OAKLAND -- While negotiations to keep the A's in Oakland for another five years are expected to be fierce, they might not match the intensity of a dispute this week between top city officials and team owner Lew Wolff.
Wolff was furious to learn that City Administrator Deanna Santana mistakenly accused him of releasing a letter stating his desire for a short-term lease extension at the Coliseum complex to "the newspaper" but not to the city, county or coliseum authority officials.
"(It) is very sad when someone is devoted to harm someone else's reputation," Wolff said in an all-caps email after being told of Santana's claim.
He then fired off an all-caps email to Santana's top deputy and stadium point person, Fred Blackwell, stating,"I am surprised that you sought to discredit me."
In a letter to Wolff released late Wednesday, Santana apologized for the mistake, calling it "a human error."
The A's owner is reviled among Oakland sports fans for seeking to move the team to San Jose, where there is a bigger corporate base, and refusing to reconsider Oakland stadium sites including at the Coliseum complex and the Port of Oakland.
But Wolff has little choice but to keep the team in Oakland for now because Major League Baseball has so far refused to grant the A's permission to move to San Jose, which it views as San Francisco Giants territory.
Wolff admitted as much in the Dec. 21 letter announcing his desire for a five-year lease extension in Oakland.
At a Monday evening gathering of Oakland sports boosters, Santana, with Blackwell by her side, said Wolff never sent that letter to Oakland leaders, who only learned about it through the press.
"It's just some of the game-playing that we struggle with without (the A's) being at the table in good faith in order to have discussions around these negotiations when the media is fed a different impression," she said.
Wolff moved quickly Tuesday to challenge Santana's statement. He released a Jan. 2 letter from Mayor Jean Quan to A's President Mike Crowley acknowledging Wolff's letter.
Wolff also released the Dec. 21 email distribution list for letter that included city council members, county supervisors, A's General Manager Billy Beane, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, as well as Santana, Blackwell and Quan.
Several city and county officials on Wednesday acknowledged receiving the emailed letter, including Blackwell after he was pressed by Wolff.
"You should know that I was not seeking to discredit you and was genuinely frustrated that the letter would be sent to the press without being sent to us, but I stand corrected," Blackwell wrote to the A's owner. "I am still disappointed that our efforts to meet with the A's to talk about a new site were rebuffed and stand ready to have that conversation."
Santana said she was on a holiday furlough when the email was sent. "In the fervor of year-end business and the holidays, I simply missed it and read about it in the media," she said.
City and county officials didn't expect Santana's misstatement to affect negotiations. "It's truly an unfortunate mistake, and I hope we can all get beyond it," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who also sits on the joint city/county authority that manages the Coliseum complex.
The A's are expected to pay $800,000 in rent this season, the last of their lease, and negotiations are expected to be grueling.
At Monday's gathering, city officials said they were seeking about $3 million in concessions from the team, including a demand that it turn over more parking tax proceeds collected during game days and share more game day revenue with the Raiders.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.