Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

Why ex-Marlins exec confidently claims A's won't move to Vegas

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The Athletics' potential move to Las Vegas is far from a done deal, but the team took a massive leap this week when Senate Bill 1 was signed into law by Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo.

Still, former Miami Marlins president David Samson has a hard time believing the possible relocation will come to fruition.

"I want to give you one thing to think about, and we can make this two segments or zero segments. There is no ballpark that can fit on nine acres of land that has a retractable roof. That's the start and the end of this discussion," Samson said on "The Dan Lebatard Show," which was published Thursday morning. "But if you want to keep going, there's no approval by baseball to relocate, there's no financial plan of what the A's would be doing in Las Vegas for the owners to vote on, there's no TV deal, there's no set private financing for [A's owner] John Fisher for his portion of a stadium in Las Vegas.

"All that happened is the framework of the public part of the public-private partnership for a stadium in Vegas. That's all this special session was. That's all the public money is. But it's step one of 50. And last night, the A's released a statement that I went into detail on 'Nothing Personal' today, but I'll sum it up now, a statement that merely said, 'When the governor signs this into law, that will be a good next step.' And that's all that is."

Samson was president of the Marlins from 2002 until 2017. Miami won the World Series in 2003, but it faced a major challenge as far as long-term stability in a baseball-only stadium with South Florida weather the biggest concern for the team.

The first two owners of the Marlins, Wayne Huizenga and John Henry, couldn't seal the deal on a new facility, but Samson led a negotiating team that worked for more than six years to finalize a partnership to build a new retractable roof, air-conditioned ballpark in Miami.

Samson knows better than anyone how difficult it is to fight for a new stadium, and he was very critical of the way Fisher has gone about things.

"The boycott is not relevant, the fact that the team stinks is not relevant, what is relevant is that owners want to get the A's out of the revenue-sharing receiver position," Samson continued. "What's also relevant is that the owners want expansion money so they can pay off the debt that they incurred during COVID, that they've incurred over time because salaries are too high and so they've got to get Oakland and Tampa [Bay Rays] taken care of before expansion. But it's not done yet."

The Howard Terminal project was the A's last hope to stay in Oakland. The team's exclusive negotiation agreement with the port of Oakland for the multibillion-dollar waterfront site expired on May 12.

Thereafter, Fisher and the A's shifted their focus to Southern Nevada. But Samson doesn't believe the door fully has closed on Howard Terminal.

"I think it could still be built at the Howard Terminal. I think they were closer to a deal in Oakland than they even are in Vegas," he said. "The problem is that Josh Fisher has screwed it up so badly that it's made our effort -- Wayne Huizenga and John Henry's in Florida -- it's made our effort look amazing because of everything he's done wrong along the way from both a [public relations] standpoint and just a practical standpoint of how to get a deal done.

"I think MLB needs Vegas as an expansion candidate and to waste them as a relocation is a real disservice to maximizing your expansion fee, and that's what owners are concerned about right now. That's why there wasn't a vote with the owners meetings that are going on in New York right now because there's nothing to vote on yet. Do I think eventually the A's move to Vegas? I'm still a no on that. And I'll be the last to hold out, and I'll come on the show to admit that I was wrong, but there's nothing that tells me that a deal to Vegas is anywhere near complete."

Before LoanDepot Park was built, the Marlins were in headlines to potentially relocate to other cities like San Antonio, Vegas and Portland. Samson said there was no truth to that.

While things certainly appear different for the A's as they continue to push for their brand-new ballpark, Samson is pretty confident in how it will all play out.

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