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|Lewis N. Wolff|
|Born||1935 (age 82–83)
|Residence||Westwood, Los Angeles|
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin (B.A.)
Washington University in St. Louis (M.B.A.)
Former owner and current chairman emeritus for the Oakland AthleticsOwner of the San Jose Earthquakes
Lewis N. Wolff (born December 13, 1935) is an American real estate developer. Wolff has been co-chairman of the board of Sunstone Investors, Inc. since October 2004. Wolff is also recognized for owning sports franchises, serving currently as the co-owner of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. He was most well known for his ownership of the Oakland Athletics. However, in November 2016, Wolff sold his share in the Oakland Athletics, and currently serves as the team's chairman emeritus. Wolff is credited with the redevelopment and revitalization of downtown San Jose, where he was the largest developer of offices, hotels, and parking for many years.
Early life and education
Lewis "Lew" Wolff was born on December 13, 1935 to a Jewish family in St. Louis and was raised in the middle-class suburbs of University City, Missouri. Wolff graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, and a fraternity brother of former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. In 1961, he earned a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
In 1958, Wolff took a job as a real estate appraiser in St. Louis. In 1961, his company sent him to Los Angeles to open a regional office and in 1963, he co-founded a real estate consulting firm. In the 1960s, he was very successful developing the booming San Diego market and earned a solid reputation in the industry. In the 1970s, he accepted a position with 20th Century Fox tasked with managing its worldwide real estate investments. Wolff's approach - which he would successfully apply throughout his career - was to find partners willing to fund the majority of the investment and take a more passive role, which would allow Wolff to directly manage the investment himself.
In 1994, Wolff founded Maritz, Wolff & Co with Philip Maritz in St. Louis, Missouri. 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. 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. On April 1, 2005, Wolff and an ownership group led by The Gap heir, John J. Fisher, purchased the Oakland Athletics baseball team for $180 million from Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann. Wolff's investment gave him a 10% ownership interest. In 2006, the A's ownership group purchased an option to revive the San Jose Earthquakes franchise of Major League Soccer. At the 2007 MLS All Star Game, it was announced that Wolff had exercised the option, and the Earthquakes began play during the 2008 MLS season.
Under Wolff's ownership, the Oakland Athletics were community-minded. In 2011, Sony Pictures complied with Wolff's wishes in staging the motion picture premiere 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.
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."
Wolff had 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 appeared to be at an impasse. In the past, some fans have called for Wolff to sell the team. One sportswriter called him "the most hated man in Oakland." He was also criticized for covering almost all of the upper deck of Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum with a tarp, eliminating the use of the upper deck with the exception of the "Value Deck" sections, just behind home plate.
Wolff has been quoted 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." In 2014, the A's signed a 10-year lease to stay in the O.co Coliseum. Shortly thereafter, the A's invested $10 million in new video boards at the Coliseum as part of the lease agreement.
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- JWeekly: "Oakland A’s Ready for Their First Jewish Heritage Game" by Andy Altman-Ohr May 11. 2012
- 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
- 2011 Pi Lambda Phi Membership Guide
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- MLB.com: "Lewis Wolff - Owner and Managing Partner retrieved March 26, 2013
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- Bloomberg: "Why The Oakland A’s Don’t Belong in Oakland" By Jonathan Mahler Oct 9, 2012
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- "A's co-owner Wolff not interested in sharing Coliseum site with Raiders". www.mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
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