The reality of the Athletics possibly leaving Oakland now is as real as ever.
ESPN's Jeff Passan first reported Tuesday morning that 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 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 an official 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.
The office of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released the following statement, through spokesperson Justin Berton.
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 relocate away from Oakland, it would complete the trio of pro sports teams leaving, following the Warriors and Raiders.