Timeline

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Here’s the history of A’s owners’ PR mistakes and snafus from 1995 to Present, which have consistently diminished attendance and lowered fan interest for the past 20 years.

OAKLAND A’S OWNERSHIP TIMELINE
(Steve Schott/Ken Hofmann 1995-2005)
(Lew Wolff/John Fisher 2005-Present)

Since 1995, A’s owners have depressed A’s game attendance each season through many instances of mismanagement, PR mistakes and poor marketing. The owners — first Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann and, later, Lew Wolff and John Fisher — have refused to commit to staying in Oakland; failed to work with Oakland/Alameda County officials; provided poor customer service at the Coliseum; failed to market the team properly; and openly flirted with other cities in attempts to move out of town. In doing so, these A’s owners have damaged their own franchise’s brand for more than 20 years, and they show no signs of letting up. Here is a timeline — with internet links as sources — to illustrate how A’s owners’ actions have hurt the storied Athletics franchise and consistently depressed the enthusiasm of its great Oakland fan base.

1995
Jan. 26, 1995 – The Haas family agrees to more financial concessions to new owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann in return for Schott/Hofmann’s promise to keep the A’s in Oakland. The San Francisco Chronicle headline says, “Prospective owners vow to keep A’s in Oakland.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

July 22, 1995Schott and Hofmann officially buy the A’s from the ailing Walter Haas, who sold for tens of millions of dollars below market price with the stipulation that the new owners keep the team in Oakland. “Our family has made substantial financial sacrifices beyond the original sale price to conclude the deal,” said Wally Haas after Schott/Hofmann bought the team. “We hope that the concessions made by the Haas family will ultimately increase the prospects of the A’s remaining in Oakland for years to come.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

July 22, 1995 – Schott and Hofmann immediately negotiate changes in their operating agreement with the Oakland Coliseum, giving them the chance three years later — in 1998 — to move the team to a new city on a year’s notice, sell the team or keep the team in Oakland. As part of the A’s new nine-year Coliseum lease, Oakland and Alameda County eventually pay $11 million to Schott and Hofmann in reimbursements for changes made to the Coliseum from football construction, and up to $20 million in baseball-related stadium improvements over the life of the lease. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 12, 1995 – In his first interview as A’s owner, Schott refuses to commit to Oakland, and says he will slash team payroll. He also badmouths A’s stars Rickey Henderson, Terry Steinbach and Mark McGwire. “People come out to see their favorite players in the lineup, and how can you count on McGwire all the time? If he’s only in there a third, half of the time, how can you count on him?” Schott says of Steinbach, “What are we paying him, $3.5 million? And he hit what, .260, .270? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that’s not what you want.”  Schott then accuses Rickey Henderson of being “mentally unavailable” at times. “We have to find out how hard Ricky wants to play,” Schott says. “We’ll have to see how many games he’ll be in day-to-day, find out what we can live with.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 13, 1995 – Schott and Hofmann might let A’s manager Tony La Russa go because they’re too cheap to pay his $1.35 million salary. “The best manager in baseball is thinking of leaving and his current employer is not even bothering to put up much of a fight,” sportswriter C.W. Nevius reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 22, 1995 – Schott and Hofmann fire Lon Simmons, the popular A’s play-by-play announcer who’s been with the A’s since 1981. Speculation is that Schott and Hofmann don’t want to pay Simmons’ salary. The San Francisco Giants later add Simmons to their broadcasting team. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 23, 1995 – Tony La Russa leaves Schott and the A’s for a 3-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Nov. 1, 1995 – Schott and Hofmann officially take over ownership of the Oakland Athletics. [CLICK LINK HERE]

November 1995Schott hires Ed Alvarez as A’s president and immediately asks Alvarez to look for ways to move the A’s out of Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

November 1995Alvarez later sues Schott in Alameda County Superior Court. They settle for an undisclosed sum of money. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 8, 1995 – Schott and Hofmann will let future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson leave the A’s in 1996 because the owners are slashing salary costs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

1996
Feb. 11, 1996 – A San Francisco Examiner story notes that the A’s owners Schott and Hofmann cut player salaries and let 10 veteran players go in the offseason, including Rickey Henderson. And future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley might go soon, too. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 26, 1996 – A Chronicle story headlined “A’s must lick credibility problem” notes how unpopular new A’s owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann already are among fans: “If not for a series of public relations blunders, the A’s could be in a position to ask for some good will from the community. Instead, they’re widely considered a joke. The opinion of most Bay Area fans is negative: How horrible to see a once-great team unloading all its superstars. How sad to see a team giving up on pleasing its fans.” [CLICK HERE]

March 22, 1996 – Schott fires back at critics saying he’s “disturbed” that people think he has a hidden agenda to move the A’s out of Oakland. “…people keep taking shots at me and saying that our agenda is to buy the team and move it somewhere else.” Schott and co-owner Ken Hofmann signed a three-year lease with the Coliseum, prompting speculation they plan to move the team after that. “We don’t even want to think about moving,” he said. “We have to give the new facility at least a couple more years after this season to see how fans like it.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

September 1996In a survey of A’s fans who did not renew season tickets, the No. 2 most cited reason for giving up the tickets is uncertainty over whether the team is going to move out of Oakland. Despite this, Schott refuses to commit to staying in Oakland. Attendance and the team’s record both continue to worsen. [CLICK LINK HERE]

