Lewis Wolff

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For the Wisconsin politician, see Louis Wolf.
Lewis N. Wolff
Born 1935 (age 79–80)
St. Louis
Residence Westwood, Los Angeles
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Alma mater University of Wisconsin (B.A.)
Washington University in St. Louis (M.B.A.)
Occupation investor
Known for co-owner of the Oakland Athletics and San Jose Earthquakes
Spouse(s) Jean Wolff
Children three

Lewis N. Wolff (born 1935) is an American real estate developer. Wolff is also known for owning sports franchises; he is currently the co-owner of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball and the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer as well as co-chairman of the board of Sunstone Investors, Inc. since October 2004.[1] Wolff is credited with the redevelopment and revitalization of downtown San Jose, where for many years he was the largest developer of office, hotel, and parking. He has led an ongoing effort to relocate the Oakland Athletics to San Jose, which has been met with criticism.

Early life and education[edit]

Lewis "Lew" Wolff was born in 1935[2] to a Jewish family[3] in St. Louis and raised in the middle-class suburb of University City, Missouri[4] Wolff graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison[4] where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity [5] and a fraternity brother of former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.[6] In 1961, he earned a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.[4][7]


In 1958, Wolff took a job as a real estate appraiser in St. Louis.[4] In 1961, his company sent him to Los Angeles to open a regional office[4] and in 1963, he co-founded a real estate consulting firm.[4] In the 1960s, he was very successful developing the booming San Diego market and earned a solid reputation in the industry.[4] In the 1970s, he accepted a position with 20th Century Fox tasked with managing its worldwide real estate investments.[4] Wolff's approach - which he would successfully apply throughout his career - was to find partners who would contribute most of the money but allow Wolff to manage the investment.[4]

In 1994, Wolff founded Maritz, Wolff & Co with Philip Maritz in St. Louis, Missouri.[8] The company owned interest in eighteen hotel and resort properties around the world, including the Fairmont San Jose Hotel, the Fairmont San Francisco, the Carlyle Hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Nevis, the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, and the Park Hyatt Sydney.[2][9] In 2011 Wolff and his partner, Philip Maritz, orchestrated the $800 million sale of five hotels, including The Carlyle and the Rosewood Management Company to New World, a Hong Kong-based real estate and hotel company.

Wolff has a long history of sports franchise ownership. In the past, he has been a co-owner of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.[10] On April 1, 2005, Wolff and an ownership group including The Gap heir, John J. Fisher - who put up most of the money - purchased the Oakland Athletics baseball team for $180 million from Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann.[2][11][12] In 2006, the A's ownership group purchased an option to revive the San Jose Earthquakes franchise of Major League Soccer.[13] At the 2007 MLS All Star Game, it was announced that Wolff has exercised the option, and the Earthquakes began play during the 2008 MLS season.[14] In January 2011, it was speculated that he had interest in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers, but later denied this.[15]


Wolff has become unpopular with many fans for his efforts to move the A's out of Oakland. His initial attempts to relocate took place in 2006 when he sought to move the team to Fremont. After Fremont fell through, Wolff began advocating a move to a new ballpark in San Jose. However, the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to San Jose, and the two teams appear to be at an impasse. Meanwhile, Wolff has been criticized for enjoying the team's profits and rising market value, even as its fan base becomes increasingly frustrated.[16] Wolff's public denigration of Oakland as a viable market has caused strife between the ownership and the local community, resulting in calls for Wolff to sell the team.[17] One sportswriter called him "the most hated man in Oakland."[18] Further criticism of Lew Wolff's desire to transplant the team to the Giants' south bay territory results from the fact that Lew Wolff allegedly owns and manages properties near the "proposed" San Jose ballpark. [19] Another major criticism is the creation (of sorts) of a "baseball configuration" at the O.co Coliseum by covering almost all of the upper deck with a tarp, eliminating the use of the upper deck with the exception of the "Value Deck" sections, just behind home plate.

Personal life[edit]

Wolff is married to Jean Wolff and has three children and four grandchildren. They live in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.[7]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Lewis Wolff - Forbes". forbes.com. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Bloomberg: "Oakland A's Owner Wolff Seeks $1.8 Billion From Hotels as Sales Considered" By Nadja Brandt Apr 6, 2011
  3. ^ JWeekly: "Oakland A’s Ready for Their First Jewish Heritage Game" by Andy Altman-Ohr May 11. 2012
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i San Francisco Gate: "A's NEW ERA / LEWIS WOLFF / A fan since childhood finally gets to own a team" by John Shea March 31, 2005
  5. ^ 2011 Pi Lambda Phi Membership Guide
  6. ^ Tyler Kepner (September 22, 2012). "Relocation of A’s Has All the Plans but No Permit". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b MLB.com: "Lewis Wolff - Owner and Managing Partner retrieved March 26, 2013
  8. ^ "Corporate profile: History". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  9. ^ "Portfolio". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  10. ^ "Executive profile: Lewis N. Wolff". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  11. ^ Bloomberg: "Why The Oakland A’s Don’t Belong in Oakland" By Jonathan Mahler Oct 9, 2012
  12. ^ "Lewis Wolff". Oakland Athletics. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  13. ^ Michelle Smith (May 25, 2006). "A's gain rights to revive Quakes". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  14. ^ "Earthquakes return to San Jose in 2008". USA Today. 2007-07-18. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  15. ^ "A's co-owner Lew Wolff denies interest in buying Dodgers - San Jose Mercury News". mercurynews.com. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  16. ^ Ostler, Scott (May 6, 2012). "A's ownership's rewards for doing nothing". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  17. ^ Gammon, Robert (May 8, 2012). "Lew Wolff and John Fisher Should Sell the A’s". East Bay Express. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 
  18. ^ Saracevic, Al (May 20, 2012). "A's owner Lew Wolff is losing the waiting game". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Executive Staff Page". San Jose Earthquakes Lew Wolff Profile. October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.