Updated July 13, 2021 - 3:37 pm
With progress toward a new ballpark in the Bay Area hinging on a Oakland City Council vote next week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred upped the ante Tuesday, saying Las Vegas is a real option for the team’s future.
Speaking to reporters during a question and answer session with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in Denver, Manfred said that Las Vegas has a realistic shot at being the A’s next home, but noted other cities might come into the fray, as well.
“Look, Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a major league club,” Manfred said. “And there are other viable alternatives that I haven’t turned the A’s loose to even explore at this point. So, thinking about this as a bluff is a mistake. This is the decision point for Oakland as to whether they want to have Major League Baseball going forward.”
The A’s have been pushing for a new stadium in the Bay Area for several years and are pitching a waterfront ballpark with a surrounding development in Oakland. The Oakland City Council could give that project non-binding approval in a vote next Tuesday, but that would be just the first of multiple steps needed to make the proposed stadium a reality.
If the council accepts the term sheet, a second binding vote on the project is likely to occur in September.
Manfred said the process in Oakland is nearing the end of the line and a decision needs to be made on the proposed term sheet, or economic framework, for the project that the team presented the city earlier this year.
“Oakland’s process is at the end…that proposal is in front of the relevant governmental authorities. There are some really crucial votes that will take place over the next couple of months and that’s going to determine the fate of baseball in Oakland,” Manfred said. “So, we are going to know one way or another what’s going to happen with Oakland over the next couple of months.”
As it stands one week out from the vote on the A’s term sheet, the two sides are still far apart in negotiations on the proposed plan.
“There’s still a very big gap, over a half-a-billion dollar gap right now that we’re trying to work on,” A’s President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal Tuesday. “That’s a pretty big number and we remain working on that, but that’s a challenging piece to overcome between now and the 20th.”
Those financial discrepancies mainly fall on proposed community benefits and off-site infrastructure improvements, Kaval noted.
Even if there is a yes vote next week on the term sheet, Kaval said team officials would continue to explore Las Vegas and possible locations for a ballpark until they receive a final, binding yes vote later this year.
Kaval already plans to be back in Las Vegas the first two days following the vote, with a Southern Nevada trip planned for July 21-22.
While a no vote would end the process in Oakland next week, the final decision of where the A’s will play in the future likely will come about by the end of the year.
“So we’re going to know one way or another what’s going to happen in Oakland over the next couple of months,” Manfred said. “If you can’t get a ballpark, the relocation process, whether it’s Las Vegas or a broader array of cities, will take on more pace.”