Lewis Wolff

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For the Wisconsin politician, see Louis Wolf.
Lewis N. Wolff
Born 1935 (age 80–81)
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 owner and managing partner of the Oakland Athletics and owner of the 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.

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]

Career[edit]

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]

On-Field Success[edit]

Since purchasing the team in April of 2005, Wolff has seen the A's advance to the American League Championship Series in 2006 and earn three straight postseason appearances from 2012-14. Heading into the 2016 season, the A's have the fourth best record in the American League over the past four seasons (346-302).

Philanthropy[edit]

Under Wolff's ownership, the A's continue to be one of the most community-minded organizations in all of sports. In 2011, Sony Pictures complied with Wolff's wishes in staging the motion picture premier of Moneyball in Oakland, including a charity component that raised $370,000 for the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland and Stand Up To Cancer. Lew is also an active participant in the A's Home Run Readers program.[15]

The San Jose Mercury-News ranked Wolff first in its annual listing of the Bay Area's 25 Most Powerful Sports Figures in both 2006 and 2007. In September, 2008, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group also presented Wolff with its prestigious "Community Cornerstone Award," given to "a Silicon Valley leader who has displayed a lifetime of impeccable ethics, business achievement and community engagement."[16]

Criticism[edit]

Wolff has been actively pursuing a new stadium for the A's for a decade. 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. In the past, some fans have called for Wolff to sell the team.[17] One sportswriter called him "the most hated man in Oakland."[18] Another 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.

Current Stadium Efforts[edit]

Wolff has been quoted recently as saying the A's are "looking to stay in Oakland." In that same San Jose Mercury News article, he is quoted as saying "We have not been looking at venues in other places in the Bay Area," he said. "And we are not planning to look."[19] In 2014, the A's signed a 10-year lease to stay in the O.co Coliseum. [20] Shortly thereafter, the A's invested $10 million in new video boards at the Coliseum as part of the lease agreement.[21]

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]

References[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. ^ "Executive Bio". Oakland Athletics. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  16. ^ "Executive Bio". Oakland Athletics. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  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. ^ "A's co-owner Wolff not interested in sharing Coliseum site with Raiders". www.mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  20. ^ "A's lease settled after Lew Wolff accepts Oakland's changes". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  21. ^ "A's upgrading Coliseum with new video boards". Sporting News. Retrieved 2016-02-03.