Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wolff Holding A's Franchise Back

The wealthy baseball official with ties to Wisconsin is dawdling and holding back the progress of the Oakland A's.

No, not Bud Selig. We're talking about Lew Wolff.

It's been more than two years since Wolff refused to sit down with Oakland officials to discuss new A's ballpark options. That's what prompted then-Mayor Ron Dellums and Councilwoman Jane Brunner to write Selig a letter asking him to work with them because Wolff wasn't. Selig responded by forming the three-person committee to study the A's ballpark situation and give recommendations. There hasn't been a ruling yet, and Wolff keeps whining about that to the press.

But Wolff should remember, he created this scenario. In short, the ballpark committee that's studying the A's situation was created solely because Wolff refused to even talk to Oakland's leaders, and he still refuses to do so.

So, more than two years later ... nothing. According to a S.F. Chronicle story, Wolff has been pining to move the A's since 1998. And 13 years later, Wolff stubbornly keeps pressing on with his pipe dream of moving the A's out of Oakland. He whines about how slow baseball is moving on the issue, but if he had worked with Oakland from the beginning, then he might already have his ballpark.

Instead, it's been nearly six years since Wolff even gave lip service (and little more) to his one and only Oakland ballpark plan -- the impossibly complicated Coliseum-to-High-Street proposal. Since then, Oakland officials and Let's Go Oakland have come up with at least two new waterfront ballpark sites, including the Victory Court ballpark plan, for which Oakland commissioned an environmental impact report last December.

Wolff? He still hasn't even uttered the words "Victory Court" in an interview, as he likes to pretend that he has "exhausted all options" in Oakland. But can Wolff credibly make that claim, when he hasn't even looked at the best available Oakland site, which was announced in December 2009? Can Wolff credibly say "all options have been exhausted" when he won't even say the words Victory Court in public?

Wolff is being very disingenuous when he says "no one has called me" to talk about Oakland sites. It's not true. As mentioned above, Dellums and other Oakland officials tried calling him in early 2009. Wolff refused to meet with them, saying he "wasn't interested in going over old ground."

So, why should Oakland call Wolff now? If Wolff was sincerely interested in "exhausting all options," he would have picked up the phone and talked to Oakland officials in 2009. Or he would have called Dellums in 2010, or contacted recently elected Mayor Jean Quan to tour Victory Court or the Jack London North site. At the very least, he could call Quan to see if anything has changed in the half-decade since he last talked about staying in Oakland. Instead, all Wolff wants to do is move the A's closer to his real estate holdings in the South Bay, which will further enrich Wolff, but damage the franchise and further alienate the core fan base.

While we're waiting for Selig to make a ruling, what's more important to remember is that we've all been waiting even longer for Wolff to make an honest effort to make it work in Oakland. Nearly eight years since Wolff first joined the A's, we're still waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

A's fans are getting more and more frustrated, but Wolff could make it all go away by working within his territory. Stubbornly, perhaps arrogantly, he hasn't.

There's a thin line between persistence and simply cutting off your nose to spite your face. Wolff is showing us where that line sits.


lil said...

Wolff is simply carrying out what Selig dictates. Selig blocked any sale of the team when groups willing to keep the A's in Oakland came forward to purchase the team when Schott and Hofmann were selling the team. Remember that Selig then also formed a committee and the sale was tabled.

Wolff and Fischer were picked by Selig to hold the team in limbo until he can find a way to relocate/contract or eliminate the Oakland A's.

Selig is the one holding the Oakland A's hostage.

Jerry said...

If Wolff is so frustrated with Oakland, then sell the team. There are plenty of interested buyers of the team that would keep the team on Oaktown....Oracles owner!? The A's should stay in Oakland, and hopefully a stadium is built in JLS.
Regarding a site at JLS, the northern area would make more sense.Closer to downtown, which would increase foot traffic and business from the water to the hills. Broadway will be lively as this will be the marquee transformation of Oakland. Close to 2 BART stations, plus enough space to create parking ( at the proposed site, no space to create parking, and lake merit BART station is too small to deal with the big crowds). Plus the ferry system and train station will bring fans from the North Bay and all the way from SACTOWN.
Anyhow, let's keep the team in Oaktown. Hopefully Wolff can see the beauty of Oakland.

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