A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told ESPN on Thursday that the city was close to meeting its financial commitment to build a new stadium for the A’s in Oakland when A’s owner John Fisher announced he was moving the franchise to Las Vegas.
Fisher, in an interview in the Review-Journal on Wednesday, attributed the decision to move the franchise to Las Vegas to a number of factors — primarily, the inability of the city of Oakland to make good on its promise to provide public funding for the offsite infrastructure at Howard Terminal, a $12 billion, 55-acre waterfront ballpark/real estate project.
The spokesperson said the city had raised $475 million and was just $101 million short of reaching the $576 million needed to complete the deal. In addition, two grants totaling an additional $65 million were due to pay out in the next month, bringing the city to within $36 million of its share.
The mayor’s office did not respond to requests from the Review-Journal for comment.
“We did not have a deal in place,” Fisher said of his negotiations with Oakland. “In fact, the Oakland City Council had approved a nonbinding agreement in July of 2021 that … the A’s would pay for all the onsite infrastructure costs plus the stadium itself.
“On the day we made our announcement that we were going to focus our efforts on Las Vegas, we still did not have an agreement consistent with what the City Council had voted on two years before. Oakland did not have the money and did not raise the money to cover all of the offsite infrastructure. It was a key element of the deal that they had agreed to, that they could no longer meet.”
Fisher also said the A’s were under extreme pressure to get a deal done. “In the last collective bargaining agreement between baseball and the players union, the agreement was that the Oakland A’s had to have a binding agreement on a new stadium by January 15 of 2024 or we would lose our revenue sharing. Which is something that would have a devastating impact on the team.”
The A’s lease on the Oakland Coliseum, the team’s home since 1968, expires after next season, and the Las Vegas stadium will not open until 2028 at the earliest.