OAKLAND (CBS SF & AP) — Real estate developer Lew Wolff, who has been the managing partner of the Oakland Athletics since 2015 and an owner since 2005, is selling the majority of his stake in the team and stepping down from his leadership role.
The Major League Baseball owners, meeting in Chicago, have approved the ownership transition, the team said in a press release.
Wolff joined the ownership group in 2005 and then bought the majority interest in the team along with John Fisher on April 1, 2015. He will sell his the majority of his stake in the team to Fisher and other minority owners. Fisher will assume the role of managing partner and run the team’s day-to-day operations.
“It’s been an honor serving as managing partner and I thank our fans, staff and players for the opportunity I’ve had to lead this great organization,” he said in the release. “John and I have talked at great length about the future of the club and I am ready to pass the reins to him.”
Fisher thanked Wolff for his years at the helm.
“I want to thank Lew for his leadership over the last 11 years,” Fisher said in the release. “His initiative and love of the game of baseball brought my family to the A’s and we would not be involved without him…It is a privilege for me to steward the A’s at this important moment for the franchise.”
Michael Crowley will also step down as the A’s president and transition to a role of senior advisor. Under Crowley and Executive VP Of Baseball Operations Billy Beane, the A’s made the playoffs eight times and set a Major League record by winning 20 games in a row in 2002.
Crowley will be replaced by Dave Kaval, who is also president of the San Jose Earthquake soccer team.
Wolff, will serve as the team’s chairman emeritus and retain a small ownership share, 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.
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.
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