In A’s co-owner Lew Wolff’s recent 4-question interview with Athletics Magazine, he saved the most important and alarming parts for the very end.
Wolff has spent years saying that, a) the A’s need a new ballpark to replace the aging Coliseum, and b) the Oakland Coliseum site (among other Oakland sites) would NOT work for a new ballpark, for reasons ranging from the Coliseum complex’s “utilities” to its plumbing to having to share the field with the Raiders. Now, Wolff is singing a different tune, saying he will consider the Coliseum (but only the Coliseum) as a viable Oakland site. He repeated that theme in the recent Athletics Magazine interview, but with a very important wrinkle. Wolff said:
“…we of course would like to play in a new or vastly improved baseball-only venue … The outcome we seek, and the only outcome we seek, is an improved local venue for our fans, players and sponsors that support our team.”
Notice the vague but carefully worded change of heart there. No longer do the A’s need “a new ballpark,” according to Wolff. Nope, now he’s proposing a “new or vastly improved baseball-only venue.”
What might that mean? It means that Wolff is floating the idea of remodeling the 49-year-old Coliseum for the second time, rather than building the brand new ballpark he’s long told us that the A’s and their fans need. By the way, he says he needs the Raiders to leave, too, before he starts work on the remodel. Leave it to Lew Wolff to propose the cheapest, shoddiest, least fan-friendly option that threatens not one but two Oakland teams.
A few years ago, we might have been gullible to buy into this “plan.” Like a lot of A’s fans, we’re tired of the uncertainty that Wolff & Fisher have foisted on all of us. We might have championed a lesser plan just to remove the threat of losing our team.
But here’s the reason why Wolff’s remodel must be rejected: It’s not a sincere offer — just like his impossibly complicated “66th to High Street” plan in 2005 was insincere and intentionally dead-on-arrival. This remodel idea appears to be just another head-fake intended to give him an excuse to say, “Can I move to San Jose now?”
We also believe Wolff & Fisher (leaders of MLB’s 4th-richest ownership) would use this remodel as a way to stay on MLB’s welfare roll so they can collect more than $30 million in yearly revenue-sharing handouts from their fellow owners. We believe that Wolff & Fisher would argue to MLB, “But we’re still in an old ballpark, renovation or not, so we deserve your welfare checks.”
Also, there’s a reason why Wolff’s PR hacks have long been trying to convince people of the lie that “Oakland has to choose between the A’s and the Raiders.” The reason is that Wolff wants to use the Raiders as yet another excuse to leave.
Our guess is that if Oakland leaders and Alameda County officials reject this terrible remodel idea — as they should — Wolff will then go to Commissioner Manfred and MLB owners and say, “Hey guys, look we tried, but Oakland won’t kick out the Raiders for us and there was just no new place for a yard and the best we can do is renovate the Coliseum. Sounds crappy, right? Well, how about letting us move to SJ WHERE WE CAN BUILD A SHINY NEW STADIUM!!!!” (Cue “The Price is Right music)
All these desperate schemes will fail, as all of Wolff’s San Jose baseball stadium efforts have since he came on the scene 12 years ago.
Wolff seems unable to give up on his pipe dream of a San Jose ballpark. And he can’t be trusted with the task of building a successful new A’s ballpark because, while he submits sincere plans for San Jose, all he gives Oakland are flimsy schemes intended to fail.
This Athletics Magazine interview showed once again that the old A’s ballpark will never be replaced until Wolff is replaced — with a new owner willing to work with Oakland.