MLB points to Las Vegas as future home of Oakland A’s

Commissioner Rob Manfred says focus has shifted to Nevada for ball club’s future

Major League Baseball's Commissioner Rob Manfred, Las Vegas
Major League Baseball's Commissioner Rob Manfred (Getty)

When it comes to Major League Baseball and negotiations over a $12 billion plan to redevelop the Oakland A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal, Mayor Sheng Thao’s phone isn’t ringing.

More than two months after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he would check in with the newly elected Oakland mayor, he hasn’t placed a single call, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Instead, he has set his gaze on Las Vegas.

“Look, I think the best way for me to answer that is to say I think that the focus since I spoke to you in December really has been on Las Vegas,” Manfred told the Chronicle when asked for an update on the Oakland ballpark situation.

Manfred said in December he was planning “in the near future” to speak with Thao, then the mayor-elect, who was replacing outgoing mayor Libby Schaaf. Manfred had engaged in direct talks with the former mayor.

Julie Edwards, spokeswoman for Thao, said: “To our knowledge, he has not directly reached out.”

The commissioner’s comments underscored the challenge for Oakland to retain the A’s.

Last month, Oakland struck out in obtaining a $182.9 million federal grant to finance the redevelopment of its Howard Terminal port, site of the new A’s stadium.

The city had sought the grant to pay for street and transit improvements to pave the way for the team’s proposed waterfront ballpark and 3,000-unit mixed-use development. 

The failure to obtain the federal grant — a third of the $600 million in infrastructure costs Oakland needs to hold up its end of the Howard Terminal stadium project — spelled doom for the city’s effort to keep its last big professional sports franchise.

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“There are still conversations going on between the A’s and the city,” Manfred told the newspaper. “I think the mayor needed a little time, newly elected, to get settled. I think the focus in Oakland has been on the funding, particularly of the infrastructure side of the project. That needs to get solved in order for that process to go forward.”

Manfred said the amount of affordable housing for the $12 billion development-project proposal — which includes plans for a $1 billion ballpark — also remains unresolved.

He called the stadium infrastructure funding “the threshold issue.”

Asked whether Oakland A’s owner John Fisher prefers Oakland over Las Vegas, Manfred demurred.

“I think Mr. Fisher wants to make the best deal to secure the future of the A’s, whether it’s in Oakland or Las Vegas. They need a new stadium, I think that’s kind of beyond debate. If he had to rank them one and two, you’d have to ask him that. I think he’s focused on making a deal that will secure the future” of the club.

As for future dialogue with Thao, Manfred said: “Everything I’ve had out of the city of Oakland was as a result of conversations with John about their conversations. I’m sure I will (speak with Thao) at some point. 

“I just haven’t done that.”

— Dana Bartholomew


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