Nothing is set in stone, but MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear Tuesday that the Athletics very well could follow the Raiders' footsteps and follow them to the Las Vegas area in the near future.
“Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a major league club, and there are other viable alternatives that I haven’t turned the A’s loose to even explore at this point," Manfred said Tuesday when speaking with the Baseball Writers' Association of America (h/t John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle).
"Thinking about this as a bluff is a mistake. This is the decision point for Oakland as to whether they want to have major league baseball going forward.”
The Oakland City Council is set to meet on Tuesday, July 20, at 9 a.m. PT for the non-binding vote on the A's Howard Terminal ballpark proposal. A's president Dave Kaval has made it clear for quite some time now it's Howard Terminal or bust regarding the team's future in Oakland.
As he continued to defend A's billionaire owner John Fisher, Manfred reiterated he feels the same way regarding the Coliseum, which has a lease through 2024, and is a stadium site Fisher clearly doesn't want to invest in.
"It’s just not viable at this point," Manfred said. "You’ve got other people looking to develop the site. And most fundamentally, John Fisher is going to invest over a billion dollars. He thinks the place he has the greatest likelihood of success is Howard Terminal.”
The Howard Terminal decision isn't that easy, though. There has been no word on affordable housing surrounding the waterfront ballpark, and the A's are asking for a 20-year lease while the city wants a longer commitment.
Again, Manfred turned to Fisher and the money that he has presented.
“Look, John Fisher in the A’s proposal has made the largest single commitment in private investment for a major league baseball stadium ever," Manfred said. "There may be issues with the city in a different place or whatever. Those need to get resolved, and they need to figure out whether they can move forward, but casting it as ‘they haven’t tried’ is simply unfair.
"It really is unfair.”
Kaval and Co. have been looking at over 25 sites in the Southern Nevada area. And the A's already have planned a visit to Las Vegas for July 21, no matter how the July 20 vote goes.
Manfred is taking the side of Fisher and the A's, and time is running out on what comes next for Oakland and a team that has played in the East Bay since 1968.