A’s co-owner Lew Wolff touches on San Jose ballpark, revenue sharing and how long he’ll play waiting game

I attended a Q&A session involving A’s co-owner Lew Wolff this afternoon hosted by the Rotary Club of San Jose. It’s interesting to see Wolff operate in that kind of environment. He represents the bad guy to so many A’s fans. But he was on friendly terrain Wednesday, speaking in the same downtown area where he hopes to build his new ballpark someday – and he drew laughter with a few sharp one-liners. You can’t help but wonder how he would have been greeted in Oakland for a similar function. Here’s a few highlights from his 39-minute Q&A and the short media session he conducted afterward:

–If the team does indeed move to San Jose, they will be called the “San Jose A’s,” which has been assumed. Wolff pointed out how the franchise has moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City to Oakland, always keeping the “Athletics” label. There was a stuffed Stomper on hand at Wednesday’s event, with the A’s mascot wearing a “San Jose Athletics” uniform.

— Wolff was asked about the possibility of the A’s simply buying out the Giants’ territorial rights to San Jose. “That has not been discussed with us,” he said. That’s surprising to me. Considering nearly three years has passed since Major League Baseball began researching the A’s stadium options, I’d be shocked if MLB hasn’t tried to broker a financial settlement between the teams regarding territorial rights, if indeed what Wolff says is true.

–Wolff said the A’s received about $32 million in revenue sharing last year from MLB. He claimed the A’s take that $32 million, along with all other revenue generated, and allocate about half of it toward the major league payroll. The rule of thumb, according to Wolff, is for major league teams to devote about half of their revenue to the major league payroll. The A’s carried an opening day payroll of roughly $67 million in 2011. “We use every penny of it,” Wolff said of revenue-sharing funds.

–Getting an answer from MLB on the stadium issue “in the next couple months would be great,” Wolff said. Someone asked how long he might wait for an answer before throwing in the towel on building a ballpark. “I’m not going to continue this much longer,” he said. “What we want is an answer. We want a ‘Yes, you can relocate and share the territory,’ or ‘You can’t.’ But not having any answer is difficult not just for me, but for the 130 people that work for us, for planning, for our baseball team every year.” So what happens if his timeframe expires and there’s still no answer? Would Wolff and his fellow owners sell? He said he’s not entertaining that option yet.

–Despite the trades of three All-Star pitchers over the winter, Wolff thinks the A’s will field a quality team this season. “We’re going to fool a lot of people with our team, I think,” he said.

Joe Stiglich

  • marc


  • Harold

    I know people who bought “Sacramento” Raiders sweaters in 1989.

    … and didn’t Irwindale give Al Davis $10,000,000 to move to their fair city?

    I can’t wait till Lew Wolff sells the franchise and we can get back to the business of winning.

  • Joe Stiglich

    Wow, that reminds me … I bought an Irwindale Raiders hat as a little kid. I have no idea where I found it.

  • Stan

    Since Beane has decimated the team why not in the name of a new stadium disband the team of no stars for a year or two and rebuild a brand new park on the premises? Simple.
    And as John Fisher owns 90% of the A’s..Wolffs wishes are just smoke blowing. He’s old,making a fortune taking the heat for Fisher and not caring since he doesn’t give a fig for fans or baseball.

  • Chris

    You are all ridiculous. Beane and Wolff are trying to build a franchise that can consitantly win…which is not possible when you combine baseball’s current economic climate and the team’s future in Oakland. How could an owner spend money on a team when they have no ticket revenue, legitimate sponsorships or a favorable television contract? It’s a can’t win situation. Blaming Beane and ownership is naive and irresponsible. I believe they are doing the best they can with cards they were dealt.

  • We Oakland Athletics Fans have suffered long enough And paid for our sins ( whatever they were ) Wolfe And Fisher as an ownership Group can be best explained by my favorite song by the Temptations : Ball of Confusion ! Can you name me just one thing Lew wolfe has done for us other than Tarp the third Deck ? All they do is whine like little B es ! Trade aeay four starting pitchers, including Three all stars: and still dont have any power in our lineup , who’S THE CLEANUP HITTER, Then Wolfes little sob story about we cant do anything because we play at the Coliseum. Cheapskate Creeps This is the Forth Wealthy Ownership group in Baseball and they are Absoluty Useless !

  • Jan K Oski

    Well said, Chris, but, you’re trying to reason with the unreasonable me-me-me crowd of the bay area.

  • Stan

    Gee Chris- your theory just got blown out of the water as the A’s signed the Cuban guy for 36 million. You defenders of Beane and Wolff are going to have a hard time explaining that one.

    And Beane-who didnt go to fanfest- but is going to the Oscars because he says,to support Pitt…lol. What a egomaniac liar Beane is.

    As far as the A’s? we now have a team that hits a little better-maybe- on a team with no pitching.

    In 2006,Kawakami said he beleived in Beanes “plan”..in 2009 Slusser wrote Beane had a “plan”..and in 2012 Urban said the signing was part of Beanes “plan”. Anybody see a pattern?

  • TnSD11

    Yes, Stan, I do see a pattern.

    You need to get a better paying job that actually keeps you busy during the day.

    Maybe you should try the Giants out this year if you are so unsatisfied…

  • Stan

    And uh,what do you do besides read me? And I dont see anything in your post that says Im wrong do I? I get that all the time from corporate stooges like you.