Andy Dolich

8-6-18 - Andy
San Francisco Giants executive Pat Gallagher and the Oakland A's elephant
on one of my birthdays

Andy Dolich -- 2015
Andy Dolich
In Reflection,
the Oakland A's, 
Part IV

By Andy Dolich

Andy Dolich, a consummate and highly regarded Bay Area marketing executive, has served in administrative capacities for the Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, the San Francisco 49ers and other professional organizations. Dolich was the Oakland A's VP of business operations for 14 years and draws upon his personal experience to reflect on the team's history as the Athletics celebrate 50 years in Oakland. Below  is the third of his four part series. (Items
displayed in this article are from Andy's personal collection.)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Charlie O. Finley was a fantastic self-promoter and brought a number of breakthroughs to the National Pastime. Finley ruled with an iron hand and understood that sports was changing from a game to a mass entertainment event. He was always pushing the envelope:
*  He pushed for the Designated Hitter.
*  Midweek World Series games played at night.
*  Orange baseballs.
*  The 3-ball walk.
*  Ultra bright green and gold/yellow uniforms.
*  Harvey the Mechanical Rabbit which popped up near home plate when the ump needed more balls.
*  A marketing mule named Charlie-O.
*  Creating names of players: Blue Moon, Catfish, Captain Sal. He asked Vida Blue to legally change his first name to True. Vida said, "No, thanks."

Unfortunately he was a noted protector of the dollars and had one of the smallest front offices in baseball. In 1980 the A's payroll was a major league baseball low of 1.3 million dollars. His cousin, Carl Finley, essentially did the work of 30 people. There was no marketing, no advertising, and radio coverage was spotty at best.

How could Charles O. Finley, who was one of the most unabashed self-promoters in baseball history, do such a terrible job in marketing one of the greatest teams in baseball history with iconic stars. I wish I knew the answer. Was it commission or omission? We will never know.

8-6-18 - Andy
Left, 1988 American League Championship ring; center, 1989 World Series ring; 
right,  1990 American League Championship ring  

New Ballpark search sites under Schott/Hofmann and Fisher
2006 -- Fremont/Cisco Field: Political opposition sinks project
2009 -- Victory Court/Oakland: Never gains traction
Coliseum City/Floyd Kephart: Team didn't engage with the out-of-town developer
Diridon Station/San Jose: Major League Baseball upholds the San Francisco Giants' territorial rights, ending relocation efforts to San Jose
2017 -- A's chose Peralta College administrative office site with plan to open new ballpark by 2023. School officials turn down A's interest.
2018 -- Howard Terminal and Oakland Coliseum: The team has entered into exclusive negotiations with the Port of Oakland on the Howard Terminal site while also having an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city of Oakland for the Coliseum site. The team has stated it will choose a new ballpark location by the end of 2018.
2023 -- A's target date for the opening of a new ballpark in Oakland.

8-6-18 - Andy
Incorrect Loma Prieta Earthquake headline from the San Francisco Chronicle. Original seismograph from the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. Torn ticket from Game 3 of 1989 World Series.
8-6-18 - Andy
Mr. October and Mr. February

Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann
Developers Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann purchased the team from the Haases in January of 1995 for $85 million and agreed keep the team at the Oakland Coliseum for the next 10 years. The A's had been valued at up to $30 million more than the price the Haas family was asking. Schott was president and owner of Citation Homes of Santa Clara. He called the agreement to purchase the team a "historic moment in my life." Hofmann was chairman and chief executive of the Hofmann Company of Concord and a part-owner of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Schott and Hofmann, partners in the Athletics Investment Group, each owned 50 percent of the A's. Schott served as managing partner. In 1995 the Raiders moved back to the Coliseum and in 1996 Mt. Davis was completed, which the changed the venue forever, at least from a baseball perspective.

John J. Fisher and Lew Wolff
In March of 2005 Lew Wolff and John J. Fisher purchased the team from Schott and Hofmann for a reported $180 million dollars. Fisher held the majority share of 90% until buying Wolff out in November of 2016. They immediately went on record as wanting to build a new ballpark. There were a number of false alarms with the most serious being CISCO field in Fremont and moving the team to San Jose to play at Diridon Station, next to SAP Center.