1997
July 10, 1997 – A’s slugger Mark McGwire and pitching coach Bob Cluck criticize Schott and Hoffman for being cheap owners who don’t care about winning. “It still drives me nuts to figure out why the owners would buy a club and not want to win,” McGwire said about Schott and Hoffman. “That’s what makes me shake my head.” Cluck also rips the owners: “That’s what we’re here for: to win. Schott may not know that.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

1998
January 1998 – After letting Tony La Russa go, trading away star players, making several PR blunders and losing 97 games in 1997, Schott and Hofmann demand $48 million from Oakland and Alameda County in a lawsuit claiming they’ve “lost revenue” due to changes made to the Coliseum. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 19, 1998 – While publicly courting San Jose as the future A’s home, Schott and Hofmann commission a public study on the viability of moving the A’s to Las Vegas. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 20, 1998 – A developer named Lew Wolff calls for moving the A’s out of Oakland, saying that for a new A’s ballpark, “I wouldn’t spend five minutes on any other city besides San Jose.” Wolff adds: “If I was going to pursue a ballpark, I would certainly do it in San Jose … and I would work through the mayor and the Redevelopment Agency.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

October 24, 1998 – Less than three years after buying the the A’s, Schott and Hofmann announce they want to sell the A’s franchise. The Chronicle reports: “…the owners invoked a one-time provision in their Coliseum lease that gives them the option of leaving Oakland on just a year’s notice. At the same time, as required, they gave East Bay officials what they say is a fair market price for the team … (ranging) from $120 million to $140 million.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

October 27, 1998 – An East Bay ownership group led by respected ex-A’s marketing executive Andy Dolich and grocery store magnate Robert Piccinini offers to buy the team. [CLICK LINK HERE]

1999
April 1999 – In an agreement between Oakland, the A’s and MLB, consultant Game Plan LLC is hired to find and recommend a new A’s ownership group for Oakland officials to select as a potential new owner. Game Plan is expected to choose the Dolich/Piccinini group. But at the 11th hour, Game Plan adds a second group headed by Bud Selig’s friend and neighbor Steve Stone and banker Lyle Campbell. [CLICK LINK HERE]

September 15, 1999Major League Baseball owners table the vote on whether to approve the Dolich/Piccinini group, effectively killing the ownership group’s bid. [CLICK LINK HERE]

And A’s fans were shocked and furious. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2000
June 2000 – S.F. Chronicle columnist Glenn Dickey blames Schott for ruining A’s attendance in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2001
March 22, 2001 – A Chronicle story’s headline reads: “Oakland on Offensive to Keep A’s/Team negotiating with Santa Clara on possible new ballpark near Great America.” A few weeks before Opening Night, Santa Clara supervisors vote to talk with the A’s about setting aside city-owned land for a new A’s Park, which “Schott says is a prime spot” for an A’s park. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 24, 2001 – Santa Clara annonunces a plan for an A’s ballpark. Steve Schott, whose hometown is Santa Clara, expresses interest. A South Bay booster club led by Santa Clara County assessor Larry Stone presents a ballpark proposal to Santa Clara’s City Council. A’s executives including team president Mike Crowley attend the Santa Clara meeting. Crowley declines to comment on Santa Clara ballpark financing details or whether the A’s endorse the South Bay boosters’ plans. Crowley says: “We have to keep our options open. One of those options is Santa Clara and one is Oakland.” (Oakland Tribune 4/24/2001) [CLICK LINK HERE]

June 9, 2001ESPN’s Peter Gammons reports that A’s owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann are willing to fold the A’s into the the Angels and move them to Anaheim. [CLICK LINK HERE]

June 2001MLB Commissioner Bud Selig insults Oakland in a TV new interview, calling the A’s move to Oakland a “horrible mistake.” In reality, the A’s at the time were second only to the Yankees in terms of most World Series titles and most playoff appearances in MLB since moving to Oakland in 1968. [CLICK LINK HERE]

In 2001, Oakland and Alameda County hire ballpark architects HOK to study ballpark locations in Oakland and other Alameda County cities. Oakland’s Uptown site is preferred over the other six sites; Warm Springs in Fremont is a distant 6th. The A’s front office doesn’t bother to show up at the City Council meeting where the study’s results are presented. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Summer 2001, A’s co-owner Steve Schott stated that he wants to move to Santa Clara. Yet, attendance in Oakland is on the rise. Oakland fans start a grassroots effort, starting a petition campaign from August 7 thru October 7, that tallies 15,659 signatures. The petition urges Mayor Jerry Brown to keep the A’s in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

July 25, 2001 – The Santa Clara City Council members vote to “pursue an agreement to build” a 45,000-seat ballpark for the A’s in Santa Clara. A’s President Mike Crowley said after the meeting: “The presentation tonight has the tenets of a deal.”Santa Clara Councilmember John McLemore: “Territorial rights are the No. 1 question we should be asking.” [CLINK LINK HERE]

Aug. 14, 2001 – The S.F. Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics “boy genius general manager Billy Beane was a part of the Mandalay Sports Entertainment offer (to buy the A’s franchise) two weeks ago.” The article also predicts that the Giants will fight any move to Santa Clara because it owns the territorial rights to the South Bay. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Aug. 21, 2001 – The Santa Clara City Council suspends ballpark talks with Schott and the A’s because they are upset over surprise reports that the team had almost been sold to the Los Angeles-based Mandalay Sports Group. [CLICK LINK HERE and HERE]

