Sunday’s Matier & Ross article on candidates for the Coliseum executive director job mentioned an ex-A’s executive remembered fondly by Oakland fans. The exec’s name? Andy Dolich, the A’s marketing guru during the Haas era. That’s great news for A’s fans because few sports business figures can match Dolich’s strengths — decades of successful business and marketing experience, a passion for the Coliseum site and its rich history, and an almost innate feel for what makes Oakland/Bay Area sports fans tick.
When we saw the article Monday morning, we reached out to Dolich to see if the report was true. Dolich said in a phone conversation that he believes the Coliseum would be in very capable hands if the job went to Scott McKibben, the other executive director candidate mentioned by Matier & Ross. We agree.
But after speaking briefly with Dolich, we couldn’t help but think that he would be the best person for the job. Why? First, Dolich is an established marketing whiz who would join the Coliseum at a time when the venue’s reputation could use a makeover.
More important, Dolich’s presence would add a healthy dose of credibility and professionalism to the Coliseum’s daily operations. Business teams are no different from sports teams. The more talent your team has, the better its chances to win. In the Coliseum’s case, the “team’s” players include the JPA, the city, the county, Oakland’s mayor, and the Coliseum executive director, among others. The “talent” in this case refers to those entities’ competence, business acumen, people skills, street smarts, and basic institutional knowledge. Dolich has all of those traits and more. Also, Robert Bobb reportedly will be hired as a consultant for the Coliseum’s new stadium talks. Think of Dolich and Bobb as the sports biz version of the Bash Brothers — two heavy hitters with different personalities but also possessing the skills to help the team win for long stretches.
Knowing the history of the 48-year-old Coliseum complex is invaluable. And you won’t find an active sports executive as familiar with the Oakland Coliseum as Dolich, who spent nearly 15 years working there in the A’s front office. As Tony La Russa and Sandy Alderson guided the A’s to winning seasons on the field, Dolich was a key leader for the A’s business success. Dolich used all of his marketing guile to make “BillyBall” — sportswriter Ralph Wiley’s description of early ’80s A’s teams — a household phrase nationwide. Dolich’s marketing work re-established the Green and Gold’s Bay Area media presence and also set the table for the great box-office success achieved when the A’s won the ’89 World Series, as well as four AL West titles and three AL pennants from 1988 to 1992. Those A’s teams not only won games, Dolich’s marketing know-how helped them kick the Giants off the front page of the Sporting Green, and Oakland baseball — for a time — was king of Bay Area sports.
If Dolich could help the A’s reach those heights then, he could certainly help the Coliseum now with its fight to keep the A’s and Raiders.
Dolich certainly didn’t do it alone in the Haas years, he said repeatedly during our phone conversation. He was but one member of a talented team that included Walter Haas Jr., Roy Eisenhardt, Wally Haas, Carl Finley, Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan, Sandy Alderson, Bill King, Lon Simmons and all those talented players, working toward the same goal. So to be clear, Dolich was a very talented member of a very talented team that accomplished a lot of great things in Oakland.
But that’s exactly the point. To keep both franchises, it’s going to take a strong, talented city-county team with a deep bench. If hired, Dolich would join a Coliseum team that already has some talented players — the JPA members and Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf, to name a few.
Dolich strongly believes that Oakland can keep both the A’s and the Raiders, and that the Coliseum is the best site for both teams to have their own stadium.
We certainly agree that both teams should stay in Oakland. And, with Howard Terminal off the table for now, we would be happy to see the city-county work with the A’s and Raiders owners to keep the teams at the Coliseum site. If the city-county assembles its best, most qualified team, we’re confident that those goals will be reached. Hiring Andy Dolich as the Coliseum’s executive director, in our opinion, would be a great and important next step.