Wolff, Crowley step down for Fisher, Kaval to take over

To call today momentous would be an understatement. For now I’ll post a bunch of links, with commentary to follow.

The tenure of Lew Wolff (left) has come to an end, John Fisher (center) will replace him

The tenure of Lew Wolff (left) has come to an end; John Fisher (center) will replace him

Susan Slusser first broke the news that Lew Wolff would step down and sell most of his stake in the A’s. John Fisher is taking over as the control person (managing partner) of A’s ownership, a.k.a. the Athletics Investment Group, LLP. Fisher was approved to day as control person by MLB during the owners’ meetings in Chicago today. Wolff will maintain a small share of the team and a Chairman Emeritus title. Mike Crowley is also stepping down as team president, to be replaced by Earthquakes president Dave Kaval. Crowley will remain a senior advisor, while Kaval will continue to run both the A’s and Quakes. Now the links:

A’s shakeup: Wolff, Crowley out as team redoubles stadium efforts (Susan Slusser, Chronicle)

A’s: Wolff exits, more change coming; may bode well for future in Oakland (John Hickey, BANG)

Lew Wolff would not be stepping down if he was 20 years younger (Joe Stiglich, CSN)

Purdy: Wolff outlines reasons he stepped aside, predicts Fisher will decide on A’s ballpark site soon (Mark Purdy, BANG)

Earthquakes, A’s promotion increases profile of new soccer GM (Elliot Almond, BANG)

Will A’s ownership shift hit stadium plan out of the park? (Ron Leuty, SFBT)

New A’s president Dave Kaval focused on stadium, community (Susan Slusser, Chronicle)

New A’s man Kaval tasked with performing stadium-sized magic (Ray Ratto, CSN)

And the A’s press release:

This is not moving the deck chairs, as Bruce Jenkins would suggest. Nor is it clearing the decks, as Fisher is still the money man and majority partner in shifted ownership group. What matters is Fisher’s commitment to the ballpark effort and the presence of Kaval, a gifted salesman/marketer who was a key player in completing Avaya Stadium. Kaval is bringing over many of the tools he used during his Quakes tenure: social media, accessibility through regular office hours, and thinking outside the box. That said, the Quakes bear one very similar operational trait as the A’s: a resistance to big expensive player contracts. That’s despite a new stadium and a league salary cap designed to prevent profligate spending by teams. MLB’s a few levels up from MLS economically, so that could potentially be different for the A’s, but it will all depend on revenue in the short term, and projected boosts if the A’s get an Oakland ballpark deal done. Still, there is much greater hope for a ballpark than there has been in several years. Kaval is an engaging, smart guy who knows how to read a room. Just the fact that he’s much more approachable than Wolff, Crowley, and especially Fisher should help the A’s standing in Oakland. It can’t hurt. The A’s will need strong community support to build their ballpark. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a plan in the coming months. Wolff and Fisher have experienced success with Kaval running point. They’re hoping he can repeat that success with a much tougher project.

More tomorrow.

30 thoughts on “Wolff, Crowley step down for Fisher, Kaval to take over

  1. As I wrote in the previous thread, I would expect a sale of the team in the next year.

    “Wouldn’t the A’s value be a lot more if they were sold with a new park on the way?”

    Not necessarily. Franchise value according to Forbes, sure. But if you’re talking about franchise value according to a billionaire who might seek to buy the team – there aren’t a whole lot of those – don’t you think they’d want to be able to decide a.) what was being built, and b.) where it’s being built, especially since the new ownership group would be on the hook for the debt of building the stadium? New owners would rather have a clean slate financially than be on the hook for huge bloated contracts or stadium financing debts.

    We know that whatever gets built (assuming it’s in California) will be entirely on the back of Fisher (or a hypothetical new ownership group), if he is indeed still the owner. We also know that the franchise has appreciated in value significantly since he bought the team.

    Logically, the mindset at this point if you’re Fisher is either a) sell the team in the next year, or b) I’m in this for the long haul, until something is already built – minimum 5 years.

    • @ Jacob Jackson

      At this point anything is still possible, but it looks more like Fisher is in it for the long haul, and the A’s will more than likely have a new baseball only stadium somewhere in Oakland within the next 5-8 years. MLB will still have to do their part, which would be insuring that the A’s remain a revenue sharing recipient, if/when necessary considering they are being required to build in only two of the nine Bay Area counties.

    • Wolff sold his shares to “existing ownership”, which basically means Fisher. I don’t think Fisher would have bothered picking up Wolff’s shares if he was planning to divest anyway.