Aug. 26, 2001 – Jeremy Bonderman, an 18-year-old A’s draft pick who has dyslexia, signs his long-stalled contract. It had been delayed because Steve Schott originally balked at Bonderman’s signing bonus, saying he “didn’t want to give $1.5 million to someone who couldn’t read or write.” Later, Bonderman responds: “Did it hurt? A little. Sure. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to work through being dyslexic.”
[CLICK LINK HERE]

Summer 2001 – Schott responds with a flippant remark when asked about Oakland’s renewed efforts to work with him on a new ballpark.”Oakland needs to cut a $400 million check for a new stadium,” Schott says. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2002
October 2002 – During the ALDS series, the A’s have the highest playoff ticket prices. When asked why A’s tickets prices are so expensive, A’s owner Steve Schott insults the Oakland fans. Chronicle columnist David Steele, in turn, rips Schott for his comments. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2003
March 16, 2003 – A few weeks before Opening Night, Steve Schott says he won’t even make an offer to try to keep free agent A’s shortstop Miguel Tejada because the A’s “don’t want to insult him.” Tejada, who has said he wants to stay in Oakland, and other teammates get upset after hearing Schott’s announcement. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 13, 2003 – Lew Wolff is hired as vice president of venue development for the Oakland A’s. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 28, 2003 – The A’s owners turned a $6.6 million profit in 2002, and the Oakland franchise in 2003 is worth $172 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 17, 2003 – With the A’s in the middle of a pennant race, Steve Schott again shifts focus to off-field issues. Schott flip flops on Tejada’s contract offer, saying the team after all will make an offer to him after the season. Billy Beane responds by disagreeing with Schott, indicating that re-signing Tejada is unlikely. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 26, 2003 – Tejada again says he wants to re-sign in Oakland and keep playing for the A’s. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 26, 2003 – In the same article, A’s 3rd baseman Eric Chavez criticizes Schott for his flip-flop on Tejada’s offer: “It’s kind of weird and unfair to shut the door on Miguel and then kind of re-open it,” Chavez said. “But his heart has always been here, no matter what. He’s the good guy in this situation, whatever happens. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 29, 2003 – The A’s front office chooses not to renew the contract of award-winning TV announcer Greg Papa. “Monetary issues” were part of the decision, concedes A’s executive Ken Pries. Papa had been an A’s announcer for 14 years. The San Francisco Giants hire Papa as an announcer in 2004, and later add him to Giants TV pre-game and post-game broadcasts. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 15, 2003 – Miguel Tejada signs a 6-year $72 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He never plays for the A’s again. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2004
Feb. 27, 2004 – Former A’s and Giants announcer Lon Simmons is given the Ford Frick Award, giving him a place in the broadcasters’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame about 8 years after Schott and Hofmann fired him to save a little money. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 2004 – In spring training, A’s owner Steve Schott threatens again to move the A’s out of Oakland unless he gets a new stadium. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 20, 2004 – Schott so frequently criticizes Giants’ ownership over their Santa Clara County territorial rights that Commissioner Bud Selig tells him to knock it off.
[CLICK LINK HERE]

April 6, 2004 – As a sellout crowd of 45,122 fills the Oakland Coliseum on Opening Night, Schott complains about the Coliseum to the Chronicle: “We can’t remain competitive in terms of being able to sign players. I said it before. I’ll say it now. We need a new park.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 26, 2004 – The A’s owners turned a $11.2 million profit in 2003, and the Oakland franchise in 2004 is worth $186 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

May 6, 2004 – Commissioner Bud Selig visits the Oakland Coliseum for the first time in 15 years — since 1989 — and declares that “the A’s simply can’t continue playing here.” Selig also questions the viability of Oakland’s “demographics.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

May 23, 2004 – Selig again questions whether the A’s should have ever moved to the Bay Area. “I think that baseball back in 1968 didn’t take the care they should have when they moved a team into Oakland without assuming what it was going to do to San Francisco,” Selig said. “And…for a long period of time there was a lot of difficulty as a result of that decision.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

August 15, 2004 – “Ideally, the waterfront would be nice idea … downtown would be a nice … Monterrey, Mexico, would be a nice idea,” said Lew Wolff, V.P. of Venue development. (S.F. Chronicle 8/15/04) [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 30, 2004 – With the A’s in the middle of a heated pennant race with just 4 games to play, Schott again shifts attention off the field, telling the Chronicle that he should be allowed to move to San Jose now that the Expos have moved to Washington D.C. In the same article, A’s vice president Lew Wolff says: “We’re trying to focus on the East Bay.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 1, 2004 – A day after Schott’s comments hit the newsstands, A’s fans still fill the Coliseum, drawing 47,081 people to a pivotal Friday night game. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 6, 2004 – A Ray Ratto column criticizes A’s owner Steve Schott for being too cheap to help the A’s make the playoffs even though Schott turns a big annual profit from the A’s. Ratto writes: “The A’s make great scads of cash every year (more than $17 million in 2003 when you factor in revenue sharing and the luxury tax), and … They didn’t commit enough money to the bench and bullpen … again.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

