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‘Something has to happen’: MLB commish not optimistic about A’s staying in Oakland

Updated October 31, 2022 - 10:23 am

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he believes the Oakland Athletics’ chances of staying in the Bay Area are fading, which increases the chances for Las Vegas to land the team via relocation.

Talking to sports talk show host Chris Russo on Saturday on Sirius XM radio, Manfred said he is no longer optimistic about the A’s staying in Oakland, despite the work carried out to try to make the $12 billion Howard Terminal project that includes a new baseball stadium in the Bay Area a reality.

“I think the mayor in Oakland has made a huge effort to try to get it done in Oakland. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” Manfred said. “I think the A’s have proceeded prudently in terms of exploring the Las Vegas alternative, given the lack of pace in Oakland. I think they have to look for an alternative.”

Manfred said if the A’s leave Oakland it would occur within five years.

“Something has to happen,” Manfred said. “We can’t go five more years in the Coliseum. … Given the lack of pace in Oakland, the lack of certainty, they have to be looking at Las Vegas. They need an alternative because they can’t continue to play in the facility they’re in.”

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires at the end of the 2024 season.

The A’s and Manfred weren’t available for further comment.

The A’s have been researching a potential relocation to Las Vegas for the better part of the last 17 months. Team owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval are among the A’s brass who have met with various politicians, casino owners and other key players in Las Vegas during that time.

After missing a key deadline to get a deal done this year in the Bay Area, time might be up for the A’s and Oakland officials to get to a binding agreement. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is termed out after this year, and the Oakland City Council is set to see a shakeup following next month’s elections.

Despite Manfred’s lack of of optimism in the Oakland process, Schaaf said she assured him a deal would get done, with or without her in office.

“I spoke with him today and assured him that I remain absolutely confident our deal in Oakland will get done next year even with new leadership in place,” Schaaf said in a statement to the Review-Journal. “The A’s are continuing to invest tremendous resources into an Oakland deal. We are working together every day to realize our shared vision for a vibrant waterfront neighborhood with public parks, good jobs, affordable housing and an iconic home for our Oakland A’s.”

Despite Schaaf’s optimism, the Howard Terminal talks will all but have to start anew in 2023 with Oakland city officials once the outcome of the upcoming election determines who those officials will be. That is something Kaval noted this summer could “doom” the A’s efforts to get a new stadium in Oakland.

The team has whittled down a potential Southern Nevada site list from more than 20 to just two. The A’s are down to the Tropicana hotel site and the Las Vegas Festival Grounds as their remaining options for the construction of a 35,000-seat domed stadium.

A source with knowledge of the Las Vegas dealings said, “Vegas has a real opportunity if they step up before potential other markets are introduced.”

For a move to Las Vegas to occur, Nevada officials would have to offer some form of public funding, the source indicated. That wouldn’t necessarily have to be a new room tax like the Raiders received, but there would have to be some sort of assistance to construct a potential $1 billion ballpark in Southern Nevada.

The source didn’t indicate what other cities could enter the competition for the Athletics.

The majority of elected officials in Nevada and the Clark County area have been reluctant to offer much in the way of public assistance to draw the A’s to the area.

Gov. Steve Sisolak wasn’t available for comment.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, did say there is a potential for some form of public assistance outside of a room tax, mainly tied to the potential of revenue generated by a tax district if the stadium is built in the resort corridor.

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

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