Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner, Rob Manfred, has announced that a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when MLB owners meet in New York on June 13-15. The Athletics have been seeking a new ballpark to replace Oakland Coliseum, which has been their home park since they arrived from Kansas City, and where the team’s lease runs through 2024.
Tentative Agreement Reached on Funding Plan
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said Wednesday that the legislative leaders and the Athletics had reached a tentative agreement on a $1.5 billion stadium funding plan that would lure the franchise to Las Vegas. However, a funding bill still needs to be approved by the legislature.
Difficulties with Timeline for Oakland
Manfred stated that it is difficult to have a timeline for Oakland until there is actually a deal to be considered, and there is a relocation process internally that the Athletics need to go through, which they haven’t even started yet. The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits.
With their future unsettled, the Athletics are struggling at a historic level on the field and in the stands. They began Thursday 10-41 after matching the fourth-worst 50-game start in major league history. Their average home attendance of 8,695 is nearly 3,600 fewer fans per game than that of any other team.
Manfred was asked whether he believes the door is completely closed on the possibility of the Athletics remaining in Oakland, where the team has played since 1968. He stated that he doesn’t have a crystal ball as to where anything’s going, and there’s not a definitive deal done in Las Vegas.
Challenges with American Family Field
Manfred was in Milwaukee as Wisconsin legislators debate potential funding plans for American Family Field, the Brewers’ home stadium since 2001. Manfred expressed confidence that the state would work something out. The Brewers’ lease, which runs through 2030, calls for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to cover repairs.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the team have said the district does not have enough money to pay for what is needed, and the state surplus provides a chance to fund the repairs without implementing a new tax or borrowing money. Evers proposed spending nearly $300 million in taxpayer money to make improvements at the stadium, a plan that Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared to be dead on arrival.
Maintaining the Ballpark
Manfred noted that Milwaukee’s situation is really the antithesis of what happened in Oakland. Milwaukee’s situation is an A-plus facility when it’s built, and it’s been well maintained. Ownership has made a commitment not only to put a competitive team on the field but also to do its share in terms of keeping this stadium. The fans here have supported the team enthusiastically, and the real decision that needs to be made here is what can be done to maintain that really great dynamic.
Manfred stated that Oakland’s situation is a facility that was never as good as this one when it started, and they made some unfortunate decisions not to maintain the ballpark in the way that it needed to be maintained. It resulted in a decline in attendance, which had an impact on the quality of product the team could afford to put on the field.
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