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February 28, 2009

Wolff to San Jose: Shhh, not so loud

Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff has responded to San Jose's enthusiasm for being the team's new home by sending the city a letter telling them to knock it off. "[Though] I do not wish to seem disrespectful, and I always am delighted to take calls from elected officials and others, I would appreciate you letting those who wish to contact Major League Baseball officials that, as far as I am concerned, such contacts are not recommended."

For a sports team owner to publicly refuse a potential stadium offer before even using it as leverage to get a stadium elsewhere is — what's a stronger word than "unprecedented"? If I had to speculate, I'd guess that Wolff is either worried that open lobbying for a San Jose A's would throw a wrench into any negotiations for the San Francisco Giants to give up their territorial rights, or that in general he'd rather be talking to cities behind the scenes rather than in the pages of the newspapers. (Assuming newspapers still exist much longer.) Hey, it worked for Randy Levine.

If San Jose-area sports fans are eager to have a stadium debate to follow in the meantime, they can still enjoy the latest in the San Francisco 49ers saga, where newly elected county supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. has announced plans for a new football stadium on the site of the Santa Clara County fairgrounds. Because, you know, why settle for one stadium scheme with an unclear financing plan when you can have two?


Let's not forget that Wolff is currently deep into efforts to get an MLS stadium built on some unused land attached to the San Jose airport. At some level he probably doesn't want the two efforts mucking up each other's works.

Posted by Andy on March 1, 2009 10:10 PM

Not sure how connected the two efforts are however other than some of the same players being involved.

Posted by Dan on March 2, 2009 12:50 AM

Andy, extremely good point ... it would very much muddle the situation with the quakes.

Posted by Horace on March 2, 2009 01:39 PM

Actually one thing to consider is that it's possible he wants to conclude the Quakes deal (which should be done in the first half of this year) before moving on to the A's issue with San Jose.

Posted by Dan on March 2, 2009 02:27 PM

Andy, again, very very good point. Wouldn't make any sense at all to look at SJ anyway ... MLB will shoot it down.

Posted by Horace on March 2, 2009 03:07 PM

Well shooting down SJ comes down to the territorial rights issue and whether MLB will revoke the rights or not at an owners vote. But I suspect we're a ways off from that yet.

What Wolff is doing it seems is just slowing the SJ leaders down some. He doesn't want another Ron Gonzales on his hands making an ass of himself outside spring training. (Though I also suspect he doesn't have to worry about that with the current SJ leadership. They're a tad more subdued than RonGon was).

Posted by Dan on March 2, 2009 03:49 PM

Andy, funny how some people talk of making an ass out of themselves very expertly, huh?

Posted by Horace on March 2, 2009 04:44 PM

Pro sports are going to have to learn these two words: Open system

Constant relocation threats and actual relocation just aren't sustainable. If people stop investing so much emotional input into these sports teams and start treating them as just another entertainment option then look out!

The British and Europeans do it better! Promotion/relegation. Clubs that are in the given communities for 100+ years. Clubs that are actually...clubs and not franchises, like we have here.

Posted by Transic on March 3, 2009 11:32 PM

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