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MLB commissioner says A’s need ballpark deal soon

Updated June 16, 2022 - 4:36 pm

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays need to reach new ballpark deals soon and left open the possibility of considering relocation if agreements are not struck.

The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968, and their lease expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have proposed a new ballpark at Howard Terminal and are working with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to gain the necessary approvals.

“There is really significant activity in Oakland. The political process has moved along significantly,” Manfred said Thursday during a news conference after an owners meeting. “I met with Mayor Schaaf last week. She has done a really good job at moving the process forward in Oakland.

“But as you all know, California political processes are their own sort of animal. There’s work to do on the Oakland side. I think the A’s prudently have continued to pursue the Las Vegas alternative. We like Las Vegas as a market. Again, it’s in the same category as Tampa. We need a solution in both those markets, and the time has come for that solution.”

Manfred gave the A’s permission to seek possible relocation in May 2021, with Las Vegas the only city the team has explored.

As the Howard Terminal situation plays out in Oakland, team officials have been making regular trips to Southern Nevada to research the area’s feasibility as an MLB city. Over the past year, the A’s have met with various state and local politicians, business leaders and tourism officials, getting a better understanding of where a potential $1 billion, at least 30,000-seat domed ballpark could be successful in the Las Vegas Valley.

After meetings with land owners in Henderson, Summerlin, downtown Las Vegas and the Resort Corridor, the A’s narrowed their vision, focusing on the Strip. The A’s are now down to two sites where they could build a stadium, with both sites located in the Resort Corridor, a source told the Review-Journal last month.

The two sites haven’t been publicly identified, but the Tropicana has been a hot topic in relation to the A’s Las Vegas happenings. Reports came out late last year that they put an offer on the land the Tropicana sits on. Then, in April the company that owns the Tropicana land revealed it had met with the A’s regarding a possible stadium deal.

After initial rumblings from area politicians that there was no appetite for possible public funding to go toward a potential A’s ballpark, that attitude shifted a bit last month. Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told the Review-Journal he had a discussion with A’s president Dave Kaval about how public assistance could come into play if the team ended up building a stadium in Southern Nevada.

“There’s a spectrum of possibilities for that partnership, and I think it’s worthwhile to explore some of them,” Hill said. “I think there’s a broad set of options that could be helpful in making this move forward.”

Hill said that adding a new room tax, similar to what the Raiders received to construct Alegiant Stadium, was not one of the options being considered.

Oakland has averaged a major league-low of 8,283 fans this season. The Rays are 25th at 13,740.

“There is urgency with respect to Tampa,” Manfred said. “There needs to be a resolution in the Tampa Bay region for the Rays.”

Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season. The Rays said in January that MLB had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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