Lew Wolff, one of the nation's leading real estate developers and hotel magnates, enters his ninth season as Owner and Managing Partner of the Oakland Athletics.
Heading a limited partnership group that purchased the A's on April 1, 2005, Wolff wasted little time in emblazoning his stamp on one of baseball's most successful and storied franchises. The very next season, the A's made their fifth postseason appearance in seven years in 2006, advancing to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1992.
Since then, Wolff has worked tirelessly in exploring possible locations to build a much-needed new ballpark venue, as well as supporting GM Billy Beane's efforts in building a strong foundation for future championship teams through player development and acquisitions. Those efforts resulted in the team posting a 94-68 record in winning the AL West Division title last year.
Wolff's impact on the Bay Area sports landscape is not limited to baseball. In May of 2006, he reached an agreement with Major League Soccer in an attempt to bring professional soccer back to the Bay Area. The expansion San Jose Earthquakes returned to action in 2008, playing their home games at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium. Wolff and the Earthquakes ownership group announced last October the development of an exclusive soccer stadium in San Jose, Calif., with ground being broken in a public ceremony.
Under Wolff's ownership, the A's continue to be one of the most community-minded organizations in all of sports. Last year alone, the A's Community Fund donated more than $600,000 to various community programs. 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. In 2006, the Wolff family, led by his daughter, Kari Wolff, implemented "Dinner on the Diamond," which has raised more than $500,000 for the A's Community Fund since its inception. Lew is also an active participant in the A's Home Run Readers program. Wolff individually, as well as the A's, are strong contributors to Stand Up to Cancer, a major charity of Major League Baseball.
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." The award is given to "a Silicon Valley leader who has displayed a lifetime of impeccable ethics, business achievement and community engagement."
Along the way, the personable Wolff has made a favorable impression among those who follow the team on a regular basis with his easy-going, straight-forward manner and quick-witted humor.
Wolff is the founder of Wolff Urban Development and co-founder of Maritz-Wolff, entities that are involved in the development, acquisition and management of a wide range of commercial, office, parking and hotel properties in a number of California cities including San Jose, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Burbank to name a few.
Wolff's ownership interests in representative hotels and resorts have included properties such as The Carlyle in New York City; Four Season Hotels in Houston; the Park Hyatt in Carlsbad; The Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis; Fairmont Hotels in San Jose and San Francisco; Rosewood managed hotels including The Mansion in Dallas, Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, Inn of the Anasazi, Sante Fe plus other brands such as Marriott. In addition, Maritz-Wolff had a 50 percent interest in the Dallas-based Rosewood Management Company, which owns and operates luxury hotels and resorts throughout the world.
Wolff began his career in real estate economics and appraisal in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo. before relocating to Los Angeles. In addition to his real estate analysis work, he also served as the President of the 20th Century Fox Realty & Development Company where he managed Fox's worldwide real estate activities.
Wolff is a former minority owner of the St. Louis Blues, the Golden State Warriors and the San Jose Missions, a now-defunct minor league baseball team. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a master's degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis and is also a member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers (MAI).
In 2009, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the new MLB Television Network, which launched in January 2009 with an unprecedented 50 million subscribers, and he continues to serve on the board of Major League Baseball's Enterprises, which oversees national television and radio contract negotiations, national sponsorship and licensing programs as well as the overall marketing of the industry. Wolff is a director of the NYSE Company, Sunstone REIT and a member of the Board of Directors of Century Bank, Los Angeles.
Lew resides in the Westwood section of Los Angeles with his wife, Jean. The Wolffs have three children and four grandchildren.