If either of these two deals had happened Oakland and Alameda County would be looking at losing all three of their franchises when the Raiders take off for Las Vegas. No city in history or their elected officials have ever had that burden to carry on their record.

Under Fisher-Wolff ownership the A's have explored building a ballpark at Victory Court near Jack London Square, the Coliseum, Coliseum City, and the Peralta College offices.

From 2005 to 2016 Lew Wolff was the team's spokesperson and point man on new ballpark initiatives. Mike Crowley was the team president but kept a low public profile. Mr. Wolff was critical of Oakland's and Alameda county's lack of progress in coming to the table with a viable stadium plan for the A's.

8-6-18 - Andy
Dolich in front of his Sports Illustrated covers

On March 26 of this year A's team president Dave Kaval announced that the franchise made an offer of $135 million dollars to control 130 acres of land at the Coliseum, currently owned by the city of Oakland and Alameda County. The team would assume full control and ownership of the Coliseum sports complex and surrounding land, including Oracle Arena, in exchange for paying off the nearly $137 million debt owed by the city and county.

"We'd take on the entire debt, and the city and county wouldn't have to be burdened with those payments," Kaval told the San Francisco Chronicle. "That saves the general fund money that can go to homelessness or crime prevention or whatever else the city and county think make sense."

Look across the water to Mission Bay. If the East Bay elected officials take this deal, they would push the Lenni Lenape Indians, who sold Manhattan Island for $24 dollars to the Dutch, into second place as the worst real estate transaction in civilized history.

What about infrastructure costs, traffic remediation, residential and business relocations, environmental impact, hiring local trade unions, legal challenges, bureaucratic roadblocks? 

Will the A's organization be handling all these details and costs? If not, where is the additional investment coming from and how much will it be? Are they going to sell seat licenses to fans to help pay for the stadium?

Are they looking to partner with a DTBNL (Developer To Be Named Later)? How many hundreds of millions will the A's be looking for as part of their privately financed stadium?

The Oakland A's reportedly turn a yearly profit by pocketing $30 million dollars plus from fellow team owners. Isn't one of the key reasons you sped up the ballpark decision is that Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing is coming to an end? Their take will be diminished by 25 percent each year until it hits zero in 2020. The organization has repeatedly told fans that increased revenue from the new ballpark will create resources to compete with "higher-revenue teams." Their original investment to purchase the team for $180 million dollars in 2005 has appreciated to around one billion dollars today, according to Forbes.

Most fans understand your business strategy of making money as the team owner. What has me and fans of the team a bit perplexed is why do you own the team? You never talk to us or the media so we have no idea what your goals and objectives are. Teams in this market are aren't just built on bottom lines but through the heart and soul of their history and fan loyalty.

Mr. Fisher can only hope that the promise of a new Oakland ballpark becomes a reality that will restore the pride and performance in a franchise in Oakland which has won four World Series, participated in 14 playoffs, sent four players and a manager to Cooperstown and thrilled millions of fans who have been, are, and will continue to be Rooted In Oakland.

8-6-18 - Andy
Our identical twin daughters Caryn and Lindsey scoring after big brother Cory doubled to right field in the A's Family Day Game at the Coliseum, circa 1988

Andy Dolich has over five decades of leadership in the sports industry, including executive positions in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, pro soccer and lacrosse. Dolich teaches sports business at Stanford's School of Continuing Studies and is co-author of the new book:

3-6-17 - Pops

Michael King (left), with an associate from USF (center), and Karla Granadino-King, are pictured at the Olympic Club in San Francisco,  proudly sharing with the world their  Pops Premium Rumpopo. A King family secret, Pops Premium Rumpopo is a  delicious rum cream liqueur recipe brewed in the family tradition.  The award winning recipe is a Belizean family favorite and now available at all Total Wine & More stores in California and Bay Area retailers.
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Pops - Original
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