Why ex-Marlins president isn't sold on A's moving to Vegas


The Athletics announced Wednesday that they have signed a binding purchase agreement for a potential major league ballpark site in Las Vegas. 

News of the potential move away from Oakland had many saddened and writing the eulogy for baseball in the city. However, former Miami Marlins president David Samson isn't one of them, as the former executive isn't convinced the A's are leaving. 

Samson highlighted several reasons why he's not sold on the A's leaving Oakland just yet, with the first being that the franchise still needs to file the proper paperwork for relocation. 

"So through an outstretched arm, I look, and I say, 'Well, wait a minute. I have no recollection of the Oakland A's ever applying for relocation,' " Samson said on "Nothing Personal with David Samson" on Thursday. "You have to apply for relocation, and it is granted by the commissioner's office. 

"Then once you apply for relocation, you have to get a [stadium] deal done. A [relocation] fee that's agreed to, 'Don't worry, baseball is not charging a fee they said for a team to move to Vegas, OK we'll see.' So you have to agree to a fee. Then on top of that, you have to have a done deal. And then, on top of that, you need a vote. It's not like you can do a [Art] Modell [former NFL owner who moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore]."

The former Marlins president, who was with the franchise during their quest for a new ballpark that eventually led to the development of loanDepot Park, added that the A's are no closer to moving to Vegas regardless of Wednesday's news.

Samson cited his experience in negotiations with two cities, Miami and Montreal, to help build a new stadium and what the A's are publicly stating through their media appearances as why he believes Oakland isn't any closer to Vegas, as some might assume. 

"The A's have signed a binding agreement to purchase land for a future ballpark in Vegas," Samson continued. "That's coming from the Oakland A's. That has nothing to do with the relocation agreement. It has nothing to do with the stadium deal. It has nothing to do with public financing. The A's have signed a binding agreement to purchase land.

"I have stood up in two cities actually, done that press conference where I actually said, 'Hey, there's nothing more we can do here we are at our wit's end. We've tried. We've tried so hard. We've tried everything. We've tried different sites, we've tried different financing structures, and we can't get a deal. We have no choice but to go elsewhere.' 

"There's not one part of my body or one part of my digits that were not crossed when that was said because I knew I didn't have a deal done where I could say I was going. There is no deal in Vegas. They have to go through the legislature. They have to get public financing. They're trying to tell you that they're building the stadium with private money, horse hockey. They need public money."

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Finally, Samson concluded that regardless of what the A's and Oakland mayor Sheng Thao say publicly, both sides are still discussing a stadium deal. The former Marlins president notes that what Oakland did was the standard franchise move in negotiations with a city.

"The A's, they're still negotiating with, no matter what they say, no matter what the mayor says," Samson said. "This is page four of the playbook of what happens right at the very end before a stadium deal actually gets completed. The commissioner comes out and says, 'We're on fully supportive of them getting it done.' The A's have to have a fall guy. [It] wasn't [owner] John Fisher.

"The owner's not going to be the bad guy, but the owner called the mayor to say, 'Sorry, we're leaving.' Give me a break. The team president, who does the press release when a stadium deal is announced, guess who's going to announce the deal? It'll be the owner, not the team president. But when you're announcing bad news, guess who that'll be? The team president, not the owner ...

"I am not acknowledging the deal to Vegas is a done deal. Is it possible? Yeah. But am I comparing what people are doing now to the [Montreal] Expos moving to Washington as the A's moving because so many teams have moved out of Oakland? No, it is not nearly the same situation that exists in Montreal that exists in Oakland. That is too important and good a market."

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