2005
Jan. 13, 2005 – A Chronicle headline about new owner Lew Wolff reads: “Wolff: No way, San Jose/Prospective A’s buyer vows team won’t move.” The article states: “Prospective A’s owner Lewis Wolff, amid speculation that he’ll move the team from Oakland to San Jose, said he plans to honor the Giants’ territorial rights and stay out of the South Bay.” Wolff says: “We’re totally focused on seeing the Oakland situation through. We’re strictly adhering to Major League Baseball’s district (rules)…We understand the rules. The rules are fair. We’re following the rules.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Jan. 13, 2005 – In that same story, Selig reiterates he has no intention of allowing the A’s to invade the Giants’ turf. “Territorial rights don’t change. They stay the same,” Selig said. “I’ve made it clear. We don’t have to go back on it.” Selig also contradicts one of Schott’s arguments, saying that a precedent was NOT set the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C., near the Baltimore Orioles. “Washington was never part of the Baltimore territory. That’s the difference,” Selig said. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 7, 2005 – As Wolff nears officially becoming managing partner and co-owner, retired Oakland Councilmamn Dick Spees offers to build business and community support for building a stadium in Oakland. But Wolff rejects Spees and says the new owners are going to do it themselves.
(“Former City Councilmember Dick Spees, who has created a group of private business people to help in the quest for a park …”) [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 31, 2005 – Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, a former Sunnyvale mayor who belongs to a South Bay booster group, lays out an interesting scenario for a reporter, saying Wolff could demonstrate that he tried to make a deal in Oakland and then “say, ‘I have to look elsewhere. We hope and believe that one of the places, if not the only place, is San Jose.’” (Erin Hallissy, Chronicle 3/31/05) [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 2, 2005 – Lew Wolff publicly says he does not like the idea of moving the team to the South Bay. He is looking at building the new stadium the current Coliseum parking lot. (Tribune 4/2/05) [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 6, 2005 – Oakland Tribune columnist Dave Newhouse interviews Lew Wolff. Newhouse: “With the close proximity of sports teams would territorially rights stand up in court?” Wolff: “I’ll never know because I’ll never test it.” (Tribune 4/6/05) [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 7, 2005 – The A’s owners turned a $5.9 million profit in 2004, and the Oakland franchise in 2005 is worth $185 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 11, 2005 – Lew Wolff appears on television wearing the A’s team colors and promised that the A’s will play in Oakland for many seasons even though there is little, if any, public money for a new ballpark. (4/12/2005 Chronicle) [CLICK LINK HERE]

August 2005 – Lew Wolff announces his plan to build a stadium on the 66th Ave. to High Street site in East Oakland, which would require buying out and/or relocating 80 plus tenants and businesses from hundreds of acres in East Oakland. The site is near both the Fruitvale and Coliseum BART stations. Despite that, Wolff demands that a BART station be built next to this new site. [CLICK LINK HERE]

August 2005 – Minutes after Wolff’s Oakland presentation, Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty approach Wolff and ask him about moving to Fremont instead of staying in Oakland. Wolff is receptive to Fremont. [CLICK LINK HERE]

December 2005 – Lew Wolff is interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News, stating he has been “tirelessly trying to move the team to San Jose.” But this is just four months after he announced his complex plan to Oakland officials and it’s at a time where has already begun talks with Fremont. [CLICK LINK HERE]

At the end of the 2005 seasonLew Wolff decides to tarp off the third deck of the Oakland Coliseum. Wolff simultaneously raises 2nd deck tickets to $20 per seat. These moves eliminate nearly all inexpensive seats. By lowering capacity; it also makes it almost impossible for the A’s to draw 2 million fans per season. This allows the team to a) claim there’s a lack of fan support, b) and eliminates any sharing of concession revenue with the city Oakland. (At the time, the lease agreement called for the A’s to share concession revenue with the city of Oakland anytime attendance reached 2 million.) [CLICK LINK HERE]

2006
March 2006 Wolff announces that he is looking at Fremont as the ballpark site, saying that Oakland “has too many other priorities” besides a new A’s stadium. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 2006 – South Bay columnist Mark Purdy writes a strange column in which he delineates in great detail, but with no attribution, how Wolff would finagle the A’s out of Oakland and the East Bay and one day end up in San Jose. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 2, 2006 – Lew Wolff expressed that he wants the site of the team’s new ballpark picked by the end of the season. At the same time, Wolff held out little hope of the team remaining in Oakland.  Meanwhile, Wolff is asking Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele for a three-year extension on the team’s current lease as a sign of good faith. An unnamed Major League Baseball insider states, “He has to show he’s tried to make a ‘go’ in Oakland. Then he makes an effort to make a ‘go’ in Fremont, then Wolff can go to the commissioner and say ‘OK—now let me go.’” (4/2/06 Matier & Ross Chronicle) [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 21, 2006 – The A’s owners turned a $16 million profit in 2005, and the Oakland franchise in 2006 is worth $234 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Summer 2006 – A group of Oakland fans try another grassroots effort: The Choose or Lose the A’s campaign creates dialogue on how Oakland mayoral candidates aim to keep the A’s in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

And one candidate, Arnie Fields, bases his whole candidacy on keeping the A’s in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Summer 2006Mayoral candidate Ron Dellums approaches Lew Wolff and asks him how they can keep the A’s in Oakland. Wolff again rebuffs an Oakland leader, telling Dellums, “Don’t break your pick on this.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

