Saturday, February 24, 2024

Oakland mayor questions viability of A’s owner John Fisher as Las Vegas plans come under more scrutiny

The Oakland Athletics will probably one day become the Las Vegas Athletics. MLB’s owners have unanimously approved the franchise’s relocation, though A’s owner John Fisher seems to be having difficulty getting things across the finish line. He has yet to secure his part of the financing or figure out where the team will play from 2025-27, the three years between the end of their lease at RingCentral Coliseum and the tentative opening of their new Las Vegas ballpark.

A few days ago Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman surprisingly suggested the best thing for the team might be to remain in Oakland. On Thursday, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao brought the relocation plan into question, noting it is not the first time Fisher has had difficulty completing a stadium deal. Here’s what Thao told The Athletic:

“We’re seeing that he has the same issues going to Las Vegas,” Thao told The Athletic on Thursday. “There was a thought that this plan he had in the beginning was viable. And now we’re seeing that actually, maybe the plan isn’t viable. The question becomes, are the plans not viable or is it that the ownership’s not viable?”

“You can’t buy something that is not for sale,” Thao said. “We are hopeful MLB will understand that having John Fisher sell the team or having John Fisher come back to the table with us to have a real discussion with us about whether it’s Howard Terminal or the Coliseum, is the best route for everyone.” 

The A’s rejected three potential ballpark sites in the Bay Area, most notably the Howard Terminal location roughly 20 miles north of the team’s current home, a site Thao called “shovel-ready.” It’s unclear whether remaining in Oakland is a realistic consideration for the A’s at this point in time. The A’s and the City of Oakland have not talked in 10 months, according to a recent report from ESPN.

On Thursday, commissioner Rob Manfred said he hopes for clarity “in the next few months” regarding the A’s and where they’re going to play from 2025-27. The club has visited Triple-A ballparks in Sacramento and Salt Lake City, and could also seek to share Oracle Park with the San Francisco Giants. The A’s Triple-A team plays in Las Vegas, though using their stadium seems unlikely.

These matters are becoming urgent. MLB has to build its 2025 schedule soon — teams are usually sent a preliminary schedule around this time of year, with the official schedule being released in July — and construction on the new Las Vegas ballpark must begin to ensure it will be ready in time for the 2028 season.

The A’s franchise dates back to 1901. They played in Philadelphia from 1901-54, Kansas City from 1955-67, and in Oakland since 1968. Moving to Las Vegas in 2028 is still the most likely outcome, even with all these speed bumps. Where the team plays from 2025-27 remains up in the air.

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