PHOENIX -- The $180 million sale of the Oakland A's to a group headed by businessman Lewis Wolff was unanimously approved during a conference call among the 30 owners on Wednesday.The deal ends the nearly decade-long reign of Steve Schott and Ken Hoffman as the team's owners and is expected to close on Thursday with the signing of the final paperwork.
"Steve and Ken have been excellent club owners and they deserve a great amount of credit for leading the A's to three division championships and four trips to the playoffs over the last 10 years," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "At the same time I am looking forward to Lew's tenure as a club owner and I fully expect that he will play an important role in the continued growth of our game."
The A's play the three-game Bay Bridge Series against the Giants beginning on Thursday night in San Francisco before flying to Baltimore for their season opener on Monday."For the past three years, I've had the pleasure of being involved in one of the best-managed organizations in all of professional sports," said Wolff. "I consider it a great pleasure to have my name associated with a franchise that has such a rich and proud history as the Oakland Athletics. I am excited about our future and working to continue the A's tradition of excellence both on and off the field."
Hoffman will leave the group, but Schott intends to retain a limited partnership for at least the next three years. Wolff, as the managing general partner, will own only 10 percent of the team. The remainder will be held almost in total by John Fisher, the son of Gap founder Donald Fisher.The Fishers are worth about $1.5 billion, making them the third richest ownership in Major League Baseball. John Fisher had to divest himself of a less than 1 percent interest in the Giants as a condition of the A's purchase. Oakland is the 10th team to at least change principal owners since Feb. 15, 2002, when the Red Sox, Expos and Marlins all were sold on the same day. The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Brewers also have had ownership changes since early last year. Milwaukee, the last team to change hands, was bought by Mark L. Attanasio this past January. Wolff will be introduced to the media at a news conference on Friday at McAfee Coliseum.
The team's current vice president of venue development, Wolff exercised a 90-day window in his contract to purchase the team. His top goal will be finding the finances and site for a new stadium, preferably in Oakland. The team has played in what is now called the McAfee Coliseum south of downtown Oakland since it moved west from Kansas City in time for the 1968 season. The primary site for the new ballpark is in the stadium's parking lot.The Coliseum is the fourth-oldest stadium in the American League, although Yankee Stadium was torn down, refurbished and reopened in 1976, and Angel Stadium of Anaheim has gone through several permutations since the team moved there from Los Angeles in April 1966. Last season, Commissioner Bud Selig traveled to Oakland and at a press conference said that the stadium situation had to be resolved if the team was going to survive in the San Francisco Bay Area. But Selig reiterated last weekend that the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to Santa Clara County, which includes the city of San Jose, and that the A's will not be allowed to infringe on those rights.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.