of the town, which is pretty old but so cool and charming).A ballpark @VC would jump start much needed development at JLS and Oak to 9th. The negative perception of Oakland kind of bums me out, especially on SFGate after another unfortunate murder is reported. I promote the place all I can with friends with cool things to do and good places to eat. They need retail oh so bad there in the O. The amount they lose to Emeryville, WC, San Leandro, even little Alameda is staggering. Big chains are staying away mostly. J Brown tried with some success, and I know mayor Quan wants a new Target downtown along with other retail along Auto Row and the old army base. A Fry’s there at the old base would be cool. Hurry, before Emeryville gets it (no more room left in E-Ville I think?)
    I love the town, I love the A’s, I want them to stay somehow. I live in Hayward now but would consider buying a condo near VC in 6 years if I take early retirement at 55., with or without the A’s there. Hopefully with them there:)

    Sorry for the long-winded post.
    Night all.

  51. .@Jeffrey I’m not arguing about what people call the region. Obviously it’s referred to as the San Francisco Bay Area. I guess I just disagree with your comparison to NY and LA, in regards to Oakland/East Bay(or San Jose/South Bay for that matter) being merely suburbs to SF. Each region of the Bay has its own distinct culture, large populations and identity. Obviously, SF is sort of the leader of the pack, as it is a historical/media/cultural leader.
    As to Oakland having less value due to violence, I completely understand that and agree. But saying the city/region is next to or fully devoid of value, that seems like hyperbole. I’ve listed and decried the merits of Oakland, so I’ll save us more of that. 🙂
    In the end though, I agree with most of all you have said. I never think the Warriors will have Oakland in their title and the division among A’s fans certainly wears on you. I catch myself getting annoyed about what a poster might write and internalize it as an attack on the area where I grew up, instead of keeping my thoughts on A’s baseball. Heck, I probably did a little of that in this response, it’s hard not to.

  52. Yes, Lacob will never come out and say it but all signs are pointing to a W’s move to SF once their current lease at Oracle runs out. We’ve all seen the initial hints with major franchise announcements now taking place in SF exclusively. CSN showed Lacob sitting next to Larry Baer at the Giants-Phillies game tonight. I happened to also attend a Warriors-Mavericks game this year and saw Baer sitting courtside with Lacob. It could very well just be a couple sports execs chumming it up, but with Baer being the man behind getting AT&T built, and the Giants’ recent ambitions to develop a new arena next to AT&T at Pier 48, I would definitely wager that preliminary discussions on a Warriors’ move to an SF arena have already begun.
    Despite the SFGate hate and crime in certain neighborhoods, Oakland is a cool town that is on the rise again. However, the city’s future in regards to its sports teams is looking very much in doubt. The City and Coliseum Authority need to step it up or within 10 years they may have no teams at all.

  53. ..and when the Warriors move to Frisco, they will quickly become the San Francisco Warriors (no more of this Golden State nonsense) and they will seek out the Sharks as a subtenant. Hopefully, the Sharks will stay where they are. Oakland if it had any good sense would turn over the entire complex to the A’s for development as they see fit; a new ballpark surrounded by a Santana Row complex, etc. That way, Oakland could save one team instead of losing all three. But we all know where the A’s stand with Oakland, and it is in a distant back seat to the Raiders and Warriors.

  54. Jk, the best kind of gnarly.

  55. Eb, I consider the value of the name “Oakland” to be similar to the value of the name “Anaheim.” more folks in the region would identify with a “San Francisco” just as more folks in So Cal identify with “Los Angeles.” There is positive value in “Oakland” to a small segment of the population, but on balance, the ambivalence and ignorance more than outweigh the positive value to that small segment.
    Of course, this is not exactly a science and entirely debatable. Either way, if the A’s have new yard in Oaktown, I will be a frequent visitor.

  56. Regarding downtown Oakland sites, has anyone ever been crazy enough to suggest building on Lake Merritt or is the idea completely blasphemous? If part of the Southwest portion of the lake was infilled (just below 15th St by Lake Chalet), it looks like there would be adequate space for a ballpark. Even if this was feasible, I assume no Oakland politician would ever risk supporting the idea.

