OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Lew Wolff is selling all but a small stake in the Oakland Athletics and giving up his managing partner role, turning over leadership of the franchise to John Fisher as the club seeks a new ballpark location.
Wolff will become chairman emeritus and Fisher the managing partner. In addition, team President Michael Crowley is stepping away from day-to-day operations after nearly 20 years in the role but will advise the A’s ownership group. San Jose Earthquakes President Dave Kaval will fill Crowley’s position while also keeping his same position with the MLS team.
Baseball owners approved the leadership transition for Oakland during meetings Thursday in Chicago. Wolff and Fisher bought the A’s on April 1, 2005.
“I am pleased my dear friend of almost 25 years, John Fisher, will be even more involved,” Wolff wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “I will miss Mike Crowley, who has contributed so much to the A’s, and I welcome my ?somewhat newer friend, Dave Kaval, who will bring lots of talent and energy to the A’s. And, I will be able to watch games with a slight degree of less stress, not much but a little!”
Wolff had been committed to keeping the A’s in Oakland but previously wanted to move the team to San Jose and build an intimate new ballpark. Former Commissioner Bud Selig never ruled on whether the A’s can move into the San Francisco Giants’ cherished territory in technology-rich Silicon Valley. New Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month he would like to see the club stay put.
Manfred hinted at change when he spoke during the NL Division Series between the Cubs and Giants at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, saying more would be known about the A’s situation soon. Manfred noted that Fisher has become more heavily involved in the ballpark planning and has made multiple trips to New York to meet with Manfred and MLB.
In addition, Manfred said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told him the city is committed to keeping the A’s in town, and she would also like the NFL’s Raiders to stay.
“I want to thank Lew for his leadership over the last 11 years,” Fisher said. “His initiative and love of the game of baseball brought my family to the A’s, and we would not be involved without him. Lew has given the organization all of his energy and experience for the last 11 years and I look forward to a new chapter in our working relationship and friendship. It is a privilege for me to steward the A’s at this important moment for the franchise.”
The small-budget A’s won consecutive AL West titles in 2012 and ’13, losing in five games of the division series to the Detroit Tigers in both years. But they still consider a new ballpark the top priority to be a regular contender. Oakland’s payroll of $87 million, pending award bonuses and adjustments, is above only Tampa Bay and Milwaukee’s.
The run-down Coliseum, shared with the Raiders and the last venue with both Major League Baseball and football, had multiple sewage problems in 2013 that caused damage during games.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.