Friday morning brought news that might be a deal-breaker for Lew Wolff's years-old plan to move the A's out of Oakland. At the very least, the news revealed Wolff's double-standard regarding Oakland in his stadium quest.
First, let's look at what Tracy Seipel of The San Jose Mercury News wrote:
San Jose's redevelopment agency is in such rough financial shape that its leaders now say they may not be able to buy the last parcels for a downtown baseball stadium for the Oakland A's.
Despite the bad news, Wolff gave optimistic quotes: "Whatever issues we run into, we will figure out how to get them done."
But neither Wolff nor San Jose officials gave specifics on how the cash-strapped redevelopment agency's problems might be solved. Seipel wrote:
... he (Wolff) and agency officials both said no details of a possible land purchase by Wolff had been discussed ...
Regardless of what happens next, Wolff has revealed yet again how he has one set of rules for Oakland, and another set of rules for the cities to which he’s tried to move the A's. It also refutes the lie that Oakland leaders haven't worked to keep the A’s. The truth is, Oakland officials frequently have tried hard to reach out to A's owners like Wolff and former owner Steve Schott.
The problem is, whenever Oakland officials tried to work with Wolff, he would throw up roadblocks by giving weak excuses. More than once, Wolff has said, "Oakland has too many other priorities" to take care of before solving the ballpark problem. Yet, when it comes to the severe economic problems of cities he’s trying to move to, such as Fremont a few years ago or now San Jose's nearly broke redevelopment agency, Wolff's attitude is the total opposite.
"There isn’t a redevelopment agency or city or federal or state government that isn't in some form of disarray at this point," Wolff told the Mercury News on Oct. 14 regarding San Jose’s economic woes.
In Oakland, Wolff's attitude is: "Sorry, you have too many other priorities."
In Fremont and San Jose it's: "Whatever the issues are, don’t worry we’ll solve them."
(By the way, I’m not knocking Fremont or San Jose at all. Those are fine cities in their own right. Baseball should be bringing this region together. Sadly, Wolff's stadium machinations instead have been dividing A's fans.)
There are other examples of Wolff's blatant Oakland double standard. He often said Oakland is "too built up," but in fact one study says Oakland has more than 1,200 vacant acres of land. Wolff also ruled out the Coliseum site because of some vague problem with the site’s “utilities.” Yet in his favored South Bay site, a large PG&E substation for some reason is considered no big deal. At the complicated East Oakland site Wolff proposed just a few months before moving on to Fremont, Wolff said that a newly constructed BART station was "a must" for the site to work. Yet, in Fremont and San Jose, Wolff has treated those sites' lack of a BART station as no big deal.
It's been 12 years since Wolff was first quoted as saying that he would move the A's to the South Bay. It's been seven years since he first joined the A's front office and started actively trying to move the A's out of town. After all those years of trying — and failing — Wolff has been ruining a once-great franchise and he’s been turning off thousands of loyal fans. In short, most of the problems the A's have are of Wolff's own doing.
Wolff often whines of being "held hostage" by territorial rights. As usual, Wolff has it backwards. A's fans are the ones who've been held hostage — by Wolff and his never-ending pipe dream of moving the team out of town. If the Mercury News Oct. 15 article proved anything, it's that all these years later, Wolff really isn't that much closer to making that fairy tale a reality. In the meantime, one of pro sports' greatest franchises — The Oakland Athletics — continues to wither in Wolff's hands.