Report: A's to explore relocations options away from Oakland originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The reality of the Athletics possibly leaving Oakland now is as real as ever.
The A's will start exploring relocations options with the blessing of Major League Baseball, as a form of trying to pressure local government to approve a new stadium project. The news was first reported by ESPN.
"The future success of the A's depends on a new ballpark," A's owner John Fisher said in a statement to ESPN. "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."
The A's have played in Oakland since 1968. For the past few years they have been pushing a future waterfront stadium in Oakland at Howard Terminal, but haven't been successful. Ownership asked the city council to vote on the $12 billion mixed-use development before its late-July summer recess, but again came up unsuccessful.
Now, the A's could leave town.
The A's have played at what now is called RingCentral Coliseum for the past 55 years. Their current lease runs through the 2024 season. MLB says rebuilding the Coliseum site is not an option for the A's.
"MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A's new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland," MLB said in a statement. "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."
A's president Dave Kaval released the following statement.
Justin Berton, spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, released the following statement on Tuesday:
"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.”
The East Oakland Stadium Alliance provided the following statement on Tuesday:
"The City of Oakland and its residents should not be pressured by threats from the Oakland A’s and Major League Baseball into a bad deal that involves handing out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund a massive real-estate development.
The Coliseum location is the ideal place to build a new stadium, as it already has freeway access, public transit, and more than enough space to create a ‘ballpark village’ that could revitalize East Oakland. Despite 50 years of history and four World Series victories, John Fisher and the A’s are now telling East Oaklanders without any explanation that East Oakland is no longer good enough.
The A’s can stay in Oakland. If they focused on rebuilding at the Coliseum, which is already approved for a new ballpark village, there wouldn’t be a need to make threats aimed at compelling the city to give away public resources to support a luxury development complex in the region’s industrial jobs center. We want the A’s to stay in Oakland but not at the expense of thousands of blue-collar workers, or the health and safety of Oakland residents. While the Oakland A’s have claimed to be ‘Rooted in Oakland,’ after openly exploring moves to Fremont, Portland, San Jose, and Las Vegas over the past two decades, we now see that their roots in Oakland are shallow."
The A's Triple-A affiliate plays in Las Vegas, which some see as a possible relocation option. A handful of other cities have been discussed as well.
If the A's do leave Oakland, it would complete the trio of pro sports teams leaving, following the Warriors and Raiders.