Less than four hours after reports circulated about the Athletics' relocation to Las Vegas being approved by MLB owners Thursday morning, commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the media about the vote.
"There was an effort for more than a decade to find a stadium solution in Oakland. It was [A's owner] John Fisher's preference. It was my preference," Manfred told reporters at in Arlington, Texas. "As a matter of fact, the first trip I made after I was elected commissioner was to Oakland to talk to John about trying to get something done there. It didn't happen.
"A lot of back and forth, but the fact of the matter is there was never a deal in Oakland. When it became clear that there was an opportunity to move to Las Vegas, we appointed a relocation committee. ... The relocation committee made a set of recommendations to me. We took those recommendations to the executive council. They unanimously voted in favor of the relocation. And then today we had a 30-club vote, which also was unanimous in favor of the recommendation."
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The A's have called Oakland home over the past five decades.
And despite "reverse boycott" efforts, heartfelt letters from Oakland mayor Sheng Thao and green and yellow "Stay in Oakland" boxes sent to more than a dozen MLB owners, A's fans in the Bay had a tough pill to swallow Thursday.
"I know, I know this is a terrible day for fans in Oakland," Manfred continued. "I understand that. That's why we always had a policy of doing everything humanly possible to avoid a relocation, and I truly believe we did that in this case. I think it's beyond debate that the status quo in Oakland was untenable. Those of you who have been in the building understand what I'm talking about. And I absolutely am convinced that there was not a viable path forward in Oakland.
"We look forward to being in Las Vegas. Tremendous support locally. We do believe over the long haul, Las Vegas will be a great asset to Major League Baseball."
Accompanied by Manfred was Fisher, who also shared a few words on the relocation vote.
"Today is an incredibly difficult day for Oakland A's fans," Fisher said. "It's a great day for Las Vegas. I understand this is an incredibly difficult day for Oakland fans and I just want to say we gave every effort and did everything we could to find a solution there. And it was only in the last couple of years that we began to turn our attention to another market, that being Las Vegas.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity in Las Vegas. The fans there are terrific. The success of the Raiders and the Golden Knights has shown, as well as our own Triple-A team, the Aviators, has shown how successful professional sports can be in that market. We really look forward to opening day in 2028 and bringing some of the historical success of the Athletics to Las Vegas."
While the owners have approved of the team's bid to move the A's to Las Vegas, there still are several hurdles in the way before Fisher can begin packing his bags for Sin City for good, including securing approval of a stadium operating agreement and a non-relocation agreement with Las Vegas, a construction agreement, a private financing plan and new renderings for the proposed Las Vegas ballpark.
The A's lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 MLB season. After that, it's unclear where they will play until their proposed Las Vegas ballpark is ready in 2028. Manfred said the league is "exploring a variety of alternatives," including staying in Oakland for the remaining years, while San Francisco, Sacramento and Las Vegas have been rumored to be potential suitors to temporarily house the team.
Oakland mayor Sheng Thao released a statement shortly after the vote was announced, stating she was "disappointed" by the outcome.
The mayor has gone back and forth with both Fisher and Manfred over the last several months. Despite some heated exchanges from both sides, the commissioner said he doesn't have any problems with Thao nor the city of Oakland.
"I have no issue with the city of Oakland or the mayor," Manfred said. "We tried very hard to make a deal in Oakland. We did that out of respect for the fans in Oakland. I hope they understand that at some point, a facility deteriorates to the level that it's just not a Major League facility and that if you look at the situation objectively, we really had no choice but to move on."