Less than 24 hours after the Nevada Assembly approved the Athletics' Senate Bill 1 to help fund a new Las Vegas ballpark, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred commented on the situation as it takes major steps toward becoming a reality.
MLB must approve of the team's relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, which requires a 75 percent approval from owners. Manfred revealed some of the conversations he's had with owners in recent days.
"It has always been baseball’s policy and preference to stay put," he said Thursday (h/t The Athletic's Evan Drellich). "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. Look, believe me, and I hear from ‘em, I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
"I do not like this outcome, I understand why they feel the way they do. I think that the real question is, what is it that Oakland was prepared to do? There is no Oakland offer, OK? They never got to a point where they had a plan to build a stadium at any site. And it’s not just John Fisher. You don’t build a stadium based on the club activity alone. The community has to provide support and you know, at some point, you come to the realization, it’s just not going to happen."
The commissioner's comments gained instant reaction from the MLB world -- particularly A's fans -- and Oakland mayor Sheng Thao. Julie Edwards, a spokesperson for Thao, released the following statement in response to Manfred's comments.
"This is just totally false," the statement read (h/t San Francisco Chronicle's Sarah Ravani). "There was a very concrete proposal under discussion and Oakland had gone above and beyond to clear hurdles, including securing funding for infrastructure, providing an environmental review and working with other agencies to finalize approvals. The reality is the A's ownership had insisted on a multibillion-dollar, 55-acre project that included a ballpark, residential, commercial and retail space.
"In Las Vegas, for whatever reason, they seem satisfied with a nine-acre leased ballpark on leased land. If they had proposed a similar project in Oakland, we feel confident a new ballpark would already be under construction. Oakland showed its commitment to the A's and that is why the A's belong in Oakland."
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.
While it's still far from a done deal, the A's potential relocation cleared a major hurdle this week after both Nevada Assembly and Nevada Senate approved the team's proposal for $380 million in public funding to construct a new stadium.
The bill now heads to Gov. Joe Lombardo's desk, who is expected to sign it into law sooner than later.
But there are still more hurdles to clear before the A's can begin construction on their new ballpark and move to Las Vegas.
The franchise also must prove they can make up for the remaining $1.1 billion in private financing to fund the rest of the $1.5 billion ballpark project.
Additionally, the A's have to find a temporary home for the team, as the team's lease at the Oakland Coliseum ends after the 2024 MLB season and this new ballpark wouldn't be ready until Opening Day in 2028.