Lew Wolff speaks at a press conference with Major League Baseball Commisioner Bud Selig announcing the building of a new ballpark in Fremont.
Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff today said the wait for Major League Baseball's decision on whether his team can move to San Jose, which may come any day now, has been "excruciating."
Wolff spoke about the possible move at a nearly hour-long interview with Santa Clara County assessor Larry Stone at the Rotary Summit Center this afternoon.
"It's excruciating," Wolff said of the nearly three-year wait for MLB's decision, but "I think we're getting there."
Wolff said that he and MLB commissioner Bud Selig talk constantly on many matters, but that he is being considerate and putting the league before his team.
He said that he could try to speed up the process by being a "belligerent owner," but acknowledged that, "It's not in me to do that."
Selig appointed a committee in March 2009 to determine whether to change the territorial rights in the county from the San Francisco Giants to he A's. The Giants hold territorial rights to the area and have their Class-A affiliate in San Jose.
After nearly three years, that decision may be announced soon. In January, Selig reportedly said the A's stadium issue is a priority for the league.
In November, San Jose sold the A's a two-year option for $50,000 to purchase nearly five acres of land in the city's downtown area near the HP Pavilion and Diridon Station. If, or when, MLB gives the A's approval, the team could purchase a total of 12 acres of land for $6.98 million.
Meanwhile, the city of San Jose has already completed an environmental impact review and is awaiting MLB's decision before placing a measure before voters to allow the site to be used for a ballpark. No public funds would be used to build the stadium, said Michelle McGurk, a spokeswoman for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
Wolff and his investment partners would privately fund the stadium, projected to cost about $500 million.
Bay City News
The stadium is estimated to create hundreds of construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs. It could generate up to $1.5 million annually for the general fund and another $1.5 million in annual tax revenue for the county's schools, officials said.
Wolff today said that if the A's move to San Jose, the team would change its name.
"The A's have been in a couple of other cities besides Oakland," he said. "And the San Jose Giants, if they want to stay here, that'd be fine.
If they want to move, then we'd have to pay them. So it's not an issue."
In response to those who have criticized him for not making an earnest effort to stay in Oakland, Wolff said that he spent years trying to identify sites for a new stadium in Oakland and Fremont, where he lost nearly $30 million on building purchases.
"I have a large book on every site," Wolff said. "You can't say that a ballpark should be some place by just drawing a big circle or square around a few blocks. All that effort we think we've done and we'd be happy to debate anybody that wants to."