The Oakland A’s may not be in the Bay Area much longer.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the A’s have received permission from Major League Baseball to begin exploring the possibility of relocating to another city in an effort that could pressure local government officials to approve a new stadium project that has been in limbo for several years.
The franchise has spent years trying to build a new waterfront stadium at the Howard Terminal in downtown Oakland, which the A’s have recently proposed privately funding for $1 billion and spending more on a development which would include 3,000 units of affordable housing, office, retail space and a hotel.
John Fisher, the club owner, offered the following statement:
"The future success of the A's depends on a new ballpark," Fisher said. "Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB's direction to explore other markets."
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's spokesperson, Justin Berton, subsequently issued a statement:
"We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront. We have made great strides with the Governor’s certification and release of the EIR. Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community — regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region, and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”
Per Passan, the organization said its proposal would include $450 million in community benefits, $955 million in general-fund revenues and an $855 million commitment from the city for infrastructure improvements.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said in late April: “The City is willing to bear its resources to help make this vision a reality; however, today’s proposal from the A’s appears to request public investment at the high end of projects of this type nationwide.”
The current lease on the Athletics’ RingCentral Coliseum expires after 2024. Some have suggested rebuilding at the site of the current stadium, but MLB has said in a statement that “is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball.”
“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland,” the league said. “The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.
“The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”
The A’s have been in Oakland since 1968 and are the only team remaining in the city following the departures of the Raiders to Las Vegas and Warriors to San Francisco.
It is possible the A’s could follow the Raiders to Las Vegas. Other potential cities, according to Passan, include Portland, Vancouver, Nashville, Charlotte and Montreal.