October 2006 – The 2006 ALDS, and during the locker room celebration, Lew Wolff was interviewed by announcer Ray Fosse. Ray: “Looks like you are going to have your parade.” Lew Wolff: “We just have figure out where to hold it” — alluding that it might not be in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

November 2006Wolff, Selig, A’s officials and CISCO CEO John Chambers announce that the A’s will build a new ballpark in Fremont, at a rural site that is five miles from the nearest BART subway station. For some reason, the previous demand for a BART station for Oakland’s site is deemed not necessary in Fremont’s site. [CLICK LINK HERE]

November 2006 Wolff says the team will be called “San Jose A’s of Fremont” or “Silicon Valley A’s of Fremont” [CLICK LINK HERE]

2007
April 19, 2007 – The A’s owners turned a $14.5 million profit in 2008, and the Oakland franchise in 2007 is worth $292 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

June 3, 2007 – A blurb in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel seems to contradict the rationale for a new ballpark, as it reveals that Wolff will continue his penny-pinching ways even AFTER he builds a new A’s stadium. “It will be business as usual,” A’s owner Lew Wolff said. “We have a staff, led by [GM] Billy Beane, that is very, very bottom-line oriented. Billy loves doing it that way. Frankly, it’s more fun.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

October 23, 2007Lew Wolff says in a speech at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club: “We don’t want to move. We don’t want to start pitting cities against each other, but it’s out of the question we’ll stay in Oakland.”  Wolff continues, “We’re still here, folks. We’re not moving to Timbuktu. We’re just moving down the street.” When responding to problems regarding traffic, higher ticket prices and fewer seats, Wolff states, “Those problems will be solved by the time the stadium would open in 2012. Fans should be happy the team would still be staying in the East Bay.” (Carolyn Jones Chronicle 10/23/07) [CLICK LINK HERE]

2008
April 16, 2008 – The A’s owners turned a $15.4 million profit in 2007, and the Oakland franchise in 2008 is worth $323 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

September 19, 2008 – During a question and answer period during a Wolff appearance at an Oakland Athletics Booster Club meeting. Q: Did you make a sincere effort to stay in Oakland?

Wolff: “I wish I had a lie-detector test. I spent two years making a sincere effort to stay in Oakland, but it was not as simple as I thought it might be…When a lot of you sue me for leaving, I think I can win the case because I tired.” Q: What will transit options be in Fremont?   Wolff: “Instead of just saying, ‘If you don’t have a BART station, you can’t survive,’ we’re trying to figure out if we can. If we can, we will. If we can’t, we won’t.  Of course, then we wouldn’t be in California anymore.”  (Rusty Simmons  Chronicle 9/20/2008) [CLICK LINK HERE]

2009
March 2009 – Citing opposition from Fremont residents and business leaders, Wolff announces that the Fremont ballpark plan is dead. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 2009Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Councilwoman Jane Brunner send a letter to Bud Selig asking for his help. Selig appoints a three-person committee to study the A’s ballpark options. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 13, 2009Wolff announces that he will not pursue a ballpark in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 22, 2009 – The A’s owners turned a $26.2 million profit in 2008, and the Oakland franchise in 2009 is worth $319 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

May 2009Wolff repeats one of his favorite lines in an interview: ” … Oakland is a built-up area. There aren’t a lot of pieces of land that don’t have a big expensive component to them to make them work.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Yet, in October 2009 – A report released by Urban Food.org states that there are “1,200 acres of vacant and underutilized public land” in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

November 2009 – Wolff again announces in a San Francisco Magazine article that he wants to move the A’s to San Jose. [CLICK LINK HERE]

December 2009Oakland announces that it’s offering the A’s three ballpark sites near Jack London Square that total 90 acres: The Victory Court site is 20 acres. Jack London North is 20 acres and Howard Terminal is 50 acres. The San Jose site is just 14 acres. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2010
Jan. 23, 2010 – Dave Newhouse interviews Robert Piccinini a decade after MLB rejected the Dolich/Piccinini ownership group. Piccinini said he suspects that Selig and Wolff colluded to stop his group so that Selig could let Wolff buy the A’s. He says the Giants likely also played a role, as a Giants exec once told him, “I hear you’re getting involved with the Padres. We want you in San Diego; we just didn’t want you here.” Piccinini adds: “We were under the belief that the ownership (of Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann) had really done less than an adequate job of creating a relationship between the community and the ballclub. We thought we could…do a much better job in the community and getting businesses involved…We thought if we could raise the attendance, and make it something that everyone was proud of, we then would have an opportunity to get a new facility.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Jan. 28, 2010 – Wolff remains focused on San Jose, as Mark Purdy writes: “There is word that Wolff and his ownership partners are getting antsier” because there has been no ruling from the MLB committee that formed a year earlier. Purdy’s unnamed sources make vague threats: “Bottom line: Wolff has not yet reached the boiling point where he’s threatening to leave the Bay Area — or, more likely, sell to another owner who would move the team out of Northern California. But the teapot is building steam. It’s hot stove season in more ways than one. Time to tend to this burner, commissioner.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 4, 2010The A’s front office allows Marty Lurie to leave their flagship radio station. Lurie, the A’s pre-game and post-game show host for 12 years, was popular with A’s fans. Sportswriter Lowell Cohn criticizes the A’s front office, saying: “I don’t believe the A’s understand what a treasure Marty is.” The San Francisco Giants immediately hire Lurie and add him to their flagship station at KNBR, just as they did with announcers Lon Simmons and Greg Papa when the A’s let them go. [CLICK LINK HERE] and [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 7, 2010 – The A’s owners turned a $22.1 million profit in 2009, and the Oakland franchise in 2010 is worth $295 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

