MLB Commissioner: Athletics Not Trying to “Bluff” Oakland With Las Vegas Talks

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The effort to bring Major League Baseball to Las Vegas picked up steam Tuesday when Commissioner Rob Manfred said no one should consider the Oakland A’s interest there as just a “bluff.”

MLB Commissioner: Athletics Not Trying to “Bluff” Oakland With Las Vegas Talks

The commissioner spoke to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America prior to the All-Star Game about various topics pertaining to the game. So, it was no surprise that the possible relocation of the Athletics came up.

Manfred said that a decision on whether the team will stay in Oakland will come to a head in the next couple of months, maybe sooner.

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If you can’t get a ballpark, I think the relocation process, whether it’s Las Vegas or a broader array of cities that are considered, will take on more pace,” he said.

In May, team owner John Fisher and Dave Kaval, the team’s president, spent several days in Las Vegas and the surrounding area. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Kaval will be back in town next week.

Any thought of Vegas “as a bluff is a mistake,” Manfred said.

“Look, Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a major league club,” the commissioner told reporters. “And there are other viable alternatives that I haven’t turned the A’s loose to even explore at this point.”

Report: More Than 20 Suitable Baseball Sites in Vegas

When A’s officials visited the area in May, they met with executives from casinos, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and representatives from Henderson. In talks with those officials, the team discussed needing a stadium site that would hold 30,000 fixed seats and standing capacity for 4,000.

The cost of that would be about $1 billion, the Review-Journal reported. That would be slightly more than half the cost to build Allegiant Stadium, which Las vegas officials used to lure the Raiders from Oakland.

The San Jose Mercury-News reported Tuesday that the team has already identified at least 20 workable locations for a ballpark in the Vegas area.

Some media outlets have pegged Vegas as the favorite to land the A’s. However, as Manfred noted in his presser Tuesday, Las Vegas wouldn’t be the only “viable alternative” for Oakland should plans for a new stadium there fall through. Portland, Ore., is another possibility. The Athletichas reported that Nashville, Montreal, Vancouver, San Antonio, and Charlotte may also receive consideration. Other communities in the Bay Area, such as San Jose, may also get a look.

Key Vote in Oakland Next Week

The A’s currently play at RingCentral Coliseum, the same stadium where the Raiders played in Oakland. The 55-year-old stadium is in poor repair, and the A’s have a lease to play there through 2024.

The team is pushing a plan to stay in the northern California city. That proposal puts a $1 billion privately financed stadium as part of a mixed-use development project on the Oakland waterfront. According to reports, the team wants Oakland officials to agree to spend $855 million to cover infrastructure costs for the proposed $12 billion megaproject.

But there are hang-ups between Oakland and the ballclub over that plan. NBC Bay Area reported last week that city leaders want the team to agree to a 45-year lease on the new grounds. The team has committed to just 20. There are also disagreements about affordable housing requirements in the development.

A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pointed out that the City Council will likely consider a “non-binding term sheet” for the project at its meeting next Tuesday. That’s the day before Kaval returns to Las Vegas.

Manfred told reporters Tuesday that vote will be a pretty significant one for the A’s and their future.

“This is the decision point for Oakland as to whether they want to have major league baseball going forward,” he said.