Athletics Owner Lew Wolff Steps Down: Latest Details, Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 17, 2016

Apr 20, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff before the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics managing partner and co-owner Lew Wolff is stepping down. 

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Athletics primary owner John Fisher will be taking over Wolff's role.

Slusser also reported Wolff will be selling a majority of his stake in the Major League Baseball franchise to the other partners and will be named chairman emeritus. 

The A's officially announced the organizational shake-up Thursday. Dave Kaval moves into the role of team president, and Michael Crowley will transition into a senior adviser role. 

Kaval said the A's are committed to staying in Oakland, per John Hickey of Bay Area News Group. Kaval said the team is looking at several potential sites but likes the idea of a "ballpark village" concept, according to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area.

Wolff was part of a group that purchased the A's from Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann in 2005 for $180 million. The franchise has made four playoff appearances since that group took over; most recently, Oakland lost to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Wild Card Game in 2014. 

The A's organization, particularly Wolff, has drawn heavy criticism in recent years for a number of reasons, both on and off the field. 

In October 2015, Eno Sarris of ESPN.com wrote about some of the issues that have plagued the A's under their current ownership group:

Wolff has long refused to spend on the players or the stadium, which has led to situations like Scott Hatteberg at first base and sewage in the dugout. And fans are, quite frankly, tired of the concrete bunker that is the Coliseum -- ranked worst in all of sports in stadium quality and fan-friendliness. Local transportation problems have contributed, and the stadium doesn't sit in a part of Oakland that might attract foot traffic. 

The problems at the Oakland Coliseum have been well-documented, including several instances of flooding after heavy rains that have led to sewage seeping into the building. 

The A's haven't finished higher than 18th in payroll since 2000, per Cot's Baseball Contracts. They have made questionable trades, notably sending Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in November 2014 before he was eligible for arbitration when his salary would exceed the MLB minimum for the first time.

Wolff's decision to step down from a heavy hands-on role with the Athletics to a less prominent position gives the franchise an opportunity to move forward with greater success than they have had in recent years. 

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