July 15, 2010Wolff writes a public letter to A’s fans defending his desire to move to San Jose. Wolff writes that, in Oakland or Fremont, a privately financed stadium would have required “residential entitlements” — or as they’re better known, development rights to build condos, and “under current economic conditions, the residential entitlement concept as been rendered unavailable due to the prolonged recession and sharp decline in demand for residential housing.” (When the housing market rebounds a few years later, Wolff changes his tune and says he only wants surface parking around Oakland’s Coliseum site.) [CLICK LINK HERE]

2011
March 2, 2011 – A month before Opening Night, a Bloomberg article headline reads: “Oakland A’s Could Make Move to San Jose 3 Years After Go-Ahead.” Lew Wolff’s quote about MLB’s committee reveal his anger and frustration: “It’s so ridiculous to me…They’ve had time enough to explore anything. We’re getting close to the point Bud is going to make a decision.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 22, 2011  The A’s owners turned a $23.2 million profit in 2010, and the Oakland franchise in 2011 is worth $307 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

May 25, 2011Lew Wolff endorses embattled A’s Manager Bob Geren, saying “I personally love the way he deals with everybody…I love the guy. He’s a good teacher. I love everything about him. He’s a very solid person, and I like the way he deals with everything all year long.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

June 9, 2011The A’s fire Bob Geren, and replace him with new manager Bob Melvin. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 24, 2011 – USA Today sportswriter Bob Nightengale sends Twitter into a frenzy by tweeting: “All signs and top #MLB sources say that the #Athletics will be granted permission by Feb to move to San Jose.” [Nightengale’s prediction never comes true.] [CLICK LINK HERE]

2012
March 1, 2012
– February comes and goes, and MLB makes no decision on the A’s stadium search. Nightengale makes no more predictions.

March 21, 2012  The A’s owners turned a $14.6 million profit in 2011, and the Oakland franchise in 2012 is worth $321 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

April 2, 2012 – Four days before the home opener, Wolff insults A’s fans and the city of Oakland, saying “he doubts Oakland can come up with a credible plan. ‘Just drawing some lines around a few blocks doesn’t get you a stadium,’ he said, adding that there are not enough A’s fans in Oakland to justify keeping the team there.” Sportswriter Ken Belson notes that the A’s used to draw well: “As recently as 2005, the A’s drew more than 2.1 million fans. The next year, Wolff and the Fisher family took over the team, and attendance has fallen ever since …” [CLICK LINK HERE]

May 21, 2012 – “Lew Wolff is the most hated man in Oakland,” writes S.F. Chronicle sports editor Al Saracevic, who accuses Wolff of caring more about moving to San Jose than winning. He adds: “Wolff’s efforts to move the team out of Oakland have been a disaster … Instead of working on a solution with the city that has housed the team for 44 years…Wolff and his fellow owners chose to play the waiting game with Major League Baseball. They tarped the upper deck and started selling off talent, season after season. They figured if their revenue sharing envelope keeps getting smaller, the rest of baseball just has to give them San Jose. Looks like Wolff’s game of chicken isn’t paying off.” The article includes a handful of frustrated A’s fans asking Wolff to commit to Oakland or sell the team to someone who will. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Aug. 7, 2012Oakland met with MLB’s three-person committee, pitching them the 51-acre Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark site next to Oakland’s Jack London Square. [CLICK LINK HERE]

In the same article Lew Wolff says he’s not interested in the site. “We have analyzed Howard Terminal upside down and sideways,” he said, “and it has no ability to be implemented for a ballpark.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Aug. 8, 2012 – Bay Area reporter Ali Thanawalla criticizes Wolff for not considering Howard Terminal, saying: “Wolff is like the kid that only wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner and would rather not eat than even consider going somewhere else. Hey Lew, San Jose ain’t happening. It’s time to start considering sites in Oakland, or sell the damn team.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 6, 2012ESPN ranks A’s co-owner Lew Wolff as the nation’s 2nd worst owner in professional sports. Wolff is ranked 121st out of 122 team owners nationwide, and described as “the second-most loathed owner in America” by fans who “can’t stand him.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

2013
March 27, 2013 – The A’s owners turned a $27.5 million profit in 2012, and the Oakland franchise is worth $468 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

June 18, 2013 – San Jose sues MLB for the right to move the A’s there, challenging the Giants’ claim to the South Bay and MLB’s anti-trust exemption. Lew Wolff says he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit and opposes business lawsuits. MLB’a Executive Vice President Rob Manfred calls the lawsuit “an unfounded attack on the fundamental structures of a professional sports league.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 18, 2013 – Two weeks before the A’s are to start the ALDS playoffs, Lew Wolff complains about attendance at A’s home games. Ray Ratto rips Wolff in a column: “If there are any other ways to tell Oakland how much it is hated, Wolff has not yet thought of them.”
[CLICK LINK HERE]

