Changes are afoot within the Oakland Athletics, but the big one — when they’ll get a new stadium and whether it will indeed be in Oakland — is still yet to get decided.
The A’s on Thursday announced that managing partner/owner Lew Wolff was stepping down from his post after 11 years. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Wolff would also be “selling most of his stake in the club” to others in the Athletics’ ownership group. Josh Fisher, the team’s majority stakeholder, will take over as managing partner.
As part of the shake-up, team president Michael Crowley will become senior advisor to the ownership group and Dave Kaval, who is the current president of the San Jose Earthquakes MLS team, was hired as president.
In a letter to fans, the A’s emphasized that they “want to bring more championships to Oakland.” Notice they said Oakland and not to A’s fans. In his role as managing partner, Wolff had tried to move the A’s to other cities within the Bay Area — Fremont and San Jose being two of them. In talking about the hiring of Kaval, the team’s letter to fans talked about his role in helping the Quakes open a $100M privately financed stadium.
From the A’s letter:
We want to bring more championships to Oakland and we are actively working to accomplish this goal. We know in order to compete at the top level we need top facilities and that is our focus. Our future new ballpark in Oakland must provide a world-class fan experience while strengthening our franchise for the long-term.
Last month, The Chronicle reported that the A’s ownership group might change amid fears that it could lose millions of revenue-sharing dollars annually in the new collective bargaining agreement. Wolff told Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area that he’d been working on selling some of his shares and taking on a new role “for more than a year.” In the new plan, Wolff will be the team’s chairman emeritus.
The change at the top could have big implications on where in Oakland the A’s decide to build a new stadium. From The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser:
Fisher was a silent partner up until this year, when he began to take on a more visible role with the team’s stadium search. He is believed to be more enthusiastic about the proposed Howard Terminal site than Wolff is; Wolff has been a proponent of building at the Coliseum site once the Raiders’ situation becomes clear.
Nonetheless, Wolff stepping away is a reason for some A’s fans to celebrate. They’ve campaigned in recent years, asking him to sell the team — either because of complaints about wanting to move the team out of the Oakland or because of its small payroll.
The news that Wolff’s role was changing obviously spread around Oakland pretty quickly.
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