Report: A's to Explore Relocation Possibilities Amid Oakland Stadium Standoff

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2021

The Oakland Athletics play the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics "will start exploring the possibility of relocating with the blessing of Major League Baseball" because of difficulties in getting a new stadium in Oakland, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The A's have a lease at Oakland Coliseum through 2024. Passan shared a statement from MLB in which it said the venue's site "is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball."

The team provided MLB's full statement:

Oakland A's @Athletics

A statement from Major League Baseball: https://t.co/Ujzll7cMWF

A's president Dave Kaval also addressed the situation:

Dave Kaval @DaveKaval

A message to our fans @Athletics https://t.co/xF6TbALbzW

The Oakland Raiders relocated to Las Vegas last year, and Passan reported that might be the "likeliest possibility" for the A's as well. He included a list of additional possibilities that Commissioner Rob Manfred has mentioned: Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Montreal.

The need for a new stadium is understandable. The Coliseum is 55 years old, tying it with Angel Stadium as the fourth-oldest in MLB. It doesn't have the charm of Dodger Stadium, Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, and it has structural issues that surface every so often.

The problem is finding a new home for the A's. The Golden State Warriors also recently moved from Oakland but had difficulties in getting San Francisco's Chase Center built.

A's ownership is pursuing a plan in which a 35,000-seat stadium would be part of a larger development at the Port of Oakland's Howard Terminal.

The organization touts the stadium as privately financed, but the price tag would come to $12 billion, per the Bay Area News Group's Shayna Rubin. Sarah Ravani of the San Francisco Chronicle explained $855 million in tax revenue was projected to go toward infrastructure upgrades around the site. And that's only a small sample of costs to taxpayers.

Alex Coffey @byalexcoffey

In light of @JeffPassan's report, it's worth noting that the $450 million worth of community benefits referenced in A's term sheet for the Howard Terminal project are intended to come from two infrastructure financing districts. I.e: taxpayers will be paying for those benefits

Ravani also wrote that environmental groups didn't believe their concerns about air and water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, the handling of hazardous materials at the site, transportation and other issues had been fully addressed.

It's not uncommon for MLB teams to use the idea of relocation as leverage for stadium upgrades or new stadiums.

In December, Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, "There's no plan B right now" with regard to a proposal wherein the Rays would split their time between Florida and Montreal.

In the event the A's are unable to make progress with the Howard Terminal site, this certainly won't be the last time they publicly float the idea of leaving Oakland.