Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BaseballOakland member Garth Kimball writes My Word column in Tribune

My Word: Oakland A's fans deserve better ownership
By Garth Kimball

GUY SAPERSTEIN and the A's ownership continue to distort the truth in an attempt to destroy the A's fan base and to get Major League Baseball approval to move out of Oakland.

Saperstein's Jan. 8 letter to the editor, "Need business plan," about A's ballpark sites failed to disclose that he is an A's co-owner. He also wrote that Oakland does not have a ballpark business plan. Yet, Oakland officials recently announced that the city and MLB officials together have fully analyzed three waterfront sites and provided detailed ballpark and economic redevelopment plans to MLB's Blue Ribbon Committee.

Saperstein mentioned the Jack London Square sites are just a few parcels of land and not very attractive for a stadium. Those three proposed sites total more than 90 acres and are ideal MLB stadium sites. Also, since when is a waterfront ballpark with wonderful transit options and beautiful views not attractive?

Saperstein also claims the A's are losing $30 million per year. According to Forbes magazine, the A's are one of MLB's few teams that regularly turn a profit, due to their low payroll and their sweetheart Coliseum lease from the city of Oakland and Alameda County.

Meanwhile, A's co-owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher have done nothing but depress attendance and hurt their own bottom line by providing poor customer service, trading away fan-favorite players, threatening to move every year and excluding many fans by tarping off the third deck.

Wolff has repeatedly stated he exhausted all efforts in Oakland. Yet, city officials last year quickly found two new excellent waterfront ballpark sites. All it took was effort and working with, not against, city leaders.

A new ballpark in Oakland certainly would be successful. However, what we need even more is ownership like the Haas family provided; an A's ownership that will reach out to the entire East Bay and an ownership that will be committed to staying in Oakland and winning.

Oakland is a wonderfully diverse city with great transportation options. We deserve better than Wolff, Fisher and Saperstein, who whine instead of trying to win. The team should be put up for sale and a new ballpark should be built in Oakland.

As the 31,000 people (and growing) who have joined the "Let's Go Oakland" Facebook page illustrate, A's fans are yearning for MLB to grant the city of Oakland its first real chance since the Haas years to retain its team and return it to glory.

Saperstein warns about misleading the public. Unfortunately, if A's fans and the public have been misled by anyone, it's Wolff, Fisher, Saperstein and their fellow A's co-owners. We deserve better.

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