      • @ CCCTL

        Totally agree, I think Fisher wanting to sale at this point, is grasping at straws a bit. Not that any of us no anything, but yes I agree with you.

  2. Wolff leaving had to happen in order for the A’s to get a new stadium. Wolff is a greedy old man who prefers stuffing money under his mattress rather than give a guy like Josh Donaldson a contract.

    The A’s can build now in Oakland at the Coli next door to the Raiders. Mark Davis wants two stadiums done on the same site. He gets the existing site cause his stadium costs double.

    Both teams leave (A’s at ATT, Raiders at Levi’s) for 3 years and return for the next 40 years.

    But Wolff is so greedy he wants the entire site to himself for development. What a loser, it shows why ESPN rated the A’s ownership last in all of the major sports.

    That is why Wolff is out, he saw that and it killed him. His cheapness and greed was so obvious he could not hide it anymore.

    John Fisher on the other hand…..jury is still out on him. Kaval is a puppet, and the moment he said the “Warriors and Raiders” are leaving says to me he is just like Wolff.

    Screw the development, just build 2 stadiums on the same site and be done with it. I hope Fisher with the silver spoon in his mouth does the right thing.

    • The Raiders can just leave the Bay Area, they’ve screwed up Oakland enough. Mark Davis doesn’t want to be in Oakland and the NFL doesn’t want development coming from third parties anyway. Especially when they come demanding pre-conditions of purchasing part of the team.

  3. The A’s see the writing on the wall. The city/county are going to sell the coli site to the Ronnie Lott group. The Ronnie Lott group is not buying to build a baseball park. They are going to build a Raiders football stadium. They A’s now know they are going to be downtown. A downtown A’s stadium announcement is coming within two to six months. Not long after a Ronnie Lott sale is announced.

    • I hope you are correct.

    • City/County/JPA can’t sell/lease the Coliseum land to anyone without a commitment from the Raiders to that plan (or they break the A’s lease terms).

      Raiders (Davis) won’t sign on to a plan that doesn’t have the land.


      • @ CCCTL

        They could always strike a deal to sale the land, that’s conditional based on the Raiders eventual acceptance, thereby keeping the agreement intact. People and businesses do it all the time, I would be surprised if those safeguards were not already write within the agreement.

      • But they can’t actually *sign* that deal until the Raiders are on board, or lease terms are violated.

      • I don’t think your correct, the A’s lease will not be violated if the Raiders sign a new deal. The A’s lease becomes a maximum two year lease if the Raiders come up with an agreement to build a new stadium and a down of 10 million dollars, which would mean the A’s would have to vacate after two years max so the Raiders could tare down the old coliseum. I’m pretty sure that was written into the A’s lease so the city could move forward if the Raiders ever had a real agreement in place, it remainders to be seen if this “framework” of a deal will actually ever become one however.

      • If they sign anything before the Raiders sign? If the Raiders don’t sign there is no deal, so there is nothing that has been violated, everything is contingent on Mark Davis signature, everyone understands that even the city of Oakland as default as that may be to believe.

  4. The suspense is killing me, I need your wisdom now! This blog gives me such joy and was the first place I came after hearing the news. Commentary please! You’re the best!

  5. thought there would be more talk about this news from a few days ago. are a’s fans just tired of talk and finally wanting to see something happen? will a release of a plan with images of what a park at howard terminal or the coliseum location spark more debate?

  6. Wolfe didn’t appear to be 100% on board to building at Oakland anyhow, this is likely a positive move by the A’s to build a new ballpark in Oakland. Also, Davis may using Las Vegas as leverage while still interested in Oakland, Why would the Raiders agree to a lease extension if the team was locked into Las Vegas?( both the NFL and Davis wouldn’t be interested in a possible Raiders lame duck status in Oakland for three years, while their stadium is built in Las Vegas – that would be a bizarre scenario) With the Chargers proposed stadium plan rejected by voters, that franchise may interested in relocating to Las Vegas, or another franchise possibly.

  7. The seriousness to the very realistic possibility of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas has finally woken up Oakland officials, as well as caused a ripple effect on A’s ownership. It appears that we are now seeing the makings of the end game for getting both the Raiders and A’s respectively new facilities in Oakland. Within a few years, the Raiders will likely be playing at a new stadium on the coliseum site, and the A’s will be playing at a new ballpark near Lake Merritt.

    • That’s my hope.

