Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

Manfred claims A's relocation fee not ‘a realistic possibility'

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A few hurdles still remain for the Athletics in their pursuit of relocation from Oakland.

The A's amended Las Vegas ballpark bill, Senate Bill 1 (SB1) was passed by the Nevada Assembly and confirmed in the Senate Wednesday afternoon. The passed legislation is a big step toward relocation, however, steps still remain.

If Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo then signs the bill, which he is expected to do, MLB owners will vote to approve or deny the move as the final step in the process. For teams looking to relocate, MLB charges a relocation fee, which for the A's, would be an estimated $300 million.

However, in December, commissioner Rob Manfred said the league would waive the A's relocation fee if they were to move to Las Vegas. In speaking with reporters at a press conference on Thursday at MLB headquarters in New York after the league's owners meetings, Manfred was asked about the relocation fee process.

Question: And in terms of thinking about something like a relocation fee, could you sort of walk us through the process of what that would look like with the owners?

Manfred: "The relocation fee, the ultimate decision, will be made in the process that I described a moment ago. I’ve been clear with the owners: In the context where you have an owner who’s making a billion-dollar private commitment moving to a market where they receive public funding, for baseball to step in and have a relocation fee, I don’t see that as a realistic possibility."

Manfred also was asked where he is at in the A's relocation process after the passage of the ballpark bill in Nevada.

"I reviewed with the group as a whole our relocation process," Manfred said. "Obviously, the passing of the legislation in Nevada, really, really important. It’s another important step forward. But there is a pretty thorough relocation process that the club now needs to go through as a prelude to a vote of the clubs."

Q: How soon could that happen?

Manfred: "It depends in large part on how quickly the A’s can get their formal relocation application together. I will appoint a relocation committee to review it. So there’s some work that needs to be done, I’m not going to predict timeline on that."

The date of a possible vote on relocation is unknown, but before owners decide the A's fate, the organization must go through a thorough application process.

Q: Can you explain the process a little bit, what has to happen?

"They have to submit an application, there are pretty rigorous requirements about the application: you have to talk about the market you’re leaving, the efforts you’ve made there; the markets you want to go to, why it’s better. It then goes to a relocation committee that has to review the application and make recommendations on things like operating territory, home television territory. That recommendation comes to me, goes to the executive council, they ultimately make recommendations to the clubs, and then there has to be a three-quarter vote."

Q: What kind of sense have you gotten from the owners in your kind of informal conversations this week about how they feel about a potential move? It’s not really sneaking up on anyone.

Manfred: "It has always been baseball’s policy and preference to stay put. I think that always colors any conversation about relocation. Having said that, I think the owners as a whole understand that there has been a multi-year, pushing-a-decade effort where for the vast majority of the time, the sole focus was Oakland."

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In speaking with reporters in Milwaukee before the San Francisco Giants' game against the Brewers on May 25, Manfred had said that a possible vote on the A's relocation could happen in June, signaling the league's potential desire to move quickly after the legislative process played out in Nevada.

Now that the bill is passed and waiting to be signed by Gov. Lombardo, it could be a matter of days or weeks before the A's fate is decided.

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