Major League Baseball threatens to move Oakland A’s — to Las Vegas?

Nevada News

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SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Major League Baseball’s impatience with the City of Oakland ratcheted up a notch with a new threat from the league to the city and its lawsuit against Alameda County: drop the suit or you lose your baseball team.

The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays and their ongoing stadium situations.  In Tampa, ownership there is floating the idea of having the team split its season between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal.

The Athletics have plans to build a privately financed stadium in Oakland after years of searching for a new home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

At issue in Oakland — and thus the impetus of the city’s lawsuit — is both the city and the county own the property the Athletics current play at as equal partners.  Alameda County announced it was selling its half of the property to the Athletics for $85 million, which team ownership planned to develop as part of its way to fund its new stadium project on a different property.

The city wants the county sell its half to Oakland instead, giving it full control of the land.  Unfortunately for the city, it doesn’t have $85 million to match what the Athletics are offering.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the team was not pleased to learn about the city’s lawsuit as it could hurt its relations with the city as it considers moving forward with its development plans.  A judge put a temporary stop to the deal until a court hearing in mid-November.

That is not good enough for Major League Baseball.  Commissioner Rob Manfred made a trip to Oakland last week to meet with city officials and share his displeasure with the lawsuit.

Oakland city councilman Larry Reid was in the meeting the commissioner had with Oakland’s mayor and council president and told the Chronicle Manfred laid out his case to the city for why it needs to drop its lawsuit against the county and allow the deal to move forward.

“He talked about how it was five years ago that he became commissioner, how he had resisted the A’s moving to San Jose back then,” Reid said. “Then he talked about his frustration with the lawsuit and how the city needs to make it go away.”

The commissioner dangled Las Vegas — of all cities — in front of Oakland’s public officials as a likely future home for the Athletics.

“The commissioner pointed out that Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A’s as well,” Reid told the newspaper.

After the meeting, Oakland officials were confident they would be able to come to a satisfying solution for all parties involved and there wouldn’t be any more issues for Mr. Manfred, Major League Baseball or the Oakland Athletics.

While Manfred likely used Las Vegas simply as a scare tactic with the city’s only other tenant — the Oakland Raiders — (and the Golden State Warriors moving to San Francisco this upcoming season) finishing its final season in Oakland with its sights on the sandier pastures of Las Vegas, the desert casino town has been in the news recently for its discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While the stadium situation in Phoenix is not as dire as Oakland or Tampa/St. Petersburg, the team and Maricopa County have been going back and forth over stadium improvements.

Last month, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the Diamondbacks signed a nondisclosure agreement with the City of Las Vegas in the summer of 2018.  Just weeks before that, Las Vegas suburb Henderson actually tried to lure the team to its city with a $1 billion stadium proposal.

The paper said that proposal did not move forward, but the city made it clear it is very interested in talking to any professional sports team to Henderson.

A new baseball stadium would open months later in western Las Vegas for the AAA-level Las Vegas Aviators — who the San Antonio Missions compete against in the Pacific Coast League.  The stadium opened to rave reviews and was named the best AAA ballpark by Ballpark Digest.

The new AAA stadium has not stopped the Las Vegas area from pursuing more professional sports teams.  The Vegas Golden Knights are starting their third NHL season in Las Vegas and the Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders next year.

The Diamondbacks do not have league permission to consider relocation and have publicly stated it does not plan to leave Arizona, but appeared ready to consider other opportunity.

Including the Diamondbacks, there are three potential opportunities for relocation in Major League Baseball, plus the league’s long-term desire to expand from 30 teams to 32.

It’s not clear what all of this means for San Antonio and its odds of ending up with a Major League Baseball team of its own.  It has consistently been considered to be on the list of future candidates.  However, it is expected it would be competing with a lengthy list of other potential cities, including Las Vegas, Portland, Charlotte and towns trying to keep their current franchises.

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