Sept. 20, 2013 – ESPN’s Keith Olbermann criticizes Wolff for his anti-fan comments: “Everybody in sports knows to never attack the hometown fans no matter what,” Olbermann says on-air. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 4, 2013 – On the same day the A’s face Detroit in Game One of the ALDS playoffs, A’s president Mike Crowley gives an interview about the team’s failure to sign a Coliseum lease extension, intimating to fans that the A’s might leave Oakland if they can’t finalize a deal. Crowley: “We’ve had some discussions, but we still remain far apart…We certainly hope to be playing here in 2014.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 4, 2013 – The same day, an article says Wolff/Fisher raised parking rates on fans to pay a parking tax the Coliseum JPA had begun to enforced on the A’s. But after the owners’ parking price hike on fans generated nearly $3 million, Wolff/Fisher pocketed the money and refused to pay what they owed Oakland and the Coliseum JPA. The Chronicle’s Will Kane wrote: “The A’s said a contract clause allowed them to deduct any new taxes from the rent. The authority disagreed.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

In other words, after years of Wolff saying that “Oakland has too many other priorities than baseball,” Wolff added to the city’s problems by being a deadbeat tenant. If Wolff paid the city the millions he owes, Oakland could devote that money to fixing those “other priorities.” Instead, Wolff & Fisher (two billionaires) kept the extra money from gouging A’s fans and then used that money as leverage in the Coliseum lease negotiations. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Nov. 24, 2013Lew Wolff says the two-year lease that he and the Oakland Coliseum Authority are about to agree on is “fine with me.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 7, 2013 – MLB tells a federal judge that MLB rejected San Jose’s ballpark proposal in a June 17 letter sent one day before San Jose filed its lawsuit against MLB. [CLICK LINK HERE] and [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 10, 2013 – Columnist Mark Purdy pens another pro-San Jose column featuring snarky Lew Wolff quotes that criticize Oakland and the Howard Terminal site. Then-San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo says: “It may be easier to build a baseball stadium on a flying carpet than to build a baseball stadium in Oakland.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 16, 2013 – Clorox CEO Don Knauss, Mayor Jean Quan and other Oakland business leaders announce they are preparing the Howard Terminal waterfront site next to Jack London Square for a 38,000-seat new A’s ballpark, the Chronicle’s Matier & Ross report. Lew Wolff gives another snarky response: “It would be easier to build on Treasure Island … Howard Terminal would be as close to impossible as anything.” Knauss and Co. say they’re inviting Wolff to build there, but if he doesn’t want to, they will put together an A’s ownership group who will. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Dec. 16, 2013 – The same day, Wolff tells the Oakland Tribune that the only Oakland site he’d consider is at the Oakland Coliseum, which is not a downtown site. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2014
Feb. 8, 2014 – After years of Lew Wolff, Billy Beane and Mike Crowley saying the A’s can’t keep or attract top free agents because of the Coliseum, they re-sign Coco Crisp through 2016 in a nearly $23 million deal. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 8, 2014 – The same day, star A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes says he wants an extension, too, so he can keep playing with the A’s in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 17, 2014 – On the first weekend of Spring Training, A’s president Mike Crowley reminds his customers that he doesn’t think much of the Coliseum and would rather play somewhere else, adding: “We don’t have all the amenities that all the ballparks have for our players or the visiting teams that come in here…We haven’t been able to explore that market, though. It’s the territorial rights issue.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 26, 2014 – The A’s owners turned a $27.4 million profit in 2013, and the Oakland franchise is worth $495 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 7, 2014 – Twenty-four days before Opening Night, Lew Wolff announces he’s evaluating the viability of building a temporary ballpark “somewhere in the Bay Area” if the JPA doesn’t give him a longer lease at the Oakland Coliseum. Wolff then delivers a not-so-thinly-veiled threat: “Looking outside the Bay Area and our media market is an undesirable option to our ownership at this time.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

July 16, 2014 – A Mercury News headline says “A’s owner meets with San Jose mayor amid Oakland lease talks,” saying Wolff has met with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed as Wolff negotiated the Coliseum lease extension with Oakland officials. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 13, 2014 – Mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan returns three checks from Lew Wolff’s family that total $2,100 after learning the donations were a violation of Oakland city campaign laws, according to the Chronicle. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 30, 2014Wolff tells Forbes Magazine his money-first-baseball-second philosophy, saying: “We wouldn’t feel good if we were winning games and losing money.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

2015

February 2015 – At a time when the A’s are legally bound to negotiate “in good faith” to keep the team in Oakland, A’s co-owner Guy Saperstein posts on Facebook that A’s owners’ “public and well-known position” is that they “prefer to move to San Jose … in the most prosperous county.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 15, 2015Downtown Oakland’s renaissance continues, as The Oakland Tribune reports that “Oakland, with new leadership, an influx of residents and businesses, and popular draws like the renovated Fox Theater, is starting to come into its own.” A real estate broker is quoted: “We are seeing more leasing activity in downtown Oakland than we have seen in well over a decade.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 19, 2015Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tells the San Francisco Business Journal that she is working hard to keep the A’s and Raiders in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 24, 2015 – Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami writes that Lew Wolff should know by know that “San Jose is closed” for an A’s stadium. He also criticizes San Jose’s lawsuit against MLB, saying it backfired because: “1) It hardened the votes AGAINST the A’s in any potential San Jose territorial rights vote; 2) When most of it got tossed out of federal court (pending appeals), it solidified everything MLB and the Giants have argued about San Jose: It’s closed to the A’s…Gained them nothing, except clarifying the totality of the A’s/San Jose futility. It’s all Oakland now as it always has been for the A’s.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 25, 2015 – After years of proposing “a ballpark village” to pay for a stadium at various sites, Wolff now says he only wants “surface parking surrounding the ballpark wherever we build it unless we’re in the heart of a downtown.” Despite the Coliseum area having hundreds of available acres, Wolff says it’s not enough to do additional development and retain sufficient surface parking for a ballpark. [CLICK LINK HERE]

