A’s Owner Hints At Downtown Ballpark in Oakland

A’s co-owner Lew Wolff

OAKLAND | Was A’s co-owner Lew Wolff being positively flippant today about a downtown ballpark for the team in Oakland or is the recent spate of trash talk against the aging Coliseum a new strategy to pressure Oakland and Alameda County officials to help fund a new venue potentially near Jack London Square?

Wolff’s comments to reporters today is the first time the disliked owner has hinted at being amendable to staying in Oakland over a clear intent to move the team to San Jose. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Wolff said a downtown ballpark in either Oakland or San Jose, “is the key to unlocking the fan base.”

While speaking to reporters before Wednesday afternoon’s game in Oakland, Wolff added, “Look at a beautiful day like today,” he said. “Downtowns are where the transportation hubs are. People can walk over.”

“If we were in a downtown, like most stadiums are now, there’s a chance that people would be around and come out. I doubt very much that a lawyer in downtown Oakland is going to go down the elevator (from his office), get his car and drive to the park.”

Later, according to a tweet by San Francisco Chronicle reporter John Shea, Wolff told the paper he has no intention of revisiting a plan to build a ballpark in downtown Oakland.

The comments, though, represent a major thawing of Wolff’s consistent claims no suitable location exists for a new ballpark in Oakland. In recent months, the city of San Jose sued Major League Baseball in an effort to force the commissioner’s office to allow the team to move to the South Bay. Most observers view San Jose’s legal action as an ill-fated, last-ditch effort by city officials to lure the A’s. Meanwhile, a waterfront home for the team in Oakland adjacent to Jack London Square at Howard Terminal has emerged as an attractive potential site.

In addition, Wolff’s recent comments over low attendance despite the team being on the cusp of another division title and the decrepit state of the Coliseum may not be a signal of his desire to move to San Jose, but instead an admission the team’s relocation is no longer an option.

A former Alameda County officials told The Citizen Tuesday, an alternate theory is Wolff’s current posturing is a new strategy to instead begin the process of pressuring Oakland and Alameda County officials to help build a new ballpark in Oakland. On that front, the A’s would join the Raiders, who are also actively working with local officials for a replacement of the Coliseum at its current location.

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