Rob Manfred: Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas isn’t imminent or guaranteed
The Las Vegas Athletics? Not so fast.
After MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told Sirius XM Radio that a long-sought new ballpark in Oakland “doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” he told The Times that the A’s moving to Las Vegas is neither imminent nor guaranteed.
“They have two options available,” Manfred said before Game 2 of the World Series Saturday. “I think the time for the Oakland option is running out. It hasn’t run out.”
Manfred had hoped Oakland officials would approve a new waterfront ballpark before Mayor Libby Schaaf, a ballpark proponent, leaves office. However, with Oakland voters set to elect a new mayor next month, the city and the A’s have yet to agree on how to finance the infrastructure necessary to support the ballpark village, and how to develop affordable housing within it.
The Astros still are being rooted against because of the cheating scandal a few years back, but new manager Dusty Baker still has people who know him well on his side.
Yet, despite several years of exploration in Las Vegas, the A’s have neither agreed to a location for a ballpark or a plan to pay for it.
“That’s correct,” Manfred said. “They have work to do in Vegas. They don’t have a plan locked in, in either location. I think, at this point in the process and given the state of the Coliseum, they need to continue to explore both alternatives.”
The Raiders got $750 million in taxpayer financing for their stadium in Las Vegas, dampening the prospect of public funding for a ballpark. The A’s have agreed to pay for a $1 billion ballpark in Oakland, contingent on the city approving what is projected as a $12-billion real estate development.
In a statement, Schaaf said she had spoken with Manfred on Saturday and told him she remained “absolutely confident our deal in Oakland will get done next year even with new leadership in place.”
For now, the A’s are awaiting the outcome of the election for mayor in Oakland and for governor in Nevada.
The A’s lease at the Coliseum expires in 2024. The team privately is concerned it might not be able to move into a new ballpark anywhere before 2030, according to a person familiar with the process.
Manfred said last year the league had “other viable alternatives that I haven’t turned Oakland loose to explore.” Nashville, Portland (Ore.), Charlotte (N.C.) and Montreal are among the cities interested in attracting a major league team.
With the prospect of success dimming in Oakland, has Manfred authorized the A’s to look beyond Las Vegas?
“Not right now,” he said.
The Phillies’ comeback win in 10 innings over the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series underlines why a title for Philadelphia isn’t just wishful thinking.
Oakland could be on the verge of losing its third major pro sports team. The Golden State Warriors left for San Francisco in 2019, with the Raiders departing for Las Vegas in 2020.
The A’s won World Series championships in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1989.
On other issues:
— Manfred said the Angels sale process is “ongoing,” with the league working to conduct background checks of potential bidders before releasing any financial information to them. He declined to offer a timetable for the conclusion of a sale.
“Probably too early to guess as to whether it will be done by opening day,” he said. “I think it is a really appealing franchise. I think there will be multiple bidders. When there are multiple bidders, it’s always more complicated.”
— Manfred declined to address whether the controversial postseason ads on Fox — described as “openly racist” by Times columnist Michael Hiltzik — would complicate league efforts to improve in diversity and equality. The league is believed to have encouraged Fox to air different ads during the World Series, but Manfred declined to comment about that.
The far-right group that sponsored the ads replaced the one that portrayed illegal immigrants as criminals with two that suggested President Biden’s support of Ukraine is coming at the expense of helping ordinary Americans and risking the launch of World War III.
“Fox is a great partner of ours,” Manfred said. “I don’t think it’s fair to them to get into private conversations that we may or may not have had.”
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.