Feb. 27, 2015 – Field of Schemes blogger Neil de Mause mocks Wolff’s flip-flop on the Coliseum site, noting that Wolff is essentially saying he needs the Coliseum for “development just without so much development.” De Mause also notes Wolff is contradicting his own words in 2010, when he said an Oakland site would need entitlements and ancillary development like housing around an Oakland ballpark. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 2015 – The A’s owners turned a $20.8 million profit in 2014, and the Oakland franchise is worth $725 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 3, 2015Lew Wolff is “nearly impossible to deal with” for Oakland leaders, writes reporter Robert Gammon. Gammon says Wolff is “perhaps the most recalcitrant owner in all of sports … (and has) made it clear over the past decade that he doesn’t want to be in Oakland. MLB and the courts have repeatedly told him that he essentially has no choice but to keep his team here. But he remains as obstinate as ever — and is giving Oakland officials almost no choice but to prioritize the needs of the Raiders over those of the A’s. And perhaps that’s exactly what he wants.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

Oct. 5, 2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court ends San Jose’s bid for the Oakland A’s by refusing to hear the city’s claim that Major League Baseball used illegal monopoly powers to block the team’s relocation to the South Bay, according to the S.F. Chronicle. The decision ends San Jose’s (and Wolff’s and Fisher’s) last gasp to move the A’s out of Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

March 23, 2016 – The A’s owners turned a $33 million profit in 2015, and the Oakland franchise is worth $725 million, Forbes Magazine reports. [CLICK LINK HERE]

 

OAKLAND’S EFFORTS TO KEEP THE A’S

For the past 20 years, the A’s owners have been trying to craft a phony narrative that the city of Oakland and Alameda County haven’t done much to keep the team. This is false. Check out this list of Oakland’s and Alameda County’s efforts to please A’s owners since 1995.

1995 Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann buy the A’s from Walter Haas Sr. and, almost immediately, they renegotiate their lease of Oakland, Alameda County and the Oakland Coliseum due to changes made to the stadium for the returning Oakland Raiders. Oakland and county officials try to please the new owners by agreeing to pay $11million to Schott and Hofmann, and up to $20 million in baseball-related stadium improvements over the life of the lease.  (Chronicle 7/22/95)

1999 – Schott and Hoffman put the team up for sale, and Oakland and Alameda County officials spend much of 1999 working with MLB to find a suitable buyer. Oakland/Alameda County officials select a group led by ex-A’s marketing guru Andy Dolich and grocery store magnate Robert Piccinini. Mayor Jerry Brown and other Oakland leaders go to Cooperstown, N.Y., to support the local ownership group trying to keep the team in Oakland. Instead of finalizing the deal, MLB owners table the vote and make no decision. Oakland officials are very disappointed and A’s fans are furious. After getting nowhere for a few months after that, Dolich and Piccinini finally give up and the ownership group dissolves. [CLICK LINK HERE] and [CLICK LINK HERE]

2001-02Robert Bobb tries to interest the A’s in the Uptown site. A’s owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann never publicly support the site and never show up at an Oakland City Council meeting. Since then, A’s officials have appeared at city council meetings in Santa Clara, Fremont and San Jose in support of ballpark plans in those cities. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2005Oakland councilmen Larry Reid and Ignacio De La Fuente react favorably to Lew Wolff’s presentation to build a new A’s stadium and redevelop hundreds of acres near the Oakland Coliseum. Yet, according to news reports, Wolff almost immediately started negotiating with Fremont for a ballpark site. And four months after the Oakland meeting, he’s quoted as saying that he’s been working very hard to get a ballpark built in San Jose. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2005 – Ex-Oakland Councilman Dick Spees approaches Lew Wolff and offers to lead a booster group comprised of Oakland business leaders. Wolff rejects Spees’ efforts, telling him that he wants to do it alone. (Oakland Tribune 2/7/05) [CLICK LINK HERE]

2006Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums meets with Lew Wolff to discuss keeping the A’s in Oakland. Wolff also rebuffs Dellums, telling him that he is focusing on Fremont and that Dellums shouldn’t “break his pick on this one.” [CLICK LINK HERE]

2009After the Fremont ballpark plan falls apart, Dellums reaches out to Wolff again. Wolff again rebuffs him and makes it clear that Wolff’s new goal is San Jose. Dellums and Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner respond by sending a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer also sends a letter to Selig in support of keeping the A’s in Oakland. [CLICK LINK HERE]

2009Oakland announces three new A’s ballpark sites near the Jack London Square waterfront. [CLICK LINK HERE]

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