FanShot

The complete history of Lew Wolff, Oakland, and San Jose

25

A great missive on the A's location crisis. It's a long, but good read. Highlights: Wolff spent three years, both before and after he took over as managing partner in 2005, actively exploring locations in Oakland, starting with the parking lot at the Coliseum. But from my own reporting on the city’s stadium options the decade before, I suspected that was a dead horse, and Wolff probably flogged it long after it was clear it couldn’t run. If you know Wolff and hear him insist, "We did not buy the team with San Jose in mind," you know from his voice that he means it in a certain way, like when you want to throw a look-away pass to your favorite receiver. That is: First you sell everyone, even yourself, on going to the guy you’ve got your eyes on. And if he’s open, you do throw over there. But in the back of your mind, you’ve got the itch to go in another, much more rewarding direction. Wolff [was] a key player in [San Jose's] redevelopment, and with its first real sports team. Even I, who knew how desperately San Jose yearned to be counted as big-time, had no clue how out-of-their-heads nuts the locals would be in their devotion to their Sharks. When the team made the play-offs for the first time, in ’94, the giddy atmosphere in what was then called the San Jose Arena was so rarefied, it was like the place had been filled with helium. Given [the scale and growth of franchise values], a successful San Jose A’s franchise could someday be worth more than $1 billion, even with the huge debt that will accompany a new stadium. I, for one, am convinced that the San Jose A’s would be greeted with the same rush of excitement that the Sharks unleashed.

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