A’s owner Lew Wolff is widely considered by the fans as the most hated man in Oakland. He has tried to relocate the team to Fremont and with that project never coming to fruition has now made San Jose is destination of choice. He has almost single-handedly sabotaged the fan base and the community and the lack of support is unfortunately very real. Starting with the 2006 season when a proposed Fremont move was announced the team’s average attendance has been dismal. Ranks in order of average attendance according to ESPN.com (1 being the best 30 being the worst): 2006- 26th, 2007-26th, 2008-27th, 2009-30th, 2010-29th, 2011-30th, and finally 2012-28th. Twenty-eighth in average attendance for a team who A. Is in a playoff position currently and B. Is going to be playing games against the teams that are chasing them as well as the team they are chasing in their division is frankly pathetic. And who is the real winner out of all this? The team? Sure winning is good and to say that you were a part of a winner looks good in contract negotiations. The fans? Not even close. The real winner in all of this is…..Lew Wolff.
How does Lew Wolff win? Simple. The team is winning (and is in position to win as long as the young players continue to produce) and yet there’s only been a small bump in attendance. The fans, unknowingly, are playing to Wolff’s hand of proving the market in Oakland cannot sustain a baseball franchise. His thinking is probably going something like this, “We’re winning and yet they still don’t show. But they still want their team here in Oakland? San Jose cannot come soon enough.” Unfortunately this pattern of attendance could cause something equally as painful as the thought of the team leaving Oakland. Embarrassment.
Consider if the A’s make the playoffs this year as the number one wild card team (the position they currently hold). There is a real possibility the game would not be sold out. A nationally televised MLB playoff game with empty seats. Since it is the playoffs the game would still be shown even though it is not a sell-out. A 34,000 capacity stadium not able to sell out for a playoff game would be a national sports media field day. The A’s would never make it out alive from that one.
All of this is not to mention the conflict that would possibly occur later on in the playoffs when there could be an ALCS game and Raider game on the same day at the same venue. This conflict further shows the need for a new stadium. Whether it is for the Raiders and revamping the Coliseum for the A’s or vice versa.
Wolff is a retail developer who had a major part in developing downtown San Jose (Forbes has a profile on him). That could partly be the push for a new stadium there. While it would be nice to have a new stadium in a city that without a doubt can financially support a professional franchise (Sharks), the fans and San Francisco Giants will have a say on it.
To this point in the season, the winner has been Lew Wolff. The Team has exceeded all expectations, the players making the contributions are all under contract for next season and beyond, plus the fans do not show up supporting the case that Oakland can no longer handle a professional sports franchise. The only people that can prove that wrong are the fans. For the next few weeks come to as many games as possible A’s fans. Sell out against Baltimore, Texas, Seattle. Don’t be outnumbered. Be the majority. If you want your A’s in Oakland stick it to the man. He’ll listen.