Oakland city officials remain unimpressed with the progress Athletics owner John Fisher has made to move the team to Las Vegas.
“To see this blow up in Oakland for really no reason and then to hear how little they have in Vegas is mind-blowing,” Leigh Hanson, Oakland mayor Sheng Thao’s chief of staff, said in an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Tim Keown. “When they said they had a signed deal, a binding deal, I thought, ‘Holy (expletive), they’ve been playing us all along.’ But then to see this nine-acre parking lot … what? You walked away from us for that? Not to be a jilted lover, but God is she ugly.”
The A’s plan to construct a $1.5 billion stadium on at least 9 acres of the 35-acre Tropicana site.
The A’s have purchased land and secured public funding from the state of Nevada for a new baseball stadium along the Strip, projected to open in 2028. MLB owners reportedly will vote on the relocation in mid-November, and the team will need 75 percent of team owners to vote in favor of the move.
Where the team will play while their potential new ballpark is being built also remains in question, although there have been rumors about possible temporary housing locations, including the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s time at the Coliseum expires in December 2024, and extending the lease requires the A’s to reach out to the city, something Thao said has yet to happen.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the plan they proposed was half-baked,” Thao said. “That’s been their track record: half-baked plans.”
In a recent interview with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred seemed to place blame for the A’s potential departure from Oakland on Thao.
“I know everyone wants to pile on the A’s and pile on MLB,” Manfred said. “But I do think, in fairness, people have to look at what Mayor Thao has done and not done. She’s great on ‘MLB did this wrong’ and ‘John Fisher did that wrong.’ Did she really handle this well? Don’t think so.”
Manfred told Shea he thought Thao should shoulder some of the blame for Oakland losing yet another storied sports franchise after the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors left before her election.
“I understand that this is a rough time for Mayor Thao,” Manfred told Shea. “It looks like she’s going to lose yet another franchise from the Bay Area. That’s unfortunate. That’s a tough spot to be in. But I think we’ve kind of gotten to the point where we need to point out that she’s not telling people the truth.”
In response, Hanson told Shea: “The mayor has been consistent in her commitment to keep the A’s in Oakland — for the generations of fans who continue to support them and for future generations to carry on the legacy of A’s baseball in our city. We will leave it to the fans to decide who’s telling the truth, Mayor Thao or Manfred. At this point, their reputations speak for themselves.”