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Elephant Rumblings: Warriors owner Joe Lacob had deal to buy A’s in 2005

MLB news roundup

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

A’s fans are pinning their hopes on a new ballpark at Howard Terminal to light the way to a better future for the team and ensure it can remain in Oakland. Previously, the organization had other ideas such as building at Laney College, or moving to San Jose or Fremont, but over the past couple decades these various proposals failed to gain traction. The Howard Terminal project is no done deal, but it’s much closer to being realized than the proposals that came before it.

Well, according to Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, he would already have built the ballpark at Howard Terminal if his deal to buy the team from former A’s owner Steve Schott hadn’t been rejected by then-MLB commissioner Bud Selig in favor of his friends John Fisher and Lew Wolff.

In a piece published yesterday, John Shea at the San Francisco Chronicle recalled discussions he had with Lacob in preparation for an autobiography of Schott that Shea co-authored. Both Schott and Lacob confirmed that they had a solid verbal agreement for the team’s sale that would have come to fruition if not for Selig.

Lacob said he tried unsuccessfully to sell Fisher—also a friend—on Howard Terminal in the past, and that had he been the team’s owner, he’s confident his vision would already be realized because he would have simply put up all of the funding required himself rather than negotiating with the City of Oakland for hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure dollars. Lacob said he doesn’t think it’s unfair for the A’s to seek the funding, but that he would have recouped the added investment expense many times over by now in completing a waterfront ballpark to rival the Giants’ Oracle Park “a long time ago.”

Lacob continued that his failure to acquire the A’s taught him that he needed to build stronger relationships to pave the way for success in the business of professional sports—and he successfully applied that lesson to buy the Warriors and quickly transform the team into the modern-day NBA dynasty it has become.

It’s easy to play hindsight-armchair-quarterback as Lacob may appear to be doing, but it’s also hard to deny his track record as a franchise owner.

Lacob says he still has a standing offer to buy the A’s from Fisher as long as they stay in Oakland. He’s also rooting for the Howard Terminal project to succeed under Fisher. It’s tempting to imagine what the state of the Athletics franchise would be today under Lacob’s stewardship, but probably best to keep our eyes on the hand we’ve been dealt and press for a completed deal for the Fisher-owned A’s on a new waterfront park this year.

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