Oakland Athletics managing partner Lew Wolff is stepping down from his public role and selling his interest in the team to the remaining partners.
Wolff will stay on with the team as chairman emeritus and maintain a small stake. He will be replaced as managing partner by John Fisher, the son of Gap Inc. founders Donald and Doris Fisher.
Wolff and Fisher have been business partners for more than 20 years and purchased the A’s in 2005. Together they also own the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer.
During their tenure, they have sought to move the team to other cities, including Fremont and San Jose.
At times Wolff, a prominent San Jose developer, had even threatened to move the team out of the Bay Area. The owners have continued to say that they are open to a ballpark in Oakland but in the last decade have made little progress on a new stadium.
If the team stayed in Oakland, Wolff has said he prefers to build a new stadium on the current Oakland Coliseum site, but that would complicate the arrangement with the Oakland Raiders, which share the stadium.
However, the Raiders may be approaching a deal to move out of the Bay Area after public funding was approved by the Nevada legislature for a move to Las Vegas.
Wolff has said that another proposed site in Oakland, at the vacated Howard Terminal near Jack London Square, isn’t feasible.
The leadership change was approved at a meeting of Major League Baseball owners in Chicago on Thursday morning.
“It has 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,” Wolff said in a statement. “John and I have talked in great length about the future of this club and I am ready to pass the reins to him.”
The A’s also announced that team president Michael Crowley is stepping down but will continue to serve as a senior advisor to the ownership group. He will be replaced by San Jose Earthquakes president Dave Kaval, who completed the privately financed Avaya Stadium in San Jose during his tenure.
“I am excited to take on the role of President of the Oakland Athletics,” Kaval said in a statement. “Given my longstanding love of baseball and my experience building Avaya Stadium, I am enthusiastic to join the Athletics as the Club pursues a world-class ballpark in Oakland for the best fans in baseball.”
The A’s have seen some success under Wolff and Fisher, reaching the playoffs four times, most recently in 2014. But in the last two years, the team has been mired in last place after trading much of their star talent away.MLB