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A’s officially drop Fremont ballpark plans; Wolff says there’s no backup plan

The Oakland A’s officially announced plans for a new ballpark in Fremont are dead, and co-owner Lew Wolff says the team has no back-up plans.
The Oakland A’s officially announced plans for a new ballpark in Fremont are dead, and co-owner Lew Wolff says the team has no back-up plans.

"At this time we have decided to no longer pursue the Fremont project," A’s spokesman Bob Rose told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We are regrouping and will have discussions internally about our future options."

This isn’t a surprise: last week we reported on the team’s decision to suspend work on a new Fremont ballpark, and the only logical place the team could go would be toward moving completely away from the municipality. (In fact, we’re a little surprise a statement by the A’s made news: Wolff said last week already that both sites in Fremont under consideration were dead.)

So with Fremont out of the running for a new ballpark, Wolff has a wider variety of options. The team will stay in the Oakland Coliseum for now. But past that, we’ve been told there are two serious options already being discussed (no matter what Wolff tells the press): go back to Oakland officials for a reconsideration of a site there, or explore a new downtown San Jose ballpark.

Staying in Oakland has some appeal. The team has a highly loyal fan base there, and some of the proposals set forth by city leaders in the past could be resurrected, including a new ballpark at the current Coliseum site. Keeping all three sports teams at the same complex, with its easy freeway access and BART station, makes sense for Oakland officials, and at the same time it allows them to address the future of the Oakland Raiders, who also want a new stadium.

But Wolff has never shown much interest in staying in Oakland, which is why we think he’ll make the move toward discussions with San Jose officials about a downtown ballpark on a 14-acre site mostly controlled by the city. Wolff knows downtown San Jose — one of his developments is the high-end Fairmont Hotel there — and he has other sporting interests in the city, including MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose is seen by many as a very desirable market, but it’s controlled by the San Francisco Giants as part of their territory. But it’s not absolute, and a letter from Bud Selig last fall was widely seen as giving Wolff permission to look at any locale, including one controlled by the Giants. Now, the Giants will need to be paid for their inconvenience, but we’re guessing Selig and Bob DuPuy can broken an agreement if need be.

RELATED STORIES: A’s suspend Fremont plans; will reevaluate future home for club; A’s: No new ballpark until 2014; Wolff: A’s still committed to Fremont ballpark; A’s cancel community meetings as opposition to new ballpark plan accelerates; New A’s ballpark opposed by hundreds of protesters; Oakland admits original plans for Cisco Field are all but dead