Saturday, May 25

Manfred: ‘Sorry’ for Oakland followers; A’s can compete in Vegas

NEW YORK — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says he feels “sorry for the fans in Oakland” in regards to the Athletics’ plans to relocate to Las Vegas however denies claims by Oakland’s mayor that the franchise used negotiations with the town as leverage.

Manfred mentioned the plans Monday throughout a gathering with the Associated Press Sports Editors, including that he believes the last-place A’s can area a extra aggressive group in Nevada.

The franchise introduced final week it has signed a binding settlement to buy land for a brand new retractable roof ballpark near the Las Vegas Strip after being unable to assemble a brand new venue within the Bay Area. The A’s had been making an attempt to flee the run-down Oakland Coliseum for years, exploring choices in Fremont and San Jose earlier than shifting focus to Oakland’s waterfront.

After the A’s introduced the land buy, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao mentioned in an announcement that she was dissatisfied the A’s didn’t negotiate with the town as a “true partner.”

“It is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas,” she mentioned.

Manfred refuted that, saying proprietor John Fisher negotiated solely with Oakland from 2014-21 earlier than starting to look elsewhere.

“I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland. I really do,” he mentioned. “But for the town of Oakland to level fingers at John Fisher, it’s not honest.

“We have shown an unbelievable commitment to the fans in Oakland by exhausting every possible opportunity to try to get something done in Oakland,” he added. “Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem to have the will to get it done.”

The A’s will work with Nevada and Clark County on a public-private partnership to fund the brand new stadium with a seating capability of 30,000 to 35,000. The group hopes to interrupt floor by subsequent 12 months and transfer to their new house by 2027.

The timeline for Oakland’s transfer stays unsure, Manfred mentioned. The A’s lease on the Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and there’s been dialogue of the A’s briefly taking part in on the house of their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators. Manfred mentioned he did consider it was possible schedule-wise to have the A’s and their high minor league group share a ballpark.

A 12 months after ending final within the American League, the A’s have the worst document in baseball at 4-18. They additionally opened the season with the game’s lowest payroll at $58 million.

Fueled partly by Billy Beane’s Moneyball methods, Oakland has made the postseason in 11 of the previous 24 seasons regardless of modest payrolls. The A’s have additionally completed final within the AL West 4 of the previous eight seasons, elevating issues in Las Vegas that followers could also be inheriting a cellar dweller.

Manfred believes the relocation may enhance the on-field product, pointing to what the entrance workplace has beforehand achieved regardless of lesser sources than different golf equipment.

“Their attendance has never been outstanding, let’s put it that way,” he mentioned.

“To me, it ought to be all positive on the competitive front,” he added. “You got really smart baseball operations people. You got owners that want to win, and I think Las Vegas will present a real revenue enhancing opportunity. So I think you’re going to have a good product.”

Manfred has beforehand mentioned that growth to 32 groups might be a severe consideration as soon as the A’s and Tampa Bay Rays resolve their long-running stadium woes. He mentioned Monday that he’s hopeful in regards to the Rays discovering a decision that retains them within the Tampa space and reiterated that growth would then be up for dialogue.

Several cities have already begun planning for potential bids so as to add groups, together with Nashville, Charlotte, Montreal, Portland and Salt Lake City. Manfred acknowledged that “Nashville is on everybody’s list.” He additionally mentioned that whereas he’s wanting to develop the sport in Mexico, however he’s “never been close to the idea of Mexico as an expansion opportunity.”


Jake Seiner is an Assistant Sports Editor at AP.

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