Baseball czar praises A’s “prudent” hunt for Vegas ballpark site

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: “Something needs to happen in Oakland”

Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred (Getty)
Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred (Getty)

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to the Oakland A’s: “Something needs to happen in Oakland.”

Manfred called the team’s recent jaunt to explore a potential ballpark in Las Vegas a good move, with the A’s $12 billion stadium project stuck at first base in Oakland, the Associated Press reported via the San Jose Mercury News.

Team President Dave Kaval has said the club was pursuing plans along “parallel paths” in Oakland and Las Vegas after the home city missed a deadline last month to reach a development agreement.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.

“Given the fact that they have not made a deal in Oakland — and I’ve been talking to this since the day I started, that’s eight years ago, I think it’s prudent that they are exploring another alternative because something needs to happen in Oakland,” he said.

The Oakland Athletics have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season.

After proposing and withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to Jack London Square in Oakland.

The grand plan for Howard Terminal would make it one of the largest developments ever in California, centered around a 35,000-seat, $1 billion ballpark to host the A’s.

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The team’s plans also include 3,000 homes, 1.5 million square feet of offices, 270,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and community space, a 3,500-seat theater, a 400-room hotel and 18 acres of public open space.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted 23-2 in June to reclassify the 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built.

The vote was the first in a series of legal hurdles the team would have to overcome before it could get permission to break ground on the project.

Oakland’s City Council approved preliminary terms for the project last year, but Kaval said the financial terms didn’t work for the team. Manfred said any timetable for a possible relocation decision would be “partially dependent on decisions that Oakland — the team — may make.”

Among the points of disagreement is the percentage of affordable housing at Howard Terminal. The city has called for 15 percent affordable housing, or 450 low-cost apartments, while the A’s have committed to no more than 5 percent, or 150 low-cost units.

The missed deadline agreement means that any public vote on the new stadium won’t take place until next year.

Meanwhile, the A’s are negotiating deals on potential ballpark sites in Las Vegas, according to the Review-Journal. One is the 38-acre Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the north Strip. The other is the 35-acre Tropicana Casino, which could be demolished for a stadium on the south Strip.

— Dana Bartholomew

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