Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oakland Officials Accuse A’s Owner of Playing Games in the Media

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Oakland city officials had tough talk for Oakland Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff Monday night, accusing him of manipulating the media and refusing to engage in negotiations with the city concerning a new ballpark for the team. “Lew Wolff won’t talk to us,” said Oakland Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell at an event in Oakland for the grassroots group, Save Oakland Sports. Blackwell also said a change of ownership “would do wonders to negotiations.”

Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana also questioned Wolff's intent concerning a much-publicized letter that the A's co-owner wrote, involving a proposed renewal of the team’s lease at Oakland Coliseum. Santana said Wolff never forwarded the letter to city and county officials — only to the media.

Lew Wolff
  • Lew Wolff
“When you saw the recent letter Lew Wolff put out that was highly-covered through the media about his desire to stay and negotiate a lease extension for five years with the city and with the county, what you should know is that letter was never forwarded to the JPA [Joint Powers Authority that oversees the Coliseum] and it was never forwarded to the city and county, it was forwarded to the newspaper,” said Santana. “It’s just some of the game-playing we struggle with without them being at the table in good faith in order to have discussions around these negotiations when the media is fed a different impression.”

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s office confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the city never received Wolff’s correspondence purportedly sent in mid-December. Sean Maher, spokesman for Quan, said the city only recently confirmed it was not received and had responded last December to press inquiries regarding the contents of the letter without actually having received it. “We read about it in the press and saw the letter that way, and responded publicly on the assumption it was in the mail,” Maher said.

“This all sounds very confusing to us,” said Bob Rose, director of public relations for the A’s. “Mr. Wolff indeed sent the letter and the Mayor's Office confirmed they received it.”

The A’s nearly five-year flirtation with moving to San Jose is still the subject of a so-called “blue ribbon” committee created by Major League Baseball. A report has yet to be issued and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has long been silent on the subject of relocating the A’s.

Blackwell said the lack of a resolution is frustrating, along with constant erroneous leaks over the years claiming a move to the South Bay was imminent. Nothing will happen regarding a new ballpark in Oakland, said Blackwell, unless all the parties meet. “We have to sit across the table with someone that wants to talk to us,” he said.

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