Freedman_jonah
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  • 08:56 PM ET  12.11
Had a brief chat this afternoon with Oakland A’s and San Jose Earthquakes co-owner Lew Wolff. The real-estate mogul doesn’t hold court with the press too often, but when he’s a guy who can shed light on the out-of-work all-time Home Run King (at right) and not two, but three new stadium projects currently in limbo, your ears tend to perk up. Among the nuggets I picked up:

Cisco Field is on track, but a ways out. The proposed $400 million privately funded new home for the A’s is moving ahead, but still has a ways to go. The plan for the high-tech but intimate 33,000-seat stadium now needs to jump through an environmental study, which might not be complete for another year. The complex is part of Wolff’s larger residential and commercial plan in Fremont, which is just over 20 miles south of Oakland’s McAfee Coliseum.

No comment on Bonds status. Wolff wouldn’t shed light on whether the A’s will take a flier on Barry Bonds, who won’t be facing any potential trial before or during the ’08 season. Even so, I’ve never known Wolff to ride a high horse of any kind, and if a deal makes financial sense over all else, he’d likely do it. That’s why I believe that, barring any revelation from the Mitchell Report, Wolff and A’s GM Billy Beane would take a chance on Bonds if he came a reduced rate. A one-year deal for $12 million tops isn’t much of a risk for a 43-year-old DH who had a .480 OBP this past season.

Soccer stadium on track, too. Barring a disagreement with the city of San Jose, the proposed new stadium for the expansion Earthquakes could be completed by 2011. Wolff and his team never considered combining his two teams into one massive stadium project because, as he says, “We’re done sharing,” which is something his baseball team has been doing with the Raiders for 12 years. “We want a configuration for baseball only and we want a certain intimacy and sound level for soccer.” Two stadiums may have higher operating costs, but you’d also have twice the potential revenue, too.

Moneyball is moving to Major League Soccer. Wolff says Beane is a big part of the management team for the expansion Earthquakes, though he isn’t involved in the day-to-day. But with MLS’ strict salary cap, Beane’s undervalued-players-at-low-costs philosophy will eventually be translated. As such, Wolff hinted the Quakes probably won't bring in a big European star in '08 under the so-called “Beckham Rule,” which would stretch the slim room under the cap.

Partnering with the 49ers. Discussions with the Bay Area’s other football team never went too far, Wolff says, though the management teams maintain friendly relations. Wolff isn’t getting involved in the 49ers’ struggling efforts to get a new stadium built in Santa Clara, though he could foresee sharing the new venue for larger-scale soccer games.

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