Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lew Wolff and John Fisher Should Sell the A’s

By Robert Gammon
Tue, May 8, 2012 at 9:08 AM

The years-long attempt by Oakland A’s owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher to move the team to San Jose appears to be fizzling out. All the rumors that the move was to be brought up at Major League Baseball owners’ meetings in the past few months have proven untrue. The San Francisco Giants reportedly have made it clear that they have no intention of giving up — or selling — their territorial rights to the South Bay. It’s also seems obvious that the league’s ownership is not going to overrule the Giants and allow the A’s to build a ballpark in San Jose. In short, the A’s have nowhere to go — other than leave the Bay Area. And since Wolff and Fisher don’t want to keep the team in Oakland, they should sell the A’s to an ownership group that will.

Don Knauss
  • Don Knauss

Last week, Oakland business leaders indicated that there’s a group willing to keep the team in Oakland, led by Clorox CEO Don Knauss. The Chronicle also reported over the weekend that at least two other ownership groups are interested in buying the A's. In today's Oakland Tribune, Oakland business leaders and team fans bought a full-page ad, urging Fisher to either keep the team here or sell it.

But Fisher and Wolff, of course, have proven that they don't like Oakland, and desperately want to get out of town. As such, it’s time that baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told his old fraternity buddy, Wolff, that the A’s are never going to San Jose and that it’s time to start entertaining offers to unload the team.

Oakland’s plan to build a privately financed Coliseum City development that would feature new facilities for the A’s, the Raiders, and the Warriors, along with housing, retail, and an entertainment district, also deserves closer study. Knauss may be the perfect person to help lead the effort. He’s the former chief executive of Minute Maid and he helped the Houston Astros’ downtown ballpark become a reality.

Coliseum City
  • Coliseum City

A’s fans and Oaklanders deserve better, too. Wolff’s repeated bashing of Oakland and the Coliseum has spoiled the team’s relationship with the city and Oakland residents to the point that it’s become toxic. Oakland business leaders and team fans noted in today's Tribune ad that A's attendance at the Coliseum has plunged 25 percent (1.9 million to 1.4 million) in the five years since Wolff proclaimed: "it's out of the question" that the team would remain in Oakland.

Indeed, the only way for the A’s to thrive here again is if Wolff and Fisher are gone — and replaced by owners who actually like the East Bay.

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