Pump the brakes on that season-ticket drive for Major League Baseball arriving in Las Vegas.
Oakland just threw a mighty big wrench into things. For now, in some small away, it called the A’s bluff.
It seems some officials in the Bay Area aren’t ready to lose their team to Southern Nevada. If that’s what the franchise ever really wanted. Maybe it did. Might not matter now.
The city’s planning commission on Wednesday unanimously approved an environmental impact report that moved the team one bases-loaded double closer to raising a $12 billion waterfront mixed-use development project at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal. It would include a $1 billion ballpark.
The Oakland City Council still needs to certify the report, which is excepted to occur next month. This is the critical vote. This one could mean everything.
Schools of thought
An agreement still would have to be signed with the A’s — as in which side pays what for things such as infrastructure and affordable housing — but understand Oakland is very much in play now for the team to stay put.
There are two schools of thought here: First, that the reason A’s president Dave Kaval took up a short-term residency in Las Vegas the past eight months is that his team never really envisioned a deal happening in Oakland.
That the A’s put in an offer on a plot of land in the Las Vegas Valley — reportedly on that which the Tropicana exists — where they could build a $1 billion ballpark to show their level of seriousness to relocate.
On the other hand, there is no proof against the A’s having simply been using Las Vegas as leverage all along as a way to move things forward in Oakland. We’re the perfect foil.
Look. There are always details in any final agreement the A’s could disagree with in Oakland and still pursue the Las Vegas market. But what a horrible look for the team — and MLB as a whole — if the A’s receive the lion’s share of what they have desired for years in Oakland and still push for a move.
What an awful moment for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred — who granted the A’s permission to explore relocation sites — should he now continue supporting such until a final say comes from Oakland.
“(Wednesday’s) planning commission recommendation to send the final environmental impact report onto the city council for certification is a huge win for our entire region and puts Oakland one step closer to building a landmark waterfront ballpark district with the highest environmental standards,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said via statement.
Schaaf has already seen the Warriors storm across the bay to San Francisco for a beautiful new home and arena, and the Raiders relocate to Las Vegas and a brilliant Allegiant Stadium. I’m guessing she — and other local politicians — aren’t big fans of a third professional sports team departing.
I’m also guessing the Raiders — certainly not chummy friends with the A’s in any manner — would use any clout to ensure the baseball team remains right where it is.
We still have never seen from the A’s any level of a public-private partnership they would seek for moving here. And given there remains no temperature whatsoever for any level of public money being earmarked for a ballpark/redevelopment project, how such a plan would be financed remains fascinating. We might never know.
Sure. There are creative ways to pay for things — land and developing rights, to name a few — but don’t think for a second the A’s aren’t also going to chase an unknown dollar figure in some manner.
This was Kaval in July: “Our concerns are growing about the gap between the city (of Oakland) and our position, but we remain optimistic there will be a change between the two. At the same time, we have built momentum in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada … If you look at where we are in Oakland, we’re in the bottom of the ninth inning.”
Given what occurred Wednesday, it again could be the top of the first.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.