When news broke in April that the Athletics had entered into a binding agreement for a potential Las Vegas ballpark site, it brought an end to dreams of a waterfront stadium in Oakland for both the city and fans.
Oakland mayor Sheng Thao publicly said the team's pivot to Las Vegas was "extremely disappointing," immediately announcing the city was ceasing negotiations with the A's for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal. A recent story from ESPN's Tim Keown provides more insight on how she first found out -- including what A's owner John Fisher told her about the decision.
Just before the A's agreement in Las Vegas made headlines on April 19, per Keown, Thao received a phone call from A's president Dave Kaval. He was giving her a heads-up: Someone had "leaked to the press" that the team had a binding deal in Las Vegas.
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Thao told Keown the call was a "blindside" after years of the city negotiating with the A's for a new stadium in Oakland. And shortly after she spoke to Kaval, Thao ended up on the phone with Fisher, who confirmed the news.
"I feel really bad. I really like you and I like working with you, but we're going to focus all our energy on Las Vegas," Fisher said, as Thao recalled to Keown.
"I'm disappointed," Thao responded. "In the very beginning, I literally asked you, 'Are you serious about Oakland?' and you said yes. But if your focus is on Vegas, good luck."
Keown reported that the two haven't spoken since, with the A's just weeks away from a vote by MLB owners that will decide whether or not they can relocate to Las Vegas. The team eventually secured a different ballpark site along The Strip than the one that was agreed upon in April, and over the summer, the A's landed significant public funding from the Nevada State Legislature to help fund a new ballpark there.
There has been plenty of finger-pointing to go around throughout the saga, with Thao most recently exchanging barbs with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about the situation. Meanwhile, Fisher has stated the move to Las Vegas is about making the organization profitable again.
A's fans, of course, want nothing more than the franchise to remain in Oakland.