Added 1:00 PM – I’ve taken the liberty of posting the text of Mayor Reed’s letter to Commissioner Selig.
Mr. Bud Selig, Commissioner
Major League Baseball
777 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Ste. 3060
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Commissioner Selig:
When will the A’s be moving to San Jose? That’s the question that is most often asked of me by CEOs of Silicon Valley companies competing to retain and attract global talent, by youngsters excited about competing in little league baseball, and by fans throughout San Jose.
The A’s ownership continues to express its desire to locate the team in San Jose and I strongly endorse that outcome. There should be no doubt of San Jose’s ability to be a great host city for the team and for Major League Baseball. There should also be no doubt that the stadium could have been under construction by now.
We respect your desire to examine fully all aspects of allowing the A’s to move to Northern California’s largest city. In 2011, former MLB President Bob Dupuy, speaking on behalf of your office, asked that our City Council delay approving a public vote to advance a planned stadium project in Downtown San Jose. We abided by that request. Mr. Dupuy also indicated that you would soon make a final decision and, if favorable towards San Jose, the MLB would assist the City with the costs of a future election. Two years have passed since. As you know, we have been contacted many times by the MLB’s Blue Ribbon Panel and we have responded promptly and thoroughly in every instance. Meanwhile, we continue to communicate with leaders in the community and are prepared to advance implementation actions to the City Council following your decision.
Direct communication between us will help resolve any lingering issues about our commitment to having the A’s home plate located in San Jose and could reduce the probability for additional litigation. I’d appreciate an opportunity to discuss this with you and have asked my Chief of Staff, Pete Furman, to contact your office regarding scheduling a meeting with you. I hope you will look favorably upon the request.
c: Lew Wolff
It’s probably not a coincidence that in the span of two hours, Lew Wolff spoke for the first time this regular season about the stadium situation on Chronicle Live!, followed by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed asking for a meeting with Bud Selig via a one-page letter sent to the Commissioner’s office.
Reed is positioning the requested meeting as something that could head off future litigation. Over the last year, San Jose has become more vocal about challenging MLB through the courts. So far MLB hasn’t budged. I can’t imagine that this will work either. Regardless of whether San Jose actually has standing in a case against baseball, the sport still has the lion’s share of leverage. If granted the meeting, maybe Reed will come with a phalanx of high-profile lawyers to shake down Selig. More likely is the idea that Reed will continue to pitch San Jose’s positives (of which there are many) and try to allay any fears that the A’s can be self-sustaining in the long run. Remember, they have to be off revenue sharing in a new Bay Area stadium.
As for Wolff, he was peppered with a lot of questions by ChronLive’s Jim Kozimor. Unfortunately, Wolff refused to talk about any progress on the decision-making front for a stadium location, citing the Selig-imposed gag order on both teams. He was able to comment on other matters. On the prospects of the five year lease Wolff requested last year:
The environment of getting a (lease extension) is very positive.
That’s encouraging. All A’s fans hope that the flying rhetoric stops and the team and the JPA can work out an extension that benefits both sides. That’s not going to be easy with the Raiders asking for more revenue control. We’ll see over the coming months if a proper agreement can be worked out for all sides.
Asked if Wolff and the Fisher family would consider selling the team if Wolff doesn’t get his wish to move the franchise to San Jose:
The answer is no… we want to keep this generational.
Following the 14-minute interview, in-studio guest Mark Purdy further elaborated on the “generational” aspect. Purdy indicated that Lew could cede more of the stadium effort in the coming years, as he approaches 80. Next in line is Lew’s son Keith Wolff, who has been working on plans for Cisco Field and the Earthquakes Stadium, where major site work started happening in the last week. Lew says that the Quakes stadium is on track, but process could slow it down. For now he says that the Quakes stadium should be open for the 2014 MLS season, conceding that there could be delays in completing the project. I figure that once that venue is up and running, Keith Wolff will assume his father’s place as the public face of the stadium effort, if not the franchise itself. With the recent trend of teams acting as investment vehicles and development anchors, this is naturally hard-to-believe. Considering how Wolff views his ownership of the franchise and how he attends games frequently with his grandson, it’s not necessarily that far-fetched. Wolff dismissed Kozimor’s suggestion that the team is just fine collecting revenue sharing checks, responding that he wanted to leave the team and the sport in a better place than he found it. As long as there continues to be an impasse vis-à-vis San Jose, that’s inconceivable.