    • i’d say it’s more likely the a’s stay in oakland over the raiders. a’s have always had the money to build a privately financed baseball park of their own somewhere in the bay area. it was just a matter of where they were either allowed and wanted to build it. first it was in fremont, then sj, and now it looks like they’ve made the decision that it’s basically oakland or nothing. big question now is where in oakland rather than if in oakland whether it’s at the current coliseum location or spending the extra money to build it at likely hoawrd terminal which has been reported to be the first choice for both mayor schaff and the a’s owner fisher himself.

      don’t know of any realistic plan i’ve read recenty where the raiders have in building a billion dollar stadium for themselves. they were always going to need a ton of help from an outside source whether it was from the city itself which is very unlikely to happen here in oaland or somehow the league were to chip in. they’ve spent more time in the last year or two working with cities like la and las vegas in getting a stadium built with a ton of financial help over working with the city of oakland.

      • Fisher has never stated that HT is his main choice, only that it is an option.

        HT will require a LOT (literally, years) of bureaucratic paperwork, getting state and federal environmental and legislative hurdles removed, as well as heavy planning and redesigning of nearby infrastructure. There are also the extra financial costs.

        If he *was* going hard and heavy for HT, we’d have heard something by now other than “he took another look at the site”.

        Meanwhile, all plans continuing to stay on hold, waiting for the Raiders to jump one way or another.

        I think stating HT is his “main choice” is a misread. It would appear to be much more of a “things go to hell” plan.

      • There is a lot of heavy lifting for HT, I would guess that HT is Fishers second choice (if that), just based on cost and the unknowns. HT seems to be a backup plan (which we are still not sure if anything can actually be done there), if the city/county actually get something done with the Raiders at the coliseum site.

      • I really expect Laney College to be the site. It’s owned by a public entity, it won’t require nearly as much coin for prepping the site, it’s adjacent to BART, it extends downtown and creates some new foot traffic in Chinatown, etc.
        It’s certainly complicated, and no slam dunk, but it’s easier for me to see a clear line from today to the end of those complications than it is to do the same at Howard Terminal.

      • @ Jeffreyaugust

        I agree with you on the Laney site, I think (all things considered) it’s really the best site. But, haven’t the A’s stressed the need for redevelopment opportunities wherever they build? You would know better than I would but I don’t think that site have enough space for those opportunities.

        Unless you are thinking that the A’s could use the sports fields to build the ballpark, and the administrative office across from the fields for further development? I don’t know, Like I said I believe you know a good deal about that site. Anything you could add would be appreciated.

  8. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff has reached a deal (framework), with developers (led by Ronnie Lott), to hopefully keep the Raiders in Oakland. Of course the Raiders would have to agree with any deal, so there still a ways to go. Wasn’t it just last Thursday that news broke, that Lew Wolff was stepping down…things that make you go hum?

    No, that’s just a coincidence, right? Yeah, coincidence because Lew was old and tired, that’s all there was to that, right?…nothing to see here move on…

    • Wolff doesn’t appear to be a quitter though, Wolff likely knew that San Jose is a lost cause and appeared lukewarm (at best) to building in Oakland, the move makes sense both for the A’s and Wolff.

  9. Ronnie Lott is an interloper. Go away Ronnie Lott and don’t come back please. Keep your fingers crossed that the Las Vegas deal is accepted by the NFL. This will give the A’s multiple sites to choose from and ensure that the Oakland sports dollar will be spent on them, instead of being split between the A’s and the Raiders.

    • Check out stadium365.com if you haven’t yet, pretty cool site. Inspired.

      • believe its been pointed out many times previous but that park configuration wouldn’t’ work with the park facing basically northwest looking at the sun.

    • The Ronnie Lott group will succeed. Get used to it. accept a universe where this is the reality. Las Vegas is and always was a smoke screen designed by the NFL to get the Raiders the best possible deal in Oakland. The NFL will never let the Coli site out of its grasp. Centrally located in the SF bay area with all those parking spaces, BART right there, international airport right there. The NFL understands the value of this site. The Raiders for the first time in franchise history have a waiting list for season tickets! I know all you pro A’s/anti raiders partisans do not like this reality, but the sooner you accept this the sooner you will be able to see things as they are. The A’s front office understands this perfectly, otherwise they would not even be looking downtown. They know it is the only place the can be, so that is where they will build. In the long run it will be for the better. A downtown A’s ballpark will be awesome.

  10. LV Raiders. Montreal A’s.

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