  57. Hey guys, here’s an interesting site on most walkabe cities/neighborhoods in the US.
    Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.
    Walk Score uses a patent-pending system to measure the walkability of an address. The Walk Score algorithm awards points based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within .25 miles receive maximum points and no points are awarded for amenities further than one mile
    Of the top 50 most populous US cities, New York was #1, with a Walk Score of 85.3 out of 100; SF’s #2, with a score of 84.9/100; Oakland’s #10, with a score of 68.2/100; and San Jose #19, with a 54.5 score. The lowest rated big city is Jacksonville, FLA at 32.6. Most southern cities ranked poorly.
    They break it down into neighborhoods too.
    FWIW, The Coliseum site gets a walk score of 57 out of 100. DT San Jose, where Cisco may be built is 74, the highest of all SJ hoods. The VC site, which is listed as Produce/Waterfront is rated at 89. Uptown and the 980 decking site is listed as San Pablo Gateway, and that’s rated a 94/100.
    Overall, Oakland is broken down into a whopping 129 neighborhoods! SJ has 16 defined hoods. SF has 91. Top rated big city NY has 259 hoods, with 5 scoring perfect 100’s (Rikers island is at the bottom with a score of The lowest rated big city is Jacksonville, FLA
    Of 2500 overall cities ranked, Cambridge, MA is #1, followed by NYC, Jersey City, SF, Berkeley, Boston, Patterson NJ. Oakland’s at #23, and SJ is #79.
    My last 6 places I have lived, covering about 25 years, my neighborhoods scored 67, 49, 54, 25, 73, 61.

  58. I just wanted to thank Marine Layer and Lew Wolff for the interview. Waiting to hear from MLB is driving me nuts.

  59. When folks mention about Oakland as funky and gnarly and stuff, it conjures up old memories of my childhood with Too $hort:

    Straight from the West, Oakland is the best
    Baby it’s so fresh (Oakland)
    It’s called the Big Bad O, city of players on the go
    You gotta have Trues and Vogues (Oakland)
    Baby, that’s my town, when all the tops come down
    You’ll hear my funky sound (Oh-oh-oh-Oaktown)
    O-A-K-L-A-N-D, that city was made for me
    Just rocking to the beat (Oakland)
    Drop tops rolling down the strip, baby it’s the tip
    Don’t stop dipping til I quit (Oaktown)
    Trues and Vogues on my car, baby I’m a star
    I’m playing at Player’s Park (Oakland)
    Everybody on the floor, do you really want some more?
    We’ll get funky like Playboy $hort (Oh-oh-oh-Oaktown)

    Sorry….i still have that song stuck in my head… :X

  60. @Anon–cool, bro!

  61. @Jeffrey Athletic- You make a great point on Lew Wolff’s “patience” with the situation and I got a “bad” feeling on why.

    If I am right and Bud Selig is trying to move the A’s from the Bay Area and give the Dodgers to his frat buddy “Lewie” then why wouldn’t Wolff be “patient” I ask?

    From Lew’s point of view 1 of 2 scenarios play out:

    1. Bud Selig does the “cowardly” thing and moves the A’s out of the Bay Area, solves the Dodgers bankruptcy issues, kicks out Frank McCourt out and awards the Dodgers to Wolff/Fisher for all their troubles. As I detailed before this scenario is the most profitable for MLB and that is why it is Selig’s #1 option….from a business perspective, although I think this is BS.

    2. Selig’s plan to move the A’s to another market falls through and he has no choice but to open up San Jose to the A’s and Wolff gets his privately financed ballpark…..This is what I want to see happen.

    In either case Lew Wolff “wins”…..With that being said why not “kick back” and let Selig do his thing?

    Selig having known Wolff far longer than the other owners I am sure has sat down with “Lewie” and told him this… the record.

    Even Selig wouldn’t leave his buddy for over 50+ years in the dark and not at least have a “off the record” convo with him.

    Wolff in turn seeing he wins big either way sits around praises Selig for the “fine job” he has done with MLB and tells the other owners “not to lobby” for him and and let Selig finish his process.

    Wolff has even told San Jose to not sue because of this. What Wolff is doing is the “smart play” and it is easy to see why.

    Wolff wins big here…..He is just waiting for the final word which should come once the Dodgers mess is resolved in the next 8-12 months. Perhaps a bit longer…

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