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A’s early departure from Oakland would cost a pretty penny

If the Oakland Athletics decide to vacate the Bay Area before their proposed new stadium is ready in Las Vegas in 2028, they will have to pay a hefty price to do so.

The A’s lease at Oakland Coliseum runs out Dec. 31, 2024, but with the team exploring relocation to Las Vegas over the last two years, attendance at the aging facility has been the lowest in the MLB.

This has led the team to explore possibly playing at a temporary site before their potential official move to Las Vegas, which is slated to be at the start of the 2028 MLB season.

But despite the team’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum being up after next season, the team in 2019 entered into an agreement to purchase Alameda County’s share of the Coliseum Complex for $85 million, to be paid in installments over seven years. That complex includes the coliseum, adjoined Oakland Coliseum Arena, former home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and 120 acres of land.

The City of Oakland, which owns the other 50 percent of the complex, noted in a recent update on its website that if the A’s leave Oakland prior to 2026, the team would be required to pay any outstanding amounts owed to the county immediately. That amount sits at $45 million as of this year.

The A’s are contracted to pay the county $15 million each year between 2024 and 2026. Meaning if they left Oakland after next season, when their Coliseum lease ends, the team would still owe $30 million to Alameda County.

A’s President Dave Kaval has noted on several occasions that the team could share Las Vegas Ballpark with their Triple-A affiliate the Aviators as soon as the 2025 MLB season.

Sacramento’s mayor recently hinted in a radio interview that the city was also courting the team to play at its minor league ballpark in between the time that their lease runs out in Oakland and they open their planned Las Vegas ballpark.

That relocation to Las Vegas of course hinges on the team’s stadium funding bill, Senate Bill 509, being passed and signed into law. That legislation includes up to $380 million in public funding for the ballpark project.

The city of Oakland is also working with a group to potentially sell its 50 percent ownership stake of the complex for $115 million, the city noted. The African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) is looking to bring other pro sports teams to the complex, including a WNBA franchise. Any redevelopment tied to that deal would take cooperation between the city of Oakland and the A’s.

The A’s revealed plans for a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat partially retractable roof stadium last month, that would be constructed on land where the Tropicana currently sits.

If the remaining balance owed to Alameda County presents itself as too much of a burden to pay up front to leave Oakland before their new Las Vegas stadium is complete, the team would have to negotiate a new lease with the Coliseum Authority. The team is set to pay $1.25 million for the final year of its lease in 2024.

With both the city and the county having to approve a new lease and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao noting they believe the A’s dealings with them on a potential ballpark deal at Howard Terminal were in bad faith, that could prove difficult.

With the potential for higher attendance and increased ticket prices playing at a smaller, minor league ballpark, the A’s could bite the bullet and pay whatever is left on their deal with the county and look toward potentially greener pastures.

It’s unclear if the A’s would keep their 50 percent share of the complex or look to sell it to the city of Oakland, or AASEG.

Representatives of the A’s and Alameda County weren’t available Thursday for comment.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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