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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 10% share in the Oakland Athletics to John J. Fisher, 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.
Lewis N. Wolff
|Born||1935 (age 84–85)|
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin (B.A.)|
Washington University in St. Louis (M.B.A.)
|Known for||Former owner and current chairman emeritus for the Oakland Athletics Owner of the San Jose Earthquakes|
Early life and educationEdit
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. and US Senator Herb Kohl. 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. 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.
- "Lewis Wolff - Forbes". forbes.com. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Ozanian, Mike (November 18, 2016). "Fisher Family Buys Remaining Stake Of Oakland Athletics From Wolff". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
- "Oakland A's". LEW WOLFF. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
- Bloomberg: "Oakland A's Owner Wolff Seeks $1.8 Billion From Hotels as Sales Considered" By Nadja Brandt Apr 6, 2011
- 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
- Tyler Kepner (September 22, 2012). "Relocation of A's Has All the Plans but No Permit". The New York Times.
- MLB.com: "Lewis Wolff - Owner and Managing Partner retrieved March 26, 2013
- "Corporate profile: History". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- "Portfolio". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- "Executive profile: Lewis N. Wolff". Maritz, Wolff & Co. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- Bloomberg: "Why The Oakland A’s Don’t Belong in Oakland" By Jonathan Mahler Oct 9, 2012
- "Lewis Wolff". Oakland Athletics. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- Michelle Smith (May 25, 2006). "A's gain rights to revive Quakes". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on June 12, 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- "Earthquakes return to San Jose in 2008". USA Today. 2007-07-18. Retrieved 2007-09-22.
- "Executive Bio". Oakland Athletics. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- Gammon, Robert (May 8, 2012). "Lew Wolff and John Fisher Should Sell the A's". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- Houser, Nick. "Oakland Athletics: Should Owner Lew Wolff Remove 3rd-Deck Tarps for Playoffs?". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
- "A's co-owner Wolff not interested in sharing Coliseum site with Raiders". www.mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- "A's lease settled after Lew Wolff accepts Oakland's changes". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- "A's upgrading Coliseum with new video boards". Sporting News. Retrieved 2016-02-03.