That the A's would benefit from a new stadium is indisputable. O.co Coliseum is downright dowdy and, well past its 40th birthday, ancient by modern baseball standards.
As a baseball yard, O.co is a lot like Candlestick Park was at a similar stage -- well past its prime and ripe for replacement.
So my issue is not with the basic desire of co-owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff but with their consistently disingenuous, thus condescending, tactics.
When these men bought the A's in 2005, O.co was the ballpark they inherited. What they did with it was, to a point, up to them. And they demonstrated zero desire to commit to the area, much less make a genuine effort to engage the community.
The calculated way with which Wolff and Fisher have operated is an insult to the fan base that during the three seasons before their ownership cared enough about the A's to buy more than 6.5 million tickets.
Shortly after he and Fisher bought the team from Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann, Wolff was savvy enough to shake hands and slap backs among East Bay politicos. Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente raved about the positive vibe emanating from the new managing partner, so much more inviting than Schott had been.
Others also bought the Uncle Lew facade. Having met the man, I can say he has an easy way of exuding kind and gentle.
Fans, however, were
Wolff and Fisher were too dedicated to negativity to ponder what they might do to improve the place. Their attention was elsewhere, focused on moving to a more, um, "desirable" destination. Why waste time making friends in their new neighborhood?
Months after taking co-ownership, Wolff proposed a "ballpark village" on land north of the current site. That's rich. He realized such a project would require relocating 60 to 80 businesses. And, by the way, Wolff added that this village would require the creation of a new BART station, this one between the Coliseum and Fruitvale stations.
That was their pitch to Oakland. Judge for yourself the goodness of the faith within.
Meanwhile, Wolff made no such sweeping proposal about the land to the south, from the stadium perimeter through the parking lot and out to Hegenberger Road. There's a Denny's, not much else, other than plenty of space, mostly paved.
That site was being considered by the group that tried to buy the A's four years before Wolff first joined the organization in 2003 as an executive hired to find a suitable yard. The group was headed by supermarket magnate Bob Piccinini and longtime sports executive Andy Dolich, with such additional initial investors as Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer and Hall of Fame players Reggie Jackson and Joe Morgan.
If you ask Dolich today, 12 years after the group was rejected by Major League Baseball without logical explanation, he would say that site still has potential.
Wolff never mentions it. Why would he? He doesn't want it.
He never mentions Camp Parks in Dublin, another East Bay site that would seem worthy of consideration -- if they were serious about staying north of Fremont. All this site offers is two major highways, I-580 and I-680, nearby, BART being a 10-minute walk from the entrance and a favorable land deal.
The Raiders scouted Camp Parks during an open house a few years back but were rejected. When then-mayor Janet Lockhart visualized negotiations with Al Davis and imagined stereotypical Raiders fans in her city, she shook her head and closed the door.
The A's, had they tried, would have gotten a warmer reception. Still would. Last time I checked with Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, he said no one from the A's had inquired.
Because it's not the South Bay, where Wolff said -- in 1998 -- the team ought to be.
The tactics of Wolff and Fisher are in stark contrast to those of the folks who, in 1993, bought the San Francisco Giants. Led by Peter Magowan, the new group inherited Candlestick but knew it needed a new yard.
Magowan and Co. set out to win friends, hoping it would beget influence. They signed big-ticket free agent Barry Bonds. They promoted a popular coach, Dusty Baker, to manager. They painted the dump they had, scrubbing the bathrooms, installing new bleachers behind the fence in left field and putting smiles on the faces of the ushers.
It was a calculated plan to gain the support of the community. And it paid off. Citizens previously resistant to a new stadium were gently persuaded. A jewel was built.
Then again, the goal of this group was to seduce the community it inherited.
That never was the goal of Wolff and Fisher in Oakland, or else they would not have been insisting they wanted to make this relationship work while simultaneously winking and blowing kisses in another direction.
Contact Monte Poole at email@example.com.